« ПретходнаНастави »
States, might have led to an adjustment of the subject which but in none of those sections are there any expressions to would have rendered this representation unnecessary. In authorize the inference that, in framing the act, the Legistheir answer to the first query, the authors of the opinion lature intended to provide for cases like that which forms have the following paragraph:
the subject of this communication. In order to arrive at “ The slave-trade acts, however, have introduced ex- the true intent and meaning of a legislative enactment, no ceptions to this general prohibition in cases of absolute dis- better auxiliary can be employed than a reference to the tress, and provide that no penalty or forfeiture shall be in- main object proposed to be attained by its framers. What curred by any landing, importing, transhipping, or carrying was that ohject, as it presents itself to view in every clause of any slaves, where it shall be proved to the satisfaction or of the act? The suppression and total abolition of the the court that the prohibited aci entirely arose from stress traffic in African slaves. The 9th section assimilates that of weather, peril of the sea, or other inevitable accident; traffic to the crime of pirary, and attaches to it the extreme the burden of which proof shall, in all cases, be on the penalty of the law. The 52d and following recite the claimant or defendent." “On this authority we think that treaties concluded for the same object between his Britannie when assistance or relief is required at the Cape, in conse- Majesty and his allies, and provide the means of carrying quence of the distressed state of the crew or of the slaves, them into effect. But in no part of the act is any thing to it may and ought to be afforded: but the extent of such re- be found looking to the case of slaves belonging to the citilief and assistance should be measured and limited by the zens of a friendly Power, accidentally cast upon the shores necessity and urgency of the case.”
of a British settlement in the prosecution of a lawful voy. Upon this clause the undersigned might, perhaps, under age; while, on the contrary, the 21st section expressly en. his assumption that the document is susceptible of being acts that nothing in the act contained “shall prevent the made applicable to the case, safely rest the title of the transhipping, and assisting at sea, any slave or slaves claimants to redress. After being deprived by shipwreck of which shall be in any ship or vessel in distress." all they had but the persons of their slaves, the claimants, With this implied if not express warrant to the authoriunder circumstances of “absolute distress," and counting ties of the Bahamas to grant to persons situated as were upon that hospitality which in all other civilized parts of the passengers of the “ Encomium,” that assistance which the globe awaits persons in their situation, apply at the they came to seek at Nassau, because it was nowhere else to Bahamas for the means of satisfying the most pressing be found, it is difficult for the undersigned to conceive bø wants of nature and for a ship to carry them home. The what reasoning those authorities could have arrived at the conundersigned feels that Lord Palmersion will think, with clusion that they were bound to interfere in any other way, him, that no circumstances of " stress of weather, peril of aware as they must have been that the voyage of that vesthe sea, or other inevitable accident," could have given to sel was sanctioned by the laws of the United States; and the applicants a more undoubted claim upon the authorities when they found, in the act referred to, provisions erof the Bahamas for the assistance and relief which, in such pressly authorizing, in those parts of the British empire cases, the Crown lawyers themselves think may and ought where slavery existed at the time, the purchase and sale of to be afforded. The refusal of that assistance is a circum- slaves for the purpose of being employed in the same Atance which the undersigned is unable to reconcile with colony; their transfer coastwise from one part to another of his idea of the kind of reception which a stanger in distress the same colony, and even their removal from one island to has, in the present enlightened and philanthropic spirit of another in the same colonial government; their employthe age, a right to expect at the hands of any Puwer on ment in navigation and fishery ; and, when serving in the whose shores misfortune may have thrown him, or with capacity of domestics, their personal attendance on their the character of the relations which it is the wish of the masters, wherever these might choose to carry them. United States to see firinly established between the two The undersigned is not without hopes that, in the forecountries. The seizure of (heir property, instead of it
, is going remarks, he will be found to have stated to the satisa proceeding which the undersigned thinks equally irre- faction of Lord Palmerston the grounds on which it may concilable with the ordinary principles of common justice. safely be assumed that, whether
appealing to the opinion The legal opinion alluded io was given in 1818, before of the legal advisers of the Crown, in the case of the Portthe passing of the statute of 5 Geo. iv, chap. 113, “to uguese slaver wrecked at the Cape of Good Hope, or inamend and consolidate the laws relating to the abolition of voking the provisions of British legislative enactments
, the slave trade,” some of the provisions of which it may be the colonial authorities of the Bahamas, in refusing to re, proper for the undersigned to notice in this place, under a store the slaves who were passengers in the " Encomium" belief that they confirm bis view of the total inapplicability to their rightful owners, have acted in a manner not auof the opinion of the Crown lawyers to the case under thorized by any public act intended for their governance consideration, and that a reference to them cannot fail to in such cases. satisfy Lord Palmerston that, repealing, as they do, all Upon this expectation the undersigned might, perhaps, former acts relating to the slave trade, and laying down confidently rely for ultimate justice to the claimants ; there principles totally at variance with those upon which the are, however, considerations of a more general characier, colonial authorities of the Bahamas assume to have acted, which occupy so prominent a place in the view taken of they leave those officers entirely unsupported by any legal the subject by his Government and himself, that he is comauthority in the view they have taken of the case of the pelled to add a few more observations to this communica“ Encomium," and the proceedings founded upon them. tion, which he regrets has already been so much extended.
