to Mr. Fish.
Santiago de Chili,
September 25, 1873. (Received November 4.)
Sir: I regret to inform you that, although the treaty of 1866, between Chili and Bolivia, was intended to settle the entire boundary dispute between those republics, it has not done so. You will, doubtless, remember, by the terms of the treaty referred to, the twenty-fourth parallel of fourth latitude was the dividing-line agreed upon, but that the minerals, guanos, &c., lying between the twenty-third and twenty-fifth degrees were to be the common property of the two countries, and the profits arising therefrom were to be equally shared by each.
Within the past few years, disputes have again arisen, Chili charging that Bolivia has usurped an unfair proportion of the gains; and the subject has formed the basis of considerable diplomatic discussion between the representatives of the two governments.[Page 195]
A short time since, at an informal interview between the minister of foreign relations of Chili and myself, that gentleman informed me that a proposition to arbitrate the matter in dispute, involving the award of a certain compensatory amount to Chili, should it be determined she was entitled to any, had been submitted to the Bolivian government; that it was probable the proposition would be agreed to, and I was asked by the minister if I would consent to have Chili name me as arbiter, should the proper time for so doing arrive.
I replied, that while it was a traditional policy with my Government to observe the strictest neutrality in the hostile operations of nations, yet that its character as a peacemaker was no less marked; that, while it would not engage in war, except in defense of its own rights and the indisputable general interests of humanity, there was scarcely any length, in honor, it would not go, to preserve the peace of the world and advance the prosperity and happiness of the nations; that, as the willing representative of my country in sentiments such as these, it would afford me much gratification, should the occasion present itself, to render whatever of service might lie in my power and ability to reflect this benign and settled policy of my Government. The minister thanked me cordially, and the interview ended.
The whole matter is, as yet, in limine, and of course its present publicity would be premature; but I think it proper to advise you thus early of my action in the premises, trusting it may meet your approval.
I have, &c.,