Monthly Record of Current Events, November 3.
"Have made their submission to the authority of the United States, and applied to the President for pardon under his Proclamation; and whereas the authority of the Federal Government is sufficiently restored in the aforesaid states to admit of the enlargement of said persons from close custody, it is ordered that they be released on giving their respective paroles to appear at such time and place as the President may designate to answer any charge that he may direct to be preferred against them; and also that they will respectively abide until further orders in the places herein designated, and not depart therefrom; and if the President shall grant his pardon to any of said persons such person's parole will thereby be discharged."
The places of residence designated in this order are the States of which the persons respectively are citizens. Mr. Reagan, shortly before his release, issued an address to the people of Texas, from which we extract, with some abridgment, a few paragraphs. He says:
"Your condition as a people is one of novelty and experiment, involving the necessity of political, social, and
industrial reconstruction; and this has to be done in opposition to your education, traditional policy, and prejudices. You must recognize the necessity of making the most you can out of your present condition, without the hope of doing all you might desire. The State occupies the position of a conquered nation. In order to secure to yourselves again the blessings of local self-govemment, and to avoid military rule and the danger of running into military despotism, you must agree:
"First, To recognize the supreme authority of the Government of the United States within the sphere of its power, and its right to protect itself against disintegration by the secession of the States. And Second, You must recognize the abolition of slavery, and the light of those who have been slaves to the privileges and protection of the laws of the land.
"But even this may fail in the attainment of these ends, unless provision shall be made by the new State Government for conferring the elective franchise on the former slaves. And present appearances indicate that this will be required by Northern public sentiment and by Congress; and our people are ia no condition to disregard that opinion or power with safety. But I am persuaded you may satisfy both without further injuries to yourselves than has already occurred. If you can do this and secure to yourselves liberty, the protection of the Constitution and laws of the United States, and the light of local self-government, you. will be more fortunate than many other conquered people have been."
Mr. Reagan anticipates a stubborn and sincere resistance to conferring the elective franchise upon the former slaves, but thinks the difficulties in the way of this are not insuperable. He suggests that this can be done with safety by,
"First, extending the privileges and protection of the laws over the negroes as they are over the whites, and allowing them to testify in the courts on the same conditions; leaving their testimony subject to the rules relating to its credibility, but not objecting to its admissibility. Second, fixing an intellectual and moral, and, if thought necessary, a property test, for the admission of all persons to the exercise of the elective franchise, without reference to race or color, which would secure its intelligent exercise. My own view would be: First, That no person now entitled to the privilege of voting should be deprived of it because of any new test. Second, That to authorize the admission of persons hereafter to the exercise of the elective franchise, they should be males, twenty-one years of age, citizens of the United States; should have resided in the State one year, and in the district, county, or precinct six months next preceding any election at which they propose to vote; should be able to read in the English language understandingly; and must have paid taxes for the last year preceding for which such taxes were due and payable; subject to any disqualification for crime, of which the person may have been duly convicted, which may be prescribed by law."
After discussing at length several topics of local importance, Mr. Reagan concludes:
"And we must bury past animosities with those of our fellow-citizens with whom we have been at war, and cultivate with them feelings of mutual charity and fraternal good-will. And it will be greatly to your advantage, in many ways which I can not trespass on you to mention now, to hold out inducements to them, and to emigrants from other countries, to come and settle among you with their labor and skill and capital, to assist in the diffusion of employments, the increase of your population, and the development of your vast resources into new creations of wealth and power."
