Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 7, 1874
Mr. Hall to Mr. Davis.
Havana, December 5, 1873. (Received Dec. 12, 1873.)
Sir: The past week has been one of great excitement here, owing to the defiant attitude of the Spanish population, or a portion of it, and to other causes growing out of the reported settlement between the United States and Spain, of the affair of the Virginius, involving the delivery of the vessel and the release of the surviving prisoners still detained at Santiago de Cuba.
Reports and rumors of the most inflammatory character have been kept in constant circulation: sometimes, that the volunteers were arming and preparing to displace the captain-general; at others, that they would burn the Virginius in the event of her surrender. Yesterday morning it was understood that all matters had been arranged honorably to Spain; that the Virginius would be given up and the prisoners at Santiago de Cuba released to the United States; but during the day some telegrams were received which revived the smouldering fires of the previous days, and made it evident that the arrangement could not be carried out without bringing the authorities into conflict with the peninsular population. To-day again we have reports of a more pacific character; that the Virginius will be surrendered, and that all the instructions of the government of Spain will be complied with.
It is understood that the government of Spain has sent the most positive instructions to these authorities to carry out the agreement between the two governments; that the captain-general has desired to comply, and has been supported by some of the leading functionaries and military officials, and even by some of the commanding officers of the volunteer battalions, but that the admiral and other naval officers of the station refuse most decidedly to carry out such instructions, and are supported by a large majority of the officers of volunteers and almost the entire Spanish population.
In his purpose of complying with the instructions of the government of Spain, the superior authority of the island has been obliged to call into consultation the leading representatives of the classes above referred to, and evidently has failed to obtain their sanction to enable him to carry out such instructions. If finally he should be able to enforce them, it will [Page 1084] be due, doubtless, to his own personal influence and tact rather than to any respect which he inspires as the representative in Cuba of the supreme government of Spain. He evidently appreciates the anomalous position his government would be placed in through its inability to enforce its international obligations in Cuba.
The press of Havana has contributed its full share in bringing about the prevalent spirit of insubordination. Inflammatory appeals have been made to popular prejudices through the newspapers and anonymous publications, but after working up this spirit of resistance it now appears to be disposed to counsel calmness and confidence in the superior authority.
I respectfully call the Department’s attention to the accompanying articles, taken from different newspapers of this place during the past week. These extracts will give some idea of the character of the appeals which have been made to prejudices of the peninsular population of Havana, at all times excitable, but at this time wrought up to the highest pitch of excitement by the events referred to.
I am, &c,
To the Government of the Nation:
A recent act performed by the Spanish navy, and showing once again the dignity and heroism of our marine, has wounded the feelings of a nation as proud as presumptuous, and which for some time has been protecting, in a manner as vile as it is cowardly, the enemies of our nationality, those who desire to see our glorious banner humbled and scorned.
The seizure of the insurgent steamer Virginius by the Spanish war-steamer Tornado, and the prompt and condign punishment of the infamous pirates, who, under shadow of the American nag, are endeavoring to continue the reduction to ashes of the best towns of this island and the assassination of our most loyal brothers, has been received with increasing enthusiasm by the Spaniards, without conditions, who understand that the hour has now arrived for the Latin race to recover in the New World all the importance and grandeur which correspond to it.
However, news is received from Europe announcing that the representatives of the United States, a nation which protects all the criminals of the earth, pretend to ask explanations from the Spanish government upon an act just and perfectly in accord with the law of nations; and, should this prove to be so, the undersigned, who believe that they are the faithful interpreters of the sentiments which animate all the loyal, address themselves to the government of the nation, in order that, relying upon the real wishes of public opinion, it shall not hesitate in the least, but give a severe lesson to the Anglo-Saxons in America, showing this race that it would be more possible for the island of Cuba to disappear forever than to consent with impunity that our nation shall be humbled and reviled.
The government of the Spanish nation may rest in the intimate conviction that the majority of the inhabitants of this great Antilla ardently desire to humble once for all the starry banner, which will never wave, and which can never wave, wherever is displayed the glorious ensign of Lepanto, of Trafalgar, Las Navas, Baylen, Pavia, Cerignola, Gerona, Saragossa, and many other places where memorable battles have been fought, and where our forefathers wrote in their blood the most revered pages in the history of our beloved country.
