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laid before the commanders. This document bore all
the marks of a genuine paper, except in having the
word " signed" occurring before the consul's signature,
and partially erased. This seemed to indicate tiiat it
had been made out as a copy, and, if genuine, the con-
sul had afterwards signed it as an original paper. The
consular seal was impressed, and several other docu-
ments, duly sealed and properly certified, were at-
tached, bearing strong evidence that the document was

The British commodore argued that the erasure of
the word " signed," even if it did not invalidate the
document, gave good ground for the suspicion that the
document was a forgery; and she being engaged in
the slave-trade, the officer who captured her regarded
tlie claim first set forth to American nationality as

The American commodore could not permit tlie
character of the vessel to be assigned as a reason for
her capture, and confined the discussion to the papers
constituting the nationality of the vessel. He re-
garded the consular seal as genuine, and believed
that, if the paper had been a forgery, care would have

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been taken to have had it drawn up without any era-
sure, or the word " signed.'*

The discussion in relation to the Volusia and the Na-
varre, was renewed with the Chief-Justice and Judge
of the Admiralty Court, soon after the arrival of the
Perry at the island of St. Helena.

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"LOUISA Beaton" by a British cruiser — correspondence




The commodore, on the 24:th of August, intimated
that it had been his intention to relieve the Perry from
the incessant duties vrhich had been imposed upon her,
but regretted that he could not then accomplish it with-
out leaving American interests in that quarter un-
protected, and that the commander would therefore
be pleased to prepare for further service on the
southern coast, with the assurance of being relieved
as soon as practicable.

Orders were issued by the commodore to resume
cruising upon the southern coast, as before, and to visit
such localities as might best insure the successful ac-
complishment of the purposes in view.

Authority was given to extend the cruise as far as
the island of St. Helena, and to remain there a suffi-

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cient length of time to refresh the crew ; and, after
cruising until the twentieth of November, then to pro-
ceed to Porto Praya, touching at Monrovia, if it was
thought proper.

The orders being largely, discretionary, and the
Chatsworth still in port, and suspected of the intention
of shipping a cargo of slaves at Ambriz, the Perry
sailed, the day on which her orders were received, with-
out giving any intimation as to her cruising-ground.
When outside of the harbor, the vessel was hauled on
a wind to the southward, as if bound up the coast, and
continued beating until out of sight of the vessels in
the harbor. She was then kept away to the northward,
making a course for Ambriz, in anticipation of the
Chatsworth's soon sailing for tiiat place.

The cruising with the English men-of-war was re-
sumed. A few days after leaving Loanda, when trying
the sailing qualities of the vessel with a British cruiser,
a sail was reported, standing down the land towards
Ambriz. Chase was immediately made, and, on com-
ing within gun-shot, a gun was fired to bring the vessel
to. She hoisted American colors, but continued on her
course. Another gun, throwing a thirty-two -pound
shot across her bows, brought the Chatsworth to. She
was then boarded, and again searched, without finding
any additional proof against the vessel's character.

AAer remaining a day or two off Ambriz, the Perry

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proceeded to Ambrizette, a short distance^to the north
ward, leaving one of the ship's boats in charge of an
officer, with orders to remain sufficiently near the
Chatsworth, and, in case she received water-casks on
board) or any article required to equip a slave-vessel,
to detain her until the return of the Perry.

When the vessel had reached her destination, the
commander conceived it to be a good opportunity to
forward the interests of American commerce, by paying
a visit of conciliation to the queen of that region.
Though warned by the British officers that the natives
were hostile to all persons engaged in suppressing the
lucrative trade in slaves, he resolved to avail himself
of the invitation of the resident American factor, and
proceed to the royal residence. Two other officers of
the vessel, the agent, and several of the gig's Kroomen,
accompanied him. On their way, a great number of
Her Majesty's loyal subjects— -dressed chiefly in the
costume of their own black skins— formed the escort
" All hands," however, were not in the native sables
exclusively, for several, of more aristocratic claims,
sported a piece of calico print, of glaring colors, over
one shoulder. The village, wl^en first seen, resembled
a group of brown haystacks ; the largest of these, as a
palace, sheltered the royal presence. The court eti-
quette brought the mob of gentlemen and ladies of the
escort, with and without costume, down upon their

