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