Mr. Koerner to Mr. Seward.

No. 78.]

Sir:* * * * *

Some time previous to the receipt of your last, Sir John Crampton had called upon me, and had explained the grounds and the object of the remonstrances which his government had felt itself compelled to make to the Spanish government respecting certain failures in the proper execution of treaty stipulations existing between Great Britain and Spain as to the suppression of the slave trade. He also informed me of the President’s promises to support the British reclamation according to the Washington treaty. Subsequent to the receipt of your despatch upon that subject I had another interview with Sir John, in which he informed me of the conversation and the correspondence which he had already had with the minister of state on the question, and of his prospects of success.

In pursuance of your despatch I have addressed a note to Señor Arrazola, the minister of state, a copy of which, I have the honor to enclose. I have also furnished a copy to Sir John.

Another political crisis seems to have been reached here. It is generally supposed that within a few days the ministry will resign, or that they will dissolve the present Cortes and appeal to the country.

As no change of administration will, in my opinion, seriously affect our relations with Spain, I forbear to indulge in speculations as to the probable successors of the present ministry, and as to the state of politics here generally.

I enclose a copy of the Iberia, of the 17th of this month, containing an article [Page 10] of General Prim, (El Condé de Reus,) in which he gives a brief sketch of his journey to the United States, and dwells more particularly on the great military and financial resources of the United States. The Iberia being the principal organ of the great Progressista party, and having a very wide circulation, the views of the general, so favorable to the great Union cause, and so flattering to our national power, cannot fail to create an excellent impression among the people of Spain.

* * * * * *

It is understood that the ministry have last night tendered their resignation to the Queen; whether it will be accepted, or whether the Cortes will be dissolved, is not yet ascertained.

I have the honor to be your most obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington.

Mr. Koerner to Mr. Arrazola.

Sir:The subject of suppressing the inhuman African slave trade has been one of deep anxiety to the government of the United States from the time of its foundation. The United States have been among the first of nations, if not the first, that have denounced this traffic in human beings as piracy, and have visited their own citizens implicated in it with the severest penalties. At very heavy pecuniary sacrifices, and at the risk of the lives of their own naval officers and seamen, they have for more than twenty years supported a squadron on the western coast of Africa, in a most destructive climate, in order to prevent the successful carrying on of this nefarious trade.

They have, with a like view, entered into stipulations with the government of her Britannic Majesty, in the year 1842, contained in what is called the treaty of Washington, the 9th article of which is as follows:

[Here follows the article entire.]

The attention of the President of the United States has lately been directed to certain difficulties which have presented themselves, and which appear to prevent a complete suppression of the slave trade in the colonial possessions of her Catholic Majesty, and more especially in the island of Cuba, which difficulties do not arise from any desire of the Spanish colonial authorities to favor the said trade. It is well known that the efforts made by the captain general of that island correspond entirely to the wise and humane policy which the homo government of her Catholic Majesty has adopted in regard to the subject in question, and which is thoroughly appreciated by the President and the people of the United States. The difficulties spoken of seem to be inherent in the laws and regulations in existence, which are supposed to give room to interpretations by which their force may be evaded.

In view of the general policy of the United States, which looks upon the African slave trade as an offence against the public law of nations, and has denounced it as piracy; in view, also, of the treaty stipulations existing between them and the government of her Britannic Majesty, the President of the United States has instructed me to respectfully call the attention of her Catholic Majesty’s government to this subject, and to suggest such a revision of the existing laws and regulations concerning the unlawful introduction of slaves into [Page 11] the island of Cuba as will best accomplish the object which her Majesty’s government had in view when those laws and regulations were enacted.

It is hardly necessary for the undersigned to assure your excellency that these suggestions arise from the purest motives, and would not have been made unless the President had considered the very friendly and cordial relations existing between the United States and Spain as justifying this application, and had he not been bound to another friendly nation by engagements which it is his duty as well as his pleasure to carry out faithfully.

It is almost equally unnecessary for me to inform your excellency that it would afford the utmost satisfaction to the President and the people of the United States if any obstacles existing in the island of Cuba to the complete suppression of the African slave trade should be removed by the considerate action of the government of her Catholic Majesty.

The undersigned takes great pleasure to assure, &c., &c., &c.


His Excellency Señor D. L. Arrazola, Minister of State of her Catholic Majesty, &c.