The first section of the act, after declaring ils object to To some of those considerations he has before alluded, in be the amendment and consolidation of the various enact- his note respecting the case of the - Comet.” They have ments relating to the slave trade, a term which it is be their origin in the relations of good neighborhood, which lieved no one will think of applying to any trade but the it is so manifestly the interest of the two nations to mainprobibited traffic in African slaves, proceeds to repeal tain and improve ; but which cannot be successfully culti. all acts and enactments relating to the slave trade and the vated so long as the subordinate agents of his Majesty's abolition thereof, and the exportation and importation of Government, placed in authority at stations contiguous to slaves ;" and the two following sections make it penal for the territory of the United
, shall conduct themselves any person to "deal" or " irade” in slaves, to “ carry towarls American citizens in a manner so little in accordaway or remove”, them, to “import,” to “ship, them for ance with the friendly sentiments on which alone those the purpose of being imported," and to do all other acts ne relations can be sustained. cessarily connected with the former traffic in African slaves ; The undersigned is instructed to say that their proceed
ings in the case of the “Encomium" have produced a the particular case under consideration, in its various deep sensation throughout the United States; but es- bearings, has now but to perform the last branch of the pecially in the South, where the existence of a large slave duty which has been assigned to him. All other means population has rendered the people more sensitively alive of redress having failed, the claimants have appealed to to every occurrence that may tend to disturb the relations the President for his official interposition in their behalf existing there between master and slave. By the citizens near the Government of his Britannic Majesty; and it is of that portion of the Union, the late transaction at Nassau in consequence of the promise given them that that interis looked upon as a direct interference with their rights of position should be promptly and earnestly afforded, that property_with rights which had their origin under British the undersigned has been especially instructed to lose no rule, and have, since the separation of the two countries, time in laying the case before Lord Palmerston, and to been guarantied to them by tbe laws of the United States. request that it may, with as little delay as possible, be Looking again at the circumstances of the case, it cannot taken into his lordship’s favorable consideration. He is, be denied that they furnish abundant cause for the dissatis- moreover, commissioned to express the confident hope enfaction they have produced. The slaves were still in the tertained by the President that, after fully weighing all the quiet possession and under the entire control of their mas. circumstances altending it, his Majesty's Government will ters, whose sole desire was that they should be allowed to perceive that full indeinnity to the claimants, both in the proceed with them to their destination, when they were case now particularly alluded to, and in that of the per forcibly seized and landed by the same persons who after- sons shipwrecked in the “ Comet," which has repeatedly wards availed themselves of their own illegal act as a pre- formed the subject of former representations, is duo to text for finally depriving the owners of their property. No justice as well as to the character of the relations now oxapplication, either on the part of the slaves for their libera- | isting between the United States and Great Britain, from tion, or on that of the masters for aid in enforcing their which it is his desire that all causes that may, by any posauthority as such, appears to have been addressed to the sibility, tend to impair them, shonld be speedily and radicolonial authorities. Their interference was wholly grat-cally removed. The undersigned thinks that he has said uitous and uncalled for, and can in no possible view of enouglı in this note and in his former communications on the case be considered as characteristic of any desire on the subject of these claims, to impress Lord Palmerston the part of those officers to respect the rights of foreigners with a sense of the importance that no delay that can poswhom misfortune has placed in their power; particularly sibly be avoided, should be allowed to stand in the way of when it is considered that this is the second time that the a speedy ailjustment of them. Under that impression, same cause of complaint has, from their illegal acts, arisen and presuming that such an adjustment will prevent the in that quarter. Citizens of the United States conveying recurrence of similar causes of complaint, he does not think tbeir property by sea from one part of the Union to anothit necessary to lay any particular stress on the request er, under authority of the laws of their country, have which he is likewise instructed to lay before his Majesty's been taught to believe that, if shipwreck or other calamity Government, that suitable measures may, as soon as pracshould compel them to seek an asylum in the ports of his ticable, be adopted, to cause the just rights of the citizens Majesty's possossions, they might count with certainty up of the United States to be respected in future by the auon that hospitality for themselves, and that protection for thorities of his Majesty's colonies, should they again bo whatever else may have been spared by the disasters of the placed in their power by misfortune or unavoidable accident, sea, which the laws of all civilizeil communities accord to The undersigned has the honor, on this occasion, to misfortune in such cases; and the risks of that mode of offer to Lord Palmerston the renewed assurance of his most conveyance have accordingly been calculated with a full listinguished consideration.
