No. 193.
Mr. Evarts to Mr. Welsh.

No. 258.]

Sir: I inclose herewith copy of a dispatch of the 3d January last, No. 42, from the United States consul at Zanzibar, and of the correspondence which accompanied it, between that officer and the British consul-general there, relating to the seizure, on the ground of their being slaves, of three negroes from on board the American whaling bark Laconia, of New Bedford, Mass., by order of Captain Earle, senior naval officer of Her Majesty’s fleet on that station.

You are instructed to bring the matter to the attention of the British Government, and to state that the search for the purpose herein named appears to have been without probable cause, and as it was made in violation of the provisions of the first article of the treaty of 1862, it is expected that the British officer who ordered the search will be held accountable therefor by his government.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure in Instruction No. 258.]

Mr. Hathorne to Mr. Hunter.

No. 42.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit a copy of the correspondence between Dr. Kirk, Her Britannic Majesty’s consul-general for Zanzibar, and myself regarding the seizure of [Page 416] three negroes from the American whaling hark Laconia, of New Bedford, Mass., by the orders of Captain Earle, the senior naval officer of Her Britannic Majesty’s fleet on this station; said negroes claimed to be slaves by Captain Earle.

I caused them all to appear before me and examined them under oath, which examination is appended herewith, together with that of the officers and some of the crew of the Laconia.

Each and every one of the alleged slaves were only too glad to continue in the vessel, and I therefore shipped them; and, according to my views of the case, having (unlike the officers of Her Britannic Majesty’s ship London) no pecuniary interest in detaining the vessel, I allowed her to go to sea on January 1, 1879, and she was to cruise for whales toward the United States, and would probably reach New Bedford some time in May next.

I have heard it rumored that an American, a Dr. Wilson, sugar planter on Johanna Island, is the owner of slaves, but cannot vouch for the truth of such reports. With the sincere wish that the steps I have taken in the inclosed matter may meet with the approbation of the Department,

I have the honor, &c.,

United States Consul.
[Inclosure 1 in Mr. Hathorne’s No. 42.]

Mr. Hathorne to Mr. Kirk.

Sir: It has come to my knowledge that the American bark Laconia, of New Bedford, now lying in this port, was boarded last evening by an officer of Her Majesty’s ship London, who took two men from her to the London.

As this vessel’s papers are deposited in this consulate, she is consequently under my control, and without now going into details as to whether Article I of the treaty of 1862, between the United States of America and Her Britannic Majesty, has or has not been violated by the officer of the London in boarding the Laconia “within the limits of a settlement or port” in the manner he did, I must herewith request that the men above mentioned be delivered over to me forthwith.

I have, &c.,

United States Consul.
[Inclosure 2 in Mr. Hathorne’s No. 42.]

Mr. Kirk to Mr. Hathorne.

Sir: Your letter of 26th instant was delivered to me this morning. I at once forwarded a copy to Captain Earle, of Her Majesty’s ship London.

I am now informed that the negroes referred to by you have been sent back to the American bark Laconia, and that a full report of the circumstances of the case will be prepared for your information.

I have, &c.,

Her Majesty’s Agent and Consul-General.
[Inclosure 3 in Mr. Hathorne’s No. 42.]

Mr. Hathorne to Mr. Kirk.

Sir: Your letter of this day’s date, wherein you inform me that the negroes referred to (unlawfully taken from the American bark Laconia to Her Britannic Majesty’s ship London by the officers of the latter vessel) have been returned to their ship, is received, and in reply thereto would state that I shall be glad to receive the report of the circumstances of the case referred to.

I wish to correct the date of my letter delivered you this morning, which was by me erroneously written December 26, and should have been December 27.

I have, &c.,

United States Consul.
[Page 417]
[Inclosure 4 in Mr. Hathorne’s No. 42.]

Mr. Kirk to Mr. Hathorne.

Sir: In continuation of former correspondence, I beg to forward for your information copy of a letter received from Captain Earle, of Her Majesty’s ship London, stating the circumstances under which three negroes were received from the American bark Laconia with the consent of the master.

