Mr. Portman to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith, inclosure No. 1, copy of the affidavit of Mr. George Lewis Squires, an American citizen and a pilot for this port, setting forth that, while cruising outside the bay on the 6th instant, he was suddenly attacked by his crew and narrowly escaped death, this crew consisting of four native sailors, leaving, with his boat and all he possessed, for parts unknown.
He was picked up by a native fishing-boat and landed at Misaki, and after traveling on foot in his disabled condition from that place to Yokohama, a distance of about forty miles, he reached here on the 8th instant, in a pitiable state.[Page 626]
After having his wounds dressed, he proceeded to the consulate for the purpose of obtaining redress and the recovery of his property.
Mr. Stahel being absent on a visit to Hiogo and Osaka, he made his statement to Mr. Jay, an American merchant, who is temporarily acting as consul at this port. This gentlemen omitted to give me any notice, and it was not before the 10th instant that I heard of the outrage. I immediately called at the consulate, and then learned that on the previous day (the 9th) Mr. Squires’s case had been brought to the notice of the local authorities, it being supposed that he was an American, as he asserted.
As soon as convinced of his nationality, I caused his affidavit to be taken, and also procured a certificate from his surgeon, copy of which I herewith transmit, inclosure No. 2. This was done with all possible dispatch. When furnished with these documents, on the 11th instant, I addressed a letter to the Sorogin and minister for foreign affairs, copy of which I also transmit, inclosure No. 3, urging the immediate issue of orders for the arrest of the criminals and the recovery of the boat and other property, in order that this matter might be fully and promptly investigated.
To see the minister at his residence in Yedo would have involved delay, as personages of that rank still hedge themselves in with many ceremonies and formalities, and a notice of twenty-four hours at least is required before an interview can be obtained. I was well aware that the jurisdiction of the governors of a port does not extend beyond the treaty limits, and at an interview I had with the local governor on Monday, the 13th instant, he readily admitted that such was the case. On that occasion the governor also informed me that on the previous day, (the 12th,) thus three days after he received the first notice of the outrage from the consulate, he had dispatched an officer to the province of Idsu; and further, if necessary, to request the local authorities to lend their aid in procuring the arrest of the boatmen and the recovery of the boat. On the way this officer met a messenger, from whom he learned that a boat and two sailers had been taken in charge at Atami, in the province of Idsu, and it was hoped that this boat and the sailors might be identified by Mr. Squires as those his officer was in search of. The boat and the prisoners would be sent to this port as soon as possible.
The Sorogin can order where a governor only can request, and it was with great pleasure, therefore, that I received a letter from the Yedo governor of Kanagawa, by order of the Sorogin, stating that the orders applied for had been issued.
Five days have now elapsed, however, and neither boat nor the arrested boatmen have as yet made their appearance.
The return of Mr. Stahel, our consul, is now daily expected, and I hope still to be able to inform you by this mail that the prisoners and the property have arrived here, and that a commencement with the investigation of this matter has been made in a proper manner.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.