Mr. Lincoln to Mr. Blaine.

No. 515.]

Sir: Referring to the Department’s instruction numbered 528, of June 3 last, I have the honor to inclose herewith copies of a note which I addressed to the Marquis of Salisbury on the 23d of that month, relative to Mr. Webster’s claim to land in New Zealand, and of the reply thereto which has just Reached me.

The records of this legation show that Lord Aberdeen’s note to Mr. Everett of February 10, 1844, was forwarded to the Department of State in Mr. Everett’s dispatch No. 95, of March 4, 1844.

I have, etc.,

Robert T. Lincoln.
[Page 541]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 515.]

Mr. Lincoln to Lord Salisbury.

My Lord: With reference to your note of January 16 last, relative to the claims of Mr. Webster against the Government of New Zealand, arising from his alleged wrongful deprivation of lands belonging to him in that colony, I have the honor to acquaint your lordship that my Government regrets to ascertain that an unfavorable view has been taken of the claim in question by Her Majesty’s Government after consultation with the law officers of the Crown, and the more so as this view appears to the Department of State to be the result of a misapprehension of the facts of the case.

It has been the understanding of my Government that Mr. Webster was in reality deprived of his lands and of his claims to lands by the commissioners under the colonial land claims act of 1856. This view of the case is set forth in the memorandum on the subject which I had the honor to communicate to your lordship on the 11th of October, 1890, and is confirmed by your note of January 16 last; but Her Majesty’s Government appear to mine to be in error in stating in the same note that it is clearly shown that Mr. Webster in the first instance, when bringing his case before the land commissioners under the colonial act of 1856, waived his right to be treated as an alien and so debarred himself from the right to claim anything beyond what was awarded to him by the commission.

An examination not only of the memorandum, but also of the evidence heretofore presented in opposition to Mr. Webster’s claims by the authorities of New Zealand, shows that he never brought his claims before the commissioners under the colonial act of 1856. He was at that time in the United States and was pressing his claim upon my Government, having then been absent from New Zealand for nearly ten years, during which period the Department of State fails to find that he had any correspondence with the local authorities or was in any way aware of or countenanced what they did under the land act of 1856.

I am instructed to bring these facts to the attention of your lordship and to express the hope that, as my Government is of the opinion that the reply of Her Majesty’s Government to the representations set forth in the memorandum transmitted with my note of October 11, 1890, is based upon a misconception of the essential facts, and can not therefore be considered as satisfactory or conclusive, Her Majesty’s Government will readily reconsider its views upon the subject.

I have, etc.,

Robert T. Lincoln.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 515.]

Mr. Sanderson to Mr. Lincoln.

Sir: I have the honor to acquaint you that, in accordance with the assurance conveyed to you on the 29th of June, Her Majesty’s Government have carefully considered the representations in your note of the 23d of that month respecting the land claim of Mr. Webster in New Zealand.

It appears on further examination of the case that in the note which I addressed to Mr. White on the 16th of January last a mistake was inadvertently made in the reference to the colonial land claims act of 1856. It was in the year 1841, and to the commissioners under the colonial ordinance of that year, that Mr. Webster submitted his claims, having previously received full notice from the governor that if he adopted this course he must be held to claim as a British subject.

While expressing to you my regret that the mistake should have occurred, I have the honor to state that it does not appear to Her Majesty’s Government to materially affect the question at issue, nor to involve any alteration of the decision at which they have already arrived; for, Mr. Webster having voluntarily accepted the conditions imposed upon him by Governor Fitzroy in 1841, and having submitted his claim as a British subject under the colonial ordinance of that year, Her Majesty’s Government are unable to admit that he could at any time afterwards bring in a fresh claim as an American citizen under the principle conceded to Mr. Everett by Lord Aberdeen in his note of the 10th of February, 1844.

I have, etc. (in the absence of the Marquis of Salisbury),

T. H. Sanderson.