Mr. Seward to Mr. Perry

No. 3.]

Sir: I have read with deep interest your despatch of the 12th of July, (No. 97,) and although I am not sanguine that the bold announcement of democratic and humane sentiments, in the justly influential quarter to which it refers, would prevail in the Queen’s councils against the seductions of a flattering European alliance for our injury, I think I can see, in the present condition of Spanish politics, grounds to believe that, in the event of such a combination, Spain would have more reason to fear dangerous results than would the United States. Without having any reliable advices, I assume that the recent changes in the military situation here, and the failure of Mr. Roebuck’s motion, together with the renewed declaration of neutrality made by the Queen of Great Britain in proroguing Parliament, have, for the present, quieted the intrigues of the sympathizers with the insurrection, as well in Madrid as in Paris and London.

A question whether the maritime jurisdiction of Spain extends more than three miles around the island of Cuba has been discussed here, and has just taken a critical shape. I send you a copy of the notes which have recently passed between this department and Mr. Tassara on the subject. The question requires to be considered with great coolness on the part of both governments. In view of its discussion, I think it proper to suggest that you assure the government of her Catholic Majesty in a respectful and informal way, but at the same time in a perfectly candid manner, that the United States sincerely and earnestly desire not only present but enduring peace and friendship with Spain; that, probably, our civil war, which is attended by so many irritations in the Gulf, cannot last much longer, and those irritations will depart with it; that the United States have hitherto been content with Spanish sovereignty in Cuba, and that after the war shall have ended, they are likely, owing to domestic considerations, to be even more just and friendly towards Spain than they have hitherto been; that, on the other hand, no one can foretell the future relations of the two countries if they suffer themselves to be drifted into a naval conflict by any of the cross currents that this insurrection may set in motion.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Horatio J. Perry, Esq., &c., &c., Madrid.