Mr. Sullivan to Mr. Hanaberg.
Sir: Your communications Nos. 12 and 13, of the 14th and 21st instant, calling my attention to the case of the steamer Rayo and her crew, came to hand on yesterday, and from a perusal of them I am satisfied that you have acted wisely and efficiently in this complicated affair.
If the crew of this steamer had agreed to serve the government of Colombia for the term of two years, and that at the time and place the ship’s papers were executed they were well aware of the true character of this steamer and of the nature of the service they were required to perform, and that when at a Colombian port they had freely consented to continue this service for the period stated, they have, in my opinion, forfeited all rightful claims to the protection of our government.
But should this steamer’s crew list or contract not have been made known and fully explained to the crew at the time they were employed, and that, as you intimate, they were duped into the Colombian service under false and fraudulent pretenses; that, while cast upon a foreign shore in a state of utter destitution and threats of persecution, they were forced to take service under the Colombian government, you will, should this state of facts exist, demand of the commander of this steamer and of the proper authorities at Carthagena, where this steamer is now stationed, the immediate discharge and payment of these men, who now claim and are justly entitled to the protection of our government, according to the laws of the United States of America. In this matter be prudent, but resolute.
As the people of this country are engaged in a fratricidal war, which cuts off all communication with the general government at Bogota, and as you have submitted the whole subject to the State Department at Washington, I think it advisable that, if without detriment to the honor of our government and the calls of humanity, you await their orders, lest that hasty action, based upon insufficient facts, should add to the obstacles already in the way of the settlement of this perplexing affair.
I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,
Augt. S. Hanaberg, Esq., United States Consul at Carthagena.