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[163]

Confederate States steamer Sumter, Puerto Cabello, July 26, 1861.
his Excellency, the Governor:—
I have the honor to inform your Excellency of my arrival at this place, in this ship, under my command, with the prize schooner, Abby Bradford, in company, captured by me about seventy miles to the northward and eastward. The Abby Bradford is the property of citizens of the United States, with which States, as your Excellency is aware, the Confederate States, which I have the honor to represent, are at war, and the cargo would appear to belong, also, to citizens of the United States, who have shipped it, on consignment, to a house in Puerto Cabello. Should any claim, however, be given for the cargo, or any part of it, the question of ownership can only be decided by the Prize Courts of the Confederate States. In the meantime, I have the honor to request, that your Excellency will permit me to leave this prize vessel, with her cargo, in the port of Puerto Cabello, until the question of prize can be adjudicated by the proper tribunals of my country. This will be a convenience to all parties; as well to any citizens of Venezuela, who may have an interest in the cargo, as to the captors, who have also valuable interests to protect.

In making this request, I do not propose that the Venezuelan government shall depart from a strict neutrality between the belligerents, as the same rule it applies to us, it can give the other party the benefit of, also. In other words, with the most scrupulous regard for her neutrality, she may permit both belligerents to bring their prizes into her waters; and, of this, neither belligerent could complain, since whatever justice is extended to its enemy, is extended also to itself. * * * [Here follows a repetition of the facts with regard to the seizure of the Navy by the Federal authorities, and the establishment of the blockade of the Southern ports, already stated in my letter to the Governor of Cienfuegos.] * * * Thus, your Excellency sees, that under the rule of exclusion, the enemy could enjoy his right of capture, to its full extent—all his own ports being open to him—whilst the cruisers of the Confederate States could enjoy it, sub modo, only; that is, for the purpose of destroying their prizes. A rule which would produce such unequal results as this, is not a just rule (although it might, in terms, be extended to both parties), and as equality and justice, are of the essence of neutrality, I take it for granted, that Venezuela will not adopt it.

On the other hand, the rule admitting both parties, alike, with their prizes into your ports, until the prize courts of the respective countries could have time to adjudicate the cases, would work equal and exact justice to both; and this is all that the Confederate States demand.

With reference to the present case, as the cargo consists chiefly of provisions, which are perishable, I would ask leave to sell them, at public auction, for the benefit of ‘whom it may concern,’ depositing


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Abby Bradford (1)
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July 26th, 1861 AD (1)
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