Andrew Johnson

Special Message

January 07, 1868

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

A Spanish steamer named Nuestra Senora being in the harbor of Port Royal, S.C., on the 1st of December, 1861, Brigadier-General T. W. Sherman, who was in command of the United States forces there, received information which he supposed justified him in seizing her, as she was on her way from Charleston to Havana with insurgent correspondence on board. The seizure was made accordingly, and during the ensuing spring the vessel was sent to New York, in order that the legality of the seizure might be tried.

By a decree of June 20, 1853, Judge Betts ordered the vessel to be restored, and by a subsequent decree, of October 15, 1863, he referred the adjustment of damages to amicable negotiations between the two Governments.

While the proceeding in admiralty was pending, the vessel was appraised and taken by the Navy Department at the valuation of $28,000, which sum that Department paid into the Treasury.

As the amount of this valuation can not legally be drawn from the Treasury without authority from Congress, I recommend an appropriation for that purpose.

It is proposed to appoint a commissioner on the part of this Government to adjust, informally in this case, with a similar commissioner on the part of Spain, the question of damages, the commissioners to name an arbiter for points upon which they may disagree. When the amount of the damages shall thus have been ascertained, application will be made to Congress for a further appropriation toward paying them.


Andrew Johnson, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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