Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

that the limited reference of the Alabama claims is founded upon the condition that the United States shall waive before the arbitrator the position they have maintained, that the granting of belligerent rights was not justified on any ground of necessity or moral right. This condition being inadmissible, the proposed limited reference is declined." He did not understand Mr. Seward's position to be that the question whether what had been done was according to the law of nations should be referred; but to complain that before entering upon the arbitration he was to be compelled to waive his conviction, repeatedly expressed, that the proclamation was premature and contrary to international law. He could not but think that it was too much for the noble lord to expect that Mr. Seward should give up his opinion on that matter, and record his having done $. If he had said, “I refer the question whether there is any money due in reference to the Alabama ships, and whether we broke the law by granting belligerent rights," it would have been open to us to say, “We will not refer that;” but what the noble lord said was, “We will not refer unless you acknowledge yourself to be wrong in reference to the ground that you have been constantly taking." :

Lord STANLEY. No; only that the right should not be questioned before the arbitrator.

Mr. FORSTER believed that Mr. Seward thought that if he entered upon the arbitration he must acknowledge that the assumption that he had made that the proclamation was not called for was a wrong one, and that the noble lord should not have enforced any such conditions. He did not know why we should have refused arbitration upon Mr. Seward's terms, for we had the strongest possible case, and all the noble lord's arguments might have been brought before the arbitrator instead of as reasons why the arbitration should not be assented to. If the arbitration were meant in the spirit of the treaty of Paris-that of an attempt to decide a question between two nations by means of the decision of a third party rather than by war or a threat of war-then the fact that we were confident as to what our right was was no ground for not arbitrating, and consequently if Mr. Seward desired to refer this question, he (Mr. Forster) did not ste why his wish should not have been admitted. But Mr. Seward did not ask for this, and it was right that his last dispatch bore a different meaning from his first one. He said first that the whole subject must be referred, and that this included the question of recognition ; but after the noble lord's letter Mr. Seward took different ground, or so defined his first statement that it bore a different interpretation. He said that he must be at liberty to contend before the arbitrator that the act of the British government was Dot right; that this must be among the matters complained of. He thought that what Dr. Seward meant was that he should have the right to use the fact of recognition as an argument in favor of the claims made; and he (Mr. Forster) could not see why he should not be allowed to do so. He thought that Mr. Seward's argument would be a very bad one; and if the noble lord's representative at the arbitration should say that the argument was not relevant it would not be used. He believed that the representative of the United States at the arbitration would have felt that the argument was so bad that We should never have heard of it again. It was very much to be regretted that Mr. Beward had taken the position that he was called on by the noble lord to eat his own worls, but after all he hoped that what had happened was only a hitch in the settlement, for he could not but believe that some means of settlement would be found. Everyberly in England, and the large body of influential persons in the United States, also desired that the matter should be settled. He believed that there was no party in the l'nited States that did not desire this except the Fenians. If it should turn out that he was right in the supposition that the American government only wanted to make use before the arbitrator of certain arguments, he hoped that the noble lord would not object to their doing so. They should further consider whether arbitration was the only means of settling the matter. [Hear, hear.] There had been tremendous injury inflicted

pon American shipping, and there was great reason to believe that if the law remained as it now was, then in future wars great injury would also be inflicted upon English shipping. What naturally came forward under these circumstances was the wish that international law should be so arranged that the inhabitants of both countries should os prevented from carrying on private war. And if America should say, in answer to that proposition, “You must first make recompense for what has passed," why should not that matter be considered? He did not think that it would be inconsistent with our interest if the two governments agreed that the international or the municipal law of both countries should be so altered as to prevent the escape from the ports of either of pirate ships for the future. Such an alteration would do great good. [Hear, hear.] There was another possible means of settling the matter. There were several questions in dispute between the two governments, and he could not but think that, with the willingness of both governments to settle disputes, if some statesmen high in position m this country were sent out by the noble lord, the whole of these questions could be kettled. He repeated that there was no party in England that did not wish for a settleDent, and he believed that there was no such party in America except those irreconMlable enemies of ours whose only hope lay in such questions remaining unsettled; and 11 we could get rid of these questions we should strike a greater blow at Fenianism Wian by anything else wbich we could do. [Hear.]

