« AnteriorContinuar »
to his lordship on the 25th of February of last year, by the ministers would act in finally deciding upon the merits Mr. Van Buren, late envoy extraordinary and minister of the claim. plenipotentiary of the United States at the British Court, eetting forth tho claim of sundry American citizens upon
Lord Palmerston to Mr. Vail. his Majesty's Government, for the value of a number of slaves shipwrecked in 1830, while proceeding in the brig State for Foreign Affairs, has the honor to acknowledge
The undersigned, his Majesty's principal Secretary of "Comet," from Alexandria to New Orleans, on the island the receipt of a note which was addressed to him on the of Abaco, anů seized by the colonial authorities of the Ba- | 25th instant by Mr. Vail, chargé d'affaires of the United hamas, for an alleged violation of the laws probibiting the
States of America at this court, upon the subject of the importation of slavos into his Majesty's colonics. In the note to which reference is made above, Mr. Van ty's Government for the value of a number of slaves ship:
claim set up by sundry American citizens upon his MajesBuren so fully presented to the view of his Majesty's Gov. wrecked in 1830, while proceeding, in the brig “Comet," ernment the considerations of undoubted justice which had from Alexandria to New Orleans, on the island of Abaco, induced that of the United States to interpose in behalf of and seized by the colonial authorities of the Bahamas, for tho claimants, that the undersigned deems it unnecessary to add any further remarks upon the merits of the claim ; of slaves in his Majesty's colonies.
an alleged violation of the laws prohibiting the importation he will content himself, for the present, with repeating
The undersigned has the honor to state, in reply, that what he has, on several occasions, had the honor verbally Lo state to Lord Palmerston, that the President looks with officers of the Crown, to whom it bas been referred by his
the subject is at present under the consideration of the law undiminished solicitude to a decision which he believes Majesty's Government; and, so soon as a report shall have cannot be otherwise than favorable to the parties interest- been received from those officers, the undersigned will have ed, in the hope that the enlightened justice of his Majes- the honor to communicate to Mr. Vail the decision which ly's Government will not allow the great loss incurred by his Majesty's Government may come to upon the question. the claimants, in consequence of the detention of their
The undersigned avails himself of this opportunity to property, to be aggravated by any unnecessary protraction of the delay which has already occurred in the adjustment sideration.
renew to Mr. Vail the assurances of bis distinguished con
PALMERSTON. of their claim.
FOREIGN OFFICE, March 30, 1833. The undersigned, relying upon the promise made to him by Lord Palmerston that he would hasten the settlement of the claim referred to, arails himself of this opportunity
Mr. Vail to Lord Palmerston. to offer to his lordship the renewed assurance of his most The undersigned, chargé d'affaires of the United States distinguished consideration.
A. VAIL. of America, had the honor to receive, yesterday, a note 304 REGENT STREET, 25th March, 1833.
which the right honorable Lord Viscount Palmerston, his Majesty's principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs,
addressed to him on the 30th of last month, stating, in Extract of a letter from Mr. l'ail to the Secretary of State,
answer to a communication from the undersigned, that tho dated April 6, 1833.
