DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, November 30, 1861.
J. P. TROTT, Esq., Chief Clerk, Post-Office Department.
SIR: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter* of the 27th instant inquiring what authority should be given to Mr. Dunn in respect to correspondence passing through the mails at Rouse's [Point], N. Y., addressed to persons supposed to be agents of the insurgents. In reply I have to suggest that in my judgment it would be advisable to authorize, him for the present to detain and open such letters and to send those of a treasonable character to this Department.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
F. W. SEWARD,
WASHINGTON, November 30, 1861.
Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, &c.
SIR: I have carefully perused the papers communicated to you by the Secretary of the Navy, of which you did me the honor to send me copies with your note of yesterday's date. These papers establish the following facts: That two seamen of the British schooner Revere which was captured on a charge of breaking the blockade were fort two or three days confined in single irons in the daytime and double irons at night; that after that they were left at liberty during the greater part of the day but confined at night; that two seamen of the British schooner Louisa Agnes which was also captured on a charge of breaking the blockade were kept in single irons during twenty-five out of fifty-six hours, and that in both cases this harsh treatment was inflicted in pursuance of express orders from the executive officer of the U. S. ship Cambridge.
It is stated that in the case of the seamen of the Revere this severe measure was resorted to in order to prevent their rising and retaking the vessel. No information, however, is given from which an opinion can be formed as to the reasonableness of the precaution. No evidence is adduced of there having been ground for suspecting the men of a design to retake the vessels or for apprehending that they had the means of executing such a design.
The Secretary of the Navy does not say with respect to either case whether he approves or disapproves the proceedings of the officers of the Cambridge. He does not express any intention of taking measures to secure considerate treatment in future to British seamen in similar circumstances.
The papers which you have been so good as to send me do not afford any information concerning the compliant made by the master of the Louisa Agnes of the treatment he experienced on board the U. S. steamer Susquehanna.
You will I am sure consider that I am doing no more than my duty in asking for further explanations concerning thee grave matters.
I have the honor to be, with the highest consideration, sir, your must obedient humble servant,