Papers Relating to Foreign Affairs, Accompanying the Annual Message of the President to the Third Session of the Fortieth Congress
Mr. Webb to Mr. Seward.
Sir: By the steamer to Marseilles on the 15th I wrote to the legation in London to telegraph to you that immediately after the sailing of the English steamer to Southampton I received a response to my demand of the 1st, which you have. * * * * I inclose it with the translation used, tied together, and marked No. 1.
After the receipt of this dispatch, I was waited upon by one of the under-secretaries of foreign affairs to talk over matters. Our interview, however, had no result, except that I told him plainly that the ministry had no alternative but to recede from their position and let the Wasp go up, quarrel with the United States, or resign.
* * * * * * *
Saturday, July 25, 1868.
I had another interview with Mr. Souza yesterday, in the hope that I might make sufficient impression upon this government to induce it to recede, but it is all in vain.
* * * * * * *
You will probably receive this on the 22d or 23d of August. The French mail steamer sails from Bordeaux on the 25th, and from Lisbon on the 28th of August, and of course a telegram, with information, instruction, &c., &c., put on board by our minister or consul, would reach me on the 16th of September. In like manner a telegram to our minister in London or Lisbon, to leave Southampton on the 19th or Lisbon on the 12th September, would reach me on the 2d October; while I could not receive a reply to this by our steamer until the 20th October, unless indeed it should anive in time to send a response by the steamer of 22d August. * * *
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C,[Page 287]
Senhor de Souza to Mr. Webb.
The undersigned councilor to his Majesty the Emperor, minister and secretary of state for foreign affairs, has the honor of acknowledging the receipt of the note which, under date of the 1st instant, was addressed to him by General James Watson Webb, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary for the United States.
In that note, General Webb communicates the following:
That he received, on the date above, an official dispatch from Rear-Admiral Davis, commanding the United States squadron in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, informing him that the American steamer Wasp, sent by him to Asuncion for the purpose of bringing away from there the Hon. Mr. Washburn, United States minister, and his family, had been prevented from ascending to that city, as her commander was ordered to by the said rear-admiral, in compliance with instructions received from the Secretary of the Navy, at the request of the Hon. Mr. Seward, Secretary of State for the United States; that, in consequence of such a grave disregard of the rights of the United States, the commander of the steamer referred to, after repeated requests for permission to pass the war lines of the allies, returned to Montevideo, declaring to the commander of the American squadron that he had not been enabled to fulfill his mission, as the refusal he had received from the general commander-in-chief of the allied forces was peremptory; that such extraordinary and unjustifiable proceeding on the part of the general commander-in-chief of those forces, the Marquis of Caxias, is in direct opposition to the rights of the United States; and, in view of what was agreed upon in August, 1866, between General Webb and the Brazilian government, is an outrage upon the honor and sovereignty of those States, which demands the prompt and severe censuring of the offender; that when, in 1861, the foreign minister for Brazil justified the conduct of the President of Maranhao in relation to the Sumter, the Secretary of State for the United States declared that that conduct and the approbation of it was intolerable. General Webb, in consequence, received orders to request that steps should be taken in reference to that occurrence by which the President of Maranhao should be made aware of his Majesty’s displeasure; that the act of the Marquis of Caxias is very much more offensive to the honor and sovereignty of the United States than that of the President had been, because he knew perfectly well that in August, 1866, Brazil was formally advised that the United States would not allow such a violation of its sovereign rights, and that Brazil reconsidered and revoked the offensive act; therefore, that the Marquis of Caxias was fully conscious that he was gravely offending the honor and sovereignty of the United States by refusing.
General Webb, therefore, to conclude, requests that the Marquis of Caxias be promptly and peremptorily censured for his unfriendly and extraordinary proceedings; and as his unwarrantable interference in the matter has already occasioned a delay of at least four months in freeing the United States minister and his family from their embarrassing and probably dangerous position, he strenuously urges upon the Brazilian government that, without any unnecessary delay, orders may be issued for the removing of all hindrance to the passage of the United States vessel Wasp through the allied posts, and that General Webb be informed without delay also that those obstacles have ceased to exist, so that he may be enabled to communicate to the commander of the American Southern Atlantic squadron that he will not encounter, in the discharge of his duties to his country and to humanity, any further impediment, from any of the Brazilian authorities.
In reply to General Webb’s note, the undersigned has the honor of calling his special attention to the following: The Marquis of Caxias could not recognize Lieutenant Kirkland, a subaltern of the United States navy, in command of the Wasp, as a competent person to make a direct request for permission for that vessel to pass the war lines of their very legal and effective blockade of the Paraguay river, which he only did towards the end of May, and not four months ago, as by so doing the blockade would have been broken.
In refusing that permission, the Marquis of Caxias did not ignore any right whatever of the United States, nor did he in any way wish to offend, as he did not, its honor or its sovereignty. On the contrary, he thereby maintained an unquestionable right of sovereignty on the part of the allies in the occupation of the waters and territories of that river, where they are at present.
To have broken through that blockade in the manner which was and is requested— that is, that the Wasp should pass through the war lines of the allies and their military positions into the heart of the enemy’s territory which is blockaded, serious disarrangement in the operations of the war, at the very moment, too, when important and perhaps decisive movements were impending—would have been the disregarding [Page 288]of a right of the belligerents which has never been questioned—would have diminished and weakened the sovereignty of a friendly power without the least justification, besides subjecting it and its allies to difficulties in the speedy termination of a war in which their honor is compromised.