On the 13th of October an interview was held between the President and a committee appointed by the South Carolina Convention to solicit the pardon of Messrs. Davis, Stephens, and others. The President said, in reply to the request: That all could not be pardoned at once; that discrimination must be exercised, depending much upon locality and circumstances; if treason was committed, there ought to be some test to determine the power of the Government to punish the crime; the fact ought to be determined by the highest tribunal of the land, and declared, even if clemency should come afterward. In the course of informal conversation the President urged that the South ought to pass laws protecting the colored people in their persons and and enabling them to collect their debts. Persons of color should be admitted as witnesses, the value of their testimony, as in the case of all others to be taken for what it is worth. — Another conversation between the President and Mr. Stearns is specially notable from the fact that the report of it is certified by the President to be accurate. The President said that it was desirable that the wort of reconstruction should be performed by the action of the States themselves, that he was equally opposed State Supremacyand to National Consolidation; that it was better to leave the question of the elective franchise to each State, subject to National control in case of palpably wrong action. If he were in Tennessee he should be in favor of Negro Suffrage with certain conditions; but he thought that universal suffrage in the late rebel States would produce serious difficulties. He Was, however, in favor of ultimately apportioning representation according to the number of qualified voters, which would afford strong reasons for the re-constructed States to extend the basis of suffrage so as not to exclude persons of color. — The general policy of the President although it has never been formally announced, may be gathered from a careful examination of his separate acts and declarations. This policy meets the approval of the entire people of the country, with the exception of a few men of extreme views upon either side. Its leading features are these:
"The National Government, in its sphere, as defined by the Constitution, is paramount to the respective State Governments: — No State can lawfully secede from the Union: consequently all the so-called ordinances of secession are, ipso facto, null and void, and must be so considered and formally acknowledged; therefore, all debts and obligations purported to be contracted by any State to aid the rebellion are of no force, and must "be formally pronounced so to be. — Slavery is lawfully abolished, in all of the States formerly in rebellion: and this fact must be recognized and affirmed in their Constitutions. — The freedmen must be protected in their civil and personal rights. — The question of the extension to them of the right of suffrage should be left to the several States, each acting for itself; but the policy of the General Government, so far as it can properly act in the master, should favor the extension of this right to such of the freedmen as are capable of properly exercising it. — The general amnesty to persons engaged in the late rebellion should be as broad as possible; and pardons, in special cases not embraced,in the general amnesty, should be granted whenever consistent with the public welfare.
The North Carolina Convention assembled at Raleigh on the 2d of October. Mr. Holden, the Provisional Governor, sent in a brief message stating that the duties of that; body were too plain to require any suggestions from him. North Carolina he said, attempted, in May, 1861, to separate herself from the Federal Union. The attempt involved her in a disastrous war. She entered the rebellion a slaveholding State, and she emerged from it a non-slaveholding State; in other respects, "so far as her existence as a State, find her rights as a State are csncerned, she has undergone no change." He takes it for granted that the Convention would insert in the Constitution a provision forever abolishing slavery in the State. — The most important business before the Convention was the form in which the ordinance of secession should be abrogated;
127the form in which the ordinance for the abolition of slavery should be couched; and the action to be taken upon the war-debt of the State. The repealing ordinance was passed unanimously in the following terms:
"The ordinance of the Convention of the State of North Carolina, ratified on the 21st day of November, 1789, which adopted and ratified the Constitution of the United States, and also all acts, and parts of acts of the General Assembly, ratifying and adopting amendments to said Constitution, are now, and at all times since the adoption and ratification thereof, have been in full force and effect, not-withstanding the supposed ordinance of the 20th of May, 1861, declaring the same to be repealed, rescinded, and abrogated; and the said supposed ordinance is now, and at all times hath been, null and void."
The ordinance for the abrogation of Slavery reads simply as follows:
"Be it declared and ordained by the delegates of the State of North Carolina, in Convention assembled, and it is hereby declared and ovdained, That Slavery and involuntary servitude, otherwise than for crimes Thereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall be, and is hereby forever prohibited in the State."
An ordinance was passed, the precise form of which has not reached us, prohibiting any future legislature from assuming or paying any State debt created directly or indirectly for the purpose of aiding the rebellion. There appears to have been a strong disposition in the Convention to avoid the passage of such an ordinance, or at all events to refer it to the popular vote. The action of the Convention seems to have been determined by a telegram from President Johnson to Governor Holden, in which he says:
"Every dollar of the State debt created to aid the rebellion against the United States should be repudiated finally and forever. The great mass of the people should not be taxed to pay a debt to aid in carrying on a rebellion to which they, in fact, if left to themselves, were opposed. Let those who have given their means for the obligations of the State look to that power they tried to establish in violation of law, Constitution, and the will of the people. They must meet their fate. It is their misfortune, and can not bs recognized by the people of any State professing themselves loyal to the Government of the United States and to the Union."
