Mr. Perry to Mr. Seward.
Sir: Your instructions, Nos. 39 and 40, reached me together at this royal seat, and yesterday I had an opportunity of putting the copy of a treaty with Great Britain, enclosed with your No. 40, into the hands of the Duke of Tetuan ; also communicating to him verbally the substance of that despatch.
The minister entered into conversation on the subject of slavery and the slave trade in the island of Cuba ; but as the ideas expressed were not new or essentially different from those which Spanish official personages have been accustomed to manifest for a long time past, I may be excused reproducing them here.
I found occasion, however, during this interview to turn the conversation in a natural way upon, the subject of your despatch No. 39, and in a purely confidential and unofficial way—the character of the interview now permitting a sort of frank and uncalculating revelation of what was intended for my private use and instruction alone—read to the Duke of Tetuan, in Spanish, your instruction dated July 31. The effect was evidently and decidedly [Page 514]an agreeable one; and, though the duke could hardly be expected to enlarge much upon the subject of his own permanence in power, you will hardly need my assurance that the interests of the United States lost nothing by the interview referred to.
The subject of Mr. Corwin’s treaty with Mexico opened the way for me again to show that the United States were not ambitious of territorial aggrandizement on the south of our present frontiers. I was glad of this opportunity to speak with the real head of this government on this question ; and though the arguments, facts, and statements, which I advanced were, perhaps, substantially the same I have heretofore used to Mr. Calderon Collantes, and reported to you, I was not left in doubt as to their effect upon Marshal O’Donnell. Perhaps the connexion between filibustering and secession was more clearly and forcibly brought out than I have been able to do it heretofore.
The duke did me the honor to listen with great interest as I traced the history of the aggressive and unscrupulous policy pursued by Mr. Jefferson Davis and other southern leaders, both in the exterior and in the interior, from the time of the mission of Mr. Pierre Soulé, in Spain, to the actual rebellion and war against the constitutional government of the United States.
He was shown, also, in what way the statesmen of the north, now at the head of our affairs, had opposed and counteracted these dangerous designs, sustained always by the great conservative masses of the American people. And when the Spanish minister had seen always the same men, the same motives, and the same manner of proceeding, producing the effects of the annexation of Texas, the war with Mexico, the conspiracy for war with Spain for the conquest of Cuba, the invasion of Central America, the bloody terrorism of Kansas, and, lastly, the traitorous war of these ambitious men against the conservative power of the American Union which checked and thwarted their designs, he was well prepared for the conclusion that the north is now actually fighting in America the battles of Spain and of all other foreign states hating territory contiguous to our southern frontiers.
The arrival of the charge d’affaires of Russia, by appointment, closed this interview, but not till the duke had begged me to come to him again to speak on this same subject, which interested him deeply.
I regret, however, that other affairs will cause my return to the legation in Madrid to-night, whence I shall address you, perhaps, to-morrow.
With sentiments of the highest respect, sir, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington.