Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, For the Year 1887, Transmitted to Congress, With a Message of the President, June 26, 1888
to Mr. Taft.
Washington , March 25, 1885.
Sir: I inclose a copy of a dispatch from Kanagawa, Japan, and of the papers accompanying the same, relating to the unwarranted seizure of the schooner Eliza, the property of a highly respected American citizen doing business at Yokohama, Japan, by the Russian cruiser Razbornyk, on the Anadyr River, on the 21st July last, and its subsequent “confiscation” by the captain of the cruiser, without any court of inquiry.
According to the statement of the owner, the vessel was on a trading voyage and catching walrus. No act obnoxious to Russian law seems to have been committed in the premises, neither was any article carried by the vessel which could have warranted the seizure and confiscation referred to.
The papers have been carefully examined by the law officer of the Department, and in pursuance of his advice I have to ask that you will present the claim of Mr. F. C. Spooner, the owner of the Eliza, for the favorable consideration of His Majesty’s Government.
“The pecuniary loss to me,” says Mr. Spooner, in his sworn statement, “of the vessel and cargo would amount to $10,000, and for this sum, together with all other expenses that may appear to have been incurred through this seizure and confiscation I wish to make claim on the Russian Government.”
I am, etc.,
Mr. Rice to Mr. Davis.
Kanagawa, Japan , February 9, 1885. (Received March 16.)
Sir: Herewith I have the honor to hand you a communication from Mr. Francis G. Spooner, a highly respectable American merchant, for many years resident and doing business at Yokohama, Japan, concerning the seizure by the Russian authorities of the schooner Eliza, the property of the said Spooner, on the 26th of July, 1884. I also inclose the depositions of Austin Weston, master, and Albert Wixon, mate, of said vessel, giving the details of the schooner’s cruise and her seizure.
From these papers it would appear that the schooner was engaged in no illegal commerce and was violating no law or obligation, and that the said seizure was an act of piracy.
I also inclose certified copies of the bill of sale of said schooner to Mr. Spooner, certificate of American ownership, certificate of change of name from Kiwa Elizabeth to Eliza, and copy of last clearance of said schooner from this port.
I commend to favorable consideration the claim of the owner for the damages as assessed by him.
I have, etc.
Affidavit of F. C. Spooner.
I, F. C. Spooner, owner of the schooner Eliza, that left this port on the 21st of March last under protection of the American flag and was seized by the Russian cruiser Kazbornyk in the Anadyr River, on the day of July last, do hereby protest against this seizure as illegal and unwarranted, and desire a representation through the proper authorities to the Russian Government.
The vessel was simply on a trading voyage, engaged in bartering with the natives and catching walrus, and as such did not come under the notice of the Russian Government, which was directed against the capture of seals on Copper, Robbin, and Behring’s Island.
I hand herewith affidavit of the master, Austin Weston, supported by his chief officer.
The vessel’s papers were in order, and she had been properly cleared from this port. No salt was on board, and no preparation made for an attempt to take seals. The vessel has been confiscated by the captain of the Razbornyk, and without any court of inquiry, which high-handed act is, I believe to be, against the law of nations.
The pecuniary loss to me of the vessel and cargo would amount to $10,000; and for this sum, together with all other expenses that, may appear to have beets incurred through this seizure and confiscation, I wish to make claim for on the Russian Government.
U. S. Vice-Consul-General, Kanayawa, Japan.
Affidavits of Austin Weston and Albert Wixon.
I, Austin Weston, late master of the American schooner Eliza, being duly sworn, do hereby affirm:
Sailed from Yokohama March 21, 1884, with a crew of fourteen all told, consisting of myself, two officers, cook, and ten men before the mast, bound on a hunting and trading voyage to Northeastern Siberia.
My cargo consisted of assorted and general goods, such as are requisite in that section to obtain whalebone, ivory, and furs.
My vessel was duly cleared from the Yokohama customs the 21st of March, the day of sailing.
A specified invoice of everything on board was supplied me before leaving. Sailed for Behring’s Straits; was in the ice-pack forty-nine days, and reached Cape Chaplin on the 23d of June, where I traded for bone, ivory, furs, and blubber.
Left Chaplin for St. Lawrence Bay and East Cape, where I got a good quantity of bone and furs. Returning through the Straits, I sailed to the westward, stopping at Cape Acheen, and then into the Gulf of Holy Cross, where I remained seventeen days hunting and killing walrus; th.6n to the mouth of the Anadyr River, where I arrived on the 23d July.
Proceeded up the river a few miles to a village; traded here, and continued on. On the 26th, about 2 p.m., was boarded by a boat from the Russian cruiser Razbornyk, and ordered to report on board with my log-book and all ship papers.
