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or liberties of citizens of the United States shall be forfeited, or that the question of the truth or falsity of the testimony which may be presented against them shall be referred to any foreign tribunal.
I most sincerely trust, that, upon a full review of the reasons which nare induced this demand, the government of her Majesty will accede to its justice.
The government of the United States has never ceased to perform towards Spain every duty enjoined upon it by friendship and treaty obligations, and it will continue faithful in the discharge of these duties so long as the peaceful relations of the two nations shall continue. And the President confidently expects from Spain, in return for this friendly disposition and conduct, the strictest observance of the rights of the United States and their citizens.
1 will not undertake to say how fatal a refusal of this demand may be to the friendly feeling, and perhaps the peace of the two countries, which the government of the United States is most anxious to preserve by every honorable means in its power.
I sincerely hope that the course of her Majesty's government will prove that there is no just ground of apprehension for any unfortunate issue of this question, or any other, between the two nations.
As the Spanish government must now be fully apprized of the nature and character of this demand, and the reasons on which it is founded, I have every reason to believe that it is prepared to give the prompt reply which I am instructed respectfully to ask through the hands of your excellency .
In conclusion, and with a view to prevent misapprehension, I desire to say in reference to the barque Georgiana and the brig Susan Loud, that their owners have exhibited to my government statements to prove the innocence of the captains who chartered them; and that the government of the United States expects those vessels to be returned to their owners, with damages for their capture and detention.
I avail myself of this occasion to renew to your excellency the assurances of my most distinguished consideration, with which I have the honor to be your most obedient servant,
D. M. BARRINGER.
His Excellency the Marquis Of Pidal,
Minister if Slate, fyc, $*c.
Mr. Barringer to Mr. Webster
[No. S3.] Legation Of The United States,
Madrid, September 12,1850.
I regret to say that I am yet without a final answer from her Majesty's government on the subject of the Contoy prisoners: I had expected it for the mail of this day.
The general delay of proceedings at this court is proverbial. But under all the circumstances of this case, and regarding its great importance, and the necessity which I have repeatedly urged for an early decision on the part of the Spanish government, I think its conduct thus far, without explanation, is most inexcusable.
I am the more surprised at it, because heretofore it has been my good fortune usually, in the ordinary routine of the business of this legation, to have been more than ordinarily successful in securing a reasonable promptitude and attention to the requests of my government.
The difficulties and responsibilities of my position under this delay are not at all diminished by the want of official information and instruction from the United States on the subject of the demand for the release of these prisoners.
As I have yet received no communication from you in regard to it, I fear there may have been some failure or interruption of the usual mails from the United States.
When the expected decision of her Majesty's government in reference to this demand is made known to me, it shall be promptly communicated to the Department of State.
I have the honor to be, with the highest respect, sir, your obedient servant,
D. M. BARRINGER.
To Daniel Webster, Esq.,
Secretary of Stale.
Mr. Pidal to Mr. Barringer.
First Bureau Of The Office Of State,
Palace, September 4, 1850.
Sir: Your excellency's note of the 27th of the month of August last, relative to the Contoy prisoners, has been received in this department, and I shall have the honor of replying to it as soon as the government of her Majesty shall have taken, upon that particular, the resolution which I will submit to it at the earliest moment.
The reply to the note of the 22d of August, relative to some Americans accused of having committed an act of smuggling of gunpowder in the island of Cuba, has been sent to your excellency to-day.
All which, I have the honor to say to your excellency in answer to your note of to-day, in which you request a reply to one and the other.
I approve this occasion, &c, &c, &c.
PEDRO J. PIDAL.
To the Minister Plenipotentiary
of the United States.
Mr. Barringer to Mr. Webster.
[No. 34.] Legation Of The United States,
Madrid, September 19, 1850.
Sir: 1 have the honor to transmit copies of the answer of her Majesty's government to the demand of the government of the United States for the release of the Contoy prisoners, received on the 6th instant, and of my reply to the same of this date.
The whole correspondence is submitted for the further advice and action of our government, which I will await under existing circumstances, unless sooner instructed to a different course by the receipt of despatches from yourself.
If this question is to be kept open for further discussion and negotiation, it is most important that I should be in full possession of the wishes and views of my government, as well as the latest intelligence in regard to the actual condition of the remaining prisoners at Havana, and the proceedings against them by the local authorities.
I trust that my course in reference to this matter, under all the circumstances which have surrounded it, will meet the approval of my government.
I have received no despatch from the Department of State since your \o. 24, of the 29th of July.
I have the honor to be, with the highest respect, sir, your obedieut servant,
D. M. BARRLNGER.
Daniel Webster, Esq.,
Secretary of State.
First Bureau Of The Office Of State,
Palace, September 15, 1850.
Sir: According to what I said to your excellency in my note of the 4th instant, I have the honor to reply to that which you were pleased to address me upon the 27th August, relative to the individuals arrested in Contoy by the commandant general of the station of the Havana, for forming a part of the expedition of Lopez.