The Convention adjourned on the 19th of October, Judge Keade, the President, delivering a farewell address, in which he said:
"Our work is finished. The breach in the Government, as far as the same was by force, has been overcome by force; and so far as the same has had the sanction of legislation, the legislation has been declared to be null and void. So that there remains nothing to be done except the withdrawal of military power when all our governmental relations will be restored, without further asking, on the part of the United States. The element of slavery, which has so long distracted and divided the sections, has by a unanimous vote been abolished. Every man in the State is free. The reluctance which for a while was felt to the sudden and radical change in our domestic relations — a reluctance which was made oppressive to us by our kind feelings for the slave, and by our apprehensions of the evil which were to follow him — has yielded to the determination to be to him, as we always have been, his best friends; to advise, protect, educate, and elevate him; to seek his confidence, and give him ours, each occupying appropriate positions to the other . . . . . . . It remains for us to return to our constituents and engage with them in the great work of restoring our beloved State to order and prosperity."
An election has been ordered by Governor Holden, to be held on the 9th of November, to vote upon the ratification or rejection of the ordinance abrogating the ordinance of secession, and of the ordinace abolishing and prohibiting slavery; and for the choice of Governor, members of the General Assembly, county officers, and members of Congress. The ordinance prohibiting the assumption of the rebel State debt is absolute, and is not referred to the people.
The Georgia State Convention assembled at Milledgeville on the 25th of October. Herschell V. Johnson, in 1860 the Democratic nominee for Vice-President of the United States upon the Douglas ticket, was elected President of the Convention. We have as yet only brief telegraphic dispatches of the proceedings of this Convention, and defer to a future Number an account of its proceedings, merely noting that the repeal of the ordinance of secession and the prohibition of slavery seem to have been assumed as matters of course; and that the main subject of discussion appears to have been whether the rebel war debt, amounting to about $18,000,000, should be recognized. The Provisional Governor had been officially notified through the Secretary of State that
"The President of the United States can not recognize the people of any State as having resumed the relations of loyalty to the Union that admits as legal obligations or debts contracted in their names to promote the war of the rebellion."
General Humphreys, formerly of the Confederate army, has been elected Governor of Mississippi. In his inaugural address he says that he himself had always believed that no one or more States could constitutionally sever the ties that unite the people of the several States into one people;" yet "a different doctrine was taught in the early stages of our Government, and was maintained by some of the brightest intellects and most illustrious patriots that adorn our political history. It is to be regretted that this school, of politicians could not have found a better mode for solving the. question than by the arbitrament of war. But," continues Governor Humphreys (we quote textually a few of the most important passages in his address):
"The question was thus referred, and has been decided against us by a tribunal from which there is no appeal. The people of the State of Mississippi, acknowledging the decision, desire to return to the Union and renew their fealty to the Constitution of the United States . . If unflinching fidelity in war gives evidence of reliable fidelity in peace, the people of the South may be safely trusted when they profess more than willingness to return to their allegiance. The South, having ventured all on the arbitrament of the sword, has lost all save her honor, and now accepts the result in good faith. It is our duty to address ourselves to the promotion of peace and order, to the restoration of law, the faith of the Constitution, and the stability of the Union; to cultivate amicable relations with our sister States, and establish our agricultural and commercial prosperity upon more durable foundations, trusting that the lessons taught by the rebellion will not be lost either to the North or the South . . . . The State of Misissippi has already, under the pressure of the result of the war, by her own solemn act, abolished slavery. It would be hypocritical and unprofitable to attempt to persuade the world that she has done so willingly. It is due, however, to her honor to show by her future course that she has done so in good faith, and that slavery shall never again exist within her borders, under whatever name or guise it may be attempted. The sudden emancipation of her slaves has devolved upon her the highest responsibilities and duties. Several hundred thousand of the negro race, unfitted for political equality with the white race, have been turned loose upon society; and in the guardianship she may assume over this race she must deal justly with them, and protect them in all their rights of person and property. The highest degree of elevation in the scale of civilization of which they are capable, morally and intellectually, must be secured to them by their education and religious training; but they can not be admitted to political or social equality with, the white, race. It is due to ourselves, to the white emigrant invited to our shores, to maintain the fact that ours is and shall ever be government of white men."
