No. 20.
Mr. Fish to General Schenck.


You are aware that neither in the Case presented in behalf of this Government at Geneva nor in the instructions to you have the United States asked for pecuniary damages on account of that part of the Alabama claims called the indirect losses, which the British Government think are not within the province of the Tribunal. We think it essential, however, that the question be decided whether claims of that nature can in the future be advanced against the United States as a neutral by Great Britain when the latter is a belligerent; for if Great Britain is to be at liberty when a belligerent to advance claims for indirect losses or injuries against this country, then our claims must be maintained and we must press for compensation.

A conversation with Sir Edward Thornton induces the belief that the [Page 478] British Government may make a proposal to you to the effect that Her Majesty’s Government engages and stipulates that in the future, should Great Britain he a belligerent and this country neutral, and should there be any failure on the part of the United States to observe their neutral obligations, Great Britain will make or advance no complaints or claims against the United States by reason or on account of any indirect, remote, or consequential results of such failure; and that, in consideration of such stipulation, the United States shall not press for a pecuniary award of damages before the Geneva Tribunal on account of the claims respecting which Great Britain has expressed the opinion that they are not included in the submission, namely, the transfer of the American shipping, increased insurance, and the prolongation of the war.

Should a proposal to this effect be made by the British Government, the President will assent to it, it being understood that there is no withdrawal of any part of the American Case, but an agreement not to demand damages on account of the claims referred to, leaving the Tribunal to make such expression of opinion as it may think proper on that question.

It is presumed that such an agreement may be carried into effect by an exchange of notes.