Mr. Fish to Admiral Folo de
Washington, December 22, 1873.
The undersigned, Secretary of State, has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the note of Admiral Polo, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary from Spain, of the 10th instant, in which various documents were transmitted in order to establish that the steamer Virginius had no right, at the time of her capture, to carry the flag of the United States.
The documents inclosed in the note of Admiral Polo have been carefully examined with a view to determine the duty of the United States toward Spain under the agreement recorded in the protocol of the conference between Admiral Polo and the undersigned on the 29th ultimo.
The undersigned is now directed by the President to say that the documents thus transmitted by Admiral Polo make it appear to the satisfaction of the United States that the Virginius was not entitled to carry the flag of the United States, and was carrying it at the time of her capture without right and improperly, and that orders have been given to the naval authorities of the United States to notify the Spanish authorities of Santiago de Cuba that the salute to the flag of the United States is to be spontaneously dispensed with by the United States.
The undersigned has the honor further to inform Admiral Polo that, it having been 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, in accordance with the undertakings set forth in said protocol, institute inquiry and [Page 1052] adopt legal proceedings against the Virginius, if it be found that she has violated any law of the United States, and against the persons who may appear to have been guilty of illegal acts in connection therewith, so soon as the vessel or such persons may arrive within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
The conclusion thus arrived at makes it unnecessary to comment upon the many parts of the note of Admiral Polo of the 10th instant to which the undersigned would be obliged to record his dissent.
The undersigned takes this occasion to renew to Admiral Polo the assurances of his very high consideration.