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by Googk


knees, in expectation of Her Majesty's appearance. A
little withered old woman then stepped ont, having, in
addition to the native costume, an old red silk cloak,
drawn tight around her throat, and so worn as to make
her look like a loose umbrella, with two handles. She
then squatted on the ground. Her prime minister as-
pired to be higber than African in bis costume, by
banging on bis long, thin person, an old full-dress
Frencb navy uniform-coat^ dispensing with other ma-
terial articles of clothing, except a sbort pair of white
trowsers. The oflBcers being seated in front, the kneel-
ing hedge of three or four bundred black woolly heads
closed behind tbem, — ^impregnating the air with their
own peculiar aroma — ^their greasy faces upturned in
humble reverence — bands joined, palm to palm, ready
to applaud Her Majesty's gracious wisdom wben they
beard it, — the conference began. The interpreter intro-
duced the oflBcers, and tbeir business, and, in the name
of the commander, expressed their friendly feelings to-
wards Her Majesty and ber people ; advising her to
encourage trade with the American merchants in gums,
copper and the products of the country, instead of
selling ber people as slaves, or conniving at the sale in
other tribes, for tbe purpose of procuring goods. This
speecb having the bonor of being directed to the royal
ears, was greeted, according to etiquette, with clap,
clap, clap, from all the ready bands of all the gentle-

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men in waiting, who were nsing iheir knees as supporte
in Her Majesty's royal presence. The prime minister,
from the inside of the French coat, then responded —
that Her Majesty had great reason to complain of the
conduct of cruisers' boats on the coast, for they were in
the habit of chasing Ihe fishermen, and firing to bring
them to, and taking their fish, which were the principal
support of the people, without making an equivalent
return. Whereupon, clap, clap, clap, went the hands
again. Her Majesty was assured, in reply, that sudi
had never been, and never would be the case, in regard
to the boats of American cruisers, and Ihat her com-
plaints would be made known to those officers who had
the power and the disposition to remove aU such cause
of grievance. The chorus of clap, clap, clap, again at
this answer concluded the ceremony. The prime miur
ister followed the return escort af some distance, and
took occasion, at parting on the beach, to intimate that
there were certain other marks of friendlj respect com-
mon at courts, and marking the usages of polished
nations. He gave no hints about gold snuff-boxes, as
might be suitable in the barbarian courts of Europe ;
but intimated that his friends visiting Her Majesty, in
such instances, thought KiB humble services worthy of*
two bottles of rum. Coinpliance with this amiable cus-
tom was declared to be wholly impracticable, as the
spirit-room casks of the Perry had been filled only with

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pnre (or impure) water, instead of whisky, during the

In communicating to Hie government, in a more
oflScial form, the object and incidents of the visit to the
queen n^tr Ambrizette, reference was made to a pow-
erful king, residing ten miles in the interior of Ambriz,
and the intention of making him a visit was announced.
But the seizure of the Louisa Beaton by a British
cruiser, on her return to the coast, and the impression
made upon the natives by the capture of the Chats-
worth as a slaver, not only occupied the intervening
time before leaving for St. Helena, but rendered inland
excursions by no means desirable.

On returning towards Ambriz, soon after making the
land, the steamer Cyclops, with another British cruiser,
was observed ; and also the Chatsworth, with an Ameri-
can brigantine lying near her. A boat from the Cyclops,
with an English officer, pulled out several miles, while
the Perry was in the offing, bringing a packet of let-
ters and papers marked as usual, " On Her Britannic
lUtajesty's Service." These papers were accompanied
by a private note from the British commander of the
division, expressing great regret at the occurrence,
which was officially noticed in the accompanying
papers, and the earnest desire to repair the wrong.

