Sivut kuvina


claim the commissioners' ear and enforce the most unlimited audience, the sufferers by the “ Alabama” may think themselves fortunate if they get a hearing at all. Rather a descent-must not one call this?— on the 10th of November, from the American envoy's demand on the 25th of September, " of the payment of a lump sum of money," or “a cession of territory,” as “a means of settlement.”

And then, if the commissioners see fit to give the “ Alabama” claimants a hearing at all, what sort of a hearing is this which is secured for them? “Neither government shall make out a case in support of its position, nor shall any person be heard for or against any such claim, The official correspondence *

shall alone be laid before the commissioners, and, in the event of their not coming to an unanimous decision,

then before the arbitrator, without argument, written or verbal, and without the production of any further evidence."

“The commissioners, unanimously, or the arbitrator, shall, however, be at liberty to call for argument or further evidence, if they or he shall deem it necessary." Must it not have been a bad subject enough which did not bear a discussion beyond limits as narrow as these? Neither party to go to the bottom of their case, neither testimony nor argument to be heard in support of it, and an unanimous decision, or else the whole matter to be left to lot! One would think that with such a hearing as this, it was quite unnecessary to stipulate beforehand for "the omission of the specification of any question to be decided" by the arbitrator. Indeed, the leading thought uppermost in the negotiator's mind must have been, literally, that the least heard of the 6 Alabama” claims the beller.

What possible excuse can Mr. Johnson give for such a one-sided and delusive treatment of a serious question as this, unless he was indulging the idea that he had achieved a master-stroke of policy in getting the “official correspondence of the two governments” before the eyes of the umpire? If this was to be the great equivalent, I beg to ask if the American envoy was not at all aware that the greater part of the American case, national and individual-as one might also say—is not contained, or not developed, in that correspondence ? That, so far as public or private damage is concerned, the case of the “ Florida,” for instance, is hardly touched upon by it? That the facts connected with the final escape of the “ Alabama” from Liverpool, through the negligence or treachery of the custom-house officials of Liverpool during the last thirty-six hours of her stay in British waters, and before finally quiting the Welsh coast-one of the strongest features in the American case, as I venture to think-are scarcely so much as alluded to in either Mr. Seward's or Mr. Adams' dispatches? And, that that correspondence is altogether silent upon the great point of the wrong inflicted upon the country, by the original concession and continued persistence in the recognition of a belliger. ent status to the Rebel Confederacy, when that confederacy had never once complied with the condition precedent upon which alone Lord Russell declared, on the 6th of May, 1861, it was granted, viz. : that the newly-acknowledged belligerents should have prize ports and prize courts? Was not Mr. Johnson aware, further, that this same official correspondence, whose efficacy he is perhaps confiding in, altogether overlooks the pertinency of the repeated admission by the British Government, during the war, of the validity and efficiency of the American blockade long before the “Alabama"--certainly long before the “Shenandoah”- -was coaled, provisioned, and manned in a British outport, under the guise of a legitimate ship-of-war of a duly. recognized belligerent power?

These are but a few of the omissions such as I would ask if the American Minister was ignorant of when he was possibly laying such stress upon the efficacy of the United States official correspondence. I certainly adduce them in no spirit of fault-finding with the able and faithful exponents of our foreign relations during the late war. All things are not possible to men so overburdened with national cares as were those gentlemen, and I heartily join in the meed of praise which a grateful country has so justly conceded to them for their patriotic services at that trying period. Yet on the review of the whole work of the civil war, now that time has been given for the deliberate examination of its records, is it to be presumed that omissions like the above, and others of equal or greater importance, should have escaped the attention of the American representative, who was intrusted with the management of the national case against England ? If such a presumption is not admissible, then Mr. Johnson virtually abandoned his cause in letting the official correspondence stand alike for evidence and argument-law and fact-justice and discretion-in the decision of these claims. If, on the other hand, he was ignorant of the glaring defects embraced in that presentation of our case, then his submission of it to arbitration, upon that evidence alone, was worse than asking for an award upon a point not specified.

I have thus dwelt at greater length upon the Convention of November 10th, than may have seemed expedient, because, as it was mainly Mr. Johnson's work (Mr. Seward, I believe, in ignorance of

its real tenor, only stipulating for the change of the seat of arbitration from London to Washington), it serves to show how little reliance is to be placed upon the American Minister's assertion, when he is turning against his country, and declaring that, as a Government, it never had any case to begin with.

The text of Mr. Johnson's Convention of November 10th reached Washington in due course of mail in about a fortnight. Shortly after its arrival, and while it was under consideration by the President and his cabinet, Mr. Johnson telegraphed to Mr. Seward for permission to go on and complete further negotiations on the “San Juan” question. The following is Mr. Seward's reply to Mr. Johnson's telegram, show. ing the first impression of the Secretary of State of Mr. Johnson's “ Alabama” labors :

WASHINGTON, November 26, 1868, Reverdy Johnson, Esq., &c., &c.:

Let San Juan rest. Claims Convention (that is, Alabama Claims Convention), unless amended, is useless. Wait for dispatches, Friday or Saturday.


Mr. Seward followed this up with a letter of the next day, con. taining a detailed statement of objections to the treaty, and coupled with a memorandum of alterations which he deemed necessary. As I have not room for giving these documents entire, I must content my readers with the summary of them, presented a day or two after, by Mr. Thornton, to the Foreign Office, and published in the Blue Book, already quoted, p. 22.

Says Mr. Thornton, writing to Lord Stanley, November 30th:

Mr. Seward received, on the 24th instant, the Convention upon Claims, signed by your Lordship and Mr. Reverdy Johnson on the 10th instant.