It is further added that the refusal of the Marquis of Caxias was not peremptory, as General Webb supposes. The Marquis de Caxias’s objections to the way in which Lieutenant Kirkland proposed to aid Minister Washburn to withdraw from Paraguay, were accompanied by an exposition of the very weighty reasons he had for so doing, and at the same time offered him, with the greatest cordiality and deference, the choice of either of two means of arriving at the same result without producing any of the evil consequences which would result to the allies from the admission of the proposal made by him in the name of that minister.
Those reasonable means, which would have reconciled, in a most dignified and effective manner, the rights of the allies with the wishes of both Messrs. Washburn and Kirkland, were rejected by those gentlemen, who continue to insist in exacting a permission offensive to the sovereign rights of the said allies.
One of the least of the inconveniences which would happen through satisfying the request of Lieutenant Kirkland and Mr. Washburn would evidently be the nullification of the whole of the blockade established in Paraguay by the allies, who would be laying themselves open to the reception of similar exactions from any other nation which might, under any pretext, demand a like privilege for its ships.
So true is this, and so worthy of consideration in view of the consequences, on the part of friendly powers, that Admiral Godon himself, in 1866, when the passage of Mr. Washburn to Paraguay was in treaty, was the first to admit, merely begging in his request for the permitting of the passage up the river to Asuncion of the said Minister Washburn, that it should be done in any way which would harmonize with the dignity of the United States and have been most convenient to Brazil and its allies, further desiring that Mr. Washburn might be helped forward to his destination either by land or by water, without placing any obstacle in his way.
This is just what the Marquis de Caxias desired to effect in the present instance, had he not been denied the option.
General Webb alludes in his note to orders received by Rear-Admiral Davis from the Secretary of the Navy, at the request of the Hon. Mr. Seward, Secretary of State for the United States, for the purpose of assisting Mr. Washburn to withdraw from Paraguay.
The undersigned begs leave, however, to impress upon General Webb that the text of those orders cannot but be subject to an intelligent analysis.
If a nation cannot, in equity or justice, issue orders contrary to the rights or sovereignty of another, those to which General Webb refers were without doubt accompanied by some clause which would cause the execution of them to be carried out in a way not to offend those rights or that sovereignty, and having that in view, to enter into some arrangement both expedient and honorable with the nations interested in the matter. Otherwise it would be an outrage, and in the present instance an unwarranted one, since Brazil and its allies proposed and offered to realize a reasonable manner of enabling Mr. Washburn to retire from Paraguay, to which the undersigned has already alluded.
General Webb argues that the decision of the Marquis de Caxias is in direct contradiction to the agreement entered into in August, 1866, between himself and the imperial government, and that the said marquis seriously offended the honor and sovereignty of the United States, being perfectly aware at the time that he was doing so.
This view of the matter on the part of General Webb is unfounded. Not only are the benevolent and friendly intentions of Brazil towards the United States evident in this case, but also that the refusal of the marquis had nothing in it which was, or could be, offensive to the honor or sovereignty of those States, but on the contrary was the vindication of the legitimate right of the allies so to act.
Putting aside these no doubt convincing considerations to General Webb, it remains for the undersigned to demonstrate to the general that the agreement of 1866, which he invokes, cannot properly be applied to this case.
In the first place, the imperial government never consented, except under protest, to the passing of the Shamokin through the war lines of the allied powers for the purpose of carrying Mr. Washburn beyond them, and that protest, really made against his passage by the Brazilian admiral when that steamer was on its way to Curupaiti, proves that Brazil did not admit the fact as a right.
In the second place, even had Brazil and its allies, for reasons worthy of attention at that time and at that place, judged it expedient to waive some of their rights as belligerents in favor of a friendly power, now, perhaps, they may be influenced by different motives; and indeed they have other and weightier ones, which prevent them from conceding now what they did then; further, the present request is not of the same nature of the one then advanced, since at that time the terms of that petition were more acceptable.[Page 289]
Finally, the very circumstances of the war are very different now from what they were then; the military movements and operations were not then so active as they are now, heing about to terminate.
General Webb mentions the case of 1861, to ask that the conduct of the Marquis de Caxiasin the present shall be censured and peremptorily disapproved of, as he requested that that of the president of Maranhao should be in relation to the Sumter case: but as that affair does not bear an exact relation to this one, the undersigned declines entering into any discussion whatever upon the subject.
To conclude, the imperial government does not consider that the proceedings of the Marquis of Caxias in this transaction are at all open to censure, but that, on the contrary, they merit its approbation; firstly, from the fact that his refusal was in perfect conformity to the rights and sovereignty of the allies; and, secondly, from the circumstance that though it was not in his power to concede the permission as requested by Messieurs Kirkland and Washburn, he did offer and place at their command, with the heartiest good will, the proper means for the safe and convenient conveyance of the American minister from Paraguay.