At our conference of the 5th August, in noticing to your excellency the facts which at that date had come to my knowledge, I stated to you also at much length the reasons in which was founded the right of Spain to attack aud capture those individuals, and whomsoever else might be found iu the same case, and to subject them to her jurisdiction; and I added that the greater part of the prisoners having been put at liberty, according to the accounts which I had, in my opinion the demand already lacked object; that at any rate I desired that it should be made in writing, in order that the terms might be fixed of the pretension of the government of the United States, aud of the very weighty reasons in which was founded the right of Spain in this and other analogous cases. Your excellency said to me then, that in view of the facts to which I referred you Ex.—2
and of the other considerations which I expressed on that occasion, yon were resolved not to present a demand which already lacked an object, and which would no longer relate to anything but an abstract principle, if once the government of her Majesty had notice that the greater part of those prisoners were about to be put at liberty by the Spanish tribunals. Twenty-two days having since elapsed without your excellency's presenting the demand referred to, I believed that you would have desisted from it, especially when the subsequent accounts confirmed the fact that forty-two individuals of those taken at Contoy had been absolved and put at liberty, the suit being continued only with respect to the two vessels and their crews.
Your excellency, nevertheless, now demands that an order be given that all the prisoners referred to, taken at the island of Contoy, which are as yet detained or subjected to the judicial sentence of the Spanish tri bunals, be immediately put at liberty, and delivered to the government of the United States.
If the question could be reduced to the actual case, and should not look beyond to other analogous ones which may arise, perhaps it would be possible for the government of her Majesty to waive its right up to a certain point, giving thus this further proof of the friendship and deference to that of the United States.
But such is not the case, as your excellency will easily recognise; since, if it should accede to the demand of your excellency, in the terms in which it is conceived, it would have come necessarily to establish a principle contrary to the international right, and wholly incompatible with the defence of the possessions of Spain against the attacks Bud invasions of every kind of pirates. This would be to establish as a principle that those taking possession of a desert island, which may well be supposed since it has already happened, might establish in that their headquarters of operations against the possessions of Spain, and there await a favorable opportunity to go forth to commit hostilities and rob them, without any one being able to combat them, or oppose their designs, even till the moment of disembarcation. Spain, according to this principle, would not be able to attack them in their rendezvous in order to destroy the preparations made against her, and shun the invasion of her possessions; and as, on the other hand, the government of the United States would be just as little able to prevent such scandals, because, according to the principle invoked, their authors would be also without the range of its jurisdiction, and on an island pertaining to a third power, the invaders or pirates would remain in a complete freedom to continue, and to prepare without risk or danger their invasions and their robberies.
In this consists the gravity of the present question, and Spain could not relinquish in favor of any one the right to defend herself, by attacking those who come publicly to rob and burn her possessions, without seeing them exposed daily to attempts similar to that of Cardenas. The naval forces of her Majesty could not fulfil completely their object, if they should have to see, with arms crossed, the armaments and preparations of the pirates, who, surrounded by such an unconceived of inviolability, would not leave their lurking-place unless upon a secure opportunity to follow out their criminal designs.
It will be said, perhaps, that this danger ought to be avoided by the
nation to whom pertains the place where the pirates rendezvous, repelling them from her dominions; and thus, in fact, it ought to be, if, by the supposition, that place were net a desert island, where this third power would not have a force to repulse and expel them.
This is the true aspect of the question; and, considering it ;n this way, I cannot persuade myself that either the government of the United States or any other will maintain that the nation against whom the pirates direct themselves cannot defend itself against them by attacking and capturing them in their strongholds.
Now, indeed, the actual case is no more than the realization of the supposition above expressed.
Is it certain that an expedition of pirates, composed of the three vessels Creole, Georgiana, and Susan Loud, set out publicly from New Orleans after the proclamations of a board of insurrection inserted in the periodicals had announced that it was directed against the dominions of Spain? Is it certain that these three vessels carried munitions of war and armed men, and that a part of these men were those who disembarked at Cardenas under the command of Lopez, who imprisoned the first authority there constituted, burning the house in which he made resistance; who robbed the public funds which he chanced to have on hand; who proclaimed rebellion to the inhabitants, and shed the blood of our soldiers? Is it certain that the armed men which the three vessels carried established themselves at Contoy, a desert island pertaining to the territory of Mexico, and that there they arranged, as they thought best, the attack of the island of Cuba; that, in effect, the greater part of the men were transhipped to the Creole; that these started to make the invasion, and that the remainder and the two vessels remained as a reserve at Contoy, preserving the correspondence and papers relative to the expedition, in which was expressed the object of it, its organization, and the remuneration which had been promised to those who formed it—some commissions of officers, signed by the rebel Lopez, and proclamations or addresses by him?
All this is undeniable; and, in view of such facts, will it be pretended to be maintained that the Spanish forces could not attack those pirates; that they ought to see them, with arms crossed, prepare themselves for new expeditions and proclaim their complete impunity?
Because, I repeat, if Spain could not attack them, notwithstanding that they were her declared enemies, on account of their being in a foreign territory, much less could the government of the United States do so, which lacked the right that so essentially assisted Spain—the right of her own defence.
It is said that the expeditionaries could not be taken at Contoy, because this desert island pertains to Mexico; but Mexico, to whom in any case would belong the complaint, has presented no claim upon this act; neither could she do so with good ground—for in that case the government of her Majesty would exact, with reason, that that of Mexico should guard the coasts and prevent their being the shelter of pirates, enemies of
1 insist on qualifying the expeditionaries as pirates, because such qualification is that which, according to the law of nations, belongs to those who, on their own account and without charge or authorization of any