No. 26.
Mr. Fish to General Schenck.


The President regrets that Her Majesty’s Government have not thought proper to make the proposal mentioned in my telegram to you of 27th April, which this Government had been led to hope might afford a solution of the differences between the two Governments with regard to the arbitration now pending under the Treaty of Washington. The nature and terms of the proposition contained in your telegram of 30th April are such that it cannot justify his assent.

He cannot assent to any proposition which by implication or inference withdraws any part of the claims, or of the Case of this Government, from the consideration of the Tribunal. The British Government proposes that the views heretofore presented by them, that certain of the claims put forth by the United States are not within the province of the Tribunal, be continued as their principle of action and conduct, and that in recognition of such principle an assurance be reciprocally given by both parties.

The United States do not entertain the views thus presented by Her Majesty’s Government, and cannot enter into an assurance on the basis [Page 485] of such principle. The proposal limits the agreement of the British Government to a stipulation not to advance claims of that nature in similar cases and similar circumstances. No two cases are similar, and circumstances similar to those arising during the rebellion cannot occur to Great Britain; consequently the terms of the proposed agreement guarantee nothing to this Government.

The proposal prevents any expression of opinion or of judgment by the Tribunal on the class of claims referred to, and thus virtually denies what this Government believes—that the Tribunal has jurisdiction over all the claims which have been put forth. Under these circumstances the President is compelled to adhere to the opinion that it is within the province of the Arbitrators at Geneva to consider all the claims, and to determine the liability of Great Britain for all the claims which have been put forward by the United States.