« AnteriorContinuar »
ports of the empire, and would never warrant us to commit the acts required by the consul, which would be equivalent to a hostile rupture, without the intervention of the supreme government of the state, which is alone competent to authorize such a rupture.
I renew, &c.,
ANTONIO JOAQUIM DA SILVA GOMES. Mr. THOMAS F. WILSON,
Consul of the United States. Before dawn on the morning of the 7th October, 1864, the Florida was surprised and captured in the port of Bahia by the United States war-steamer Wachusett, and was carried as a prize to the United States. Shortly after her arrival she sank in Chesapeake Bay, in consequence, as was affirmed, of having sprung a leak during her voyage and of having been injured while at anchor by a United States transport-steamer.
The government of Brazil protested immediately, in strong terms, against this violation of its sovereignty and of the neutrality of the port; and the United States minister at Rio declared, in reply, that the capture of the Florida had not been directed or authorized by bimself, condemned the act of the captain of the Wachusett, and promised that reparation should be made.
Ir. Seward, on learning what bad occurred, wrote as follows to the United States minister at Rio:1
Vr. Seurard to Mr. Tebb.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, Norember 11, 1864. SIR: In the years 1862 and 1863, remonstrances were addressed by us to the government of Brazil against the policy, different as it was from that of all other American States, in regard to the furnishing of shelter and a haven to pirates who were engaged in depredating upon the peaceful commerce of the United States. The correspondence came to a close without having produced any satisfactory result, and not without leaving a painful presentiment that a continuance of measures so injurious to the United States would sooner or later affect the harmonious relations heretofore existing between the two countries.
We have just now heard of the capture of the Florida by the Wachusett, at Bahia, and of the consequent hostilities adopted by the Brazilian forces in that port; but we have no particular information of the circumstances which preceded the collision, and our information concerning the transaction itself is incomplete. At the same time, we are absolutely without knowledge of any correspondence that it may have elicited bet reen yourself and the Brazilian government.
In this stage of the matter, the President thinks it proper that you should inform the minister of foreign affairs that we are not indisposed to examine the subject upon its merits carefully, and to consider whatever questions may arise out of it, in a becoming and friendly spirit, if that spirit shall be a:lopted by His Imperial Majesty's government.
I am, &c.,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD. With reference to this occurrence, the following correspondence passed between the Brazilian minister at Washington and the United States Secretary of State : 2
IMPERIAL LEGATION OF BRAZIL,
Washington, December 12, 1864. The undersigned, chargé d'affaires ad interim of His Majesty the Emperor of Brazil, has just received orders from his government to address himself, without delay, to that of the United States of North America abont an act of the most transcendent uravity doue on the morning of the 7th day of October last, in the port of the capital sot the province of Bahia, by the war-steamer Wachusett, belonging to the Navy of the
Appendix, vol. i, p. 152.
? Ibid., p. 153.
L'nion, an act which involves a manifest violation of the territorial jurisdiction of the empire, and an offense to its lionor and sovereignty.
On the fourth day of the month referred to, there entered that port, where already had been lying for some days the Wachusett, the confederate steamer Florida, for the purpose, declared by her commander to the president of the province, to supply herself
with alimentary provisions and coal, and to repair some tubes of her machinery.  * The president, proceeding in accordance with the policy of neutrality
which the empire resolved to adopt on the question in which unfortunately these States are involved, and in conformity with the instructions in this respect issued by the imperial government on the 2311 of June of the year last past, assented to the application of the commander of the Florida, and tixed the term of forty-eight hours for taking in supplies, and fixing, in dependence on the final examination by the engineer of the arsenal, the determination of the residue of the time which, peradventure, should be deemed indispensable for the completion of the repairs.
The same authority at once took, with the greatest impartiality, all the measures necessary to avoid any conflict between the two bostile steamers.
The Florida was placed under cover of the batteries of the Brazilian corvette D. Januaria, on the in-shore side, at the request of her commander, who, reposiug on the faith with which, without doubt, the chief authority of the province could not fail to inspire him, considered himself sheltered from any attack of his adversary, and in this contidence not only staid a night on shore, but gave liberty to a great part of the crew of his vessel.
It behooves me to say that, as soon as the confederate steamer entered the port at Bahia, the American consul, Wilson, addressed to the president a dispatch claiming that the Florida should not be admitted to free pratique, and that on the contrary she should be detained, alleging for this, that that vessel had, in concert with the Alabama, violated the neutrality of the empire by making captures in 1863, near the island of Fernando de Noronha.
Such exaggerated pretensions, founded on facts not proven, which had already been the subject of discussion between the imperial government and the legation of the United States, could not be even listened to.
