« AnteriorContinuar »
The British Case.
The facts stated in
clined in June, 1862, to advise the detention and seizure of the Alabama, and on other occasions when they were asked to detain other ships building or fitting in British ports." 1
Her Majesty's Government itself, when it framed its Case, had not arrived at the conclusion put forth in its Counter Case. It then said:
A charge of injurious negligence on the part of a sovereign Government, in the exercise of any of the powers of sovereignty, needs to be sustained on strong and solid grounds. Every sovereign Government claims the right to be independent of external scrutiny or interference in the exercise of these powers; and the general assumption that they are exercised with good faith and reasonable care, and that laws are fairly and properly administered, an assumption without which peace and friendly intercourse could not exist among nations, ought to subsist until it has been displaced by proof to the contrary.
The Counsel of the United States will therefore go into the discussion of the questions of fact as to the several vessels with the fact uncontroverted, that Her Majesty's Government and the the American eCase individual members of it freely repeatedly,and publicly gave proved. it to be understood that it was neither expected nor desired in the Cabinet at London, that the United States should succeed in averting the destruction of their nationality; and that these expectations and desires were known to all subordinates of Her Majesty's Government.
The United States also presented with their Case evidence to show that, at the commencement of the insurrection, the insurgents established on British soil administrative bureaus for with the American the purpose of making British soil and waters bases of hos- tic and official use of tile operations against the United States; and that from the insurgents with these bureaus and through persons acting under their direc- Great Britain tions, or in co-operation with them, the several vessels of whose acts they complain were either dispatched from Great Britain, or were supplied in British ports with the means of carrying on war against the United States. They further showed that the existence of these bureaus was brought to the knowledge of Her Majesty's Government and was justified by it.
Of a portion of this evidence, which Her Majesty's Government sees fit to style
a mass of confederate papers," the British Counter Case says: “ of the authenticity of them, and of the manner in which they came into the possession of the United States, Her Britannic Majesty's Government has no knowledge whatever beyond what it derives from the above-mentioned statement, which it willingly accepts as true. Of the person by whom, and the circumstances under which, the letters were written, and the character and credibility of the writers, it (Her Majesty's government) knows nothing whatever. They are persons with whom this Government has nothing to do, and whose very existence was unknown to it; and it does not admit as evidence against Great Britain any statement which they may have made to those who employed them, or to one another.93 “ It is not, indeed it could not, be pretended that the correspondence extracted from these papers was in any way known to the British Government. Nor has the Government of the United States furnished the Arbitrators with any means of judging whether the letters are authentic, or the facts stated in them true, or the persons whose names purport to be attached to them, (persons unknown to the British Government,) worthy of credit. Her Majesty's Government
, thinks it right to say that it attaches very little credit to them.» 4
1 Brit. App., vol. iv, paper v, p. 31. 2 Brit. Case, p. 166. 3 British Counter Case, p. 3. 4 Ibid., p. 56.
The Arbitrators may, therefore, assume, notwithstanding the averment on page 56, that Her Majesty's Government admits that the evidence referred to came into the possession of the United States by capture at Richmond, and that there is no serious question of the authenticity of the letters. They may also assume that there will be no serious question made as to the truth of the facts stated in those letters. It is true that Her Majesty's Government says that it attaches little credit to them. It is equally true that the United States attaches full faith to them. The Arbitrators will judge whether it is probable or improbable that these free and confidential letters do give correct accounts of the contemporaneous events which they describe. They will also judge whether those events are or are not relevant to the issue between the two Governments. "The United States think that they are.
If they are relevant the United States are justified in bringing them before the Tribunal, especially as it appears that Her Majesty's Government was several times informed of the illegal operations which the writers of these identical letters were carrying on from British soil at the time when the letters were written.
We, therefore, contend that we go into the discussion of the questions These facts also to of fact, with the further general facts proved, that the in
surgents established and maintained unmolested throughout the insurrection administrative bureaus on British soil, by means of which the several cruisers were dispatched from British ports, or were enabled to make them the basis of hostile operations against the United States, and that Her Majesty's Government was cognizant of it.
e taken as proved.
The Florida at Lir.
Action of Her Ma
We now proceed to refer the Arbitrators to the evidence upon which the Government of the United States relies as applicable to the case of each vessel separately. We begin with the Flor- erpool. ida.
