Alabama Claims


Alabama Claims

The "Alabama" Claims were a series of claims for damages by the government of the U.S. against the government of the United Kingdom for the perceived covert assistance given to the Confederate cause during the American Civil War.

The CSS "Alabama"

During the American Civil War, Confederate commerce raiders (the most famous being the CSS "Alabama") were built in Britain and did significant damage to Union merchant marine and naval forces.

British political involvement

The British Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, and Foreign Secretary Earl Russell had allowed the "Alabama" to put to sea from the shipyards of John Laird Sons and Company in Liverpool despite the explicit objections of the American Legation in London, and charges from the American Minister to Britain Charles Francis Adams that the ship was bound for the Confederacy. Though both the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary were thought to favor the Confederacy slightly at the time of "Alabama's" construction this position was against British public opinion and MPs such as Richard Cobden campaigned against it. The subsequent release of the "Alabama" proved to be publicly embarrassing when both were later forced to admit that the ship should not have been allowed to depart, despite the opinion of the British Chief Justice that her release did not violate neutrality.

Even so, the next year two ironclad warships under construction in Birkenhead and bound for the Confederacy were detained after their completion but before their launch. As a direct consequence of the flap over the "Alabama" rather than turn the ships over to Monsieur Bravay of Paris, who had ordered their construction as intermediary for Confederate principals, Palmerston instructed the British Admiralty to tender an offer for the purchase of the ships.

The claims

The United States claimed direct and collateral damage against Britain, the so-called "Alabama" Claims. United States Senator Charles Sumner originally requested $2 billion, or alternatively the ceding of Canada to the United States.

In the particular case of the "Alabama" the United States claimed that the United Kingdom had violated neutrality by allowing the "Alabama" to be constructed, knowing that it would enter into service with the Confederacy.

The tribunal

The tribunal was composed of representatives:
*United Kingdom: Sir Alexander Cockburn
*United States: Charles Francis Adams
*Italy: Federico Sclopis
*Switzerland: Jakob Stämpfli
*Brazil: Marcos Antônio d'Araújo, Baron Itajubá.

The tribunal session took place in a reception room of the Town Hall in Geneva. This room is since named "salle de l'Alabama".

The final award of $15,500,000 in 1871 formed part of the Treaty of Washington.

Legacy

This established the principle of international arbitration, and launched a movement to codify international law with hopes for finding peaceful solutions to international disputes. The "Alabama" Claims was thus a precursor to the Hague Convention, the League of Nations, the World Court, and the United Nations.

Bibliography

* cite book | title=Great Britain and the American Civil War | author=Adams, E. D. | location=New York | publisher=Russell & Russell | year=1924 (see external links)
* cite book | Balch, T. W. | title=The Alabama Arbitration | location=Philadelphia | publisher=Allen, Lane & Scott | year=1900
* cite book | author=Beaman, C. C. | title=The National and Private Alabama Claims and their Final and Amicable Settlement | year=1871 | publisher=W. H. Moore | location=Washington, reprinted in the Michigan Historical Reprint Series, ISBN 1418129801
* cite book | author=Bowen, C. S. C. | title=The Alabama Claims and Arbitration Considered from a Legal Point of View | publisher=London | year=1868
* cite book | author=Cook, A. | title=The Alabama Claims | location=Ithaca, N.Y. | publisher=Cornell University Press | year=1975
* cite book | author=deKay, T. | title=The Rebel Raiders: The Warship "Alabama", British Treachery and the American Civil War | year=2003 | publisher=Pimlico | location=London | id=ISBN 0712664904

External links

*" [http://www.econlib.org/library/YPDBooks/Lalor/llCy497.html Geneva Arbitration] ", from the "Cyclopaedia of Political Science"
*Cartoons from "Harper's Weekly":
** [http://www.harpweek.com/09Cartoon/BrowseByDateCartoon.asp?Month=November&Date=1 "John Bull’s Neutrality"] , 1 November, 1862
** [http://www.harpweek.com/09Cartoon/BrowseByDateCartoon.asp?Month=November&Date=3 "King Andy"] , 3 November 1866. Note that the medallion worn by Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles is engraved with the number "290", the original dockyard numbder for the "Alabama".
** [http://www.harpweek.com/09Cartoon/BrowseByDateCartoon.asp?Month=October&Date=5 "The Apple of Discord at the Geneva Convention"] , 5 October 1872
** [http://www.harpweek.com/09Cartoon/BrowseByDateCartoon.asp?Month=November&Date=30 "Columbia Lays Aside her Laurels"] , 9 November 1872. Note that the "laurels" laid aside are those won at the Geneva arbitration.
*" [http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/mirror-redirect?file=1/3/7/8/13789/13789-h/13789-h.htm Great Britain and the American Civil War] " "Op. cit." at Project Gutenberg
* [http://www.geneve.ch/chancellerie/salles/alabama.asp La salle de l'Alabama in the Hotel de Ville, Geneva. (In French)]


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