No. 3.
Extract from an instruction of Mr. Fish to General Schenck, June 3, 1872.

No. 216.]

Sir: * * * * * * *

The communications which the British High Commissioners may have Blade to their Government, either pending the negotiation or since, can scarcely be urged with seriousness upon this Government for acceptance in the construction of the Treaty. One of those gentlemen is reported as saying,recently, “that we, the (British) Commissioners, were distinctly responsible for having represented to the Government that we (they) understood a promise to be given that these claims were not to be put forward, and were not to be submitted to arbitration.” He does not say by whom, on what occasion, or in what manner, such promise was made. He involves all his colleagues in the representation made to their Government, that such promise had been made. But this seeking “aliunde,” outside of the Treaty and of the Protocol, to establish a meaning or to explain its terms, has had the effect, which the honorable baronet who made the declaration anticipated, to raise a “personal question,” and 1 cannot allow this reference made by Lord Granville to the information furnished to Her Majesty’s Government by Her High Commissioners to pass without alluding to the representation which Sir Stafford Northcote (one of those Commissioners) says that the Commissioners are responsible for having made to their Government.

In justice to myself and my colleagues on the American side of the Commission, I must take this occasion (the first that has presented itself since I have seen the speech of Sir Stafford Northcote) to say that no such promise as he states that the British Commissioners represented to their Government, as having been understood by them to be made by the American Commissioners, was in fact ever made. The official communications between the American and the British Commissioners (as you are aware) were all made by or to me as the first named of the American Commissioners.

I never made and never heard of any such promise, or of anything resembling a promise on the subject referred to. None was ever made by me, formally or informally, officially or unofficially; and I feel entire confidence in making the assertion that none of my colleagues ever made any promise or any declaration or statement approaching to a promise on the subject. What may have been the understanding of Sir Stafford Northcote, or of his colleagues, I cannot undertake to say; but that the American Commissioners gave him or them any grounds to understand that such a promise was given as he says they represented to their Government as having been made, I am bound most respectfully but most emphatically to deny. I cannot conceive from what he has imagined it, as the only direct allusion to the three classes of claims (called the “indirect claims”) was that made on the part of the American Commissioners on the 8th day of March, and is set forth in the 36th Protocol in the words in which it was made.

The British Government has, in the correspondence which has recently taken place, endeavored to construe the withholding of an estimate of those “indirect claims “in connection with a proposition on behalf of this Government, which was declined by the British Commissioners, into their waiver. I have already discussed that question, and [Page 597] shall not here again enter upon its refutation. The Protocols and the statement approved by the Joint Commission furnish the substantial part of what passed on that occasion. I am at a less to conceive what representation, outside of the statement made in the 36th Protocol; Sir Stafford Northcote can have made to his Government. He refers to some “personal question,” something which, until the time of his address, he and his colleagues had been under official restraint from discussing, but the Protocols and the statement to which I have referred had been before the public, both in Great Britain and in the United States, for nearly a year before his declaration. It is only within a day or two that the journals containing his address have reached me. I have this day addressed a letter to yourself and to each of our colleagues on the Commission, calling attention to Sir Stafford’s statement, and in due time may make public the correspondence.

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I am, sir, your obedient servant,


General Robert C. Schenck, &c., &c., &c.