Mr. Fish to Mr. Cushing.
Washington, August 21, 1874.
Sir: Your dispatch No. 41, inclosing a copy of your note to Mr. Ulloa presenting the reclamation on behalf of the officers, crew, and passengers of the Virginius, was received upon the 17th of July. Upon a careful reading of this note to the minister of foreign affairs, it appeared to place the reclamation, even in the case of those who had been executed, principally, if not entirely, on the ground that the capture of the vessel was illegal. While it may be said that the capture being illegal, reparation must follow for all the subsequent acts, including the executions, at the same time it seemed that great stress might be laid upon the fact, at least so far as American citizens were affected, that such bloody deeds as were enacted at Santiago were contrary to the usages of civilized nations, in violation of treaty-obligations, without parallel, and entirely without excuse, and demanded full and complete reparation, entirely apart from the question of the illegality of the capture of the vessel. Nothing was said, however, on this point, as every confidence was felt that in the further presentation of the case, in your own way, you would completely and forcibly represent the whole case in conformity with the views and on the grounds orally discussed between us before your departure on your mission, and in such form as to make it most effective in its operation upon the Spanish government, and in the estimation of this Department.
Your dispatch No. 59 was also received, inclosing a copy of Mr. Ulloa’s note in reply to your demand.
The Department is now in receipt of your No. 64, inclosing a copy of your reply to the minister of state. Your reply has been read with care and lively satisfaction.
Your presentation of the case, and the light in which you have placed it, meet with the entire approval of this Department.
It is most disappointing and unsatisfactory to learn, after the presentation of the claim for reclamation had been delayed many months, when ample time had been given for every investigation which could be required, when an opportunity had arisen for the government of Spain to meet the question freed from the excitement which surrounded the acts [Page 1225] which were complained of, when even the Spanish government had become loud in its expressions of horror at the execution of defenseless prisoners, in cold blood and without trial, that the answer submitted to your demand for redress for the occurrences at Santiago should be simply a plea for delay.
You will, on proper occasion, express to the government of Spain the strong feeling of this Government, that the questions so fully presented by you should be considered without delay, and that ample reparation, now too long deferred, should be promptly furnished.
This Department awaits with interest your further communication on this question.
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I am, &c.,