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Charles Wilkes, USN to Gideon Welles, Final Report on the seizure of Mason and Slidell, November 16, 1861

Charles Wilkes, detail
Captain Charles Wilkes of the U.S.S. San Jacinto was making his final report to Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles on his stopping of the British mail steamer Trent off Cuba and his seizure of the two Confederate Commissioners John Slidell and James Murray Mason, along with their secretaries, who were aboard. In his report, Wilkes gives a detailed account of his thinking concerning international maritime law and how it supported his decision, along with the reasons for his not taking the Trent as a prize. Wilkes' action precipitated an international incident and brought relations between the United States and Britain close to a breaking point before Mason and Slidell were released and allowed to continue on to Europe. (By John Osborne)