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[209] ship, which, in the virulent language of the day, our enemies denominated a ‘pirate,’ that the case claims at my hands a somewhat extended notice.

The senior Mr. Laird was a member of the British Parliament, and, because of the complaints made by the United States government, and the abuse heaped upon him by the Northern newspapers, he made a speech in the House of Commons, in which he stated that, in 1861, he was applied to to build vessels for the Northern government, first, by personal application, and subsequently by letter from Washington, asking him, on the part of the United States Navy Department, to give the terms on which he would build an iron-plated ship, ‘to be finished complete, with guns and everything appertaining.’ Mr. Laird continued: ‘On the 14th of August I received another letter from the same gentleman, from which the following is an extract: “I have this morning a note from the Assistant-Secretary of the Navy, in which he says, ‘I hope your friends will tender for the two iron-plated steamers.’ ” ’ Mr. Laird then said that, while he would not give the name of his correspondent, who was a gentleman of the highest respectability, he was willing, in confidence, to submit the original letters to the Speaker of the House or the first Minister of the Crown; that, as ‘the American Government is making so much work about other parties whom they charge with violating or evading the law, when in reality they have not done so, I think it only right to state these facts.’

To those who have listened with credulity to the abuse of the Confederate government, as well as that of Great Britain, the one for contracting for the building of the Alabama and the other for permitting her to leave a British port, will thus see how little of sincerity there was in the complaints of the United States government. For more than a generation the British people have been the great shipbuilders of world, and it is a matter of surprise that they should have given respectful consideration to charges of a breach of neutrality because they allowed a merchantman to be built in one of their ports and to leave it without any armament or crew, which could have enabled it, in that condition, to make war upon a country with which Great Britain was at peace.

Referring to the Alabama, as she was when she left the Mersey, Mr. Laird said:

If a ship without guns and without arms is a dangerous article, surely rifled guns and ammunition of all sorts are equally and even more dangerous. I have referred to the bills of entry in the custom-houses of London and Liverpool, and I find that there has been vast shipments of implements of war to the Northern States through the celebrated houses of Baring & Co.; Brown, Shipley & Co.; and

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