Governor Humphreys goes on to say that the negro is peculiarly adapted to the cultivation of the great staples of the South; that he should be encouraged to work by being protected against injustice
128from his employer; that he should be free to choose his own labor and make his own bargains; but he must choose some employment that will support himself and his family. The employer also should be assured that the work agreed upon shall be performed; and if the laborer attempts to escape he should "be returned to his employer and be forced to work until the time for which he contracted has expired." The Governor urges that the State should make provision for the disabled soldiers of the Confederacy, for their families, and for the families of those who have fallen. He says: "To Mississippi alone can they look for assistance." Whether it was right or wrong to call the soldiers to arms, it can not be wrong to make such provision for them as will relieve them and their families from want and suffering, and secure to their children the benefits of education. Justice and gratitude demand it; honor and magnanimity will bestow it."
An important question will come up for decision at the assembling of Congress on the first Monday of December. A number, perhaps all, of the Southern States will have elected members of Congress. By the Constitution each House is "the judge of the elections, qualifications, and returns of its own members;" and, by law, the clerk of the preceding House of Representatives is to make out the roll of persons elected to that body, and only those whose names are on that roll can act until the House has been organized. On the 2d of July, 1862, an Act of Congress prescribed that every member Should take an oath containing this clause:
"I do solemnly swear that I have never voluntarily borne arms against the United States since I have been a citizen thereof; that I have voluntarily given no aid, countenance, counsel, or encouragement to persons engaged in armed hostility thereto; . . . . that I have never yielded a voluntary support to any pretended Government, Authority, Power, or Constitution within the United States, hostile or inimical thereto."
Very few, if any, of the members elected from the Southern States can truthfully take this oath. The case is fairly stated by Mr. Alexander H. H. Stuart, Secretary of the Interior in Mr. Fillmore's Administration, and recently elected to Congress from Virginia. He states that for two years before the rupture he devoted all his energies to the work of preserving the Union; that in 1861, as member of the Senate of that State and of the Convention, he spoke and voted to the last against the ordinance of secession; that after it was passed and ratified by the people, he signed it, not because he approved it, but because he felt it his duty to authenticate the act of his constituents; but that he refused to change his negative vote; and after the close of the Convention retired to private life, and neither sought nor held any public position during the war; and after the surrender of General Lee he was among the first to take measures for the restoration of the relations of Virginia to the Union. "But," says Mr. Stuart, "after all my counsels had been overruled, and all my kindred had become involved in the death-struggle, my sympathies were with my own people, and in common with the large majority of the men of character and respectability in the South, I gave aid, countenance, and encouragement in every way I could to my gallant though misguided countrymen." He goes on to say that during the war every able-bodied male between the ages of seventeen and fifty was declared by the Conscription Act to be in the Confederate army, and that those who were disqualified by bodily infirmity were not exempt, but assigned to light duty; so that the entire male population of the South, between those ages, was "engaged in armed hostility against the United States," and thus incurred the penalty of disfranchisement. "Under the Conscription law," he says, "my eldest son, five of my nephews, three brothers-in-law, and probably thirty other relatives were required to go into the army, and were thus ‘in armed hostility to the United States.’" these and their comrades he had given food, shelter clothing, and other necessaries, and had thus placed himself beyond the exclusion prescribed by the words and letter of the law. If this law is carried out to the letter he says, "there are few in Virginia who are qualified — I will not say to represent her people — but to fill her places in Congress or any other position under the Government." Assuming — the elaborate argument of Mr. Stuart to the contrary notwithstanding — that this test oath is constitutional, it is a grave question whether it should now be exacted. He urges that it was "a war measure, intended to keep out disaffected persons during the war, not to establish a basis of reconstruction after the war;" and that now, the war being over, the Southern States having given in their adhesion to the Union, accepted the results of the war, and "upon the invitation of the Republican Administration," having conformed, or being about to conform, their Legislation and their State Constitutions to the new state of affairs, with the "understanding that the Southern States were to be restored to their ancient relations of fraternity and equality in the Union," it would not be "fair dealing with the Southern States to meet them at the threshold of Congress, and at every department of the Government, with a disfranchisement which would exclude from every public trust probably nineteen-twentieths of the Southern population." He says that:
"When the South accepted the proposition for reunion, it was for reunion under the Constitution. No other reunion ought to be desired by a magnanimous victor, and no other would be productive of that permanent harmony, and of those substantial benefits which ire all hope to attain by it. I think, therefore, that justice and sound policy require that this test oath should be put aside as other portions of the machinery of the war have been put aside."