The undersigned hopes that General Webb, conscious of the justice of the reasons given and of the serious inconveniences that would have happened to the cause of the allies from the upward passage along the river to Tibicuari (center of the enemy’s operations) of the Wasp, under present circumstances, and from her remaining there in communication with that enemy, without restriction as to the time or manner, will, without hesitation, conform his wishes to that decision, and accept either of the ways proposed for the departure from Paraguay of Mr. Washburn, and, in pursuance of such acceptance, transmit to Rear-Admiral Davis the necessary directions for the effecting of it. Meanwhile the imperial government will have no objection to accept any other alternative which may be suggested as equally effective and honorable by General Webb, provided that it be not the one already discussed, or a similar one, but that its conditions be such as to place no difficulties in the way of its acceptance by its allies at the river Plata, nor interfere with any plan they have or may conceive for the consummation of the desired end.
By these steps the imperial government endeavors to prove how great is its desire to, without injury or offense to its rights and sovereignty, or those of its allies, arrive at an early, and, to the United States, satisfactory termination of the question.
The undersigned repeats, &c., &c., &c.
Senhor General James Watson Webb, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States.
Mr. Webb to Senhor de Souza.
The undersigned, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary from the United States, has the honor to acknowledge the receipt, on the 9th instant, of a note, bearing that date, from his excellency Joao Silveira de Souza, councillor to his Majesty the Emperor, minister and secretary of state for foreign affairs, in reply to his note of the 1st July instant.
The note of his excellency, after reciting the contents of the undersigned’s note of the 1st, says:
“The Marquis de Caxias could not recognize Lieutenant Kirkland, a subaltern in the United States navy, in command of the Wasp, as a competent person to make a direct request for permission for that vessel to pass the war lines of their very legal and effective blockade, which he only did towards the end of May, and not four months ago.”
In the first place, the marquis did recognize Lieutenant Commander Kirkland as a proper person to make the request he did, as appears from his prompt response to his application.
Secondly. Lieutenant Commander Kirkland was not sent to Curupaity to make a “direct request for permission to pass the allied lines.” His destination was Asuncion; and presuming that Brazil would not again wound the sensibilities of the people of the United States, or outrage their sovereignty and honor, it was not deemed necessary for him to do more than courteously notify the Brazilian commander-in-chief of his presence, destination, and purpose, accompanied by the assurance that nothing would be done or permitted militating against the rights of either of the belligerents or of the national character of his ship and flag.
Thirdly. His excellency has misapprehended the remarks of the undersigned in regard to the delay of four months, already produced by the action of the Marquis de Caxias. If the Wasp had not been obstructed in her passage to Asuncion on the 25th April [Page 290]last, Mr. Washburn and family would probably have reached Montevideo early in May; whereas it is not possible for him to do so now until September; and it may be still later, if the modus operandi of getting him and family from their “embarrassing and possibly dangerous situation” is to be determined at Washington.
His excellency the minister of foreign affairs next denies that in refusing to let the Wasp pass, the Marquis de Caxias offended the sovereignty and honor of the United States, as is alleged by the Secretary of State, Mr. Seward, and insists that by so doing he only maintained an unquestionable right of sovereignty on the part of the allies. And it is insisted also that, in stopping the Wasp, the marquis in no way violated the arrangement made between the undersigned and Brazil in August, 1866, because the Shamokin, with Minister Washburn on board, was only allowed to pass the allied lines under protest.
On the subject of this protest the honorable Secretary of State wrote to the undersigned as follows:
“The President, however, marks the incident that the opposition to the passage of Mr. Washburn was withdrawn under a protest. So tar from considering the question of the right of Mr. Washburn to proceed to his destination as a debatable one, the United States cannot consent to argue that question.”
His excellency the minister of foreign affairs will perceive, therefore, that the undersigned has no authority to discuss the right of the United States to communicate with its minister in Paraguay. The obstruction offered in 1866 was declared by Mr. Seward “disrespectful in itself, and entirely inconsistent with the laws of nations.”
And yet his excellency, the minister of foreign affairs, informs the undersigned that “the imperial government does not consider that the proceedings of the Marquis de Caxias, in this transaction, are at all open to censure; but that, on the contrary, they merit its approbation.”
It is a well known fact that Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay, can only be reached by the river of that name; and also, that long before the empire of Brazil, and Uruguay, and the Argentine Confederation, bound themselves, by treaty, to carry on war, not against the people of Paraguay, but against its government until overthrown, the United States had established diplomatic relations with that republic. In fact, but for the presence of the United States minister, Mr. Washburn, in Asuncion in 1864, and his threat of closing his mission if the minister of Brazil was not permitted to leave the country by water instead of by land, as the Marquis de Caxias proposed that Mr. Washburn should do, that gentleman would, most probably, have shared the captivity of Governor Campos. How it is possible, then, for any intelligent Brazilian to claim that by virtue of Brazil’s blockade of the Paraguay, the United States shall not communicate with her minister by the only channel he can be reached, is more than the undersigned can conceive. But, as Mr. Seward says, from a sense of self-respect, the United States cannot consent to argue that question. Thus precluded from any discussion on this question of right, the undersiged notes the declaration that in this proceeding by the Marquis de Caxias there is no disrespect intended, and no unfriendly feeling towards the United States.
And this is said to be made manifest by the declaration that he did offer and place at the command of Mr. Wash burn and Lieutenant Kirkland, with the heartiest good will, the proper means for the safe and most convenient conveyance of the American minister from Paraguay. That is to say, Brazil, or the commander of her land and naval forces on the Paraguay, is to determine what is the “proper means” of getting our minister out of Paraguay, and not the United States. And what were those “proper means” thus proposed?