On the 26th, Mr. Seward called upon me and informed me that the contents of the convention were not in accordance with the instructions which had been given to Mr. Reverdy Johnson ; that the President and his colleaguers could not approve of certain of the stipulations comprised therein; and that they were unanimously of opinion that, in its present form, the convention would not receive the sanction of the Senate. Upon the latter point I could not but concur. Mr. Seward confessed that it was possible that some excuse might be made for Mr. Johnson's not having kept more closely to his instructions, because as some of these were given by telegrams in answer to Mr. Johnson's questions sent by the same channel, Mr. Seward may have misunderstood the former, and Mr. Johnson may not have fully comprehended the instructions sent in reply.

Mr. Seward has pointed out to Mr. Reverdy Johnson that he had always intended, and so instructed him, that a protocol, not a convention, should be signed with regard to the “ Alabama” and war claims, in the same manner, and with the same condition, as that upon the “ San Juan " question. I have certainly always understood this to be the case, and I believe that my correspondence with your Lordship has given indications of this conviction on my part.

The United States Govern. ment likewise object to the unanimous decision required by Article IV. for the " Alabama " claims, whereas the other claims may be decided by a majority of the commissioners. This they consider unjust, and are even more sensitive about it than upon the subject of the umpire.

No instructions had been previously given to Mr. Johnson to make any positive declaration with regard to the Alabamaclaims, so as to distinguish them from the others.

If Article IV. were canceled, Article V. would naturally have the same fate.

The United States Government strongly object to Article VI., because it does not allow either Government to make out a case in support of its position, nor any person to be heard for or ugainst the Alabamaclaims; whereas both these steps are allowed with regard to other claims, and they do not see why a prejudicial distinction should be stipulated in the convention against the “ Alabama” claims, which would render the sanction of the Senate more doubtful, although they aeknowledge that little could be added to what is contained in the official correspondence. [A point upon which the writer has ventured to express his entire dissent as above.] They also object, for the reasons already mentioned, to the decision being necessarily unanimous, both with regard to the claims themselves, or to the [not ?] calling for argument or further evidence. They, therefore, ask that Article VI. may be canceled, or that it may be substituted by the following words:

“In case of every claim, the official correspondence which has already taken place between the two Governments respecting the question at issue, shall be iaid before the commissioners; and in the event of their not coming to a decision there. upon, then before the arbitrator; either Government may also submit further evidence and further argument thereupon, written or verbal.”

Should your Lordship be able to agree to these modifications, Mr. Seward has repeatedly assured me that the Senate are committed to the acceptance of the convention so modified, and that he is convinced they will sanc. tion it.

I have taken pains to cite so much from Mr. Thorntou in explanation of the points of disagreement between Mr. Johnson's first convention and Mr. Seward, because, as these points were nearly all eventually conceded by the British Government in the second convention of January 14th, it puts the reader essentially in possession of the terms of that convention, and, at the same time, shows how little Mr. Johnson had conformed, in his first convention, either to the instructions or to the wishes of his own Government. This report of Mr. Thornton's, however, gives Mr. Johnson the benefit of his additional instructions by telegraph, which he may have misunderstood, as Mr. Seward charitably suggests, but of which Mr. Johnson himself, as we have seen, seems disposed to make but little account. This report of Mr. Thornton's suggests, further, another unpleasant feature in Mr. Seward's diplomacy, which the American brochure of diplomatic correspondence referred to does not disclose, I believe, viz., that the Secretary of State was undertaking to speak for, and to pledge beforehand, the concurrence of the United States Senate in his negotiations. What business, I would ask (if Mr. Thornton's report is accurate on this point), had the American Secretary of State to make any such compromising assurance as this for a branch of the Government entirely independent of his own? What did he mean by saying that the Senate were committed to the ratification of the doings of the Executive, when he knew that a few short months before a large majority of the members of that body had voted for the removal of the President for high crimes and misdemeanors, and many of the Senators still believed his continuance in office a violation of the Consti. tution ?

But I must hasten on to the terms of the second convention. The reader is, doubtless, familiar with Senator Sumner's vehement and effective denunciation of its shortcomings; its failure to provide for the settlement of the national grievance; its huddling-up blockaderunning and Confederate bond-holding claims in the same category with unneutral and unfriendly raids upon the peaceful commerce of a friendly nation; its leaving to lot whether any indemnity, even of a pecuniary nature, should be granted to the individual sufferers; and its total disregard of the settlement of the principles of the law of nations involved in the controversy. Without troubling the reader with a repetition of the energetic and convincing statements of that now highly-famous speech on these heads, and, still more, without undertaking to enter into the general merits of some other of its much-controverted positions, I cannot forbear attempting to add a few criticisms upon the terms of the treaty, and the negotiations attending it, which seem to me to materially aid the Senator's primary and chief contention, viz., that it was equally the duty, as it was the constitutional prerogative, of the United States Senate, emphatically to repudiate the “ Claims” convention of January 14th.

In the first place, I beg the reader's attention to its insufficient setting forth of the subject-matter of the controversy. We have already seen with what bare toleration Mr. Reverdy Johnson secured any mention at all of the Alabama claims in his first treaty of November 10th.

Passing now to his second-which, it should be said in his favor, was negotiated with the full concurrence of the Secretary of State, and for which Hr. Seward took pains, in a letter dated January 20th, to express to him “the President's high satisfaction with the manner in which you have conducted these important negotiations”-it will be found that Mr. Johnson hardly stipulates for a more respectful cognizance of the same claims by the commissioners in the later than in the earlier treaty. The term “ Alabama occurs but once in the whole document, and then in a parenthetical kind of way, as if the American negotiator had been afraid to bring his bantling upon the carpet at all. While other—the most trifling or the most truculent,

« EdellinenJatka »