Description

    Charles Francis Adams on the Alabama Arbitration

    Charles Francis Adams Autograph Letter Signed "C.F. Adams", 3 pages conjoined, 5" x 8", Boston, February 8, 1873, to [William Maxwell] Evarts declining a speaking engagement and commenting on the award results of the Alabama arbitration of the previous year. In part: "...At the request of Mr. Winthrop I had some weeks age prepared a brief notice of Mr. Seward for the Historical Society, which was very favorably received. But this call would demand something far more thorough. My obligation to [Seward] would preclude any possibility of a refusal if I were called upon. What a piece of work they are making at Washington of the arbitration award! I do not wonder that you are called to that place to try to infuse a little sense into the bewildered brains of the Legislators. The expositions thus far made furnish a curious commentary on the principle established in our decision. It seems to me that Great Britain stands a chance of establishing its ground of objection to the magnitude of the indemnity, after all, through our admissions..." Adams goes on to make reference to recollections of times their families shared in Geneva. Although Britain had claimed neutrality during the Civil War, the Confederate cruiser Alabama was built there. The Alabama was said to have destroyed 68 Union ships in service to the Confederacy; and therefore all US grievances against Great Britain during and after the Civil War came to be referred to as the Alabama Claims. Although the US originally demanded 2.1 billion dollars in restitution, the amount was eventually decreased significantly, and the claims came to be settled as part of the Treaty of Washington in 1871. Evarts had represented the US in the ensuing arbitration which was held in Geneva in 1872. Although already settled, the arbitration remained a point of contention as evidenced by Adams' letter. Only lightly toned and with the usual mail folds, in near fine condition.

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    Auction Dates
    February, 2008
    21st-22nd Thursday-Friday
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