The questions to be decided are, whether, in the outset, Mr. M'Pherson, the Clerk of the last House, has the legal right — and, if having the right, whether he shall exercise it — of deciding upon the validty of the credentials of members elected from the States lately in rebellion, and so admitting them to or excluding them from taking part in organizing the House; and then, supposing them to be admitted, whether the inability of men like Mr. Stuart to take the test oath shall vacate their seats; or whether this oath shall be rescinded or modified. In case they are admitted by the decision of the Clerk, or otherwise, at the outset, these members will have the right to vote upon the subsequent question of the oath, upon which will depend their right to the seats occupied by them.
The recent State elections at the North, as far as yet held, have been favorable to the Union party. In Pennsylvania their majority reaches nearly 30,000, the prominent office to be filled being that of State Auditor. In Ohio the Union candidate for Governor had nearly 25,000; and in Iowa, about 16,000 majority. — In Mississippi General B. G. Humphreys, late of the Confederate army, has been elected Governor. We have given extracts from his inaugural address. Immediately upon his election
129he was pardoned by the President. In South Carolina the contest for Governor between Mr. Orr and General Wade Hampton was very close. By the latest accounts it appears that the former has been elected by a small majority.
Mr. M'Culloch, Secretary of the Treasury, made, October 11, an elaborate speech at Fort Wayne, Indiana, in which he advocated a reduction in the currency and a speedy return to specie payments. The October return of the condition of the national debt, as compared with that for September, is as follows:
There is now in the Treasury $34,554,987 in coin, and $33,800,591 in currency. The amount of legal-tender notes in circulation is $633,709,591.
The Fenian movement continues to attract considerable attention. A Congress composed of 600 delegates from the "Brotherhood" assembled at Philadelphia, October 16. The proceedings of the body were mainly conducted with closed doors. It is clear that considerable quantities of arms and sums of money are accumulating in the hands of the leaders of the Order. In Canada grave apprehensions are entertained that an attempt will be made by the Fenians upon the British Provinces. In what manner this organization proposes to carry out its purposes, and the means at its command, are still, to a great extent, matters of conjecture.
An elaborate discussion has taken place between the Government of the United States and that of Great Britain, involving the most important relations between the two nations growing oat of the late rebellion. This correspondence, conducted by Mr. Adams, our Minister to Great Britain, and Earl Russell, the British Foreign Secretary, covers a space of more than five months, Mr. Adams's first letter being dated April 7, and his last September 18, 1865. The possible importance of this correspondence warrants us in giving at some length the principal points brought forward on each side:
April 7 — Mr. Adams wrote to Earl Russell setting forth the depredations "committed upon the commerce of the United States by the vessel known in the port of London as the Sea King, but since transformed into the Shenadoah." He therefore announces that his "Government can not avoid entailing upon the Government of Great Britain the responsibility of this damage." He then alludes to the fact that the British steamer City of Richmond hag been suffered to transport men and supplies from London to the French-built ram Olinthe, subsequently by fraud transformed into the Confederate Stonewall. He acknowledges that the British Government has endeavored to put a stop to these outrages, but maintains that "the hostile policy which it has been the object of all this labor to prevent, has not only not been checked, out is even now going into execution with more and more complete success." This policy, being substantially "the destruction of the whole mercantile navigation belonging to the people of the United States," has so far succeeded that "the United States commerce is rapidly vanishing from the face of the ocean, and that of Great Britain is multiplying in nearly the same ratio," and "this process is going on by reason of the action of British subjects in co-operation with emissaries of the insurgents," who have supplied vessels, armaments, and men. There is, says Mr. Adams, in "the history of the world no parallel case to this of endurance of one nation of injury done to it by another without bringing on the gravest complications;" and that no such event has followed has been owing to the conviction that the British Government has been animated by no aggressive disposition toward the United States, but has endeavored "to prevent the malevolent operations of many of its subjects?"
