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The Alabama. Her adaptation to war is not disputed.
The question to be decided.
As to this vessel, Her Majesty's Government admits, "that at the time
when she sailed from England in July, 1862, she was, as regards the general character of her construction, specially
adapted for warlike use; that the adaptation had been effected within British jurisdiction;" 1 and that “the general construction of the vessel was such as to make it apparent that she was intended for war and not for commerce." 2
The drawings found among the archives of the insurgents signed by the Messrs. Laird, as early as the 9th October, 1861, copies of which are part of the documents and evidence filed by the United States with their Counter Case, show conclusively that she never was intended for anything else than a vessel of war. It is also admitted in the British Counter Case that “the question for
the arbitrators is, whether the British Government had,
according to the fair and just sense of those words, reasonable grounds to believe that she was intended to carry on war against the United States; and having it, failed to use such diligence as any international obligation required to prevent her departure from Great Britain, or to prevent her equipment within its jurisdiction." 3
The United States will now proceed to consider the facts necessary to a decision of that question, and for that purpose will use almost excusively the evidence presented to the Tribunal by Her Majesty's Gov. ernment.
As has been seen, the Florida sailed from Liverpool, without any attempt at her detention by the Government, on the 22d of March, 1862. The attention of Earl Russell had been called to her by Mr. Adams more than a month previous to her departure, and in so doing he de. clared that his opinion as to her destination for war against the United States was based upon the evidence furnished in the names of the persons stated to be concerned in her construction and outfit." These persons named were Fawcett, Preston & Co., and Frazer, Trenholm & Co. A's late as the 9th of May, the Foreign Office appears to have been in correspondence with the officers of the Treasury in respect to her escape. She arrived at Nassau on the 28th of April, and her arrival at that port became known in Liverpool and was announced in the Liverpool Journal of Commerce on the 27th of May." It must have been apparent, at that time, to the officers of the customs at Liverpool, that she had not been intended for the Italian Government, but for the insurgents, and that any pretense of Italian destination was false.
Under these circumstances, on the 23d of June, Mr. Adams, in a note to Earl Russell, said :
Some time since, it may be recollected by your Lordship, that I felt it my duty to
1 Brit. Counter Case, p. 80.
Mr. Adams gives
make a representation touching the equipment from the port of Liverpool of the gunboat Oreto, with the intent to make war upon the United States. Notwithstanding the statements returned from the authorities of that information of, June place, with which your Lordship favored me in reply, touching a dif- 23, 1862. ferent destination of that vessel, I have the strongest reason for believing that that vessel went directly to Nassau, and that she had been there engaged in completing her armament, provisioning, and crew for the object first indicated by me.
I am now under the painful necessity of apprising your Lordship, that a new and still more powerful war-steamer is nearly ready for departure from the port of Liverpool on the same errand. This vessel has been built and launched from the dock-yard of persons, one of whom is now sitting as a member of the House of Commons, and is fitting out for the especial and manifest object of carrying on hostilities by sea. The parties engaged in the enterprise are persons well known at Liverpool to be agents and officers of the insurgents in the United States, the nature and extent of whose labors are well explained in the copy of an intercepted letter of one of them, which I received from my Government some days ago, and which I had the honor to place in our Lordship’s hands on Thursday last. I now ask permission to transmit, for your consideration, a letter addressed to me by the Consul of the United States at Liverpool in confirmation of the statements here submitted, and to solicit such action as may tend either to stop the projected expedition or to establish the fact that its purpose is not inimical to the people of the United States.?
The intercepted letter referred to was from Caleb Huse, “Captain of Artillery,” to Major J. Gorgas, “ Confederate States Artillery, War Department.” It is said in the Case presented by Her Majesty's Government, that the copy of the intercepted letter referred to “ was a paper purporting to be a copy of a letter or report from a Confederate officer of artillery, addressed to some person unknown,” and what purports to be a copy of the letter itself is printed in British Appendix, vol. i, p. 178, without the name of the party to whom it was addressed. The same letter is printed by the United States in their Appendix, vol. i, p. 538, where the name of the person to whom it was addressed appears. It was transmitted by Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams with a dispatch under date of June 2, in which he says: 3
There has just now fallen into our hands a very extraordinary document, being a report made by Caleb Huse, who calls himself a captain of artillery, and who is an agent of the insurgents in Europe, to the chief of the artillery of the War Department of the insurgents.
The letter was " placed in the hands” of Earl Russell by Mr. Adams on the Thursday which preceded the 23d of June, and inasmuch as the dispatch of Mr. Seward transmitting it stated in terms to whom it was addressed, there can scarcely be a doubt that if the copy omitted his name, the proper explanation was made by Mr. Adams at the time. So that it is hardly to be supposed that the party addressed was unknown to Earl Russell at the time he received Mr. Adams's letter of the 23d of June, although it may have been to the persons who prepared the British Case.
