No. 252.
Mr. Bayard to Capt. Jesse Lewis.

Sir: I have your letter dated the 26th instant, stating the severe loss to you occasioned by the summary seizure by the Canadian authorities, in Annapolis Basin, Nova Scotia, of your fishing schooner, the David J. Adams, which, as you say, is all the property you possess, and constitutes your “only support.”

It is proper that I should inform you that the demand was made upon the Government of Great Britain for the release of the vessel, coupled with a notification that that Government would be held answerable for all loss and damage caused by her seizure and detention.

Your case commands my sincere sympathy, and ever since it was brought to my knowledge has had the constant consideration of this Department and of the consular officers of the United States in the Dominion of Canada.

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Mr. William L. Putnam, of Portland, Me., in conjunction with Mr. George W. Biddle, of Philadelphia, has been engaged by this Government as its counsel in respect of its rights and duties which may be brought in question by reason of the seizure of your vessel.

If you will communicate with Mr. Putnam he will no doubt give you all information in his power in relation to the laws under which your property was so seized, and suggest what steps should be taken to protect your private interest in the premises.

Moreover, I suggest that you should carefully secure evidence of all the facts connected with the presence of your vessel in Annapolis Basin, and of the absence of any unlawful act or intent on the part of her master, crew, or owner, as well as proof of the actual loss and injury susstained by you by reason of this harsh, and, as I believe, wholly unwarranted action by the Canadian officials; such evidence to be obtained and preserved as the basis of claims for your remuneration.

More than one year ago I sought to protect our citizens engaged in fishing from the results which might attend any possible misunderstanding between the Governments of Great Britain and the United States as to the measure of their mutual rights and privileges in the territorial waters of British North America, after the termination of the fishery articles of the treaty of Washington in June last.

It seemed to me then and seems to me now very hard that differences of opinion between the two Governments should cause loss to the honest citizens whose line of obedience might be thus rendered vague and uncertain, and their property be brought into jeopardy.

Influenced by this feeling, I procured a temporary arrangement which secured our fishermen full enjoyment of all the Canadian fisheries, free from molestation during a period which would permit discussion of a just international settlement of the whole fishery question. But other counsels prevailed, and my efforts further to protect the fishermen from such trouble as you now suffer were unavailing.

To secure for them full protection in the enjoyment of all their just rights and privileges is still my earnest intent and object, and for all losses to which they may be unlawfully subjected, at the hands of the authorities of foreign Governments I shall seek and expect to obtain full redress.

I regret exceedingly the disturbance in their long-customary pursuits and the serious loss and inconvenience attendant upon a disputed construction of laws and treaties by two separate Governments; and I trust that I shall soon be enabled to secure such a clear and comprehensive declaration of agreement between those charged with the administration of the two Governments as will define the line of their rights and secure from molestation those American fishermen who, obeying the injunctions of their Government respecting subordination to the laws of foreign Governments, keep within the laws of their own country.

Reparation for all losses, unlawfully caused by foreign authority, will be made the subject of international presentation and demand.

I am, &c.,