Mr. Webb to Mr. Seward

No. 50.]

Sir: I enclose herewith three despatches to the secretary of foreign affairs, numbered, respectively, 1, 2, and 3, according to date. You will perceive that two of them have reference to the presence of the pirates Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, in Brazilian ports.

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I also forward a copy of a despatch from the Marquis d’Abrantes, marked No. 4, dated May 29, in response to mine of the 27th.

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I have the honor, &c.,


Hon. William H. Seward, &c., &c., &c.

[Page 1276]

Mr. Webb to the Marquis d’Abrantes

The undersigned, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary from the United States, has the honor to report to his excellency the Marquis d’Abrantes, counsellor to his Imperial Majesty and secretary of state for foreign affairs, that on the 20th instant, in the evening, the pirates Alabama and Georgia were still in the port of Bahia. The Alabama arrived there on the 11th and the Georgia on the evening of the 12th, so that the former had been in Bahia nine days, harbored, protected, and supplied with the necessary stores and provisions by the authorities of that port, in defiance of the solemn protest of the consul of the United States, and in utter disregard of the well-known fact that this pirate had captured and destroyed American shipping in the waters of Brazil; and for so doing, thereby violating the neutrality and insulting the sovereignty of the empire, had been ordered by the president of Pernambuco to leave the island of Fernando Noronha.

The pirate Georgia having arrived at Bahia on the 12th, had been in that port eight days, receiving coal and such stores and provisions as were necessary to enable her to continue her depredations upon the unprotected commerce of a friendly nation; and both the pirates landed a large number of prisoners, with the sanction and aid of the governor, proclaiming them to be the passengers, officers, and crews of unarmed American merchantmen, trading with Brazil and other friendly nations, which had been captured and destroyed by the freebooters, who were so kindly received and harbored by the authorities and inhabitants of Bahia. And in the streets and on the wharves of that city, with the knowledge and approval of the president and authorities, the freebooters of both the piratical vessels publicly hawked about and sold the articles of clothing and bijouterie of which they had pillaged and robbed the defenceless females and other passengers, as well as the officers and crews, of the American ships they had burned and destroyed at sea.

By arrangement the English bark Castor arrived at Bahia almost simultaneously with the two pirates, having on board coal shipped for them at Liverpool, to be delivered to them in the port of Bahia; and it was publicly remarked that, in addition to coal for the pirates, she had also on board two guns of 125-pound calibre each, and other munitions of war. Thereupon the consul of the United States represented the facts to the president, suggesting that a guard should be placed on board said bark Castor, and she be prohibited from going alongside of the pirates, particularly at night, to discharge into them her coals and munitions of war, in violation of the neutrality of Brazil. This protest the president acknowledged to have received at 6 p. m. on the day it was written, and yet on that same night the said bark Castor was permitted to go alongside the Georgia, and only ordered to leave her on the following morning, when, of course, she had accomplished her purpose of going alongside, whatever that purpose was.

These facts, in the opinion of the undersigned, are calculated very seriously to compromise the government of Brazil and the cordial relations existing between it and the United States, and they are placed before your excellency in the hope and belief that the president of Bahia will be so dealt with by the imperial government, without any specific demand from the undersigned, that he may call the attention of his government to the proceeding, as another evidence of the desire of Brazil to maintain, unimpaired, [Page 1277] the very cordial and friendly relations now existing with the United States. And he avails himself of this occasion to renew to your excellency the assurances of his most distinguished consideration.


The Marquis d’Abrantes, &c., &c., &c.


The Marquis d’Abrantes to General Webb

Fulfilling the duty of acknowledging the reception of the note, dated the 27th of the present month, which Señor James Watson Webb, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary from the United States, has done me the honor of sending me, in this city, for the purpose of exclaiming against the recent facts which he states to have been done by the president of the province of Bahia, in violation of the neutrality of the empire, in favor of the confederate steamers Alabama and Georgia, I take upon me, in answer, to assure Señor Webb that, giving my whole and due consideration to these allegations, as soon as shall have arrived the information in regard to the matters claimed to have been done by the aforesaid president, the imperial government, as I have informed General Webb in my note of the 23d of the current month, will not hesitate to proceed in conformity with the position it has assumed and to which it is bound.

I renew to James Watson Webb the expressions of my high consideration.


General James Watson Webb, Envoy Extraordinary, &c., &c., &c., to the Court of Brazil.