Mr. Seward to Mr. Webb

No. 66.]

Sir: Your despatch of the 7th of May (No. 47) has been received.

I esteem it a pleasing circumstance that it brought the first information which the department has received of the abuses of the flag of Brazil and the violation of our own rights committed by the pirate Alabama at Fernando de Noronha. The painful impressions which these transactions have made were thus alleviated by the extraordinary diligence exercised on your part in bringing the transaction home to the knowledge of the Emperor’s government, and by the prompt, just, and friendly proceedings which that government has adopted.

You cannot express too strongly to the Duke d’Abrantes the satisfaction with which the President regards these proceedings. They are in the very spirit which, from the beginning of your mission, we have thought ought to be maintained in the intercourse of Brazil with the United States as a friendly American power.

I forbear from raising the question whether indemnities will be due to the United States for the losses and injuries inflicted upon their citizens until we shall have received more authentic information of the circumstances which attended the transaction.

Your suggestions for an increase of our naval force in the waters of Brazil have been referred to the Secretary of the Navy, and will receive attentive consideration.

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When Congress shall have assembled, the President will probably submit to it the importance of developing our commerce with Brazil.

I have just learned, with sincere regret, of the interruption of diplomatic intercourse between the Emperor’s government and that of Great Britain, and I sincerely hope that it may not be followed by any serious results or even be long continued. I am authorized to say, through you, to the Duke d’Abrantes that if it shall be thought that the good offices of this government would be useful in forwarding a reconciliation upon terms honorable to both parties, those good offices will be freely rendered. It would be to the President a pleasing duty to facilitate in that way, or in any other, the interests of Brazil.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


James Watson Webb, Esq., &c., &c., &c.