If the president should have refused the hospitality solicited by the commander of the Florida, he would have infringed not only the duties of neutrality of the empire, but also those of humanity, considering that steamer, coming from Tenerifle, had been sixty-one days at sea, was unprovided with food, and with machinery in the worst condition.
Afterward, the president having stated to the same consul that he hoped, from his honor and loyalty toward a friendly nation, that he would settle with the commander of the Wachusett that he should respect the neutrality and sovereignty of the empire, he was answered afirmatively, the consul pledging his word of honor. Things were in this condition, the term of forty-eight hours being to expire at one o'clock of the afternoon of the 7th, when about dawn of that day, the commander of the steamer Wachusett, suddenly leaving his anchorage, passed through the Brazilian vessels of war and approached the Florida.
On passing across the bows of the Brazilian corvette D. Januaria, he was hailed from on board that he must anchor; but, as he did not attend to this intimation, and continued to approach the Florida, at the same time firing a gun and some musketry, the commander of the naval division of the empire stationed in those waters sent an officer to board the Wachusett and inform her commander that the ships of the division and the forts would open fire upon her if she should attack the Florida. The Brazilian officer was not allowed to make fast to the Wachusett, but the officer of the deck hailed him, saying in reply that he accepted the intimation given, that he would do nothing more, and that he was going to return to his anchorage. The commander of the Brazilian division then thought proper to ratify his intimation by firing a gim, upon which a complete silence followed between the two ships Wachusett and Florida.
At the time this was passing, the corvette D. Januaria, on board which the commander of division lad hoisted his flag, lay lead to tlood, the steamer Florida anchored B. B., side by side of her, and quite close to the shore, and between her and the corvette the Wachusett stopped her wheels.
The commander of division then observing, notwithstanding the darkness of the night, that the Wachusett, from the position in which she was, kept moving onward and was passing ahead of the corvette, in a course E. B., became convinced that, in fact, she was steering for her anchorage, thus complying with the promise made.
But a few moments afterward, perceiving that the Florida was in notion, the commander discovered that the Wachusett was taking her off in tow by means of a long cable.
Surprised at such an extraordinary attempt, the commander immediately set about stopping this, and redressing, at the same time, as behoovel bim, the oitense tius done to the diguity and sovereignty of the empire.
But availing himself of the darkness of the night, and of other circumstances, the commander of the Wachusett succeeded in carrying his prize over the bar, and escaping the just punishment he deserved.
The consul, Wilson, preferred to abandon his post, withdrawing on board the Wachusett.
The government of His Majesty, as soon as it had official information of the event addressed to the legation of the United States at Rio Janeiro a note, in which, giving a succinct exposition of the fact, it declared that it had no hesitation in believing it would hasten to give to it all proper assurances that the Government of the Union would attend to the just reclamation of the empire as promptly and fully as the gravity of the case demanded.
In correspondence with this expectative note, the worthy representative of the I'nited States was prompt in sending his reply, in which he declares he is convinced that his Government will give to that of the empire the reparation which is one to it.
Such are the facts to which the undersigned has received order to call all the attention of the lionorable William H. Seward, Secretary of State of the United States.
The principles of international law wbich regulate this matter, and in respect of which there is not the least divergence among the most distinguished publicists, are common and known to all. The undersigned would fail to recognize the high intelligence of the honorable Mr. Seward, if, perchance, he shonld enter in this respect into fuller developments.
He limits himself then only to recall a memorable example, in which these  principles, invariably * sustained by the United States, had entire application.
În 1793, the great Washington then being President of the United States, and the illustrious Jefferson Secretary of State, the French frigate l'Embuscade captured the English ship Grange, in Delaware Bay, thus violating the neutrality and the territorial sovereignty of the United States. The American Government remonstrated energetically against this violation, and required from the government of the French republic not only the immediate delivery of the captured vessel, but also the complete liberation of all the persons fonnd on board. This reclamation was promptly satisfied. Much more grave, certainly, is the occurrence in the port of the province of Bahia, which makes the subject of the present note. By the special circumstances which preceded and attended it, this act hils no parallel in the annals of modern maritime
The commander of the Wachusett not only gravely offended the territorial immunities of the empire, passing beyond the laws of war by attacking treacherously, during the night, a defenseless ship, whose crew, much reduced because more than sixty men were on shore with the commander and several officers, reposed un wary beneath the shadow of the protection which the neutrality of the empire guaranteed to them; and so open was the violation, so inanifest the offense, that the enlightened American press was almost unanimous in condemnation of the inexcusable proceeding of Commander Collins.
