Alabama Claims US/UK

By the treaty of Washington 1871, US & UK referred to a tribunal of 5 arbitrators, claims growing out of acts committed by several vessels (Alabama, Florida, Shenandoah) Treaty provide that arbitrator ‘shall be governed by the following three rules applicable to the case, and by such principles of IL, not inconsistent therewith, as the arbitrators determine to have been applicable: A neutral government is bound 1. To use due diligence to prevent the fitting out, arming or equipping, within its jurisdiction of any vessel, which it has reasonable ground to believe is going to be used against a power with which it is at peace; and also to use like diligence to prevent the departure from its jurisdiction of any vessel having been specially adapted, in whole or in part, within such jurisdiction, to warlike use 2. Not to permit or suffer either belligerent to make use of its ports or waters as a base of naval operations against the other, or for the purpose of the renewal or argumentation of military supplies or arms, or recruitment of men 3. To exercise due diligence in its own ports and waters, and as to all persons within its jurisdiction, to prevent any violation of the foregoing obligations and duties’
The award does not appear to have been signed by Sir Alexander Cockburn (arbitrator) whose separate opinion was annexed.


“…Whereas the circumstances out of which the facts constituting the subject-matter of the present controversy arose were of a nature to call for the exercise on the part of Her Britannic Majesty´s government of all possible solicitude for the observance of the rights and the duties involved in the proclamation of neutrality issued by Her Majesty on the 13th day of May, 1861…”

“Whereas with respect the Alabama, it clearly results from all the facts relative to the construction of the ship, at first designated by the number ‘290’ in the port of Liverpool, and its equipment and armament in the vicinity of Terceira, through the agency of the vessels called Agrippina and the Bahama, dispatched from Great Britain to that end, that the British government failed to use due diligence in the performance of its neutral obligations, and especially that it omitted, notwithstanding the warning and official representations made by the diplomatic agents of the United States during the construction of the said number ‘290’ to take in due time any effective measures of prevention, and that those orders which it did give at last, for the detention of the vessel, were issued so late that their execution was not practicable” … “this same vessel, later known as the Confederate cruiser Alabama, was on several occasions freely admitted into the ports of colonies of Great Britain, instead of being proceeding against as it ought to have been in any and every port within British jurisdiction in which it might have been found”
“Whereas the government of Her Britannic Majesty cannot justified itself for a failure in due diligence on the plea of insufficiency of the legal means of actions which it possessed”
“Four of the arbitrator for the reasons above assigned, and the fifth, for reasons separately assigned by him, are of the opinion that Great Britain has in this case failed by omission, to fulfil the duties prescribed in the first and the third rules, established by the sixth article of the treaty of Washington”
“Whereas it is just and reasonable to allow interest at a reasonable rate; and whereas in accordance with the spirit and letter of the Treaty of Washington it is preferable to adopt the form of adjudication of a sum in gross, rather than to refer the subject of compensation for further discussion and deliberation to a board of assessors, as provided by article X of the said treaty: the tribunal, making use of the authority conferred upon it by article VII of the said treaty by a majority of four voices to one awards to the United States a sum of $15,500,000 in gold”