War of the Rebellion: Serial 115 Page 0992 PRISONERS OF WAR, ETC.

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sistent with his rights as a freeman and incompatible with his duty as a British subject. He adds that he was required to obtain the guarantee of some responsible person for his keeping the oath thus tendered to him. Under these circumstances he has felt it to be his duty to decline to take the oath although his health is impaired by his imprisonment and his family which depends upon his exertions for support is suffering at home.

He has requested me to give him my advice. He states, however, that he is unable to acquaint me with the precise terms of the oath as he has been refused a copy of it. It is of course impossible for me to recommend Mr. Shaver to comply with conditions unless I know exactly what those conditions are. I trust therefore that taking all the circumstances into consideration you will deem it right to give me such information as may enable me to determne what advice I ought to give to this British subject.

I have, &c.,


DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, December 23, 1861.

Right. Honorable Lord LYONS, &c.:

MY LORD: I have received your note of the 20th instant relative to the case of John G. Shaver. My impression is that that person has not made entirely correct representations to you in regard to the conditions required for his release. Those conditions are fully set forth in the letter of this Department* to Colonel Dimick of the 12th instant, a copy of which is inclosed and which seems to be as moderate as a fair consideration of the circumstances would warrant.

I am, your very obedient servant,


WASHINGTON, December 31, 1861.


Her Britannic Majesty's Consul, Boston, Mass.

SIR: I inclose copy of a letter* addressed on the 12th ultimo by Mr. Seward, the Secretary of State, to Colonel Dimick, commandant of Fort Warren. You will find stated in it the terms of the oath tendered to Mr. Shaver. Mr. Seward has to-day given directions that a clause be added to the oath, 'saving all allegiance due by Mr. Shaver to the Crown of Great Britain. " This clause will remove the scruples which Mr. Shave felt on the ground of the oath's being inconsistent with his allegiance to the Queen.

Mr. Shaver must determine for himself whether or no he chooses to contract the engagements prescribed by the oath as modified by the clause. I do not express any opinion either on the lawfulness of Mr. Shaver's imprisonment or non the justifiableness of the exaction by the United States Government of such an oaths as a condition of his release. But as the modified oath does not bind Mr. Shaver to any engagement wrong in itself I cannot assume the responsibility of advising him to refuse to take it. I do not feel so confident of being able to procure his release on any other terms as to be willing to interfere to prevent his accepting those offered to him.


* Omitted here, but see p. 989.