Mr. Seward to Mr. Culver
Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your despatches Nos. 123 and 124, of July 14th and 22nd last, which have not sooner been answered owing to other and more pressing duties devolving upon this department.
These despatches have reference to the conclusion of a convention between the United States and Venezuela, through which the claims of citizens of the United States against the latter government may be adjusted and settled by a mixed commission.
It being deemed proper now to conclude such a convention, I transmit you herewith the President’s full power authorizing you to do so.
Having considered the draught submitted to you by the minister for foreign affairs of Venezuela, embodying the terms of the proposed convention, and also the observations contained in your despatch No. 124, the following modifications are believed to be essential points which should constitute a part of said convention, viz:
1. The commissioners to meet four months after the exchange of the ratifications of the convention.
2. The commission to hold its sessions in Caracas, there being no necessity that it should meet in the United States, due notice being given to the claimants to file their proofs.
3. The certificates in cases of awards favorable to claimants should be issued by the commissioners jointly, and not by the umpire, who will report his decisions to the commissioners.
4. Interest at the rate of six per cent, per annum should be allowed to all claimants in whose favor awards are rendered, and until these are paid in full. This provision is contained in our convention with Peru, New Granada, and Costa Rica; and from the report of the United States commissioner in Ecuador, which I have just received, it appears that interest at five per cent, has been allowed by the latter government, although not specially provided for in the convention.
In other respects the convention proposed by Venezuela is not objectionable [Page 428] in its terms; nevertheless, with the view of facilitating your labors and those of the minister of Venezuela, I transmit you printed copies of the conventions entered into with Peru, New Granada, Costa Rica, and Ecuador, which have already been practically tested, found to answer their ends, and to which I invite your attention.
The convention must in any event be submitted to the Senate of the United States for its advice and consent before it can receive the ratification of the President; and in this connection you must bear in mind that our Congress meets in December next; therefore you will so time the execution of your present commission as to transmit its results to us in season for the consideration and sanction of the Senate.
* * * * *
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
Erastus D. Culver, Esq., &c., & c., & c.