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Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams.

No. 1639.]


Washington, December 30, 1865. Sir: I enclose herewith, for your information, an anthenticated copy of an affidavit which was communicated to this department by William Skiddy, esq., of Stamford, Connecticut, upon the subject of the letter of Sir James Elphinstone to the London Standard. Mr. Skiddy participated in the transaction referred to therein, and by his own statement destroyed the applicability of the precedent to Waddell's conduct. I am, sir, your obedient servant,


STAMFORD, Conn., December 18, 1865. SIR: I have received your letter of December 13th instant, in reference to my communica-. tion made to the Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, which contained an extract from the Herald, to the effect that Sir James Elphinstone had written to the London Standard, stating that a precedent existed for the course of the Shenandoah in the conduct of the United States sloop-of-war Hornet in the year 1815—(given in James's History of the War.) I was, as then ranked, a midshipman master's mate on board the Hornet at that time, (equivalent to an ensign now,) and believe myself to be the only surviving officer—the rebel Admiral French Forrest excepted. We sailed from New York about the 22d of Jannary, 1815. Two or three days after, we boarded a Portuguese brig in the Gulf Stream, but a dark night and increasing gale from the northwest obliged the boat and crew to return, and we were nearly lost before reaching the ship. This brig had been a long time at sea, and could not give us any news. I was the boarding officer. We had parted company with the Peacock and Tom Bowling. Nothing further transpired until about a month afterwards, when in latitude of the Cape de Verde islands we boarded a French merchant brig from Bordeaux bound to the West Indies. I was the boarding officer, and conducted the captain on board the Hornet. Captain Biddle not speaking French, I was his interpreter, and the conversation was all carried on through me, and at its close I put the French captain on board his brig. We saw no other vessel until the 23d of March, 1815, when in the morning we made the island of Tristan d'Acunha, in latitude 37° 6' south, and longitude 120 west. As we were getting ready to land, we discovered a sail standing for us. We laid off and on until after i p. m., when the action commenced, and in twenty-two minutes after his Majesty's sloop-of. war Penguin, nineteen guns, was a prize to the United States sloop Hornet. The Penguin was but a few days from the Cape of Good Hope, and without news of a peaceable nature. On the contrary, she told us that an English frigate was not far off cruising for American vessels. About a month after this, April 27th, 20th, or 29th, in latitude 38° 30', longitude 33° east, we were chased, and under the fire of a British seventy-four, (Cornwallis,) but escaped by throwing our guns overboard. Thus disabled we steered for St. Salvador, where we arrived about the last of June, when and where we first heard of a cessation of hostilities. On receiving this news Captain Biddle steered for home, and we arrived in New York the latter part of July: I have the honor to remain your obedient servant,

WILLIAM SKIDDY, Late Naval Constructor for United States Mail Steamships. Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD,

Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.

STATE OF CONNECTICUT, County of Fairfield, ss :

Be it remembered, that on this 20th day of December, A. D. 1865, before me, William H. Holly, a notary public in and for said State, residing in Stamford, in said county, duly commissioned and sworn, personally appeared William Skiddy, who subscribed to the foregoing letter directed to the Hon. William H. Seward, and made solemn oath to the matter therein contained as true and correct.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my official seal the day and year above stated. (SEAL.]


Notary Public.

[From the Herald.]


Sir James Elphinstone writes to the London Standard on the subject of the Shenandoah, and furnishes an extract from James's Naval History to prove the depredations of that vessel, after the termination of the war, are not without a precedent. At the close of the war beiwen Great Britain and the United States, the American sloop Hornet captured his Majesty's sloop-of-war Penguin, after a desperate engagement. The captain of the Hornet had previously been informed by a neutral of the cessation of hostilities, but he disregarded the notice, taking the Penguin, and proceeded in company with an American sloop, the Peacock, to the East Indies, in order to have their share of the prizes yet to be made. The Hornet became disabled and returned, but the Peacock entered into an engagement with an East India Company's vessel, named the Nautilus, and the latter was compelled to surrender. In these engagements lives were sacrificed, and the affair naturally made a great sensation at the time. Sir James Elphinstone refers to the incidents now, because they may assist in the discussion which will inevitably ensue upon the surrender of the Shenandoah.

Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams and others. No. 1640)


Washington, December 30, 1865. SIR: I transmit to you a copy of letters of the 18th instant, which, by direc. tion of the President, were addressed respectively to the provisional governor and governor elect of the State of Alabama. Similar letters have been addressed to the provisional governors and governors elect of the States of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Mississippi, from which you will see that civil authority has been restored in those States, and that they are recognized as members of the Union. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS, &c., f., fr. [Same, mutatis mutandis, to all United States ministers.


Washington, December 18, 1865. SIR: The time has arrived whèn, in the judgment of the President of the United States, the care and conduct of the proper affairs of the State of Alabama may be remitted to the constitutional authorities chosen by the people thereof, without danger to the peace and safety of the United States. By direction of the President, therefore, you are relieved from the trust which was heretofore reposed in you as provisional governor of the State of Alabama. Whenever the governor elect shall have accepted and become qualified to discharge the duties of the executive office, you will transfer the papers and property of the State now in your custody to his excellency the governor elect.

It gives me especial pleasure to convey to you the President's acknowledgment of the fidelity, the loyalty, and the discretion which ħave marked your administration.

You will please give me a reply, specifying the day on which this communication is received. I have the honor to be your excellency's most obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. His Excellency LEWIS E. Parsons,

Provisional Governor of the State of Alabama.


Washington, December 18, 1865. SIR; By direction of the President I have the honor herewith to transmit to you a copy of & communication which has been addressed to his excellency Lewis E. Parsons, late provisional governor of the State of Alabama, whereby he has been relieved of the trust heretofore réposed in him, and directed to deliver into your excellency's possession the papers and property relating to that trust.

I have the honor to tender you the co-operation of the government of the United States, whenever it may be found necessary, in effecting the early restoration and the permanent prosperity and welfare of the State over which you have been called to preside. I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. His Excellency the GOVERNOR of the State of Alabama.

Mr. Hunter to Mr. Adams.

No. 1644.]


Washington, December 30, 1865. SIR : I have to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch of the 14th instant, No. 1110, and in reply to inform you that the Secretary of the Navy, to whom it was referred, states that his department has not the officers or men to spare for the purpose of bringing to a port of the United States the Shenandoah, but that whenever that vessel reaches one of our ports through other means, the Navy Department will, if requested, be happy to take charge of her. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

W. HUNTER, Acting Secretary. Charles FRANCIS ADAMS, Esq., fr., fx:, fr.



Washington, December 31, 1865. Despatches of the 14th and 15th instant from the consul of Liverpool were gent to the Navy Department later in the day yesterday than the reference of Mr. Adams's despatch, but nothing further has been received from that department; and as nothing will probably be done there in the way of business before the close of this mail, it is not likely that any further expression on the subject will pass through this department. It is possible, however, that they may send out instructions directly by this mail.

W. HUNTER, Acting Secretary.

Mr. Hunter to Mr. Adams.

No. 1646.]


Washington, January 4, 1866. SIR: I enclose for your information a copy of a despatch, of the 30th of November last, from Mr. Morse, the United States consul at London, and a copy of a letter, of the 20th ultimo, from the Secretary of the Treasury, upon the subject of the recovery of a large amount of gold, alleged to be deposited in England, which was the property of the late insurgent authorities. Mr. Morse has been informed of the opinion of the Secretary of the Treasury. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

W. HUNTER, Acting Secretary. CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS, Esq., dr., &c., gr.

Mr. Morse to Mr. Seward.

No. 349.]


London, Norember 30, 1863. SIR: One or two persons here, whoappear to have full knowledge of some of the financial operations of the late rebels, say that from £50,000 to £60,000 of confederate government gold is now held in this city, by some person, house, or bank, and that the holders refuse to deliver it to any ex-confederate agent whatever, government or otherwise, invariably meeting all applicants for it with the reply: “You are not the proper person or party to receive it, and that it belongs to the United States, if they can find it.” If we cannot obtain it the English bolders will keep it. Now, the proof of the existence of this money, and its whereabouts, is only known to certain persons, not heretofore, if now, Union men, and they will not furnish the proofs that will enable us to recover the money without a handsome percentage for themselves on the amount so recovered.

