No. 267.

Mr. M. M. Jackson to Mr. Dish.

No. 300.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith copies of a correspondence with Vice-Admiral George Greville Wellesley, respecting supplies to American fishermen in colonial ports.

[Page 425]

The contradictory reports in circulation in reference to the orders given by the vice-admiral and the frequent applications made to me by American citizens engaged in the ocean fisheries for information on the subject rendered the correspondence necessary.

It will be seen by the vice-admiral’s communication that for the first time since the treaty of peace in 1815 have the imperial authorities prohibited ice, bait, or other supplies from being furnished in the colonial ports to American fishermen engaged in the deep-sea or ocean fisheries. And this prohibition, so extraordinary and unprecedented, was neither announced nor enforced, either by the imperial or Dominion authorities, until after the commencement of the fishing season, when our vessels were on their voyages to the fishing grounds.

In my judgment the grounds upon which the prohibition is sought to be justified by the vice-admiral are wholly untenable, and arise from a total misconception of the objects, purposes, and intent of the treaty of 1818. That treaty was adopted exclusively for the purpose of settling certain differences and disputes between the United States and Great Britain, respecting the “liberty claimed by the United States to take, dry, and cure fish on certain coasts, bays, harbors, and creeks of her Britannic Majesty’s dominions in America.” It made no reference to and did not attempt to regulate the deep-sea fisheries, which were open to all the world, and over which Great Britain had not, at the time of the adoption of the treaty, and has not now, any more control than the United States.

It is obvious that the words “and for no other purpose whatever,” used in the treaty of 1818, immediately after the clause declaring that “the American fishermen shall be admitted to enter such bays or harbors for the purpose of shelter and of repairing damages therein, of purchasing wood and of obtaining water,” must be construed to apply solely to such purposes as are in contravention of the treaty; namely, to purposes connected with the taking, drying, or curing fish within three marine miles of certain coasts, and not in any manner to supplies intended for the ocean fisheries, with which the treaty had no connection; supplies which ever have been and ever must be legitimate articles of trade and commerce, and which cannot, it appears to me, be prohibited in a time of peace, either by the imperial or Dominion authorities, without violating the usages of civilized and enlightened nations.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

M. M. JACKSON, United States Consul.

Mr. Jackson to Vice-Admiral Wellesley.

Sir: I perceive it is stated in one of the morning papers of this city that an order has been transmitted from the Canadian authorities prohibiting American fishing vessels from obtaining any supplies in the ports of the British North American provinces. If any such order has been received by your excellency, will you be kind enough to furnish me a copy thereof?

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

M. M. JACKSON, United States Consul.

His Excellency Vice-Admiral Wellesley, C. B., &c., &c., &c.

[Page 426]

Vice-Admiral George G. Wellesley to Mr. M. M. Jackson.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of yesterday’s date, and to inform you, in reply, that I have not seen the statement in the morning papers alluded to; and as such an order would probably have been addressed by the Dominion government to its own officers, I can only suggest that an application should be made to the Dominion government for the information required.

I have the honor to be, sir, your very obedient servant,

GEORGE G. WELLESLEY, Vice-Admiral.

Mr. M. M. Jackson to Vice-Admiral Wellesley.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of yesterday, suggesting an application to the Dominion authorities for the in formation which I requested.

I addressed you under the impression that the imperial and Dominion authorities were coöperating and acting under the same orders, regulations, and instructions in reference to all matters connected with the protection of the in-shore fisheries.

As American fishermen are almost daily visiting this port on their way to the fishing banks, it becomes a matter of great importance to them to know whether any orders have been issued by your excellency, as the representative of the imperial government, to prevent them from obtaining such supplies as have been customary, both before and since the treaty of 1818, in all the ports of the British North American provinces.

Since addressing you I have understood that the commanders of her Majesty’s vessels, acting under the authority of your excellency, have notified American fishermen bound to the fishing banks that they would not be permitted to procure ice or other supplies in any of the colonial ports, and that any attempt to procure such supplies would subject their vessels and cargoes to seizure and confiscation.

As consul of the United States I am frequently applied to by American citizens engaged in the deep-sea fisheries for information on this subject. To enable me to give such information I have respectfully to request you to furnish me with copies of any orders issued by your excellency in relation to supplies to American fishermen.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

M. M. JACKSON, United States Consul.

Vice-Admiral Wellesley to Mr. M. M. Jackson.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of yesterday’s date, in which you request me to furnish you with copies of any orders I have issued in relation to supplies to American fishermen, and, in reply, to state that copies of my instructions to the officers under my orders were transmitted to her Majesty’s minister at Washington, and were by him communicated, by the orders of her Majesty’s government, to the United States Secretary of State.

Although it is not within the scope of my authority to furnish you with these documents, I may state in general terms, which will probably be sufficient for the purpose you have in view, that the duty enjoined on the commanding officers of her Majesty’s ships is to prevent any infringement of the arrangements agreed on between the two governments in respect of the fisheries in the treaty of 1818. That treaty expressly defines the purposes for which alone United States fishing vessels are to be allowed to enter ports within certain limits. The words used are as follows:

Provided, however, That the American fishermen shall be admitted to enter such bays or harbors for the purpose of shelter and repairing damages therein, of purchasing wood and of obtaining water, and for no other purpose whatever. But they shall be under such restrictions as may be necessary to prevent their taking, drying, or curing fish therein, or in any other manner whatever abusing the privileges hereby reserved to them.”

It appears to me that the expression “for no other purpose whatever” excludes them from procuring ice, bait, or other supplies, and the officers have, therefore, in my judgment, properly notified American fishermen against any attempt to infringe the treaty, [Page 427]and, by so doing, also disobey the British and colonial laws in reference thereto, in which the very same terms are used.

I have the honor to be, sir, your very obedient servant,

GEORGE G. WELLESLEY, Vice-Admiral