Mr. Seward to Mr. Hale

No. 52.]

Sir: It is known to the belligerents that the war which has for some time been carried on between Spain and the allied republics of Peru, Chili, Bolivia, and Ecuador, is attended with deep concern to the people and government of the United States. On more than one occasion the President has called the attention of the belligerents to this interesting fact and has rendered such good offices as seemed practicable with a view to bring about a pacification. These tenders have not hitherto been definitely accepted by the parties. The House of Representatives of the United States, concurring with the sentiments of the President, on the 17th of December, instant, adopted the following resolution :

Whereas wars destructive of commerce and injurious and prejudicial to republican institutions have for some time been carried on between Spain and several of the South American states on the Pacific coast; and also between Paraguay and Brazil, Uruguay and the Argentine republic, on the Atlantic coast: now, therefore,

Resolved, That it be, and hereby is, recommended to the executive department of the government, that the friendly offices of this government, if practicable, be offered for the promotion of peace and harmony in South America.

The President is thus called upon by the most numerous branch of the legislative department of the United States government to renew the efforts which he has heretofore made. I have, therefore, the honor to submit, by means of this circular letter, to the several parties concerned the following propositions on the part of the United States, namely :

1. That a conference be held at the city of Washington on the 1st day of April next, to consist of plenipotentiaries of Spain, Peru, Chili, Ecuador, and Bolivia, authorized to treat of all matters in difference between the belligerent parties jointly and severally, and to consider and agree upon terms of a permanent peace which shall be equal, just, and honorable to all the belligerents.

2. That Spain shall appoint one of said plenipotentiaries, and each of the allied belligerent republics before named shall appoint one; but each of the belligerent republics may, if it choose, confer its powers upon a plenipotentiary who shall be named by any other of those republics, so that it shall be within the option of the allied republics, to appear either by one or more plenipotentiaries.

3. That each of the plenipotentiaries may act under the direction of the government or governments by which he is appointed; that no resolution of the conference shall be effectual or obligatory for a determination or suspension of the war, or the establishment of peace, unless agreed to by all the members of the conference, and to be afterwards sanctioned and ratified by the governments of each and all the belligerent parties; and that in any protocol or other paper which the conference may think it expedient to submit to their respective governments or to the President of the United States; the representative of Spain may act on her part, and a majority of the plenipotentiaries of the other belligerent republics on their part.

4 That the President of the United States will designate some person to attend and preside in such conference, and use good offices, in the forms of [Page 518] information and advice, in facilitating the objects thereof; but he will have no power to vote therein or to assume any obligation on the part of the United States.

5. That the President of the United States will, in case of disagreement of the plenipotentiaries, designate some state or sovereign, not the United States nor one of the belligerents, to be an umpire to decide all questions which shall be referred to him by the conference, and the decision of that umpire, he consenting to act as such, shall be made upon the protocols and other documents and proceedings of the conference, and shall be conclusive and binding upon all the parties.

6. The expenses of each plenipotentiary attending the conference will be defrayed by the state by which he is appointed. The conference will have accommodations, as to a place for transacting its business, furnished by the President of the United States.

7. An armistice shall take place so soon as all the belligerent states shall have communicated to the government of the United States their acceptance of these propositions, and shall continue until the termination of the conference.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


John P. Hale, Esq., &c., &c., &c.