Mr. Seward to Mr. Hale

No. 58.]

Sir: The consul at Porto Rico reports that the administration of foreign wrecks at that island is withheld from consuls and exercised by local officials, with great delay and great expense to our citizens.

A reference of a question on this point by the captain general to his home government results in the reply by the latter, that it has referred to the proper committee of the council of state the consideration of the expediency of extending to the colonies the provisions of the royal decree of July 5th, 1864, which allows the administration of foreign wrecks to consuls in the kingdom.

The tenth article of the treaty with Spain of 1795 stipulates that our citizens shall be placed upon the same footing as Spanish subjects in respect to wrecks on Spanish territory. If, however, as the consul referred to reports, the business is mismanaged by the local authorities, it is desirable that it should be transferred to the consuls, you will consequently do whatever you properly can towards hastening a proper decision of the subject.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


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