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paroxysm. This would have been the case in 1855 and again in 1868; — in both of these years secret organizations made what is known as “ a clean sweep,” and by controlling the one-half of the Senate elected in these years had the term been biennial, would, through the friends they already numbered in the half holding over, have obtained absolute control of the government. Had two-thirds of the Senate held over, however, this could not have been the case, - another year of probation would have been necessary; and where for two years consecutively the majority of the community is of the same mind, its judgment must be taken as the settled will of the whole, and it then becomes but proper that it should obtain political control. Experience, however, clearly teaches that a less period than two years cannot be considered as conclusive on this point. It would be well, therefore, if the long-vexed question of separate legislative chambers could be definitely settled on this basis of division. It would also be well if Massachusetts, leading the way for those who have hitherto followed her example, by accepting what may now be considered as an established principle of constitutional framework, would amend her own time-honored and mutilated constitution, and restore to it the fundamental principle of the distinct constituencies of the separate chambers. This would be effected by the adoption of the following as a substitute for a portion of the twenty-second amendment to her constitution as it now stands ;
66 The Senate shall consist of senators, elected by the legal voters of the Commonwealth for three years, in the manner following.
“ The General Court shall, at its first session after the adoption of this amendment as a part of the constitution of this Commonwealth, and at its several first sessions after each next special enumeration, divide the Commonwealth into
districts of adjacent territory, each district to contain, as nearly as may be, an equal number of legal voters, according to the enumeration aforesaid. Each district shall at the annual election next succeeding the first division aforesaid elect three senators for the terms of one, two, and three years respectively. Thereafter one senator shall be elected at the regular annual election in each and every senatorial district, to serve for the term of three years next ensuing said election; and, if vacancies happen by resignation or otherwise, the persons elected to fill such vacancies shall be elected for the unexpired term only."
THE ALABAMA CLAIMS.
What are the “ Alabama claims”? If the case of the United States of America v. Great Britain were now before some tribunal of competent jurisdiction, what are the precise claims that we should make, on what grounds should we urge them, and what award should we reasonably and fairly expect from an impartial and intelligent arbitrator ? The failure of the recent attempt at negotiation having set the whole subject once more afloat, it is well to consider where we stand, and what is the next thing to be done. No one can suppose that a claim so large in amount, and so well founded in justice, can be waived or abandoned on our part.
It is very frequently said, that, in the present condition of the case, there is no occasion for us to do any thing at all; and this suggestion is usually received with great favor, as if it embodied a large amount of practical wisdom. We are usually told that our claim is one that will “ keep”; that England has established a precedent that we can follow hereafter with much advantage to ourselves, and much inconvenience to her; that, in effect, we have put her under heavy bonds to keep the peace, and be of good behavior towards all the world ; that, if ever she should venture into a war with any other power, we can cover the ocean with Alabamas, and fearfully retaliate upon her the wrong that she has done us. This is equivalent to saying that the question between the two nations, which has already produced so much exasperation on both sides, and which involves such large pecuniary interests, is never to be settled at all ; that we are sullenly to wait an indefinite, and perhaps a very long, time, for “ something to turn up,” as Mr. Micawber would say, which shall give us an opportunity, not for indemnity, but for revenge, and that in the mean time the actual sufferers by the depredations complained of — the merchants whose property was burnt, and the insurers who have paid losses — are to be left to the full enjoyment of the right of petition for relief from the national treasury. But this expectant system, though received with some applause when first suggested, is not likely on the whole to be satisfactory to the country. None but the head centre of some Fenian lodge would deny that a just and honorable settlement is better than any further postponement.
As we occupy the position of plaintiffs in this matter, we are of course to go forward, to state distinctly what our claims are, and on what grounds we undertake to maintain them. And, first of all, we are to bear in mind that our claim is against the British government for its own sins of omission or commission. This is a matter in which we can deal only with that government. So far as we have been injured by the reckless and unlawful acts of British subjects, perpetrated under such circumstances as to furnish no ground for charging that government with expressly or impliedly authorizing, permitting, or conniving at the wrong complained of, we do not seek to call it to account. For that reason, it has never occurred to any one, not even to Mr. Sumner, to claim that the British government is to be held responsible for the manifold inconveniences produced by the almost constant evasions of our blockade of the Southern ports. There is no kind of doubt that the activity and success of the blockade runners prolonged the war for years. It would have been impossible, but for them, for the Confederacy to have maintained the contest for a single year. In regard to them, we neither had nor claimed any right from that government, except that it should leave them to take the chances of capture and confiscation. In regard to them, we have never charged that government with any complicity in the mischief, and their doings make no part of our claims against England. They were tempted by the prospect of enormous profits to run the risk of capture, and in this commercial age it has hardly occurred to any one that it was a matter of resentment, even against the blockade runners themselves.
