Mr. Morris to Mr. Seward
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the circular announcing the approaching departure of Rear-Admiral Goldsborough as commander of the United States squadron in European waters, and that he is instructed not to enter any port, unless absolutely necessary, where belligerent privileges may be extended to the United States rebels, &c. In this connexion I beg leave to refer to my despatch of May 6, 1862, enclosing a copy of the vizerial order addressed to all the public functionaries of the Sublime Porte on the sea-coast of the Ottoman empire. That order was to the following effect:
“Sublime Porte, Chiral 24, 1278—(April 23, 1862.)
“Excellency: According to the principles of international rights established in the late treaty at the conference held in Paris, the use of ships-of-war and other vessels as privateers (Korsan) was entirely abolished by all the great powers therein represented.
“The legation of the United States of America has now requested that, conformably with the preceding, instructions be given by the Sublime Porte to its functionaries on the sea-coast of the empire, for the purpose of maintaining the principle adopted as aforesaid. As it has therefore been here deemed necessary, in view of said principle, that effectual measures should be taken to prevent vessels of the United States of America from being exposed to injury in any of the ports and waters of the Ottoman dominions by privateers such as those alluded to, your excellency will, in case any privateers or armed vessels preying on the commerce of the United States attempt to enter them, with or without prize, adopt such means as will prevent them from carrying the design into execution.”
The above order was drawn up at my request, and with the understanding that it was intended to be a denial of belligerent rights to the United States rebels, and as a sign of the determination of the Turkish government to discountenance the hostile designs of the rebels against the integrity of the republic of the United States. The government of the Sultan never recognized the rebels as belligerents, notwithstanding the example of England and France, nor did it at any time, directly or indirectly, manifest any sympathy with their efforts for the destruction of the American Union. During the whole period of the war the war vessels of the United States enjoyed unlimited hospitality of the Turkish ports, and they were never put upon a level with the rebel cruisers, and subject to an odious and unjust restriction of twenty-four hours’ stay in the harbors of this empire. The above order was issued in good faith, and it would have been enforced to its full extent had an occasion required it.
It gives me pleasure, now that the war is over, to refer to these facts. Considering the power of English and French influence at this court, it seems to me that the policy of the Ottoman government, with respect to the United States during the recent civil war, is one that does it infinite credit, and is a striking exhibition of political courage in behalf of a government whose friendship it has always cherished. There is no necessity, therefore, on the part of the Turkish government to issue a proclamation withdrawing belligerent rights from the United States rebels, for it never conceded any to them.[Page 298]
Rear-Admiral Goldsborough, should he honor the waters and harbors of Turkey with a visit of the squadron under his command, will be received with the highest honors, and with a cordiality of feeling indicative of the sympathy of this government with the cause he has so gallantly sustained in hostile waters during the last four years.
With great respect, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.