Mr. Perry to Mr. Seward.
Sir: At a recent interview with Mr. Calderon Collantes, that minister inquired if I had received a copy of the treaty recently concluded between the United States and England, concerning the mutual right of search, for the suppression of the African slave trade. He was much surprised that, after combatting that principle so long, the United States should have yielded now a right so exceedingly liable to be abused in practice, and he was very curious to know what provisions had been stipulated to guard the exercise of the right from such abuse.
I replied, regretting I could give no information other than what Mr. Calderon had himself seen in the newspapers. I understood, however, that the stoppage of the use of the American flag in the slave trade was an object which would naturally commend itself to the favor of the present government of the United States, and I inquired if Spain had not herself conceded the same right.
Mr. Calderon said that she had, at a period in her history which could not be recalled with pleasure, but that ever since he himself had held the portfolio of foreign affairs he had been desirous of an opportunity to revise that whole treaty in which the right of search was thus granted to Great Britain. The exercise of this right was vexatious, and, besides, the English were always talking, in Parliament and out, of their having purchased this right of Spain for £40,000 sterling money, always putting their money forward, and he (Mr. Calderon) would be exceedingly glad of an opportunity to give them their £40,000 and have the treaty back again.
Mr. Calderon asked me if I supposed the recent treaty would be ratified by the American Senate. I replied I had no reasonable doubt that it would be, and remarked that I supposed that England was now taking steps to obtain the same concession from the government of France.
Mr. Calderon said he had little doubt of it, but he wished to see the American treaty, as it might afford a basis for demanding a revision of the Spanish treaty as to the manner in which this right was to be exercised.
Though, perhaps, this conversation was not intended by Mr. Calderon to [Page 510]be reported to you, I have thought it interesting; and have the honor to remain, sir, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.