Mr. Seward to Mr. Koerner.

No. 55.]

Sir:Your despatch of September 26, No. 56, has been received, and is approved.

The note of the Marquis of Miraflores to Mr. Perry, which bears date on the 18th September, was designed to define the question which is to be submitted to the arbitrament of the King of Belgium, and to deprive it of all uncertainty. The note is very properly conceived, yet it contains one expression that may possibly tend to confuse the question. This expression is found in the first paragraph, and is in these words: “Seeing that she (meaning Spain) has been in peaceful possession of it,” meaning the six miles of maritime jurisdiction around the island of Cuba.

Now it is proposed that for the purpose of elucidating the subject, the correspondence of the two governments upon the question of the maritime boundary [Page 4] of Cuba shall be submitted to arbitration. Of course, the above-mentioned note of the Marquis of Miraflores would fall among the papers submitted to the proposed royal arbiter. But this government, while it leaves her Catholic Majesty free to assert that she has been in possession of the belt claimed, does not by any means admit the accuracy of the assertion thus made. It is very clear that the Marquis does not design to claim that we have admitted it, since the fact has been controverted in our part of the correspondence. You will please give a copy of this despatch to the Marquis, and ask him to strike out from his note the words I have quoted, or to give you a new note in which he will express his acquiescence in the views I have herein presented.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Gustavus Koerner, Esq., &c., &c., &c., Madrid,