Mr. Sanford to Mr. Seward.
Brussels, July 2, 1861.
Sir: Referring to a conversation detailed in my despatch. No. 9, I have the honor to enclose a notice published in the official journal (the Moniteur) of the 25th ultimo, in which, basing its action upon the stipulations of the declaration of the congress of Paris of April 16, 1856, it is announced that instructions have been addressed to the judicial, maritime, and military authorities to inform them that privateers of no nation or flag, alone or with their prizes, will be permitted, save in cases of extreme danger by stress of weather, to enter the ports of Belgium; enjoining upon them to recognize no commission or letter of marque as having validity; and warning all subject to the Belgian laws that in taking part or service in any privateers they incur risk of being treated as pirates abroad, and of being prosecuted with the utmost rigor of the laws at home. In thanking the acting minister for this prompt response to my request, I observed that while this was sufficient, in so far as it went, for the occasion that called it forth—as we had, and expected to have, no privateers upon the sea at this time—still, so long as we were not a party to the declaration of Paris, the employment of privateers by the United States was undoubtedly as much a belligerent right as the employment of militia on land; and in the event of a foreign war we should expect, on the part of friendly powers, no such impediment to its exercise by any injurious distinction between it and the other arms of the public service.
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I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,