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given to the original grant of May 15, 1863, O. S., by the Russian government, will not give the company as much money as the real import of the section 17 would warrant, yet I believe the charter a good and practical one, and therefore I do not share in the despondency of H. Sibley, esq.
Believing, however, that I contend for his just rights, I shall steadily pursue all proper means to cause them to be respected.
Your obedient servant,
Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD,
Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.
C. M. CLAY.
Messrs. Sibley & Collins to Prince Gortchacow.
ST. PETERSBURG, March 9-21, 1865.
The respectful and dutiful protest of Hiram Sibley and P. McD. Collins against the decision of the Russian government and the imperial telegraph department of Russia, in regard to the remarks added to the 17th section of conditions of agreement, signed and done in convention at St. Petersburg on the 9-21st March, A. D. 1865, between the director-in-chief of the department of imperial telegraphs, his excellency J. Tolstoy, on the part of the imperial government, and the undersigned, on the part of the Western Union Telegraph Company, of Rochester, in the State of New York, United States of America, under an act of the Siberian committee, sanctioned by his Imperial Majesty on the 15th day of May, A. D. 1863, No. 820.
This protest most respectfully and dutifully showeth, that by the original grant, No. 820, cited above, Major P. McD. Collins, a citizen of the United States of America, was authorized to form a company for the construction of a telegraph from the mouth of the Amoor river, in Asiatic Russia, to the frontiers of Russian America.
In this original grant certain inducements were held out, in order to encourage and effect the formation of a company for the construction of said telegraph, one of which was that, "for the encouragement of the undertaking of the company, the Russian government will allow a deduction of 40 per cent. upon the net profits of despatches transmitted along the Russian telegraph lines, solely to and from America." This promised aid formed the leading inducement in the formation of the company and the subscriptions to and sale of its shares. The words of the grant No. 820, as well as the true intent and meaning of the passage cited above, now section 17, incorporated in the convention signed on the 9-21st March, A. D. 1865, bound the imperial government, as the company and the undersigned believed, in good faith, that the "net profits on despatches to and from America" were to be ascertained solely in reference to American despatches passing over Russian government telegraph lines. Now, however, the imperial telegraph department has interpreted the meaning of this clause, as we consider, quite differently. The department of telegraphs contend, in order to reckon the net profits of American despatches, that the whole system of Russian telegraphs must be brought into account, and that the expenses of the whole administration of government telegraphis must be paid before the net profits on American despatches can be allowed to the company. To this mode of reckoning we cannot agree.
We contend that the cost and charges upon despatches to and from America should only be reckoned, and not the gross sum of all government telegraphs. The company was formed and the capital raised upon the original promise of the imperial government; England and the United States granted co-operative charters upon the basis of the original Russian grant, No. 820; the company purchased vessels and freighted them with materials; engineers and exploring parties were sent forward, and the government of the United States, under the act of Congress, furnished a steamer in aid of the undertaking of the company,
We came to St. Petersburg in October, A. D. 1864, and laid before the director-in-chief of ways of public communications, General Melnikoff, the proofs required in the original grant, No. 820; these proofs were acknowledged to be satisfactory by the department, and we awaited an early response,
But after several months of ineffectual entreaty and correspondence with the imperial department of telegraphs, we were compelled to assent to its views, as we believe, subversive of the original grant, No. 820, in regard to the allowance of the 40 per cent. upon American despatches.
Our ships were upon the sea, our capital invested, the enterprise happily on foot, when we found the undertaking must be abandoned, or submit to the views of the department of imperial telegraphs. Our views, and the correspondence upon this question of 40 per cent. encouragement as promised in the original grant, No. 820, are at great length before the
department, and consequently it is not deemed requisite to repeat them here. We appealed in vain against the decision of the imperial department of telegraphs as to the remarks to section 17. We were told by his excellency J. Tolstoy, director-in-chief of imperial telegraphs, that if we did not sign the conditions with the objectionable remarks added to section 17, the obligations of Russia would not guarantee to us the construction of our telegraph under the grant No. 820, and that all our rights under that giant would be forfeited, and that our capital and the money already invested must be lost, and the construction of the telegraph would be given over to another company. This we consider unjust, but, pressed by the vast interests involved, we were obliged to submit to his excellency's decision.
We had gone on in good faith, as we believed, under the original grant, No. 820. Our capital was invested, and to abandon the undertaking under the decision of the imperial department of telegraphs would be the absolute destruction of the company and loss of all the capital invested. Therefore, in order to save the company from great loss, and the aban donment of the construction of the telegraph, we were forced to sign the convention, as insisted upon by his excellency the chief of imperial telegraphs, and resort to this protest for our protection and the rights of the company under the original graut, No. 820.
