Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 6, 1886
Mr. Presson to Mr. Bayard.
Collector’s Office, August 10, 1886. [Received August 11.]
Sir: In reply to your telegram of 5th instant I inclose affidavits of Captain Cunningham, of schooner Rattler, and his passenger and crew, in relation to their treatment at Shelburne, Nova Scotia, on going in there for shelter on 3d instant.
Very respectfully, &c.,
Affidavit of Captain Cunningham, of the schooner Rattler.
I, Augustus P. Cunningham, master of the schooner Rattler, of Gloucester, being duly sworn, do depose and say: That on Thursday, July 8, 1886, we sailed from Gloucester on a mackerel cruise. On Tuesday August 3d (having secured a fare of mackerel and while on on our passage home), at 7 p.m., the wind blowing hard, the sea being rough, and our vessel being deeply loaded, with two large seine-boats on deck, we put into the harbor of Shelburne, N. S., for shelter. Just inside of the harbor we were brought to by a gun fired from the Canadian cruiser Terror, Captain Quigley, and came to anchor.
Immediately a boat from the Terror came alongside and its commander, Lieutenant Bennett, asked why we were in the harbor. My reply was, “For shelter.” Then taking the name of our vessel, names of owner and captain, where from, where bound, and how many fish we had, and forbidding any of the crew to go on shore, he returned to the Terror for further instructions.
Boarding us again, after a lapse of perhaps forty-five minutes, he put two armed men on board of us, asked for our crew-list, and said if I remained until morning I must enter at the custom-house, but if I could sail in the night to tell his men to fire a revolver and a boat would be sent to take them off. At 13 o’clock that night, preferring to risk the dangers of the sea to the danger of seizure, I ordered the anchor hove short, [Page 520] the mainsail hoisted preparatory to sailing, and told one of the Terror’s men to fire a revolver, which he did.
Receiving no reply, and seeing no signs of life on board the Terror, I ordered the revolver to be fired again. This brought a boat from the Terror, commanded by First Lieutenant Bennett, who boarded my schooner, gave each of the two men on board an extra revolver, and told me the orders of Captain Quigley were, that I should not leave the port until I had reported to the customs officer at Shelburne. Upon receipt of these orders I payed out the chain and lowered the mainsail. The boat went back to the Terror and immediately returned with Captain Quigley on board.
He denied the permission given me by his first officer to sail in the night and ordered me to go to Shelburne and enter and clear at the custom-house there.
I asked him how I should go, as we were 8 miles distant from the custom-house. His reply was, “I don’t care, sir, how you go; but you must go there; and on your return show your clearance to me or suffer the consequences.” He told me my vessel was in charge of his two men, and to them he gave these orders:
“Gunner, you will allow the captain to proceed to Shelburne with the vessel, come to anchor, take his dory and two men, no more, and go on shore to enter. Allow them to bring nothing off in their dory; and if a man puts his hand on the wheel to go to sea, chop his arm off or shoot him, as the case may require.”
I asked him if the law was not very strict that did not allow a vessel arriving at night after office hours to proceed before daylight, and why the law was enforced. He replied, it was to prove that Canadian harbors were a benefit to American fishermen.
At daylight we got under way and started for Shelburne, and Lieutenant Bennett and four more armed men came on board. We arrived at Shelburne about 4.30 o’clock a.m. I went on shore with Lieutenant Bennett and his boat’s crew, woke up Collector Atwood, who, after inquiring of the lieutenant if there were any charges against me, entered and cleared the vessel.
On my return to the vessel the lieutenant requested me to exhibit my clearance, which I did, and we were then allowed to depart. I would state that when we first entered the harbor of Shelburne a Canadian vessel entered just ahead of us, and she was unmolested, sailing at her pleasure during the night, which showed plainly that an American vessel was not accorded the same treatment in Canadian ports as are Canadian vessels, although, as the collector at Halifax informed me in June last, the same laws applied to Canadian vessels as to American vessels.
During the whole difficulty my language was respectful and I quietly submitted to the detention, to the sarcastic language and overbearing conduct of Captain Quigley, but I deem my treatment and detention severe and unjust and an outrage upon the international courtesy that should exist between two friendly nations.
I, Lawson C. Rich, of Canton, N. Y., a passenger on board schooner Rattler with Captain Cunningham, do depose and say that the above statement of Captain Cunningham is true in every particular.
Massachusetts, Essex, ss:
Personally appeared A. F. Cunningham and L. C. Rich and made oath to the truth of the above statement.
We, William Bowie, Frederick Brooks, Charles Lowry, Charles Hart, George Vibert, John Hart, John Lowry, Daniel McLean, Alexander O’Neil, James Levange, and Martin Guthrie, of the crew of schooner Rattler, do depose and say that the above statement of Captain Cunningham is true in every particular.
- Wm. Bowie.
- Fred. Brooks.
- Charles Lowry.
- Charles Hart.
- George Vibert.
- John G. Hart.
- John Lowrie.
- Dan. McLean.
- Alex. O’Neil.
- James Levange.
- Martin Guthrie.
Massachusetts, Essex, ss:
Personally appeared the above-named persons, crew of schooner Rattler, and made oath to the truth of the above.