General Schenck to Mr. Fish.
the United States,
London, August 23, 1873.
(Received September 9.)
Sir: In my No. 448 of the 16th ultimo, I gave you a
full report of my conversation with Earl Granville in relation to the
increase, without notice to traders, of the duties on rum and tobacco at
British settlements on the Gold Coast of Africa. On that same day I sent him
a note, communicating, as a succinct statement of the grievance complained
of, an extract from the letter of Mr. Bartlett, of Boston, to the Secretary
of the Treasury.
On the 29th of July Lord Granville replied, acknowledging the receipt of my
note, and informing me that its contents had been communicated to the proper
department of Her Majesty’s government, and that he would have the pleasure
on a future occasion of addressing me further on the subject.
I have since received from his lordship another note, dated the 13th instant,
in which he states that the secretary of state for the colonies has
requested the governor in chief of the West African settlements to report
whether any remission should be made in the case of goods indented for
before the passing of the ordinance increasing the duties. At the same time
his lordship informs me, with regard to certain of Mr. Bartlett’s
allegations, that not only was the stipend which was formerly paid to the
King of Ashantee not stopped upon the transfer of Elmina to the British
government, but the King was informed by Mr. Pope [Page 485] Hennessy that it would be doubled as an additional
proof of friendship, and that no territory was purchased from the Dutch
government, the only payment made to them being in respect of stores left
behind in the forts.
I wait now, of course, and the question rests, until a report can be had
through Her Majesty’s colonial office from the coast of Africa. In the mean
time, as I suggested to you in my No. 448, the trade to that quarter must be
greatly affected or interrupted by other causes.
The war on the Gold Coast continues. The Ash an tees appear to have overrun,
and to hold possession of, nearly all the British territory, and that which
has been occupied by Her Majesty’s allies, the Fautees. The British forces
are shut up in their fortified defenses at Elmina and in Cape Coast Castle.
In these circumstances there can be, I should think, very little trade or
communication with the natives in the interior of the country.
I am, &c.,
[Inclosure 1 in No. 476.]
General Schenck to
Legation of the United States,
London, July 16,
My Lord: Referring to our conversation last
Monday, when I brought to your notice the disastrous losses likely to
accrue to American traders to the British settlements on the Gold Coast
from the late increase, without warning or notice, of the duties on rum
and tobacco, I have thought it best to send you, as I do herewith, from
among the papers relating to the subject and communicated to me, a copy
of an extract from a letter of Mr. Bartlett, of Boston, addressed to the
Secretary of the Treasury, at Washington, which presents succinctly the
grievance against which relief is sought from Her Majesty’s
I am, &c.,
[Inclosure in 1 in No. 476.]
Extract from a letter from Mr. Bartlett, of Boston, to the Secretary of the Treasury, at Washington, June 5,
1873. (See Mr. Fish’s 401 to
* * * * * * *
I have a matter on the coast of Africa which, if carried out, would prove
The English government, some few years since, made a purchase from the
Dutch, by exchange of territory and cash, of certain towns on the Gold
Coast. During the last four months the Ashantees have been at war with
the Fantees, living in the so-called English settlements, of which the
object is to get a foothold in Elmina. Before the English got possession
of Elmina and other towns the Dutch paid the King of Ashantee a certain
annuity, but since the English have ruled they have stopped this
subsidy, which is a part reason of the war.
In 1867 the English commenced agitating the duty and gave notice of a
duty of 6d. per gallon on rum, to commence one
year from notice. Last year they put on 1s. on
rum and 1d. per pound on tobacco. Both were more
than the natives could pay, and this last was done without notice.
During the month of April, 1873, (this year,) the administrator, without
any notice, called his council together and made the duty 2s. 6d. per gallon on rum,
and on tobacco 6d. per pound, which is about 60
cents per gallon on rum and 12 cents per pound on tobacco.
At this time I had four vessels on the coast, with cargoes averaging
nearly full, and have one here just ready to leave. This duty puts an
embargo on the whole, and my grievances are, that if proper notice had
been given, as is customary, I should not have been liable to this loss,
which under the present duty will be disastrous.
* * * * * * *
[Inclosure 2 in No. 476.]
Earl Granville to
Office, July 29,
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the
receipt of your note of the 16th instant, respecting the increase of the
duties on rum and tobacco on the Gold Coast, and I beg leave to inform
you in reply that its contents have been communicated to the proper
department of Her Majesty’s government, and that I shall have the
pleasure, on a future occasion, of addressing you further on the
subject-matter of your letter.
I am, &c.,
[Inclosure 3 in No. 476.]
Earl Granville to
Office, August 13,
Sir: With reference to your note of the 16th
ultimo, relative to the complaint by American traders on the Gold Coast
of the losses which are likely to accrue to them from the recent
increase of the duties on rum and tobacco, I have to acquaint you that
Her Majesty’s secretary of state for the colonies has requested the
governor-in-chief of the West African settlement to report whether any
remission should be made in the case of goods indented for before the
passing of the ordinance increasing the duties.
With regard to certain allegations made by Mr. Bartlett in the letter
which formed the inclosure to your note, I beg leave to inform you that
not only was the stipend which was formerly paid to the King of Ashantee
by the Dutch not stopped upon the transfer of Elmina to the British
government, but the King was informed by Mr. Pope Hennessy that it would
be doubled “as an additional proof of friendship,” and that no territory
was purchased from the Dutch government, the only payment made to them
being in respect of stores left behind in the forts.
I am, &c.,