This vessel, under the name of the Oreto, was built at Liverpool, England, and sailed from that place on the 22d of March, 1862, withoui any attempt at her detention by Great Britain. She was in construction and outfit evidently adapted to warlike use.
On the 18th of February Mr. Adams, in behalf of the United States, submitted to Earl Russell, for his consideration, the copy of an extract of a letter,” addressed to him by the consul of Mr. Adams. his Government at Liverpool, “ going to show," as he said, “the preparation at that port of an armed steamer, evidently intended for hostile operations on the ocean."
This communication from Mr. Adams was, on the next day, referred by Earl Russell to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury that being the appropriate department of Her Majesty's jesty's government. Government for such reference.? This department at once called upon the Collector of Customs at Liverpool for information, and by his direction the vessel was inspected by a government inspector, who, on the 21st of February, reported that she was “a splendid steamer, suitable for a dispatch-boat, pierced for guns, but has not any on board, nor are ; there any gun-carriages. The builders were W. C. Miller & Sons, one of the firm being a government officer, “the Chief Surveyor of Tonnage" at that port.
This firm, on being applied to by the collector for information, said, 66 We have built the dispatch-vessel Oreto.
She is pierced for She is in no way fitted for the reception of guns as yet; nor do we know that she is to have guns whilst in England.”.
On the same day these reports of the Surveyor and builders were transmitted by the Collector to the Commissioners of Customs, with the statement that “the vessel is correctly described” in the note of the builders.
On the 22d of February, the Commissioners of Customs reported to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury that “the Oreto is pierced for four guns; but she has as yet taken nothing on board but coals and ballast. She is not, at present, fitted for the reception of guns, nor are the builders aware that she is to be supplied with guns while she remains in this country."7
A copy of this report was furnished by the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury on the 24th of February to Earl Russell, and he transmitted a copy to Mr. Adams on the 26th.8
On the 22d of March, the vessel sailed from Liverpool, and on the
British Case, p. 53.
She was then evi
28th of April arrived at Nassau, in the island of New cently a manufwat. Providence, one of the Bahamas, and within the jurisdiction of Her Majesty's Government.
On the 13th of June, while still at Nassau, she was visited by Commander Hickley of Her Majesty's ship Greyhound, with several of his officers. The captain of the Oreto, on being inquired of by Commander Hickley, in the presence of the officers of the Greyhound and three of her own “whether she.[the Oreto) had left Liverpool fitted in all respects as she was at present,” replied “ Yes, in all respects;" and " that no addition or alteration had been made whatever.192 Captain Duguid, the master of the Oreto himself, on his examination as a witness before the Vice-Admiralty Court at Nassau on the 26th of July, three months after her arrival, testified: “The fittings of the Oreto from the time of her quitting Liverpool up to the present time are the same, with the exception of a little alteration in the boats' davits. Four of them were lengthened two feet. That is the only alteration since she left Liverpool. Duggan, the chief officer, testified to the same effect.*
On the 30th of April, only two days after her arrival at Nassau, she was examined by Commander McKillop, of Her Majesty's ship Bulldog, then the senior naval officer in command at that station, and he, on the same day, reported to the Secretary of the Admiralty that"a very suspicious steamer, the Oreto, evidently intended for a gun-boat, is now at the upper anchorage under the English flag; but as there are no less than three cargoes of arms and ammunition, &c., united to run the blockade, some of these guns, &c., would turn her into a privateer in a few hours.95
On the 28th of May Commander McKillop, in a communication to the Governor of the Bahamas, reported her as "apparently fitting and pre
, paring for a vessel of war."6 And again, on the 6th of June, in another communication to the same officer, he says, I have visited the screwsteamer Oreto, and examined her. She is fitted in every way for war purposes, magazines, shell-rooms, and other fittings, totally at variance with the character of a merchant vessel
The captain does not deny that she is intended for a war-vessel.”7 And on the 8th of the same month, in a letter to the Colonial Secretary, he says, “In my letter of the 17th instant (ultimo ?] I made His Excellency aware of the warlike character of that vessel, and I am of opinion that she is not capable of taking in any cargo, having no stowage.998
The letter of the 17th referred to is not produced, but on the 13th of June Commander Hickley (who had succeeded Commander McKillop in command at the station) and the principal officers of his ship, after having visited and examined the vessel, certified to the Governor that “the Oreto is in every respect fitted as a man of war, on the principle of the dispatch gun-vessels in Her Majesty's naval service. That she has a crew of fifty men, and is capable of carrying two pivot guns amidships and four broadside both forward and aft,the ports being made to
ship and unship, port bars, breeching, side-tackle, bolts, &c.; that she has shell-rooms, a magazine and light rooms, and handing-scuttles for banding powder out of the magazine, as fitted in the naval service, and Brit. Case, pp. 58 et 61.