First, the Marquis de Caxias proposed that the minister, his feeble wife and child, his servants, with their luggage, &c., should traverse some fifty or one hundred miles of wilderness, more or less, and then embark on board a Brazilian vessel bearing a flag of truce, and descend the Paraguay to Curupaiti; President Lopez, of course, to give sanction to this espionage of his territory by an enemy avowedly engaged in a personal warfare against him and for his overthrow, and not against the people of Paraguay.
To this his excellency Charles A. Washburn, the minister of the United States accredited to the government of Paraguay, which it is the avowed purpose of the allies to overthrow, replied as follows, after very properly and peremptorily refusing to leave his post of duty, except in the manner indicated by his government:
“The proposition of the Marquis de Caxias that, if we are so disposed, we may go by land, is similar to that which was made to me by the Paraguayan government in the case of the Brazilian minister, Senhor Viana de Lima, after the taking of the Marquis de Olinda and the suspension of his diplomatic relations. When I interfered on his behalf, I was told he could go by land. But I rejected the proposition as absurd, and my conduct in that matter was highly approved by the Brazilian government and press, while that of Paraguay was universally condemned by both. Does the Marquis de Caxias expect me to accept terms for myself and family that I would not accept for a Brazilian minister?”[Page 291]
Secondly. The first proposition of the Marquis de Caxias having been very properly and indignantly rejected, he deliberately substituted the following:
“I will give orders that one of the Brazilian vessels of war above Humaita shall go up the river with a flag of truce to receive his excellency, his servants, and effects, at the point of the river previously indicated by his excellency; and this steamer, on its return, shall disembark his excellency at the nearest possible point to Humaita, or pass that fortification with, the consent of the government of Paraguay, so that his excellency may be able to move immediately from here to the United States gunboat Wasp.”
It would be improper on the part of the undersigned to speak of this proposition in the terms it deserves, after it has been gravely indorsed by the Brazilian government; and therefore he leaves it to the just indignation of that public opinion which must ultimately pass upon this correspondence, and which will treat this unheard-of proposition with the severe condemnation it so richly merits. Your excellency pronounces it friendly and magnanimous, while the undersigned deems it unfriendly and offensive, and, he might add, on the part of the marquis, trifling with the dignity of his position.
That the commander of the Wasp so considered it is manifest from his reply, which, written in doubt whether it was a serious proposition or one intended to cast ridicule upon the whole affair, is worthy of all praise. He says:
“Your excellency undoubtedly gives me credit for a knowledge, which I do not possess, of that usage of warfare which permits one of the belligerents, by a resort of a flag of truce, to pass by the fortifications and into the heart of the enemy’s country without molestation. I know that the Paraguayan government would be guided by a false sense of courtesy did it permit such an act by a Brazilian vessel of war.
* * * * * * * * *
“A conversation, sought by one of the members of your excellency’s staff, leads me to believe that your excellency thinks that the family of the President Lopez might seek protection under the American flag, and that to prevent such an occurrence you will not allow the United States steamer Wasp to pass through your fleet. The fact of virtually detaining as prisoners the United States minister and family in Paraguay in order to prevent the suspected escape of the feminine and infantine portion of President Lopez’s family, is so unreasonable that it savors strongly of extending the dangers and difficulties of war to women and children.”
Whether this proposition was ever intended by the Marquis de Caxias to be seriously received, or whether it was designed to treat Lieutenant Commander Kirkland’s application with ridicule and contempt, it is equally unfriendly and offensive. Unfriendly, because it denies on the most frivolous and indefensible grounds an act of courtesy to a friendly and neutral power, which could not be withheld without offence, even if the law international conferred the right of such denial on Brazil, which it assuredly does, not. And grossly offensive, because it assumes that the commander, officers, and crew of the United States steamer Wasp would act dishonorably and give information in regard to the Brazilian fleet to the Paraguayans, while no such suspicion of dishonorable conduct could possibly attach to the officers and crew of a Brazilian vessel of war, which it is gravely proposed to send hundreds of miles into the enemy’s country.
Now it is patent to the world that the number and character of the Brazilian fleet, above and below Humaita, are as well known to President Lopez as to the Marquis de Caxias, the press, and the public. And if we are to believe official reports, it is equally certain that the state of things on the Paraguay, above the allied forces, is absolutely unknown to the Marquis de Caxias or any other person. If, then, every person on board the Wasp were of the disreputable character implied, the most they could possibly communicate to the injury of the allies would be to report the number of vessels, they saw; information which President Lopez has already. How utterly idle, then, and how exceedingly offensive the pretence that the passage of the United States steamer. Wasp, under the United States flag, and commanded and officered by gentlemen who recognize all the obligations which a high sense of honor imposes upon them as neutrals—how exceedingly offensive to a friendly nation to allege that such passage would be injurious to the interests of Brazil, “because of the operations and movements of war shortly to be carried into effect near the place indicated as the destination of the North American steamer.” That is to say, “the steamer of a friendly neutral power, rapidly, running through our lines, and communicating with no one but the commander-in-chief and his staff, will become possessed, supernaturally, no doubt, of all our purposes: and those on board not being men of honor, will disclose to our enemy, the President, and not the people of Paraguay, the knowledge thus supernaturally acquired.”
