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Department of State, and a frequent topic of correspondence between the Secretary and our ministers abroad. He did not hesitate to denounce all these vessels, their officers and crews, as pirates x because they belonged to no nation or lawful belligerent.
The destruction of the Alabama by the Kearsarge in June, 1864, and the capture of the Florida in the waters of Brazil in October of the same year, elicited from Mr. Seward despatches of remarkable interest.
Owing to a change of ministry in Great Britain, during the controversy, and to other causes, more or less delay occurred in the negotiations.
The propositions made by Great Britain, through Lord Stanley, for arbitration were declined by the United States, because they contained reservations and limitations incompatible with the rights, interest and honor of our country. Mr. Seward nevertheless expressed a confident opinion that Great Britain would not finally refuse to satisfy our just and reasonable claims which involve the sacred principle of non-intervention — a principle, he added of not more importance henceforth to the United States, than to all other commercial nations.2 On another occasion lie said, "I feel bound to declare my opinion before the world that the justification offered by Great Britain for the course pursued by her ministry cannot be sustained before the tribunal of nations." 3
On the 4th of July, 1871, a treaty was proclaimed by Mr. Seward's successor, Mr. Fish, providing for an amicable settlement of all causes of difference between the two countries by a joint.high commission. This commission instituted a tribunal of arbitration 'which met at Geneva, in Switzerland, in 1872. This tribunal was empowered to determine whether Great Britain had failed to fulfil any of its duties toward the United States during the Rebellion, and, if so, to fix the proper sum of money to be paid, in gross, to the United States in satisfaction of the various claims presented. The tribunal awarded fifteen and one-half millions of dollars to the JJnited States, under the power conferred. The British government promptly paid the sum which had been thus awarded. This ended a controversy originated and managed, on Mr. Seward's part, with great ability 1 and unwearied zeal — met as he often was, in his demands, by peremptory rebuffs from Lord John Russell.
1 Mr. Webster, Secretary of State in 1S51, defined a pirate thus : " An armed vessel fitted out obviously and flagrantly for warlike purposes, found sailing on the high seas without a commission from any acknowledged government . . . might be regarded as a pirate." (Private Correspondence, p. 477.)
2 See Despatches to Adams, August 27, 1866, January 12, 1867, and August 12, 1867.
3 During the rebellion of the South American States against Spain and the administration of James Monroe, John Quincy Adams being Secretary of State, a similar course of privateering or piracy emanated from the United States. Baltimore, in 1820, rivalled Liverpool in 1863, in sending out piratical cruisers like the Alabama and the Florida. But the vigor of Monroe's administration in efforts to suppress and restrain the unlawful enterprises was in marked contrast with the feeble attempts of the British government in 1861-1864. See Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, Vols. IV., V.
Mr. Seward, as we have seen, never remitted his efforts to secure a settlement of our claims against Great Britain. Negotiations of other treaties were vigorously prosecuted about the same time at home and abroad. The title to the island of San Juan, which was finally awarded to the United States by the arbitrator, was included in the subjects under discussion. The difficult questions with Great Britain, Germany and other nations relating to naturalization, were carefully considered, and several treaties thereon were negotiated.
Not only did no act or word of Mr. Seward, during his administration, ever prolong for one day the existence of slavery, but his hand and seal are to be found on the treaty which put an end to the slave-trade throughout the world; on the Emancipation Proclamation, a military measure, and on the constitutional amendment that forever abolished slavery throughout the United States.
The records of the Department of State under Mr. Seward bear witness to the recognition of Hayti and its black representatives; the abolition of the foreign and the internal slave-trade; the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia and throughout the Union. Mr. Seward, ever mindful of human rights, instructed our ministers abroad, that the decree of emancipation reached even foreign lands. In July, 1868, he wrote as follows : —
"The great change of the political relations between the races in this country has made it the duty of this government to see that no unjust or unnecessary discriminations are made in foreign countries between citizens of the United States of different birth, extraction, or color."
1 Mr. Evarts, at Toronto in September, 1379, then Secretary of State, in a public address, recognized Mr. Seward's services in diplomacy in the following terms: "You have very justly attributed to my predecessor, Mr. Seward, a great part, entitling him to the gratitude of the people of England, as well as to the gratitude of the people of his own country — I mean his skilful management of the relations between the two nations during the dark night of our civil war; and when that war ended, his benevolent diplomacy finally succeeded in bringing about between the two nations a solution of the causes of difficulty which, but for that solution, might have disturbed their peace for many years — I mean the consent to peaceful arbitration of the grievance growing out of the Alabama difficulties. lie thus gave a signal instance both of a forethought and a benevolence in diplomacy that have seldom been equalled in the history of international negotiations."
