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existing affairs in America, a perfect and absolute neutrality, and to abstain therefore from the slightest act of partiality.
According to Hubner, (Saisie de bâtiments Neutres,) "neutrality consists in absolute inaction relative to war, and in exact and perfect impartiality manifested by facts in regard to the belligerents, as far as this impartiality has relation to the war, and to the direct and immediate measures for its prosecution."
"Nentrality,” says Azuni, (Droits Maritimes,) "is the continuation in a state of peace of a power which, when war is kindled between two or more nations, absolutely abstains from taking any part in the contest."
But if the proposition be admitted that all the vessels of the Confederate States armed for war should be considered prima facie as privateers, would there not be a flagrant incquality between the treatment and the favors accorded to vessels of war of the United States and the vessels of the Confederate States, which have not for the moment a navy properly so called ?
This evidently would be giving proof of partiality incompatible with real duties of neutrality. The only question is to determine with exactitude the distinctive characteristics between a privateer and a ship-of-war, although this may be difficult of execution. Thus is ignored that which Count Reventlon, envoy of the King of Denmark at Madrid, drew attention to in 1782, that there exists among the maritime powers regulations or conventions between sovereigns, which oblige them to equip their vessels in a certain manner, that they may be held veritably armed for war.
You express also, in your despatch of September 2, the hope that the Netherlands government will do justice to your reclamation, grounding yourself on the tenor of treaties existing between the Netherlands and the United States, on the principles of the law of nations, and, finally, upon the assurances you have received from the King's government.
Amidst all the European powers there are few who have better defended the rights of neutrals, and have suffered more in this noble cause than Denmark; and one of her greatest statesmen of the close of the last century, Count Bernstorff, has been able to declare with justice, in his memoir of July 28, 1793, a document that will long continue to be celebrated : “A neutral power fulfils all its duties by never departing from the most strict impartiality, nor from the avowed meaning of its treaties."
I have endeavored, sir, to show, in what precedes, that the government of the Netherlands has fulfilled conscientiously its first duty, and will adhere faithfully thereto.
The cabinet of the Hague does not observe and will not observe less religiously the tenor of treaties.
The treaty of the 19th of January, 1839, and the additional convention of the 26th of August, 1852, only relate to commerce and navigation; the only treaties that can be invoked in the present case are those of the 8th of October, 1782.
I do not think it my duty to enter here upon a discussion of principles on the question of deciding whether these treaties can still be considered as actually in force, and I will not take advantage of the circumstance that the cabinet of Washington has implicitly recognized, by the very reclamation which is the object of your despatches, that the treaties of 1782 cannot any longer be invoked as the basis of international relations between the Netherlands and the United States.
I will only take the liberty of observing to you, sir, that the executio nof the stipulations included in those diplomatic acts would be far, in the present circumstances, from being favorable to the government of the republic.
In fact, we should, in this case, admit to our ports privateers with their
prizes, which could even be sold there by virtue of article 5 of the beforecited convention of 1782, on rescues.
It would, perhaps, be objected that the treaty of 1782, having been concluded with the United States of America, could not be invoked by a part of the Union which had seceded from the central government, and I do not dissent from the opinion that this thorny question of public law would give rise, should the case occur, to very serious difficulties.
But we cannot lose sight of the fact that the treaty spoken of was concluded, even before the recognition of the United States by England in 1783, with the oldest members of the republic, among others, to wit, with Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, and that those States actually figure among the secessionists.
In 1782 the republic of North America was only a simple confederation of states, remaining sovereign, united only for common defence, (Staatenbund) and it is only since the establishment of the Constitution, of the 17th of September, 1787, that the pact which binds together the United States received the character which is attributed to it by Mr. Wheaton, also, (Elements of International Law,) of a perfect union between all the members as one people under one government, federal and supreme, (Bundestaat,)“ a commonwealth,” according to Mr. Motley in his pamphlet “Causes of the Civil War in America,” p. 71.
In view of this fundamental difference between the present character of the government of the United States and that of the party contracting the treaty of 1782, it would be difficult to refuse in equity the privilege of the secessionist States to avail themselves of it.
It will, therefore, not escape your penetration that it is preferable, as well for the Netherlands as for the cabinet of Washington, to leave the treaty above mentioned at rest, and that, in excluding privateers from its ports the government of the Netherlands has acted only in the interests of the government of the United States, to which it is bound by feelings of a friendship which dates even from the time of the existence of the republic of the united provinces, and which the King's government will make every effort to maintain and consolidate more and more.
According to the law of nations, the cases in which the neutrality of a power is more advantageous to one party than to the other do not affect or impair it; it suffices that the neutrality be perfect and strictly observed. The government of the Netherlands has not departed from it, therefore, in denying admission to the ports of his Majesty's territories to privatecrs, although at first glance this determination is unfavorable to the southern States.
The difficulties which have actually arisen, and which may be renewed hereafter, the desire to avoid as much as possible everything that could compromise the good understanding between the governments of the United States and the Netherlands, impose on the last the obligation to examine with scrupulous attention if the maintenance of the general principles which I have had the honor to develop might not in some particular cases impair the attitude of neutrality which the cabinet of the Hague desires to observe. If, for example, we had room to believe that the Sumter, or any other vessel of one of the two belligerent parties, sought to make of Curaçoa, or any other port in his Majesty's dominions, the base of operations against the commerce of the adverse party, the government of the Netherlands would be the first to perceive that such acts would be a real infraction, not merely of the neutrality we wish to observe, but also of the right of sovereignty over the territorial seas of the state; the duty of a neutral state being to take care that vessels of the belligerent parties commit no acts of hostility
within the limits of its territory, and do not keep watch in the ports of its dominion to course from them after vessels of the adverse party.