A. VAIL, reliance upon the permanency of the same just and benor- 13 OLD CAVENDISH ST., September 20, 1834. olent policy. But it will readily occur to Lord Palmerston that if
, upon erroneous pretences, the depositaries of Extract of a despatch from Mr. Vail to Mr. Forsyth, power are to take upon themselves to declare the forfeiture of property thus unfortunately thrown in their hands,
dated January 14, 1835. without previous warning of their intentions, iminense I had, the day before yesterday, with the Duke of Wel. losses will be sustained before the mode of conveyance re- lington, an interview, which I had sought for the purpose ferred to can be changed, or the risks attending it so cal- of calling his attention more forcibly than I had before done, culated as to afford to the owners of property erobarked in to the claim of the owners of slaves shipwrecked in the Bait the benefit of the ordinary security afforded by commer- hamas in the years 1830 and 18:34. After briefly laying becial insurance and usage.
fore him the leading circumstances of the case, I endeavored The United States cannot but feel with the Government to impress him with a sense of the importance attached by the of Great Britain upon all subjects connected with the final President to its early adjustment, on the grouud of common annihilation of the inhuman traffic in slaves, and are ever justice to the claimants themselves, and on account of the anxious to mitigate, by every means in their power, the unpleasant state of feeling which the circumstance had proevils of slavery, where that feature exists in their social or- duced amongst the slave-holding population of the United ganization; but, in whatever they have done towards the States. I adverted to the dilatory course hitherto pursuell attainnsent of those objects, they have, with sedulous care, in regard to the claim, especially by the law departinent, endeavored to respect and even to protect the rights of and expresed my apprehension that the feelings which had others against any injury that might accrue from the op- been awakened by ihe discussion and passage of the emaneration of their laws in relation to the subject; and, in cipation act had been allowed to exercise upon the minds proof of this, a care is now on record in which British of those who had been charged to investigate the merits of slaves, owned in the very port of Nassau, and brought in the claim, an influence which had prejudiced the just rights to the United States, on being saved from shipwreck, of the parties interested. The duke said that, in consehave, notwithstanding the existing laws prohibiting the quence of what I had before stated to him on the subject, landing of that description of persons in the country, been he had already given directions that the papers relating to received and landed over to his Majesty's consul at New it should be collected and laid before him; that this had Orleans, for the purpose of being restored to their British not yet been done ; but that I might rest assured that ho masters.
would attend to it without delay; make bimself acquainted The undersigned having, in the preceding remarks, with the merits of the question, and the stage to which the fully stated the view which his Government has taken of' consideration of it had been carried ; that, if ripe for a de
cision, he would lose no time in making it known to me; the port of Hamilton, in the Bermuda islands; that, on her and if not, that he would accelerate it, and see that no de arrival there, she was seized by the colonial authorities, on lay that could possibly be avoided should be allowed to put the pretext of her having slaves on board, but subsequently off the final adjustinent of the matter, The earnest tone released, and the master told that he might proceed on his in which these promises were given, and the assiduity and voyage after repairing damages and refitting; that, afterpunctuality which characterize the duke's offi conduct, wards, however, while about availing himself of this perjead me lo hope that the termination of this long-pending mission, he called at the custom house for his ship's papera, negotiation is not far remote.
the delivery of them was refused until the pleasure of the
Governor of the colony, with reference to the slaves, could Extract of a disputch from Mr. Vail to Mr. Forsyth, be ascertained; that, while detained by this delay, a writ of dated January 22, 1835.
habeas corpus, issued by the chief justice, was served upon I have from the Duke of Wellington additional assurances him, requiring his appearance before the court, and the that our claims in relation to the shipwrecked slaves are production of the slaves, still remaining on board his sessel, under consideration, and have already been the subject of who, on disembarking, were immediately taken from bis discussion between him and Lord Aberdeon, the colonial custody, and proclained free, for having been landed in a secretary
colony where slavery had then ceased to exist.