On this occasion, remembering the United States, whose antecedents are well known and noted in history by the energetic defense of and respect for neutral rights, of these unshaken principles, the undersigned cannot consider the event which occurred at Babia otherwise than as the individual act of the commander of the Wachusett, not authorized or approved by his Government, and that it will consequently give to the government of His Majesty the Emperor the explanations and reparation which, in conformity with international laws, are due to a power which maintains friendly and pacitie relations with the United States.
The just reclamation of the imperial government being thus presented, the undersigned awaits the reply of the honorable Mr. Seward, and, fully confiding in his exalted wislom and in the justice of the Government of the United States, he has not even for a moment doubted but that it will be as satisfactory as the incontestable right which ails te empire and the vast gravity of the offense which was done to it may require.
The undersigned, &c.
IGNACIO DE AVELLAR BARBOZA DA SILVA. His Excellency the Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
Ji. Seward to li. Barboza.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, December 20, 1861. Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note, which sets forth the sentiments of the imperial government of Brazil concerning the capture of the Florida by the United States war-steamer Wachusett in the port of Bahia.
You will, of course, explain to your government that, owing to an understanding lset seen you and myself, your note, although it bears the date of the 12th December, was vot submitted to me until the 21st instant.
Jealonsy of foreign intervention in every form, and absolute non-intervention in the domestic affairs of foreign nations, are cardinal principles in the policy of the United States. You have therefore justly expected that the President would disavow and regret the proceedings at Bahia. He will suspend Captain Collins and direct him to appear before a court-martial. The consulat Bahia admits that he advised and incited the captain and was active in the proceedings. He will therefore be dismissed. The flag of Brazil will receive from the United States Navy the honor customary in the intercourse of friendly maritimne powers.
It is, however, not to be understood that this Government admits or gives credit to the charges of falsehood, treachery, and deception which you have brought against the captain and the consul. These charges are denied on the authority of the officers accused.
You will also be pleased to understand that the answer now given to your representation rests exclusively upon the ground that the capture of the Florida was an unauthorized, unlawful, and indefensible exercise of the naval force of the United States within a foreign country in defiance of its established and duly recognized yovernment.
This Government disallows your assumption that the insurgents of this country are a lawful naval belligerent; and, on the contrary, it maintains that the ascription of that character by the government of Brazil to insurgent citizens of the United States, who have hitherto been and who still are destitute of naval forces, ports, and courts, is an act of intervention in derogation of the law of nations and unfriendly and wrongful, as it is manifestly injurious, to the United States.
So also this Government disallows your assumption that the Florida belonged to the aforementioned insurgents, and maintains, on the contrary, that that vessel, like the Alabama, was a pirate, belonging to no nation or lawful belligerent, and therefore that the harboring and supplying of these piratical ships and their crews in Brazilian ports were wrongs and injuries for which Brazil justly owes reparation to the United States as ample as the reparation which she now receives from them. They hope and confidently expect this reciprocity in good time, to restore the harmony and friendship which are so essential to the welfare and safety of the two countries.
In the positions which I have thus assuined the imperial government will recognize an adherence to rights which have been constantly asserted, and an enduring sense of injuries which have been the subject of earnest remonstrance by the United States during the last three years. The government of Brazil is again informed that these positions of this Government are no longer deemed open to argument.
It does not, however, belong to the captains of ships of war of the United  States, or to the *commanders of their armies, or to their consuls residing in for
eign ports, acting without the authority of Congress, and without even Executive direction, and choosing their own time, manner, and occasion, to assert the rights and redress the wrongs of the country. This power can be lawfully exercised only by the Government of the United States. As a member of the family of nations, the United States practice order, not anarchy, as they always prefer lawful proceedings to aggressive violence or retaliation. The United States are happy in being able to believe that Brazil entertains the same sentiments. The authorities at Bahia are understood to have unsuccessfully employed force to overcome the Wachusett and rescue the Florida, and to have continued the chase of the offender beyond the waters of Brazil, out upon the high seas. Thus, in the attair at Bahia, subordinate agents, without the knowledge of their respective governments, mutually inaugurated an unauthorized, irregular, and unlawful war. In desisting from that war on her part, and in appealing to this Government for redress, Brazil rightly appreciated the character of the United States, and set an example worthy of emulation.
The disposition of the captured crew of the Florida is determined upon the principles which I have laid down. Although the crew are enemies of the United States, and, as they contend, enemies of the human race, yet the offenders were, nevertheless, unlawfully brought into the custody of this Government, and therefore they could not lawfully be subjected here to the punishment which they have deserved; nor could they, being enemies, be allowed to enjoy the protection of the United States. They will therefore be set at liberty, to seek a refugo wheresover they may find it, with the hazard of recapture when beyond the jurisdiction of this Government.
