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claimed all liability on the ground that the fitting out of the cruisers had not been completed within British jurisdic
tion. Even after the close of the war the British
government continued to reject all proposals for a Claims"
settlement. The American nation, flushed with victory, was bent on redress and so deep-seated was the resentment against England that the Fenian movement, which had for its object the establishment of an independent republic in Ireland, met with open encouragement in this country. In 1866 several thousand Irishmen undertook to invade Canada from the United States, and were driven back by the Canadian authorities. At the same time numbers of Irishmen who had been naturalized in this country returned to their native land and conspired against England. Many of them were arrested and the American government felt called upon to ask for their release. The House of Representatives encouraged the Fenian movement to the extent of repealing the law forbidding Americans to fit out ships for belligerents, but the Senate failed to concur.
The successful war waged by Prussia against Austria in 1866 disturbed the European balance and rumblings of the
approaching Franco-Prussian war caused unThe Johnson easiness in British cabinet circles. Fearing that Clarendon
if Great Britain were drawn into the conflict the convention
American people might take a sweet revenge by fitting out "Alabamas” for her enemies, the British government assumed a more conciliatory attitude and in January, 1869, Lord Clarendon signed with Reverdy Johnson, who had succeeded Adams as minister to England, a convention pro
for the submission to a mixed commission of all claims which had arisen since 1853. Though the convention included, it did not specifically mention the “Alabama Claims," and it failed to contain any expression of regret for the course pursued by the British government during the war. The Senate therefore refused by an almost unanimous vote to
ratify the arrangement, much to the disappointment of Secretary Seward, who had hoped to settle this question before leaving the State Department.
Seward's successor, Hamilton Fish, renewed the negotiations through Motley, the American minister at London, but the latter was unduly influenced by the ex
The Treaty treme views of Sumner, chairman of the Senate of Committee on Foreign Relations, to whose influ- Washington ence he owed his appointment, and got things in a bad tangle. Fish then transferred the negotiations to Washington, where a Joint High Commission appointed to settle the various disputes with Canada convened in February, 1871. The main obstacle in the way of a settlement was now the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate. Sumner insisted that England should pay damages not only for the property actually destroyed by the Confederate cruisers, but also indirect damages for the increased rates of insurance, for the loss sustained through the transfer of American shipping to foreign flags, and for the prolongation of the war resulting from England's hasty recognition and subsequent encouragement of the Confederates. Realizing that the sum total of these claims would be too vast even for England to pay, he suggested that the least she could do would be to withdraw from this hemisphere, leaving Canada and her West Indian possessions to be annexed by the United States. President Grant had now lost all patience with Sumner, who had violently opposed his pet scheme for the annexation of Santo Domingo, and when the Senate convened in March, 1871, Sumner was dropped from the Committee on Foreign Relations, Motley was recalled from London, and on May 8 the treaty of Washington was signed.
Besides providing for the settlement of questions that had arisen with Canada in regard to commerce, navigation, inshore fisheries, and the northwest boundary, the treaty of Washington provided for submitting the “Alabama Claims” to an
arbitration tribunal composed of five members, one appointed by England, one by the United States, and the The Geneva other three by the rulers of Italy, Switzerland, arbitration
and Brazil. When this tribunal met at Geneva the following year the United States, greatly to the surprise of everybody, presented the indirect claims as well as the direct, and Great Britain threatened to withdraw.
Charles Francis Adams, the American member of the tribunal, rose to the occasion, however, and decided against the contention of his own government. The indirect claims were rejected by unanimous vote and on the direct claims the United States was awarded the sum of $15,500,000. Although the British member of the tribunal dissented from this decision, his government promptly paid the award. This was the most important case that had ever been submitted to arbitration and its successful adjustment encouraged the hope that the two great branches of the English speaking people would never again have to resort to war.
The purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867 was one of the most important achievements of Seward's secretaryship
of state. It came as a great surprise to the public.
There was no demand for this frozen zone and the Alaska.
idea that it would ever be of any value was openly ridiculed. But Seward was the greatest of all American expansionists. As early as 1846 he declared that our population was destined “to roll its resistless waves to the icy barriers of the North, and to encounter oriental civilization on the shores of the Pacific.” He also believed that we would expand to the South and predicted that the city of Mexico would be "the ultimate central seat of power of the North American people."
When, therefore, he learned in 1867 that Russia was willing to sell her American possessions he was quick to open negotiations. The price finally agreed upon between him and Baron Stoeckl, the Russian minister, was $7,200,000. The
treaty was promptly ratified by the Senate with only two dissenting votes and proclaimed June 20, 1867. The House, which was bitterly hostile to the administration, did not so readily consent to vote the appropriation, but finally did so the following year. It was charged at the time, and later investigations seem to confirm the charge, that a part of the purchase money. was used in bribing members of Congress to vote for the appropriation. The United States thus secured for a trifling sum a vast area of nearly 600,000 square miles immensely rich in unsuspected minerals. From the fur seals alone the government has received double the amount of the purchase price.
The experience of the navy during the Civil War demonstrated the importance of securing coaling stations and naval bases in the West Indies. The Danish Islands of St. Thomas, St. John, and Santa Cruz had been Negotiations
for the pura favorite resort for the war vessels of the United chase of the States, most of the other West Indian Islands
West Indies being favorably disposed to the Confederates. In December, 1865, Secretary Seward started on a cruise for his health, in the course of which he visited St. Thomas and also Santo Domingo. On his return he immediately opened negotiations with the Danish minister, who was authorized to sell the Danish group for $15,000,000. Seward thought this too much, but the following year a treaty was signed at Copenhagen by which Denmark agreed to sell two of the islands, St. Thomas and St. John, for $7,500,000, provided the inhabitants should agree to the transfer.
In January, 1868, a popular vote was taken, and the inhabitants, most of whom were English speaking, expressed themselves almost unanimously in favor of American annexation. The Danish Rigsdag ratified the treaty, but after a delay of several months the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate reported unanimously against it and the matter was dropped.
In 1867 Seward sent Admiral Porter and the assistant secretary of state to Santo Domingo with authority to nego
tiate for the purchase of Samana bay and peninThe attempt
sula. The failure of the Danish treaty, however, Santo rendered the success of this scheme unlikely and Domingo
the House put an end to Seward's negotiations by overwhelmingly voting down a resolution favoring the admission of Santo Domingo as a territory with the consent of the inhabitants. General Grant, however, took the matter up shortly after the beginning of his administration and sent his secretary, Colonel Babcock, to Samana bay to report on its suitability for a coaling station. The president of Santo Domingo, finding it difficult to maintain himself in power, expressed his willingness to open negotiations for annexation and Colonel Babcock, although without diplomatic authority of any kind, promptly signed a treaty which he carried back with him to Washington.
The cabinet received the treaty in silent amazement and Secretary Fish spoke of resigning, but Grant urged him not to do so. The president finally sent the treaty to the Senate, where through the influence of Sumner it was defeated, the vote being a tie when two thirds was necessary for ratification.
In his message of December 5, 1870, the President again urged the importance of acquiring Santo Domingo, and
Congress finally agreed to send a commission to The breach between
the island. The report of this commission was Sumner and favorable, but it was impossible to get either a
treaty or a joint resolution through Congress. Sumner's speech against the scheme, which he ostentatiously named “Naboth's Vineyard,” greatly angered Grant and was followed by the removal of Sumner from the chairmanship of the Committee on Foreign Relations and the recall of his friend Motley from London. The connection of this incident with the settlement of the “Alabama Claims” has already been discussed under that topic.