General Sickles to Mr. Fish.
Madrid, December 3, 1872. (Received December 23.)
Sir: Late Saturday night I received a note from Mr. Martos, of which I inclose a translation. In compliance with his request I waited to receive him until half-past 2 a.m. of the 1st instant. He had come at once, he said, as soon as the cabinet council rose. They had reached, as he thought, a satisfactory conclusion. A majority of ministers had voted the immediate abolition of slavery in Porto Rico. Then came a grave question of ministerial crisis: several of his colleagues could not accept this resolution. Thereupon the president of the council decided that in view of the flagrant character of the Carlist and republican insurrections, and the necessity of completing the pending conscription, it would be inexpedient at this moment to accept the resignation of the minister of war. For reasons of equal gravity it was desirable that the finance minister should await final action on his budget. Under these circumstances the cabinet authorized the communication to my Government of the resolution taken, with the understanding that a brief interval would elapse, say until the 25th of the present month, before presenting to the Cortes the project of the law for immediate emancipation.
I asked Mr. Martos whether the Spanish minister in Washington would be instructed to inform you of this action, to which his excellency replied in the affirmative, stating that the dispatch was in the hands of the sub-secretary, and would be sent by cable at 6 a.m.
Thereupon, at half-past 3 a.m., I transmitted to you my telegram of the 1st instant, the secretary of legation, Mr. Adee, having awakened the operators in charge of the telegraph office for that purpose.
I am, &c.,