Mr. Fish to
Washington, February 9, 1877.
Sir: By articles XVIII to XXI of the treaty of Washington of May 8, 1871, two copies of which are herewith inclosed, certain privileges with reference to fisheries on the coasts of the colonies of Great Britain are granted to the United States, and certain similar privileges upon our coasts to Great Britain, in addition to which the freedom from customs-dues on fish and fish-oil in the United States and the British colonies is conceded.
By article XXII, however, it was agreed that commissioners should be appointed to determine what compensation, in their opinion, if any, should be paid by the Government of the United States to Great Britain for privileges so accorded to citizens of the United States, the assertion having been made by Great Britain that the privileges so accorded to [Page 24]The United States were greater than those granted to Great Britain, which assertion is not admitted by this Government.
The manner of the appointment of these commissioners was provided by article XXIII, which also provided for the appointment of a third commissioner, by the joint agreement of the two governments, and that if such commissioners should not have been so appointed within a period of three months from the date at which article XXIII became effective, that such third commissioner should be named by the representative at London of His Majesty the Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary.
Owing to the necessity of legislation, articles XVIII to XXV did not go into effect until July 1, 1873, and owing to various causes, to which I shall not advert, the third commissioner was not agreed on by the two governments within the three months named in article XXIII. Other negotiations then intervened, which, it was thought, might entirely do away with the meeting of the commission, and which have delayed the matter, so that it has not as yet been organized.
The two governments have made appointments, however, of commissioners, as provided in article XXIII, and of agents as therein provided, the third commissioner only being required to constitute the tribunal.
I have stated these preliminary facts to inform you generally upon the subject, and I transmit to you herewith the draught of a note which you will present to the minister for foreign affairs, requesting that the Emperor will be pleased to permit his ambassador at London to undertake the duty which, by article XXII of the treaty, the two governments have intrusted to him, and to select some person properly qualified to act as such third commissioner.
A note identic in form will be presented to the minister for foreign affairs by Sir Andrew Buchanan, Her Majesty’s ambassador at Vienna, and you will arrange with your British colleague for the simultaneous presentation of your respective notes on this subject.
As it is hoped to organize the commission during the coming spring or summer, it is desired that no time be lost in submitting the subject and in requesting the requisite permission.
You will inform the department by telegraph as soon as you shall have received the reply of the Emperor, of the purport thereof.
I am, &c.,