While doing "full justice to the amicable intentions of Her Majesty's Ministers," Mr. Adams declares his belief that "Practically this evil had its origin in the first step taken which can never be regarded by my Government in any other light than as precipitate, of acknowledging persons as a belligerent Power on the ocean, before they had a single vessel of their own to show floating upon it" and thus that this Power, as a belligerent upon the ocean "was actually created in consequence of this recognition, and not before;" and all the success which it has attained on the ocean has been owing to British aid; so that "the Kingdom of Great Britain can not but be regarded as not only having given birth to this naval belligerent, but also of having nursed and maintained it to the present hour."
Mr. Adams then goes on to say that whatever may be the validity of the grounds upon which the British Government have hitherto rested their defense against any responsibility for the evils, these are now invalid by the practical reduction of all the ports heretofore held by the insurgents; and that therefore "the President looks with confidence to Her Majesty's Government for an early and effectual removal of all existing causes of complaint on this score," and that the foreign, commerce of the United States may be freed "from annoyance from the injurious acts of any of Her Majesty's subjects, perpetrated under the semblance of belligerent rights."
Mr. Adams closes this letter by stating that during the whole war British vessels have had free pratique in the waters of the United States; and says that in the opinion of the President the time has come when the reciprocity in these hospitalities should be restored. The navy of the United States will probably soon be augmented, and he is directed to ask "as to the reception which these vessels may expect in the ports of the British Kingdom."
May 4. — Earl Russell replied to this note of Mr. Adams. He states in the outset that he "can never admit that the duties of Great Britain toward the United States are to be measured by the losses which the United States have sustained. The only question was whether "the Government of Her Majesty have performed faithfully and honestly the duties which international law and their own municipal law imposed upon them."
He then goes on to say that the war, "in the preparation of which Great Britain had no share, caused nothing but detriment to Her Majesty's subjects,", who had previously carried on a profitable commerce with the Southern States of the Union. Had there been no war the treaties with the United States would have secured the existence of this lucrative commerce. But the President of the United States proclaimed a blockade of the ports of seven States of the Union; and, argues Earl Russell, "he could lawfully interrupt the trade of neutrals with the Southern States upon one ground only, namely, that the Southern States were carrying on war against the Government of the United States; in other words, that they were belligerents." The British Government must then pursue one of two courses; acknowledge the blockade, and proclaim neutrality; or refuse to acknowledge it, and insist upon the right of British subjects to trade with the ports of the South. They chose the former course as "at once the most just and friendly to the United States. "It was," Earl Russell affirms, "your own Government which, in assuming the belligerent right of blockade, recognized the Southern States as belligerents."
Earl Russell then goes on to discuss the complaints against the British Government for permitting the egress of "vessels built in English ports, and afterward equipped with an armament sent from the British coasts." In the case of the Alabama he says that Mr. Adams furnished on the 22d, and more fully on the 24th of May, 1862, some evidence that this vessel was being equipped for the Confederate service. This evidence was reported upon on the 29th by the law officers; but on that very morning the vessel "was taken to sea on the false pretense of a trial-trip;" and although the evidence "furnished a sufficient ground for detaining the Alabama, it was yet doubtful whether it would have been found sufficient to procure a conviction from a jury, or even a charge in favor of condemnation of the vessel from a judge." The Shenandoah had been, under the name of the Sea King, a merchant-vessel; was sold to a merchant, and cleared for China as a merchant-ship; no evidence was produced that she was intended for Confederate service. Earl Russell refers to the action of the British Government in detaining the vessels El Tousson and El Monassir; for this they were charged, upon high authority, with having acted illegally, unjustifiably, and without excuse. Though that charge was unfounded, "nothing but the intimate conviction that those vessels were intended for Confederate vessels of war, that unless detained they would attempt to break the blockade of the United States squadrons, and that such an act might have produced the gravest complications, could have sustained the Government under the weight of the charges thus urged." In these cases, and in all others, Earl Russell contends that "Her Majesty's Government faithfully performed their obligations as neutrals."