Sir G. BOWYER observed that the honorable gentleman had assumed that the Alabama case involved the question of carrying on private war by the subjects of one country against those of another. It seemed, however, to liim that there was no connection between the two things. His object in rising was to call attention to the doctrine of international law in reference to contraband of war, as it bore upon the Alabama case. Some persons thought that the doctrine as to contraband of war involved what was called “conflicting rights," because private persons were allowed to deal in contraband of war, and belligerents had a right to seize it. You might, however, as well talk to a jurist of " conflicting rights" as to a mathematician of a triangle of which one angle was greater than another. The principle of international law in reference to contraband of war was clear. It was this, that no government should be held responsible for the ordinary trade of its subjects, when carried on with belligerents. If this were not so, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to maintain neutrality. If a government were made responsible for contraband of war sold to a belligerent, then the sale of a stand of arms, or a barrel of gunpowder, might compromise the neutrality of a country, and it would be necessary for a government to exercise a direct surveillance over the whole trade of its subjects; and this would be a state of things which it would be almost impossible to carry out. Vattel, in book 3, chapter 7, said: "If a nation trades in arms, timber, ships, or muniments of war, I cannot complain if it furnishes these things to my enemy, provided it does not refuse to sell these articles to me at a reasonable price. It exercises its traffic without any intention to injure me, and by continuing that traffic as if I were not at war it gives me no just cause of complaint." Let them apply these clear principles of international law to the case of the Alabama. The southern States being at war, sent to eminent ship-builders at Liverpool to build them ships according to specifications. No doubt these specifications indicated that these ships were to be used for a warlike purpose; but this was a case contemplated by Vattel. It was not for the ship-builders to consider whether the ships were intended for commerce or for war; but the remedy of the United States government was to capture them, and condemn them as contraband of war. It was only by her impartial conduct that England expected to keep her neutrality. There was not a tittle of sound legal argument to support the assumption that the foreign enlistment act made any alteration in the position of England in reference to international law. No country could be bound at the dictation of another country to enforce its own municipal laws; and the difference between a municipal law and a treaty was this, that if the foreign enlistment act had formed a treaty the American government might have enforced its provisions. But with regard to municipal law it was right of every sovereign state to consider with reference to its own interest, and not in any particular instance, whether it would enforce any of its municipal laws. The foreign enlistment act was one of those laws which could not be enforced at the instance of the government, but it could be done at any time in any of our courts by a British subject or a foreigner. The power of the principal custom-house officers to detain a vessel did not in any manner impair the effects of the law as he had laid it down, because what they did in that respect was purely ministerial, and in obedience to a warrant issued by a competent authority. The government of the day ought to have said to the American government: “We do not wish to take unlimited responsibility in this matter; you lay your information before a magistrate and it shall be put in force by the executive." But the government of the day made a great error when they telegraphed to Liverpool to stop the ship, because by so doing they gave the appearance of being themselves responsible. Although he considered it was a mistake their interfering, he was far from thinking that it really altered the merits of the case. It was an act of supererogation on their part, and it was now sought to make this government responsible for the slip or failure that had occurred in doing what the law did not peremptorily require of them. It was an unfortunate circumstance, the escape of the Alabama. It was an accident, and the government stood harmless with regard to it. He was unable to see what fair or reasonable grounds of complaint the United States government had in the matter, and he had laid his argument before the house because that part of the question had not been sufficiently ventilated. He agreed with the honorable member for Reading that a quiet and temperate discussion of the matter might tend to the solution of the difficulty. The feeling of that house, and the people of the country, was friendly towards the United States, [hear, hear,) and he thought the honorable member was wrong in supposing that the conservative party was not friendly towards the north. (Hear, hear. The recognition of the south as belligerents by the north was a matter more for the consideration of the government than of the House of Commons. It was, in fact, a question of policy, which depended on a great number of circumstances and facts which were better known to the government than they could be to the house, and he thought the house would act unwisely in expressing an opinion on either side. If, however, the question of recognition of the south was sent to arbitration, he thonght it would be decided in favor of this country. He could not give his entire assent to all the arguments that had been used upon the question by either side. What had been said with regard to a blockade was a mistake, because there was such a thing as unilateral war, in which one side used all the rights of belligerents, without conceding those rights to others. It existed and would be urged if they went to arbitration on the point of recognition. [Hear, hear.] It was a doctrine of rather a subtle nature, [hear, and laughter,] but it was well known to those who had given attention to the subject of municipal law.