But while the Marquis de Caxias thus guards against American officers, not revealing what everybody knows, and nobody better than President Lopez, and while he cannot listen to the idea of a friendly neutral passing his lines, he perceives the benefit to be derived from availing himself of the occasion presented, to send one of the Brazilian vessels of war above Humaita, with a flag of truce, into the very heart of the enemy’s country, to bring away the United States minister, and at the same time explore the terra incognita where he would willingly extend his operations. Nay, he would go even still further, and permit the iron-clad thus employed, now above Humaita, to repass [Page 292]that fortification with the consent of the government of Paraguay, and thus escape from what is deemed a perilous position until the fall of Humaita, if fall it should What President Lopez would have said to this proposition the good sense of the commander of the Wasp promptly determined; what the Brazilian government thinks of it is to he found in its formal approval, conveyed to the undersigned by the dispatch of your excellency; but what the governments, statesmen, and military men of Europe and America may say of it, remains to be seen.
President Lopez, “the government of Paraguay,” was the only party who could possibly suffer injury from the presence of a friendly neutral in his waters and amidst his defenses. And yet President Lopez, recognizing his duty to that friendly neutral, and to the comity that should be practiced between nations, and entertaining none of the doubts in regard to the honor of American naval officers, which so disturbed the mind of the Marquis de Caxias and made him desirous of sending a Brazilian vessel of war into his enemy’s country under a flag of truce, to be guaranteed by the flag of the United States minister, no doubt, promptly consented that the United States steamer Wasp should ascend the Paraguay to any place she might desire to visit.
The undersigned is of opinion that the facts of the case will abundantly demonstrate whether the act of the Marquis de Caxias, indorsed by Brazil, was not as unfriendly and offensive as it clearly was in violation of international law and the sovereignty and honor of the United States.
But, says your excellency, if the Wasp had been permitted to pass the blockading lines of the allies, other nations would have been entitled to claim a similar right for all their ships. Most assuredly so, if those other nations had diplomatic representatives at Asuncion whom it was desirable to get away. But Mr. Washburn is the only diplomatic representative resident in Asuncion, and consequently the position is untenable.
Your excellency next quotes Rear-Admiral Godon, then commanding the United States South Atlantic squadron, as fully justifying the action of the allies in 1868. So correct is this, says your excellency, “that Admiral Godon himself, in 1866, when the passage of Mr. Washburn to Paraguay was in treaty, was the first to admit it, merely begging in his request the passage of Mr. Washburn, and that he might be helped forward to his destination either by land or by water, without placing any obstacle in his way. This is just what the Marquis de Caxias desired to effect in the present instance, had he not been denied the option.”
It is no news to the undersigned that in 1866 Admiral Godon, having quarreled with the three United States ministers in the river Plata—General Asboth, Mr. Washburn, and Governor Kirk—and with the consuls of the United States at Buenos Ayres and Montevideo, instead of simply obeying orders, and furnishing the United States vessel, which Mr. Washburn was authorized to demand, to take him to Asuncion, did all in his power to prevent Mr. Washburn’s having such conveyance, and on one occasion actually went north from this port instead of south, apparently to avoid receiving the contemplated application. But it is news to him that the then commanding officer of the United States squadron on this station should have permitted his feelings of hostility to Mr. Washburn to render him so forgetful of his duty to his country as to indorse and justify and advise the Brazilian government in its assumption that it might safely, and with great propriety, refuse to permit one of our national vessels to pass its lines with our minister on board, provided the minister “was helped forward to his destination, either by land or by water, without placing any obstacles in his way.”
But the Brazilian government and its representatives in the river Plata well knew that Rear-Admiral Godon was not vested with any diplomatic powers whatever, and that he was as proverbially ignorant of the law of blockade as of international law. He was the last man in the navy to be safely intrusted with the discussion of such questions; and his expressing any opinion upon Mr. Washburn’s case, or making any admissions in regard to it, was simply meddling with what did not concern him. That he should have done so in the gratification of a vindictive feeling toward a gentleman in every respect his superior, does not surprise the undersigned; but it does surprise him greatly that your excellency should refer to the unpatriotic acts of that personage, who was the representative of himself and his vindictive feelings only, as justifying a proceeding which every department of our government, and its four diplomatic representatives in this region, as well as every intelligent foreigner here, united in condemning. The undersigned does not doubt that Rear-Admiral Godon did make the admissions described, and did, in the gratification of his vindictiveness, seek to produce a result so diametrically opposite to what justice and honor, and national sovereignty, as well as the convenience of our minister and family, demanded; but as he was not vested with any diplomatic powers in the premises, and as it appears that if he had been he would not have exercised them in the interest of his country, his opinions and admissions cannot, with propriety, be introduced into this correspondence.
The undersigned makes no apology for the length of this note. The existing diplomatic relations between the United States and Brazil, and the present and future intercourse between their people—whose interests, political and commercial, are [Page 293]inseparable—depend, to a very great extent, upon the amicable adjustment of the pending difficulty; a difficulty which should not and could not have arisen, and in the progress of which the sovereignty and international rights of neither party could have become involved, if Brazil had promptly extended to the United States that comity which is usual among all friendly nations.
Being prohibited from arguing the question of right in this very important matter, the undersigned, frankly and in the interests of good neighborhood, will now proceed to extract from his various instructions on this subject the well-settled convictions of his government in relation thereto, all or most of which may be found in part two of the published diplomatic correspondence of 1866:
“Mr. Seward to General Webb.
