Mr. Sanford to Mr. Seward.


No. 10.]

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.

* * * * * *

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,



Belgium has given its adhesion to the principles laid down in the declaration of the congress of Paris of April 16, 1856. This adhesion was published, together with said declaration, in the Belgian Moniteur of June 8, 1856.

The commercial public is notified that instructions on this subject have been given to the judicial, maritime, and military authorities, warning them that privateers, under whatever flag or commission, or letters of marque, are not to be allowed to enter our ports except in case of imminent perils of the sea. The aforesaid authorities are charged, consequently, to keep a strict watch upon all such privateers and their prizes, and to compel them to put to sea again as soon as practicable.

The same authorities have been charged not to recognize the validity of any commission or letter of marque whatsoever.

All persons subject to the laws of Belgium, who shall fit out or take any part in any privateering expedition, will therefore expose themselves to the danger, on the one hand, of being treated as pirates abroad, and, on the other, to prosecution before Belgian tribunals with all the rigor of the laws.