Instructions on this point will be addressed to the governors of the Netherlands colonial possessions.
I flatter myself that the preceding explanations will suffice to convince the federal government of the unchangeable desire of that of the Netherlands to maintain a strict neutrality, and will cause the disappearance of the slightest trace of misunderstanding between the cabinets of the Hague and of Washington. Accept, sir, the renewed assurance of my high consideration.
DE ZUYLEN DE NIJVELT. Mr. Pike, Minister Resident of the United States of America.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Pike.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, September 28, 1861. SIR: : By some accident our foreign mail missed the steamer.
It is only just now that I have received your despatch of September 4, (No. 15.) The proceeding at Curaçoa in regard to the Sumter was so extraordinary, and so entirely contrary to what this government had expected from that of Holland, that I lose no time in instructing you to urge the consideration of the subject with as much earnestness as possible. I cannot believe that that government will hesitate to disavow the conduct of the authorities if they have been correctly reported to this department. I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD. JAMES S. Pike, Esq., 80., 80., 80.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Pike.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, October 4, 1861. Sir: I am just now informed by a despatch from Henry Sawyer, esq., our consul at Paramaribo, that on the 19th day of August last the piratical steamer “Sumter” entered that port, and was allowed by the authorities there to approach the town and to purchase and receive coals, to stay during her pleasure, and to retire unmolested, all of which was done in opposition to the remonstrances of the consul.
You will lose no time in soliciting the attention of his Majesty's government to this violation of the rights of the United States. They will be well aware that it is the second instance of the same kind that has occurred in regard to the same vessel in Dutch colonies in the West Indies.
It is some relief of the sense of injury which we feel that we do not certainly know that the authorities who have permitted these wrongs had received instructions from their home government in regard to the rights of the United States in the present emergency. We therefore hope for satisfactory explanations. But, in any case, you will inform that government that the United States will expect them to visit those authorities with a censure so unreserved as will prevent the repetition of such injuries hereafter.
An early resolution of the subject is imperatively necessary, in order that this government may determine what is required for the protection of its national rights in the Dutch American forts. I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD. JAMES S. PIKE, Esq., Sc., 8., sc.
Mr. Pike to Mr. Seward.
UNITED STATES LEGATION,
The Hague, October 9, 1861. Sir : Since my last (under date of October 2) I have received a letter from the United States consul at Paramaribo, of which the following is a copy:
"UNITED STATES CONSULATE,
"Port of Paramaribo, September 4, 1861. "Sir: I have the honor (but with chagrin) to inform you that the rebel steamer Sumter arrived at this port on the 19th of August, and left on the 31st, having been allowed to coal and refit. I used my best endeavors to prevent it without avail. “I am, &c.,
Immediately on the receipt of it I addressed the following note to the minister of foreign affairs.
"The Hague, October 8, 1861. "Sir : I have just received a communication from the American consul at Paramaribo under date of the 4th of September last, which I lose no time in laying before your excellency.
"The consul states."
[See above.] "The reappearance of the Sumter in a port of the Netherlands, after so brief an interval, seems to disclose a deliberate purpose on the part of the persons engaged in rebellion against the United States government to practice upon the presumed indifference, the expected favor, or the fancied weakness of the Dutch government.
“During a period of forty-six days, during which we have heard of this piratical vessel in the West Indies, it would appear that she had been twice entertained and supplied at Dutch ports, and spent eighteen days under their shelter.
“This can be no accidental circumstance.
"In the multitude of harbors with which the West India seas abound, the Sumter has had no occasion to confine her visits so entirely to the ports of one nation, especially one so scantily supplied with them as Holland. And the fact that she does so is, in my judgment, not fairly susceptible of any other interpretation than the one I have given.
“I feel convinced that the government of the Netherlands will see in this repeated visit of the Sumter (this time, it appears, without any pretext) a distinct violation of its neutrality according to its own views, as laid down
in your excellency's communication to me of the 17th of September last, and a case which will call for the energetic assertion of its purpose expressed in the paper referred to, namely, not to allow its ports to be made the base of hostile operations against the United States. For that the Sumter is clearly making such use of the Dutch ports would seem to admit of no controversy.
“In view of the existing state of the correspondence between the United States and the Netherlands on the general subject to which this case belongs, and of the questions and relations involved therein, I shall be excused for the brevity of this communication upon a topic of so much importance and so provocative of comment.
The undersigned avails himself," &c., &c.
I called to-day upon Baron Von Zuylen, but he was absent, and I shall not therefore be able to see him again before the close of the mail which takes this. And I do not know that an interview would in any way affect the existing state of things or give me any new information. This government's intentions are good; and it desires to avoid all difficulty with the United States, and with everybody else.
As I stated in my despatch of the 25th September, I have confidence that orders have been given that will impede the operations of these vessels in Dutch ports hereafter, and probably drive them elsewhere. I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,
JAMES S. PIKE. Hon. William H. SEWARD,
Secretary of State, Washington.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Pike.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, October 10, 1861. Sir: Your despatch of September 18 (No. 17) has been received.
The delay of the government of the Netherlands in disposing of the unpleasant questions which have arisen concerning the American pirates in the colonies of that country is a subject of deep concern; and you are instructed, if you find it necessary, to use such urgency as may be effectual to obtain the definitive decision of that government thereon so early that it may be considered by the President before the meeting of Congress in December next. I am, sir, your obedient servant,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD. James S. PIKE, Esq., &c., &c., &c.
Mr. Pike to Mr. Seward.
[Extracts.] No. 22.]
UNITED STATES LEGATION,
The Hague, October 12, 1861. Sir: After reflection, upon the reappearance of the Sumter, and her prolonged stay in the port of Paramaribo, (this time apparently without pretext of any kind,) I have felt, in view of the position taken by the Dutch