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The undersigned does not make this observation for the sake of detracting from the liberality evinced by her Majesty's government in relaxing from what they regard as their right; but it would be placing his own government in a false position to accept as mere favor that for which they have so long and strenuously contended as due to them under the convention.
It becomes the more necessary to make this observation, in consequence of some doubt as to the extent of the proposed relaxation. Lord Aberdeen, after stating that her Majesty's government felt themselves constrained to adhere to the right of excluding the United States fishermen from the Bay of Fundy, and also with regard to other bays on the British American coasts, to maintain the position that no United States fisherman has, under that convention, the right to fish within three miles of the entrance of such bays, as designated by a line drawn from headland to headland at that entrance, adds, that "while her Majesty's government. still feel themselves bound to maintain these positions as a matter of right, they are not insensible to the advantages which would accrue to both countries from the relaxation of that right."
This form of expression might seem to indicate that the relaxation proposed had reference to both positions; but when Lord Aberdeen proceeds to state more particularly its nature and extent, he confines it to a permission to be granted to "the United States fishermen to pursue their avocations in any part of the Bay of Fundy, provided they do not approach except in the cases specified in the treaty of 1818, within three miles of the entrance of any bay on the coast of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, which entrance is defined, in another part of Lord Aberdeen's note, as being designated by a line drawn from headland to headland.
In the case of the "Washington," which formed the subject of the note of the undersigned of the 25th May, 1844, to which the present communication of Lord Aberdeen is a reply, the capture complained of was in the waters of the Bay of Fundy; the principal portion of the argument of the undersigned was addressed to that part of the subject; and he is certainly under the impression that it is the point of greatest interest in the discussions which have been hitherto carried on between the two governments, in reference to the United States' right of fishery on the Anglo-American
In the case, however, of the "Argus," which was treated in the note of the undersigned of the 9th of October, the capture was in the waters which wash the north-eastern coast of Cape Breton, a portion of the Atlantic. ocean intercepted indeed between a straight line drawn from Cape North to the northern head of Cow bay, but possessing none of the characters of a bay, (far less so than the Bay of Fundy,) and not called a "bay" on any map which the undersigned has seen. The aforesaid line is a degree of latitude in length; and as far as reliance can be placed on the only maps (English ones) in the possession of the undersigned on which this coast is distinctly laid down, it would exclude vessels from fishing grounds which might be thirty miles from the shore.
Lord Aberdeen, in his note of the 10th instant, on the case of the "Argus," observes that, "as the point of the construction of the convention of 1818, in reference to the right of fishing in the Anglo-American dependeneies by citizens of the United States, is treated in another note of the un
dersigned of this date, reiative to the case of the "Washington," the undersigned abstains from again touching on that subject."
This expression taken by itself would seem to authorize the expectation that the waters where these two vessels respectively were captured would be held subject to the same principles, whether of restriction or relaxation, as indeed all the considerations which occur to the undersigned as having probably led her Majesty's government to the relaxation in reference to the Bay of Fundy, exist in full and even superior force in reference to the waters on the north-eastern coast of Cape Breton, where the "Argus" was seized. But if her Majesty's provincial authorities are permitted to regard as a "bay" any portion of the sea which can be cut off by a direct line connecting two points of the coast, however destitute in other respects of the character usually implied by that name, not only will the waters on the north eastern coast of Cape Breton, but on many other parts of the shores of the Anglo-American dependencies where such exclusion has not yet been thought of, be prohibited to American fishermen. In fact, the waters which wash the entire south-eastern coast of Nova Scotia, from Cape Sable to Cape Canso, a distance on a straight line of rather less than three hundred miles, would in this way constitute a bay, from which United States fishermen would be excluded.
The undersigned, however, forbears to dwell on this subject, being far from certain, on a comparison of all that is said in the two notes of Lord Aberdeen of the 10th instant, as to the relaxation proposed by her Majesty's government, that it is not intended to embrace the waters of the northeastern coasts of Cape Breton, as well as the Bay of Fundy.