The case, though varying in some of its details from those Extract of a letter from Mr. Vail to Mr. Forsyth, dated of the brigs "Comet” and “Encomium," already laid be March 14, 1835.
fore Lord Palmerston, involves the same considerations, I took a late occasion to remind the Duke of Wellington similar character. It is that of an American vessel parsu
and, consequently, gives rise to a third claim of a precisely of his promise of an early decision upon our claim respect- ing a voyage recognised as lawful by the legislation of the ing the slaves shipwrecked in the Bahamas. He said that United States and by all the principles of public law, forced, the subject was now at tho Treasury, and that he was only by the act of God, to seek, in a British port, a refuge from waiting for Sir Robert Peel to be soinewhat relieved from the teinpest, relief from starvation for her crew and passenthe great pressure of his parliamentary duties, to summon him and the colonial secretary to a serious and final discus, code of humanity as well as the immutable laws of justice
gers, and that aid, protection, and hospitality, which the sion of the merits of the claim; and that I might depend and the best-established usages amongst civilized nations, upon being apprized of their decision upon it at as early a
secure to the distressed mariner, and to the property in bis day as the peculiar circumstances the Government are now
charge. It exhibits the same desire on the part of the masplaced in would permit.
ter, and the same exertions, by retaining the slaves onder Extract of a letter from Mr. Vail to Mr. Forsyth, dated his charge and control, to prevent any act that, by any
possibility, might be construed into an infraction of the May 14, 1835.
well-known laws and policy in force in the colony, which Bir: In the note of which a cupy is enclosed, addressed prohibit the introduction of that description of persons; and by me on the 11th instant, to Lord Palmerston, respecting the samo gratuitous and uncalled for interference on that of the seizure by the colonial authorities of Bermuda, and the
the local authorities--first, in infringing those very laws by subsequent liberation of the slaves, passengers on board the forcibly seizing and landing the slaves, when noihing apbrig "Euterprise," I have endeavored, without going again pears to show that their safety rendered that step necessary, into the arguments urged in favor of the analogous cases of and then, by availing themselves of their own wrong, to the “Comet” and “Enconium,” to impress the British declare the forfeiture of property thus, by uncontrollable minister with a sense of the importance which, indepen- events, placed in their power. The undersigned feels condently of its intrinsic merits, the case derives from the dan.
fident that such unwarrantable procecdings can be viewed ger of allowing the repetition of those occurrences to estab- in no other light than as a flagrant violation of all the prinlish a practice which we never can sanction. My aim has ciples which regulate the intercourse and promote confidence been lo iinpart to my representation as much strength as
among friendly nations. He is instructed to say that, by the case admitted, without making use of language that the President of the United States, they are looked upon as could produce any thing like irritation.
an outrage committed by subordinate agents of the British
power upon the rights and interests of American citizens, Mr. Vail to Lord Palmerston.
calling for a redress which he cannot but hope a sense of It is with deep regret that the undersigned, chargé d'af- common justice, on the part of his Majesty's Government, faires of the United States of America, acting under special will not allow them to deny, nor long to withhold. instructions recently received from his Goverument, again The grounds upon which tbat confident expectation of has occasion to call the attention of the right honorable prompt reparation is founded have already been fully laid Lord Viscount Palmerston, his Majesty's principal Secreta. before Lord Palmerston-first, in the note more than three ry of State for Foreign Affairs, to another illegal seizure of years ago addressed to his lordship by Mr. Van Buren, then slaves, passengers in an American vessel driven by stress minister of the United State at his Majesty's court, in the of weather within British jurisdiction, which makes it the case of the brig “Cumet;" and, subsequently, in various duty of the undersigned to address to his Majesty's Govern- communications from the undersigned in the same case, ment another such reprosentation as those which have so and that of the “Encomium.” To the statements and arlong been before it, the subject of yet unanswered though guments presented on those occasions, but little remains repeated and earnest appeals to its justice.
