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Mr. Seward to Mr. Stuart.


Washington, September 18, 1862. Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 16th instant in regard to Francis Carroll, and it gives me much pleasure to admit all the liberality and candor of the sentiments upon that subject which you have expressed.

Ì transmit, herewith, a note relating to the same case, which I have just received from Major Turner, assistant judge advocate general, to whom the subject of Carroll's detention was referred by the honorable Secretary of War. In view of the additional light thrown upon the case by this letter, and of the further fact that the invading insurgents who entered Maryland for the purpose of producing an armed uprising of the disloyal inhabitants there have not yet left the State, I have felt obliged to acquiesce in the opinion of the War Department, that it would be hazardous to the public safety to discharge Francis Carroll from confinement at the present time. I will, however, with pleasure, recur to the subject after some little delay, if you desire it. I have the honor to be, with high consideration, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. Hon. WM. STUART, fr., 80., fr.

Major Turner to Mr. Seward.


Washington City, September 17, 1862. SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 15th instant, in relation to Francis Carroll, with the enclosures therein named, and in answer thereto, and additional to my communication of the 5th instant upon the same subject, respectfully to say: That since the 5th instant, by order of the Secretary of War, I have examined the persons imprisoned at Fort Lafayette for alleged political offences, and among the persons examined was Francis Carroll. He claimed to be a British subject and in nowise amenable to the United States government. He said he would not take an oath to abstain from rendering aid and comfort to the rebellion, because, owing no allegiance to the United States, he had the right to aid and assist “either side," at his pleasure. He is an Irishman, of unusual volubility, and apparently, by his language and conduct, a desperate and reckless person.

Although it may not be strictly within the rules of official correspondence. I will take the liberty to state that the commandant at Fort Lafayette informed me that Carroll addressed a letter to the British consulate at New York, asking intervention and protection, if they had time, aside from wine and women, to give it, and that the answer thereto was, that if he used language as impertinent and insulting to the United States officials, his imprisonment was merited

There may not be any objection to discharging Carroll on condition that he will leave the United States, as suggested in the postscript of your note, provided it be desired, and reliable assurance or guarantee be given that he shall not return; but in times like the present, I am quite sure that persons of such desperate and reckless character had better be under restraint, for the better preservation of the peace and good order of all nationalities.

With assurances that your suggestions and recommendations in this regard

will be promptly followed, I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant, .

L. C. TURNER, Judge Advocate. Hon. William H. SEWARD,

Secretary of State.

Mr. Stuart to Mr. Seward.

WASHINGTON, September 25, 1862. "The undersigned, her Britannic Majesty's chargé d'affaires to the United States of America, has received instructions from her Britannic Majesty's principal secretary of state for foreign affairs to address to the Secretary of State of the United States a further representation respecting the restrictions imposed by the United States government on trade between New York and ports in the British West Indies.

The undersigned is instructed to say that her Majesty's government consider the question to be one of great importance, and that, however desirous they may be of making every allowance for the difficulties of the position of the United States government, it is impossible for them to acquiesce in the system of interference with the legitimate trade of Great Britain which is now practiced by the United States authorities, such interference being not only in contravention of the existing treaties between Great Britain and the United States, but being also contrary to the established principles of international law.

It appears that British vessels lawfully trading between New York and the Bahamas are, in some instances, refused clearances at New York, and in others, after having been regularly cleared, with full knowledge by the United States authorities of the articles on board, are detained and searched, and are required either to reland portions of their cargoes, or to give bonds that no part of the cargo shall, at any indefinite time, be used by the enemies of the United States. And these proceedings are not claimed to be prescribed by any general law or regulation of commerce, but are avowed to be wholly discretionary with the collector of customs, to be enforced by him whensoever he shall entertain the suspicion and belief that the real destination of the cargo is, mediately or immediately, to some port in the possession of the enemies of the United States, or if he shall be satisfied that “there is imminent danger that the goods, wares, and merchandise, of whatever description, laden on such vessels, will fall into the possession or under the control of the insurgents,” &c. The collector of customs, in his report of the 12th of June, states that, “in the exercise of the discretion devolved upon him as an officer of the government of a sovereign people, he had prohibited the shipment of coals, and dry goods, and shoes, and quinine, and other drugs, and tin ware, and munitions of war, and sundry other articles, to Nassau and the West Indies, and other foreign ports, when he had reason to suspect that they were intended, by individual enterprise, or the special contracts of British subjects, to contribute directly to the welfare of the enemies of the United States."