The official papers were dated September the ninth,
and contained statements relating to the chasmg^ hoa/rdr

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im^ and detention of the American brigantine- Louisa
Beaton, on the seventh and eighth instant.

The particulars of the seizure of the vessel were
given in a letter fipom the commander of the English
cruiser Dolphin, directed to the British commander of
the division, as follows: "I have the honor, to inform
you, that at daylight on the 7th instant, being about
seventy miles oflF the land, a sail was observed on the
lee bow, whilst Her Majesty's brigantine, under my
command, was steering to the eastward. I made all
possible sail in chase : the chase was observed making
more sail and keeping away. Owing to light winds, I
was unable to overtake her before Oh. 80m. a. m.
When close to her and no sail shortened, I directed a
signal gun to be fired abeam, and hailed the chase to
shorten sail and heave to. Chase asserted he could
not, and requested leave to pass to leeward ; saying, if
we wanted to board him, we had better make haste
about it, and that * we might fire and be danmed.'

" I directed another gun to be fired across her bows,
when she inamediately shortened sail and hove to: it
being night, no colors were observed flying on board
the chase, nor was I aware of her character.

" I was proceeding myself to board her, when she
bore up again, with the apparent intuition of escaping.
I was therefore again compelled to hoist the boat up
and to close her under sail. I reached the chaae on the

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second attempt, and found her to be the American
brigantine Louisa Beaton. The master produced an
American register, with a transfer of masters : this gave
rise to a doubt of the authenticity of the paper, and on
requesting further information, the master refused to
give me any, and declined showing me his port clear-
ance, crew list, or log-book.

''The lieutenant who accompanied me identified the
mate as having been in charge of the slave-brig Lucy
Ann, captured by Her Majesty's steam-sloop Eattler.
Under these suspicious circumstances, I considered it
my duly, as the Louisa Beaton was bound to Ambriz,
to place an officer and crew on board of her, so as to
confer with an American officer, or yourself, before
allowing her, if a legal trader, to proceed on her

The British conunander of the division, in his letter,
stated, that immediately on the arrival of the vessels,
he proceeded with the commander of the Dolphin and
the lieutenant of the Rattler to the brigantine Louisa
Beaton. Her master then presented the register, and
also the tramfer of masters made in Rio, in consequence
of the death of the former master, but refused to show
any other documents. >

On examining the register, and having met the ves-
sel before on that coast, he decided that the Louisa
Beaton's nationality was perfect; but that the conduct


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pursued by her master, in withholding documents that
should have been produced on boarding, had led to the
unfortunate detention of the vessel.

The British commander further stated, that he in-
formed the master of the Louisa Beaton that he would
immediately order his vessel to be released, and that
on falling in with the commander of the Perry, all due
inquiry into the matter f<Jr his satisfiEUjtioh should be
made ; but that the master positively refused to take
charge again, stating that he would immediately aban-
don the vessel on the Dolphin's crew quitting her ; and,
further, requested that the vessel might be brought
before the American commander.

That, as much valuable property might be sacrificed
should the master carry his threat into execution, he
proceeded in search of the Perry, that the case might
be brought under consideration while the Dolphin was
present; and on arriving at Ainbriz, the cutter of the
Perry was found in charge of one of her officers.

On the following morning, as he stated, accompanied
by the officer in charge of the Perry's cutter, and the
commander of the Dolphin, he proceeded to the Louisa
Beaton, and informed her master that the detention of
his vessel arose from the refusal, on his part, to show
the proper documents to the boarding-officer, authoriz-
ing him to navigate the "vessel in those seas ; and jBrom
his mate having been identified by one of the Dolphin's

