Mr. Tassara to Mr. Seward.
The undersigned, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of her Catholic Majesty, has the honor to address the honorable Secretary of State to bring to his knowledge an affair worthy of especial attention. According to official communications from the authorities of Cuba, the cruisers of the United States not only frequently come close to those shores, but also chase vessels within the territorial waters of the island:
Three vessels of your navy have lately been pursuing within two miles of the [Page 519] strand a steamer of the seceding southern States, the California, whose captain, on arrival in port, made protest before the competent authority. In view of this, and of other acts, the governor captain general of the island directed the departure of a ship-of-war for the purpose of watching over the coasts. This vessel, the frigate Petronila, in effect, found cruising at some miles off various vessels under the American flag, whose presence was the more extraordinary inasmuch as, by reason of the distance, they could not belong to the blockading squadron of the southern ports. Upon nearing at last the corvette Marion, the two commanders exchanged the two communications, copies whereof are annexed; (1 and 2,) that from the Petronila being addressed to the commander of the federal forces, asking, in the name of the principles of international law, and of the friendly relations existing between both governments, that he should withdraw the cruiser from within the maritime zone enclosing the coasts of Cuba; and that of the Marion limited to saying, after having exchanged signals with the steamer Cuyler, that the commander of the federal forces referred to had returned to Key West, and that the first communication would be sent to him.
All this occasions the more surprise to the undersigned, as the spirit is so much better in which, accordantly with the orders of the government of her Catholic Majesty, the authorities of the island of Cuba fulfil their duties to wards the government of the United States.
He believes, nevertheless, as do also those authorities, that the cruisers aforesaid, far from obeying instructions from superiors, are acting in contravention of those they have, by holding in a species of blockade the ports of a neutral power which is, at the same time, the friend of the United States, and he hopes that orders will be immediately given to stop such a state of things. He also hopes, not only in virtue of principles universally recognized by all the maritime powers, but also in regard of the friendly and loyal relations, as it is known to the honorable Secretary of State, the Spanish government maintains with that of the United States, that all these reasons should meet with proper reciprocity.
The undersigned avails himself of this fresh occasion to offer to the honorable Secretary of State the assurance of his highest consideration.
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State of the United States.