« AnteriorContinuar »
to a conclusion. The claimants are extremely urgent, and those authorities, and their interference was wholly volunthe case is too clear to admit of a doubt. The doctrinetary and gratuitous. The legal rights of the owners of the that would justify the liberation of our slaves is too dan- slaves, according to the laws of their own country, were gerous to a large section of our country to be tolerated by well known to the officers at Nassau ; and, instead of ra
You are therefore again instructed to urge an atten- specting those rights, and seeing that they should remain tion to our application, stating, as a reason for your press. undisturbed, as might have been expected from the author. ing it, not only those which are contained in the original ities of a friendly nation, those officers openly disregarded and subsequent instructiong on the subject, but the extreme them, and exerted themselves only to cause them to be vis. and jnst susceptibility of a very large portion of our coun- lated by others. Having begun by forcibly dispossessing try on the question which it involves, and that the Presi- the owners, with whom the slaves were quietly remaining, dent relies confidently, not only on the sense of justice of they set them at liberty, and finally held out the punishthe British Government, but on their wish to remove every ment of death to deter the owners from taking them away. unfriendly feeling betwteen the citizens and subjects of The law opinion under which the Lieutenant Governor the two countries, for a satisfactory arrangement of this professes to have acted relates to the slave trade, to Afribusiness.
cans only, and cannot apply to slaves born in tbe United
States, and belonging, for generations, to American citi. Letter from Mr. Torsyth to Mr, Puil, duteil
zens, under titles derived from Briti-h laws, prior to the
separation of the two countries. That it should have been
AUGUST %, 1334. construed to include a description of persons who are clearly 81: The delay of the British Government to give any not embraced within its terms, would seem to indicate i matisfactory answer to the representation which was made, disregard for interests of great importance to a large por. so long ago as the year 1832, and repeatedly called to its tion of the American people, which was not looked for on attention since, on the suliject of the slaves shipwrecked at the part of a friendly nation; and that such cause of comAbaco, has been the cause of great regret and of some sur- plaint should a second time arise in the same quarter, is a prise to the President, and has given rise to serious and circumstance which adds to the unfavorable impression that frequent complaints on the part of the individuals interested the transaction has produced.
Ti is wiih painful teclings that the President has witness- It is the President's desire that you will take an early ed a similar disregard, upon the part of the authorities of opportunity to bring this case before the British GovernNew Providence, iv the rights and interests of American ment, and express his hope that, after fully weighing the citizens, who bave had the misfortune to be brought by i whole subject, that Government will see ibat an early inshipwreck within their jurisdiction.
demnification to the proprietors in both cases, and the preBy the papers which are now transmitted to you, it will vention of similar injuries in future, are due both to justice be seen that, in the month of February last, the American and to the friendly relations between the two countries. brig Encomium, Sbetlield inaster, bound from Charleston I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant, to New Orleans, with a cargo and passengers, among
JOHN FORSYTH. whom were 45 negro slaves, the property of American owners, who were ako on lioard, was wrecked near Fish
11. Forsyth to Ur. lail. Key, Abaco, whence the passengers were carried to Nagkau; that on their arrival the slaves were seized, while on
DEPARTMEST OF STATE, board the wreckers, by av olticer of the customs, and taken
Ilushington, Burch 28, 1835, to the police office, there they were set at liberty loy the Sw: I transmit to you, herewith, tie copy of a letter magistrate, although the consul of the United States, who dated on the ad instant, just received at this Department was pieseni, protested, on behalf of the owners, against from the consular commercial agent of the limited States at the slaves being taken out of their possession ; that, on the Bermuda, communicating some particulars relative to the day following, the owners being about to embark for the seizure and subsequent liberation of certain slaves, a part United Siates, the consul wrote to the Lieutenant Governt, of the cargo of the American brig Enterprise," Snith, or, to inquire whether there was any impediment to their master, bound from Alexandria, D. C., to Cbarleston, S. taking their slaves with thein, and was answered by his C., which vessel had been oliliged to put into the purt of secretary that, by so doing, they, as well as all others ac- Hamilton, in distress, baving experienced severe weather, cessary, wouk bo liable to be hanged.
