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considerations I look for my justification with my countrymen, feeling assured that, in having acted on my own judgment for the best, I am endeavouring, so far as it is in my power, to serve, indifferently, the real interests of both sets of claimants.
I am, &c.
No. 5. Mr. Hornby and Mr. Upham to Mr. Martin Van Buren. SIR
London, October 13, 1853. INCLOSED you will find a copy of the Convention for the adjustment of certain claims between Great Britain and The United States.
The Undersigned have been appointed Commissioners on the part of the two Governments to carry the provisions of the Convention into effect, and the first meeting was holden by them on the fifteenth of September ultimo. Since that time they have been occupied in various conferences in reference to the appointment of an umpire, required to be made by the terms of the Convention, to act in case of any disagreement between the Commissioners. In endeavouring, however, to fix upon an individual, who should unite in himself the requisites of high character, exalted position, and strict impartiality, they have experienced the greatest difficulty; nevertheless, they are happy to say that they have been able to unite cordially in agreeing upon yourself, and believe your appointment will be highly acceptable to their respective people and Governments.
The object of this letter is to apprise you of this selection, and to express the hope of the Undersigned that your acceptance of the post may be consistent with your engagements.
You will perceive that an umpire will be called upon to act only in cases of disagreement between the Commissioners, which, it is to he hoped, may not arise, but which, at the same time, is not wholly unlikely to be the case.
By the provisions of the Convention, it is possible that claims may not be presented until within three months of the period limited for its termination, after which time hearing may be had before the Commissioners, and in case of disagreement as to such claims, they could not be submitted to the umpire until near the close of the Commission. It will be desirable, therefore, for the umpire to be in a situation to act as such, should he be called upon, until the termination of the Commission, which will be on the fifteenth of September next. It is desirable also, in case the Commissioners should disagree upon any claim which might be early presented to them, that the umpire should be able to attend their hearing in London, if requisite, as promptly as may he desired by the parties, although an adjournment might in some cases be arranged ; or the umpire may, under some circumstances, be communicated with abroad. The undersigned think it due to you, and right to mention the services which may devolve on the office of umpire; but they sincerely and anxiously trust that it may be consistent with your engagements to attend to its duties, and they would be most happy, and conceive themselves fortunate, to hear from you to that effect.
In conclusion, the Undersigned would observe, that as the time during which the Commission is to sit is limited, they should esteem your early answer a personal favour, inasmuch as in the event of your refusal, a contingency which they trust will not arise, a new appointment, or the adoption of the alternative pointed out in the Convention, in itself highly undesirable in every respect, will become necessary. The Undersigned, &c. (Signed) EDMUND HORNBY.
Her Majesty's Commissioner. N. G. UPHAM,
No. 6. Mr. Martin Van Buren to Mr. Hornby and Mr. Upham,
declining the appointment of Umpire. GENTLEMEN,
Florence, October 22, 1853. I have had the honour to receive your letter inclosing a copy of a Convention for the adjustment of certain claims between Great Britain and The United States, and informing me that you had agreed upon me as the umpire required to be appointed by the terms of the Convention, to decide finally in case of any disagreement between the Commissioners.
The high character of the parties to the submission, the different relations in which I stand towards them, with the importance of the interests to be adjusted, and the cordiality with which your choice appears to have been made, give to the compliment it conveys a value of which I am by no means insensible. No one can appreciate more highly than I do the importance, not to themselves only, but to the world, of the maintenance of friendly relations between our respective countries; and a satisfactory execution of this Convention cannot fail to exert a most salutary influence in that direction. In view of motives so impressive, I do most sincerely regret to find myself constrained, by con. siderations which I dare not disregard, to decline the appointment you have done me the honour to make. After spending the principal part of my life in the public service, I have for several years withdrawn myself, not only from all personal participation in public affairs, but from attention to business of every description, save only what has been indispensable to the management of my private affairs. By adhering to this course I have secured to myself a degree of repose suitable to my age and condition, and eminently conducive to my happiness, and nothing could be more repugnant to my feelings than to depart from it now.
Still, if the matters in contestation consisted of a single question, which I could dispose of by one decision, in case
of difference between the Commissioners, I would not, under the circumstances, feel myself at liberty to decline the responsibility of the umpirage.
But my knowledge of the character of Joint Commissions like the present, and their almost invariable tendency to be kept on foot long after the expiration of the time first agreed upon for their conclusion, satisfies me that I ought not, at my time of life, to accept a trust which, besides exposing me serious inconvenience, must control my personal movements for a considerable length of time, and may postpone my return to The United States to a period far beyond that which would be at present anticipated.
Allowing myself to hope that the considerations to which I have adverted will satisfy you that I estimate as I ought the honour which has been conferred upon me, and have not declined its acceptance on inadequate grounds.
I am, &c. (Signed) M. VAN BUREN.
No. 7. Mr. Hornby and Mr. Upham to Mr. Martin Van Buren. Sir,
London, November 1, 1853. We beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 22nd ultimo, in which you decline, for the reasons therein stated, to take upon yourself the office of umpire under the Mixed Commission. While fully admitting the force and propriety of the considerations which have induced that refusal, we cannot, Sir, help expressing to you our deep regret that you should have deemed them imperative.
In your unbiassed judgment our respective countries undoubtedly would have had the most perfect confidence; claimants we feel convinced would have been satisfied, and, personally, we need hardly assure you of the gratification it would have been to both of us to have had the opportunity of submitting our own opinions to the arbitrament of one in whose experience, high-mindedness, and perfect freedom
from bias and prejudice, we should have deservedly felt the most implicit and relying faith.
Trusting, Sir, that the well-earned retirement and leisure you feel so necessary to your happiness, may most securely and certainly ensure it,
We pray your permission to subscribe ourselves with every sentiment of respect and consideration, (Signed) EDMUND HORNBY,
Her Majesty's Cornmissioner. N. G. UPHAM,
Mr. Upham to Mr. Hornby.
London, October 31, 1853. Your letter of the 11th ultimo, signifying your readiness to agree on Mr. Van Buren, required no reply, as the appointment was at once made in conformity to it. The information from him, however, which has just been received, renders it necessary that further proceedings be had on the subject; and I now renew the proposition verbally made to you, on the delivery of my letter of the third instant, that if you could not agree on a selection of some one from the persons there named, I should farther propose Joshua Bates, Esquire, of London, of the firm of Baring Brothers and Company, as umpire.
Mr. Bates is an American-born citizen, who, in early life, gained such reputation for intelligence, energy, honourable character, and business acquirements, as to cause a demand for his services in the leading banking-house of this country, and the world. His long residence in England in that position, and his great success, has established him here permanently as his adopted home, and has given him a standing and character that should impart full confidence to the claimants of both countries, as well as to the Governments