No. 579.
Mr. Lothrop to Mr. Bayard.

No. 96.]

Sir: I have the honor herewith to transmit to you a copy, with translation, of a communication received from the imperial foreign office on February 1 instant, relative to the seizure of the schooner Eliza.

The Russian Government claims that she was seized and condemned under the provisions of an order, or regulation, which took effect at the beginning of 1882, and which absolutely prohibited every kind of trading, hunting, and fishing on the Russian Pacific coasts without a special license from the governor-general.

It is not claimed that the Eliza was engaged in seal fishing, but that she was found actually engaged in trading with the natives with the contraband articles of arms and strong liquors.

[Page 947]

She was condemned by a commission sitting on the imperial corvette Rasbornyk, composed of the officers thereof. In this respect the case is precisely like that of the Henrietta, mentioned in my last preceding dispatch, No. 95, and of this date.

It will be noticed that Mr. Spooner, the owner of the Eliza, in his statement of his claims, declares that the Eliza was “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 we directed against the capture of seals on Copper, Bobbins, and Behring Island.” It will be seen that Mr. Spooner either refers to an order of the Russian Government different from the one mentioned by the imperial foreign office, or he understood the letter in a very different sense. I may add that the Russian code of prize law of 1869, article 21, and now in force, limits the jurisdictional waters of Russia to 3 miles from shore.

As stated in my previous dispatch, I have asked for a copy of the order or regulation under which the Henrietta and Eliza were seized and condemned.

Very truly, etc.,

Geo. V. N. Lothrop.
[Inclosure in Ko. 96.—Translation.]

Mr. Vlangally to Mr. Lothrop.

Mr. Envoy; The chief of the general staff of the navy has just transmitted to me the information which I had requested from that department in consequence of the note that you addressed to me bearing date of July 5–17, 1886, in regard to the incident of the seizure of the schooner Eliza.

This information is in substance to the effect that the Eliza was confiscated, not for the fact of seal hunting, but by virtue of an administrative regulation prohibiting, from the beginning of” the year 1882, every kind of commercial act, of hunting and of fishing on our coasts of the Pacific without a special authorization from the governor-general, and carrying with it, against those disregarding it, the penalty of the seizure of the ship as well as of the cargo.

During the years 1881–’83 the widest means of publicity were employed in bringing this regulation to the knowledge of the parties interested. It was published in the journals of Yokohama, posted up in all our consulates of the Pacific, and communicated to the American custom-house establishments.

The complainant can not, therefore, plead ignorance of these prohibitory measures in question.

The crew of the Eliza was engaged not only in hunting walrus on our coasts of Kamtchatka, and in commercial transactions with the natives, but traded therewith illicit articles, such as arms and strong liquors.

The infringements of the aforesaid regulation are duly established by the flagrante delicto and the confession of the captain, Austin Weston, who made no protest against the seizure of the vessel ordered under that head by the commission ad hoc on board the imperial corvette Rasbormjlc. The captain and his second (officer) besides acknowledge the offense charged against them, of hunting and trading, in their depositions annexed to the petition itself of Mr. Spooner, and communicated to the imperial ministry by the legation of the United States under date of April 16–28.

In informing you of the foregoing circumstances, which demonstrate the entire legitimacy of the seizure of the Eliza, I have no doubt, Mr. Envoy, that the claim brought by the proprietor of that ship is without foundation, and

I avail myself, etc.,

A. Vlangally