Mr. McCormick to Mr. Hay.

No. 176.]

Sir: Immediately after my arrival here, as already indicated in my dispatch of August 2, I expressed to Count Lamsdorff the great desirability of furnishing me with official information as to the decision of the prize court in the matter of the cargo of the Arabia; acquainting him as well with the contents of the Department’s cable of August 3, transmitting the manifest of that ship with the information concerning the destination and consignees of that cargo.

As late as yesterday afternoon I was informed through Count Lamsdorff’s private secretary that the foreign office had no information as to the decision of the court, but a few hours later, in the course of the evening, received a note conveying the information as cabled to you to-day.

Briefly, as you will observe, this note stated that considering that the steamship Arabia was seized regularly, that the cargo, composed of railway material and flour, destined for Japanese ports and addressed to different commercial houses in said ports, constituted contraband of war, no mention was made of the 66 pieces of machinery or four packages of cleansing powder, or of the four pieces of structural iron or four packages of blinds, although the tribunal decided that the freight, apparently including these, must be confiscated as being proper prize.

I addressed a note to Count Lamsdorff, stating that I would like to [Page 756] be informed whether these articles were actually confiscated, although not specifically mentioned, as were the flour and railway material.

It is possible that the telegraphic report of the court’s decision is incomplete, and that its full tenor will not be known here until all the papers have been received at the admiralty.

I will advise you of Count Lamsdorff’s reply to my inquiry for fuller information as soon as received.

I have, etc.,

Robert S. McCormick.

Count Lamsdorff to Mr. McCormick.

Mr. Ambassador: By a note under date of July 19 last I had the honor to inform Mr. Spencer Eddy that the question of the release of the steamer Arabia, stopped by the Russian naval forces, could only be decided through judicial channels on the basis of a decision of the prize court instituted by virtue of the existing regulations, which were made known to the public at the proper time.

In a further communication, dated July 22 (August 4), your excellency deemed it necessary to revert to this question by insisting on the release of the Arabia, in view of the fact that the greater part of its cargo was not contraband of war. I take it as my duty to inform you, therefore, that the prize court at Vladivostok, after an examination of the case, rendered the following sentence on July 20 last:

Considering that the steamer Arabia was regularly stopped; that the cargo, composed of railway material and flour weighing about 2,360,000 pounds, bound for Japanese ports and addressed to various commercial houses in said ports, constitutes contraband of war; that the remainder of the cargo of flour and a small part of the cargo composed of various objects, weighing about 5,700,000 pounds, bound for neutral ports, does not constitute contraband of war; that the steamer Arabia, transporting contraband of war representing less than one-third of the whole cargo, is not subject to confiscation. The court decides that the cargo bound for Japanese ports should be confiscated as being lawful prize, and that the vessel itself and the remainder of the cargo, not being subject to confiscation, should be set at liberty.

The above decision of the prize court at Vladivostok completely answers all the questions asked by your excellency in your note of July 22 (August 4). However, if this decision should in any respect not be considered satisfactory, appeal may be made in the form prescribed by law before the admiralty board, which shall then have to decide the question finally. In the latter event the interested party could present to the said board all the data referred to in the above-mentioned note of your excellency.