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Secretary of State, informing claimants that all claims growing out of the acts of the cruisers would be presented to the Tribunal, leaving that body to determine on their merits.” 1
It is noticeable that no distinction was ever made in the presentment of these claims between those of underwriters and owners. They stood, so far as this point is concerned, on the same footing in all respects. Each claim was distinct and specific, stating in effect the particulars of the loss, the names of the claimants, whether owners or subrogated insurers, and the names of the offending cruisers. If in any case all proper particulars were not specified, yet enough was done to indicate the nature of the claim and the name of the claimant to the British government. The claims were therefore several, definite, and specific, each standing by itself.
The United States subsequently presented to the Tribunal, with their “ case," a detailed statement of all these claims which had come to their knowledge, with all other facts needed to enable the Tribunal to reach a conclusion as to the amount of injury committed by each cruiser, and referred to the original documents filed as evidence at Washington.
They did not present a detailed statement of damages or injuries to persons situated like the officers and crews of the captured vessels, but left those to be estimated by the Tribunal, which should also determine “ what aggregate sum it would be just to place in the hands of the United States.on that account.” 3
And with these claims for specific injuries inflicted by Great Britain upon individual citizens of the United States, in violation of its duties as a neutral power in time of war, were presented the “indirect claims,” so called, which were in a mass held by the Tribunal to be invalid; and the claim of the United States government, as such, for its expenses in pursuing the cruisers, for whose acts Great Britain should be held responsible, — this claim, also, the Tribunal held to be invalid.
It, then, having eliminated from the claims of the United States every thing but the damages to individuals (including the United States as owner of two or more vessels destroyed) by the direct acts of the cruisers, proceeded to inquire how far Great Britain
1 Report of the agent of the United States. Papers relating to the Treaty of Washington, vol. iv. p. 2. ? Amer. Case, p. 471.
8 Ib. p. 471.
was responsible for them. It considered the case of each vessel by itself, and distinctly held that the latter nation was responsible for the acts of the Alabama and the Florida, for those of the Shenandoah after she left Melbourne at a fixed date, for those of the tenders of these vessels, as their accessories, and for no other acts, matters, or things whatsoever of those under its consideration.
In their argument, the counsel for the United States say:
They earnestly hope that the Tribunal will exercise the power conferred upon it, to award a sum in gross to be paid by Great Britain to the United States. The injuries of which the United States complain were committed many years since. The original wrongs to the sufferers by the acts of the insurgent cruisers have been increased by the delay in making reparation. It will be unjust to impose further delay, and the expense of presenting claims to another tribunal, if the evidence which the United States have the honor to present for the consideration of these arbitrators shall prove to be sufficient to enable them to determine what sum in gross would be a just compensation to the United States for the injuries and losses of which they complain.
In concluding its award, the Tribunal proceeds as follows, viz. :—
And whereas, in order to arrive at an equitable compensation for the damages which have been sustained, it is necessary to set aside all double claims for the same losses, and all claims for “gross freights,” so far as they exceed “net freights ;”
And whereas it is just and reasonable to allow interest at a reasonable rate;
And whereas, in accordance with the spirit and letter of the treaty of Washington, it is preferable to adopt the form of adjudication of a sum in gross, rather than to refer the subject of compensation for further discussion and deliberation to a board of assessors, as provided by Article X. of the said treaty;
The Tribunal, making use of the authority conferred upon it by Article VII. of the said treaty, by a majority of four voices to one, awards to the United States a sum of $15,500,000 in gold, as the indemnity to be paid by Great Britain to the United States for the satisfaction of all the claims referred to the consideration of the Tribunal, conformably to the provisions contained in Article VII. of the aforesaid treaty.
And, in accordance with the terms of Article XI. of the said treaty, the Tribunal declares that all the claims referred to in the treaty, as submitted to the Tribunal, are hereby fully, perfectly, and finally settled.
1 Amer. Case, 480.
Furthermore, it declares that each and every one of the said claims, whether the same may or may not have been presented to the notice of, or made, preferred, or laid before the Tribunal, shall henceforth be considered and treated as finally settled, barred, and inadmissible.
The language of the last two paragraphs is derived directly from the said Article XI., in which the high contracting parties engage to consider the result of the proceedings of the Tribunal and the Board of Assessors, should such board be appointed, as a full, perfect, and final settlement of all the claims referred to it.
Article X. of the treaty had stipulated that if the Tribunal should find that Great Britain had failed to fulfil any duty or duties incumbent on it as a neutral, and should not award a gross sum, then a board of three assessors should be appointed to adjudicate upon each claim presented by the government of the United States, and determine what should be paid to it by Great Britain on account of her liability from such failure, as to each vessel, upon principles settled by the Tribunal.
The assessors were to make report, from time to time, within a period of less than three years, to the respective governments, and all sums awarded by them were to be payable at Washington, in coin, within one year after the delivery of each report, by Great Britain to the United States.