claim presented in behalf of citizens of the United States You will perceive, by the enelosed copy of a note which, for a number of slaves seized by the colonial authorities of on the 25th of last month, I addressed to Lord Palmerston, the Bahamas, was under the consideration of the law that I had anticipated the wishes of your Department with officers of the Crown ; and that, on the receipt of their regard to the claim for the slaves shipwrecked in the “Co- report, the decision which his Majesty's Government may met” on the rocks of Abaco. The long delay which had come to upon that clain would be communicated to the attended the examination of the case by the Crown lawyers, undersigned. to whom it had been referred, and the belief that more than The undersigned flattors himself that he perceives, in sufficient time had been afforded them for the purpose, had Loril Palmerston's note, the prospect of an early adjustinduced ine lo repeat, in writing, the verbal applications, ment of this claiin, and will hasten to communicate the several times made by me, for a settlement of the claim. gratifying information to his Government. Since, howThe answer, of which a copy is likewise encloseil, was over, he last had the honor of addressing his lordship upon received at tho moment I was about sending in another the subject, and before the note above referred to came to communication, prepared in obedience to your despatch band, he received from the Secretary of State of the United No. 10, which had come to hand in the meantime. Bull, States special instructions, which mako it his duty to avail as that despatch contained some new considerations in be- himself of this communication, instead of one which, with half of the claiin, which, I thought, might bo urged with the same view, he was ou the point of forwarding to Lord advantage, I prepared and sent in another note, dated the Palmerston when his lordship's note of the 30th ultimo was 4th instant, also herewith communicated, which I hope received, to state some of the grounds on which the Presiwill have the effect of quickening the action of the legal dont had felt himself obliged to direct a freslí application to advisers of the Crown. It was my wish, in delivering the the British Government for the speedy adjustment of the last-mentioned note, to have explained these circumstances claim in question. to Lord Pulinerston in a personal interview; but, being The undersigned having, from time to time, acquainted unable to do so, in consequence of an illness which con. his Government with the import of the conversations he fined himn to his chamber, I had a conversation with the had with Lord Palmerston on this subject, the President, under Secretary of State, whom I endeavored to iinpress aware of the difficulties and delays which, owing to the with a sense of the desire of the President that this matter delicate nature of some of the considerations it involved, should be speedily arranged He said that, although the might attend the investigation of the caso, had refrained justice of the claim seemed to adinit of no doubi, yet, from from urging its immediate adjustment, confiding in the the difficulty of reconciling the principle it involved with justice of his Majesty's Government for ultimate redress to existing laws, it derivedl soine complexity, which had been the parties interested. These persons, however, whose a subject of much embarrassment to the Crown lawyers; losses, already so heavy in the origin, are daily increased that the King's advocate, to whom the case had been sent, by every fresh delay, which deprives them of the use of fearful of assuming the responsibili'y of deciding by him. Their property, have become so urgent in their representaself, had called the Attorney General to his assistance, and tions that the President, impressed with the indisputable that both were engaged in preparing a report, upon which 'justice of their demands, and of the claim they have to the
Vol. XIV.- A 33
interposition of their Government, is compelled to renew to believe that, fully appreciating the benefits which an the application which has now, for more than a year, been early adjustment would confer upon the parties, the British under the consideration of that of his Britannic Majesty. Government will suffer any unnecessary delay to aggravate
Lord Palmerston is too familiar with the circumstances the injury already inflicted upon them by the proceedings of the case to make it necessary for the undersigned to re- of the colonial agents of Great Britain. capitulate them in this place; nor will be take up his The undersigned avails himself of this opportunity to lordship's time in reverting to the arguments and proofs by offer to Lord Palmerston the renewed assurance of this which Mr. Van Buren, in his note of the 25th February, | highest consideration.
A. VAIL. 1832, so clearly established the right of the claimants to 304 Recent STREET, April 4, 1833. the restoration of their property, or to full indemnity for the loss they may ultimately sustain in consequence of ibe Extract of a letter from Mr. Vail to Mr. Livingston, seizure of it. But there are other considerations, not be
dated April 29, 1833. fore particularly dwelt upon, which the undersigned begs I likewise cominunicate to you the copy of a nole wbich leave now to submit, in compliance with the orders of the
I received on the 24th instant from Lord Palmerston, 20 President, and which, as involving questions of interna knowledging the receipt of that which, agreeably to the tional policy and good neighborhood, more forcibly address instructions contained in your despatch No. 10, I addressed themselves to the attention of his Majesty's Government. to him on the 4th, respecting the claim arising out of the Lord Palmerston is aware of the existence of a large slave
detention of the slaves shipwrecked in the brig « Comet" population in the United States, and will easily conceive
on the island of Abaco. I cannot but indulge the hope that the necessary and frequent removals of portions of it that the agency which Lord Palmerston promises to employ from one section of the country to another, render it of the in accelerating the action of the law department will briniz utmost importance that the safe and easy mode of convey that subject of difference to a speedy termination. ance afforded for that purpose by the coastwise navigation, should not be exposed to such interruptions as that which
Lord Palmerston to Mr. Vail. forms the subject of this communication.