“Department of State, “Washington, April 21, 1866.
“We have learned, with much surprise, that Charles A. Washburn, esq., minister resident of the United States to the republic of Paraguay, has been hindered and detained at or near Corrientes, on the Parana River, by the allied armies engaged in the war against Paraguay, on his return, after a leave of absence, to Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay. I give you for your information a copy of instructions which have been sent to him in this emergency. We sincerely hope to learn that the Emperor of Brazil has neither ordered nor approved of this hinderance to the passage of the diplomatic representative of the United States, so disrespectful in itself and so entirely inconsistent with the law of nations.
“You will bring the subject to the notice of the government and the Emperor, and ask an explanation.
“Mr. Seward to General Webb.
“Department of State, “Washington, June 27, 1866.
* * * * * * *
“I am obliged to write, therefore, in ignorance of the present condition of affairs in South America. Nevertheless, the sovereignty and honor of the United States will admit of no hesitation or delay in the matter. Mr. Washburn is therefore now instructed to return at once to the United States if the hinderance before alluded to shall not have ceased, through some proceedings of the governments concerned.
“In the case that you shall have put into execution the before-mentioned instruction which was given you by this department on the 21st day of April last, and shall not have received the satisfactory explanations which you were instructed to ask from the government of Brazil, you will now demand such explanations peremptorily. If they shall not be given you within six or eight days, you will ask for your passports to return to the United States.
“The Secretary of the United States, the Hon. William H. Seward, to General Asboth.
“Department of State, “Washington, September 24, 1866.
* * * * * * *
“I have now before me a copy of a definitive correspondence which has taken place between this department and the Brazilian government, which leads me to hope that long before this reaches you the difficulty will entirely have ceased. But among the papers which the record presents is a letter written by President Mitre to Mr. Washburn on the 24th of July last, which distinctly asserts and maintains the right of the allies to make that detention endure according to the pleasure of the allies. The President of the United States cannot consent to hold relations of peace and friendship even with friendly nations, when they make their own interests the rule of exposition instead of the law of nations.
“The Secretary of State of the United States to General Webb.
“Department of State, “Washington, September 23, 1866.
* * * * * * *
“The paper treats of the final disposition and settlement of the annoying question which arose by the detention of Mr. Washburn, &c., &c., &c.
“The President, however, marks the incident that the opposition to the passage of Mr. Washburn was withdrawn under a protest. So far from considering the question of the[Page 294]right of Mr. Washburn to proceed to his destination as a debatable one, the United States cannot consent to argue that question.
“In the second place, you are authorized to state that the sensibilities of the American people have been wounded by the transaction.
“I am not prepared to say that, in the absence of an explanation by the allies, the settlement of the question which has been made will be held to be satisfactory.
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“I am, sir, your obedient servant,
“WILLIAM H. SEWARD.”
Your excellency will perceive from the foregoing extracts from instructions from the Secretary of State of the United States why the undersigned has not entered into any discussion of the rights of his government in the question pending between it and the allies, prosecuting a war against the government and not the people of Paraguay. He has but one course left him to pursue, and that is, to urge upon “the government and Emperor of Brazil” a reconsideration of their decision as conveyed to him in your excellency’s note of the 9th instant. And again, in the Words of his note of the 1st instant, “he earnestly entreats that the government of Brazil will, without any unnecessary delay, issue instructions that all hinderance to the United States steamer Wasp’s passing through the lines of the allies on the Paraguay be withdrawn, and promptly advise the undersigned that such hinderance has altogether ceased.”
The undersigned avails himself of this occasion to renew to his excellency the assurances of his distinguished consideration.
His Excellency Joao Silveira de Souza, Councillor to his Imperial Majesty the Emperor, Minister and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Webb to Mr. Seward.
Sir: In my last I stated that the minister of foreign affairs desired me to ask for a conference, which I had declined doing, at the same time expressing my readiness to wait upon him at the Foreign Office whenever desired to do so. I was in consequence invited to a conference on the 1st of August.
We accordingly were in conference two and one-half hours on the 1st, three hours on the 4th, and nearly three hours to-day, I having just returned from the Foreign Office.
The result was that I left with the minister my dispatch herein inclosed and marked No. 4, he having previously explained that in no event should the Wasp be impeded in her course to Asuncion. It is understood that Paranhos’s note, “subject only to such trilling delay as may arise from the active execution of any military operation which may transpire at the time,” means simply that if, when the Wasp arrives at the front, the Brazilians are actually firing at the enemy, they shall not be required to cease firing; but in such an event, the Wasp shall wait until the firing cease. To this I assented, stipulating, however, that if the Wasp thought proper to pass between and under the fire of the belligerents, she should have a right to do so, and in like manner the belligerents would be at liberty to sink her if they can, and she is sufficiently foolhardy to invite destruction.
* * * * * * *
I shall send a brief dispatch by telegraph from London, announcing the result of the Wasp affair.
I have reported to Admiral Davis that a United States vessel of war [Page 295]may go up the Paraguay for Mr. Washburn; and have requested him to send the Wasp, with the same commander. This he will do.
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Humaita was attacked on the 16th by the allied forces, and the assailants beaten off with fearful loss. On the 18th the allies were again badly beaten in the Chaco.