I have, &c.,

Her Majesty’s Agent and Consul- General.
[Inclosure 1 in Mr Kirk’s note of December 28, 1878.]

Captain Earle to Mr. Kirk.

Sir: I beg to forward you, for the information of the United States consul, the circumstances under which three negroes, with the consent of the master of the Laconia, were brought on board this ship to be examined by interpreter officers.

It came to my knowledge that there were three slaves on board the Laconia; this information was obtained voluntarily from one of the crew of the Laconia.

I gave Lieutenant Johnson the necessary authority under the treaty to search the Laconia. When he arrived alongside the master was on shore. Lieutenant Johnson went to the master at his hotel and showed him his authority; the master said he would go off; he said he knew what it was about: he did not object to be searched; he supposed some of his crew had been talking about the negroes on board.

The master said the negroes were not on the ship’s books; he also said they smuggled themselves on board at Johanna; he could not enter them there because there was no consul, but that he was going to enter them here. Lieutenant Johnson found out from the negroes that two of them were fishermen who were fishing on the beach, and they were taken by force at night against their will, covered up with a sail and taken on board the Laconia; the other one states that he was sold to the master of the Laconia by a merchant at Johanna, but the slave did not know the merchant’s name.

These slaves not being on the books of the Laconia, Lieutenant Johnson asked the permission of the master to let them go to the London to be examined, which leave the master gave on condition that Lieutenant Johnson would be responsible for their safety. Lieutenant Johnson informed him that the negroes would be examined on board the London in my presence by the interpreter officers, and he presented my compliments and said I should be glad to see him on board if he would like to be present; he said he would wish to be present; but this morning I received a note from him, informing me that he did not intend to come to the investigation.

These slaves have been examined by Lieutenants Cut field and O’Neill, interpreters in Swahile language, and a signed statement of their evidence is attached.

The three negroes have been returned to the Laconia, as you have already been informed.

I have the honor, &c.,

Captain and Senior Officer, East Coast of Africa.
[Inclosure 2 in Mr. Kirk’s note of December 28, 1878.]

Statement of three slaves given to me, this 27th day of December, 1878.

First slave, M’Cassi:

I am the slave of Captain ———, of the American bark Laconia. I was bought by him some six months ago from an American merchant at Johanna, who I used to work for at the sugar-mills. I did not wish to leave him, but was placed by force on board the Laconia by Captain———, where I was made to work against my will. I have worked in the ship for six months, and have not received any pay.

[Page 418]

Second slave, Similla:

Some six months since, I was fishing upon the beach of Johanna, near the house of my master; at the time the Laconia was lying there, and the captain came on shore in the whale-boat and asked me if I wanted to go on board his ship, saying he would give me money and clothes. I told him “no”; he (the captain) then took hold of me and forced me into the boat, and also my companion, covering us over with a sail in the bottom of the boat, and when we got on board we were placed down in the main hold, and when the ship got under way, which was shortly afterwards, we were then taken on deck and told off for work. We have been at sea six months and have never received any pay.

Third slave, Uladi, gives precisely the same story as Similla.

  • H. E. O’NEILL,
    Lieutenant, R. N.
[Inclosure 5 in Mr. Hathorne’s No. 42.]

Sworn statement of Capt. R. W. Gifford, of the American bark Laconia, of New Bedford, Mass., regarding three negroes on board the said bark, claimed to be slaves, by the British senior naval officer on the east coast of African station.

My name is Rufus W. Gifford, and I am the master of the whaling-bark Laconia, of New Bedford, Mass., and now lying in the harbor of Zanzibar.

