Millard Fillmore photo

Special Message

December 15, 1851

To the Senate of the United States:

I have received a resolution of the Senate, adopted on the 12th instant, in the following terms:

Resolved , That the President of the United States be requested to communicate to the Senate, if not inconsistent with the public interest, any information the Executive may have received respecting the firing into and seizure of the American steamship Prometheus by a British vessel of war in November last near Greytown, on the Mosquito Coast, and also what measures have been taken by the Executive to ascertain the state of the facts and to vindicate the honor of the country.

In answer to this request I submit to the Senate the accompanying extracts from a communication addressed to the Department of State by Mr. Joseph L. White, as counsel of the American, Atlantic and Pacific Ship Canal Company, dated 2d instant.

This communication is the principal source of the information received by the Executive in relation to the subject alluded to, and is presumed to be essentially correct in its statement of the facts. Upon receiving this communication instructions such as the occasion seemed to demand were immediately dispatched to the minister of the United States in London. Sufficient time has not elapsed for the return of any answer to this dispatch from him, and in my judgment it would at the present moment be inconsistent with the public interest to communicate those instructions. A communication, however, of all the correspondence will be made to the Senate at the earliest moment at which a proper regard to the public interest will permit.

At the same time instructions were given to Commodore Porker, commanding the Home Squadron, a copy of which, so far as they relate to the case of the Prometheus , is herewith transmitted to the Senate.


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

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