Mr. SANDFORD concurred in what had been expressed as to the kindly feeling that should be preserved between this country and the United States, and that everything should be done consistent with national honor. The honorable member for Bradford had spoken of the future, but he (Mr. Sandford) hoped that when they considered their future relations with America it would not be by themselves and America only, but by a congress of all the maritime nations, when the maritime laws should be determined in accordance with the principles there laid down. He should not have risen, only that it appeared to him that the honorable and learned gentleman who had raised the discussion did not appear to be aware of the grounds upon which the case on the part of the l'nited States could be urged. The honorable and learned gentleman appeared to think that the sending forth the Alabama was a violation of the municipal laws; but that was not so, for any citizen had a right to send out an armed vessel for the south as for the north, but it was subject to be captured as contraband of war. [Hear. ] The only possible ground upon which the United States could urge the question was the violation of the municipal law, but to be able to do that successfully America must be able to prove mala fides, or a lax administration of the law on the part of England. He supposed they would urge the latter; but if the Alabama had been seized when she started it would only have been the case of the Alexandra over again. The judges of any violation of the law were the officers of the Crown. That was the principle laid down by Earl Russell and adopted by the noble lord the member for King's Lynn when he came into office. He had no wish to find fault with the noble lord's policy because he was guided by the feeling of wishing to maintain friendly relations with the United States; but the noble lord had taken upon himself a heavy responsibility by submitting to arbitration the lax administration of the law by the executive, which was a new principle with regard to international law. Some years since the Austrian government called attention to the fact that a fabrication of Hungarian notes was going on in this country, but we interfered too late, and according to the principle now sought to be laid down, the Austrian government had a claim against us for the lax administration of the law by the executive to the extent of the loss sustained by that country. He had lately met with a large number of Americans. They seemed animated with a good feeling towards England, and they were perfectly reasonable on every other subject but that of the Alabama, and the moment that was mentioned they gave way to the greatest excitement, and he quoted it to show how deeply rooted the feeling of injustice must be on the part of the Americans. [Hear, hear.) He was unable to say if these negotiations wonld be resumed, but if they should be, and revived in a calmer spirit, he would venture to suggest to the noble lord the foreign secretary the name of a Degotiator. Many names had been mentioned, but the Americans were not such flunkeys as many supposed, nor one-tenth so guilty as ourselves. The name of the person he should suggest was a household word in every part of the United States, viz., the honorable member for Birmingham. (Hear, hear, and laughter.] The honorable gentleman who laughed had not properly considered the question. (Laughter.] His object in appointing a negotiator was to arrive at a speedy and successful termination, and he knew no one more likely to conciliate our opponents than the honorable member for Biriningham. The suggestion might not find much favor in that house, but it would in the country and in America. The appointment of that gentleman would go far to remove the feeling of injustice under which America was now laboring with Trgard to England and the Alabama, and if any man could conduct the negotiations to & sticcessful and peaceful termination it was the honorable member for Birmingham. (Hear, hear.)

