No. 707.

Protocol of the conference held at the Department of State, at Washington, on the 29th of November, 1873, between Hamilton Fish, Secretary of State, and Rear-Admiral Don Jose Polo de Bernabé, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of Spain.

The undersigned, having met for the purpose of entering into a definitive agreement respecting the case of the steamer Virginius, which, while under the flag of the United States, was, on the 31st of October last, captured on the high seas by the Spanish man-of-war Tornado, have reached the following conclusions:

Spain, on her part, stipulates to restore forthwith the vessel referred to, and the survivors of her passengers and crew, and on the 25th day of December next to salute the flag of the United States. If, however, before that date Spain should prove to the satisfaction of the Government of the United States that the Virginius was not entitled to carry [Page 988] the flag of the United States, and was carrying it at the time of her capture without right and improperly, the salute will be spontaneously dispensed with, as in such case not being necessarily requirable; but the United States will expect, in such case, a disclaimer of intent of indignity to its flag in the act which was committed.

Furthermore, if on or before the 25th of December, 1873, it shall be made to appear to the satisfaction of the United States that the Virginius did not rightfully carry the American flag, and was not entitled to American papers, the United States will institute inquiry, and adopt legal proceedings against the vessel, if it be found that she has violated any law of the United States, and against any of the persons who may appear to have been guilty of illegal acts in connection therewith; it being understood that Spain will proceed, according to the second proposition made to General Sickles, and communicated in his telegram read to Admiral Polo on the 27th instant, to investigate the conduct of those of her authorities who have infringed Spanish laws or treaty obligations, and will arraign them before competent courts and inflict punishment on those who may have offended; other reciprocal reclamations to be the subject of consideration and arrangement between the two governments, and in case of no agreement, to be the subject of arbitration if the constitutional assent of the Senate of the United States be given thereto.

It is further stipulated that the time, manner, and place for the surrender of the Virginius, and the survivors of those who were on board of her at the time of her capture, and also the time, manner, and place for the salute to the flag of the United States, if there should be occasion for such salute, shall be subject to arrangement between the undersigned within the next two days.