Let, then, the government of the Spanish nation be energetic if it wishes to be the echo of the sentiments of this country, and let it spare no sacrifice of any kind when it comes to saving the honor of our people; let it not fear the ridiculous threats of the United States, for all of us here are willing to die in defense of our rights and before the last rood of our country shall be profaned by the foot of the foreigner. Before we are humiliated by the impositions of despicable powers we shall know how, upon the sacred cry of “Viva España,” to die surrounded by our children, that future generations may remember that it is preferable to disappear from the scene of life at once than carry on an existence full of ignominy and shame.
article from “la constancia,” havana, november 30, 1873.
At the present moment, after the arrival of the minister of ultramar, of his decree upon the raising of embargoes on the property of foreigners, of the opinions expressed in sundry places by some of the members of his suite, we believe it is now impossible to keep profound reserve upon the questions of to be or not to be—for every question is such for the loyal Spaniards—which oblige us to swerve from the line of conduct we had marked out for ourselves, and which we have faithfully followed since October, 1868. The loyal Spaniards of Cuba, both native and peninsulars, during the past five years, have committed faults, have been sometimes too confiding, and at others extremely careless, and frequently very tolerant with immoral public functionaries, and with merchants, contractors, and unscrupulous speculators. These weaknesses and the little attention they attract obey a general custom of our times. In the United States, as in England, France, Germany, and in Spain, immorality and speculation in public misfortunes have made rapid progress in these modern times, as has been repeatedly stated in our columns; but in the island of Cuba, notwithstanding the errors that have been committed, the native and peninsular Spaniards have not for a single moment forgotten their firm intention of not abandoning this land our forefathers discovered, colonized, and enriched, although there may be nothing left of it but a heap of ashes and ruins.
The loyal Spaniards of the island of Cuba must comply with their solemn oaths. We who have so often taken them—and we have taken the trouble to recollect it, that friends and foes alike may be reminded—must to-day say to our friends, that is to say, to all the loyal Spaniards of the island of Cuba, born in the peninsula, in the Antilles, and in other countries, who are identified with us, that the news which circulates, and which the laborantes know by the constant communications they write, are not entirely wanting in foundation. It is necessary that the people should know it, and every one should be considered as an enemy who endeavors to allay us to sleep when we need to be awake to prepare ourselves for the struggle, to conquer or avenge ourselves, as belongs to those men who desire to be worthy sons of heroic Spain.
The time has come for speaking the truth to the loyal Spaniards of the island of Cuba, and may the curse of God and the reprobation of history fall upon the heads of those wicked ones who endeavor to drive a bargain with public sentiment.
Far from putting off the question in order to prolong, although but for a day, an insupportable position, it is necessary to say to the Spaniards of the island of Cuba that the hour of trial we foretold has arrived, for we have seen it coming since October, 1868.
The hour has come to prove that we are forewarned, and must fulfill our oaths, falling, if fall we must, in mortal combat “to the knife,” as said Palafox, the governor of immortal Saragossa, to the French in 1809.
We, the loyal Spaniards of the island of Cuba, will be promptly seconded by our brothers of the peninsula, and we shall conquer” by sea and land, those who hope to profit by our misfortunes, to thrust us out ignominiously from this island, and those despicable men who pretend to regenerate humanity, commencing by selling their country for thirty pieces.
Let us confide in the worthy captain-general of the island of Cuba; let us wait until he informs the public of all that occurs; for this is the only means to defeat the intrigues of those who know everything, thanks to the traitors who lend them powerful aid.
Let us trust, in short, that from to-day active measures will commence to be taken to organize resistance, and the attack by sea and land of all kinds of enemies, at the same time ordering all those to leave the island who are in the way, and refusing passports to those who can be of service to us personally and with their fortunes.
The superior authority cannot, ought not to waiver; all loyal Spaniards, native and peninsular, will render him our unconditional support, because we consider it a special favor of God, in whom we trust and hope, that these events should have occurred after General Joaquin Jovellar had relieved General Candido Pultain in the command of this island.