and fallen short of provisions. It is the wish of the PresiBy a communication sulisequently made to the consul hy dent that the case should be immediately brought to the the Lieutenant Governor, it appears that he acted in regard attention of the British Government, and that redress be to the slaves ouder an opinion, given in the year 1818, bis
claimed for this groso outrage upon the rights and interests Sir Christopher Robins in and Lord Gistiord to the British of American citizens. You will make use of this occasion, Secretary of Statc, a copy of whidi, and of the Lieutenant unless an answer has already been given to you respecting Governor's communication, it is thought proper, in justice them, lis call the attention of his Majesty's Government to to him, to place with the other papers.
the murrasonable delay which has taken place in deciding This transaction has produced a song sensation in the upon the questions of a sinilar ıharacter, presented in your Initid States, and particularly in the Soutli, ibere it is previous noles. viewed as a direct interference with their righis of proper
Ium, sir, your olielient servavit, ly; riglits which had their origin under British ineiitu
JOHX FORSITII. tions, and have since been sanctioned hy our own.
It cannot be denied that the circumstances of this case Exract of a despatch from Vr. Forgylh to Mr. Sterenfurnish abundant grounds for the dissatisfaction which it has produced. The sjaves were in the quiet possession of
Mer 19, 1836. their owners, on board the wreckers, when they arrived at In the present stale of our diplomatic relations with the Nassau, and, for all that appears to the contrary, would Government of his Britannic Majesty, the most immediately hare so romained. They had preferred no claim to the pressing of the inalters with which the United Sta'es liga. authorities of the island to interpose for their discharge ; tional Lonion is now charged, is the claim of ieriain nor had the owners made any call for such interposition to American citizens against Gocat Britain for indemnification enforce their possession.
for a number of slaves, the cargoes of three vessels wrecked Ind er, there was not, on either side, any application to on British islands in the Atlantic, near this continent, who
were carried into those islands, seized, and subsequontly the distance of about three or four miles from the one and liberated by the local authorities; whereby the owners have five or six from the other. This key, though so denomiexperienced an almost total loss of their property. The nated, is, it appears, but a bare and desert rock, furnishing instructions of this Department, and the correspondence neither vegetation nor fresh water for the use of man, and that has already passed between the diplomatic representa- separated from the island by a channel. To obtain the means tives of the United States and the British Secretary of of subsistence, and fit out the vessel for the accommodation of State for Foreign Affairs on the subject, which will be so great a number of persons, they proceeded to Green Turfound on the files of the legation, to which you are refer- tle key ; from whence it was Captain Staple's intention to red, will put you fully in possession of all the facts relating sail, in the wrecking vessel, for Key West, or some other to these cases, as well as of the views of the President in port of the United States, where he might have found the regard to them; and will also acquaint you with the prog- means of proceeding to his original destination. But failing ress made towards a definitive settlement of the affair. I to prevail upon the wreckers to afford him the use of their shall therefore content myself with expressing to you the vessel, he was obliged to yield to their terms, and to sail President's anxious wish that no time should be lost, and in those vessels, with all the persons. rescued from the no exertion spared on your part, to effect an early adjust- wreck, to the port of Nassau, in the island of New Proviment of this long-pending claim; the delay which has alo dence, where the wreckers insisted upon carrying them, ready occurred having given him great dissatisfaction. and where they arrived on the 11th January, 1831. The
landing of the slaves from the wreck on Spanish Key, their Extract of a letter from Mr. Van Buren to Mr. Livings- transfer to Green Turtle key, and final removal to the port ton, dated
of Nassau, appear to havo been acts of necessity, arising FEBRUARY 28, 1832.
from circumstances of misfortune, over which Captain StaI herewith transniit to you a copy of the note which I ples had no control. On bis arrival at Nassau, he took addressed, on the 25th instant, to Lord Palmerston, in be
every proper step to prevent the landing of the slaves, and half of the owners of the slaves wrecked in the brig immediately purchased, for four thousand dollars, a brig, " Comet," on a reef near the Bahama banks. You will
which he proceeded to fit out, with all possible despatch, perceive, on perusing it, that, availing myself of the lati- | for the conveyance of the slaves to New Orleans ; but beiude given me by my instructions respecting this claim, him by the custom-house officers of Nassau, that the slaves
fore this could be accomplished, a notice was served upon and taking into consideration the state of public feeling, I would be detained votil the opinion of the Governor and and the extreme sensibility which prevails here on all subjects connected with slavery, I have deemed it proper to go liability to seizure under the British statutes concerning the
crown-lawyers of the colony could be obtained, as to their further into the matter than the suggestions in your communication seemed strictly to require. The arguments in abolition of the slave trade; and on the 15th of January, favor of the claim also involved principles so interesting to the fourth day after their arrival, all the slaves then rea portion of our countrymen as to render it proper to give maining on board the wrecking vessels, together with fisthem the fullest consideration. I hope that my endeavors teen who, notwithstanding the precautions taken to preto have justice done to the claimants may meet the appro
vent it, bad made their escape by swimming to the shore, bation of the President.
