Mr. Seward to Mr. Hale.

No. 92.]

Sir: Mr. Perry’s despatch No. 14, of the 13th ultimo, upon the subject of the quarantine in Spain of vessels from the United States, has been received.

It is noticed with regret that the remonstrance, which by the instructions from this department, Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5, he was directed to address to that government, has proved unavailing.

The reasons which he represents as having been assigned by the minister of the interior for justifying the quarantine are founded upon obvious misconceptions of fact in regard to the existence of contagious disease, especially yellow fever, in this country.

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That epidemic was restricted to a few ports only of the southern States. If vessels from those ports had been subjected to the quarantine, there would have been no ground of complaint.

The rule has, however, been applied without discrimination to vessels from all ports of the United States, even when bearing a health certificate, attested by the Spanish consul at the port whence they may have cleared.

This seems to be unreasonable and unjust. It has given rise to numerous complaints which have from time to time been made known to your legation.

The letter of Mr. Alpheus Hardy, of Boston, a copy of which is enclosed, relates to the case of his bark “Young Turk,” which has been subjected to the quarantine without apparent necessity and to the great loss of her owner.

It is hoped that the Spanish minister of the interior may see cause to rescind his order, and that, seeing the serious mistake which he has committed, the government of Spain will make good the damages which United States citizens have sustained. If the Spanish secretary of the interior persists in maintaining the quarantine, we must protest with energy, and will expect indemnification.

I telegraphed to you to day on this important subject.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


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

Mr. Hardy to Mr. Seward.

Sir: Permit me to call your attention to the great wrong practiced upon the United States shipping trading with Spain—I cannot better do this than by stating my own case. My bark, Young Turk, sailed hence the last of August with a cargo wholly of staves, bound for Malaga, Spain. At that time our port was entirely free of any contagious disease; the officers and crew in good health. The bark was cleared at the custom-house with a clean bill of health, duly and properly certified by the Spanish consul at this port. After a passage of about 25 days she arrived at Malaga, all on board in good health, but was not allowed to enter the port because the yellow fever was in New Orleans, or the cholera in some port of the United States. The bark was ordered off to Port Mahon, kept there 10 days, compelled to pay port charges and quarantine fees, doctor’s bill, &c. Was 37 days in getting to and from Port Mahon, and at a large expense for time, wages, provisions, &c.; besides throwing the voyage wholly out of its place, bringing her here too late for the best sale of her cargo, and making a difference to the owners of several thousand dollars.

The Spanish government make no difference between New Orleans and Boston, and pay no regard to the certificate of our authorities backed by their own consul, to whom we paid a fee for his name, but send our vessels off without reason, much to our damage. Oar masters assert it is mainly to secure fees. Their vessels are not so treated with us, nor do they treat other nations as they do us.

For instance, they put Gibraltar down as a foul port, but by the remonstrance of the British government they withdrew that edict and allowed British vessels from Gibraltar to enter Spain, while our vessels hence, after being admitted at Gibraltar, and unloading there side by side with those from England, and associating with their crews, were ordered off. This whole system is unjust as I view it, and I trust may commend itself to your attention.

We are large customers for Spanish products—taking from Malaga more than half of all the fruit she exports (from 800,000 to 1,000,000 boxes, out of a crop of 1,200,000 to 1,500,000)— and it is a peculiar hardship to be thus troubled and taxed from this port when and because there is yellow fever in Louisiana or Texas.

Pardon my free expression of a felt wrong, and allow me to remain, sir,

With high regard, yours, &c.,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State for the United States, Washington, D. C.

Reference to United States senators from Massachusetts.