No. 129.
Mr. Logan to Mr. Fish.

No. 25.]

Sir: Under cover of this dispatch I transmit a copy of a note from the minister of foreign relations, and also a copy of my reply to the same. The note of the minister is important as containing declarations in reference to the passage of the Straits of Magellan, which it will be well to have upon record for possible use in the future.

The debate upon the boundary question between Chili and the Argentine Republic has been very protracted, and somewhat bitter in its nature. There seems now to be but one resource left the parties, which is to submit the whole matter to arbitration. Chili is quite ready for this measure, but the Argentine has not, as yet, consented to the proposition.

During a recent interview with the minister of foreign relations the subject was incidentally discussed; and, if an arbitration is agreed upon, it is more than probable Chili will name President Grant as the arbiter, which selection will, doubtless, be ratified by the other party.

* * * * * * *

I have, &c.,

[Page 196]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 25.—Translation.]

Señor Ibañez to Mr. Logan.

Sir: By the publication of the diplomatic documents which are attached to the memorial presented by this department, in the present year, to the national congress, of which memorial I had the honor of transmitting a printed copy to the legation over which you preside, you will have informed yourself of the question of limits which my government is debating with the Argentine Republic, claiming a better-founded right to the Straits of Magellan and adjacent territory, as also the extensive region known as Patagonia.

You may also have observed that, as shown by the documents, Chili took possession of the straits and surrounding territory in the year 1843, having remained up to this time in their peaceable occupation, and has rendered practicable the navigation of that internal sea which for centuries has presented insuperable obstacles to the transit of vessels. These obstacles have now disappeared almost entirely, through the expenditure of money and many sacrifices by my government.

As the debate upon the question is nearly exhausted, rendering it apparent that it must be decided or brought to an end by the arbitration of a friendly power, in case it may be impossible to arrive at a satisfactory arrangement between the interested governments, it appears to the government of Chili that the opportune moment has arrived to declare to the nations of the world, with whom Chili is in amity, what are its intentions in relation to the navigation of the straits, both in the present and future, and to promulgate its right to the straits and the territory it claims.

By order, then, of his excellency the President of the republic, I am instructed to inform you, to the end that you will be pleased to transmit the same to the Government of the United States, that Chili has always, as now, maintained the desire that the navigation of the Straits of Magellan may always be free for the vessels of the world without pretending to subject them to any other tolls or contributions than those indispensable for the maintenance of light-houses and the securing of safety to navigators.

My government also wishes to maintain the neutrality of the straits in case of the remote and improbable event of an exterior war, in such manner that, not even in this contingency shall there be allowed to be imposed upon the navies of the world any other limitations to their transit than may be required in time of peace.

In order to give to this declaration all the force and consistency demanded by the interests of commerce, there will be procured such legislative enactment as the case may require.

My government flatters itself with the hope that these measures, so much in harmony with the liberal institutions of the republic, will be considered by the Government that your excellency represents with such dignity, as a new proof of the desire with which it is animated to strengthen the good relations binding us to it, and as a sufficient pledge of security that these relations shall never suffer any prejudicial change.

I embrace the opportunity to offer your excellency the expression of the sentiments of high consideration with which I have the honor to be,

Your obedient servant,


His Excellency Señor Don Cornelius A. Logan, &c.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 25.]

Mr. Logan to Señor Ibañez.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your excellency’s note, bearing date October 26, 1873, relating to the matter of dispute between Chili and the Argentine Republic, and declaring the intentions of your government in reference to the passage of the Straits of Magellan by the vessels of the world in times of peace and war. In response to your expressed desire, I have transmitted a translated copy of your interesting note to my Government which I can assure your excellency will be received with much pleasure and satisfaction, as constituting additional evidence of the high liberality and enlightened policy of the government of Chili.

I sincerely trust the question at issue between the two governments maybe satisfactorily settled, and that Chili may receive every rod of territory she is equitably entitled to. Her rapid progress in all of the requirements of an advanced humanity have [Page 197] won for her the respect and good feeling of the best governments of the world; and, upon behalf of my own, I tender its moral aid and sympathy in every worthy effort looking toward the general peace and harmony of the nations.

Permit me to embrace the opportunity to renew the assurances of high consideration, with which I have the honor to remain,

Your excellency’s obedient servant,


Hon. Adolfo Ibañez,
Minister of Foreign Relations.