Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

The President fully concurred in the action of the Senate refusing its consent to the treaty, not because he wished or hoped for war or unfriendly relations between the two nations, but because he wished for peace and honest friendship. The rejection of the treaty was in the interest of peace. Its ratification would have covered up a grievance which most certainly would have continued to rankle and to fester be. neath the surface, however smooth the external relations might for a time seem. Those wounds must be probed before they could be healed. That there was a deep and almost universal conviction among the American people of a great wrong sustained by them during the war, was a fact with which the two governments would be obliged to deal when negotiations should be resumed.

At present the United States Government, while withdrawing neither its national claims' nor the claims of its individual citizens against the British government, would prefer the pause in the negotiations already suggested.

His lordship observed that he saw 10 objection to this course, agree. ing with me that it would be well to give time for emotions which had been excited of late to subside, although he expressed a doubt whether among the inhabitants of this country there was any such intensity of feeling on the pending questions as I alluded to as existing in America. He added, with some feeling, that in his opinion it would be highly objectionable that the question should be hung up on a peg, to be taken down at some convenient moment for us, when it might be difficult for the British government to enter upon its solution, and when they might go into the debate at a disadvantage. These were, as nearly as I can remember, his words, and I replied very earnestly that I had already answered that question when I said that my instructions were to propose as brief a delay as would probably be requisite for the cooling of passions and for producing the calm necessary for discussing the defects of the old treaty and a basis for a new one. The United States Government had no insidious purposes, and certainly I, as its agent, felt myself incapable of harboring any such objects. · Ise expressed him. self as entirely satisfied.

I proceeded to say that one great objection to the treaty, in the opinion of the President, was that it established no principle; and I called his lordship's attention to your very judicious suggestion that the throwing of the dice for umpires might bring about opposite decisions in cases arising out of identical principles. He agreed entirely that no principle was established by the treaty, but that the throwing of dice or drawing of lots was not a new invention on that occasion, but a not uncommon method in arbitrations. I only expressed the conviction that such an aleatory process seemed an unworthy method for disposing of questions binging on great principles of law and involving the welfare of nations and the contingencies of war and peace, a remark in which I understood liim to acquiesce.

I observerl further, that the President hoped, when negotiations on these grave matters should be renewed, for the establishment of general and fundamental principles, binding upon both nations, in full view of the fact that what should, after this long international debate, be adopted by the two leading naval and commercial powers of the world, as the amendeed public law for their owu guidance, would probably be considered as the norma agendi" for the civilized world. Ilis lordship heartily concurred in this view of the case, saying that it was what he had always earnestly desired, and that he had on a former occasion proposed such a general amending of the laws to Mr. Adams. That distinguished envoy had, however, shown no disposition to engage in such discussion, contenting himself with the observation that he certainly thought the English neutrality law's much in need of amendment.

I expressed no dissent from the views of my eminent predecessor, adding that I thought it probable that a settlement of principles of action for the future, without some retroactive etlect upon the past, would not be entirely satisfactory to Mr. Adams, or to other agents of the United States Government.

I then stated the opinion of the President in regard to the recognition or concession of belligerency, as stated in your No.3, saying that the President recognized the right of a sovereign power to issue proclamations of neutrality between an insurgent portion of a nation and the lawful government, when such insurrection should have gained the necessary magnitude, consistency, extent of organized power and probability of justification by success; but that such measures must always be taken with a full view of the grave responsibilities assumed.

The famous proclamation of neutrality of May 13, 1861, was not considered justifiable by the United States Government, but the President wished it to be used, when our case should once more be presented, only as showing animus, and as being the fountain head of the disasters which had been caused to the American people, both individually and collectively, by the hands of Englishmen.

Other nations bad issued proclamations contemporaneously, or nearly 80, with that of Great Britain ; but from Great Britain alone had there come a long series of deeds, injurious to the United States, as the fruits of the proclamation, while from other nations there had come no injury save the declaration itself.

His lordship here made the observation that if there was to be any discussion of principles it had better be done thoroughly and to the bottom ; that he would always maintain that the English neutrality had been a fair and sincere neutrality on the part of the English governinent.