When I was at Johanna, on or about the 10th of July last, I was at Dr. Wilson’s house, a sugar-planter, and there saw the negro Fereggie, who then had chains on his feet; the planter said to me, “There is a man you may have if you will take him away; he is good for nothing, and I shall be glad to get rid of him.” I replied that I should be glad to take him, as I was short-handed; accordingly the negro was sent to the beach, where my boat lay waiting for me, via the blacksmith’s shop, where he went to have his irons struck off, one of the planter’s black men accompanying. A short time after, I left for the beach myself, and when I got near it I saw the other two men (Semilla and M’Cassa in the evidence) and asked them if they would like to go in the ship; they said they would, and one of them took my valise (that I had up to that time been carrying myself) from me, and both started for the boat, wading off quite a distance to get into her, as the water was very shoal.

A short time after the other man (Fereggie above named, who had stopped at the blacksmith’s to have his irons struck off) came down, a black man with him, as far as the banking of the beach, and from there he came alone, and without my addressing a word to him, he waded off to the boat as the Other two had done before him and got into her. There was no force of any kind used; the man was pleased to go on board the ship. About the same time one of our own men came from the boat for me. I got on his back and he waded me off to where the boat lay; we pulled off on board the ship, and the same night when the breeze came we got under way and went to sea.

The next day I had clothing, tobacco, &c., served out to these three negroes (mentioned above), and I told them at the time that I should ship them at the first port I visited where there was a United States consul, at which they seemed much pleased. I do not know whether they were slaves or not; I certainly have not treated or considered them as such since they have been on board. I only know I was short-handed and that these men were glad to get away and join my ship. Further than that 1 did not stop to consider, but I most solemnly swear that I did not buy or steal either of these men.

On the evening of December 26, 1878, while my vessel was lying at anchor in this port of Zanzibar, and while I was sitting in one of the rooms of the Victoria Hotel in the town of Zanzibar, a British officer, armed and in full uniform, walked into where I was sitting and showed me a document which he read to me, purporting to come from Captain Earle of Her Britannic Majesty’s ship London, authorizing him to search my vessel for slaves, and he told me he had been on board to do so, but my first officer had told him he had better come on shore and see me first, which he had done, and he would like to have me accompany him on board the Laconia and give him permission to search the vessel. I accordingly went on board with him, where I found there was another armed officer in uniform in charge of the quarter-deck.

Mr. Johnson (I believe that was the name the other officer addressed him by) asked to see my ship’s papers. I told him they were deposited at the United States consulate, and I suggested to him that it would be as well for him to let the matter rest until I could see the consul, to which he replied that I must not blame him, as he had his orders and must execute them; he then asked me to have all hands called, which was done, and after everybody had been mustered he asked me to point out “the three [Page 419] negroes that came from Johanna,” which I accordingly did, when he and his interpreter began to talk to them in a language I did not understand, and from all appearances they did not; then another negro was picked out from the crew by them, but as this man was regularly shipped in Mahé, I told them they had better let him alone.

The three Johanna negroes were then told to go aft (more by motions than by the language used, I should judge). I tried to explain to the officers that the men were not slaves, as far as I was concerned, even taking them below and showing them my account-book, where their names were entered for clothing and tobacco drawn by and charged to them. I also told them that I had reported the whole matter to the United States consul the day of my arrival at this port, and requested him to put the men on the ship’s papers.

We then came on deck and Mr. Johnson went abaft where I stood, and after having some conversation with his interpreter, came to me and said he should have to take those three Johanna negroes on board the London before Captain Earle, to which I objected. He then asked me to state my objections in writing. I told him I did not know the form and did not see any necessity for so doing, and again told him he had better let the matter rest, and before going any further, report it to the United States, consul, who held my ship’s papers.

He said he should have to take the men, for which I told him I should hold him responsible. Accordingly he ordered the men into the boat and left, leaving the other officer and the cockswain of the boat on board. As the boat pulled away I asked him how long before he would return; he said in half an hour or less, and before that length of time had expired he came back with the boat with Captain Earle’s compliments, and that he should have to detain the three men until the morning (27th December) for examination.

I then told Mr. Johnson that I wished to be present at the examination, also sending Captain Earle my compliments, and that he had better apply to the United States consul before taking any further steps. I then got into Mr. Johnson’s boat and he landed me on the beach.

