Mr. Harvey to Mr. Seward
Sir: Immediately upon the receipt of your despatch, enclosing the President’s proclamation in regard to the harboring or giving hospitality to insurgent cruisers, I transmit a copy of the same with a note, of which a copy is herewith enclosed, to the minister of foreign affairs, stating at the same time that the proclamation of July 29, 1861, if properly enforced, would give the necessary protection in this respect.
Count d’Avila, in order, as he supposed, to comply fully with the wishes of our government, directed a new portaria or decree to be issued, enjoining the strict and continued execution of the proclamation, as will be seen by his note to me and its enclosure.
As the proclamation of 1861 did nothing more than reaffirm the adhesion of this government to that clause of the treaty of Paris of 1856, by which the arming and equipment of privateers and the sale of prizes made by them in Portuguese ports was prohibited, I have not thought it necessary to ask for its revocation, which I am sure would be at once granted, if desired. But if the department entertains any other view upon this subject, I will be most happy to carry out its instruction, or to adopt whatever policy may be considered as most wise and proper.
It may be observed in this connexion, that the proclamation of 1861 was issued at my own instance, and was suggested as a means of preventing a concession of belligerent rights, such as had been then just proclaimed by nearly all the maritime powers, and the example of which Portugal was then and afterwards hard pressed to follow. That proceeding kept the ports open and unrestricted to our ships-of-war, avoided any application of the 24-hours rule, and was materially serviceable in arresting the schemes of public enemies who expected to use the mid-ocean islands and the secluded harbors of the coast for hostile enterprises.
The government co-operated to the extent of its ability, and with sincere good will, in efforts to stop all abuses of hospitality, and often seconded my endeavors when there were no United States ships-of-war at hand, by despatching their own vessels to exposed points in order to protect our commerce and to prevent intended depredations.
Considering the relation of this country to other powers, and its peculiar circumstances, it is barely justice to say, that the conduct of Portugal towards the United States, during the whole period of the late civil strife, was exceptionally [Page 133] friendly and stands out in marked contrast to that of various states, which seem to claim and receive credit for rescinding concessions, that largely contributed to the moral and material support of the rebellion during its existence. And this is the more proper to be said, since there appears to be a disposition to depreciate and disparage that conduct by those who are either ignorant of or indifferent to the facts.
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.