were seized by the custom-house officers for a violation of a stalute above referred to; and those remaining on board
of the vessel were forcibly taken from the possession and Mr. Van Buren to Lord Palmerzton.
custody of Captain Staples, and landed at Nassau. The undersigned, envoy extraordinary and minister Proceedings were forth with instituted by the officer who plenipotentiary of the United States of America, has the had made the seizure, in the instance court of vice admiralhonor, in obedience to instructions recently received from ty for the Ballamas, against the slaves referred to, for an his Government, to submit to the right honorable Lord alleged violation of the act of Parliament (5 Geo. IV. chap. Viscount Palinerston, his Majesty's principal Secretary of 113) “to amend and consolidate the laws for the aboli. State for Foreign Affairs, the claims of several citizens of tion of the slave trade." This harsh attempt to convert the United States upon his Majesty's Government, for in- involuntary acts of Captain Staples, growing out of accijuries which they have sustained, in consequence of certain Jen's beyond human control, and indispensably necessary proceedings of the British colonial authorities of the Ba- to the preservation of human lives, into infractions of a hamas.
penal statute meriting forfeiture, was, after a full hearing • The prominent facts of the case, in regard to which there of the parties, very properly condemned by the court, and does not appear to be any dispute, are as follows:
the libel or information disinissed. The illegality of the Certain citizens of the United States, owners of one hun. seizure having thus been judicially determined, Captain dred and sixty-four native American slaves, being desirous Staples, ntier complying with the requirements of the deof removing them, coastwise, from Alexandria, in the Dis- cree in regard to the costs of suit, trusted tbat no further trict of Columbia, to New Orleans, in the State of Louisi- difñculty would be interposed to prevent the removal of the ana, both places being within the jurisdiction of the United slaves to the port of their original dostination. The underStates, shipped them, for that purpose, in December, 1830, signed regrets to say that this reasonal»le expectation was on board the American brig " Comet," Isaac Staples, mas- not realized. It appears that the colonial authorities, nod
The shipinent and intended transfer of the sail slaves withstanding the decision referred to, louk upon themselves being sanctioned by the laws of the United States, the ves- to release the slaves from all the relations in which they had sel was regularly cleared at the custom-house, anii provided stove with regard to their owners, and refused to surrender with all the necessary papers to establish the legality of her them to Caplain Staples; notwithstanding, also, the repeatvoyage. Whilst proceeding thereon, the “ Comet" was ed memorials addressed to them by him, and by the consudriven out of her course by adverse winds and ternpestuous lar a'rent of the United States in the Bahainas. weather; and on the night of the 30 January, grounded on In taking this step, the Governor acted, it would seem, an insulated reef, about ten miles to the windward of the in conformity with an opinion of the judge of the instance island A baco, and was there totally lost. Before ihe ves- court, which did not form a part of the original decree, but se) went to peices, an island sloop, and soine sail-boats in which he declared that the slaves having been once came to her as-istance, and aided in saving the lives of the landed, there was, in his opinion, po law by which they persons on board, by landing them ou a small key, called could legally be dealt withi as slaves in that colony, or which Spanisl Key, situated between the reef and the island, at would authorize the Gorernor to driver them up, without
their consent, to the claimants, for the purpose of being or official duty required the custom-house officers to follow conveyed to another country, to be so dealt with; and that, the slaves in question, circumstanced as they were, and therefore, they must, as a necessary consequence, be con- take them from the vessels with a view to their emancipa sidered as free persons, and not as slaves illegally imported. tion. Having properly decided that the landing of the
of the whole number of slaves, one hundred and forty-six slaves from the “Comet," by Captain Staples, did not were insured by three insurance offices in the city of New constitute the importation of them into the colony, de Orleans for $71,330. The assured having been thus de- nounced by the act, and to which the penalty of forfeiture prived of their property, made their abandonment to the is attached, because it was not a case within its spirit and several offices, under the claim in the policy against the policy, it would seem to follow as a necessary consequencs risk of " detainment by foreign Powers," and, on the usual that no forfeiture or disability could be incurred by their proof of loss and interest, received the amount of their immediate reshipment with a view to the prosecution of several policies. The underwriters, namely: The Louis- their voyage. Understanding the opinion in this, which, jana