Union Secretary of State
War Date Document Signed
Very Important and extremely rare 1861 Blockade related Circular
(1801-72) Lawyer and Whig politician. Governor of New York 1839-42. He later served in the Senate, vigorously opposed slavery and joined the Republican party in 1856. Twice passed over for president (1856 and 1860) he became Abraham Lincoln's very able Secretary of State. He was savagely attacked in his bed on the night of the Lincoln assassination by fellow conspirator Lewis Payne. He recovered from his wounds and served in the same post under President Andrew Johnson. Perhaps his most important act was the purchase of Alaksa, then called "Seward's Folly," in 1867 from Russia.
War Date Document Signed: 2 pages, 7 3/4 x 10, imprinted circular, signed in ink.
Department of State
Washington, June 5, 1861
To the Counsul of the United States,
at Merida & Lisal
It has been suggested to the Department that vessels belonging to loyal citizens of the United States may be subjected to embarrassment in foreign ports, in consequence of arriving with clearance from New Orleans, and other ports in the Southern States, after the Collectors of Customs at such ports had ceased to exercise their official functions under the authority of the United States.
The owners of such vessels are apprehensive that the production of clearances issued by individuals acting under the pretended authority of the insurgents, may lead to the detention of their vessels or to other molestation in consequence of the informality of the ships papers.
If you should be satisfied, on the examination of any suchpapers, and the affidavit of the master, that he and the owners of the vessel have acted in good faith, and that their failure to comply with the law was occasioned by no fault or neglect on their part, you will not, for such failure, subject the vessel, or master, to any detention or expense, either by withholding the marine papers, or otherwise obstructing the lawful commerce of the United States.
It is to be understood, however, that the benefit of this instruction is to be limited to such vessels as may have cleared from ports under control of the insurgents prior to the blockade, or within the time allowed by the officers commanding the blockading force for vessels to leave such blockaded ports.
I am, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
William H. Seward
Light age toning, and 3 very tiny pin holes. Very fine.
This is a very important early war document signed by William H. Seward, U.S. Secretary of State. Extremely rare!