Nonfiction > James Ford Rhodes > History of the Civil War, 1861–1865 > Page 265
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James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927).  History of the Civil War, 1861–1865  1917.
 
Page 265
 
 
Six persons deposed to the character and destination of the vessel; five of them showed it to be reasonably probable that the Alabama was destined for the Southern Confederacy, while the sixth, a mariner of Birkenhead, swore that “it is well known by the hands on board that the vessel is going out as a privateer for the Confederate government to act against the United States under a commission from Mr. Jefferson Davis.” We cannot detain the vessel, says the collector. Insufficient evidence, says the solicitor of customs. You are both right, say the commissioners. The work of getting the Alabama ready went on with swiftness and zeal while the Circumlocution Office moved with the pace of a snail. The papers went to the Lords of the Treasury.  6
  Meanwhile Adams had retained a Queen’s counsel of eminence, Sir Robert P. Collier, to whom the six depositions and two additional ones were submitted. Collier’s opinion is in no uncertain tone. “I am of opinion,” he wrote, “that the collector of customs would be justified in detaining the vessel. Indeed I should think it his duty to detain her.… It appears difficult to make out a stronger case of infringement of the Foreign Enlistment Act, which, if not enforced on this occasion, is little better than a dead letter. It well deserves consideration, whether, if the vessel be allowed to escape, the Federal government would not have serious grounds of remonstrance.” This opinion went to the customs authorities in Liverpool. “It was the duty of the collector of customs at Liverpool,” declared Cockburn, “as early as the 22nd of July to detain this vessel.” The collector would not act and referred the matter to his superiors, the Commissioners of Customs. Insufficient evidence is still the word of the assistant solicitor of customs, who added, I cannot concur in Collier’s views. At this stage in the proceedings,
 

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