Mr. Mill said no one could have listened to this debate without being ready to admit that it had elicited much of an exceedingly gratifying and satisfactory nature, and it might have been hoped approaching to a greater degree of unanimity in the essentials of the question, if not for the speeches of the two honorable members who had immediately preceded him in the debate, [hear, hear,] who had referred to points of international law chiefly involved in the dispute in a manner which would almost lead one to believe they had not read very attentively the discussions that had taken place upon the subject. He said it with more regret because no fault whatever was to be found with the tone or feeling they had displayed, and in the case of the honorable member Tor Maldon, on the contrary, an amount of good feeling towards America had been displayed, which perhaps surprised some on the opposition side of the house, but which did not surprise him, (Mr. Mill.) It appeared to him that in reviewing the question of international law both those gentlemen had ignored the distinct and fundamental ground on which the discussion had turned, viz., the broad distinction which the law

cognized between trade and contraband articles and the use of a neutral country as the base of military or naval operations. (Hear, hear.] It had never been denied that

a ship of war might have been supplied to either of the belligerents with no more objection or violation of the municipal laws than the export of military stores; but then on condition that the ship should have gone direct to the port of the belligerent to whom she was sold before she went forth to make war on the commerce of the other belligerent. [Hear, hear.] But the case of the Alabama was a totally different thing. An emissary was sent by the Confederate States to make arrangements for fitting out in this country a naval expedition, with which to make war on the commerce of the north. The honorable and learned member for Dundalk had said it was fair if allowed to both parties equally, but the first thing to be considered was that practically it never benefited both equally, and although the liberty might be essentially the same, the party who needed it was benefited, and the other was not. If, therefore, a neutral country lends its country as a place from whence a hostile expedition sets forth, it permitted those things to be done in a place which the opposite party was not allowed to get at, and consequently could not obstruct the other. If the Alabama had been fitted out in one of the ports belonging to the Confederate States, it would have been in the power of the north to have obstructed the operations, either by shutting up the ship, or, by bombarding the dock-yard, have destroyed it. Whatever information the north might have had with regard to the Alabama in this country they could not do that, and consequently this country had committed a breach of the neutrality laws by giving its protection to one of the belligerents against the other. With regard to the point that a country could not be required to enforce its own municipal laws, the honorable member for Maldon had gone so far as to blame the secretary of state for foreign affairs for having consented to refer that question to arbitration. Whether we had or haul not allowed our municipal laws to be violated, the foreign secretary had consented to no such thing, because a foreign country had nothing to do with the violation of those laws. The right a country had against England was that we should make municipal laws to enforce our municipal duties, [hear, hear,) and on that ground alone could action be taken. If we had enforced them, and they had been found insufficient for the discharge of our municipal duties, we should still have given a right of complaint to the United States. The question, therefore, to be referred had nothing to do with what our municipal laws might have been ; but were we bound by international law to prevent certain things from being done, and being so bound, if we were so, did we do all we could to fulfill that duty ? It might be that we were under an obligation to make fresh municipal laws if those in existence were not sufficient to fulfill our international duties. [Hear, hear.] He thought he might congratulate the house and the country on the fact that the point at issue between this country and the United States was but an exceedingly small one. But if a very small point prevented the settlement of a very great question, the greater the reason for lamentation. He did not think there was room for blame in any quarter, for it appeared that the two parties had not thoroughly understood one another. It was said that it was an unfriendly, nay that it was a precipitate, an unprecedented act of which we had been guilty in extending to the southern States of North America the character of belligerents. But, however unfriendly, however precipitate, however unprecedented the act might have been, the Americans had never charged us with committing the violation of international law for which they demanded reparation. What he apprehended the Americans claimed was, that they should be permitted to use the early recognition as an argument to convince an arbitrator that the depredations of the Alabama would not have taken place at all, or, at all events, would not have taken place so very early, but for this act of ours. But, surely, any person who was capable of arbitrating between two great countries was competent to decide what argument was relevant to the question at issne and what was not relevant, [Hear, hear.] He could not help saying how cordially he welcomed the hints which had been thrown out by the noble lord and by the honorable member for Bradford as to the possibility of settling the question. [Hear, hear.] He believed there were very few persons in the country who were not now quite disposed to believe that we owed some reparation to the United States, [hear, hear;] and, if so, we did not want an arbitrator to tell us whether we owed anything, but only what amount we owed. [Hear, hear.] The best thing to appoint would, then, be a mixed commission, to say what were the real damages which the United States sustained from the act of negligence of the British nation in allowing the fitting up and departure of the Alabama. There were people who did not think that an arbitrator would decide against us, but that it would be for the convenience of the country that he should. If some such person should be sent-he would not say whether it should be his honorable friend the member for Birmingham-but if negotiations should be reopened commencing with an admission that we owed the United States something, he could not see that there would be any serious difficulty in getting the question, what we had to pay, fairly settled. [Hear, hear.]