The undersigned, his Majesty's principal Secretary of It never can be the wish or interest of the owners of this
State for Foreign Affairs, has had the honor to receive ibe species of property to expose themselves to losses, and their
note which was addressed to him on the 4th instant hy Mr. Government to unpleasant discussions, by trusting it be
Vail, cbargé d'affaires of the United States of America, yond the jurisdiction or protection of the United States ; but a great number of the description of persons referred to,
upon the subject of certain American negroes, detained at who emigrate to the Southern sections of the Union, have
Nassau, in New Providence; and, in reply, he begs to necessarily to pass through the Bahama channel; and so
state that this further representation on the part of Mr. long as, chiefly from the present want of the indispens- reference to the papers previously transmitted to them upon
Vail, has been transmitted to the King's law officers, with able aids to navigation, this dangerous thoroughfare remains unsafe, as it now is, it may become the unpleasant the same subject; and they have been pressed by the unduty of the American Government to address to that of in order that the undersigned may be enabled to return an
dersigned to give in their immediate report upon the case, Great Britain other representations like that now under consideration. Were it for this cause alone, the under.
answer upon the whole question to Mr. Vail without sursigned feels confident that Lord Palmerston will agree with
ther delay. him that ils recurrence bad better, in future, be avoided, if
The undersigned begs to renew to Mr. Vail the asy. possible. There are, besides, other causes, more peculiar
rances of his distinguished consideration.
PALMERSTON. ly, but more vitally also, affecting the United States, from which the subject of this reclamation derives an importance
L'OREIGN OFFick, April 24, 1833. reaching far beyond the individual interesis concerned in it. Should the question which grows out of this claim,
Extract of a despatch from Mr. Vail, to Mr. Jc Lene, contrary to the confident expectation of the President, be
dated September 23, 1833. decided against the claimants, it would go to establish a
I baro again called the attention of Lord Palmerston to doctrine authorizing the liberation of the American slave the former representations of this legation against tbe de. whom unavoidable accident may have thrown out of the tention, by the British colonial authorities, of the slates jurisdiction of the United States, too dangerous to a large shipwrecked in the Babamas on board of the brig“Comet.” section of the country to be tolerated by its Government.
This perplexing subject bas again and again been made The extreme, but just, sensibility of that portion of the
one of verbal as well as written communications on my Union which would be affected by the admission of such a
part, which do not seem to have hitherto had any offect in principle, imparts to this consideration an importance so
hastening the labors of the Crown lawyers, whose tardy acdeeply felt by the President, that he has caused the under- tion upon it is to be made a preliminary to a final decision signed to be especially instructed to state to Lord Palmer
on its inerits.
Lord Palinerston, still pleading the delicate ston that he places the fullest reliance, not only upon the
nature of the question, and the intricacy of the case, has sense of enlightened justice of the British Government, but again promised me that he would exert bimself to bring it also upon its desire to remove every cause of unfriendly
to a close. feelings between the citizens and subjects of the two countries, for such a disposition of the subject of this communi- Extracts of a letter from Mr. Fail to Mr. Mc Lane, deled cation as will preclude all possibility of future difference
January 11, 1834 from such a source.
I had, on the 10th instant, with Lord Palinerston, an In thus again calling up a subject which had so recently i interview, which I had sought for the purpose of calling procured him the honor of a communication with Lorů his attention to several applications and representations of Palmerston, the undersigned has, by order of his Govern- mine, some of which, after a long lapse of time, still rement, endeavored to place before his lordship considera- ' maincu unanswered, &c. lions which, he feels confident, will be allowed to occupy I then placed in the hands of Lord Palmerston the memtheir appropriate place among the motives which will de- orandum, of which the enclosed is a copy, of the notes termine the decision of his Majesty's ministers.
and representations to which I desired that answers might That that decision will be favorable to the claimants, he be given ; remarking upon the merits of each case, particcannot permit himself to doubt; nor is he more disposed ularly the claim of the owners of slaves shipwreckel in the
brig "Comet," which has now been near two years ur der serious consideration of that of his Britannic Majesty. consideration, notwithstanding my repeated calls, both The undersigned was gratified to perceive, by the answers written and verbal, for a decision; and the claim of, &c. returned on the 30th March and 24th April, 1833, to the In both cases, he said he was still awaiting the reports of communications above referred to, that steps had been the law officers, to whom they had been referred, and pro- made towards an adjustment of the claim; and he has since mised again that he would use his endeavors to quicken derived greater satisfaction still, from the verbal assurances their action upon them.
at various times received from Lord Palmerston of his lord
ship’s favorable impression of the justice of the claim, and Memorandum left with Lord Palmerston, January 10,
from his promises that his agency would be employed in 1834.--Extract.