I was not present at the examination, by the advice of the United States consul.

United States Consul.

Edward S. Ripley’s sworn statement.

My name is Edward S. Ripley; I am second officer of the bark Laconia, and was officer of the boat waiting for the captain at Johanna, on the 10th of July last, about 7 o’clock p.m.; it was about this time, I should judge, when I heard the captain hailing the boat from the beach, upon which I ordered the men to pull in. As soon as the boat struck the sand, which she did, I should judge, about; 40 feet from the water-mark, as the water was very shallow, the boat had no sooner struck than two men (Similla and M’Cassa, identified as being the same ones) came off and clambered into the boat of their own accord, and lay down in the bottom of the boat;. they had to wade off at least 40feet in the water; I saw them coming, but didn’t know what for, but thought very likely they might be runaways; I said nothing to them, as I knew we were short-handed; after the men had got into the boat, not hearing anything more of the captain, I ordered the boat to be pulled off in a little deeper water, but hardly got her turned around when I again heard the captain’s voice hailing the boat, and we again put for the beach, where the captain was standing, and as we neared the beach another negro came wading off and got into the boat that was at least 40 feet from the water-line on the beach; one of our own men then went and took the captain on his back and waded him off to the boat.

This man Fereggie attempted of his own accord to pull one of the oars going off, but as he knew nothing about it, I ordered him to give it up to one of our men, which he did. I most solemnly swear there was no force or coercion used to get either of the men into the boat, or on board the ship; they seemed only too glad to get away.

Again, while lying at anchor in Zanzibar harbor, on the evening of December 26, 1878, a boat from Her Britannic Majesty’s ship London came alongside with two officers-in her, who came on board to search the vessel, which Mr. Cornell, our chief officer, refused to let them do without the captain’s orders; so one of the officers, whom I think I afterwards heard called Mr. Johnson, said to the other, “I will leave you here in charge, and I will go ashore and find the captain.”

I had no idea these three Johanna men were slaves, and I did not consider or treat them as such; they were and have been, treated exactly the same as the rest of the sailors. About 9 p.m., I should judge, the captain and Mr. Johnson came on board,, all hands were turned out of their berths, and one of the officers searched the forecastle; then the three negroes from Johanna were pointed out to Mr. Johnson, and [Page 420] after some conversation with the captain, which I did not hear (being on the other side of the deck), they were finally taken in the boat to Her Britannic Majesty’s ship London, one officer and a cockswain remaining on board the Laconia, after which I knew nothing more of the matter, as I went to my bed.

George Antonio, boatsteerer, sworn:

I am a boatsteerer on board of the bark Laconia, and was steering the boat on the evening of July 10, 1878, when we were lying just off from the beach waiting for the captain. I remember very distinctly of the three Johanna men coming off to the boat and clambering in of their own accord.

The rest of this man’s statement is the same in substance as that given by the captain and Mr. Ripley, second officer, he like those two most solemnly swearing that there was no force of any kind used to get the men into the boat or ship.

Squer S. Cornell, first officer, sworn:

I am first officer of bark Laconia, of New Bedford, now lying at anchor in Zanzibar Harbor.

About 8 o’clock p.m., on the evening of December 26, a boat from Her Britannic Majesty’s ship London, with two armed officers in uniform in her, came on board and wanted to see the ship’s papers as well as to search the ship for slaves. I told them the ship’s papers were deposited at the United States consulate, and if they wanted to search the ship, they had better see the captain first; so one of the officers got into the boat and started for the shore, saying to the other one whom he left on board, “I will leave you here in charge” (or words to that effect) “and go on shore to find the captain;” this was about 8 p.m. I should judge.

At about 9 p.m. the boat returned with the captain and Mr. Johnson (I believe), who asked the captain to allow him to search the vessel, to which the captain assented; accordingly all hands were called on deck, after which Mr. Johnson went into the forecastle and searched it himself, then came out, looked over the men, and picked out four of them, but finally only selected three, whom he ordered aft.

