No. 4.
Copy of Utter of Mr. Fish addressed to each of the American Commission ers on the Joint High Commission.

My Dear Judge: I beg to ask your attention to the inclosed extract of an address made by Sir Stafford Northcote to the Exeter Chamber of Commerce, containing an extraordinary charge that a “promise” had been given to the British Commissioners that what are called the “indirect” claims could not be brought forward in the arbitration at Geneva under the Treaty of Washington.

Individually, I never heard of any such promise; as one of the American Commissioners, I never made any promise, nor suspected anything of the kind. I have no recollection of any question of the kind being raised, officially or unofficially.

What may have been the “understanding” of the British Commissioners is not a question on which I propose to enter; it is enough that they, as gentlemen, say that they had a certain understanding. Sir Edward Thornton tells me that he, in common with his colleagues, understood that the “indirect claims” were waived; he further says that his understanding on that point was derived entirely from the presentation made of our complaints and claims on the 8th of March, as set forth in the Protocol, and he disclaims any knowledge or idea of any “promise,” or of anything subsequently said on the subject. This is his personal and unofficial statement to me; probably he might feel a delicacy to bear any public testimony on the question.

This charge of Sir Stafford Northcote does not state specifically by Whom the promise was made; but as the official communication and intercourse of the British Commissioners was necessarily confined to the [Page 598] American Commissioners, the imputation of ill-faith, which the charge implies, primarily attaches to the American Commissioners.

I venture, therefore, to bring it to your notice, and shall be pleased to hear from you any statement of your recollection on the subject, or any suggestion on the matter.

I am, my dear judge, very sincerely yours,


Hon. Samuel Nelson,
Cooperstown, New York.

Note.—A similar letter was addressed to General Schenck, Judge Hoar, and Judge Williams, the other American Commissioners. The inclosure mentioned in the letter was the extract from the speech of Sir Stafford Northcote, taken from the Pall Mall Gazette—(No. 1, above.)