“True heroes are those,” says a French historian, speaking of what was done in Chili and Peru by Brigadier Pezuela, “who obtain great triumphs with scanty means, as compared with those of the enemies.” The captain-general of the island of Cuba may not have the elements to triumph over powerful enemies, but will always have more than enough to fight until he falls with honor.
article from the “voz de cuba” december 2, 1873.
To the loyal Spaniards:
The “Voz de Cuba,” which cannot deceive you, addresses you, to recommend calmness, prudence, and union.
The “Voz de Cuba” when it is a question of defending the honor of Spain, yields to no one. This it is not necessary to say. You know it, and our enemies know it.
Whilst we are united, whilst we do not consent that mean intrigues shall divide us, whilst love to our country unites us all like one man, the situation cannot be critical.
Three days ago a humiliation of such a nature was exacted of us that as Spaniards we could by no means consent to it; and animated all by the same desire, as if but one heart beat in the breasts of all, we rejected the humiliation. Our most worthy chief authority, who is completely identified with us, heard and transmitted our energetic and respectful protest.
But to-day that is not exacted. The pretensions have been immensely modified, and we do not hesitate to declare that our honor is saved.
But the Voz de Cuba declares it in a loud voice: There are among us emissaries of the enemy who attempt to break that union which is our salvation; who desire that we shall smooth the way to their triumphant treason; they desire that we shall be the ones to open the doors of the national palace to Carlos Manuel Cespedes.
Loyal Spaniards! Distrust all those who attempt to sow among us the seeds of discord. Do not believe them, even when they speak in the sacred name of Spain, which in the bottom of their hearts they curse, and which they believe the time has come for it to disappear forever from this Antilla.
Treason is as cunning as it is cowardly. It knows that it cannot conquer us, and to this end desires to make use of us.
The “Voz de Cuba” repeats, (and you know the “Voz de Cuba” does not deceive you,) have complete confidence in our chief authority, and rest assured that he will do nothing, absolutely nothing, that does not bear the impress of the purest Hispanism.
Calmness, then, and prudence, unwavering union, implicit faith in the chief authority, is what the “Voz de Cuba” asks of you, assured that you will listen; and every one that attempts to swerve you from this path, the only one which is to lead us to salvation, the only one by which our honor will come out untarnished, rest assured that he is either the victim of a miserable mistake, or a rogue who tries to convert us into becoming the vile instruments of his treason.
Havana Associated Press,
Madrid, November 29, 1873.
* * * * * * *
After having consulted confidentially with the European powers, who unanimously judged in a favorable sense for a reparation to the United States, and after also consulting the principal political men of the peninsula, the council of ministers has agreed as follows: First, to deliver up the steamer Virginius and the prisoners to the United States; second, to submit to a mixed tribunal the question of the legality of the capture of said vessel, as also that of indemnity for the families of the prisoners who were executed.
The steamer Virginius.
By the telegram of the associated press our readers will learn the resolution taken by the Madrid government upon the steamer Virginius.
The loyal Spaniards of this island, who have read with attention our articles upon this question, will understand the effect which the reading of this telegram has produced on us.
But whatever may be the impression our mind suffers, the “Voz de Cuba” is not of the temper to allow itself to be ruled and its judgment confused at the time it has great duties to perform; duties sacred and unavoidably imposed on us by the boundless confidence with which the loyal Spaniards of this island have distinguished us, and duties which we shall perform as our readers know we perform them on every occasion.
The question is much more complex than it appears, and presents one very interesting phase, under which it is necessary to study it thoroughly; and this the Voz de Cuba offers to do with the same attention it always devotes to every important question.
Meanwhile we will only say, as if in anticipation, that in all this question and the way it has been conducted, we discover a well-combined plan of the enemies of Spain in order to obtain, by means of surprise and as if by a kind of jugglery, the constant object of their wicked aspirations, the independence of Cuba.
The plan has been ably arranged, and there is no doubt that if we remain with our eyes shut we might fall into the trap set for us; but however concealed that may be, the Voz de Cuba will make it plain, and our enemies will not obtain their object.[Page 1087]
For the present the “Voz de Cuba “again recommends, with the greatest earnestness’ calmness, prudence, unwavering union, and confidence in our chief authority, for these are the indispensable means to overthrow the wicked plot we point out, and which we will fully discover.