Now, therefore, we, the undersigned, P. McD Collins, the original grantee under the act No. 820, and Hiram Sibley, the president of the Western Union Telegraph Company, in our own names, and as the agents and representatives of said Western Union Telegraph Company, do hereby most respectfully, and as in duty bound, protest against the actions, doings, and decisions of the Russian government, and the imperial department of Russian telegraphs; claiming for ourselves and the company, or to whomsoever the rights and obligations of the original grant No. 820 may appertain, the full force, meaning, and intent of said original grant.
His Excellency PRINCE GORTCHACOW,
Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs, &c., &c., &c.
Mr. Clay to Prince Gortchacow.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
The undersigned has the honor to transmit to his excellency Prince Gortchacow, vicechancellor and minister of foreign affairs to his Imperial Majesty, &c., the protest of Hiram Sibley and Perry McD. Collins, esqs., American citizens, against the construction of the grant of his Imperial Majesty, of the 15th day of May, 1863, now put upon it by the Russian authorities.
The American minister has the honor to renew to his excellency Prince Gortchacow assurances of his most distinguished consideration.
Mr. Hunter to Mr. Clay.
C. M. CLAY.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, April 20, 1865. SIR: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch of the 22d of March, No. 72,which is accompanied by a copy of the correspondence between your legation and the Russian government concerning the intercontinental telegraph.
You also inform this department that the charter to P. McD. Čollins and company has been substantially agreed to by the representatives of the company and by the government of Russia, as originally approved by the Emperor Alexander in 1863. Your proceedings in relation thereto are fully approved. I am, sir, your obedient servant, W. HUNTER, Acting Secretary.
CASSIUS M. CLAY, Esq., &c., &c., Sr., Russia.
Mr. Clay to Mr. Seward.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
SIR: It becomes my painful duty to inform you that this morning at half-past twelve o'clock his Imperial Highness the Grand Duke Héritier died at Nice, of a diseased spine, under which he had been gradually sinking. His Majesty the Emperor of Russia and her Royal Highness the Princess Dagmar, of Denmark, his affianced bride, got to Nice in time to witness the last hours of this amiable but ill-fated youth. All Russia, the diplomatic corps, and every one who knew this interesting young man, lament most sincerely his untimely end. For myself I had added to the respect which I owed him as the heir of a great throne and the son of a noble father, the friendship which his amiability and many virtues inspired.
I have the honor to be your
Hon. W. H. SEWARD,
Secretary of State, Washingtor, D. C.
C. M. CLAY.
Mr. Hunter to Mr. Clay.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, May 2, 1865.
SIR: Your despatch of the 2d ultimo, No. 73, informing this department of the confirmation, by the Emperor, of the convention between Messrs. Sibley and Collins and the Russian government, and of the orders subsequently given for the admission of the men and material of the company into the Russian possessions, has been received.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
CASSIUS M. CLAY, Esq., &c., &c., &c.
W. HUNTER, Acting Secretary.
St. Petersburg, Russia, May 4, 1865. SIR: I know not how to express my grief for the loss of our great and good President Lincoln, and my indignation at the crime of which he is a victim.
I thank God that you are spared to us, and I trust that our country and the nations will still continue to reap the fruit of your patriotic labors and pacific sentiments. I enclose you copies of the correspondence between Prince Gortchacow and myself, and also of the letters of condolence from the diplomatic corps. The ambassadors of France and England called in person, and those who did not do so wrote letters full of admiration for the virtues of the late President, and horror at the crime of his assassination. His Imperial Highness the Grand Duke Constantine sent his aide-de-camp, General Greigg; her Imperial Highness the Grand Duchess Helen sent Baron Rosen, and his Imperial Highness the Prince d'Oldenburgh called in person, all to utter sentiments of sorrow and sympathy with the American government and people. A great many distinguished Russians also expressed their grief at our loss in words and
through the press. Her Imperial Highness the Grand Duchess Helen, who is well versed in the politics and history of our country, has invited me to call upon her informally on Saturday, with a view of giving us further evidence of her kind feelings for our nation and its progressive cause, of which she is an admirer.
These sentiments of esteem and sadness are gratifying to me, and such as lead me to the hope that the martyrdom of our noble friend will at home and abroad consecrate in the hearts of all men the principles of liberty and self-government for which Lincoln lived and died.
President Johnson enters upon the duties of his office under great difficulties. I like the words of humility and calm devotion which characterize the partial revelation of his views at his accession to office.
That which won for Mr. Lincoln most admiration in Europe was his moderation in expression and firmness in action.
The new President, we are told, proposes to retain the old cabinet, and we trust the old policy of peace with foreign nations, and magnanimity in all things at home, consistent with the destruction of slavery and the restoration of the Union.
The prayers of the good of all the world follow him in his responsible task. I beg you will lay this paper before the President.
