Mr. Culver to Mr. Seward
Sir: I have the honor herewith to transmit to the department a translation of the draught of a convention communicated to me by the foreign secretary. It was not finished until the ship had left La Guayra, and I have with all practicable despatch translated, and herewith forward same, hoping to reach the vessel at Puerto Cabello.
I have only time to add, that since receiving the draught I have sought and obtained a brief interview with the secretary, and suggested to him to change the phraseology of the first article, so as to conform more strictly to that of the same article in the Ecuador convention, also to allow the American minister at Caracas, if his government shall see fit to clothe him with that power, to fill the vacancy in case of the death, &c., of the American commissioner, as in the Ecuador convention.
To these modifications he does not object.
I also suggested a modification of that portion of the first article which gives the right of selecting the umpire to the charge of Spain residing in Caracas. I offered, in case of commissioners not agreeing, to devolve the selection upon the representative of Switzerland, or Russia, residing in Washington, or Mr. Stirup, the Danish consul general in Caracas. He wished, however, to refer that matter to the President, and will then advise me.
I also objected that his draught made no provision as to interest. He replied at once that none was made in the Ecuador convention, but on a fuller interchange of views he intimated that in awarding indemnity the commissioners could pass on the question of interest.
In our convention with New Granada, interest was fixed by the terms of the convention. I knew not why it was omitted in that with Ecuador, nor am I advised what the action of the commissioners has been or may be under it, [Page 426] I hope he will accept the amendment I shall offer, either fixing the rate of interest or conferring authority on the commissioners to do so.
I am satisfied the claimants would deem it most unjust to defer payment of their claims for such a length of time without interest.
He also consents to stride out of article seven the words, “the constitutional requisite in each country being previously complied with,” but with the under-standing that their constitution requires a convention of this kind to be submitted to congress as ours does a treaty to the Senate.
I shall submit my draught to him, with the modifications indicated, at the earliest practicable moment, but could not do so until I had prepared my despatches for the ship now leaving.
All, of course, is understood to be subject to approval or amendment by the government of each country.
I shall hope for early advices.
I have the honor to be, with sentiments of highest respect, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington. D. C.