To such lengths did Mr. Seward's opposition to slavery go, as we have seen in our progress, that lie did not hesitate, the President concurring, to surrender a noted Cuban slave-trader, named Arguelles, to the Spanish authorities for punishment, notwithstanding there was no extradition treaty existing between Spain and the United States to warrant such a surrender. Although this criminal was a most atrocious offender, and although Mr. Seward's course had the approval of the President, much indignation was manifested in certain quarters and Mr. Seward was bitterly denounced. Resolutions of inquiry into the matter were introduced into Congress. Mr. Seward in his reply, through the President, vindicates Lis course in a few words : " TLere being no treaty of extradition," he says, " between the United States and Spain, nor any act of Congress directing how fugitives from justice in Spanish dominions shall be delivered up, the extradition in the case referred to in the resolution of the Senate is understood by this Department to have been made in virtue of the law of nations and the Constitution of the United States. Although there is a conflict of authorities concerning the expediency of exercising comity towards a foreign government by surrendering, at its request, one of. its own subjects charged with a commission of crime within its territory, and although it may be conceded that there is no national obligation to make such a surrender upon a demand therefor, unless it is acknowledged by treaty or by statute law, yet a nation is never bound to furnisL asylum to dangerous criminals who are offenders against the human race; and it is believed that if, in any case, the comity could witb propriety be practised, the one which is understood to have called forth the resolution furnished a just occasion for its exercise."
The President alluded to this case in his annual message to Congress in 1864, declaring that he entertained " no doubt of the power and duty of the Executive, to exclude enemies of the human race from an asylum in the United States."
The case was briefly, this: Jos6 Agustin Arguelles, a slavedealer, sold in Cuba three hundred negroes, stolen from Africa. He then fled to New York, expecting there to enjoy the spoils of his villany. The Spanish police pursued him. His arrest and trial in Cuba would cause the release from bondage of the three hundred negroes. No treaty of extradition existed at the time between the United States and Spain, and no power seemed to be vested in any functionary of the United States government to cause the arrest and surrender of the great criminal, a fugitive from justice. He was, nevertheless, arrested in the City of New York by the United States Marshal. The Spanish Minister at Washington was informed by Mr. Seward while the arrest was going on, that if a suitable officer be sent to New York by the Captain-General of Cuba, such steps as may be proper would be taken to place in his charge, for the purpose indicated in the confidential note of the Spanish Minister, Don Jose Augustus Arguelles. The Captain-General accordingly designated one of his aides-de-camp as the person to receive Arguelles, and requested that he be put on board a steamer for Havana. On the 19th of May, 1864, the Captain-General announced the arrival of Arguelles at Havana in charge of a confidential officer.
In the course of the proceedings, Mr. Seward, in an interview with the agents of the Cuban government, remarked that "so far as depends on me, as Secretary of State, Spanish slave-dealers who have no immunity in Havana will find none in New York."
The Captain-General requested the Spanish Minister at Washington to convey to Mr. Seward the thanks of the Cuban government for his services to humanity, in this affair, because he had assisted in the exposure and punishment of a crime totally distinct from any political matter. The result of Mr. Seward's action, said the Captain-General, will be the liberation of more than two hundred human beings, who, but for- the return to Cuba of Arguelles, must have remained in slavery. To Mr. Seward they owe the recovery of their freedom.1
The melancholy events of 1865 can hardly be more fitly recorded in this volume, than in the words of the following despatches:
MR. F. W. SEWARD TO MR. ADAMS.
(Circular. No. 1345.)
Department Of State, Washington, April 10, 1865. gIR? __I regret to state that a serious accident has occurred to the Secretary of State and that his injuries are so severe as to render it impossible, for the present, that he should give any attention to matters of official business.2 It is hoped
i See Dip. Cor. xxxvni. Con. 2d Sess., Part 2, p. 60, 1864.
that in a few days he will so far have recovered from its effects as to be able to resume, in some degree, his official duties. Your recent despatches will then be submitted to him. Until that time their consideration is necessarily deferred. I am, sir, your obedient servant,
F. W. Seward, Acting Secretary,
MR. HUNTER TO MR. ADAMS.
(Circular. No. 1352.)
Department Of State, Washington, April 17, 1865. Sir, — The melancholy duty devolves upon me, officially to apprise you of the assassination of the President at Ford's theatre, in this city, in the evening of the 14th instant. He died the next morning from the effects of the wound.
About the same time, an attempt was made to assassinate the Secretary of State in his own house, where he was in bed suffering from the effects of the late accident. The attempt failed, but Mr. Seward was severely cut, on the face especially, it is supposed with a bowie-knife.
Mr. F. W. Seward was felled by a blow or blows on the head from the assassin, and for some time afterward was apparently unconscious. Both the Secretary and Assistant Secretary are better, especially the former.
Andrew Johnson has formally entered upon the duties of President. I have been authorized temporarily to act as Secretary of State. I am, sir, your obedient servant,
W. Piunter, Acting Secretary.
Mr. Seward's only allusion to the "casualties" which deprived the department of the services of both the Secretary and Assistant Secretary of State for several weeks, was drawn out by way of excuse for an omission to, fully acknowledge the manifold expressions which were transmitted to the department from governments, public authorities, civic, ecclesiastical and educational corporations and associations, as well as from public assemblies of citizens, and from individual citizens, of their feeling of sympathy and condolence with the government and the people of the United States in the calamity which they had suffered in the lamented death of the late President Abraham Lincoln. "Owing," says Mr. Seward, "to some peculiar casualties, the efricienc}^ of the department was impaired at the time these despatches were received.1 They obtained only a simple and formal acknowledgment from the presiding secretary."
"Our government, simply constructed, with adaptation to the transaction of necessary affairs in the ordinary course of administration, found itself (in the condition of this department, which then existed) inadequate to the immediate acknowledgment of
1 See Despatch to Mr. Adams, Not. 4,1865.