Lord Aberdeen, towards the close of the note in which the purpose of her Majesty's government is communicated, invites the attention of the undersigned to the fact that British colonial fish is, at the present time, excluded by prohibitory duties from the markets of the United States, and suggests that the moment at which the British government are making a liberal concession to United States trade, might be deemed favorable for a counter concession on the part of the United States to British trade, by the reduction of duties which operate so prejudicially to the interests of British colonial fishermen.
The undersigned is of course without instructions which enable him to make any definite reply to this suggestion. It is no doubt true that the British colonial fish, as far as duties are concerned, enters the United States market, if at all, to some disadvantage. The government of the United States, he is persuaded, would gladly make any reduction in these duties which would not seriously injure the native fishermen; but Lord Aberdeen is aware that the encouragement of this class of the sea-faring community has ever been considered, as well in the United States as Great Britain, as resting on peculiar grounds of expediency. It is the great school not only of the commercial but of the public marine, and the highest considerations of national policy require it to be fostered.
The British colonial fishermen possess considerable advantages over those of the United States. The remoter fisheries of Newfoundland and Labrador are considerably more accessible to the colonial than to the United States fishermen. The fishing grounds on the coasts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, abounding in cod, mackerel and herring, lie at the doors of the former; he is therefore able to pursue his avocation in a
smaller class of vessels, and requires a smaller outfit; he is able to use the net and the seine to great advantage in the small bays and inlets along the coast, from which the fishermen of the United States, under any construction of the treaty, are excluded. All or nearly all the materials of ship building, timber, iron, cordage and canvass are cheaper in the colonies than in the United States, as are salt, hooks and lines. There is also great advantage enjoyed in the former in reference to the supply of bait and curing the fish. These, and other causes, have enabled the colonial fishermen to drive those of the United States out of many foreign markets, and might do so at home but for the protection afforded by the duties.
It may be added that the highest duty on the kinds of fish that would be sent to the American market, is less than a half-penny per pound, which cannot do more than counter-balance the numerous advantages possessed by the colonial fishermen.
The undersigned supposes, though he has no particular information to that effect, that equal or higher duties exist in the colonies on the importation of fish from the United States.
The undersigned requests the earl of Aberdeen to accept the assurance of his high consideration.
Mr. Everett to Mr. Calhoun.
LONDON, April 2, 1845.
SIR: I transmit herewith a note from Lord Aberdeen with sundry enclosures, relative to the seizure of the fishing vessel, the Argus, in the month of July last, together with a copy of my reply.
Although I do not think there is ground for charging those who complained of harsh treatment on the part of the captors of that vessel with intentional and malicious misrepresention, it is evident that their affidavits are quite inaccurate. It will be for the department to decide whether it will be expedient to call upon Messrs. J. & J. Starling, of Portland, the owners of the Argus, and the American consuls at Sydney and Halifax for further information.
Every case like this of exaggerated statement, and especially every complaint of ill-treatment where kindness has been experienced, is to be regretted not merely as morally wrong, but as tending unavoidably to impair the efficacy of official intervention to procure the redress of the wrongs of our citizens.
It is for this reason that I have been at more pains than would otherwise have been worth while, to point out to Lord Aberdeen the reasons which exist for thinking, that with considerable inaccuracies in their deposition, and a very unfortunate misstatement as to the participation of Mr. Dodd, the officer by whom they were captured, in the treatment complained of, there may not be in the substance of their narrative, sufficient reason to accuse them of a wilful departure from truth.
I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,
JOHN C. CALAOUN, Esq.,
Lord Aberdeen to Mr. Everett.
FOREIGN OFFICE, March 10, 1845.
The undersigned, her Majesty's principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in his note of the 18th of October last, had the honor to inform Mr. Everett, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the United States of America, that he had referred his note of the 9th of that month, and its enclosures respecting the "Argus" fishing vessel, to the colonial office, in order that inquiries might be made into that matter. Those inquiries having now been completed. the undersigned proceeds to make Mr. Everett acquainted with the result of them. The best mode of accomplishing this object will be by laying before Mr. Everett in extenso the whole of the papers relative to the case in question, which the undersigned has received from the colonial department, and which the undersigned has accordingly the honor to enclose herewith.