I admitted at once the difficulty of keeping out of all discussion of a subject with which English and American minds were so filled, the tendency to drift into debate, even without intending it, being so natural; but having said essentially all that I was instructed by my Government to say, I would abstain, for the moment, from further disquisition.

I said that I had never been in my life more impressed than now by the magnitude of the responsibility, weighing upon all men who were charged with maintaining any part of the relations between two such vast and powerful communities as the British Empire and the American Republic-nations that could do each other so much injury or such infinite good. So far as my humble labors should be concerned, I meant always to do my best, while maintaining the honor and just rights of my own country and of all its citizens, to bring about, if possible, a restoration of equitable and amicable relations between the two governments. I did not disguise from myself that the path was surrounded by perils. It was sometimes thought puerile or unbecoming in political or interna tional affairs to deal with the emotions, the passions, or sentiments of zations. But after all, nations were aggregates of individuals, and how were we to rule out the sentiments and the passions from national or individual life? When a deep and pervading sense of wrong suffered, of grievances unredressed, existed in a people, it was a fact to be dealt with, not a sentiment to be ridiculed. Enlightened statesmen, like those ever charged with the conduct of English affairs, would never forget that grave and disastrous misunderstandings and cruel wars resulted as often in history from passionately excited emotions and injured feelings

race.

as from cabinet deliberations or political combinations. At any rate, it would be dishonest in me to conceal the fact that there was much excitement of feeling and intensity of opinion in the United States in regard to the questions at issue between the countries, and to calmly, but earnestly, call his attention and that of the Britisli government to this grave aspect of affairs.

His lordship said that, for this very reason, he was glad that this brief interval of abstinence from discussion had been suggested, and then expressed himself in very energetic language, with all the signs of perfectly sincere emotion, upon the horror with which he regarded war, or even permanent alienation, between the two branches of the Anglo-Saxon

He could contemplate, he said, the possibility of war between Great Britain and any other foreign power, but war with America inspired him with abhorrence. Ble regarded it, he said, as a “ crimen non nominandum inter Christianos." He never could bring himset to look upon Americans as foreigners. While expressing my entire sympathy with these sentiments, I confessed to a despondent feeling sometimes as to the possibility of the two nations ever understanding each other—of the difficulty, at this present moment, of their looking into each other's hearts.

He agreed that both seemed to have the same Saxon stubborness, and absolute confidence in themselves, and each in their own cause. Where they quarreled, it was Greek meeting Greek.

It would be unjust if I did not bear testimony to the frankness and cordi. ality of his lordship’s expressions of good will toward the United States, and to the sincerity of his hopes for a peaceful issue out of our threaten. ing complications.

I make no apology for this long dispatch. I have endeavored to report to you as faithfully as I can my first conversation with her Majesty's principal secretary of state for foreign affairs. If my own part in the conversation seems to have undue proportions, it is because it was necessary for me to give, in exact accordance with your instructions, a full statement of the causes which led the Senate to refuse its advice and consent to the treaty signed on the 14th of Jamary last, for the settlement of outstanding claims. I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

JOIN LOTHROP MOTLEY. Ilon. HAMILTON FISII,

Secretary of State.

3. Jr. Fish to Mr. Jotley.

No. 23.)

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, June 28, 1869. SIR: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch No. 8, dated June 12, and have read with much interest its narration of your very important interview with Lord Clarendon.

Your general presentation and treatment of the several subjects discussed in that interview meet the approval of this Department.

In the course of the conversation, however, it seems that the President's view of the right of every power, when a civil conflict has arisen within another state, to define its own relations, and those of its citi. zens, was not conveyed in precise contormity to that view, as I desired

to present it to you, and as it would doubtless have been conveyed by Fou had your communication been made in writing.

The subject may not again be a topic of official communication be. tween yourself and the minister of foreign affairs, but I venture to call your attention to it, because of the statement in your dispatch that Lord Clarendon replied to that part of your remarks by saying that “ if there was to be any discussion of principles it had better be done thoroughly and to the bottom.” The President recognizes the importance of a thorough discussion (whenever the subject is resumed) upon all the points of difference.