To the skill of the enemy to lose us, we oppose our skill to conquer him, and for us to-day the highest degree of that skill consists in preserving that calmness, prudence, and that union which we shall never tire of recommending.
Zulueta: The present question settled; full particulars go on by to-day’s mail. Calmness and prudence. Spain comes out of the question gracefully. Acknowledge-the receipt of this.
articles from the “voz de cuba,” december 3, 1873.
To the Spaniards in heart:
If there still are, as we have been assured, any impatient but unthinking spirits who, not understanding the gravity of the circumstances through which we are passing, pretend to carry into effect any manifestation of an illegal character, we exhort them to recollect that any one that now attempts to carry out acts of that nature incurs a tremendous, an immense responsibility, the extent of which he, perhaps, does not understand.
The imprudence of a single individual may compromise more than anything else the honor of Spain. Let good Spaniards know that the most worthy superior authority of the island, deserving of the most complete and absolute confidence, is engaged without rest on the grave affair which to-day attracts all the public attention. Let us therefore wait.
It would be making an ill return for the zeal, the elevated patriotism, the sincere good faith of the chivalrous, honorable, and worthy chief who fortunately governs us, it would be to offend him surely, not to show the greatest calmness: meanwhile the questions to which he dedicates all his activity and intelligence are being arranged.
The present captain-general of the island of Cuba—and of this we ought not to entertain the slightest doubt—will bring out the honor of Spain untouched, however violent or pacific the solution given to the question may be.
Let not the sincere Spaniards forget that we are surrounded by many laborantes who spread absurd rumors, and are interested in provoking conflicts of immense transcendency, now that the gravity of the circumstances and the excited state of minds tends to produce them. Do not forget that the laborantes, whose ability is well known, would not let slip, to secure their ends, the opportune occasion presented at the present moment.
Therefore calmness, union, and confidence. If you hear any one speaking of carrying into effect illegal acts—which would be a calamity that would overwhelm us—bear in mind that he must be either some restless spirit who does not stop to reflect on the tremendous peril in which he places the honor of Spain and the integrity of the territory, or a disguised rebel who desires to mock you most miserably.
And, above all, keep in account that any commotion, attempted or performed, would be a motive for rejoicing for our enemies, and would constitute a real triumph for those who desire to tear away our flag from this island.
Casino Español, Havana.
By decision of the board of directors of this casino, the following telegram, under yesterday’s date, was transmitted to all the other casinos of the island:
“Telegrams from Madrid of the greatest importance have obliged all good Spaniards to renew their oaths to the government, to preserve the honor of the country in this Antilla, even at the cost of our lives. Confidence in us, equal to that we have in that center; and whatever decisive may occur shall be at once communicated.”
article from the “diario de la marina,” december 2, 1873.
To the Spaniards without condition:
With deep pain, with that pain which is shared by every Spaniard ready to die in defense of the dignity of his country and the honor of his flag, do we publish to-day [Page 1088] the telegram of the associated press received yesterday. The Diario de la Marina has maintained with all the force of conviction and of sentiment that the steamer Virginius has been, since August, 1870, until October 31, 1873, a vessel acquired for account of the rebels in this Antilla, and dedicated to introducing therein men, arms, and other munitions of war, to give life to the rebellion. This we have maintained in the past, do now, and shall in the future maintain, because the Diario de la Marina claims no other virtue than that of consistency; it may break, but will never bend, because it will never contradict itself.
The habitual readers of the Diario know that, some misinformed and others with mischievous intentions, the papers and persons have abounded in the United States to thunder against the capture of the Virginius, presenting it as an offense against the starry banner, as if vessels dedicated to filibusterism could legally carry the nag of any known or sovereign state, or as if they did not deserve the wratii of the people whose flag they usurp and dishonor. The Washington Government, we know not with what foundation, became, up to a certain point, the echo of the exaggerations of the press and the clamor of the orators at the meetings, and presented its claims to the Madrid government, commencing by forming them into a kind of ultimatum, which, according to our trustworthy information, was presented on the 26th of last month.