The undersigned is instructed to state that her Majesty's government cannot call to mind any principle of international jurisprudence, nor any precedent approved by international law, to justify such interference with the trade of neutrals.

The undersigned would submit to the consideration of the cabinet at Washington that trade between Great Britain and the United States, at least as to ports and places in the undisturbed possession of the United States, is not in any degree affected by the state of war in which the United States are engaged, and, moreover, that trade between Great Britain and an enemy of the United States (the former preserving a strict neutrality or indifference between the belligerent parties) can be affected only in the manner and to the extent prescribed by the international law of blockade.

The United States government will admit that shipments similar to those now subjected to interference from New York to Nassau and other British ports, if made in time of peace, could not be prohibited without giving manifest cause of just complaint to Great Britain, especially while such shipments remain open to other nations not having with the United States treaties of a more favorable nature. It follows that to prohibit such shipments to British subjects while permitting them to the subjects of other nations is to assume a state of quasi hostility to Great Britain on account of geographical or other circumstances supposed to mix her up with interests of the enemy of the United States.

The doctrine assumed by the United States authorities would seem to be that goods which ordinarily may be lawfully shipped from the United States by British subjects to certain British ports in British bottoms may be embargoed, if, in the judgment of an inferior officer, such as the collector of a port, there is imminent danger that on their passage to the British port the enemy will unlawfully seize them, or that, having safely arrived at that port, they may, with greater facility, be exported thence to the enemy, or that they may, in any way, “fall into the possession of, or under the control of, the enemy."

The undersigned is instructed to say that her Majesty's government cannot assent to such a doctrine.

Great Britain has declared her neutrality in the contest now raging between the United States government and the so-styled Confederate States. She is, consequently, entitled to the rights of neutrals, and to insist that her commerce shall not be interrupted, except upon the principles which ordinarily apply to neutrals. These principles authorize nothing more than the maintenance of a strict and actual blockade of the enemy's ports by such force as shall, at the least, make it evidently dangerous to attempt to enter them. But the fact of a neutral ship having succeeded in evading a blockade affords no ground for international complaint, nor is it an offence which can be punished upon any subsequent seizure of the ship after she shall have successfully run the blockade. Her Majesty's government consider that it would be introducing a novel and dangerous principle in the law of nations if belligerents, instead of maintaining an effectual blockade, were to be allowed, upon mere suspicion or belief, well or ill-founded, that certain merchandise could ultimately find its way into the enemy's country, to cut off all or any commerce between their commercial allies and themselves. This would be to substitute for the effectual blockade recog. nized by the law of nations a comparatively cheap and easy method of interrupting the trade of neutrals. But when this illegal substitute for such a blockade is applied to a particular nation on account of the geographical position of its territories, or for other reasons, while the same ports of the belligerent are open for like exports by other nations, the case assumes a still graver complexion.

The undersigned is further instructed to say that, although the question raised by this interference with the trade of Great Britain is as to what are the international obligations of the United States towards Great Britain as a neutral country, and not as to what may be at any given moment the local laws of the United States, which laws cannot override treaty rights, it may not be amiss to point out that the system of interference complained of is, apparently, not in conformity, even, with the terms of the act of Congress under which the treasury instructions were issued. That act authorizes the refusal of clearances to foreign vessels only when the Secretary of the Treasury should “have satisfactory reasons to believe that the goods, or some part of them, were intended for ports or places in possession or under control of insurgents against the United States," and authorizes bonds to be taken only to secure the delivery of the cargo at the destination for which it is cleared, and in order that no part should be “used in affording aid or comfort to any person or parties in insurrection against the authority of the United States."

If this latter condition is to be understood, as in reasonable construction it must, of any use preceding delivery at the specified destination, it may not be objectionable; but if meant to make the master and owner responsible for any subsequent use of the articles constituting the cargo after they have passed beyond their power or control, it is unreasonable and perfectly inadmissible. With respect to the apprehension of “imminent danger that goods, &c., may fall into the possession or under the control of the insurgents,” it may also be observed that the act of Congress appears to contain no provisions whatever applicable to any exports by sea from the United States; the third section, which relates to that subject, being strictly confined to “importations into any port of the United States," and to “transportation upon any railroad, turnpike, or other road or means of transportation within the United States.” It would therefore appear that what has been done with respect to this point is not only contrary to the obligations of treaties and international law, but also beyond the letter of the special and extraordinary enactments passed by Congress itself.

