Mr. Seward to Mr. Dayton

No. 455.]

Sir: Your despatch No. 393 has been received. It is hoped that the insurgent vessel Rappahannock will be arrested as you anticipate.

The remarks of Mr. Drouyn de l’Huys in his note to you of the 23d ult., in regard to complainta of French subjects against the United States, are somewhat surprising. Most of the claimants are believed to have been residents of insurgent territory. France, by recognizing the insurgents as belligerents, may be expected to have accepted all the responsibility of that measure, and to be content to regard her subjects domiciled in belligerent territory as identified with belligerents themselves. There can be no question as to the applicability of this rule to domiciled merchants, and the reasons for its applicability to that class seem to be sufficient for it to embrace all aliens who reside in an enemy’s country for the purpose of carrying on business of any kind. Waiving for the present, however, any further consideration of this point, the fact that we have long since proposed to the French government a convention for the adjustment of the claims of their subjects, and that this proposition is still pending, would seem to have made untimely reference to the matter in connexion with the case of the Rappahannock. It will also have been noticed that the President, in his last annual message, has recommended the establishment of a special tribunal for the settlement of claims of foreigners which have originated since the commencement of the war in this country. It is expected that the measure will receive full effect at the hands of Congress.

Your obedient servant,


William L. Dayton Esq., &c., &c., &c.