Mr. Johnson (?) and the captain then went below and had some conversation together, after which they again came on deck, and Mr. Johnson (?), through the interpreter, ordered the three negroes into the boat; I heard Mr. Johnson (?) ask the captain if he had any objection to his taking them, and the captain said he had, and that he should hold him responsible for the men if he took them away; the boat then pulled for Her Britannic Majesty’s ship London, leaving an armed officer and the cockswain of the boat on board of the Laconia.

About half an hour afterwards the same boat and officer returned, and took the officer and the cockswain, whom he had left on board, and returned to his ship.

The next day (27th, about 12 o’clock noon), Mr. Johnson (?) brought the three negroes back to the Laconia, he coming on board, and requested a receipt for the three men, which I gave him. I asked him what he had made out of the case, and he replied, “It was all right;” which, as I understood it, the affair was there ended.

Frank S. Webster sworn:

I am the steward of the American bark Laconia, of New Bedford, Mass., now lying at anchor in this harbor of Zanzibar.

On the evening of the 26th December the captain came down in the cabin with an armed officer, whom I afterwards ascertained came from Her Britannic Majesty’s ship London; the captain, as he came down, woke me up and ordered me to get out his account or slop-chest book, and which he showed to the officer, with the accounts therein.

The officer had some conversation with the captain about writing his objections to the three Johanna negroes being taken out of the ship to Her Britannic Majesty’s ship London, the captain saying he did not know what form the objections ought to be written in, as I understood it, but after some talk the officer said he would be responsible for the men, and then the captain said he would have nothing further to say; as the conversation was not addressed to me, I would not swear the above was all that was said, but only that it was all that I heard. I distinctly remember, however, hearing the captain say, “I do object to it,” meaning taking the men out of the ship, and he also said that before any more steps were taken in the matter, he wanted it reported to the American consul, where the ship’s papers were then deposited.

The officer then went on board the London for orders, leaving another officer and the cockswain of the boat aboard. I do not know what time he came back, or whether he took the three negroes with him the first or second time.

I went to my bed shortly after the boat started for the London the first time.

United States Consul.
[Page 421]

Sworn statement of three negroes unlawfully taken by the officers of Her Majesty’s ship London from the American bark Laconia, of New Bedford, Mass., to Her Majesty’s ship London, for examination; said negroes claimed to be slaves by the captain and senior officer of Her Britannic Majesty’s east coast of African fleet.

Similla examined:

I am not a native of Johanna; I am a “Makuwa,” and have been on the American bark Laconia, Captain Gilford, for the past six months; I went on board of my own accord, and there was no force of any kind or description used in getting me there. I was fishing on the beach, when the captain of the Laconia came down and asked me if I would to go off in his ship—he saying he would give me pay and clothes if I would; so I got into his boat, and the sailors then covered me over with a sail. I was not at all afraid.

Since I have been on board of the Laconia I have been treated well and served with the same food as the other sailors, and the captain has always treated me well, and I think he is a good man; though the first officer has sometimes slapped me in the face with the flat of his hand (illustrated by witness), and he used to do the same to all the other sailors on board. I have had liberty once since we have been lying here, when the captain gave me three rupees ($1.50), the whole of which I did not spend, having a little of it left when I went on board at night. I am perfectly willing to go in the ship, if to be discharged at either St. Helena or New Bedford, Mass., but not to be landed at Johanna, where I do not care to go again.

Question put by the consul. What questions were put to you yesterday on board of Her Majesty’s ship London, and what were your answers?

Answer by witness. They asked me if I was seized by force on shore or on the beach at Johanna, and I told them I was standing near the beach, throwing my fishnet, when the captain of the Laconia passed and said to me that he would give me money and clothes if I would go in the ship; so I went and got into his boat; there was no force of any kind or description used whatever. They also asked me whether I would like to remain on the London or go on the beach, to which I made no reply.

Question by the consul. Night before last, while you were still on board of the Laconia, who ordered you to get into the London’s boat?

Answer by witness. The officer in uniform, with a sword.