These consisted of ship’s articles, bill of sale, Yokohama clearance, and manifest of cargo and stores.
The latter was found and produced a short time after seizure, although mislaid at the time, and no attempt was made to conceal anything.
The vessel was at once declared to be confiscated, and I, with a portion of the crew, was taken by the Razbomyk to Petropaulski and landed.
The remainder of the crew were kept on board the schooner to work her to Vladivostok.
After being twenty-one days at Petropaulski, I was again taken on board the Razbornyk, and taken to Vladivostok and again set at liberty.
The schooner arrived off the harbor the same day, and was towed in by the cruiser; “was afterwards hauled into dock, and everything taken out of her.
Immediately on arrival at Vladivostok, the five men who had been detained on board the Eliza to work the vessel were thrown on the hands of the consul, and their expenses there and passage to Yokohama refused.[Page 941]
I deny the statement in the protocol, that the vessel had neither bill of lading or clearance, for she had both.
There was a good search made for salt, as the most important article to cause confiscation, but there was none on board.
I sailed from Yokohama with positive instructions from my owners not to attempt any capture of seals, and to keep away from the islands frequented by them. Knowing the Russian Government had forbidden any depredations, my trading voyage was similar to what has been going on for years without molestation from the Russian Government, and I plead ignorance that the notice issued and referred to in the protocol was intended to apply to anything except the protection of the seal fisheries, and particularly to the Copper, Robin, and Behring Islands.
Geo. E. Rice,
U. S. Vice-Consul-General, Kanagawa, Japan.
Albert Wixon, being sworn, says that the foregoing is a true and correct statement.
Mate Schooner Eliza.
U. S. Vice-Consul-General, Kanagawa.
Order for sale of schooner Eliza.
By order of H. I. Russian Majesty’s court at Kanagawa, was sold at public auction on the 2d day of May, 1882, the schooner Kiwa Elizabeth, to foreclose a mortgage held by F; C. Spooner on said vessel. The said vessel was sold to said Spooner for the sum of $3,600, the acknowledgment of payment of said sum constituting a bill of sale for the said schooner. N. 86.
H. I. Majesty’s Consul.
[Certificate to be issued to citizens of the United States being purchasers of American or foreign-built vessels in a foreign port.]
I, Thos. B. Van Buren, consul-general of the United States for the port of Kanagawa, Japan, do hereby certify that the within bill of sale, bearing date the 4th day of May, 1882, of the schooner Eliza, formerly called the Kiwa Elizabeth; tonnage, 113 tons; length over all, 74 feet; breadth, 20 feet; depth, 8 feet; masts, 2; decks, 1; frame, wood and iron fastened; stem, elliptic; sold and transferred by A. Pelikan, Russian consul, to F. C. Spooner, under foreclosure of mortgage, has been proved satisfactorily to me to have been duly executed by the subscribing party; and I further certify the F. C. Spooner, therein mentioned as purchaser of said vessel, is a citizen of the United States. As witness my hand and the seal of the consulate-general, this 31st day of May, in the year of our Lord 1882.
Act of change of name.
To all whom it may concern:
Whereas I, Frank C. Spooner, of Yokohama, in the Empire of Japan, am the sole owner of the schooner called Kiwa Elizabeth, of Yokohama aforesaid; and whereas it is my desire and intention to change the name of said schooner; now, therefore, by [Page 942] these presents he it known that from and after the date hereof said sohooner will be known as and called the Eliza, of Yokohama.
By his attorney.
Signed and sealed in the presence of—
United States Consulate-General,
On this thirty-first day of May, in the year one thousand eight hundred and eighty-two, personally appeared before me Charles Wiggins, known to me to be the attorney for F. C. Spooner, and who executed the foregoing instrument, and who acknowledged to me that he executed the same for the purposes therein set forth.
Witness my hand and official notarial seal at the place and time last above written.
Delivery of bill of sale and papers.
March 21, 1884.
I, the undersigned, deputy consul-general of the United States of America at Kanagawa, Japan, and the dependencies thereof, do hereby certify that A. Weston, master of the schooner called Eliza, of Yokohama, having this day exhibited to me the clearance of said schooner from the proper authorities of this port, I have delivered to him, the said master, the bill of sale and papers of the said schooner, duly deposited in this consulate-general on the 6th day of November, 1883.
Given under my hand and the seal of this consulate-general the day and year above written.
United States Deputy Consul-General.
Kanagawa, Japan .
I, vice-consul-general of the United States at Kanagawa, Japan, do hereby certify that the foregoing till of sale from H. I. Russian Majesty’s consul to F. C. Spooner, certificate by the United States consul-general of American ownership, and certificate of change of name, also certificate of clearance, constituting the papers of the schooner Eliza, of Yokohama, are true and correct copies of the originals of same of record in this consulate.