bringing it to a speedy settlement. Note from Mr. Van Buren, 25th Feb. 1832. Respecto ernment that unadjusted claims of this description should
Persuaded that it is not the wish of his Majesty's GovNote from Mr. Vail, 25th March, 1833. Note from Mr. Vail, 4th April, 1833. Sclaim of
be suffered long to stand in the way of the perfect underBundry citizens of the United States, for the restoration,
standing now happily subsisting between the two nations, or the payment of the value, of a number of slaves ehip- the undersigned, confiding in the disposition manifested by wrecked, in 1830, on the island of Abaco, in the brig Lord Palmerston to see ultimate justice done to the parties, ** Comet,” and seized by the colonial authorities of the has no desire unnecessarily to occupy his lordship's time in
long and ofBahamas. The answer given by his Majesty's Govern reverting to a subject which has already ment, in a note from Lord Palmerston dated the 30th
len been under consideration. He is, however, reminded, March, 1833, was, that the case was under consideration by the long period of time during which the claimants by the law officers of the Crown, with instructions to re
have been deprived of the use of their property, by their port upon it.
just representations to the undersigned himself and to his Government, and by the reiterated recommendations con
veyed to him by order of the President not to allow the Extract of a dispatch from Mr. Vail to the Secretary of subject to be overlooked, of the extent of the injury sus
State of the United States, dated August 6, 1834. tained by the claimants in consequence of the arbitrary Having often, though ineffectually, urged the adjust- act of the British colonial authorities, and of the aggravament of the claims of
tion that injury daily receives from every fresh delay atand of the owners of the slaves shipwrecked on the island of tending the reparation of it. Under a sense of what is Abaco, in the brig “Comet," I thought it time again to justly due to the claimants, and to the instructions of his lay before Lord Palinerston official reminders of his promi- Government, the undersigned is, therefore, impelled by ses to hasten the settlement of those claims, in a form bet- considerations of duty which Lord Palmerston will be able ter calculated than informal conversations to command his to appreciate, again to urge upon his lordship's attention attention and that of the functionaries to whom the busi- their disappointment at a delay of justice already protracted ness has been referred. I enclose copies of two notes so far beyond the time necessary to a correct understanding which, with that view, I addressed to him on the 1st in- of the case, and their just expectation that his Majesty's slant. In all our conversations on these subjects, his Government will use additional exertions to bring it to a lordship always manifested the best disposition to see them prompt and satisłactory adjustment. satisfactorily arranged ; and of the justice of one of the The undersigned takes this opportunity to renew to Lord claims he has repeatedly expressed a favorable opinion. Palmerston assurances of his most distinguished considerThe investigation of them, however, has necessarily been ation.
A. VAIL. made the concern of other branches of the Government. 13 OLD CAVENDISE STREET, 1st August, 1834. Mr. Vail to Lord Palmerston.
Extract of a despatch from Mr. Vail to the Secretary of The undersigned, chargé d'affaires of the United States State United States, dated August 14, 1834. of America, regrets that, in compliance with pressing in
Sir: It may not be inexpedient that, on assuming the structions from time to time received from his Government,
conduct of our diplomatic relations, you should be made he is compelled again to call the attention of the right honacquainted with the state of the unfinished business of this orable Loid Viscount Palmerston, his Majesty's principal legation. With that view, I beg leave to lay before you Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, to the subject of the following synopsis of the points upon which its agency the various communications addressed to his lordship by
has been employed, and which, at this day remain unadhis predecessor and himself, in behalf of citizens of the
justed. United States, owners of a number of slaves shipwrecked,
1. Claim of the owners of slaves shipwrecked in the in the year 1830, on one of the Bahama islands, while brig “Comet.” This claim, which had for a long time procecding in the brig “Comet" from Alexandria to New
been under investigation by the law officers of the Crown, Orleans, and forcibly seized and detained by the colonial authorities of those islands for an alleged infringement of
has, I understand, lately been transferred to the Treasury,
where it remains under consideration. My despatch No. certain British statutes to prevent the introduction of
137 conveyed a copy of my note of the 1st instant, urging slaves in his Majesty's colonies.
