Judge Harlan Reflects on His Role in Arbitrating the Alabama Claims and on the Drafting of the Treaty of Washington [Manuscript]. Harlan, James [1820-1899]. [Autograph Letter, Signed, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, September 28, 1891]. Single leaf folded to from 9-3/4" x 7-3/4" bifolium, no transmittal envelope. Two fold lines, one vertical and one horizontal, light browning. Content in neat hand to rectos and versos of three pages. $650. * Harlan was the presiding judge for the Court of Commissioners, which heard cases related to the Alabama Claims. After the Civil War, the United States made claims against Great Britain for damages inflicted upon U.S. vessels by the Confederate "commerce raiders" Alabama, Florida, Shenandoah and other cruisers fitted out by British shipbuilders. This matter was settled by an international body of commissioners that met in Geneva in 1871-1872. The work of this group, which concluded with the Treaty of Washington, marked a watershed in international law by establishing a template for the peaceful settlement of conflicts through arbitration. The letter is addressed to an unknown recipient who seems to have been researching the history of the commission. Harlan writes, "The American members of what was known as The High Joint Commission who formulated The Treaty of Washington - the first eleven articles of which made provision for the settlement by arbitration of the so called 'Alabama Claims'- were Hamilton Fish, Robert C. Schenk, Samuel Nelson, Ebenezer Rockwell Hoar, and George H. Williams. The board of arbitration provided for by this treaty was composed of five members, appointed respectively, one each, by the President of the United States, the Queen of Great Britain, the King of Italy, the President of the Swiss Confederation, and the Emperor of Brazil..". He lists the names of the participants, who were known as The Geneva Commission. "They awarded the United States the gross sum of $15,500,000, in full satisfaction of all claims for damages done to the commerce of the people of the United States by the cruiser Alabama and other inculpated Confederate Cruisers on the high seas, during the war of the rebellion. This money.. was invested.. in interest bearing U.S. bonds, and so remained until 1874, when its distribution to the personal claimants who had suffered these l.
Book number 68088