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When the affairs of the commission were wound up the papers relating to the Hargous claims, instead of being returned to him, were sent to the Department of State, along with papers relating to the claims which the commission had decided on their merits.
The Hargous claims are now being presented by his administrator, Robert L. Šargous, against the Republic of Mexico, in one of the courts in the capital of that Republic, and that tribunal requires the production and surrender of the original papers in its adjudication of the claims.
In response to a communication from your committee in reference to the joint resolution, the Secretary of State says that he knows of no reason for retaining these bonds on the files of that Department.
Your committee recommend that the joint resolution do pass with an amendment designating the name of the claimant as well as the puubor of the cases before the mixed commission, in which the bonds and drafts were filed.
[See p. 577, Vol. I.]
FIFTY SECOND CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION.
April 14, 1892.
[Senate Miscellaneous Document No.167.)
Mr. Davis, from the Committee on Foreign Relations, submitted the following resolutions to accompany Contidential Report No. 1:
Resolveil by the Senate, That after due reexamination of the matters presented in the petition of William Webster, and the evidence brought to their attention in support of his claim for indemuity from the Britishı Government for lands in New Zealand, purchased by him iu good faith from native chiefs, and duly conveyed to him before the Government of Great Britain acquired the sovereignty over that country by a treaty made with said chiefs, and after due examination of the refusal of the Goverument of Great Britain to entertain such claim, and of the allegations and principles upon which such refusal is based, the Senate of the United States consider that said claim for indemnity is founded in justice and deserves the cognizance and support of the Government of the United States. And that said claim, as a claim for money indemnity, was not presented by the United States to Great Britain prior to September, 1858.
Resolved, That the President is requested to take such measures as, in his opinion, may be proper to secure to William Webster a just settlement and final adjustment of his claim against Great Britain, growing out of the loss of the lands and other property in New Zealand, of which he has been deprived by the act or consent of the British Gov. ernment, and to which he had acquired a title under purchases and deeds of conveyance from the native chiefs, prior to February 6, 1810, and prior to any right of Great Britain to said islands; and that the President is particularly requested, among other measures that may seem to him proper, to propose to the Government of Great Britain that the entire contention be submitted to arbitration to the end that a tinal and conclusive settlement thereof and of all questions involved may be thereby attained.
FIFTY-SECOND CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION.
April 14, 1892.
(Senate Executive Report No. 1.]
Mr. Davis, from the Committee on Foreign Relations, submitted the following report upon the message from the President of the United States transmitting a report of the Secretary of State upon the claim of William Webster against the Government of Great Britain:
The Committee on Foreign Relations, to whom was referred the mes. sage from the President of the United States, transmitting a report from the Secretary of State upon the claim of William Webster against the Government of Great Britain, respectfully report:
The claim of William Webster, a native of Maine, and always a citizen of the United States, for reparation for the seizure and sale by the Government of Great Britain, acting through the colonial authorities of New Zealand, of large tracts of land in New Zealand, to which he had acquired the title, and of which he was in possession before the acquisition of that colony by such government in the year 1840, and for other wrongs, arises from a series of events that began more than fifty years ago.
The present situation of the controversy is the refusal of Great Britain, though requested by the United States, to entertain Mr. Webster's claim. This refusal is expressed in a communication from the foreign office to Mr. Lincoln, dated August 18, 1891.
During the long period in which Mr. Webster's rights have existed, they have been considered repeatedly and carefully by Congress. The justice of the claim has been invariably asserted in the reports that have been made upon it. In these conclusions the Department of State has concurred, and has submitted the claim to the Government of Great Britain with the untoward result above stated.
In the present aspect of the subject it is deemed proper to restate, more fully than has been done, the facts and events upon which rests the contention of the United States and the legal principles which sus. tain it. Though this case has been presented with great exactness and force in reports of Congressional committees and in papers by the Department of State, it will be well to express in one document the facts derived from these and other sources, to the end that they may be applied to the question in its present condition.
In the year 1835 Mr. Webster went to the island of New Zealand and engaged in shipbuilding and in the mercantile business. His trade with the natives was so prosperous that he realized large sums of money, acquired their confidence, and he had, by several transactions and deeds, purchased from different chiefs of the native tribes and from
CLAIM OF WILLIAM WEBSTER.
the tribes sundry tracts of land, being about 500,000 acres in all. He expended for these lands in cash and merchandise and in substantial improvements thereon £15,672, somewhat more than $78,000. These purchases were made between March, 1837, and some time in the year 1839. All the tracts are situated on the north or northeast coast of North Island, and some of them are near the city of Auckland. Their location is indicated on the annexed map by red boundaries and letters.
