Mr. Lothrop to Mr. Bayard.
the United States,
Petersburg, February 17, 1887.
(Received March 7.)
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
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
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.
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
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.,
[Inclosure in Ko.
Mr. Vlangally to
Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Asiatic Department No. 233, January 19–31, 1887.
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
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.,