The letter is found in the British Appendix, vol. i, p. 178. It bears date April 1, 1862, at Liverpool, a few days after the sailing of the Oreto, and does, as is stated in the British Case, relate to purchases of military supplies for the Confederate army and to vessels employed in blockade running." It also states that “Messrs. Frazer, Trenholm & Co., of this city, placed at my disposal a fine ship, the Bahama, which I supposed would take all the batteries.” This is the same vessel which, as has been seen, took out the armament of the Oreto, and which afterward took out that of the Alabama. In the letter of the consul of the United States at Liverpool, trans1 British Case, p. 81.
4 Brit. Case, p. 81. Page 81.
5 Page 81. 3 Am. App., vol. i, p. 537.
Referred to law.
Their action upon it.
mitted by Mr. Adams to Earl Russell, on the 23d, it was said: “The evidence I have is entirely conclusive to my mind. I do not think there is the least room for doubt about it.
The strictest watch is kept over this vessel; no person except those immediately engaged upon her is admitted into the yard. On the occasion of the trial-trip, made last Thursday week, no one was admitted without a pass, and these passes were issued to but few persons, and those who are known here as active secessionists engaged in sending aid and relief to the rebels." He also stated that “the foreman in Messrs. Laird's yard says she is the sister to the gun-boat Oreto, and has been built for the same parties and for the same purpose; when pressed for a further explanation, he stated that she was to be a privateer for the Southern Government in the United States." And the Consul further stated that certain officers from the Sumter, whose names he gave, had said the vessel was being built for the Confederate States. This letter of Mr. Adams with that of the Consul, was referred by Earl
Russell to the Law Officers of the Crown and to the Lords oficers of the Crown. Commissioners of the Treasury, on the 25th of June, of which Mr. Adams was duly advised.? On the 30th June the Law Officers reported to Earl Russell that “the
report of the United States Consul at Liverpool,
besides suggesting other grounds of reasonable suspicion, contains direct assertion that the foreman of Messrs. Laird, the builders, has stated that this vessel is intended as a privateer for the service of the government of the Southern States; and, if the character of the vessel and of her equipment be such as the same report describes them to be, it seems evident that she must be intended for some warlike purpose. Under these circumstances, we think that proper steps ought to be taken, under the direction of Her Majesty's Government, by the authorities of the customs at Liverpool, to ascertain the truth, and that, if sufficient evidence can be obtained to justify proceedings under the foreign-enlistment act, such proceedings should be taken as early as possible. In the mean time, Mr. Adams ought, we think, to be informed that Her Majesty's Government are proceeding to investigate the case ; but that the course which they may eventually take must necessarily depend upon the nature and sufficiency of any evidence of a breach of the law which they may be enabled to obtain; and that it will be desirable that any evidence in the possession of the United States Consul at Liverpool should be at once communicated to the officers of Her Majesty's customs at that port."
The Lords Commissioners of the Treasury sent the letter of Mr. Adams, with that of the Consul, to the Commissioners of Customs on the 25th of June.4 These letters were forwarded by the Commissioners to the Collector of Liverpool previous to the 28th. But before that time, on the 20th, and before the letter of the Consul to Mr. Adams, or that of Mr. Adams to Earl Russell, the Collector's attention had been called to the same vessel by the Consul in a letter to him, in which was detailed, with more particularity than in the letter to Mr. Adams, his knowledge of facts and his grounds of suspicion. This letter the Collector must have had when he received the communication from the Commissioners.
1 Brit. Case, p. 81.
3 Brit. Case, p. 83. 2 Ibid., p. 82. 4 Letter from Mr. Arbuthnot to Mr. Hammond, July 2, Brit. App., vol. i, p. 181. 5 Brit. App., vol. I, p. 183.
6 Am. App., vol. vii, p. 73.
Proceedings of cug.
On the 28th of June the customs surveyor at the port of Liverpool reported to the Collector “that the vessel to which these. papers refer has not escaped the notice of the customs toms authorities. officers, but, as yet, nothing has transpired concerning her which appeared to demand a special report. The officers have at all times free access to the building-yards of the Messrs. Laird, at Birkenhead, where the said vessel is now lying, and there has been no attempt on the part of her builders to disguise, what is most apparent to all, that she is intended for a ship of war. Agreeably with your directions, I have person. ally inspected her and find that she is rightly described in the communication of the United States Consul, except that her engines are not on the oscillating principle.
