Mr. Seward to Mr. Wood
Sir: It is with sincere regret that I find myself obliged to call your attention to a serious cause of complaint against the government of Denmark.
Certain vessels were building at Bordeaux for the insurgents of the United States. This government remonstrated. The French government interdicted the departure of the vessels. One or more of them was reported to have been sold to Denmark. It is certain that one of them went to Copenhagen. Recently, that vessel is reported to have come, with a Danish crew and a Danish flag, to the island of Houat, on the coast of France, and to have there received an equipment and crew from an English vessel, and coals from a French vessel, and then to have put to sea as an insurgent vessel. There is much confusion in the reports of the transaction which have reached the. United States. It is even doubtful whether there are not two vessels concerned in the transaction, instead of one. Again, we hear of one such vessel as having put into Ferrol for repairs; and again, of the same vessel, or another, having put into Corunna for repairs.
Mr. Raasloff here, and the Danish minister in Paris, deny that the Danish government have owned or sold the vessel which is reported to have been brought to Houat. The French minister of finance is understood to affirm that the vessel was so sold. Even the fact of the transfer to the insurgents is not yet clearly established. There is, however, too strong a presumption of the fact to allow this government to remain idle or unconcerned.
You will, therefore, ask for explanations of the Danish government, and in doing so you will not omit to inquire how it happened that, if that government intended to divest itself of responsibility, it caused or suffered the vessel to go into Houat, an unarmed place, not within the surveillance of the French government, instead of Bordeaux.
In every ease, and speaking only upon the condition that the facts reported are true, you will inform the Danish government that this government cannot be expected to submit uncomplainingly to apprehended invasions of piratical vesels coming from European ports. We shall expect that Denmark will do whatever is necessary to prevent such acts, if the responsibility shall be traced to the government or to the subjects of Denmark.
You will say, moreover, that this government deems the time to have come when the maritime powers of Europe ought to withhold all protection and shelter from enemies of the United States who proceed from countries with which they are at peace.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
Bradford R. Wood, Esq., &c., &c., Copenhagen.