Mr. Hale to Mr. Seward
Sir: In the absence of any official information to give you in relation to Cuba, I have thought that the following statement, which may be relied upon as substantially correct, would not be without interest :
The newspapers of Madrid and at Cadiz have lately published a paragraph to the effect that this government had entered into negotiations for obtaining a loan of two thousand million reals, ($100,000,000,) nominal, the interest and capital of which debt to be paid by the colonial chest, as it is called, of the island of Cuba.
On making some inquiry into the truth of this statement, I find that, in fact, the minister of the colonies has been in frequent communication lately with the agents of the French Credit Mobilier, on this subject.
The sum to be furnished to the Spanish government by these parties is understood to be 300,000,000 francs in cash, ($57,000,000,) and the debt is, in fact, to be a Cuban debt, for the payment of which the revenues of Cuba are to be pledged, and the chest of the island is to be directly liable.
I am not aware whether these French negotiators are supported in any way by their own government in this transaction, nor am I informed as to the details of the negotiation, but its existence on the basis stated is beyond doubt.
Within three days past we have had alarming rumors here in regard to the state of things between France and Prussia, some parties supposing war to be imminent. The fall of the funds in Paris seems to confirm, to some extent, these reports, but whether this alarm in France will have any effect to retard [Page 526] or prevent the favorable termination of the negotiation for a loan in that quarter on a mortgage of the revenues of Cuba, I cannot say.
Again there has been in session for some months, in this city, a council for deliberation on the affairs of Cuba and Porto Rico, composed of delegates sent from each of these islands separately, and also of some selected by the government of Spain.
The functions of this assembly I understand to be advisory merely, and they have agreed upon certain reforms relating to the matter of customs and taxes generally which they have recommended to the government of Spain, and which have been sanctioned by royal decree, which has all the force of law.
The subject of slavery has not yet appeared in any of the proceedings of this body, and probably will not. Nevertheless, I learn from undoubted authority that it has engaged very much of the attention of the delegates from Cuba and Porto Rico, those from the latter island being, or a majority of them at least, decidedly and unequivocally in favor of emancipation, and they have informally so stated to the government of her Majesty, both on grounds of expediency and humanity; those from Cuba, or a majority of them, are also in favor of emancipation, but not so decidedly nor immediately as those from Porto Rico. These Cubans are talking of some substitute for African laborers before emancipation is actually effected. Still the preponderance of the sentiments of the delegates from Cuba is decidedly on the side of emancipation.
Though this subject does not appear in any report of the proceedings of this body, still it is one of the ideas most prominent in the minds of the individual members, so much so that I am informed they take their seats on one side or the other of their place of session according to their sentiment on this great question of the age.
I am further informed that it is the opinion of those friendly to emancipation in those islands, that not only has the Spanish government not moved in this matter, but that they will not so long as the movement can be delayed. On this question I have no knowledge, but simply give you what has been told me. I learn that the public mind in those islands is very sensitive on anything which is said or done in the United States on this question, and they hope much from the moral influence of our government on it.
I have the honor to be, with the highest respect, sir, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.