Mr. Seward to Mr. Perry

No. 5.]

Sir: Tour interesting despatch of the 25th of July (No. 102) has been received. The European mail has, at the same time, brought what is said to be an authorized disavowal by the Spanish government of any design to recognize the insurgents now in arms against the United States.

If such a decision has been made, it will be proper for you to express to the Marquis of Miraflores the satisfaction with which the President regards the proceeding; and you are at liberty to say that it has been received as a new proof of the good will and friendship of Spain.

It has excited some surprise that the Spanish government should have left the United States legation at Madrid altogether uninformed of its purpose to send, and of its having actually sent, to Mr. Tassara the important instruction concerning the claim of maritime jurisdiction to the extent of six miles around the island of Cuba, which was mentioned in the despatch that was addressed to you on the 10th instant. Had they informed you of it I think it possible that it might have prevented embarrassment. The United States, under ordinary circumstances, could not, so far as I am able to judge, have any special interest in denying to Spain the claim she makes of a maritime jurisdiction exceeding three miles around the island of Cuba, or elsewhere. But upon that question we stand upon a ground which is held by us in common with all the maritime states. The present movement is an unfortunate one, to expect us to surrender on our part a right which they are understood to maintain equally with ourselves. The difficulty is immensely increased by the manner in which the Spanish government has now presented the question. The delay of our reply to the notes of Mr. Tassara resulted from the circumstance that it seemed to this government an unpropitious time to negotiate the question when no case involving it had actually arisen, and while we were endeavoring to render just satisfaction to Spain in the case of the General Rusk, alias Blanche. It is apprehended that the case of the Victor, which is now made the subject of our special examination, will present the very question. I think that the notes addressed to Mr. Tassara ought to satisfy the Spanish government of our good [Page 984] disposition to give it a fair and just consideration. I need not indicate more distinctly than has been done in the last of those two notes how injuriously the proceeding which the Spanish government has taken embarrasses the discussion of the subject. Do not suffer the Spanish government to be misled into the belief that, if assailed, we shall not defend ourselves, or that, if Spain remains friendly to the United States, she cannot rely upon them for a just and liberal friendship in return.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


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