that the undersigned thinks could now be added with any The particulars of the present case are briefly told in the prospect of more clearly setting furth the nature and extent enclosed copy of a letter from the American consular com- of the wrong inflicted upon the parties aggrieved, or the mercial agent in the Berinudas to the Secretary of State, legality of their claim. They were then urged, less with from which it appears that the brig “Enterprise,” Ellioti a view of establishing the justice of a demand which the Sanith master, having on board, as passengers, seventy-eight Government of the United States, confiding in the friendly blaves, the property of citizens of the United States, was, disposition of that of Great Britain, might safely have left while on her voyage from Alexandria, in the District of to its own merits, and to the principles of right on which it Columbia, to Charleston, in South Carolina, driven from rested, than of satisfying the technicalities of the law, and her course by a continuance of tempestuous weather, and of showing that, apart from the indisputable equity of the compelled, for want of provisions, to put, in distress, into ' case, the claimants, and their Government for them, were
prepared to appeal, without fear, to the spirit and letter of To another part of the note above referred to, the underthe written code of Great Britain, the solemn decisions of signed feels it his duty again to request Lord Palmerston's her courts of justice, and the deliberate opinions elicited particular attention. It is that in which, speaking the lanfrom her jurists, when analogous points have been brought guage dictated to him by his instructions, he adverts to the in question. It would but serve to consume his lordship's impossibility that the Government of the United States time to revert, in this place, to those statements and argu- should ever subscribe to the doctrine which the course purments : urged as they were with all the solemnity which sued by the colonial authorities would tend lo establish, express directions from the Government of the United States that those authorities possess the power to take from the could impart to them, and with all the easnestness which custody of his master, and declare the freedom of every a deep conviction of their truth could inspire, they were American slave whom chance or circumstances beyond believed to have a claim to the favorable consideration of control, as in the cases under consideration, have placed his Majesty's Government, which had raised in the mind within their reach. Such a doctrine, fraught, as it would of the President an expectation that the subject would long be, with other consequences of the most dangerous charere this have been adjusted. The undersigned has had acter, could not fail, if allowed to grow into practice in too many proofs of the disposition evinced by Lord Palmer- possessions within sight of the coast of the United States, ston to remove from the intercourse between the United as are some of the British islands in that quarter, to give States and Great Britain all cause of difference susceptible rise to disputes and collisions between the inhabitants of of affecting its harmonious character, to admit the suppo. the opposite shores, which the Government of the two sition that the long lapse of time which has intervened since countries would find it difficult to reconcile with the amicathe date of the first communications of the American lega- ble relations which it is their desire, not less than their intion upon the subject of these claims, is to be viewed as an terest, to cultivate and improve. evidence of want of attention to them on the part of his The undersigned has it in command to apprize Lord Majesty's ministers, or of an under estimate of their im- Palmerston that the excitement created among the people of portance; but he is bound by bis instructions to say that, in the slave-holding members of the Union, in consequence of the opinion of his Government, the delay has been protract the second seizure of their property in the case of the “Ened far beyond any period that could have been considered comium,” has been revived on the occasion which more necessary for the most deliberate examination, in all their particularly calls for this communication. His lordship is bearings, of the different questions in any event likely to sufficiently acquainted with the degree of influence which, arise from those communications; and to repeat that, aware
in the United States, the popular sentiment must ever exthough the President be of the delicate character of some ercise over the actions of those who are intrusted with the of those questions, and disposed, in that spirit, to make conduct of public affairs, to understand that, in a case like every allowance that circumstances appeared to suggest, that the present, where that excitement is the result of legitidelay has been to him a cause of much surprise, and of a mate causes, the President has additional motives to feel it regret which he has caused the undersigned frankly to make is his bounden duty to ask, in behalf of his appeal for the known to and impress upon his Majesty's Government. redress of a manifest and indisputable wrong, the immedi-.
