to Mr. Lothrop.
Washington, March 16, 1887.
Sir: I have received your No. 95, of the 17th ultimo, in answer to instruction No. 65, concerning the grounds for the seizure and confiscation on the 24th August, 1886, of the American schooner Henrietta by the Russian authorities.
If, as I am to conclude from your dispatch, the seizure of the Henrietta was made in Russian territorial waters, then the Russian authorities had jurisdiction; and if the condemnation was on proceedings duly instituted and administered before a competent court and on adequate evidence, this Department has no right to complain. But if either of these conditions does not exist, the condemnation can not be internationally sustained. The first of these conditions, viz, that the proceedings should have been duly instituted and administered could not be held to exist if it should appear that the court before whom the proceedings were had was composed of parties interested in the seizure. On general principles of international law, to enforce a condemnation by such a court is a denial and perversion of justice, for which this Government is entitled to claim redress. The same right to redress also would arise if it should appear that while the seizure was within Russian waters the alleged offense was committed exterior thereto, and on the high seas.[Page 955]
You are therefore instructed to inquire, not merely as to the mode in which the condemning court was constituted, but as to the evidence adduced before such court, in which the exact locality of seizure should be included.
I am, etc.,