Mr. Haldeman to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch (No. 28) of May 15, also circular (No. 26) of May 9.
Incidentally referring to the subject-matter of the proclamation in my last interview with Count Manderstrom, he said that his governmnet could take [Page 1315] no exception to it. Count Piper had applied for instruction, and was advised by his government that all Swedes or Norwegians “who had declared on oath their intention to become citizens of the United States, under the laws thereof,” had forfeited all claim to protection from the laws of their native country, and were aliens. By the laws of Sweden a subject who had taken oath of allegiance to a foreign power, or potentate, on return to Sweden cannot resume his citizenship, except by special patent from the King, based on application, narrating all the facts, with oath of allegiance.
The Ward Jackson, the vessel that was driven into the harbor of Malmo by a Russian cruiser, with the Polish insurgents, has been delivered up by this government to the claimants, Joseph Spence, William S. Leug, and Alex. Kyd Curtis, on the allegation that the steamer was chartered by them for what they considered and believed was a legitimate voyage. The English government took no part through their embassy, and in no way assisted the claimants. I have no doubt the government of Sweden were controlled in their decision partly in deference to public opinion, but more in a spirit of bravado, the expression of hereditary hate: “we fear not Russia—care not for her good will.” It is said that if the arms are claimed by a proper owner, they also will be restored. The Russian minister informed me that Count Manderstrom intimated as much to him.
On the 5th of this month the insurgent Poles, about 100 in number, commanded by Colonel Lapinski, left Malmo, Sweden, in a small vessel, the Fulton, (provided by government,) for Copenhagen, there changed to an English schooner, bound ostensibly for England; near the island of Gothland, on the east coast of Sweden, changed to a Danish vessel, and at Polengen, 25 miles from Memel, on the coast of Ruthenia, attempted a landing. Twenty-four were drowned; the rest driven back to the vessel. The above arrived by telegram yesterday. Ruthenia, now the province of Korno, was part of the ancient Polish monarchy before the first partition of 1772, 1773.
Of course, this may subject the government of Sweden to severe comment; having harbored the insurgents for months, they were then examined so carelessly as to depart from Malmo with arms. But, as the Poles have the sympathy of most of Europe, except Prussia, who, after Russia, is considered the greatest enemy of Scandinavia, at least of Sweden, the nation and government are indifferent. To me it seems that a numerically small power ought to be most rigid and tenacious in the strict observance of international law, especially when bounded by powerful, and, as they believe, aggressive neighbors.
I remain your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, U. S. A.