Mr. Perry to Mr. Hale.
Daer Sir : I have to inform you that at your request I have seen the assistant secretary of state, the assistant secretary of the home department, and the chief of the bureau of charities and the public health of the latter department, on the subject of Mr. Seward’s telegram asking if any change had occurred relative to Spanish quarantines. Your note on this subject will be promptly answered, but I am sorry to say, unfavorably. The chief of the bureau explained to me that the subject of relaxing their measures in regard to our ports had very recently been under discussion in that department, and that the necessary orders to that effect were about to be issued, when news arrived of the breaking out of the cholera at the Havana, and it was resolved to maintain the rigorous quarantine now existing on all vessels proceeding from the United States. My observations on their conduct in putting our ports under sanitary disabilities for the contagion existing in their own ports of the Havana, whilst our ports were free from all such diseases, drew forth again the often repeated explanation that they quarantined all ports when they did not know that quarantine regulations had been adopted and enforced against the ships proceeding from the infected ports. They knew in this instance that communication by ships between the Havana and New York was frequent—every day—while they had no information that at New York any quarantine measures had been adopted to prevent the propagation there of the disease raging at the Havana. My own remarks on the absurdity of this system need not be repeated. The answer was in sub stance, that it was their system, and that they found the public health of this peninsula to be very well kept by it ; better than in other countries which had been more lax.
And to my explanations relative to the quarantine station and system of New York, from such data as I could remember, the answer was, that nothing in reference to that system or its application and working was known to them. They said also that if the authorities, whoever they may be, who have the quarantines of New York and of our northern cities in charge, would take the trouble to give them information upon our system of quarantines, and inform them from time to time when any port was put in quarantine by us, they could gladly take cognizance of such official information, and act upon it. They would not put into quarantine in the Spanish ports vessels proceeding from our ports, where they were thus informed adequate sanitary precautions were taken against the spread of disease imported from ports acknowledged to be infected.
Yours, very respectfully, &c., &c., &c.
Hon. John P. Hale, United States Minister Plenipotentiary, &c., &c., &c. Madrid.