5 Brit. App., vol. i, p. 11. 2 Ibid., p. 63.
6 Brit. App., vol. i, p. 16. 3 Brit. App., vol. i, p. 49.
7 Ibid., p. 20. * Brit, App., Counter Case, vol. v., p. 37.
shot-boxes for Armstrong shot, or shot similar to them. Round the upper deck she has five boats, (I should say,) a ten-oared cutter, an eightoared cutter, two gigs and a jolly-boat, and davits for hoisting them up; her accommodation being in no respect different from her similar class of vessels in the Royal Naval service.”
Again on the 15th of June, in a further communication to the Governor, the Commander says:
These circumstances, her long detention in this port, her character, her fittings, convinced as I am also that during her stay in the port arrangements have been made for arming her outside, her evident equipment for war purposes, * and my conviction, as also that of my officers and men that have been on board of her, that she is built intently for a war-vessel and not for a merchant ship, make it incumbent on me to seize the Oreto as a vessel that can be no more considered as a free-trader, but that she is, on the contrary, calculated to be turned into a formidable vessel of war in twentyfour hours; and that this I am convinced will be the case if she is permitted to leave Nassau. And, therefore, in her present state, a vessel under British colors, sailing from hence in such an equipped state to a professional eye, that I consider it would be a downright neglect of duty on my part to permit her proceeding to sea, without again urging most strongly on your Excellency the expediency of taking charge of her, as an illegally equipped British vessel, as in my professional capacity, as also in the opinion of my officers, it is impossible to consider her as any other, she being a bona fide vessel of war on our royal naval principle. 2
And still again on the 16th, in another communication to the Governor, he says:
On the Oreto I have repeated my professional opinion, as also that of my officers, and I still have to express my conviction that she is a vessel of war that can be equipped in twenty-four hours for battle, and that she is now going out of the harbor as nearly equipped as a vessel of war can be without guns, arms, and ammunition,3
This evidence is taken, as the arbitrators will notice, exclusively from that furnished by Her Majesty's Government in its Case, Counter Case, and accompanying documents; and the United States submit, it shows, beyond any controversy, that on the 18th of February, the date of Mr. Adams's communication to Earl Russell, the Oreto was a vessel specially adapted to warlike use; that this fact was apparent upon an inspection of the vessel herself; that she had been constructed and so - specially adapted” within the jurisdiction of Her Majesty's Government, and that she still remained in that jurisdiction.
She was intended to cruise or carry on war against the United States, and Her Majesty's Government had reasonable grounds so to believe.
Mr. Adams, with his communication to Earl Russell on the 18th of February, submitted an extract from a letter of the Consul of the United States at Liverpool, in which it is tion. said: “Mr. Miller, who built the hull, says he was employed by Fawcett, Preston & Co., and that they own the vessel. * * Frazer, Trenholm & Co. have made advances to Fawcett, Preston & Co., and Miller, the builder.94 And Mr. Adams in his note to Earl Russell says, “From theevidence furnished in the names of the persons stated to be concerned in her construction and outfit, I entertain little doubt that the intention is precisely that indicated in the letter of the Consul, the carrying on war against the United States. * * Should further evidence to sustain the allegations respecting the Oreto be held necessary to effect the object of securing the interposition of Her Majesty's Government, I will make an effort to procure it in a more formal manner.995 This communication was not accompanied by any evidence that could | Brit. App., vol. i, p. 23.
4 Brit. Case, p. 53. 2 Brit. App., vol. i, p. 24. 3 Ibid., p. 26.
Character of Mr. Adams'y representa.