The Florida was brought into American waters and was anchored, under naval surveillance and protection, at Hampton Roads. While awaiting the representation of the Brazilian government, on the 28th November, she sunk, owing to a leak whichi could not be seasonably stopped. The leak was at first represented to have been caused, or at least increased, by a collision with a war-transport. Orders were immecliately given to ascertain the manner and circumstances of the occurrence. It seemed to affect the Army and the Navy. A naval court of inquiry and also a military court of inquiry were charged with the investigation. The naval court has submitted its report, and a copy thereof is herewith communicated. The military court is yet engaged. So soon as its labors shall have ended, the result will be made known to your Government. In the mean time it is assumed that the loss of the Florida was a consequence of some unforeseen accident, which cast no responsibility upon the United States.
I avail, &c.,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD. Senhor IGNACIO DE AVELLAR BARBOZA DA SILVA, &c.
It has been stated above that the crew of the Florida were shipped principally at Mobile. Representations having been made to Her Vajesty's government to the effect that some of the men who served in her were British subjects, the law-officers of the Crown were consulted on the question whether proceedings could be instituted against these persons for an infringement of the foreign enlistment act. The law-officers advised as follows:2
We do not think that sufficient evidence has yet been obtained to warrant the institution of proceedings against any of these seamen.
If it were shown that their enlistment on board the Florida had taken place in England, or within British jurisdiction, they might perhaps have been presumed to be natural-born British subjects, owing obedience at that time to British law; so far, at all events, as to make slight evidence in confirmation of that presumption sufficient.
Next it appears, by the fourth column of the list annexed to Thompson's first aftidavit, that, with two exceptions only, all these men took service on board the Florida beyond the limits of British jurisdiction, and by far the greater number of them at Mobile, within the territory of the Confederate States. With respect to the two, Dennis Sullivan and Charles Ballinger, who are alleged, the one to have enlisted at Nassan, and the other to have been shipped at the first, (which we suppose means when the ship first sailed from England,) no evidence whatever has yet been obtained in support of either of these allegations.
In the former report of the law-officers npon this subject it was noticed that the first section of the foreign enlistment act, which prohibits the enlistment of British subjects in the belligerent service of any foreign power, is not limited (as the seventh section as to equipping vessels is) to acts done within British jurisdiction, but that it seems to be intended to apply, and is in its literal terms applicable, to all natural-born British subjects who may enter into the service of any foreign belligerent power without Her Majesty's license, wheresoever the prohibited act may be done. Assuming this to be the construction and effect of the statute, we apprehend that it would be impossible to procure a conviction under it in the case of persons who were not resident within British jurisdiction at the time of their taking foreign service, without strict proof that such persons were in fact, at the time of their doing so, natural-born British subjects, owing exclusive obedience, wherever they might be, to the statute law of Great Britains and we think it is at least very doubtful whether those sections of the statute would be held to be applicable to any persons who were naturalized, or even domiciled, at the time of their taking such service, within the territory of the bel
ligerent power in whose service they enlisted.  * Bearing these considerations in mind, we turn to the original depositions of
Thompson and Müller, and we find in the former no evidence whatever bearing tipon the essential question of the nationality and origin of any of these seamen ; while the statements of the latter, as to seventeen of the thirty-three persons who are des'ribed as of British origin in the second columu of the lists, depend upon admissions or inferences of so loose a character that we do not think any reliance ought to be placed upon them. So far as they rest only on the deponent's belief, they are inadınissible ; so far as they prove that certain individuals associated on board the slip as Irishmen, and sung Irish songs, &c., they are insutficient; and we think it would be unsafe to trist to the statements of this witness as to the aimissions said to have been made by some of the parties (as we count them, by seven only, viz, Considine, ('ouway, Doris, McNevin, McCabe, McGarroch, and Welch) to the effect that Ireland was their home, their country, or the place of residence of their parents. Every one of these seven persons, it is to be remembered, joined the Florida, according to the lists, at Mobile; and it may serve as some test of the value of this kind of evidence, that the same witness makes very similar statements as to four other seamen,
Taylor, Rivers, Grover, and King,) with a view to prove them to be either Englisbmen or Irishinen, although they are described as native Americans in the second column of the list referred to in his own affidavit.
The opinion which we had formed, as above expressed, upon the perusal of the original depositions of Thompson and Miiller is strongly confirmed by the subsequent
These two letters, as well as the preceding one, are extracted from the Daily Morniog Chronicle, (American journal,) of' 331st December, 1864.
- Appendix, vol. i, p. 128.