State Insurance Company, The Mississippi Marine to the undersigned, appears to be its only admissible light, and Fire Insurance Company, The Merchants' Insurance the necessity of regarding the slaves as freemen is referred, Company of New Orleans, together with Colonel Charles not to the means previously used to rescue them from the C. Tutt, navy agent of the United States at Pensacola, in perils of the sea, but to the acts of the authorities of the the Territory of Florida, and Sylvanus W. Mudd, owners island in voluntarily assuming the possession and protection of the slaves which were not insured, sent an agent to of them, by which acts those authorities, according to the Nassau, with instructions to demand the slaves from the idea of the judge, put it out of their power to allow the authorities of that place, and, if delivered up, to send them compulsory return of the slaves to the subjection of their to New Orleans; and in case of refusal, to have all the masters. Admitting, therefore, that the judge of the innecessary documents duly authenticated, and submit them stance court was correct in his position, the important fact to the Government of the United States. The manner in still remains, that this inability, and ihe consequent loss which these duties were performed by the agent, Mr. Morse, sustained by the claimants, arose altogether from the conappears from his report, a copy of which the undersigned fessedly illegal acts of the custom-house officers of the port has the honor of laying before Lord Palmerston.
of Nassau in making the seizure and in effecting the landIt appears that his excellency Major General J. C. Smith, ing of the slaves at that place, against the wishes and in Governor of his Majesty's possessions in the Bahamas, defiance of the remonstrances of Captain Staples and the referred the claimants to the Secretary of State for the col- consular agent of the United States. onies, with an intimation that the whole subject had been The liability of his Majesty's Government to redress the fully reported to that department of his Majesty's Govern. injury which, according to this view of the subject, the mont, and suggestions authorizing the inference that, in the claimants have received, appears to the undersigned too steps which had been taken in the premises, his excellency clear to be disputed; and, sensible that the case of the claimhad acted under the orders of his Government.
ants might, so far as the question of strict right is involved, . It is upon the circumstances of which the preceding be safely allowed to rest on this sole ground, it is with extreme statement furnishes a general outline, and which are more reluctance that the undersigned feels it his duty to extend minutely described in the accompanying papers, to which this communication, already protracted beyond his wishes. the undersigned respectfully invites Lord Palmerston's There are, however, considerations arising from the ground early attention, that the present claimants apply to the jus- which has been taken in this case, and from the conse tice and equity of his Majesty's Government, for indemnity quences which might ensue if the principle assumed should for the heavy losses wbich they have sustained. In the few be carried to its legitimate results, so calculated to affect the observations which the undersigned thinks it proper to interests and excite the deep sensibility of a large and highsubmit in support of this claim, he does not deem it neces- ly respectable portion of the citizens of the United States, sary to say any thing in confirmation of the decision of the that the undersigned is constrained to take a brief notice of instance court upon the question of forfeiture, fully confi- the opinions upon which the colonial authorities appear lo dent, as he cannot but feel, that the unfounded pretences bave acted. set up by the officers who made the seizure, and which were The participation of the United States in the desire enter$0 properly condemned by the court, will receive no coun- tained by Great Britain for the final annihilation of the slave tenanco from his Majesty's Government.
trade is known to the world, as is also their willingness to The Governor of the Bahamas, in severing the connexion apply to the great end, and to the mitigation of the evile of which existed between the slaves in question and their existing slavery, all the means at their disposal which are masters, acted, it would seem, in conformity to the ex parte consistent with their internal condition and the nature of opinion already referred to, delivered by the judge of the their institutions. But, zealous and active as they have instance court, which declared that the adoption of that been in common with the Government of Great Britain for course was the unavoidable consequence of the actual land- the early and effectual suppression of that infamous traffic, ing of the slaves in the colony, a consequence of the unfair- they have not ventured, nor has any statesman of either ness of whichi, as it respected the claimants, he was not country ventured, to propose the slightest interference with insensible, but which he did not think it was in the power the rights and duties of master and slave in vther States, by of the Governor to avoid.
