No. 8.
Letter of Judge Williams in answer to Mr. Fish’s letter of June 3.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 3d instant, inclosing an extract from an address by Sir Stafford Northcote in the Exeter Chamber of Commerce, in which he says, referring to the claim for consequential damages under the treaty of Washington: “We (the British Commissioners) understood a promise to be given that these claims were not to be put forward by the United States.”

I have no means of knowing what the British Commissioners understood upon that subject, for an understanding may be founded upon an inference or an argument; but if Sir Stafford Northcote means to say that any promise as to said claims, not found in the Treaty or Proctocol accompanying it, was given by the American Commissioners, I am prepared respectfully to controvert the assertion. I was never a party to any such promise, nor did I ever hear of anything of the kind, and the probabilities that it was made are not very strong, for the British Commissioners must have known that any promise modifying the Treaty would have no validity if not submitted to and approved by the Senate of the United States, which, of course, could not be the case with any such promise, of the existence of which there is no written evidence. I [Page 601] presume, if Sir Stafford Northcote used the language imputed to him, that he was betrayed into an inaccuracy of expression, and that he only intended to say the British Commissioners understood that the claim for consequential damages was not to be put forward, and not that any promise to that effect, outside of his construction of the Treaty and Protocol, was given by the American Commissioners.

Yours, very truly,


Hon. Hamilton Fish,
Secretary of State.