Mr. Seward to Mr. Webb.

No. 69.]

Sir: Your despatch of the 23d of May (No. 47) has been received, together with its accompaniment, viz: a correspondence that has taken place between [Page 1279] yourself and his Imperial Majesty’s minister for foreign affairs on the subject of certain favors which were recently extended in the ports of Bahia and Pernambuco to the piratical vessels Alabama and Florida. This government had already been informed of the injurious proceedings referred to, by the United States consuls residing in those ports. Your proceedings in that respect are approved, as is also the demand which you addressed to the minister for foreign affairs for redress and satisfaction.

It affords me much pleasure to say that the President is gratified with the just and liberal spirit which pervades the reply of the Marquis d’Abrantes, and confidently expects that the satisfaction which you have asked will be promptly accorded. Nevertheless, in making this acknowledgment to the marquis, you must at the same time inform him that this government expects that an end shall be made of the practices of the presidents of provinces of which those now complained of are only new repetitions.

It would not be becoming to add here an explanation of the specific measures to which this government may be expected to resort for the rescue of its commerce from the depredations which it is suffering through the erroneous and unfriendly action of nations with which the United States are at peace. I may properly say, however, that if nations shall, in violation of our rights, suffer their ports to become bases for the operations of pirates against us, we shall adopt such remedies as the laws of self-defence allow. It is the earnest desire of the United States to remain at peace with all nations. We have sought, especially, to deserve the friendship of Brazil, and shall persevere in that friendly policy so long as the Emperor shall accord to us commercial and national rights, which are not less essential to Brazil and all the other American states than to ourselves.

The violations on our commercial and maritime rights by British subjects in British ports, to which you have alluded, still remain a subject of discussion with her Majesty’s government; and it is hoped that, although it is attended by much embarrassment, a satisfactory understanding will be attained.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


James Watson Webb, Esq.