The undersigned has, in his former communications, en- ate action of his Majesty's Government. Lord Palmerston deavored to convey to Lord Palmerston an understanding has, in the former communications of this legation, been of the importanco which these claims derive from their lia- made acquainted with the nature of the reparation expected bility to be multiplied, so long as the delegates of his Ma- by the parties aggrieved, and called for by the circumstanjesty's power in the colonies adjacent to the Southern sec. ces of the case. It but remains for the undersigned to say tions of the United States shall be permitted to consider the that the American Government, disappointed by the delay inaction of the metropolitan Government upon the cases which has hitherto occurred in advancing towards an adunder consideration as sanctioning their unjustifiable pro-justment of this unpleasant and exciting subject of differ. ceedings. His desire that what he cannot but look upon ence, will henceforth expect to find an evidence of the ex. as a delusion involving dangerous consequences, should, as
tent and sincerity of the desire entertained by that of Great speedily as possible, cease to be entertained by those au- Britain to suppress all motives of irritation between the thorities, again impels him to present for the consideration two countries, in the promptitude with which his Majesty's of his lordship the fact, that the tide of emigration from the ministers, taking this new appeal into their favorable con. central parts of the Union having taken a direction towards sideration, will exert themselves to conduct the subject of the South, the case daily occurs of owners of slaves remov- it to that final and satisfactory termination which, alone, ing, by sea, with their families and domestics, and taking the President can allow himself to look for from the ena course which unavoidably carries them into the waters of lightened justice of the British Government. the British islands at the entrance of the Mexican Gulf, The undersigned avails himself of this opportunity to where, from the dangers attending the navigation of those tender to Lord Palmerston the renewed assurance of his seas, they are exposed to such disasters as those which highest consideration.
A. VAII. have given rise to these representations. So confident was 13 Old Cavendish St., May 11, 1835. the undersigned that the case of the “Comet" must speedily be followed by others which would but serve to render Extract of a letter from Mr. Vail to Mr. Forsyth, dated the subject still more difficult of adjustment, that, more
November 6, 1835. than two years ago, in his note of the 4th April, 1833, he SIR: While the members of this Government were $0 predicted the recurrence of similar events, unless a line of exclusively engaged as they have been for some time past conduct more accordant with the friendly relations existing by engrossing topics growing out of the domestic concerns between the two countries were, without delay, prescribed of the country, I deemed it useless to make any particular to the local authorities in his Majesty's colonies. Twice exertion to urge an answer to our claims arising from the has that prediction already been verified; and it is a mel-seizure and liberation of slaves shipwrecked in the British ancholy cause of regret to think that, had the reiterated ef-possessions near our shores; never forgetting, however, forts made by the undersigned in the note above cited, and that I was required by my instructions not to allow the in his other communications, written and verbal, to Lord subject to be lost sight of. Believing that I might now Palmerston, been attended with the effect which they were venture upon a reminder of our applications, I obtained, a intended 10 produce, the Government of the United States few days ago, from Lord Palmerston, an interview, at would have been spared the unpleasant duty of ordering which I began by remarking upon the length of time which this another fresh appeal to the justice of Great Britain, had elapsed sinoe the date of the first of those applications,
Vol. XIV.-A 34
the frequent renewals of them, the nearly as frequent prom- promised communication has not yet been received at the ises of an answer, not yet fulfilled, and the importance at legation. tached by my Government, independently of the individual interests involved, to the settlement of the questions which had grown out of the circumstances attending those claims.
Extract of a letter from Mr. Vail to Mr. Forsyth, dated
November 14, 1835. I stated that my standing instructions made it for me an
SiR : I have the honor to communicate to you a copy of imperative duty again to bring the subject forward and recommend it to the early and earnest consideration of his
the note fronı Lord Palmerston, which had been promised Majesty's Government; and I inquired whether any prog
me in time to be sent by the last packet, but which was ress had been made towards a settlement. Lord Palmer- only received last night, apprizing me, officially, of the refston said that, though otherwise much engaged, his atten
erence to the judicial committee of the Privy Council of the tion had often been directed towards those claims, .which,
subject of our clainis arising from the liberation of the both from their merits and the circumstances under which
slaves shipwrecked in the British islands in the brigs they were presented, had been to him a subject of solici
Enterprise," and "Encomium." tude; that, as I was aware, they had long been under investigation by the law officers of the Crown, who had sound
Lord Palmerston to Mr. Vail. the subject so full of difficulties and involving points of
The undersigned, his Majesty's principal Secretary of such moment, that they had almost shrunk from the task
State for Foreign Affairs, has the honor to acquaint Mr. of arriving at definitive and binding conclusions upon them.
