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LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES ANiñECISIONS OF THE COURTS RELATING TO WAR GołMs.
ALABAMA CLAIMS, GENEVA ARBITRATION AND Awārś. - NOTES.
The treaty of Washington of May 8, 1871 (17 Stat. L., p. 863) between Great Britain and the United States authorized a tribunal of arbitration to which should be referred all the claims growing out of acts committed by the Confederate cruisers Alabama and Florida, and known by the generic term of “Alabama claims.” By the treaty of Washington it was provided that the claims growing out of the depredations by the o. and other vessels from British ports should be referred to a tribunal of arbitration, who were to be governed by certain rules contained in the treaty, and whose award was to be final. This tribunal met at Geneva, and upon the 19th of June, 1872, declared that the claims of the United States for losses—(1) by the transfer of the United States commercial marine to the British flag; (2) by war premiums, or “enhanced payments of insurance”; and (3) by the prolongation and increased cost of the war—constituted no good foundation for a recovery, and these claims were thenceforward to be “wholly excluded from consideration by the tribunal.” This disposition of the indirect claims met the approval of our Government. In its final award the tribunal rejected also the claims for injuries by the Retribution and eleven other vessels, and awarded to the United States the sum of $15,500,000 in coin, to cover the direct damages of the United States and its citizens by reason of the destruction of vessels and cargoes by the Alabama and Florida and their tenders, and by the Shenandoah; but only as to the Shenandoah after February 18, 1865, excluding all claims for prospective earnings, and all claims for gross freights so far as they exceed net freights. The treaty provided for two modes of adjustment of the claims in controversy between the United States and Great Britain: First, under article 10, that “in case the tribunal at Geneva finds that Great Britain has failed to fulfill any duty or duties as aforesaid, and does not award a sum in gross, the high contracting parties agree that a board of assessors shall be appointed to ascertain and determine what claims are valid, and what amount or amounts shall be paid by Great Britain to the United States on account of the liability arising from such failure, as to each vessel according to the extent of such liability.” Then provision is made as to when the claims shall be presented, as to how the assessors shall act, and within
what time they shall decide, and the sums awarded under this article were made payable in Washington within twelve months after the delivery of each report.
Second, by article 7, it is declared that, "in case the tribunal finds that Great Britain.bas.failed to fulfill any duty or duties, as aforesaid,” i. e., as a neutral nation, "it may, if it think proper, proceed to award a sum, in gross, to be paid by Great Britain to the United States, for all the claims referred to it; and in such case the gross sum so awarded shall be paid in coin by the Government of Great Britain to the Government of the United States, at Washington, within twelvemonths after the date of the award.”
Congress passed an act (18 Stat. L., p. 245) for the creation of the Court of Commissioners of Alabama Claims," for the adjudication and disposition of the moneys received into the Treasury under the award of the tribunal of arbitration, generally known as the "Geneva award.”
Claims against Great Britain, known as the “Alabama claims," became by operation of the act of June 5, 1882 (22 Stat. L., p. 98), claims against the United States.
The disposition of the money paid by Great Britain (see 17 Stat. L., p. 6015 is as follows:
The money paid by Great Britain was temporarily used to redeem called bonds of the United States, which were afterwards canceled and the amount so used for their redemption was set aside as the “Geneva award fund." This fund was invested in United States 5 per cent bonds, and the interest thereon, as it became due, credited to the fund,
When the awards of the Alabama Commission were made these bonds were sold, and the premium derived from the sale was also credited to the fund. There was thus added to the fund the sum of $3,905,558.15, making the amount distributed to the claimants $19,405,558.15.
All the awards of the first class were paid in full. Afterwards the Commission was reconvened and awards made for second-class claimants, which were paid with the balance of the fund in hand, making a dividend of thirty-five and a fraction per cent.
In making this dividend, however, the accounting officers deducted $249,166.41 for expenses of the tribunal. The Court of Claims found this was an error, and a second dividend was declared from the amount returned to the fund. Of this there remains in the Treasury of the United States the sum of $11,000, which is being distributed to the second-class claimants entitled thereto.
Table showing gross amount of all the claims made by the United States against Great Britain, generally known as the “Alabama claims,” and presented to the arbitrators with a reduced estimate, cutting off gross freights, prospective damages, and insurances and reinsurances paid, and double claims for samé property.
NOTE.-The estimated losses were made up from the imperfect data furnished the State Department by the claimants themselves, and lack many elements of certainty, but in all cases doubts as to amounts were given to the claimants, so that the estimated amount is most liberal in their favor. The fact that there was only the sum of $4,480,924 insurance in these large claimed losses shows this.
Table showing amounts estimated by a committee of board of trade, appointed at request
of Lord Granville, of all the claims known as “Alabama claims,” showing gross amounts claimed and the amounts estimated by the committee as admissible.
Claims on account of
95, 655.00 80, 108.00 383,976.00
257,031.00 20, 335.00 17, 701.00
5,540.00 4,875.00 69, 537.00 62,900.00
400.00 10,695.00 4,050.00 17,763, 910.00 8,039, 685.00
Table of amounts estimated by the committee of the board of trade in London, appointed at the request of Lord Granville, to audit the Alabama claims, April 3, 1872, for losses
by the vessels for which the arbitrators at Geneva found Great Britain liable. By the Alabama (290)..
$3,282, 000 57 vessels.
Tonnage of 53 vessels, 31,129 tons. By the Florida (Oreto)...
2, 300, 000 30 vessels.
Tonnage of 25 vessels, 16,259 tons. By the Shenandoah (Sea King)..
1,308,000 28 vessels.
Tonnage of 24 vessels, 9,352 tons.
35, 400 2 vessels.
Tonnage, 556 tons. By the Tacony..
69, 100 10 vessels. Tonnage of 8 vessels, 1,824 tons.
STATEMENT OF CLAIMS OF INSURANCE COMPANIES UNDER THE GENEVA AWARD.
Statement showing the total amount of claims filed by insurance companies for losses by
the Alabama, Florida, and their tenders, and by the Shenandoah after she left Melbourne; the same having been compiled from the revised list of claims, as published by the Department of State, presented to the tribunal of Geneva.
Alliance Insurance Company, of Boston... $47, 950
fire; has paid 53 per cent of
loss by the fire. Boylston Fire and Marine Insurance 98,008 Failed on account of Boston Company, of Boston.
fire; has paid 40 per cent;
will pay 3 er cent more. California Mutual Insurance Company,
pany, San Francisco.
paid 70 per cent; will pay
about 5 per cent more.
Company, of Boston.
of New York.
the Boston fire; has paid 30 per cent; will pay about 5 per
ton fire. Neptune Insurance Company, Boston... 35,111 Failed from losses by the Bos
ton fire; has paid about 40 or
50 per cent.