He wishes that whenever negotiations or discussion on the subject of the Alabama claims" (so-called) shall be renewed, they be conducted in the United States; and he desires that at the proper time you should convey this wish to the minister of foreign affairs. It is impossible to say at present when that time will arrive, but it will certainly have arrived whenever the British government shall propose a discussion, or shull intimate a desire to reopen the negotiation.

In the meantime, you may be well content to rest the question on the very forcible presentation you have made of the American side of the question. It was strongly done, and if there were expressions used stronger than were required by your instructions, the excess was in the right direction, and stopping where they do, and uttered as they were, it may well be hoped that they may tend to impress the minister with the seriousness of our appreciation of the grievances we have sustained. I am, sir, pour obedient servant,

HAMILTON FISH. J. LOTHROP MOTLEY, Esq., C., C., dr.

4. Mr. Motley to Mr. Fish.

No. 48.

LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,

London, July 15, 1869. (Received July 29, 1869.) Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch No. 23, of the 29th of June.

I take notice that you desire that I should rest upon the presentation of the American side of the case, already made by me; and that I zlould not further allude officially to the subject, until such time as the British government may propose a discussion or intimate a desire to reopen the negotiation; in which event I am instructed to convey the wish of the President'that the negotiation, or discussion on the subject of the so-called Alabama claims, should be conducted in the United States. You may rely upon my faithfully carrying out these instructions. I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

JOIN LOTHROP MOTLEY. Hon. HAMILTON FISH,

Secretary of State, Washington, D. ('.

5. Mr. Motley to Mr. Fish.

[Private and confidential.] No. 49.

LEGATION OF TIIE UNITED STATES,

London, July 15, 1809. (Received July 29.) Sir: I observe that while my general presentation of the subjects discussed with Lord Clarendon, in the interview described in my No. 8, meets your approval, the President's view of the right of every power, when a civil conflict has arisen within another state, to define its relations and those of its citizens does not seem to have been conveyed to her Majesty's principal secretary of state for foreign affairs in precise conformity with that view, as you desired to present it to me in your No. 3.

As it is my earnest wish to set forth the opinions of the President with exactness, I have reviewed my No. 8, after reading your dispatch just received, and am led to suppose, as you do not specify the discrepancy between those instructions and my oral statements to Lord Clarendon, that more stress was laid by me upon the original investiture of the insurgent portion of the United States population at the outbreak of the rebellion with belligerent rights by the British government, and on the steady persistence of that government in its unfriendly and injurious policy, after its injustice and its pernicious effects had been proved, than comports with the intentions of the President. The extensive disasters resulting from that hurried recognition of belligerency on the 6th of May, 1861, which was, in fact, one week earlier than the so-called neutrality proclamation, and from the secret semi-official negotiations then inaugurated with the rebel authorities in regard to two of the four points of the declaration of Paris of 1856, have always much impressed me. The careful elimination of the first point, abolishing privateering, from those early discussions, and the subsequent refusal of the British government to accept the proposition of the United States Government for the suppression of privateering, except on the condition of excluding its jurisdiction in this regard over the insurgent portion of its own citizens, have always seemed to me matters of the utmost gravity, both for their practical effects and for the important principles involved.

As the rebel agents in London frankly avowed to the British government, in one of their earliest interviews, that they had neither armed ships nor a commercial marine of any account, and as Englishmen engaging in depredations upon the commerce of a friendly power, under cover of rebel letters of marque or pretended commissions to public ships, would have unquestionably been liable to punishment as pirates, it would seem to have been the first thought of the British government, although not foreseeing, of course, the great system of marauding which was so soon to be organized by its subjects, to throw over them, when employed in such pursuits, the protection of belligerent rights. Thus privateering, abolished at Paris by Great Britain, France, and other great powers, as contrary to the humaner spirit of the age, was stimulated, instead of being impeded, although damage was thereby likely to be inflicted upon the commerce of a friendly nation. It did not occur to me, in my first conversation with the minister, that the rights and interests of British citizens had been necessarily affected by the conflict apparently impending in the spring of 1861, merely because some of them might be inclined to furnish to rebels those means of despoiling the United States of which they had declared themselves

« PředchozíPokračovat »