its adjustment. Mr. Van Buren, in his note of the 25th February, 1832, and the undersigned, in those which he had the honor of addressing to Lord Palmerston on the 25th March
Extract of a despatch from Mr. Vail to the Secretary of and 4th April of last year, laid before his Majesty's Gov
State United States, dated September 13, 1834. ernment, with a full statement of the case, all the allega- I will, in compliance with your instructions, and withtions and proofs urged by the parties to establish the legal- out longer delay than shall be necessary to enable me to ity of their claims; and in the note last referred to, the un- copy the documents, endeavor to place before the British dersigned, by especial order of his Government, endeavor Government, in the light which shall appear to me best ed to place before Lord Palmerston considerations of a pe- calculated to attract its attention and impress it with a culiar character growing out of the circumstances of the case, proper sense of the importance of the subject, the necessabut involving principles of internatioal law, imparting to the ry representations against the proceedings of the British subject an importance which, in the opinion of the Ameri- commander in relation to the two seamen tuken from the can Government, should recommend it to the early and 'ship “Rosanna ;" and against the liberation, by the colo
nial authorities of the Bahamas, of the slaves shipwrecked tunately been realized by an occurrence, the particulars ui on one of those islands in the brig“ Encomium.” You which the undersigned will now proceed to lay before Lord will have seen by the copy, which accompanied my No. Palmerston, together with the enclosed papers, which will 137, of a note addressed by me to Lord Palmerston on the serve to substantiate them, 1st August, that I had again added to my frequent verbal The most material of these is the protest entered before notices of the subject, a formal representation against the the Ajnerican consul at the port of Nassau, in the island unreasonable delay in answering our application for redress of New Providence, ly the master and part of the crew in the analogous case of the brig “Comet.” The repeti- and passengers of the shipwrecked vessel, from wbich it tion of proceedings which, so far as an opinion has been appears that, on the 2d of February last, the American expressed, are looked upon by Lord Palmerston as afford- brig“ Encomium," Pascbal Sheffield master, sailed from ing just grounds for reclamation on our parlwhich, pro- Charleston, in the State of South Carolina, bound to Nem bably would not havo taken place had an earlier decision Orleans, with a cargo of merchandise, and having on board
, been given in the former case--will, I hope, enable me at Among other passengers, forty-five slaves of both sexes and the same time to place this new act of injustice in its propo various ages, all natives of the United States, and the proper light, and to add force to the representations already erty of American citizens, three of whom were likewise made by the legation against the arbitrary conduct of the passengers on board of the "Encomium." Lord Palmercolonial agents in the other case also.
ston is already aware that, although the United States, with
a view to the prevention of the African slave trade, proExtract of a despatch from Mr. Vail to the Secretary of hibit, under the severest penalties, the introduction of State of the United States, dated September 22, 1834. slaves from foreign parts into the territories of the Union, SIR: I have the honor to enclose a copy of the note and held in servitude in the country, from one section of
they yet permit the free transfer of colored persons born which, in obedience to the directions in your despatch No. 54, 1 addressed, on the 22d instant, to Lord Palmerston, daily occurs of owners of that species of property travelling
it to another; and that, in consequence of this, the case respecting the claim of the owners of slaves shipwrecked with their servants through the different states, or, with a in Fish Key, Abaco, in the brig "Enconium,” in Febra- view to the formation of agricultural establishments, remo
You will perceive that I have availed myself of the occasion again to remonstrate against the delay attend-ving their slaves, by land or by sea, from one State to the ing our former representations in the analogous case of the
other where slavery continues to exist under their respec. brig “Comet,” which, I hope, will have the effect of that the slaves in question were placed by their owners en
tive laws. It was, therefore, under every legal sanction bringing the two claims toge:her under the notice of the
board of the “Encomium," and that the vessel, having reBritish Government, and hasten its final action upon them.
ceived her regular clearance at the port of Charleston, sailMr. Vail to Lord Palmerston.
