Mr. Seward to Mr. Sullivan.
Sir: You will have learned from the consul at Carthagena, long before this communication shall have arrived, that George A. Borchert, J. W. Murdaugh, T. S. Dronin, and Philip Smith were violently assaulted by a mob at Carthagena on the 1st day of September instant; that the two former were murdered, and that the two latter escaped only after great peril.
It is understood that those persons were on that occasion casual visitors at Carthagena, having arrived there on the same day in a British mail steamer from Santa Martha. The four persons named are understood to have been natives of the United States, and to have served in the land and naval forces of the rebels. It is not understood that they ever made any special act of submission to the government of the United States. It is said that they enlisted themselves during the last season in the Colombian naval service at New York, and that they proceeded under the Colombian flag as officers on board a Colombian war steamer, the R. R. Cuyler, which has since taken the name of El Rayo.
Assuming that those persons had practically and even treasonably cast off their allegiance to the United States and entered the naval service of the government of the country in which the murderous outrage was committed, the consul at Carthagena was of the opinion that the wrongs committed upon them could not be properly made a subject for a claim of redress by this government.
With our present knowledge of the case we are not prepared to disallow and overrule that opinion. The facts assumed by the consul, however, are not yet in any authentic manner made known to this government, and there is room to suppose that he may have misapprehended them.
Reserving for ultimate consideration the question of our absolute right to intervene, I have to observe that the outrage cannot, in any state of the case, fail to deeply wound the sense of dignity and the natural sympathies of the people of the United States, and impair a desirable confidence in the administration of the laws of Colombia.
You are expected, therefore, to address yourself to the President of Colombia, and to urge, upon principles of international comity as well as of humanity, that the case may be promptly and thoroughly investigated, that the guilty parties may be brought to condign punishment and that indemnities, as far as is possible, may be awarded to the families of the two individuals who were so barbarously slain.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
Peter J. Sullivan, Esq., &c., &c., &c.