Up to the year 1840 no foreign government had acquired any territory or pretended to exercise any sovereignty over New Zealand. The island was under the dominion of the native tribes, and these were to a great extent confederated.
This confederation was entered into October 28, 1835, by a convention of chieftains who declared their independence under the name of the United Tribes of New Zealand, and also declared that within their territory all sovereign power and authority was vested exclusively in the hereditary chiefs and heads of tribes collectively, and that a congress should meet annually for the purpose of enacting laws. The immediate cause of this declaration was the proceedings of a Frenchman named de Thierry, who had arrived from Tahiti in August of the same year, and had issued a proclamation styling himself Charles Baron de Thierry, sovereign chief of New Zealand."
The tenure of the soil was tribal. The boundaries of the territory of each tribe were definitely determined. The mode of transfer by which Mr. Webster obtained his titles was perfectly valid under the usages of the tribe in that respect, and the validity of estates, obtained as Mr. Webster obtained his, and'indeed of a portion of the titles which thus inured to Mr. Webster, was repeatedly recognized by Great Britain after that Government had established its sovereignty over the islands. That power was indeed bound to so acknowledge them, not only upon settled principles of international law, but by the very terms of the treaty by which it acquired its sovereignty over New Zealand. Not only had no foreign government ever asserted or claimed any sover. eignty over New Zealand, but Great Britain had repeatedly recognized it as an independent state long before that most conclusive act of recog. nition, the treaty of February 6, 1840, by which that power acquired by a national act of cession all of its sovereign and proprietary rights to New Zealand.
Lord John Russell, of the colonial office, expressed his opinion that “New Zealand was by solemn acts of Parliament and of the King recognized as a sovereign and independent state.” (Memorandum sent to Lord Palmerston. Paliamentary papers, House of Commons, 1840, Vol. XXXIII).
In 1839 the Government of Great Britain appointed Capt. Hobson, R. N., as consul to New Zealand, and also commissioned him as lieutenant-governor. He received, under date of August 14 of that year, a letter of instructions from the Marquis of Normanby. That letter contained the following declaration:
I have already stated that we acknowledge New Zealand as a sovereign and independent state.
The Marquis of Normanby, in this letter of instructions to Consul Hobson, stated further that the Government concurred with a committee of the House of Commons (1836)
In thinking that the increase of national wealth and power promised by the ac. quisition of New Zealand would be a most inadequate compensation for the injury which must be inflicted on the kingdom itself, by embarking in a measure essentially unjust, and but too certainly fraught with calamity to a numerous and inoffen
sive people, whose title to the soil and to the sovereignty of New Zealand is indigputable and has been solemnly recognized by the British Government.
It is not, however, to the mere recognition of the sovereignty of the Queen that your endeavors are to be confined, or your negotiations directed. It is further necessary that the chiefs should be induced, if possible, to contract with you as representing Her Majesty. Henceforward, no lands shall be ceded, either gratuitously or otherwise, except to the Crown of Great Britain.
You will, therefore, immediately upon your arrival, announce by a proclamation, addressed to all the Queen's subjects in New Zealand, that Her Majesty will not acknowledge as valid any titles to land which either has been or shall hereafter be acquired in that country which is not either derived from, or confirmed by, a grant to be made in Her Majesty's name or on her behalf.
Extensive acgaisitions of land have undoubtedly already been obtained, and it is probable that before your arrival a great addition will have been made to them. The embarrassments occasioned by such claims will demand your earliest and most careful attention.
If these instructions had been intended when issued to apply to titles of citizens or subjects of other states, acquired during that period in which Great Britain "acknowledged New Zealand as a sovereign and independent state," and in which that power declared as to the people of that island that their “title to the soil and sovereignty of New Zealand is indisputable, and has been solemnly recognized by the British Government,” they would rightfully have been denounced as without warrant even in the law of conquest, and would have been repelled by the resentment of every nation whose citizens should suffer by their enforcement. This, it is true, was the practical construction afterwards given to them in Mr. Webster's case by the colonial authorities; but at the time when they were issued, and by their very terms, it was intended that they should apply only to British subjects. It will be observed that the proclamation which this British consul, who had been empowered to treat with New Zealand as a sovereign power for an. nexation to Great Britain, was directed to issue, was to be addressed to the Queen's subjects only. The reasons for this limitation appear in the events which led that government to accredit Capt. Hobson as consul to New Zealand, with more than consular powers; powers which invested him with plenipotentiary authority to treat with a sovereign and independent state for the cession of its sovereignty and the transfer of its title to its soil.
