Mr. Seward to Mr. Perry.
Sir: Mr. Dabney, the United States consul at TenerifFe, has forwarded to the department a copy of a letter and of the accompanying correspondence which he addressed to Mr. Hale under date of the 26th ultimo, upon the subject of the ordering away of the United States vessels from that island, by the governor, on the ground of a mandate from Madrid, to the effect that all ports of this country are afflicted by contagious or infectious diseases, so that vessels from them cannot be admitted into Spanish ports, without danger to the public health. The proceeding referred to is so obviously arbitrary and unnecessary and must result in such serious inconvenience to the vessels of the United States, that it is presumed you will have made proper representations upon the subject to the Spanish government.
Though every country has a right to enforce such sanitary regulations as it may choose for the protection of the public health, this power should always be reasonably exercised, and any abuse of it to the detriment of commerce should be studiously guarded against. For some months past yellow fever has prevailed in some ports of our southern States. Vessels from them entering foreign ports might reasonably expect to be at least subject to quarantine. The ports of the northern and middle States, as well as those on the Pacific, have, however, been entirely free from any pestilential diseases. The Spanish mandate referred to, so far as it may relate to vessels clearing from those ports, must consequently be regarded as either unfriendly in purpose or as based upon erroneous information.
It must be protested against accordingly.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
Horatio J. Perry Esq., &c., &c., &c.