The first item of our claim against the British government is one about which we need little argument, and which is not very seriously controverted anywhere, viz., the pecuniary claim ; the damages demanded for losses incurred and depredations committed, directly resulting from, and occasioned by, the failure of England honestly and faithfully to fulfil the obligations of neutrality. Mr. Sumner insists that this is not the real question between the two nations, but even he will hardly deny that it enters into it, and makes a part of it. It is one of the things to be settled and adjusted, and it is important to consider upon what principles this part of our case is to be urged.
So far as this item is concerned, the claim can be computed, adjudicated upon, and paid, in pounds, shillings, and pence. All this is a peculiarly proper subject for arbitration, and we, on our part, can have no hesitation or scruple in binding ourselves to submit to the award. We are fully prepared, as we think, to satisfy any impartial arbitrator, that, upon this point at least, we have an unanswerable case. It is hardly denied on the floor of Parliament that there was something approaching to neglect of duty on the part of the officials at Liverpool, at least in permitting the escape of the Alabama. We cannot reasonably complain that the same commission which passes upon our individual claims against England, is also to audit and examine the individual claims of British subjects against our own government. It is a little extraordinary that Mr. Sumner should object to the treaty on the ground that, in providing for individual claims on the part of our citizens, it makes them “ subject to a set-off from the individual claims of England, so that, in the end, our country may possibly receive nothing.” It would be strange if it did not. What sort of an arbitration would it be that provides that the claims of the plaintiff shall be heard and investigated, and that the claims of the defendant shall not be heard ? Is not an account in set-off a good defence as far as it goes, and as far as it is proved ? How can he say that, in the end, our country will receive nothing, if all our claims are allowed and charged against England in the general account current between her and our own country? Each country makes its claim in behalf, and in the right, of such of its own citizens as have been sufferers by the misconduct of the other. One of the objects of the proposed arbitration is to ascertain how much England owes, for depredations and losses, to our merchants. Certainly, there is no injustice in inquiring at the same time, and upon the same principles, how much (if any thing)this country owes for mistakes in seizures and confiscations, to British merchants. Mr. Sumner, surely, does not suppose that in the very improbable event of so large a set-off as to leave a very small balance, or no balance at all, in our favor, our Government can say to the merchants, in whose behalf it claims, that nothing has been recovered. Can our government charge these claims against England, and have them allowed, and then refuse to pay them over to the losers ?
The next item of claim on our part would seem to be certain more remote, or consequential, damages, or what may be called the
indirect losses, growing out of the same cause. The mere value of shipping and cargoes actually destroyed was but a part, and probably but a small part, of the injury to our commerce. A hostile steamer, fitted out with all the appliances of modern skill and science, roving about the Atlantic and along the great highways of commerce, her crew consisting of “gunners from the Excellent," herself finding enthusiastic friends and admirers in every British port; applauded, encouraged, and welcomed by every British colonial governor from Halifax to the Cape of Good Hope, and from the Cape of Good Hope to Australia, eagerly and promptly furnished with supplies, repairs, coals, and recruits, wherever British authority was established, and could reach out its hand to her, — such an enemy was formidable, indeed. The fact that there were many such cruisers upon the seas, and that they had found such exceeding favor everywhere in the eyes of John Bull, was almost enough to substantially sweep our commerce from the ocean. The loss of profits, the difficulty of procuring insurance, the abandonment of contemplated voyages, and the very general transfer of our tonnage into foreign hands, threw us a long way behind, in the competition with other countries, for the carrying trade of the world, and inflicted upon us an immense national loss. But if we were to bring forward this great national loss as a matter of pecuniary claim, we should certainly find ourselves embarrassed with certain well established, and not wholly pedantic, rules, familiar to the courts of law, as to remote and proximate causes of damage. The merchant, whose ship and cargo have been burnt on the high seas, has a claim for damages that admits of precise and definite computation. It can be expressed, and exact compensation can be made, in coined money of the realm. But the merchant who keeps his ships and cargo at home, for fear they may be burnt; the merchant who retires from foreign commerce entirely, because it has become too dangerous a business to follow; the merchant who sells his ship, because it is unsafe to use her himself, — such a merchant may have taken very prudent precautions, and may be a decided loser ; but can it be said that the damage which he has suffered was the direct and necessary consequence, the immediate result, of the breach of neutrality on the part of the British government? The decline of national commerce, the expense and inconvenience of convoys, the frequent and expensive search and pursuit after the rovers, enter into the