They feel so confident that they can furnish all the evidence necessary that I think I can make a safe and confidential verbal arrangement with them, that the suit, should one be DECESSary, shall be commenced by the United States, at their expense, and if they fail to furnish all the evidence necessary to success, they will pay the expenses of the suit, and get nothing. But if successful, we pay expenses and their commission. Though all we get will be clear gain, I do not consider myself authorized to enter into any arrangement for allowing commissions with(out] express authority from you—though I might think it right and expedient to enter into a conditional arrangement, subject to your approval, where the case will not admit of delay, I wish always to avoid assuming any authority, not clearly given me. Will you, therefore, do me the honor to inform me by return post, if I am or may be authorized to make the best arrangement I can for the government in this, and cases of a similar character, should any other occur.

Should you direct me to proceed with the case, and we should recover, I presume some one should be authorized to receive the money, pay charges, and deposit the balance to the credit of your department. I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,


Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.

Mr. McCulloch to Mr. Sewurd.


December 20, 1865. SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter submitting for my views despatch No. 349, dated November 30, ultimo, from the consul of the United States at London, relative to certain moneys heretofore belonging to the late rebel authorities, held by parties in that city.

It appears from the statements made in the despatch that certain persons in London will, for a consideration, furnish such information and perform such services as will lead to the recovery of a large amount of gold, heretofore the property of the late so-called Confederate Steies government.

So far as the practice of this department in analogous cases is concerned, it has not hesitated to make arrangements with parties in possession of information, or who will take the Decessary steps to secure to the government any property or moneys justly belonging to it, but in regard to which it does not possess sufficient information to enable it to secure it. No general rule fixing compensation has been adopted, the award generally depending, to some extent, upon the value of services rendered and expenses incurred by parties acting on its behalf. It occurs to me, however, that if the consul at London is satisfied, from the representations made to him, that sufficient ground exists for such action on his part, it would be proper to authorize him to make an arrangement with the parties in question to the effect thai they be allowed for their services and expenses in the premises one-fourth part of such amount as may be received by government from the source indicated; it being understood that if nothing is secured to government, all expenses incurred in the matter shall be borne by the parties in question, and no allowance be made to them therefor, or for any informatiun given or service rendered by them. The despatch referred to is herewith returned as requested. With great respect, your obedient servant,


Secretary of the Treasury. Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD,

Secretary of State.

Mr. Adams to Mr. Seward,

No. 1124.]


London, January 4, 1866.

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There is little to note in the events of the past week. The meeting of the new Parliament has been once more postponed to the 1st of February, when it is really to assemble for the despatch of business. It is understood that the Queen has consented to open it in person, though with some conditions attached to the ceremony not heretofore practiced. Much more interest is felt in the action of this new body than ever was attached to the old one. It is generally conceded that the tendency of the cabinet is towards the advanced liberal side; and hence there will certainly be a plau of extending the franchise brought forward as a government measure. Much doubt is felt of the ability of Lord to Russell sustain himself upon it, but the chances seem to me to have been latterly increasing.

I think the tone of the press towards the United States is gradually improving. All the public documents emanating from the Executive department this year have been so good as to produce an excellent effect on the public mind. 'The position of the country never has been so high before, and if the President can successfully carry out his policy of restoration upon the principles laid down in his message. I foresee little further danger of difficulty here, no matter who may be called to the direction of affairs.

I should be glad to receive a number of copies of the report of the Secretary of the Treasury to circulate among the members of Parliament. It is very highly complimented in the moneyed circles, but not more so than it appears to me fairly to deserve. I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,


Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.

Mr. Adams to Mr. Seward.

No. 1125.)


London, January 4, 1866. Sir: I have to acknowledge the reception of a note from H. N. Congar, commissioner of immigration, dated the 18th of December, in relation to an application made by Mr. Thomas W. Conway to the Department of State for letters of introduction to persons here to promote his object of obtaining aid for labor in the southern plantations. Such an application was scarcely necessary. If Mr. Conway only brings out proper evidence of his commission he will find all the persons really interested in his objects already so thoroughly organized here as to furnish him at once with the best channels through which to conduct his operations.

I learn that a considerable sum of money has already been obtained by a few of the Georgia planters, themselves at Manchester, with which to commence in good faith extensive experiments with freed labor. The appeals first made by them to those whom they had considered as sympathizers during the war, met with no response. All alike disbelieved in the disposition of the negro to labor. It was only by turning to the opposite class, which had been friendly to the United States, that they succeded in their object. I learn that they have

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