ed on a voyage recognised as lawful in every respect by the
existing navigation laws of the United States. On the The undersigned, chargé d'affaires of the United States night of the 4th February, while tracking her way along of America, having so recently taken occasion, in bis note the dangerous shoals which line the coasts of the island of dated the 1st ultimo, to bring to the notice of the right Abaco, she was driven by adverse currents upon a reet
, honorable Lord Viscount Palmerston, his Majesty's princi- where she struck, and soon became a complete wreck. pal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the yet unan- With much difficulty the passengers and crew succeeded swered representations of his predecessors and himself in in landing on a small island, called “ Fish Key," from behalf of the owners of the slaves shipwrecked in 1830, whence they were afterwards taken by wrecking vessels to on the island of Abaco, in the brig “Comet," and forcibly the port of Nassau, in the island of New Providence. detained by the authorities of the Bahamas, it is with re- The undersigned begs leave to refer Lord Palmerston to the luctance that he now enters upon the performance of a protest of Captain Sheffield for a detailed account of the duty assigned to him by instructions received a few days proceedings of the colonial authorities of Nassau, in conseago from his Government, to make this long pending quence of which, as in the case of the "Comet," the neclaim the subject of a fresh appeal to that of his Bralannic groes, notwithstanding the united representations of their Majesty. He is instructed to say that the President, im- owners, and of the American consul residing there, were pressed from the first with a deep sense of the justice of forcibly seized on board of the wreckers, and taken entirethe demand put forth by the claimants, has seen, with much ly out of the custody of their masters, who, by an official regret, and with some surprise, the long delay which has al- communication, of which Lord Palmerston will find a copy ready attended the application made, and so often repeated, among the enclosed papers, addressed by direction of under his direction; and to state further that that regret is the Lieutenant Governor to the American consul, were now greatly increased by the occurrence of another ship threatened with an ignominious death if they attempted to wreck, attended with analogous circumstances, which, recover their property and proceed to their original destihaving been followed by a similar interference on the part i nation. of the colonial authorities, has given rise to a claim of pre- The perusal of the papers accompanying this communicisely the same character.
cation will enable Lord Palmerston to perceive the analogy It will perhaps be in the recollection of Lord Palmerston existing between this case and that of the
Comet, that, in a note which the undersigned addressed to him on which has already been so fully laid before his lordship
, the 4th April, 1833, respecting the case of the “Comet,' The leading circumstances being the same in both, must among the considerations which made it desirable that an early decision should be given in that case, the undersigned jesty's Governinent, on the part of the persons concerned
lay the foundation of an equally just claim upon his Ma adverted to the probability that, so long as the authorities in the one now under consideration; and appealing, there. of the Bahamas should be allowed to believe that his Ma- fore, in their behalf to the same principles of justice
, the jesty's Government were disposed to acquiesce in the rea- undersigned begs leave to refer Lord Palmerston to the reasoning upon which they endeavored to justify their conduct sonings and arguments adduced in support of the other claims
" arise which would make it the unpleasant duty of the additional remarks, which more particularly suggest thema American Government to address itself to that of Great selves on the present occasion. Britain for the redress of similar grievances. The apprehensions at that time entertained have unfor- Lieutenant Governor to the consul of the United States, it
From a letter addressed on the 22d of May, by the
seems that, in ordering the seizure of the slaves saved the substance, is, that it contemplates only the "slave from the shipwreck of the “ Encomium,” his excellency trade”--the African slave trade--that is, the practice then acted, not in obedience to any existing parliamentary enact- sanctioned by the laws of Portugal, and formerly by those ment declaring the freedom of slaves landing under such of Great Britain also, of carrying away from the coast of circumstances in a British possession, but under an opinion, Africa persons born to freedom in that country, but sold which he alleges to be to the same effect, by two eminent for lhe purpose of being reduced to perpetual servitude in English jurists. The consul having obtained a copy of others. the opinion referred to, an extract from it will be found The occasion which called for it arose from doubts as to among the papers which the undersigned has the honor to the operation of certain British statutes, passed expressly submit for Lord Palmerston's perusal. Though not specif. for the abolition of that practice by British subjects. Those ically ad luced in support of the seizure in the case of the Joubts had grown out of the accidental landing of a cargo “Comet," the same opinion having been alluded to by the of natives of Africa upon the coast of a neighboring British agent of ite claimants, Mr.- Van Buren, in his note of the settlement. The questions propounded make exclusive use 25th February, 1832, took occasion to demonstrate the in- of the term “ Africans ;" the same language is adopted by applicability of that opinion to the case then under consid- the Crown lawyers in their solution of those questions; and, eration, by shwing that it had been elicited by circumstances throughout, the document, in letter as in spirit, bears in bearing not the slightest analogy to those unier which that controvertible proof that those who framed, as well as those case had arisen. The conclusive arguments brought for who called for it, had no case in contemplation but such ward by Mr. Van Buren might have rendered a bare refer- as, like the one then before them, might grow out of the ence to them sufficient for the purposes of this communi- removal of native Africans from their own country to be cation, bad not the express avowal of the Lieutenant Gov. sold to slavery in foreign parts. Can it, therefore, be else ernor of the Bahamas that the opinion referred to formed than a matter of surprise that, with all this evidence bethe sole ground of his refusal to restore the slaves rescued fore them, the colonial authorities of the Bahamas should from the wreck of the “ Encomium” to the possession of have so construed the purpose and language of that docutheir masters, imparted to that opinion, in the present case, ment as not only to apply the doctrines it sets up to a case an importance which the undersigned deems sufficient to 80 dissimilar as that of the shipwreck of the “Encomium," justify him in entering more at large into an examination but to apply them without the redeeming feature in it, of the circumstances under which it was given and of the which, in the opinion of the undersigned, might, failing all principles which are set forth in it.
