War of the Rebellion: Serial 115 Page 1147 SUSPECTED AND DISLOYAL PERSONS.

Search Civil War Official Records

So also we are informed that the captain of the Trent was not at any time or in any way required to go on board the San Jacinto.

These modifications of the case as presented by Commander Williams are based upon our official reports.

I have now to remind your lordship of some facts which doubtlessly were omitted by Earl Russell with the very proper and becoming motive ofallowing them to be brought into the case on the part of the United States in the way most satisfactory to this Governmnent. These facts are that at the time the transaction occurred an insurrection was existing in the United States which this Government was engaged in suppressing by the employment of land an naval forces; that in regard to this domestic strife the United States considered Great Britain as a friendly power, while she had assumed for herself the attitude of a neutral; and that Spain was considered in the same light and had assumed the same attitude as Great Britain.

It has been settled by correspondence that the United States and Great Britain mutually recognized as applicable to this local strife these two articles of the declaration made by the Congress of Paris in 1856, namely, that the neutral of friendly flag should cover enemy's goods not contraband of war, and that neutral goods not contraband of war are not liable to capture under an enemy's flag. These exceptions of contraband from favor were a negative acceptance by the parties of the rule hitherto everywhere recognize as a part of the law of nations that whatever is contraband is liable to capture and confiscation in all cases.

James M. Mason and J. E. Macfarland are citizens of the United States and residents of Virginia; John Slidell and George Eustis are citizens of the United States and residents of Louisiana. It was well known at Havana when these parties embarked in the Trent that James M. Mason was proceeding to England in the affected character of a minister plenipotentiary to the Court nder a pretended commission from Jefferson Davis, who had assumed to be president of the insurrectionary party in the United States, and J. E. Macfarland was going with him in a like unreal character of secretary of legation to the pretended mission. John Slidell in similar circumstances was going to Paris as a pretended minister to the Emperor of the French and George Eustis was the chosen secretary of legation for that simulated mission. The fact that these persons had assumed such characters has been since avowed by the same Jefferson Davis in a pretended message* to an unlawful and insurrectionary congress. It was as we think rightly presumed that these ministers bore pretended credentials and instructions and such papers are in the law known as dispatches. We are informed by our consul at Paris that these dispatches having escaped the search of the Trent were actually conveyed and delivered to emissaries of the insurrection in England. Although it is not essential yet it is proper to state as I do also upon information and belief that the owner and agent and all the officers of the Trent including Commander Williams had knowledge of the assumed characters and purposes of the persons before named when they embarked on that vessel.

Your lordship will now perceive that the case before us instead of presenting a merely flagrant act of violence on the part of Captain Wilkes, as might well be inferred from the incompleter statement of it that went up to the British Government, was undertaken as a simple

---------------

*See p. 1229 for this message.

---------------