Mr. GLADSTONE said the observations which he had to make would be very few. He could not allow the debate to close without expressing his obligations to the honorable member for Reading for the candid spirit in which he had dealt with the question; and also to the noble lord the secretary of state for foreign affairs for the spirit in which

the whole affair had been conducted. That was a spirit of the most perfect equity, both towards those who preceded him in office and to those with whom he had been in contact. With regard to Lord Russell, the noble lord had said that he was well aware of the difference made by times and circumstances in the way of handling the same proposal from the same parties; and bearing this in mind he (Mr. Gladstone) admitted that the noble lord, when he determined to make the proposal of arbitration with the United States, exercised a sound discretion in taking a step which was likely to lead to a settlement. [Hear, hear.] He had listened with great respect to the speech of the honorable member for Westminister, but he had felt nnable to glean the precise point at which the negotiations came to a close. If the effect of the speech of the noble lord had been to show that there was no prospect of a practical resumption of the negotiations, he would have regarded it, with very great pain, as an ambiguity beyond any solution. But the last speaker might be right. If they looked narrowly at the Words of Mr. Seward in his letters of the 29th of November last, all that he there refused to do was to waive, by a preliminary point of belligerency, his right to maintain that the Queen's proclamation was not necessary. And so far he might proceed in safety and congratulate the noble lord on the effect which he had produced on the mind of Mr. Seward. He was bound, however, to say that in one opinion of the last Speaker he was not able to concur, simply because he did not think it desirable that a misunderstanding should exist on a point of fact. He understood the last speaker to say that there were few members of the house who would hesitate to admit that redress in some form or other was due from us to America on account of the Alabama. He (Mr. Gladstone) did not so understand the speech of the noble lord; and he frankly owned that, if this were so, he would suggest that England should at once tender reparation. He was, also, afraid that his honorable friend was over-sanguine in his assumption that, by admitting the claim of the United States to reparation and compensation, he would secure the settlement of other controverted questions. They had all heard with the greatest satisfaction the closing sentence of the speech of the noble lord. They learned from this that, although the correspondence had dropped, yet that á friendly and amicable prosecution of the subject was still going on, and that there was now in the hands of the government a communication which was likely to be developed into further stages for the settlement of the question. [Hear, hear.] If that were so, he could only say that while, on the one hand, there was every reason to believe that the honor and the interests of this country would be safe in the hands of the noble lord; on the other, he might rely with confidence that, in every part of the House of Commons, as well as in every part of the country, there would be a disposition to strengthen his hands, so as to enable him to perform the arduous and difficult task of sttling this question, which, if not properly arranged, might lead to most disastrous results. (Hear, hear.]

The motion was then withdrawn.

Mr. Adams to Mr. Seward. No. 1551.]

LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,

London, March 11, 1868. SIR: I have to acknowledge the reception of dispatch No. 2135, of the 25th of February.

The debate upon the state of Ireland was commenced last night in the House of Commons by Mr. Maguire, the member for Cork. It will probably continue for some time and develop the conflicting nature of the views held by the various sections into which the body is now divided. It is the wish of a portion of the opposition to assume some ground upon which a trial of strength may be made with the government. But it is Very doubtful whether anything they could select would concentrate the party sufficiently to secure a triumph. It is alleged that the number of members who are likely to lose their seats on an election under the new reform act is so considerable, that nothing which may involve a question of immediate dissolution is likely to find favor; besides which, any attempt to overthrow the Irish church establishment, the most assailable of all grievances, is met by a degree of resistance from allies in this kingdom which is not the less effective because it makes little noise.

« EdellinenJatka »