Previously to the year 1839, Edward Gibbon Wakefield, by numerous publications upon the subject of colonization, had deeply impressed his projects and theories upon many of the best minds in England. His social standing was not good. He had been convicted of abduction and had served a term of imprisonment in Newgate. But he was a man of great mental force, capable of vast conceptions, and able to execute them. Under bis inspiration a New Zealand association was
. formed in London in 1837. Its chairman was Francis Baring, and such men as Lord Durham, Sir William Molesworth, and several members of Parliament were of the committee. The object of the association was the settlement of New Zealand by emigrants, and the acquiring of lands in the islands for that purpose. This association failed in its efforts to procure a charter for colonization. Afterwards, and in June, 1838, Mr. Francis Baring obtained leave to bring in a bill to found a British colony in New Zealand, but it was thrown out. In 1839 Wakefield organized the New Zealand Company, of which Lord Durham was chairman. It had a paid-up capital of £100,000, and 100,000 acres of land in New Zealand were sold in London in advance of the departure of a single emigrant, or the acquirement of title to a single acre. The vendees drew lots for their allotments of land, the title to which the company was afterwards to acquire. In April, 1839, the ship Tory was chartered by Wakefield to sail for New Zealand with emigrants. Lord Normanby, of the colonial office, refused to give letters of introduction to the governors of colonies, and declined to sanction in any manner any project to buy lands and to establish a government independent of the crown.
Fearing that the Government would not allow the Tory to sail, Wakefield started her secretly on her voyage under control of his brother, William Wakefield. The British Government thereupon proceeded to frustrate the project of the New Zealand Company. The measures it adopted were the appointment of Hobson as consul and lieutenant-governor, and the instructions from which the foregoing quotations have been made. The Tory arrived at New Zealand August 16, 1839, and before Mr. Hobson appeared, Edward Wakefield had obtained from the chiefs deeds which purported to convey to him in trust for the New Zealand Company a very large portion of North Island. As one of the missionaries expressed it, he bought “territory by degrees of latitude.” On the 29th of January, 1840, Consul Hobson arrived at New Zealand. He found the anticipations of the engrossment of land expressed in his letter of instructions, which had doubtless been aroused by the sale in London of 100,000 acres and by the avowed object of the New Zealand Company, fully realized. Accordingly on the 30th day of January, 1840, he issued two proclamations which, by his letter of instructions, he had been directed to address to “all the Queen's subjects in New Zealand."
It is recited in the first one, that Her Majesty has been pleased to direct that measures shall be taken for the establishment of a settled form of civil government over those of Her Majesty's subjects who are already settled in New Zealand, or who may hereafter resort thereto, that Her Majesty has issued letters patent dated June 15, 1839, by which the former boundaries of the colony of New South Wales are extended to comprehend any part of New Zealand that is, or may be, acquired in sovereignty by Her Majesty; that William Hobson has been appointed to be lieutenant-governor over any territory which is, or may be, acquired in sovereignty to Her Majesty in New Zealand; and the proclamation is that,
I have this day opened and published the two commissions as aforesaid. And
that I have this day entered upon the duties of my said office as lieutenant-governor aforesaid. And I do call on all Her Majesty's subjects to be aiding and assisting me in the execution thereof.
The other proclamation relates to the lands. It recites the instructions received by Mr. Hobson from the Marquis of Norinanby, dated August 14, 1839, as commanding
That it shall be notified to all Her Majesty's subjects settling in or resorting to the islands of New Zealand, that Her Majesty, taking into consideration the present as well as future interests of said subjects, and also the interests and rights of the chiefs and native tribes of the said islands, does not deem it expedient to recognize as valid any titles to land in New Zealand which are not derived from or confirmed by Her Majesty.
The proclamation is "to all Her Majesty's subjects," that Her Majesty
Does not deem it expedient to recognize any titles to land in New Zealand which are not derived from or confirmed by Her Majesty as aforesaid. But, in order to dispel any apprehension that it may be intended to dispossess the owners of land acquired on equitable conditions, and not in extent or otherwise prejudicial to the present or prospective interests of the community, I do further hereby proclaim and declare that Her Majesty has been pleased to direct that a commission shall be ap