Mr. de La Reintrie to Mr. Seward.

No. 63.]

Sir: Referring to previous correspondence, contained in my No. 39, of March 16, and to your reply No. 27, March 31st last, respecting the bonds required for negroes brought to the Island of Cuba on board American vessels, I asked for a brief interview with Captain General Lersundi on the 17th of April last, as reported in my No. 46, of the same date.

As he was then about to leave Habana on a visit to Santiago de Cuba, I informed you that some delay would necessarily occur in complying with your instructions, and as at the aforesaid interview he had desired me to communicate in writing with him, I herewith give you a copy of my communication to him of the 4th, and of his reply of the 8th instant.

You will perceive that the captain general declines to act in the matter on the ground that it is not within his attributes, and refers the question to the diplomatic consideration of the department and her Catholic Majesty’s minister at Washington.

I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,

H. R. DE LA REINTRIE, Vice-Consul General.

Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.

[Page 12]
[Translation.]

Mr. de La Reintrie to the governor general.

Most Excellent Sir: At the interview which I had with you the day before your departure for Santiago de Cuba, when I showed you dispatches received from my government, you asked for a copy of the dispatch in question before answering.

Thereupon I send you a copy of Mr. Seward’s dispatch of the 31st of March, which I submit informally to your consideration, at your request, hoping you will take the necessary steps to carry out the measure to which Mr. Seward refers.

Yours, respectfully,

H. R. DE LA REINTRIE, Vice-Consul General.

The Governor General of the Island of Cuba.

[Inclosure.]

Mr. Seward to Mr. de La Reintrie.

No. 27.]

Sir: Your dispatch No. 39, of the 16th instant, on the subject of the bonds required for negroes carried to Cuba on board of vessels of the United States, has boon received.

As the requirement is pursuant to law, its discontinuance cannot be asked for as a matter of right. It appears, however, that it has not uniformly been exacted, some of the executive officers in Cuba having, it is supposed, deemed themselves warranted by circumstances from dispensing with it.

The repeal of the law, or a general discontinuance of the exaction, is very desirable for us, now much more than formerly, since the abolition of negro slavery in this country has much increased the proportion of blacks, who seek employment on board of vessels.

You will, therefore, ask an interview with the captain general, and informally express a hope that a repeal or discontinuance of the requirement may be found to comport with the political and social interests of the island.

Such a measure would certainly tend to strengthen the good understanding between the United States and Spain.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

Henry R. de La Reintrie, Esq., United States Vice-Consul General, Havana.

[Translation.]

The governor general to Mr. de La Reintrie.

SUPERIOR CIVIL GOVERNMENT OF THE EVER-FAITHFUL ISLAND OF CUBA.

With your dispatch of the 4th instant I received Mr. Seward’s of the 31st of March, relating to the bonds required in this island on negroes brought from the United States, which you submit informally to my consideration.

In reply, I will say that it is not in my power to alter the law requiring the surety, which also applies to national vessels, as it belongs to the government of the Queen, my august sovereign, and I must refer the honorable Secretary of State to her Catholic Majesty’s minister in Washington for the consideration of the affair, regretting at the same time my inability to oblige Mr. Seward.


FRANCISICO LERSUNDI.

The Vice-Consul General of the United States of America.

[Page 13]