Question (by Captain Gifford to witness). When I saw you near the beach at Johanna, and asked you if you would not like to go in my vessel, did you not say yes, and take my carpet-bag or valise from my hand and run ahead of me and get into my boat, some little time before I did?

Answer. Yes; I did.

Question. Was any force of any kind or description used in getting you into the boat or on board the vessel?

Answer. No; none whatever.

Question. After you got into the boat, did you not lay down under the thwarts to hide yourself from any of the people belonging to the shore that might be about?

Answer. Yes, I did, as some of the men in the boat told me to do so, after which they covered me over with a sail.

Question. The very next morning after leaving Johanna, did I not give you soap to wash yourself and new clothes to wear, telling you at the time that I should charge it to you in your account?

Answer. Yes, you did.

Question by the consul. Can you speak Kiswaheli?

Answer. I understand very little in this language, as it is not my own; I do thoroughly understand Auzwan or Johanna and Makuwa languages.

M’cassa examined:

This youth tells exactly the same story as Similla as regards going on board the Laconia of his own free will and accord, but states that he has had liberty twice since the ship arrived at this port, the captain giving him 5 rupees ($2.50) in all. This man or youth, like Similla, was and is perfectly willing to continue on in the ship after being regularly shipped, provided that he is landed at either Seychelles, St. Helena, or New Bedford, and not on any account to be landed at Johanna.

Fereggie examined:

I am a Makuwa, but for a long time have been residing at Johanna. I went on board the Laconia because the captain bought me and I had to go with him.

Question by the consul. How do you know the captain bought you; did you see him pay your master any money?

Answer. No, I did not; I was in chains when the captain of the Laconia came to [Page 422] my master’s house, and after they had been there a while, talking in a language I could not understand, I was sent to have my irons taken off, when my master told me to go down to the captain’s ship, and for these reasons I thought I was sold to him.

Question. How many times and for what reasons did your master put you in irons?

Answer. I have been in irons twice, both times for not attending to my work.

Question. Were you pleased or not at the idea of going in the ship?

Answer. Yes, I was much pleased.

Question. Since you have been on board the Laconia h as your food and treatment been the same as the other sailors?

Answer. Yes, just the same.

Question. Was force of any kind or description used in getting you into the boat or ship at Johanna?

Answer. No, none whatever.

Question. Have you had liberty since you have been in this port?

Answer. Yes, twice.

Question. How much money did the captain let you have each time?

Answer. The first time 3 rupees ($1.50), the second time 2 rupees ($1.00).

The balance of this youth’s testimony regarding treatment, &c., while on board is the same as that given by Similla and M’cassa, and he, like them, is willing and glad to continue on in the Laconia, to be discharged at St. Helena or New Bedford, but he will not consent to go on any account if to be landed at Johanna.

United States Consul.
[Inclosure 6 in Mr. Hathorne’s No. 42.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of December 28 on that date? and which I have neglected to answer until the present time, that I might forward for your information a copy of the sworn statements of the three negroes claimed to be slaves by Captain Earle, of Her Britannic Majesty’s ship London, as well as the sworn statements of Captain Gifford, his first and second officers, one of the boat-steerers, and the steward, all of the Laconia.

In the first place, you will observe, according to the statements of the first and second officers, that one of the London’s armed officers had charge of the Laconia, as Lieutenant Johnson said to him as he left the ship’s deck, “I’ll leave you here in charge, and I will go ashore and find the captain.” (This was before they had got the captain’s consent.)

You will also observe that Captain Gifford emphatically denies, under oath, that he gave his consent to the men being taken out of the the ship to the London, as Captain Earle in his letter states he did. Again, the boarding-officers did not examine the ship’s papers, as they were deposited with me, and he did not call on me for that purpose, as no doubt he should have done, neither did he make any entry in the Laconia’s log-book; consequently he did not “adhere strictly to the exact tenor of the aforesaid instructions,” as provided in the treaty. Again, the captain of the Laconia several times said he wished the matter referred to me, of which, apparently no notice was taken; and yet Captain Earle could not have been ignorant that the Laconia and her ship’s company were all under my jurisdiction while lying in this harbor.

