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Joint high commission.

The government of the United States, in behalf of its citizens, claimed from Great Britain damages inflicted on the American shipping interests by the depredations of the Alabama (q. v.) and other Anglo-Confederate cruisers. To effect a peaceful solution of the difficulty, Reverdy Johnson (q. v.), of Maryland, was sent to England, in 1868, to negotiate a treaty for that purpose. His mission was not satisfactory. The treaty which he negotiated was almost universally condemned by his countrymen, and was rejected by the Senate. His successor, John Lo- [187] Throp Motley (q. v.), appointed minister at the British Court, was charged with the same mission, but failed in that particular, and was recalled in 1870. The matter was finally settled by arbitration. Much correspondence succeeded the efforts to settle by treaty. Finally, in January, 1871, the British minister at Washington, Sir Edward Thornton, in a letter to Secretary Fish, proposed, under instructions from his government, a Joint High Commission, to be appointed by the two governments, respectively, to settle disputes of every kind between the United States and Great Britain, and so establish a permanent friendship between the two nations. Mr. Fish proposed that the commission should embrace in its inquiries the matter of the “Alabama Claims,” so that nothing should remain to disturb amicable relations. The suggestion was approved, and each government appointed commissioners. The President appointed, for the United States, Hamilton Fish, Secretary of State; Samuel Nelson, associate-justice of the United States Supreme Court; Robert C. Schenck, minister to England; Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar, late United States Attorney-General; and George H. Williams, United States Senator from Oregon. Queen Victoria appointed George Frederick Samuel, Earl de Gray and Earl of Ripon; Sir Stratford Henry Northcote; Sir Edward Thornton, her minister at Washington; Sir Alexander McDonald, of the privy council of Canada, and attorney-general of that province; and Montague Bernard, Professor of International Law in Oxford University. The commissioners first met in Washington, Feb. 27, 1871. Lord Tenterden, secretary of the British commission, and J. C. Bancroft Davis, assistant Secretary of State of the United States, were chosen clerks of the Joint High Commission. The commissioners of the United States were instructed to consider: (1) the fisheries; (2) the navigation of the St. Lawrence River; (3) reciprocal trade between the United States and the Dominion of Canada; (4) the Northwest water boundary and the island of San Juan; (5) the claims of the United States against Great Britain for compensation for injuries committed by Confederate cruisers; (6) claims of British subjects against the United States for losses and injuries arising out of acts committed during the Civil War. A treaty was agreed to, and was signed May 8, 1871, which provided for the settlement, by arbitration, by a mixed commission, of all claims on both sides for injuries by either government to the citizens of the other, during the Civil War, and for the permanent settlement of all questions in dispute between the two nations (see Washington, treaty of). Arbitrators were appointed, who, at Geneva, Switzerland, formed what was known as the Tribunal of Arbitration, and reached a decision in which both parties acquiesced. See arbitration, tribunal of.

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