The Spanish government did not admit the conclusions of this note, which bore a very peremptory character. According to the associated press dispatch, it consulted confidentially with other European powers, which, undoubtedly misinformed, were unanimously of opinion in a favorable sense for a reparation to the United States; the government also consulted the principal political men of the parties which desolate the peninsula, whose opinion, it appears, was in accord with that of the European powers. After this taking of counsel, it continued debating the affair in order to settle upon the delivery to the United States of the steamer Virginius, and of the prisoners still alive, leaving other questions pending to be adjusted and determined as they deserve by diplomacy. The United States, for their part, agree to investigate if the vessel could legally carry the American flag, in order, in case it should result otherwise, to give us due satisfaction.
We place before our brothers the truth of the facts, such as we understand it, and must also say to them that the island of Cuba, that the brave and generous Spaniards who defend it have stated in the most solemn manner, even in the moments of greatest conflicts, in those moments which mediated between the requirements of the United States and the resolution of the Madrid government, that they persist in what they have so often repeated, which is, that the government shall place very high the dignity of the nation, without occupying itself much or little of the harm which might happen to the loyal of this province. This is the criterion, and it is just that history should record it, of those who, if we are not as fortunate as the companions of Hernando Cortes, and of Pizarro, at least are determined as they to die a thousand times for our country.
The narration we have just written has left our pen like bitter tears from a deeply-wounded heart, and when the solemn moment arrives that we have to make to, our brothers—to those who think and feel as we do; to those who, like us, are ready to shed the last drop of their blood for our country—a slight admonition that we have to give them advice, we have to limit ourselves to addressing them an entreaty. We know that, before anything else, they are Spaniards; we know that peril does not frighten nor sacrifices deter them; we know that they desire what we desire, and which by no means personally alarms us nor makes the least impression. Let them preserve their noble uprightness and manly abnegation, but at the same time preserve that tranquil firmness which is bound to save us or give us an honorable death. We cannot more fully explain what we feel; we find no words to express all our ideas; let our ardent patriotism and our boundless Hispanism supply what our pen can but feebly express,
Inhabitants of Havana:
In my duty from preventing public opinion from being led astray, I consider it seasonable to address you in a friendly tone, and recommend to you the greatest calmness under the present existing circumstances. The question of the Virginius has given rise to the spreading by the enemies of the Spanish cause in Cuba of alarming rumors and news, which, certain to produce an effect upon your ardent and tried patriotism only favor the insurrection.
It is true that agreements have been made, it is true that I have received telegraphic communications upon these same agreements, but if I have succeeded in inspiring among you any confidence, give me a proof of it by your considerate and tranquil attitude, assured that I will do all that is humanly possible in behalf of the great interests of this province, and of the dignity of the nation, which, like, you, I love more than life itself.
Your governor and captain-genera.,
article from the “diario de la marina,” december 3, 1873.
The correspondent ofthe New York Herald at Madrid, on the 26th ultimo, forwarded the following telegram:
* * * * * * *
We have something to add to and something to take from the version of the Herald respecting the exactions presented in the ultimatum to which it refers. We believe that the Washington Government asked, first, the delivery of the Virginius with he surviving crew; second, a salute to the American flag; third, the commencement of an Inquiry, to exact before the Spanish courts responsibility of those who have insulted the American flag; and fourth, to submit to the decision of an arbitrament the compensation due to the families of the British and American citizens who were shot in Santiago de Cuba.
In the conditions we have just presented on our account the salute to the flag is not considered; all that relating to the indemnity is modified; those who intervened in the capture of the Virginius are to be subjected to the judgment of Spanish courts, and not a word is said respecting guarantees against future aggressions. The Government at Washington, unable to seriously entertain the inculpableness of the Virginius, engages on its side, if the vessel had no right to carry the American flag, or if it is proven that it was armed to sustain; the Cuban insurrection, to give us satisfaction and reparation; but reserving to itself the power of trying its own citizens.
If the question be examined with the impartiality due to it, if the investigation, be made with the sincere desire of unveiling the truth, it would not cost the least effort to prove that the Virginius traitorously carried the American flag, and that during three consecutive years it has been employed in sustaining and aiding the rebels of this island. In regard to this point we would willingly submit ourselves to that which, as jurists, and consulting their memory and their conscience, President Grant and Secretary Fish would assert upon the Holy Evangels, because we believe them incapable of disregarding the sanctity of an oath.