the law of which domestic slavery was permitted to exist
. By the actual landing here spoken of, the undersigned is on the contrary, the Government of the United States, te. bound to understand Judge Mannings as referring to their specting the actual and unavoidable condition of things at landing at Nassall, in consequence of the unlawful seizure home, while it most sedulously and rigorously guards of them by the custom-house officers of thut place, by which against the further introduction of slaves, protects
, at the landing they had been brought within the actual control and same time, by reasonable laws, the rights of the owners of placed under the protection of the local authorities ; for the that species of property in the States where it exists, and undersigned cannot for a moment suppose that the idea permits its transfer, coastwise, from one of those States to intended to be conveyed was, that the mere fact of landing another, under suitable restrictions, to prevent the fraudu: the slaves upon a bare rock on the Bahama coast, to save lent introduction of foreign slaves. In this respect their them from immediate death, or even touching with them course is similar to that of the British Government in reul another island for the sole purpose of saving them from gard to those portions of his Majesty's dominions where starvation or loss in the small crafts which had come to Slavery is allowed; and the case now presented to its contheir rescue, justified; or that any principle of humanity sideration is, the undersigned is happy to be able to say,
not in any way connected with the policy of the two coun- he dealt with as slaves at home, but may be removed, coasttries in regard to the abolition of the African slave trade. wise, from one part of the island to another, and with per
The undersigned is quite confident that Lord Palmerston mission, from island to island, where the owners may at will not find it difficult to satisfy himself that the opinion their pleasure employ them on the high seas, in navigation of the judge of the instance court in which the inability of or fishery, or place them in the naval or military service of the colonial authorities to afford the required redress is set his Majesty, and even take a particular class of them, by forth, was not warranted by the facts upon which it was sen, to any place whatever, without, in any case, forfeiting founded. In that opinion it is not pretended that the ina- their rights as owners ? bi iity of the Government to surrender the slaves to their The entire insufficiency of the reasons which might jus. owners arose from any of the provisions of the act of 5 tify a refusal to comply with the request of the claimants, Gen. IV, c. 113, for the abolition of the slave trade; nor if the transaction in question had taken place in England, could that position have been maintained with any show of is, as applied to a case arising in the Bahamas, too mani. reason.
fest, in the opinion of the undersigned, to be disputed. It is most evident to the undersigned that cases like the In the former supposition, the claimanis might be truly present are neither within the policy of that act, nor em- informed that they sought the exercise in their behalf of braced in the intentions of its framers; and it was, doubt- an authority alike at variance with the public sentiment less, upon that principle that the claim of forfeiture was re- and the established law of the land, and which no British jected by the court. That intention obviously was to car. subject could invoke. At Nassau, no such ground could ry into effect the arowed policy of his Majesty's Govern- be taken. All that was asked of the local authorities ment, by forbidding his subjects, not only all direct partici- was an extension to the claimants of the same protection pation in that traide, but also all assistance and facilities to in regard to their property which would have been given those by whom it was still prosecuted, and to restrain and to British subjects belonging to those parts of the British regulate the transfer of slaves held in lawful bondage, from possessions abroad where slavery is allowed, in a case one portion of his Majesty's possessions to another. The where, like the present, the pre-existing rights of the own. case of slaves, burn and held as such under the laws of a er had not been forfeited by an illegal introduction of the foreign friendly nation, cast by shipwreck upon the coasts slaves into the Bahamas. of those possessions under circumstances like the present, But we are not left to discussion and speculation upon was not in the contemplation of the Legislature, and cannot, this point. The orignal establishment of the principle in therefore, under a just, liberal, and legal construction of that England was founded on the declared assumption that the act, he view as embraced in its provisions. The propriety | law of the colonies could have no bearing upon the quesof this view of the act is sustained by the general character tion in England, so far as regarded the personal rights of and scope of its provisions, and more particularly by the the slave whilst in England ; and it has been solemnly de23d section. By that section it is provided that, “in case cided by the high court of admiralty in this country, in any person or persons, illegally held or detained in slavery, case of the “slave Grace,” (2 Haggard's Admiralty Reshall hereafter, by shipwreck or otherwise, be cast upon, ports, p. 94,) that the rule established in England has no or shall escape to, or arrive at, any island or colony, &c., application to the colonies; that though a slave coming to under the dominion or in the possession of his Majesty, it England from the colonies is released by the law of the shall and may be lawful for his Majesty, his heirs, &c., or land from the control of his master, while he continues in for any such' officer, civil or military, as aforesaid, to deal the country, and cannot be sent out of it without his conwith, protect, and provide for any such person or persons, sent, yet he continues virtually a slave, and on his return in such and in the same manner as is hereinbefore directed to the place of his birth and servitude, the right to exercise with respect to persons condemned as prize of war, or as the former control over him revives in his master. forfeited under this act. This section could surely not have The undersigned is not otherwise advised of the orders been deemed necessary, if the framers of the act had sup. which his Majesty's Government may have given to the posed that the effects of its provisions would be to produce Governor of the Bahamas, than may be inferred from the the same result in all cases of slaves cast away upon such opinion of counsel contained in Mr. Morse's statement. islands, whatever might have been their previous condition As this communication, in consequence of the interesting in respect to the legality of their detention.
