Mr. Culver to Mr. Seward

No. 151.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that the convention for the settlement of all claims of our citizens against the government of Venezuela, by means of a mixed commission, has this day been concluded and signed by the minister of foreign affairs and myself.

Our convention with Ecuador was adopted substantially as the basis of the present one, the foreign minister consenting to adopt the modification proposed by me, as communicated to you in my No. 124; also all the modifications suggested by you in your No. 110, except the one naming the rate of interest. As to that and the question of interest generally, I would say, that after several weeks earnest effort to come to an arrangement on that point in conformity with your instructions in No. 113, I gave the matter up, concluding the convention must fail. I was aware President Guzman was preparing to vacate his office and go to Europe, and that Congress was soon to elect one to his place who would be a stranger to the whole negotiation, and with whom the entire ground would have again to be travelled over. I pressed all this upon his consideration, together with the fact, that on the failure of the convention my government would feel that it had just cause of dissatisfaction at the want of attention to our claims.

He finally directed his minister to say to me, that if I would consent to five per cent, interest, payable semi-annually, on the whole amount awarded, the convention should be signed, otherwise it must fail. I then informed the minister that, as himself and the President were aware of your instructions as to six per cent., I would take the responsibility of agreeing to the five per cent, and of [Page 440] recommending its approval to my government; but all on the condition, and with the understanding, that unless it should have your approbation it should not be held obligatory. These conditions were acceded to and the convention signed.

All the claimants with whom I have conferred are well satisfied. The fact that in the case of Ecuador five per cent, was accepted by the United States, had its influence with President Guzman in making, and with me, in finally accepting, that rate in the present convention.

I trust, therefore, as semi-annual interest is provided for on the whole amount, that under all the circumstances the convention, as concluded, will have the approbation of my government, and to that end I earnestly recommend its ratification.

I shall avail myself of the very first opportunity to forward you a duplicate of the convention, in order, if approved, it may be laid before the Senate before its adjournment. The Venezuelan congress is yet in session, and I have the assurance of the foreign minister that no time shall be lost in placing the convention before that body for its ratification.

Having now obtained the great object for which, during the last three years, I have been laboring, I shall hope, with greater confidence than before, that my request to be recalled, as indicated in my No. 148, will be granted, or that my resignation, when made as suggested in my No. 147, will be accepted, preferring the former to the latter.

I have the honor to be, with sentiments of highest respect, your obedient servant,


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