No. 399.
Mr. Fish to Mr. De Long.

No. 200.]

Sir: Your dispatch No. 380, of the 21st ultimo, relative to the Bonin Islands, has been received. It has been ascertained that one, at least, [Page 637] of the vessels composing Commodore Perry’s expedition to Japan did visit those islands, and that the commander took possession of them on behalf of the United States. This step, however, has never been expressly sanctioned by Congress, and we are not aware that any other-act of the Government has since taken place which would show a disposition to support the claim of the naval officer adverted to. If citizens of the United States have repaired to those islands for the purpose of taking up their abode, this has been done without any promise, express or implied, that this Government would protect them in their pursuits. By resorting to such remote spots on the globe’s surface, under such circumstances, they may fairly be held to have deliberately abandoned the United States without a purpose of returning, and therefore to have relinquished the rights as well as the duties of citizens.

I am, &c.,