[Footnote 29: Platt of Connecticut, 56 Cong., 1 Sess., Record, Vol. 33, Pt 1, p. 899.]
In the end the Hale Resolution was agreed to, but nothing came of it, for the State Department found the English Government not unwilling to make an equitable settlement for the losses which citizens of the United States had incurred as a result of the seizures of British ships carrying American goods from New York to Delagoa Bay.
THE LEGALITY OF THE SEIZURES.
While the fruitless discussion had been in progress in the Senate Secretary Hay had been dealing with the question in such a manner as to safeguard all American interests, but at the same time with a full consideration of the necessity for protesting against any undue extension of belligerent rights. Immediately following the seizure of the British ships clearing from New York with American goods on board he had requested a prompt explanation. In his instructions to Ambassador Choate he said: “You will bring the matter to the attention of the British Government and inquire as to the circumstances and legality of the seizures." And later, Mr. Choate was further instructed to ascertain “the grounds in law and fact” upon which the interference with apparently innocent commerce between neutral ports was made, and to demand “prompt restitution of the goods to the American owners if the vessels were seized on account of a violation of the laws of Great Britain, as for trading with the enemy; but if the seizure was on account of the flour ... the United States Government can not recognize its validity under any belligerent right of capture of provisions and other goods shipped by American citizens to a neutral port." Mr. Hay pointed out the fact that the American shippers had produced evidence intended to show that the goods were not contraband in character, and should this prove to be true prompt action was to be requested on the part of Great Britain in order to minimize as far as possible the damage to neutral goods.
[Footnote 30: For. Rel., 1900, p. 534; Hay to Choate, Dec. 21, 1900.]
[Footnote 31: For. Rel., 1900, pp. 539-540; Hay to Choate, Jan. 2, 1900.]
The position taken by the English Government was indicated on January 10 in a note handed to Mr. Choate: “Our view is that foodstuffs with a hostile destination can be considered contraband of war only if they are supplies for the enemy’s forces. It is not sufficient that they are capable of being so used. It must be shown that this was in fact their destination at the time of their seizure." Lord Salisbury verbally added that the British Government did not claim that any of the American goods were actual contraband, but that the ships had been seized on a charge of trading with the enemy, and it was intimated also that “an ultimate destination to the citizens of the Transvaal, even of goods consigned to British ports on the way thither, might, if the