On the 25th the allies discovered that Humaita had been evacuated by Lopez’s forces, and they quietly took possession of it. The city of Rio has, in consequence, been illuminated for three nights in succession. There is no end to the rejoicing, and the press assures the people that there is no such triumph on record in ancient or modern warfare.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant.
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State. Washington. D. C
Senhor Paranhos to Mr. Webb.
The undersigned, councillor to his Imperial Majesty, and his minister and secretary of state for foreign affairs, has the honor of addressing himself to General James Watson Webb, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary for the United States.
The object of the present note is to reply to that of the 13th ultimo, which was received by the predecessor of the undersigned, relative to the passing of the steamer Wasp through the lines of the rigorous blockade of the allies, in the waters of the Paraguay River, for the purpose of bringing away from the enemy’s territory Mr. Charles A. Washburn, minister resident for the United States near the republic of Paraguay.
The undersigned, having had the honor of conferring with General Webb on the 1st and 4th instant, will defer the considering of each of the propositions of the note referred to.
The undersigned holds himself excused from that duty, as he feels assured that they do not contain the slightest idea of a rupture of the friendship and customary deference with which the government of the Union has ever responded to that of his Majesty the Emperor; and also because he at the same time acknowledged that it is of urgent importance that the understanding should be arrived at which is desired by both parties, with regard to the passing of Mr. Washburn through the territory occupied by the allied forces.
The imperial government is grieved at perceiving that, either because the propositions submitted by the Marquis de Caxias were not understood as they were meant to be, or that owing to the illness of Mr. Washburn’s wife, the egress of that gentleman and his family should have been delayed until the present time. The undersigned is confident, however, that General Webb is also profoundly convinced that on the part of Brazil there does and always has existed a most sincere desire to maintain and tighten the most friendly relations with the government at Washington; and therefore that it never has been wanting either in courtesy or consideration towards its representatives.
General Webb knows that the passing of the diplomatic agent of the United States through the territory which the allies occupy in the waters and on the banks of the river Paraguay was not denied to him, they having, nevertheless, the full and undeniable right of jurisdiction therein, according to the right of nations. The question has rested upon the way or manner of passing between the war lines of the allies without weakening their moral force, or injuring the activity of their operations, or giving rise to questions with other neutral powers.
Now, as in 1866, when the passing up the river of Mr. Washburn was under consideration, the allied governments and their representatives at the seat of war had not, nor have they, anything in view other than the conciliating of the interests and necessities of the belligerents with the duties of courtesy and friendship which they are only too happy to observe towards so neutral and friendly a power as that of the United States.
The Marquis de Caxias, in his character of general commander-in-chief of the allied [Page 296]forces, did not hesitate, on the reception of the dispatch from the commander of the Wasp, to point out and help to execute two sure methods for the speedy return of the United States minister who is in the enemy’s country. Unfortunately, however, those methods it seems were not deemed admissible, for it was declared to us that both were impossible; notwithstanding, the undersigned begs leave to explain en passant, perceiving that they evidently were not duly appreciated.
The distance by land from Tayi to Curupaiti is little more than five leagues, which would have been gone over by Mr. Washburn in a carrriage and other conveniences which the Brazilian general would have had much pleasure in placing at the disposition of the United States minister, his family, and suite. Only through ignorance of the conditions or circumstances of that journey could it have been compared, as it was, to the offensive offer made by President Lopez in 1864, after his declaration of war, to the Brazilian minister at Asuncion, Mr. Viana de Lima.
The government of Paraguay, during profound peace, commenced hostilities by surprising and capturing the Marquis de Olinda and the imprisonment of all her passengers, among whom was the president of the province of Matto Grosso. It was under such circumstances that he wished the Brazilian minister to retire by land to the Passo da Patria—that is, that Mr. Viana de Lima and his family should travel over fifty leagues, through the middle of an enemy’s territory, without any guarantee as to the means of conveyance or indispensable help during so long a route, besides not having the slightest protection for their personal security.
The journey of Mr. Washburn from Tayi to Curupaiti would have been effected under far different circumstances, and in another way, much more speedy, honorable, commodious, and safe. Mr. Washburn would have passed through as a neutral friend, whereas in the case of the Brazilian minister at Asuncion he would have been unavoidably detained or delayed on his passage through the interior of a country whose government had most unexpectedly declared war against the empire, initiating it by those acts of most unjustifiable surprise and violence.
The second method suggested by the general commander-in-chief of the allied forces— that is, the passage of Mr. Washburn in a Brazilian vessel to Curupaiti—evinces deference towards the diplomatic agent of the United States, and cannot be otherwise considered without gravely impugning the intentions of the Marquis de Caxias, and manifesting ignorance of the true position of the belligerents.
The Brazilian division of six iron-clads, which forced the passage of Humaita in February of this year, has already been at Asuncion, and has cruised beyond Tebicuari more than once, round about Humaita, and on the opposite side called the Chaco, or right bank of the Paraguay.
General Webb declares that he cannot, in view of the instructions from his government, enter into an examination of the question of right involved in the passing of Mr. Washburn through the allies’ lines of blockade, attack, and defence; and the undersigned admits also, on his side, that he should abstain from discussing the matter, since it was not the denying of a passage through to that diplomatic agent which is being treated of, but the reconciling of it with the inevitable necessities of the war to which the allies were provoked, and which they are using every effort to terminate in the speediest, most just and honorable manner.