The Madrid government rejected the mass of this ultimatum, and, as we know, in the most positive manner; and, as stated in yesterday afternoon’s extra, stipulated for the-delivery to the United States of the steamer Virginius, and of its surviving crew, leaving all other questions pending to be settled afterward. The United States maintain, their compromise relative to the flag, and the occupation of the Virginius, to which is united the duty of giving us reparation and satisfaction in the way they shall determine; in that case, as we have before sustained, it will give place to no kind of doubt on the ground of justice and good faith.
It has appeared to us convenient, and even necessary, to present the question entire, to put face to face with the demands of the Washington Government the concession a of the Madrid government, that the public may establish by itself the clue comparison, that it may judge with knowledge of the case, to reflect with that manly tranquillity which is proper to men capable of noble, loyal, and glorious resolutions. In the agreement of the American Government respecting the use, of the flag and the occupation of the steamer Virginius, we find a great argument in favor of Spain.
By initiating this compromise, the Government at Washington recognizes the possibility—the probability, we should at least say—that the Virginius had no right to use the American flag, that it was fitted out to aid the rebellion of Yara, that it has rendered and was about to render, from the 23d to the 31st October, new and important services to the said rebellion; and when once this confession is admitted, it is hard to believe that a government should peremptorily demand the delivery of a vessel which it considered suspicious.
The more we probe this question, and the more we occupy ourselves over it, the clearer do we see the right of Spain; and just when we wish to be most impassive, most reasonable and cool, so much more does the blood boil in our veins, our hearts beat quicker, and, we own it without a blush, the heart rules the head, and feeling masters our reason. Let not our friends doubt now or ever of our loyalty, because they would be even criminally unjust; but we ourselves beg them to distrust the clearness of our intelligence, for he cannot be a prudent counselor who begins by saying that his heart rules his head, and feeling overmasters his reason.
The National Integrity to the Volunteers.
Comrades: We have sworn to save the honor and the integrity of Spain, and we will save it. If it be necessary to die, we will die; for dulce et decorum est pro patriamori. [Page 1090] But we have also sworn to preserve order, obey and cause respect to the authority, and we should comply therewith. If our worthy captain-general, as prudent and noble as he is brave, with the purest and most elevated patriotism, asks of us confidence and a reflective and calm attitude to save the dignity of the nation, which, like us, he loves more than life itself; if in him we admire justice, valor, morality, and all the other virtues which make us look to him as a father, love him as a friend, and venerate him as a chief; if he is, in effect, with us without conditions, let us conquer the sentiments of just indignation which, with frenzied enthusiasm, always burst from Castilian breasts upon the slightest approach of a blemish on national honor, and follow his counsels. Let us wait, if he says we ought to wait, and execute his will, recollecting that we shall soon see—and perhaps very soon—shine at his side, in the now gloomy horizon of Cuba, the bow of peace and promise, and without him we shall find but chaos, and, behind that, perdition and dishonor to that beloved country we shall ever adore.
Should war break out, let us seek a glorious death without counting the number of our enemies; but for love of Spain, and in-order not to disconcert the magnanimous design of astonishing the world with our heroism, let us await the orders of our captain-general. Implicit faith in his patriotism, confidence in his valor, obedience to his commands; calmness, union, firmness, and moderation among ourselves, and the future is ours. But should fate still hold for us some painful sacrifice reserved, some concession to wound our national pride, let us reflect that there is no nation, however great and heroic, which has not passed, some time, through the same bitterness, and let us have the sublime courage and abnegation of martyrs to save the integrity and the honor of Spain, and with the faith of sincere patriotism let us wait for better days.
- B. B. JIMENEZ,
- VINCENTE LUIS FERRER,
- G. IBANEZ,
And many others.
At half past five yesterday afternoon his excellency, the minister of ultramar, presided over a meeting of authorities, which was also attended by the colonels of volunteers of this city, and a few other persons invited to that effect. To the inquiry which his excellency made, several of those present replied with the greatest loyalty, and there were replies as noble, and worthy to figure at its side, as that of Mendez Nunez: “Spain prefers honor without vessels, than vessels without honor.”