other guides for their conduct, have justified them in reIt appears that, in the year 1818, a Portuguese ship en- storing the slaves to their masters. gaged in the African slave trade, then permitted by the In order more clearly to point out the dissimilarity between laws of Portugal, while on her voyage from Mozambique the case of the “ Encomium,” and that of the Portuguese to Brazil, with a cargo of slaves, put in for supplies at the vessel which the opinion of the Crown lawyers was intended Cape of Good Hope, and was afterwards wrecked on the 10 meet, the undersigned, with Lord Palmerston's permigcoast of that colony. Doubts having arisen in consequence sion, will submit a parallel between the condition of the Afriof it, under the existing laws of Great Britain prohibiting can'and that of the American slave. The one, born free, is the traffic in slaves by British subjects, as to the conduct forcibly carried away and sold to slavery in a foreign land; which it would be proper for the colonial authorities to pur- the other, born to servitude, does but continue in a consue in such a case, the law officers of the Crown were dition to which his ancestors, for generations before him, called upon for their opinion on the following points: had been reduced under a peculiar social organization. The
1. Whether, under the circumstances stated, the supplies one, by forcible abduction, becomes the property of a masor relief asked for by the Portuguese vessel could have been ter, who holds him as merchandise, until he can dispose of legally affyrded by the colonial authorities.
him with profit; the other, under a title originally derived 2. Whether a cargo of Africans, abandoned in conse- from British laws, continues in the service of a master quence of the loss of the vessel on the coast of a British bound to protect him; and, though transferable to another, settlement, were to be considered as Africans illegally im- under proper legal restrictions, he does not hecome an obported, or considered as free persons.
ject of traffic or expatriation. The former is exposed to 3. Whether Africans, cast by shipwreck on the coast arbitrary treatment from the slave-dealer, who has but a of a British colony, were to be considered as slaves illegally temporary interest in his welfare ; while the latter, like the imported, or as free persons; and whether the authorities free member of the State, is under the safeguard of laws, of such colony had the power to restore such Africans to framed for the security of his person, and for the restriction their original owners to be dealt with as slaves, either in the of the power of his master over him. And, finally, in circolony or in a foreign country.
cumstances like that which has given rise to this repreThe answer of the Crown lawyers to the first query was, sentation, while the African is proceeding in the slave-ship that the granting of the required supplies would have been from a land of freedom to what is to prove to him one of a violation of the provision in the act which prohibits perpetual bondage, the American slave, under laws enactBritish subjects from aiding and assisting in the removal ed by his country, and recognised by all civilized nations, of persons to be dealt with as slaves. But, under another is following the fortunes of his master, a passenger in the clause, making an exception in cases of distress from weather, same ship with him, and merely removing for the advanthe perils of the sea, or other inevitable accidents, they are of tage of both, probably—but certainly not for any purpose opinion that, where assistance or relief is required in con- likely to aggravate the condition of the slave--from one sequence of the distressed state of the crew or of the slaves, section of the country to another, where he is secure of the it may and ought to be afforded.
same protection. Under the second head, their opinion is, that slaves But even admitting, notwithstanding this wide distincabandoned, as stated, are to be considered and treated as tion between the two cases, that the legal opinion upon free persons on their landing in the colony.
which the Lieutenant Governor of the Babamas professes If cast by shipwreck, as supposed in the third query, the to have acted is at all applicable to that of the “ Encomium,” Africans are, according to the view of the legal advisers of the undersigned thinks that he can perceive in that docuthe Crown, to be treated as free persons, as in the case im- ment an allegation under which, had the authorities of the mediately preceding.
Bahamas been actuated by any share of the disposition to The first idea that unavoidably suggests itself, on perusaldo justice which the undersigned believes to be entertained of the document of which the above is believed to convey 'by his Majesty's Government towards that of the United