As the point of the construction of the convention of 1818 with reference to the rights of fishing on the coasts of the Anglo-American dependencies, by citizens of the United States, is treated in another note of the undersigned of this day's date, relative to the case of the Washington, the undersigned abstains from again touching upon that subject, and will confine himself in this note to the point of the harsh treatment of the patron and crew of the Argus by the commander of the Nova Scotia revenue cruiser Sylph, which is alleged in Mr. Everett's note of the 9th of
October and its enclosures.
The undersigned must premise by observing that the affidavits of the parties who bring this charge against the commander of the Sylph are not only confused and obscure, but contradictory in themselves, and little calculated by their general tone to inspire confidence in the persons who make them. One of the parties, being one of the crew of the Argus, declares on oath that the capture of the Argus by the Sylph, took place on the 6th of July, while the other party, being equally one of the crew, declares on oath that the capture took place on the 9th of July. The capture did, in fact, take place on the 7th of August. These and other inaccuracies in the statements of the deponents show, to say the least of it, the light respect in which they must have held the obligation of an oath.
But Mr. Everett will moreover find, by a careful perusal of the letter addressed to Mr. Dodd by the collector of customs at Sydney, that the master of the Argus was not only not brought forward at all, but that he distinctly declared more than once to the collector that Mr. Dodd had treated him like a gentleman.
With regard to the general charge of harsh treatment brought against the commander of the "Sylph," by the two Doughtys, deponents, the undersigned may fearlessly refer Mr. Everett to Mr. Dodd's own declaration, supported as it is by that of Mr. Davenport, the collector of customs, already alluded to; and the undersigned has little doubt that a perusal of those papers will convince Mr. Everett that not only no harsh treatment was practised against the master and crew of the "Argus," but that they were treated, from first to last, with the utmost kindness and consideration. In fact, from Mr. Dodd's declaration, it clearly appears that nearly the
whole of the affidavits of the two Doughtys, who depose against him, form a tissue of wilful and shameless misrepresentations; the more culpable because they exhibit the most flagrant ingratitude towards Mr. Dodd, who not only allowed them every indulgence, and stood between them and the collector of customs, in order to soften the rigor of the law, which the latter considered it his duty to carry into full effect, but, after the condemnation of their vessel, actually conveyed the master and two of his men, who were witnesses for him, to Halifax, in the "Sylph," at his (Mr. Dodd's) own expense, in consequence of having heard that they were anxious to proceed thither in the hope of obtaining the release of their vessel.
The undersigned apprehends that after taking cognizance of the papers to which he has referred, Mr. Everett will allow that there is no occasion for his adding one word to that evidence, in order to prove to Mr. Everett that this is a matter in which the whole of the facts have been grossly misrepresented by gratuitous malice, and that the interposition of the authority of the United States government, for the protection of the complainants, has been claimed on false pretences.
The undersigned has the honor to renew to Mr. Everett the assurances of his high consideration.
DOWNING STREET, January 9, 1845.
MY LORD: With reference to your lordship's letter of the 16th October, I am directed by Lord Stanley to transmit to you, for the information of the Earl of Aberdeen, the enclosed copy of a despatch which has been received from the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, relative to the seizure of the American fishing vessel Argus, which forms the subject of the note from the minister of the United States, enclosed in your above mentioned letter.
I have, &c., &c.,
VISCOUNT CANNING, &c., &c.
Halifax, December 17, 1844.
MY LORD: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch, No. 191, of the 26th October, enclosing a letter from the minister of the United States of America at London, complaining of the "seizure of a vessel named the Argus, which was found fishing off Cape Breton under similar circumstances to those of the Washington, and stating that the captors had been harsh in their treatment towards the master of the Argus;" and likewise concerning depositions to that effect signed by Edward and Joshua Doughty.
After the correspondence I have lately had with your lordship as to the