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Proclamation appears to have been published in the London newspapers. It is not likely that a copy was received in London before the 10th, by the Fulton from New York.
It was on this meager and incorrect informa- Opinion of Law tion that the advice of the British Law Officers was an imperfect copy. based, upon which that Government acted. On the evening of the 2d of May, Lord John Russell stated in the House of Commons that “ Her
Officers taken on
Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Toxas, and the laws of the United States cannot be executed effectually therein conformably to that provision of the Constitution which requires duties to be uniform throughout the United States; and further, a combination of persons, engaged in such insurrection, have threatened to grant pretended letters of marque to authorize the bearers thereof to commit assaults on the lives, vessels, and property of good citizens of the country lawfully engaged in commerce on the high seas and in the waters of the United States; and whereas an Executive Proclamation has already been issued, requiring the persons engaged in these disorderly proceedings to desist, and therefor calling out the militia force for the purpose of repressing the same, and convening Congress in extraordinary session to deliberate and determine thereon, the President, with a view to the same purposes before mentioned, and to the protection of the public peace and the lives and property of its orderly citizens parsuing their lawful occupations, until Congress shall have assembled and deliberated on said unlawful proceedings, or until the same shall have ceased, has further deemed it advisable to set on foot a blockade of the ports within the States aforesaid, in pursuance of the laws of the United States and the laws of nations in such cases provided. For this purpose a competent force will be posted, so as to prevent the entrance and exit of vessels from the ports aforesaid. If, therefore, with a view to violate such blockade, any vessel shall attempt to leave any of the said ports, she will be duly warned by the commander of one of said blockading vessels, who will indorse on her register the fact and date of such warning; and if the same vessel shall again attempt to enter or leave a blockaded port, she will be captured and sent to the nearest convenient port for such proceedings against her and her cargo as may be deemed advisable.”
I Vol. IV, page 482.
a state of war.
Opinion of Law Majesty's Government heard the other day that an imperfect copy the Confederated States have issued letters of
marque, and to-day we have heard that it is intended there shall be a blockade of all the ports of the Southern States. As to the general provisions of the law of nations on these questions, some of the points are so new, as well as so important, that they have been referred to the Law
Officers of the Crown for their opinions.” Her Majesty's
It is with deep regret that the United States cide on the 1st of find themselves obliged to lay before the Tribunal May to recognize
of Arbitration the evidence that, when this announcement was made in the House of Commons, Her Majesty's Government had already decided to recognize the right of the Southern insurgents to attack and destroy the commerce of the United States on the high seas. On the 1st day of May, 1861, (two days before they could have heard of the issue of the President's Proclamation,) Lord John Russell wrote as follows to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty ::
“The intelligence which reached this country by the last mail from the United States gives reason to suppose that a civil war between the Northern and Southern States of that Confederacy was imminent, if indeed it might not be considered to have already begun.
| Vol. I, page 33.
“Simultaneously with the arrival of this news, Government a telegram, purporting to have been conveyed to cide on the 1st of Halifax from the United States, was received, a stato of war. which announced that the President of the Southern Confederacy had taken steps for issuing letters of marque against the vessels of the Northern States."
“I need scarcely observe to Your Lordships that it may be right to apprise the Admiral that, much as Her Majesty regrets the prospect of civil war breaking out in a country in the happiness and peace of which Her Majesty takes the deepest interest, it is Her Majesty's pleasure that nothing should be done by her naval forces which should indicate any partiality or preference for either party in the contest that may ensue.”
On the 4th of May. Lord John Russell held an interview with some individuals, whom he de- gent commissionscribed as “the three gentlemen deputed by the cognition of Southern Confederacy to obtain their recognition pendence. as an independent State." Although he informed them that he could hold no official communication with them, he did discuss with them the question of recognition, and he indicated to them the points to which they must direct their attention in the discussion of the subject. He also
Lord John Russell and the insur
ers discuss the re
1 Vol. I, page 37.
Communication with the French Government,
listened to their views in response thereto; and when, on the termination of the interview they informed him “that they should remain in London for the present, in the hope that the recognition of the Southern Confederacy would not be long delayed,” he interposed no objections to such a course, and suggested no improbability of such a recognition.
On the 5th of May the steamship Persia arrived at Liverpool with advices from New York to the 25th of April. Lord John Russell stated on Monday, the 6th of May, in a communication to Lord Cowley, “that Her Majesty's Government received no dispatches from Lord Lyons by the mail which has just arrived, [the Persia,] the communication between Washington and New York being interrupted.”
In the same dispatch Lord Cowley is informed “that Her Majesty's Government cannot hesitate to admit that such Confederacy is entitled to be considered as a belligerent, and as such invested with all the rights and prerogatives of a belligerent,” and he is instructed to invite the French Government to a joint action, and a line of joint policy with the British Government, toward the United States. Lord Cowley, under these instructions, had an interview on the 9th of May
Vol. I, page 36 ;; see also same volume, page 48.
Communication with the French Government.
Answer of the
with the French Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Vol. I, page 49.