Mr. Seward to Mr. Wilson

No. 4.]

Sir: Your despatch of October 23, No. 4, has been received. Your proceedings in regard to the ratification of the claims convention by Venezuela are approved, with the following exception, viz: That in your note of the 18th of October to Mr. Seijas, you were incorrect in assuming that the legislature, which is a co-ordinate branch of the government of Venezuela, lay under an obligation to approve the acts of the executive of that republic in making the convention.

The constitution of the United States of Venezuela, in requiring a ratification of treaties and conventions made by the President before they can go into effect, does not thereby contravene the law of nations. I think, therefore, the congress of Venezuela cannot be said to be under an absolute obligation to approve of the executive act; what is true is, that as a nation Venezuela lies under an obligation to the United States to satisfy just claims of American citizens for trespasses committed against them, by and under the authority of that government. Venezuela is at liberty, like any sovereign state, to refuse to enter into a convention for the adjudication of such claims, but if she does she leaves this government under the necessity of seeking some other adequate and perhaps less amiable remedy.

You will press upon the President the ratification of the convention with all the urgency that shall be compatible with the respect due from us to a sovereign state, with which we desire to cultivate and maintain relations of peculiar intimacy and friendship.

In the mean time the Congress of the United States, which will assemble on the first Monday in December, will be informed of the exact situation of the affair.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


James Wilson, Esq., &c., & c., & c.