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officers, as having been captured in charge of a vessel
having on board five hundred and forty-seven slaves,
which attempted to evade search and capture by dis-
playing the American ensign ; as well as from his own
suspicious maneuvering in the chase. But as he was
persuaded that the Louisa Beaton was an American
vessel, and her papers good, although a most important
document was wanting, namely, the seorletter^ usually
given by consular officers to legal traders after the
tramfer of masters^ he should direct the conamander
of the Dolphin to resign the charge of the Louisa
Beaton, which was accordingly done; and, that on
meeting Ihe commander of lihQ Perry, he would lay the
case before him ; and was ready, if he demanded it, to
give any remuneration or satisfaction, on the part of
the commander of the Dolphin, for the unfortunate
detention of the Louisa Beaton, whether engaged in
legal or illegal trade^ that the master might in fairness
demand, and the commander of the Perry approve.

After expressing great regret at the occurrence, the
British commander stated that he was requested by
the* captain of the Dolphin to assure the commander
of the Perry, that no disrespect was intended to the
flag of the United States, or even interference, on his
part, with traders of America, be they legal or illegal ;
but the stubbornness of the master, and tbe identifying
of one of his mates as having been . cagtured in a

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Brazilian vessel, trying to evade detection by the dis-
play of the American flag, had led to the mistake.

A postscript to the letter added, "I beg to state
that the hatches of the Louisa Beaton have not been
opened, nor the vessel or crew in any way exam-

On the Perry's reaching the anchorage, the Louisa
Beaton was examined. The aflSdavit of the master,
which differs not materially from the statements of the
British oflScers, was taken. A letter by the connnand-
er of the Perry was then addressed to the Britidi
officer, stating, that he had in person visited the Louisa
Beaton,*conferred with her master, taken his affidavit,
examined her papers, and found her to be in all re-
spects a legal American trader. That the seorletter
which had been referred to, as being usually given by
consular officers, was only required when the vessel
changes owners, and not, as in the present case, on the
appointment of a new master. The paper given by
the consul authorizing the appointment of the present
master, was, with the remainder of the vessel's papers,
strictly in form.

The commander also stated that he respectfully de-
clined being a party concerned in any arrangement of
a pecuniary nature, as satisfaction to the master of the
Louisa Beaton, for the detention and seizure of his
vessel, and if such arrangement was made between

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the Britisli oflScers and the master of the Louisa Bea-
ton, it would be his duty to give the information to his

The commander added, that the government of the
United States did not acknowledge a right in any other
nation to visit and detain the vessels of American citi-
zens engaged in commerce : that whenever a foreign
cruiser should venture to board a vessel under the flag
of the United States, she would do it upon her own
responsibilily for all consequences : that if the vessel
60 boarded should prove to be American, the injured
party would be left to such redress, either in the tri-
bimals of England, or by an appeal to his own country,
as the nature of the case might require.

He also stated that he had carefully considered all
the points in the several communications which the
commander of the British division had sent him, in re-
lation to the seizure of the Louisa Beaton, and he must
unqualifiedly pronounce the seizure and detention of
that vessel wholly unauthorized by the circumstances,
and contrary both to the letter and the spirit of the
eighth article of the treaty of "Washington ; and that it
became his duty to make a full report of the case, ac-
companied with the communications which the British
commander had forwarded, together with the aflSdavit
of the master of the Louisa Beaton, to the government
of the United States.

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This letter closed the correspondence.*

The British commander-in-chief then accompanied
the commander of the Perry to the Louisa Beaton, and
there wholly disayowed the act of the conmiander of
the Dolphin, stating, in the name of that officer, that he
begged pardon of the master, and that he would do
any thing in his power to repair the wrong; adding,
" I could say no more, if I had knocked you down."

The Louisa Beaton was then delivered over to the
charge of her own master, and the officer of the cutter
took his station alongside of liie Ohatsworth.