The current report of that vessel is that she has been built for a foreign government, and that is not denied by the Messrs. Laird, with whom I have communicated on the subject; but they do not appear disposed to reply to any question with reference to the destination of the vessel after she leaves this port, and we have no other reliable source of information. It will be in your recollection that the current report of the gun-boat Oreto was, that she had been built for a foreign government, which vessel recently left this port under a British flag, without any guns or ammunition on board, as previously reported.” 1
This report was transmitted by the collector to the commissioners of customs on the same day (the 28th) and by them referred to the solicitor of customs, who, on the 30th, (the same day that the Law Officers made their communication to Earl Russell, as just stated,) gave his opinion that “the officers at Liverpool have acted discreetly in keeping watch upon her, and should continue to do so, immediately reporting to the board any circumstances that they may consider to call for directions, or advisable to bring under the board's notice; but the officers ought not to move in the matter without the clearest evidence of a distinct violation of the foreign-enlistment act, nor unless at a moment of great emergency, the terms of the act being extremely technical and the requirements as to intent being very rigid. It may be tbat the ship, having regard to her cargo as contraband of war, might be unquestionably liable to capture and
condemnation, yet not liable to detention under the foreign-enlistment act, and the seizers might entail upon themselves very serious consequences.” 2
On the 1st of July the commissioners of customs transmitted their own report to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, in which they embodied the substance of the report of the surveyor to the collector, including his statement that the builders did not appear disposed to reply to any questions respecting the destination of the vessel after she left Liverpool, and added that “ having referred the matter to our solicitor, he has reported his opinion that, at present, there is not sufficient ground to warrant the detention of the vessel, or any interference on the part of this department, in which report we beg leave to express our concurrence. And, with reference to the statement of the United States Consul, that the evidence he has in regard to this vessel being intended for the so-called Confederate Government in the Southern States, is entirely conclusive to his mind, we would observe that, inasmuch as the officers, of customs of Liverpool would not be justified in taking any steps against the vessel, unless sufficient evidence to warrant her detention should be laid before them, the proper course would be for the consul to submit such evidence as he possesses to the collector at that port,
1 Brit. App., vol. i, p. 183.
who would thereupon take such measures as the provisions of the foreign-enlistment act would require. Without the production of full and sufficient evidence to justify their proceedings, the seizing officers might entail on themselves and on the Government very serious consequences. We beg to add that the officers at Liverpool will keep a strict watch on the vessel, and that any further information that may be obtained concerning her will be forth with reported." I
This report of the commissioners of customs was transmitted by the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury to the Foreign Office, and received there on the 2d of July. 2
Thus it will be seen that twenty-seven days before the departure of the vessel, Her Majesty's Government was informed by its own officers that the 6 character of the vessel and of her equipment” was such as the report of the consul described them to be, and that, therefore, in the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown, “ she must be intended for some warlike purpose.” And the Government was also, at the same time and in the same manner, informed that in the face of what had been acknowledged by the Law-Officers of the Crown to be “grounds of reasonable suspicion ” of the Consul, the builders of the vessel, (a firm, one of the ostensible members of which, at the time of the original contract for her building, was a member of the House of Commons,)on being inquired of by one of the officers of the Government, did not ap. pear to be disposed to reply to any question with reference to the destination of the vessel after she left Liverpool.
At the same time, too, one at least of the departments of the Government was reminded by one of its officers that the Oreto, referred to in the letter of Mr. Adams, had recently left the port, built for a foreign government, but " under a British flag, without any guns or ammunition on board.” But the Arbitrators will look in vain for any evidence whatever tending to prove that any officer of the Government, of any grade, ever propounded to the builders, or any other person, à direct question as to the destination of the vessel, insisting upon an answer or a refusal to answer. This, too, when, under the opinion of the LawOfficers, the only material fact remaining to be ascertained was, by whom the vessel was to be employed. A copy of the report of the commissioners of customs was sent by
Earl Russell to Mr. Adams, accompanied by a note which ed that the American bears date the 4th of July, but which does not appear to evidence to collector have been received until the 7th, when it was acknowledged.
In this note Earl Russell says: “I would beg leave to suggest that you should instruct the United States Consul at Liverpool to submit to the collector of customs at that port such evidence as he may possess tending to show that his suspicions as to the destination of the vessel in question are well founded.” 4
This was the first request ever made of Mr. Adams or any other officer of the Government of the United States, to assist the Government of Her Majesty in procuring testimony against any vessel as to which complaint had been made. As has been seen, Mr. Adams offered the assistance of the United States in respect to the Florida, but his offer was not accepted. Down to this time, therefore, no complaint should be made against the United States because they failed to accompany their representations with proof. But the United States believe
Mr. Adams inform
1 Brit. Case, p. 83.
3 Brit. App., Connter Case, vol. v, p. 204. ·