considerations involved in its subject, has already been exThe undersigned presumes, therefore, that it has been tended further than the undersigned could have wished, by the application of the rule established upon the subject he will confine himself to but one or two general observain Great Britain, to the Bahamas, that the judge of the in- tions in regard to the applicability of the above-mentioned stance court has arrived at his conclusions in the case un. opinion to the present case. It will be seen that the cir. der consideration. If such is the fact, it appears to the cumstance by which it was produced was the shipwreck undersigned, with all respect to that judicial functionary, on the coast of a British settlement, at the Cape of Good to be only necessary to state the rule and the circumstances Hope, of a Portuguese slave ship, on its passage from the upon which it rests here, to show the fallacy of its applica- coast of Africa to Brazil; und the point submitted was the tion to the Bahamas. Great Britain having long since re- manner in which Africans who, on their transportation lieved herself from slavery, it was contended that the air of from Africa to Brazil, as slaves, were either abandoned or England bad become 100 pure for a slave to breathe in, e cast away on the shores of a British colony, should be and her courts of law, upwards of half a century since, con- dealt with by the colonial authorities according to acts of firmed that assumption by effectually restraining the exer- Parliament for the abolition of the slave trade, and the decise of any pre-existing rights of ownership over persons gree of assistance which those authorities might, under brought within their jurisdiction. This principle in her any circumstances, give the Portuguese, hy whose laws jurisprudence has been undevistingly persevered in—it has that inhuman traffic was still permitted, to enable them to become known to all the world—and nations in whose do- carry it on. In answer to a question thus propounded, minions slavery is tolerated, have been able to conform to his Majesty's law officers said, that any act on the part of it in their intercourse with her. Can it be that this prin- ihose authorities beyond what was necessary to save the ciple of common law is applicable to a colony where, by the lives of the slaves from the dangers of the sea, and which law of the place, negroes and their descendants, who have had for its object to restore them to those who were enganot been emancipated by their owners, are slaves, and sale-ged in the slave trade, would be affording facilities to that able as other property, where the master's rights are amply trade, contrary to the spirit and intention of the act by protected by particular laws, where negroes may not only 'which it was severely denounced, and the declared object
of which was the entire suppression of that trade. The 14th instant obtained, an interview with Lord Palmerston, undersigned cannot for a moment believe that it was with in the course of which I had an opportunity fully to lay in the contemplation either of those who framed the act, before him your views in relation io the subjects referred or of those by whom it was thus expounded, lo embrace to in that despatch; and also to call his attention to other persons born in servitude in the territories of a friendly na- topics which had before given rise to correspondence betion, equally zealous with Great Britain in putting an end tween him and the legation. to the slave trade, equally anxious to mitigate the evils of slavery, where its existence is found unavoidable, but I then took occasion to remind his lordship of Mr. Van which has felt itself also equally bound to protect, by just | Buren's note to him of the 25th of February last, on the regulations, rights which had been acquired under the subject of the claim of the owners of a number of slaves sanction of their laws before the African slave trade was shipwrecked on the island of Abaco, in the brig Comet, prohibited by them. Viewing the subject in this light, the and seized at Nassuu by the colonial authorities of the Baundersigned feels the strongest confidence in expressing, as hamas. He, in answer, confirmed the information which he has been inxtructed to do, the just expectation of the I had, the day before, received from Sir George Shee, President that bis Majesty's Government will order the one of the under Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs, slaves in question to be given up to the claimants, and 10 whoin the subject had been referred, that the case reasonable indemnity to be made to the latter for the dam had been sent to the law officers of the Crowa, for ages caused by the detention of their property, and by the their opinion upon points of law which had arisen from loss of such of the slaves as may not now be found ; a re- it, and the promise also inade me by Sir George to inquire quest which Lord Palmerston will readily admit derives a what progress had been made by that branch of the Gov. claim to the most favorable consideration from the fact, ernment, and to urge its further advance towards a termiwhich is of undoubted authority, that it is in conformity nation. with a course which the Government of the United States, notwithstanding its highly penal statues against the volun. Extract of a letter from Mr. Vail to Mr. Livingston, dated tary introduction of foreign slaves within its territories,