On the 11th of September this brigantine was seized
as a slaver. During the correspondence with the British
officers in relation to the Louisa Beaton, an order was
given to the officer of flie cutter, to prevent the Chats-
worth from landing the remaining part of her cargo.
The master immediately called on board the Perry,
with the complaint, that his vessel had been seized on
a former occasion, and afterwards released by the com-
modore, with the endorsement of her nationality on
the log-book. Since then she had been repeatedly
searched, and now was prevented from disposing of
her cargo ; he wished, therefore, that a definite decision

* This correspondence, with much of that which is to be referred to
hereafter, with the British officers, has been published more at length
in the " Blue Book," or Parliamentary Papers, of 1861.

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might be made. A decision was made by the instant
seizure of the vessel.

Information from the master of the Louisa Beaton,,
that the owner of the Chatsworth had in Rio acknowl-
edged to him that the vessel had shipped a cargo of
slaves on her last voyage, and was then proceeding to
the coast for a similaf purpose — superadded to her sus-
picious movements, and the importance of breaking up
this line of ostensible traders, but real slavers, running
between the coasts of Brazil and Africa — ^were the
reasons leading to this decision.

On announcing the decision to the master of the
Chatsworth, a prize crew was immediately sent on
board and took charge of the vessel. The master and
supercargo then drew up a protest, challenging the act
as iUegal, 4ind claiming the sum of fifteen thousand
doUars for damages. The supercargo, on presenting
this protest, remarked that the United States Court
would certainly release the vessel ; and the procuro
of the owner, with other parties interested, would then
look to the captor for the amount of damages awarded.
The commander replied, that he fully appreciated the
pecuniary responsibility attached to this proceeding.

The master of the Louisa Beaton, soon after the super-
cargo of the Chatsworth had presented the protest,
went on shore for the purpose of having an interview
with him, and not coming off at the time specified,

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apprehensions were entertained that the slave-factors
had revenged themselves for his additional informa-
tion — Pleading to the seizure of the Chatsworth. At
nine o'clock in the evening, three boats were manned
and armed, containing thirty oflftcers and men, — Cleaving
the Perry in charge of one of the lieutenants. When
two of the boats had left the vessel, and- the third was
in readiness to foUow, the master of the Louisa Bea-
ton made his appearance, stating that his reception on
shore had been any thing but pacific. Had the appre-
hensions entertained proved correct, it was the inten-
tion to have landed and taken possession of the town ;
and then to have marched out to the barracoons, liber-
ated the slaves, and made, at least for the time being,
** free soil" of that section of country.

In a letter to the commodore, dated September lith,
information was given to the following purport :

" Inclosed are affidavits, with other papers and letters,
in relation to the seizure of the American brigantine
Chatsworth. This has been an exceedingly complica-
ted case, as relating to a slaver with two sets of papers,
passing alternately under different nationalities, eluding
detection from papers being in form, and trading with
an assorted cargo.

"The Chatsworth has been twice boarded and
searched by the commander, and on leaving for a short
cruise off Ambrizette, a boat was dispatched with or-

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dem to watch her movements during the absence of the
Perry. On returning from Ambrizette, additional evi-
dence of her being a slaver was procured. Since then
the affidavits of the master of the Chatsworth and the
mate of the Louisa Beaton have been obtained, leading
to further developments, until the guilt of the vessel, as
will be seen by the accompanying papers, is placed be-
yond all question."

The Italian supercargo, having landed most of the
cargo, and his business being in a state requiring his
presence, was permitted to go on shore, with the assurance
that he would return when a signal was made. He
afterwards* came within hail of the Chatsworth, and
finding that such strong proofs against the vessel were
obtained, he declined going on board, acknowledging
to the master, of the Louisa Beaton that he had brought
over Brazilian papers.

The crew of the Chatsworth being foreigners, and
not wishing to be sent to the United States, were land-
ed at Ambriz, where it was reported that the barra-
coons contained four thousand slaves, ready for ship-
ment ; and where, it was said, the capture of the Chats-
worth, as fSeu* as the American flag was concerned,
would give a severe and an unexpected blow to the

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Online LibraryAndrew Hull FooteAfrica and the American flag → online text (page 18 of 24)