The imperial government cannot, nor would it wish to proceed in an affair which, like this, is of grave importance to the alliance, without previously consulting with its allies; and the undersigned would therefore insist that the present emergency be definitely decided upon at the river Plata, or here, after communications shall have been received from both the Argentine and Oriental governments, if there were not on the one side the consideration that there is no one there to represent the United States, and, on the other, that the Senhor Juan E. Torrent, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary for the Argentine Republic near this court, manifests the same friendly and deferential disposition towards the United States that he does.
In pursuance to an agreement with Mr. Torrent, and in the hope that that agreement will be approved of and duly appreciated by the allied governments at the river Plata, the undersigned proceeds to propose to General Webb a solution of the question, which cannot fail to be considered as satisfactory, as well by the government of the United States as by its representative accredited near his Majesty the Emperor.
Mr. Washburn thought it impossible that President Lopez would consent to the passing of a Brazilian steamer under a flag of truce, for the inoffensive purpose of aiding him to retire, as mentioned before. Well, then, the government of his Majesty, in its own name and in those of its allies, will most willingly accede to the descent from Asuncion of the United States minister, on board of a Paraguayan vessel, under a flag of truce, to Curupaiti, or to the most advanced post of the allies, the Wasp to go up to that point, wherever it may be, and there to receive on board the diplomatic agent of his country.
Apparently the material difficulty pointed out by Mr. Washburn will be thus removed; there will be complete reciprocity of the just and friendly propositions which are advanced on both sides; in a word, the rights and supreme necessities of the belligerents [Page 297]will he in harmony with the passing and returning of the representative of the United States.
But the imperial government and its allies will carry their deference to the United States beyond that. If its representatives near this court and at the republic of Paraguay hold that they should not accept either of these methods, or that the return of Mr. Washburn can be only effected safely and conveniently by the Wasp’s going to receive him at his place of embarkation, then the allies will agree that a United States vessel of war shall proceed to that point for that purpose, that vessel being subject only to such trifling delay as may arise from the active execution of any military operation which may transpire at the time; the allies being well assured that the assertions of General Webb (which they never have doubted) with regard to the observance of the duties of a strict neutrality on the part of the vessel and of the representative of the Union shall most rigorously be carried out.
The undersigned hopes that this resolution taken by the imperial government, in combination with the representative of the Argentine Republic near this court, will be benevolently admitted by its allies at the liver Plata, and that it will be apparent to General Webb and Mr. Washburn, and to their government, that this is a further proof of the cordiality with which the said allies profess the most friendly sentiments toward the United States government.
The undersigned avails himself of this oportunity to renew to General Webb the assurances of his high consideration.
Mr. Webb to Senhar Paranhos.
The undersigned, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary from the United States, has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a note from his excellency José Maria de Silva Paranhos, councilor to his Imperial Majesty the Emperor, minister and secretary of state for foreign affairs, dated yesterday, August 5, and which is in reply to a note from the undersigned addressed to the predecessor of his excellency, dated July the 13th, remonstrating against the decision of the late government, approving of the conduct of the Marquis de Caxias in refusing to permit the United States Wasp to pass his military lines on her way to Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay, for the purpose of bringing from that capital his excellency Charles A. Washburn, the duly accredited minister of the United States to Paraguay, and thus relieve him and his family from what the government of the United States declared, to be a “disagreeable and probably dangerous situation.”
The undersigned is greatly impressed with the friendly tone of this note from his excellency the minister of foreign affairs, and tenders to him his sincere acknowledgments for the cordial and frank manner in which he has complied with the wishes of the government of the United States.
His excellency, in reconsidering the too hasty action of his predecessor, and in recognizing the propriety and necessity of a movement by the government of the United States for the relief of its diplomatic agent in Paraguay, and the mode adopted for that relief, has given another and most acceptable proof, on the part of the government and Emperor of Brazil, of their determination to reciprocate the friendly feelings which have always controlled the action of the United States in its intercourse with all the governments on the continent of America. An “American policy,” based upon the advanced civilization of the world, the progress of the age, the interests and wants of new peoples, in contradistinetion to a policy which is of necessity the offspring of the past, and fettered by the thought and action of the period in which it originated, is recognized by all American statesmen, whether of the north or the south. And to secure to the government of America the benefits of such an “American policy,” it is of primary importance that Brazil and the United States, and all the governments on this continent, all of them being constitutional governments, should cultivate among each other the most friendly intercourse and the closest political alliance compatible with their constitutional forms of government. To accomplish this great work, and to draw closer together the United States and Brazil, has been the one great object of the undersigned during his long residence at this court; and he is happy to recognize in the dispatch of his excellency the evidence of a similar feeling and purpose.
Orders have been forwarded by Rear-Admiral Davis, commanding the United States South Atlantic squadron on this station, to Lieutenant Commander Kirkland, commanding the United States steamer Wasp, to proceed at once to Asuncion for Mr. Washburn and his family; and it would be idle for the undersigned to assure your excellency that under no circumstances and in no conceivable event will the progress of that vessel to [Page 298]or from Asuncion impede or in any way be injurious to the interests of the allies waging war against the government of Paraguay.
The undersigned is happy to avail himself of the occasion presented to renew to your excellency the expression of his cordial respect and great consideration.
José Maria da Silva Paranhos, Councilor to His Imperial Majesty the Emperor, Minister and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.