Earl Russell enters upon an elaborate historical argument
to show that in 1815-1820, the Government of the United States, especially in the case of Portugal, took the same ground as that which it now condemns in the case of Great Britain. The essential points of this statement are that at this period privateers fitted out in the United States depredated upon the commerce and territory of Portugal, and that in answer to demands of reparation by the Portuguese Government, John Quincy Adams, then Secretary of State, replied in substance that the Government of the United States having used all means to prevent the fitting out of such vessels in their ports, "can not consider itself bound to indemnify individual foreigners for losses by capture over which the United States have neither control or jurisdiction;" and, "For any acts of the citizens of the United States, committed out of their jurisdiction and beyond their control, the Government of the United States is not responsible." That the United States are pledged to this view, which is claimed to be identical with that now held by the British Government, is further supported by other cases — this of Portugal being, however, the most important. Earl Russell asks — the form of the question implying a negative answer: "Is her Majesty's Government to assume or be liable to a responsibility for conduct which her Majesty's Government did all in their power to prevent and to punish? — a responsibility which Mr. Adams, on the part of the United States Government, in the case of Portugal, positively and firmly declined."
To the question whether American vessels-of-war should be treated in British ports as British vessels-of-war are in American ports, Karl Russell replies that this shall be done "with the single exception that if an enemy's vessel-of-war should come into the same port, the vessel which shall first leave shall not be pursued by the enemy till twenty-four hours shall have elapsed." Before answering the question "whether Confederates are still to be treated as belligerents," Earl Russell "wishes to know whether the United States are prepared to put an end to the belligerent rights of search and capture of British vessels on the high seas. Upon the answer to this question depends the course which her Majesty's Government will pursue."
May 20. — Mr. Adams replied to the foregoing letter. After recapitulating the points in his former note of April 7, he shows that at the time of the American revolution the British Government, taking the precise opposite of its present position, made it a ground of war against Holland and France that they had done just what the British Government had done in the present case. Then passing to the question of the Alabama, Mr. Adams shows that this vessel was suffered to escape to sea in spite of promises, express and implied, that this should not be permitted, and under circumstances which "look almost as if it were intended as a positive insult;" and moreover afterward she was in British ports "every where hailed with joy, and treated with hospitality as a legitimate cruiser." Mr. Adams therefore reaffirms the validity of the claims of the Government of the United States "for all the damage done by this vessel during her career, and asks reparation therefor."
In answer to the argument of Earl Russell, drawn from the case of Portugal and the United States, Mr. Adams shows that the United States not only did all in its power to execute the laws already existing to prevent the aggressions complained of, but passed new ones, amply sufficient, and satisfactory to the Portuguese Government, to remedy the defects of the old ones. This action is contrasted with that of the British Government, which formally declared that it had "finally determined to rely upon the existing; statutes as quite effective to answer the desired purpose."
Mr. Adams concludes this long and elaborate dispatch by affirming the conclusion that, "The nation that recognized a Power as a belligerent before it had built a vessel, and became itself the source of all the belligerent character it has ever possessed on the ocean, must be regarded as responsible for all the damage that has ensued from that cause to the commerce of a Power with which it was under the most sacred obligations to preserve amity and peace."
Aug. 30. — Earl Russell "purposely," as he says, took almost three and a half months to reply to the foregoing note of Mr. Adams. Then, after much diplomatic complimenting and controversy, he refers to a proposition made by Mr. Adams almost two years before (October 23, 1863), that the matters in question should be referred to the arbitration of some neutral Power. The final answer is clear and decisive: "Her Majesty's Government must decline either to make reparation and compensation for the captures made by the Alabama, or to refer the question to any foreign state;" but, it is added, the British Government "is ready to consent to the appointment of a Commission to which will be referred all claims arising during the late civil war which the two Powers shall agree to refer to the Commissioners." This letter contains an abundance of complimentary remark upon the success of the United States (then achieved), congratulations upon the overthrow of slavery, "of which the British nation have always entertained and still entertain the deepest abhorrence;" and refers to the assurances frequently given by Mr. Adams that he has "never permitted himself to doubt the favorable disposition of the Queen's Ministers to maintain amicable relations with the Government of the United States . . . . and that it has steadily endeavored to discountenance, and in a measure to check, the injurious operations of many of Her Majesty's subjects," notwithstanding the efforts "with which public writers and speakers have endeavored to poison the public mind in the United States, and to produce ill-will and hatred between the two nations."