Vail, chargé d'affaires of the United States of America, To the allegation, repeated by his lordship, that the posi- that, afier an attentive consideration of the important questive statute law of the realm forbade the removal of per- tions involved in the claims brought forward by Mr. Vai! sons from any British possession to be dealt with as slaves, I again reminded him that, in all the three case, the actual slaves from on board of the United States vessels Comet,"
and his predecessors, for compensation for the loss of landing of the slaves within the British jurisdiction had “Encomium," and “ Enterprise," his Majesty's Governbeen the act of British authorities, ineflectually opposed ment have determined to refer the whole subject to the juand protested against by the owners of the property; and dicial committee of Privy Council, as being the highest lethat no law ought to be allowed to take advantage of the gal authority whieh can be consulted on this difficult matlaches of those appointed to execute it. He said that the
ter; and steps are now taking for this purpose by his Mareports so far made by the ordinary law officers of the
jesty's Treasury. Crown were but partial, and insufficient to enable the cab
The undersigned avails himself of this opportunity to reinet to clear the subject of its legal difficulties; that no set
new to Mr. Vail the assurance of his distinguished considtlement of the claims could be effected without ministers'
PALMERSTON going to Parliament for the necessary appropriation; that
FOREIGN Orkice, November 13, 1835. the subject was one of such a delicate nature, particularly at this time, that they could scarcely expect an application to that effect to be successful unless sustained by the most
Extract of a letter from Mr. Stevenson to Mr. Forsyth, unequivocal expression, from the highest law authority in
dated July 14, 1836. the kingdom, of the legal and positive obligation of Gov
Having been accredited, I shall now earnestly enter upernment to answer the demand of the United States; that,
on the subjects of the negotiation committed to my cbarge as soon as the adjournment of Parliament had given leisure by your instructions, and press, at an early day, the claims to ministers to look at the question, their deliberations had for indemnity on the part of those American citizens wboss convinced them of the necessity of a clear legal demonstra
slaves were illegally seized and confiscated in some of the tion of that obligation; and that, not finding it in the docu- British islands. Mr. Vail's last communication to Lord ments before them, nor seeing any prospect of its being ob
Palmerston upon the subject remains yet unanswered. tained from the ordinary law authorities, they had resolved to seek it elsewhere, and that the result of his last conference Extracts of a letter from Mr. Stevenson to Mr. Forsyth, with Lord Melbourne and the Chancellor of the Exchequer,
dated July 29, 1836. had been a resolution to refer the whole matter to the judicial I received by the last packet but one, your despatch of committee of the Privy Council, in whom resides the high- the 14th of June,
It found me busily engaged est legal power in the State ; that, accordingly, our different in preparing my first coinmunication to Lord Palmerston, applications, together with all the documents connected upon the claims of our citizens for the seizure and confiscawith the claims, had been laid before the committee, who tion of their slaves by the British colonial authorities. I either were at this time, or soon would be, engaged in the was consequently prevented from answering it, as I had examination of them; and their opinion once obtained, intended doing, last week. I completed yesterday my arwould, if favorable to the claimants, enable them to back gument upon these claims, and placed it in the hands of their application to Parliament by authority of the highest Lord Palmerston, with an earnest appeal for a speedy and character, and if unfavorable, to predicate their answer to final answer.
I expressed, as I was instructed our demands upon grounds which would satisfy the Presi- to do, in strong though respectful terms, the painful surdent that the obstacles in the way of an adjustment did not prise and regret of the President at the delay which had arise from any inotive inconsistent either with justice or taken place in the adjustment of these claims, accompanied with their friendly dispositions towards the United States. by an assurance from myself, that he had not relinquished To my inquiry whether the proposed investigation by the the expectation of its still being done.
I bare judicial committee of the Privy Council would be attended received since my arrival here, letters from some of the with much delay, Lord Palmerston expressed his convic- claimants, complaining deeply of the delay, and urging my tion that their attention would be immediately engaged in attention to their claims. I shall continue to press them it, and that a prompt result might be confidently anticipa- at every favorable opportunity, until they are settled. The ted. I then requested that, if he saw no objection, he length of my communication to Lord Palmerston will not would, in a note, either official or not, as he might think enable me to send you a copy of it by the packet tu-day, fit, communicate to me the substance of which he had but it shall be forwarded next week, and I shall feel gratistated, as to the stage to which the business had been car. fied if the manner in which I have fultilled your instrucried; and he promised that he would do it, so as to enable tions shall meet with the approbation of the President and me to put you in possession of it by this opportunity. The 'yourself.