Hoping to hear of your and your son Frederick Seward's speedy recovery, I remain your most obedient servant,
Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD,
Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.
C. M. CLAY.
Prince Gortchacow to Mr. Clay.
ST. PETERSBURG, April 16, 1865.
Although the absence of his Majesty the Emperor makes it impossible for me to obtain and communicate to you the expression of the sentiments which my august master would have felt at the news of the foul crime to which the President of the United States has just fallen a victim, and which Mr. Seward has barely escaped, I did not wish to delay in testifying the lively and profound sympathy of the imperial cabinet for the federal government in this new trial which Providence had reserved for it. I have asked our minister at Washington to communicate it to the Vice-President, Mr. Johnson. Will your excellency transmit it to him, together with our sincere wishes that this abominable crime will not hinder the progress of the American nation toward the establishment of the Union and of peace, which are the pledges of its power and its prosperity.
Will your excellency be pleased to accept the assurances of my most distinguished consideration.
C. M. CLAY, Esq., &c., &c., &c.
Mr. Clay to Prince Gortchacow.
LEGATION OF the United STATES, St. Petersburg, Russia, April 15-27, 1865. The American minister has the melancholy duty to inform Prince Gortchacow, vice-chancellor and minister of foreign affairs to his Imperial Majesty, &c., &c. (by telegram from C. F. Adams, esq., American minister at London, received last night,) that Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, died on the 3-15th, day of April, instant, from a wound received from the hand of an assassin, whilst in his "loge" at the theatre. Secretary Wm. H. Seward was thought to have been mortally wounded, in his own house, the same night. By the Constitution of the United States the Vice-President, by the death of the President, becomes at once his successor. Vice-President Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee, being in Washington, immediately entered upon the duties of his responsible trust. The undersigned will inform the Russian foreign department, at the earliest day, more authoritatively of Mr. A. Johnson's succession to the presidency.
The American minister will be pardoned for expressing his deep abhorrence of assassination, which, with rightly thinking men, no political or personal motive can ever justify, and his firm conviction that such an ill-timed blow never struck down a better patriot or a more noble, generous, and humane man than Abraham Lincoln.
The American minister avails himself of this note to say how deeply he sympathizes with their Imperial Majesties and the Russian people in the afflicting and irreparable loss of their late amiable and accomplished Prince, the Grand Duke Heretier; whilst he trusts he will be allowed to mingle his personal condolence with a nation's grief for one whom he was proud to have known, to have respected for his high position, and yet more to have loved for his many virtues.
The minister of the United States has the honor to renew to Prince Gortchacow assurances of his most distinguished consideration.
C. M. CLAY.
The Minister of Sweden and Norway to Mr. Clay.
ST. PETERSBURG, April 16–28, 1865.
YOUR EXCELLENCY: In hastening to acknowledge the sad communication by which your excellency has just informed me of the assassination of Mr. Lincoln, President of the United States of America, I beg you to accept my most profound expressions of sympathy, and also of horror for the foul deed which has deprived your country and your government of their worthy and illustrious chief.
I seize the present occasion to offer to your excellency repeated assurances of my high consideration.
Mr. C. M. CLAY,
Minister of the United States of America.
Minister of Sweden and Norway.
Sir Andrew Buchanan to Mr. Clay.
HER BRITANNIC MAJESTY'S EMBASSY,
St. Petersburg, April 28, 1865.
Sir Andrew Buchanan, her Britannic Majesty's ambassador, has had the honor to receive the note by which his excellency General C. M. Clay, the minister of the United States, has acquainted him with the assassination of Mr. Lincoln, the President of the United States, and with the attempt which was made at the same time to murder Mr. William H. Seward, the Secretary of State; and further informing him that, in consequence of the former of these distressing events, Mr. A. Johnson has succeeded to the presidency of the Union.
In thanking General Clay for this communication, Sir Andrew Buchanan begs leave to express his sympathy with his excellency and the people of the United States on the great national calamity which they have sustained, while he participates in the abhorrence of its authors, which their atrocious crime must excite throughout America and the civilized world. Sir Andrew Buchanan avails himself of this opportunity to offer to General Clay the assurance of his high consideration.
The Minister of Italy to Mr. Clay.
ST. PETERSBURG, April 29, 1865.
MY DEAR COLLEAGUE: I had desired to offer you, in person, my heartfelt sympathy, but on account of indisposition I am obliged to defer my visit.
In the meanwhile I know not how I can better interpret the sentiments of my government than in joining in the sorrow with which your country has been so cruelly stricken by the loss of her greatest citizen and most eminent statesman.
The blood of a martyr in so noble a cause will strengthen the American Union, whose power and prosperity have every good wish of Italy. In renewing to you, my colleague, my expressions of sorrowful sympathy, and in thanking you for your communication, I have the honor to tender you the assurance of my high consideration.