Page images
PDF
EPUB

States encounter more criticism in Great Britain than Great Britain does in the United States.

Moreover, it should be borne in mind that much of the inculpation of Great Britain which is perceived in the United States proceeds from British immigrants, largely Irish, but in part Scottish and English,—who, like other Europeans, are but too prone to come here with all their native political prejudices clinging to them; who not seldom hate the Government of their native land; and who, of course, need time to cease to be Europeans in spirit and to become simply Amer. icans. And it would not be without interest in this relation to see how many of such persons, in the newspaper press or elsewhere, say or do things tending to cause it to be.supposed that opinion in the United States is hostile to Great Britain.

There is one other class of facts which it is proper to state in this relation, and particularly proper for me to state.

The successful revolution of the thirteen Colonies was an event most unacceptable, of course, to England. We, the victors in that contest, should not murmur if resentful memories thereof lingered for some time in the breasts of the defeated party. I think, however, such feelings have ceased to manifest themselves in England. It is to quite other causes, in my opinion, that we are to attribute the successive controversies between the two countries, in which, as it seems to me, the greater wrong has in each case been on the side of England. I think we did not afford her suffi. cient cause of complaint for continuing in hostile oc

D

cupation of the Northwestern Territory for so many years after we had made peace. I think she was wrong in issuing the notorious Orders in Council, and in the visitation of our ships and impressment of our seamen, which morally constrained us, after exhausting all other means of redress, to have recourse to war. I think she was wrong in contending that that war extinguished the rights of coast fishery assured to us by the Treaty of Independence. I think she was wrong in the controversy on the subject of colonial trade, which attained so much prominence during the Presidency of John Quincy Adams. I think she was wrong in attempting to set up the fictitious Mosquito Kingdom in Central America. I think she was wrong in the so-called San Juan Question. And so of other subjects of difference between the two Gor. ernments,

Now, it has happened to me, in the course of a long public life, to be called on to deal officially, either in Congress, in the Cabinet, or at the Bar, with many of these points of controversy between the two Govern. ments, of which it suffices to mention for example three, namely: 1, the Question of British Enlistments; 2, the Hudson's Bay Company; and 3, the Alabama Claims.

In regard to the first of these questions, the United States, and the persons who administered the Govern . ment, were so clearly right that, although the British Government, in its Case, improvidently brought into controversy at Geneva, by way of counter-accusation, the general conduct of the United States during the

war between Great Britain and Russia, and although we replied by charging in response that the only violations of neutrality committed in the United States during that war were committed by Great Britain herself, yet in the subsequent discussions not a word of self-justification on this point was preferred by the British Government.

In regard to the second of the questions, a member of Parliament [Mr. Hughes], in ignorance of the facts, it is to be presumed, undertook to impugn the conduct of the Counsel of the United States, and to draw inferences therefrom prejudicial to the conduct of the United States in the Arbitration at Geneva. In response to this complaint, it suffices to say that, on occasion of a settlement of the claims of the Hudson's Bay Company and of its shadow, the Puget's Sound Agricultural Company, by mixed commission, under the treaty of July, 1863, it devolved on me, in behalf of the United States, to assert, and to prove to the satisfaction of the Commission, that the pretensions of the Hudson's Bay Company were scandalously unjust, and founded on premises of exaggeration and usurpation injurious to Great Britain and to the Canadian Dominion, as well as to the United States. I have no reason to regret or qualify any thing said or done by me in that affair.

As to the third of these questions, namely, the Alabama Claims, it seems difficult to comprehend how persistent demand of redress on the part of the United States can be complained of by any candid Englishman now, when the judgment of the Tribunal of Ar

bitration establishes the fact of the long denial of justice by Great Britain in this behalf,-a fact admitted also by so prejudiced a person as Sir Alexander. Cockburn, who speaks as [“ in some sense” at least] “the representative of Great Britain.”

I confidently maintain, therefore, that neither the British Government nor the people of Great Britain had any just cause, in the course of these transactions, to find fault with the spirit, temper, or language either of the Government or the Agent or Counsel of the United States. To the contrary of this, it seems to me that on our side alone is the good cause of complaint in these respects.

ATTITUDE OF THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT.

As respects the deportment of the two Governments in this crisis, certain it is that the conduct of that of Great Britain, in resting upon the American Case for nearly seven weeks, and then abruptly breaking out, in the Queen's speech from the throne and in debate in Parliament, with objections to that Case, without previous statement thereof in diplomatic communication, was uncourteous toward the United States.

The diplomatic discussion which ensued, beginning with Lord Granville's note of February 3, 1872, and terminating with the dispatch of Mr. Fish of April 16, 1872, may now be read, not with composure only, but, with supreme satisfaction, by any citizen of the United States. The Secretary of State [Mr. Fish] demonstrates to conviction the utter baselessness of the pretension of the British Government that the so-called

indirect claims were not within the letter or spirit of the Treaty of Washington. And he repels throughout, peremptorily but dispassionately, the call of the British Government on the United States to withdraw this class of claims from the consideration of the Tri. bunal. In fine, the position of the United States is plainly expressed in different parts of the dispatches of Mr. Fish, as follows:

“They (the United States] desire toʻmaintain the jurisdiction of the Tribunal of Arbitration over all the unsettled claims, in order that, being judicially decided, and the questions of law involved therein being adjudicated, all questions connected with or arising out of the Alabama Claims, or 'growing out of the acts' of the cruisers, may be forever removed from the possibility of disturbing the perfect harmony of relations between the two countries.

“What the rights, duties, and true interests of both the contending nations, and of all nations, demand shall be the extent, and the measure of liability and damages under the Treaty, is a matter for the supreme determination of the Tribunal established thereby.

“Should that august Tribunal decide that a State is not liable for the indirect or consequential results of an accidental or unintentional violation of its neutral obligations, the United States will unhesitatingly accept the decision.

Should it, on the other hand, decide that Great Britain is liable to this Government for such consequential results, they have that full faith in British observance of its engagements to expect a compliance with the judgment of the Tribunal, which a solemn Treaty between the two Powers has created in order to remove and adjust all complaints and claims on the part of the United States."

[ocr errors]

The American Government could not avoid feeling that the public discussion, which the British Ministers had seen fit to excite, or, at any rate. to aggravate,

« PreviousContinue »