Memorandum filed by Russian legation March 16, 1896.
Mr. Alexander de Somow,
Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of His Majesty the Emperor of Russia, at Washington, D. C.
The petition of Gustaf Isak Dahlberg, subject of His Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias, respectfully represents to your excellency that he was born at Ulaborg, in the grand duchy of Finland, in the year 1855, and that for twenty-eight years he has been a seaman, since 1879 being the——of a vessel. That the Captain Dahlberg who, in 1867, rescued the crew of the American ship Toscana in North American ocean was deponent’s father.
That about the 15th day of October, 1895, the deponent sailed from Cardiff, in Great Britain, as commander of the Russian bark Hans, of which bark he is also the principal owner. The Hans was bound for Mobile Bay, Alabama, for orders, and outside of Mobile Bay received orders to proceed to Ship Island to load cargo, from whence she was to return to Europe with such cargo.
That on the 3d day of December, 1895, deponent arrived at the anchorage of Ship Island, in the State of Mississippi, where the vessel anchored. At about 1 a.m. in the morning of February 10, 1896, a United States marshal boarded the said bark Hans and placed deponent under arrest, showing him at the same time, but not leaving with him, the original nor a copy thereof, although deponent requested that the warrant be left with him.
That the said deputy marshal thereupon compelled the deponent to leave his ship and to accompany him, although the deponent protested against the arrest as unjust and illegal; but he, however, made no resistance, and was taken by the said deputy marshal to Biloxi, a distance of some 23 miles from his ship, and was from there transported to Mississippi City, where he arrived about 7 p.m. on the 10th of February, 1896.
That upon arriving at Mississippi City deponent was confined in a loathsome and filthy jail, in company with criminals, and subjected to much discomfort and suffering. That through the whole period of his confinement, extending from the 10th day of February to the 15th day of February, 1896, deponent continually protested that his detention was illegal, unlawful, and without jurisdiction.
He also demanded that he should be brought without delay before some judge or magistrate for an immediate hearing.
The deponent further states that, in answer to his repeated protests and his reiterated demands to be brought before a magistrate, he was asked to give a bond in the sum of $1,000. This deponent was not in a position to furnish such a bond as was required of him as a condition for his restoration to liberty, and protested that he was innocent of any wrong, and his detention and the exaction of such bond entirely unlawful and without jurisdiction. He insisted upon having an immediate hearing, or at least being given an opportunity of going before a magistrate or judge of the United States. Upon the 12th day of February, 1896, deponent communicated with the Russian consul at Mobile, asking for protection, and through his good offices he obtained counsel.
That the said counsel immediately prepared a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, to wit, on the 14th day of February, but owing to the illness of the judge the hearing upon said writ was postponed by said judge to the 17th instant; that on the 15th day of February, at about the hour of 10.30 a.m., the jailer came to deponent, who was confined in a cell, and informed him that he was free and could leave the jail, [Page 329]without furnishing any further explanation of his incarceration or its pretext. Deponent then immediately went to Mobile and communicated with the Russian consul at that place, Mr. Murray Wheeler. On the 17th, the day fixed for the hearing on his writ of habeas corpus, as well as the return day of the warrant of arrest as to him, he returned to Mississippi City with his counsel and with witnesses, in readiness for the argument on said writ of habeas corpus and for the trial of any pending question, though protesting against the jurisdiction of the court in the premises.
That as the deponent was about to enter the said court-house with his counsel they were met by the United States judge by whom the warrant of arrest against deponent had been issued and before whom the writ of habeas corpus was returnable, and the said judge stated to deponent that “there was no case” against him. Deponent then asked him, “Is that all the redress I am to get?” to which the judge replied, “I already decided on Saturday that there was no case.”
Deponent further alleges that at the time of his arrest by the United States deputy marshal on board his bark Hans, upon the 10th of February, he was shown the warrant, but not the complaint upon which the warrant was obtained; that the said warrant, as appears from the copy hereto annexed, was stated to have been obtained by one H. Perttison, who was alleged to have commenced a civil and maritime action for damages against deponent for assault, although deponent’s recollection of the warrant exhibited to him is that it referred to a complaint for “wages, damages, and hitting.”
That it was not until after his confinement and through the efforts of his counsel, Mr. Noland, that deponent was finally able to obtain a copy of the complaint made by such Perttison, upon which the warrant was issued, a copy of which complaint is hereto annexed.
That according to the said complaint this was a mere civil action for damages, and not a proceeding of a criminal nature. While deponent denies that he was guilty of the ill treatment of said Perttison as alleged in the said complaint, and while he further states, and as appears from the records of the ship’s log, that the said Perttison was guilty of a breach of contract in that he having shipped in Cardiff for a voyage and refused to work on board ship lying at Ship Island anchorage, yet deponent believes these matters to be immaterial by reason of the fact that his arrest and subsequent imprisonment was illegal and contrary to the laws of the United States, completely without jurisdiction, and was in violation of the treaty existing between the United States of America and the Emperor of Russia, proclaimed May 11, 1833, of which the following is an extract:
“Article VIII. * * * The consuls, vice-consuls, and commercial agents shall have the right, as such, to sit as judges and arbitrators in such differences as may arise between the captains and crews of the vessels belonging to the nation whose interests are committed to their charge, without the interference of the local authorities, unless the conduct of the crews or of the captain should disturb the order or the tranquillity of the country, or the said consuls, vice-consuls, or commercial agents should require their assistance to cause their decisions to be carried into effect or supported. It is, however, understood that this species of judgment or arbitration shall not deprive the contending parties of the right they have to resort, on their return, to the judicial authority of their country.”
That in addition to the physical suffering, discomfort, and humiliation undergone by deponent he was subjected to considerable expense in attempting to obtain his release, and that further he was unable to return with his ship, and that the ship was delayed for several days because of deponent’s arrest, and therefore has suffered considerable pecuniary damages in consequence of these facts. Deponent claims that the illegality of the arrest consisted in—
- First. That under the treaty between the United States of America and the Empire of Russia, made and proclaimed on the 11th day of May, 1833, all controversies between a Russian master and members of his Russian crew upon a Russian vessel are to be settled before the consular courts of the Empire of Russia.
- Second. That the courts of the United States have no jurisdiction over civil controversies arising between Russian subjects upon a Russian vessel, and that the action of the United States judge in ordering the arrest of deponent was entirely without jurisdiction, a usurpation of authority, null and void.
- Third. That the proceedings were contrary to and in violation of the admiralty rules and laws of the United States.
- Fourth. That the procedure in the case was irregular and contrary to law.
- Fifth. That the imprisonment was contrary to the constitution and statutes of the State of Mississippi.
Wherefore deponent claims that he has suffered damages and injury to his person and character by the unauthorized act of the United States judge in ordering his [Page 330]arrest and of the United States deputy marshal by actually putting him in confinement, and he begs that the Government of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Russia, in vindication of the rights of one of His Majesty’s subjects, will claim redress and indemnity from the Government of the United States.
Of Ulaborg, Finland, Russia.