The President cannot expect that Great Britain should allow British trade with her own colonies by way of the United States, or the trade between her own colonies and the United States, to be fettered by restrictions and conditions inconsistent with treaties between the United States and Great Britain, and repugnant to international law.

Her Majesty's government expect, therefore, that the President, in the exercise of his discretion, will prohibit the imposing of all such restrictions and conditions as have been complained of in the present note.

The undersigned avails himself of this opportunity to renew to the Secretary of State the assurance of his highest consideration.


Mr. Seward to Mr. Stuart.


Washington, September 25, 1862. The undersigned, Secretary of State of the United States, has had the honor to receive the note of this date from Mr. Stuart, her Britannic Majesty's chargé d'affaires, on the subject of the restrictions imposed by this government on trade between the port of New York and the British West Indies.

The undersigned will loose no time in laying this communication before the President, with a view to take his directions in regard to a reply to the same.

The undersigned avails himself of this occasion to offer to Mr. Stuart a renewed assurance of his very high consideration.


Mr. Seward to Mr. Stuart.


Washington, October 3, 1862. Sir: The undersigned, Secretary of State of the United States, having taken the President's instructions, has now the honor to reply to the note which was addressed to the undersigned by the honorable William Stuart, ber Britannic Majesty's chargé d'affaires, on the 25th day of September last, concerning certain proceedings of the collector of customs at New York, affecting clearances of vessels and cargoes from that port to British ports in the Bahama islands.

In June last, Lord Lyons, her Britannic Majesty's minister, then residing here, submitted to the undersigned a letter which had then recently been addressed to his lordship by P. Edwards, esq., her Majesty's acting consul at New York. It was set forth in that communication that the custom-house authorities in that port had, upon several occasions, thrown serious impediments in the way of the shipment of coal, as ordinary merchandise, to Nassau, and, in some cases where the goods were already embarked and even cleared at the custom-house, they had refused to permit the vessel to go to sea until such goods have been relanded; and that one of the officials had shown him an order, issued from the Treasury Department, of the 18th of April, in which shipments of coal were prohibited to any ports or places north of Cape St. Roque and west of the fifteenth degree of longitude east, where there was a reason to suspect that it might be intended for the use of the so-called confederate government or ships, and this prohibition embraced all the British North American colonies, British West Indies, Bermuda, and the British possessions on the coast of South America. Mr. Edwards also stated, in the same letter, that, upon inquiry of the officer having superintendence of the clearance bureau whether it was intended that this order should be strictly enforced, that officer replied that such was the collector's intention. Mr. Edwards proceeded to state that a British merchant, largely interested in the trade of the North American colonies and West Indies, had informed him that that merchant had made repeated applications to the custom-house to be allowed to export coal, some of which was to be tendered for the use of her Majesty's vessels upon the West India station, at the same time offering to enter into bonds that it should be landed in foreign ports, but that his applications had all been rejected. Mr. Edwards then commented on what he assumed to be the instructions of the Hon. Mr. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, to the collector at New York, and complained that the very great discretionary powers which those instructions were supposed to give to the collector had been used to the annoyance and injury of British trade, and, in this connexion, he represented that in one case where a quantity of dry goods, consisting of plain and printed cotton fabrics, had been shipped on a British vessel for Nassau, the shippers were obliged, by the custom-house, to reland them before permission for the vessel to proceed to sea could be obtained; that in another a number of packages of shoes were prohibited from exportation; and that, in a more recent case, where an order had been received from some merchants at Nassau to ship a quantity of drugs, consisting of sulphate of quinine, cantharides, and acids, only a portion of the order was permitted to be exported. Mr. Edwards further stated that, at one time, strong exception was taken by the custom-house officials to what they alleged to be an extraordinary quantity of flour and provisions shipped at New York for the British West Indies, but that he was not aware that it amounted to actual prohibition. Mr. Edwards concluded with saying that much inconvenience had been experienced, and yet continued to be experienced, by British merchants in New York from the manner in which the instructions issued by the Treasury Department had been enforced; that articles of ordinary export were at times prohibited, and

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