Sept. 18. — Mr. Adams replied, reiterating his belief in the friendly intentions of the British Government. But he adds, significantly: "Inasmuch as the relations between nations, not less than between individuals, must depend upon the mode in which they fulfill their obligations toward each other, rather than upon their motives, the questions which have grown out of the events of the late war appear to lose little of their gravity from any reciprocal disavowal, however complete, of any ill-will on the part of the respective governments." He then proceeds, at great length, to re-argue the points in controversy declaring that upon the correct decision of them "may depend the security which the commerce of belligerents will hereafter enjoy upon the high seas against the hazard of being swept from them, through the acts of nations professing to be neutral, and bound to be friendly." He asks the British Foreign Secretary to "consider which of the nations of the world present on every sea around the globe the most tempting prizes" in the event of a war. He says that if the principles maintained by the British Government should be adopted as a part of the code of international law, "a new era in the relations of neutrals to belligerents on the high seas will open. Neutral ports will before long become the true centres from which the most elective and dangerous enterprises against the commerce of belligerents may be contrived, fitted out, and executed. . . . Ships, men, and money will always be at hand for the service of any Power sufficiently strong to hold forth the probability of repayment in any form . . . . New Floridas, Alabamas, and Shenandoahs will appear on every sea;" and, adds Mr. Adams, "if such be the recognized law, I will not undertake to affirm that the country which I have the honor to represent would not, in the, end, be as able to accommodate itself to the new circumstances as Great Britain"
In regard to the proposal of Earl Russell for a Commission to adjudicate upon such questions as may be submitted to them, Mr. Adams simply says that it will be laid before the Government of the United States, whose instructions he awaits before returning a reply. Mr. Adams, after briefly alluding to the general tone and current of British feeling and action during the war of four years, concludes by saying, "With my Government, as with my countrymen at large, there is still left a strong sense of injured feeling which only time, and the hopes of a better understanding in future held out by the conciliatory strain of your Lordship's note are likely to correct."
Two of the questions involved in this discussion have been settled by the logic of events: the overthrow of the Confederacy involves the abrogation of the belligerent rights accorded to its vessels; and also removes the reasons alleged for the restrictions imposed upon American men-of-war in British ports; and this removal has been formally announced. But the main question remains unsettled, The correspondence is eminently courteous in tone; but divested of all formal, complimentary, and argumentative matter, the case stands thus: The Government of the United States formally claims that Great Britain is responsible for all damages inflicted upon our commerce by vessels claiming to be Confederate, yet built, equipped, and manned in and from Great Britain. The British Government as formally refuses to admit the validity of this claim, or to submit it to the arbitration of any foreign Power. And in proposing to submit certain questions to the decision of a Commission, the British Government formally excludes the main question at issue. The British Government; it says, in effect, can not submit to any other authority the decision of the propriety of its own acts.
In Hayti the attempted revolution against the Government of President Geffrard appears to have been suppressed; Cape Haytien, tile only point really held by the insurgents, having been surrendered.
From Mexico the accounts are, as usual, contradictory, and only partially reliable. The indications are that the balance of success is still largely in favor of the Imperialists, and that the Juarez Government is practically put down. The Imperial Government of Maximilian, it is equally clear, is kept in place only by foreign force. The contest is now simply a guerrilla warfare, marked by the utmost atrocities on both sides. The Imperial Government has inaugurated measures to invite foreign emigration into Mexico, and has confided the management of the business to Matthew F. Maury, once Superintendent of the National Observatory at Washington, and J. B. Magruder, both lately in the Confederate service.
In the region of the River Plata the Paraguayans appear to have suffered considerable reverses; but the details are too vague to be noted at length. It is said that at Yatay (18th of August) 3000 Paraguayans were "literally annihilated" by the allied Brazilians and Argentines; and that 7000 more, surrounded by 20,000 enemies, were momentarily expected to surrender. On the other hand, the Brazilian fleet is said to have suffered severely in an attempt to pass batteries erected by the enemy to prevent their descent down the river.
A disease among cattle, designated as the Rinderpest ("Cattle-Plague"), has broken out in portions of Europe, especially in Great Britain. — The cholera is slowly advancing in various directions. In and about Paris many deaths have occurred. But beyond the immediate basin of the Mediterranean it has not as yet assumed a very virulent form. Gibraltar has suffered severely. All intercourse between that British strong-hold and the adjacent Spanish main land having been prohibited, the people have endured much from famine as well as from pestilence. In Turkey the disease has subsided. The season has so far advanced that little danger is apprehended from the further advance of the disease at present. But grave fears are entertained for the approaching spring and summer.