Mr. Koerner to Mr. Seward
Sir: On the 7th instant I had an extended interview with the Marquis of Miraflores. He requested me, at the end of it, to reduce my remarks on the main subject of our conversation to writing; which I did in a note, of which I have the honor to enclose you a copy.
The minister, who is of an advanced age, and a gentleman of the most bland and polished manners, was full of assurances of kind and friendly feelings towards us, expresses his entire conviction that the matters about which we had complained would be very satisfactorily settled as soon as the facts were once fully ascertained. He made great professions of the strict neutrality which Spain would observe in our contest, as though this was a very great boon to our government.
I told him, in return, that neutrality was really the very least we had a right to expect under the circumstances, and that even that neutrality was not closely regarded, as it appeared to me, by the Cuban authorities, which had certainly shown, on almost every occasion, a somewhat unfriendly spirit to the United States government.
Judging, from some remarks made in the course of our discussion, that the minister (who has been for several years out of office) was not very well informed with the recent history of our country, and the causes of the present rebellion, I made him a short exposé of the nature of the questions which had agitated the Union before the southern insurrection, and gave him a history of the political movement in connexion with the Cuban question, as being one of the causes of southern discontent. To my surprise he did not seem to have been aware of the participation of Jeff. Davis, Pierre Soulé, Mr. Slidell, and other leaders of the south, in the scheme of General Pierce and Mr. Buchanan, of wresting Cuba by force, if persuasion failed, from Spain.
He had not even known that Mr. Preston had considered the acquisition of Cuba as almost the sole object of his mission, and that he had been most anxious to have Mr. Slidell’s thirty million bill passed, the money to be used by him to bribe parties here into a cession of Cuba. He appeared to be very much interested in my account, and expressed great satisfaction when I remarked that the statesmen who now controlled the destinies of the United States, and the loyal people, generally, north and south, had ever resisted this aggressive policy, and had in no small degree incurred thereby the displeasure of the south and of the party favorable to the expansion of slave power.
These views, I know, have been heretofore ably pressed upon the consideration of the Spanish government by my immediate predecessors, but the late changes in the cabinet here necessitate, and may again compel, very shortly, a repetition.
Señor Miraflores, in the two last interviews, not having said word in regard to my question, put to him when I saw him the first time, whether her Majesty’s government would object to our mediation in the supposed difficulties between Spain and Peru, I have not mentioned the subject again, thinking that a proper regard to the dignity of our country demanded my silence.
The trouble, if there be any between the two countries, is entirely ignored here by the press; and I have seen notices in the papers that the Spanish squadron has withdrawn from the Pacific.
On day before yesterday the Cortes, suspended in January last, have re-assembled. The president of counsel (Miraflores) has delivered an address in which he announces, on the part of the new cabinet, a policy which, while it shall not [Page 976] be reactionary, will be conservative. All parties are invited to support the new administration, while it in return will not demand party tests in its appointments, &c., &c. * * * * * * *
I have the honor to be your most obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.