Mr. Seward to Sir F. Bruce

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 7th instant, which is accompanied by a copy of a despatch which was addressed to you by Lord Stanley on the 30th of November. In that communication Lord Stanley sets forth the views taken by her Majesty’s government of the so-called Alabama claims, presented in my despatch to Mr. Adams, No. 1835, and concludes with proposing the principle of arbitration, attended with some modification, in regard to those claims. You inquire whether the government of the United States is prepared to accept that principle as contained in that despatch. I have the honor to say in reply that, following the course of proceeding which has hitherto prevailed, I have to-day communicated in a despatch to Mr. Adams the views of this government concerning the question which you propound, and have instructed him to submit a copy* of the same to Lord Stanley. I cheerfully give you, however, a copy of that paper for your information. Her Majesty’s government will learn from it that this government will expect a further communication from them before deciding the question of accepting the principle of arbitration. You also inquire whether, in the event of an understanding being come to between the two governments as to the manner in which the special American claims alluded to in my despatch No. 1835, and in Lord Stanley’s answer thereto, this government would be willing to enter into a convention for a mixed commission upon the general claims of the subjects and citizens of the two countries not involved in that correspondence, such convention to be independent and separate from but simultaneous with the completion of an understanding in regard to the disposition of the special claims. On this point I have the honor to reply that, although this latter question must, under present circumstances, be held in reserve, yet it will be cheerfully taken into consideration when we shall have been favored with the further views of her Majesty’s government upon the special matters under discussion, and shall thus be enabled to determine the probabilities of effecting a final arrangement for a settlement of those special claims.

I have, &c,


Sir Frederick W. A. Bruce, &c., &c., &c.

  1. For this enclosure see instruction to Mr. Adams, No. 1906, January 12, 1867, page 45.