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"Of the great trading nations, America is almost the only one that has shown consistency of principle. The firmness and thorough understanding of the Laws of Nations, which during this war [the French Revolution] she has displayed, must forever rank her high in the scale of enlightened communities."1
Another English writer, Sir Robert Phillimore, author of the comprehensive work on International Law, speaks of the conduct of the United States as, "under the most trying circumstances, marked not only by a perfect consistency, but by preference for duty and right over interest and the expediency of the moment."2 Then again, in another place, the same English authority, after a summary of our practice and jurisprudence in seizing and condemning vessels captured in violation of neutrality, declares:
"In these doctrines a severe, but a just, conception of the duties and rights of neutrality appears to be embodied."
An excellent French writer on International Law, Baron de Cussy, remarks, on mentioning our course with reference to a steamer purchased by Prussia in its war with Denmark in 1849,
"It affords a genuine proof of respect for the obligations of neutrality."4
American loyalty to neutral duties received the homage of the eminent orator and statesman Mr. Canning, who, from his place in Parliament, said: -
1 A Treatise of the Relative Rights and Duties of Belligerent and Neutral Powers, in Maritime Affairs, by Robert Ward, Esq., Barrister at Law, (London, 1801,) p. 166.
2 Commentaries upon International Law, Vol. III. p. 282.
3 Ibid., p. 427.
4 Phases et Causes Célèbres. Tom. II. p. 407.
"If I wished for a guide in a system of neutrality, I should take that laid down by America in the days of the Presidency of Washington and the Secretaryship of Jefferson."1
These testimonies may be fitly concluded by the words of Mr. Rush, so long our Minister in England, who records with just pride the honor accorded to our doctrines on neutral duties:
'They are doctrines that will probably receive more and more approbation from all nations as time goes on, and continues to bring with it, as we may reasonably hope, further meliorations to the code of war. They are as replete with in ternational wisdom as with American dignity and spirit. ....
"Come what may in the future, we can never be deprived of this inheritance. It is a proud and splendid inheritance." 2
Such is the great and honest fame already achieved by our Republic in upholding neutral duties. No victory in our history has conferred equal renown. Surely you are not ready to forget the precious inheritance. No, Sir, let us guard it as one of the best possessions of our common country,-guard it loyally, so that it shall continue without diminution or spot. Here there must be no backward step. Not Backward, but Forward, must be our watchword in the march of civilization.
I am now brought to that other branch of the subject which concerns directly the conduct of our officials; and here my purpose is to simplify the question. Therefore I shall avoid details, which have occupied the Senate for days; and I put aside the apparent discre
1 Speech on the Report of the Foreign Enlistment Bill, April 16, 1823: Hansard's Parliamentary Debates, N. S., Vol. VIII. col. 1056.
2 Occasional Productions, pp. 176, 177. See the letter to William H. Trescott upon Public and Diplomatic Subjects.
pancy between the Annual Report of the War Department and the Annual Report of the Treasurer, which has been satisfactorily explained on this floor, so that this ground of inquiry is removed. I bring the case to certain heads, which, taken together in their mass, make it impossible for us to avoid inquiry, without leaving the Government or some of its officials exposed to serious suspicion. Now, as at the beginning, I make no accusation against any officer of our Government, none against the President, none against the Secretary of War; but I exhibit reasons for the present proceeding.
The case naturally opens with the resolution of the Committee of the French Assembly, asking the United States "to furnish the result of the inquiry into the conduct of American officials who were suspected of participating in the purchase of arms for the French Government during the war." This seems to have been adopted as late as February 9th last past. At least it appears in the cable dispatch of that date. From this resolution three things are manifest: first, that the sale of arms by our Government is occupying the attention of the French Legislature; secondly, that American officials are suspected of participating in the purchase for the French Government; and, thirdly, that it is supposed that our Government has instituted an inquiry into the
This resolution is, I believe, without precedent. I recall no other instance where a foreign legislative as
1 This dispatch, after remaining unquestioned for more than a month and for several weeks after the date of this speech, was finally contradicted by the French authorities. See Telegram from Minister Washburne to Secretary Fish, March 19, and Note from the French Chargé at Washington, M. de Bellonet, to same, March 30, 1872: Report of Committee on Sale of Ordnance Stores, Senate Reports, 421 Cong. 2d Sess., No. 183, pp. 524, 604.
sembly has made any inquiry into the conduct of the officials of another country. If this were done in an inimical or even a critical spirit, it might, perhaps, be dismissed with indifference. But France, once in our history an all-powerful ally, is now a friendly power, with which we are in the best relations. Any movement on her part with regard to the conduct of our officials must be received according to the rules of comity and good-will. It cannot be disregarded. It ought to be anticipated. This resolution alone would. justify inquiry on our part.
Passing to evidence, I come to the telegraphic dispatch of Squire, son-in-law and agent of Remington, actually addressed in French cipher to the latter in France, under date of October 8, 1870. Though brief, it is most important:
"We have the strongest influences working for us, which will use all their efforts to succeed."
Considering the writer of this dispatch, his family and business relations with Remington, to whom it was addressed, it is difficult to regard it except as a plain revelation of actual facts. It was important that Remington should know the precise condition of things. His son-in-law and agent telegraphs that "the strongest influences" are at work for them. What can this mean? Surely here is no broker or arms-merchant, engaged in the course of business. It is something else, plainly something else. What? That is the point for inquiry. Mr. Squire is an American citizen. Let him be examined and cross-examined, under oath. Let him disclose what he meant by "the strongest influences." He could not have intended to deceive his father-in-law, and puff
himself. He was doubtless in earnest. Did he deceive himself? On this he is a witness. But until those words are so far explained as to show that they do not point to officials, the natural inference is that it was on them that he relied, that they were "the strongest influences" by which the job was to be carried through; for, of course, it was a job which he announced.
It cannot be doubted that this dispatch of Mr. Squire by itself alone is enough to justify inquiry. Without the resolution of the French Assembly, and without the supplementary testimony to be adduced, it throws a painful suspicion upon our officials, which should compel them to explain.
But the letter of Mr. Remington, already adduced, 1 carries this suspicion still further, by adding his positive testimony that he dealt with the Government. Before referring again to this testimony, it is important to consider the character of the witness; and here we have the authentication of the Secretary of War, who has recommended and indorsed him, in a formal paper to be used in France. Others may question the statements of Mr. Remington, but no person speaking for the Secretary will hesitate to accept them. If the testimony of the Secretary needed support, it would be found in the open declarations on this floor by the Senator from New York [Mr. CONKLING], and in the following letter, which the Senator dated from the Senate Chamber during the recess, when notoriously the Senate was not in session :
1 Speech of February 14th: Congressional Globe, 42d Cong. 2d Sess., pp. 1008, 1013. This important letter may be found in the Report of the Select Committee on the Sales of Ordnance Stores by the United States Government during the Fiscal Year 1871-72: Senate Reports, 42 Cong. 2d Sess., No. 183.