NOVEMBER 14, 1832. and denouncing all participation by American citizens in
With regard to the claim of the owners of slaves wreckthe African slave trade, has, nevertheless, pursued with regard to slaves belonging to British subjects, who, being allusion is made in the despatch alove referred to, I called
ed in the Bahamas, in the Brig Comet, to which, also, lawfully employed in navigation, have been rescued from yesterday at the Foreign Ofice, to inquire the stage at wbich the perils of the sea by the intervention of tizens of the the promised investigation of that claim had arrived. I United States. Should it, however, he decided that his Majesty's Gov
regret to say that the case still remains before the law offi
cers of the Crown, who have not yet reported upon it. ernment is unable to comply with this request, in consequence of the actual landing of the slaves on the island of ject, has promised me to inquire into the cause of the de
The under Secretary of State, who has charge of the sube New Providence, through the illegal seizure of them by lay, and to urge the immediate action of the law departthe custom-house officers, and of the application to their
ment upon it. case of the general principles of the English law; or should it ho declared that it was the intent of the act of Parliament, through mutives of humanity, to give freedom to
Extract of a letter from Mr. Vail to Mr. Livingston, dated every slave landing on the coast of a British colony,
March 30, 1833. whether cast upon it by shipwreck, or brought thither by
I have seldom omitted to avail myself of the opportuni. design, and without reference to his previous condition, or
tjes afforded me by incidentally mceting with Lord Pal. the manner in which the owner's interest in him was ac- merston, to call his attention to the various subjects required, the undersigned is pursuaded that the justice of maining unadjusted between the two Governments, in the British Government will take care that the property of which I thought that my further agency might be usefully the citizens of a friendly nation, thrown by shipwreck on
employed. Among these, the claim of the owners of the their coasts, shall not, urder circumstances like those of slaves shipwrecked in 1330, on the island of Abaco, in the the present case, be sacrificed by any misconstrued appli- brig“Comet,” has often been the subject of conversation, cation of British laws, or by any indulgence of their own
both with Lord Palmerston and with Sir George Shee, the feelings of philanthropy; but that all suitable compensa
under Secretary, more especially charged to inquire into tion will be made to such individuals for the properly taken subject; but, so far, without any satisfactory result. or detained from them.
More than a year having now elapsed since the claim was The claimants will not require that any implied faith firat presented, in Mr. Van Buren's note of the 25th Feb. pledged to the claves by the act of the Governor of the ruary, 1832, which still remains unanswered, I thought it Bahamas, shall be violated ; they will, therefore, be con
time that a fresh appeal, bearing an official character, tent with a moderate valuation, much less than that put should be made ; and, a few days ago, informed Lord Palupon the slaves by the Legislative Assembly of New Pro- merston of my intention of addressing him a communicavidence. Among the papers herewith transmitted, will be tion upon the subject. He unhesitatingly promised that he found an estimate of ihe value which the claimants con- would make use of it to hasten the progress of the investisent shall be put upon them, and which, with a reasona- gation which he had ordered to be made of the merits of able remuneration of expenses, the undersigned is authori- the claiin; and I accordingly addressed to him, on the zed to accept.
25th instant, the note of which I have the honor herewith The undersigned gladly avails himself of this occasion to transmit to you a copy. tu renew to Lord Palmerston the assurance of his highest respect and consideration.
Mr. Vail to Lord Palmerston. M. VAN BUREN. The undersigned, chargé d'affaires of the United States STRATFORD PLACE, February 25, 1832.
of America, near the Government of his Britannic Majes.
ty, has the honor, agreeably to instructions at various Extracts of a letter from Mr. Vail to Mr. Livingston, dated times received from his own Government, to call the at
July 15, 1832. tention of the right honorable Viscount Palmerston, his In the fulfilment of the wishes, intimated in your de- Majesty's principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, spatch No. 2, of the 30th of May, I sought, and on the 'to a note still remaining unanswered which was addressed