Mr. Seward to Mr. Pike.
Sir: Your despatch of April 16,1862, (No. 46,) conveying the reply of the minister of foreign affairs for the kingdom of the Netherlands to your suggestion of a modification of their decree extending shelter in the ports of that country and its dependencies to piratical vessels engaged in depredating on the commerce of the United States, has been received.
Certain maritime powers, of which the Netherlands is one, precipitately conceded belligerent rights to a faction in this country that had not at the time put a single war vessel afloat, and offered the shelter and hospitalities of their harbors to the corsairs, three or four of which, in the course of the year, that faction sent forth to destroy our commerce, until, at last, not one such enemy remains at sea, nor is there left a harbor on the whole of our three thousand miles of coast where an insurgent can enter or from which he could escape. The government of the Netherlands, when this unfriendly policy is a second time brought home to its knowledge, insists that it cannot be relinquished. In the meantime the apparent suppression of the piratical practices of the insurgents, which has been already effected by this government, has rendered the question at issue between us and the Netherlands [Page 608] an abstraction. We may, therefore, probably remain content with the assurance of the Netherlands that they will not suffer their harbors to be made a basis for maritime war against the United States.
It remains therefore only to protest against the decision of the Netherlands government, and to refer the difference to the candid judgment of mankind. It will be in any case consoling to the American people to reflect that in maintaining their maritime independence they have come under so few new obligations to friendly powers.
You may make these sentiments of the President known to the minister for foreign affairs.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
James S. Pike, Esq., &c., &c., &c.