Beyond its reference to “ the spirit and letter of the treaty of Washington,” the Tribunal gives no reason for its preference of a gross sum ; but there are obvious reasons, one of which, and, probably, a controlling one, was, that by referring the adjustment of the several claims to a tribunal appointed by the United States, there would be avoided all occasion for international suggestions or considerations, such as would be sure to arise in an examination of details conducted by British counsel on one side, and American on the other, before assessors of different nationalities. The agent of the United States, Mr. Bancroft Davis, in his report to the State Department of September 21st, 1872, after stating the manner in which the Tribunal had proceeded, says of the gross sum awarded:
It does not appear in the protocols how the arbitrators arrived at this amount. I am informed that it was reached by mutual concession.
The neutral arbitrators and Mr. Adams, from the beginning of the proceedings, were convinced of the policy of awarding a sum in gross. For some weeks before the decision was given, I felt sure that the arbitrators
would not consent to send the case to assessors until they should have exhausted all efforts to agree themselves upon the sum to be paid.
We therefore devoted our energies towards securing such a sum as should be practically an indemnity to the sufferers. Whether we have, or have not, been successful can be determined only by the final division of the sum."
There seems to have been no doubt in the mind of Mr. Davis that this money belonged to, and was finally to be divided among, the " sufferers.”
The public remembered, among other precedents, the very interesting case of the French claims in President Jackson's time. And they did not forget the law which was then passed by Congress, and which provided for the adjustment of the claims of individuals in this manner, viz.: – .
The President . . . shall appoint three commissioners, who shall form a board whose duty it shall be to receive and examine all claims which may be presented to them under the convention between the United States and France of the 4th of July, 1831, which are provided for by said convention, according to the provisions of the same, and the principles of justice, equity, and the law of nations.?
The following letter appeared in the newspapers from Mr. Caleb Cushing, the senior counsel of the United States at Geneva, and a gentleman as familiar, probably, as any man living with the subject of which it treats and all its analogues.
New York, Oct. 17, 1872. Dear Sir, — I think it well to state in writing the substance of what I said to you yesterday respecting the present state of the so-called “ Alabama claims."
1. To begin, it is misapprehension to suppose that there is any similitude between these cases and those of the so-called “ French spoliation claims.”
In the latter case the government of the United States relinquished to France all claim against that government, on account of alleged illegal captures of American merchantmen theretofore made by France, in consideration of the relinquishment by France of certain national claims against the United States.
In view of these mutual relinquishments, the aggrieved owners of the merchantmen captured by France contend, and, as I think, with great reason and truth, that the government of the United States is bound in equity to indemnify them for their losses, in consideration of the benefit thus accruing to the United States.
1 Papers relating to the Treaty of Washington, vol. iv. p. 8.
2 U. S. Stat. 1832, c. 199; U. S. Stat. at Large (Little & Brown's edit.), vol. iv. p. 574.
But the United States did not receive any money from France in the premises ; it is a question of equitable indemnity, not a question of the payment of money in the hands of the government.
In the case of the “ Alabama claims,” however, the United States will have in their hands a definite sum of money, awarded against England by the Tribunal of Arbitration, and paid oyer by England to the United States for distribution among the parties interested, according to the award of the Tribunal.
2. In the matter of the “ Alabama claims,” the agent and counsel of the United States presented to the Tribunal detailed schedules and estimates of the claims of American citizens on account of captures by Confederate cruisers fitted out in or despatched from ports of Great Britain in violation of public law, setting forth the names of vessels captured and the names of parties interested, whether owners of ship, freight, or cargo, or officers and seamen, or insurers, and asserting the responsibility of Great Britain in the premises.
The Tribunal, in the first place, adjudged Great Britain to be guilty in respect of all captures made by the Alabama and the Florida and their tenders, and by the Shenandoah after her departure from Melbourne.
The Tribunal, in the second place, examined and scrutinized the schedules and estimates of individual losses presented by the United States, and on the inspection thereof awarded a sum in gross which they conceived to be sufficient (and which I think is sufficient) to afford a just indemnity to the injured citizens of the United States.
This gross sum will within the year be paid by Great Britain to the United States, with interest on any delay; it will be received and held by the United States as a trust fund to be distributed among the parties interested, conformably to the tenor and spirit of the award of the Tribunal; and the government will be bound to make such distribution promptly and justly, by the moral force of its duty of good faith to England, and its obligation to fulfil the stipulation of the treaty of Washington.
There is no contingency, uncertainty, or doubt in all this ; you and the other parties in interest may, I do not hesitate to say, rest assured of the honor and good faith of the government of the United States in this respect, with just as much of certitude as in the payment of the gold bonds of the government.
3. It is for Congress to decide as to the manner of effecting the distribution of this money among the parties interested.
We may reasonably conjecture, however, that a board of assessors will be appointed to receive and examine the individual claims upon evidence, and