Again, Lieutenant Johnson, or his interpreter, was at fault in stating the negroes were taken by force from the beach at Johanna, of which you will find proof to the contrary in their own statements, as well as that of Captain Gifford, his second officer, and the boat-steerer who was in the boat at the time; and, also, that the negro who states he was sold to Captain Gifford really knew no more about the matter than that he thought so, or supposed he was; he had no other reason for thinking the master of the Laconia bought him than that his irons were struck off and he was ordered on board of the vessel by his master, or the man who had control of him, whom, by the captain’s evidence, was a Dr. Wilson, a sugar-planter on the island.

Regarding the “slaves,” who are “Wamakuwa,” and not “Waswaheli,” their statements, as given over Lieutenants O’Neill’s and Cutfield’s names, “interpreters in Swaheli language,” being so entirely different from those taken before me, I can only attribute to the fact that the negroes could understand but a very little of the “Kiswaheli” language, and, such being the case, not much weight can be attached to the interpretation of their statements as rendered by Lieutenants O’Neill and Cutfield.

I attempted to examine them in Kiswaheli, but found they knew so little about it I was obliged to employ a Makuwa interpreter in order to understand them thoroughly,

You will observe that in their statements as given before me that each and every [Page 423] one of them distinctly states that no force of any kind was used upon them, and also if there is any one thing they particularly dread more than another it is that they may be sent back to Johanna; they all were willing to sign the vessel’s articles to be discharged at any port but Johanna.

I can hardly reconcile Captain Earle’s letter to his actions in this matter, having, as he states, received permission from the captain of the Laconia to take the men on board the London for examination, during which, according to his interpreters, he ascertained they were slaves, why he should in such a case have sent them back to their ship?

I would state that the captain of the Laconia notified me of the fact that these three men were on board the day after his arrival here, and requested me to ship them, and which I intended to do. I would also state that inasmuch as Captain Earle knew there was a consular officer of the United States located here, it appears to me, under such circumstances, the proper course for him to have pursued would have been to have directed the boarding officer first to make application to me, as the representative of the United States Government, to examine the papers and to search the ship.

I would inform you that the three negroes under discussion have been shipped of their own free will, according to law, in the Laconia for New Bedford, their wages or “lay” dating back to the night of July 10, 1878, when they ran away from Johanna to join the vessel.

In the statement given by the negroes on board the London much stress is laid on their not receiving any money. How could the captain give them money when he had none, and of what use would it have been to them at sea if he had?

In whale-ships it is customary to ship by the “lay,” and as the Laconia has been peculiarly unfortunate during the past six months in her catch, their wages do not amount to as much as the clothing and tobacco they have drawn, or at least such is the captain’s statement.

All these men, though in debt to the vessel, have had money and liberty on shore twice since arriving in this the first port since leaving Johanna on the 10th of July last.

I have the honor, &c.,

    United States Consul.
  • John Kirk, Esq.,
    Her Britannic Majesty’s agent and consul-general, Zanzibar.
[Inclosure 7 in Mr. Hathorne’s No. 42.]

From John Kirk, esq., Her Majesty’s agent and consul general, Zanzibar.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 31st December last, with inclosures, relative to the visit and search, by order of Captain Earle, commanding Her Majesty’s ship London, of the American bark Laconia.

It is not necessary for me to discuss the legality or illegality of Captain Earle’s action on this occasion. I must, however, be allowed to express regret that if, under the circumstances, the search was illegal, it should have ever taken place; and that, on the other hand, if legal, a vessel against which, on the admissions contained in the statements which accompany your letter under acknowledgment so strong a primafacie proof of slave-trading existed, should not have been taken to a court of adjudication.

I have the honor, &c.,

    Her Majesty’s Agent and Consul-General, Zanzibar.
  • W. H. Hathorne, Esq.,
    United States Consul.