No. 30.
Sir E. Thornton to Earl Granville.1


[From British Blue Book “North America,” No. 9, (1872,) p. 5.]

I called upon Mr. Fish on the 2d instant and learned from him that he had on the previous day received a telegram from General Schenck, which, however, was so unintelligible that he had been obliged to telegraph back that it should be repeated.

Mr. Fish, however, seemed to have made out enough of the telegram to have discovered the wish of Her Majesty’s Government that the claims for indirect damages should not be submitted at all to the Tribunal of Arbitration even as an abstract question, or for the purpose of obtaining an opinion upon them. With reference to this point Mr. Fish said that it was impossible for the United States Government to agree to withdraw those claims, though it might consent to ask no money compensation for them; for that, even if it were true that it was in error in supposing that they were included in the Treaty, though he insisted that they were so included, no nation which had any respect for itself could consent to withdraw claims which had been formally presented after due reflection.

Mr. Fish told me that he should, after consulting with the President, instruct General Schenck that, however anxious his Government was that the arbitration should proceed, it could not recede from any part of the Case which had been presented to the Tribunal.

On the following day the President desired one of his secretaries to write to the republican members of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the two Houses, requesting them to meet him at the State Department on the next day. The democratic members of the committees were omitted from the invitation.

The question of the indirect claims was discussed, but it has been impossible to ascertain precisely what decision, if any, was come to.

I saw Mr. Fish this evening at his own house, when he referred to the telegram which he had received on the 1st instant from General Schenck, and said that Her Majesty’s Government required that the United States Government should formally acknowledge that the indirect claims were not within the scope of the arbitration. This, he said, was impossible, because they had been presented to the Tribunal under the firm conviction that they were included in the Treaty. Wishing, however, to do his utmost that the arbitration might continue, he had yesterday instructed General Schenck, that if Her Majesty’s Government were disposed to negotiate for a reciprocal agreement, that each party as a belligerent should abstain from demanding compensation for indirect damages from the other being neutral, the President would take the matter into his serious consideration with an earnest desire to meet the views of Her Majesty’s Government.

  1. The substance of this dispatch was received by telegraph on the 3d of May.