Papers Relating to Foreign Affairs, Accompanying the Annual Message of the President to the Third Session of the Fortieth Congress
Mr. Seward to Mr. Hale.
Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch of the 27th of August, No. 145, which is accompanied by the answer of the Spanish government to the complaint which you submitted to it of ill treatment to the officers and crew of the United States steamer Canandaigua, by the sanitary authorities at Port Mahon.
The explanations and assurances of the Spanish government are quite satisfactory.
You will please give a copy of this dispatch to the minister for foreign affairs.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
John P. Hale Esq., &c., &c., &c.
Mr. Hale to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I have never been so embarrassed in sitting down to write a dispatch to you as at the present time. Fully aware that I should be expected to give you some information in regard to the extraordinary state of things in Spain, when I have attempted it I have found myself unable to give you anything authentic and reliable, save that there exists now, and has for at least ten days past, a serious and extensive rebellion in Spain.
Whenever I have undertaken to write you anything about the rebellion, and I have done so several times since it commenced, I have not finished the dispatch I had began before other and conflicting reports, equally authentic, have been received, contradicting what I had written. In illustration of what I have here said, I will mention that, on the 22d of this month of September, the government of this province issued the inclosed extraordinary bulletin, marked A, communicating the very important information that the railroad had been cut at various points between this place and Madrid. This telegraphic dispatch arrived at this place, as you will see, at 12 o’clock on the night of the 21st instant, and at that time the Queen was at the railroad station, expecting every moment to leave for Madrid. Of course that news caused her to abandon that purpose, and she left the cars and the station and returned to her lodgings in the house of Don Sebastian, where she has remained ever since. But the next morning, the 22d, at the usual hour, about half-past 9 o’clock, the regular express train from Madrid arrived here and reported that the railroad communication between this place and Madrid was safe and uninterrupted, and in fact it so continues until this moment; and thus it is certain that this “extraordinary official bulletin of the government of the province of Guipuzcoa” (this province) was a total fabrication, entirely destitute of the shadow of truth. Yarious rumors are in circulation explanatory of this singular circumstanee, but I forbear any attempt at reconciling them.
But although the above fact shows that “official extraordinary bulletins” [Page 18]are not always to be implicitly relied upon, we are informed by an official notice, published in the third edition of the Correspondencia, as follows: “By order of the superior authority of this province, there shall not be published in the newspapers any other news of the events of the day than such as appear in the Gazette,” the official organ of the administration. Thus, so far as newspapers are concerned, we are not to have any news except such as the official organ of the administration may publish. Thus situated, in a community where the newspapers are prohibited from publishing anything which the government does not authorize, and the publications of the officials of the province are such as I have shown you, by the extraordinary bulletin herewith inclosed, you will readily conclude that I am not in the most favorable situation or condition for acquiring or imparting reliable news.
I will, however, now give you a few facts which may be relied upon as authentic. The Queen of Spain left Lequeitio, where she had been spending about five weeks, taking sea baths, on the 17th of the present month, by steamboat, and came to this place with the intention of paying a complimentary visit to the French Emperor at Biarritz, a fashionable watering place near here, and just over the dividing line between Spain and France. But on the 18th she received news of a formidable rebellion or insurrection in the southern portion of Spain, in which nearly all the vessels of war in the navy yards and on the coasts took the side of the insurgents. This, of course, broke up the arrangements for the intended visit to France.
The Queen, it is said, and I have no doubt of it, was inclined to go immediately to Madrid, and even to Cadiz, which was said to be in the power of the insurgents, but from this she was dissuaded by some suggestions, I know not what. She has made three several attempts to go since, but by some means has been thwarted, and here she remains still. The rebellion is not confined to any particular locality or portion of the peninsula, but is found in Santander on the north, and Cadiz on the south. Although the railroad communication remains entire and uninterrupted between this place and Madrid, a distance of about 400 miles, it is said to be broken and interrupted in various points in the southern portion of the peninsula; the same is true of the telegraph.
The above, although the account is very meager, is about everything which we have which is reliable. There has been some fighting at Santander, in which the reports say the royal forces were victorious, as well as in some other places, and these reports of the officials generally, from whatever quarter they may come, add that “complete tranquillity prevails in all the rest of the peninsula.”
It is impossible at this moment to say what is to be expected. My own opinion is, from the very scanty means of information at my command, that the government will succeed in putting down this attempt at revolution, as they have those that preceded it, although it is certain the movement at the present time appears to have a more formidable aspect than any other since I have been here. Should this attempt not be put down, by the government within a short time it will present rather an embarrassing question for me to decide for myself, viz., where to reside. At present I am the only member of the foreign diplomatic body at San Sebastian, the others being at Madrid or elsewhere. It is said a provisional government has been established at Seville.
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With the highest respect, sir, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.[Page 19]
The commanding general of the division of Bürgos, in a telegram dated 12 o’clock at night of the 21st instant, says to his excellency, the captain general of the Basque provinces, the following: “The minister of war, in a telegram of to-day, at 11 o’clock at night, communicates to me the following: At this moment they advise me that the railroad is cut at various points, and no train can pass.” The which, by order of his said excellency, the captain general, is published, so that it may come to the knowledge of the loyal inhabitants of this province.
San Sebastian, September 22, 1868.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Hale,.
If new national government is peacefully established in full possession at Madrid, and there remains no contending government in Spain, you will recognize the new government de facto, so as to prosecute any necessary business affecting the government of the United States or their citizens.
John P. Hale Esq., &c., &c., &c.