Mr. Fish to Mr. Cushing.
Washington , October 27, 1874.
Sir: Referring to your dispatch No. 91, transmitting a copy of the rejoinder of Mr. Ulloa, the minister of state, to your second communication in the matter of the Virginius, and to your comments thereon, I have to say that the course to be adopted has been carefully considered in the light of the facts presented by you. * * *
Mr. Ulloa, as you state, refrains from further discussion of the questions involved, and contents himself with assigning seasons why it is proper to refer the matter under discussion to the council of state, and had, as you further state, made similar verbal representations to the British chargé d’affaires, who had been instructed to complain of the delay of the Spanish government in giving a decisive answer to the demand of Great Britain.
You state that you shall regard the communication of the Secretary of State to Admiral Polo de Bernabé of the 18th of April as a definite and final rejection of the claims of the Spanish government, leaving it to that government to seek further redress, if at all, through the stipulation of the protocol of November 29, 1873, and ask whether you should explicitly call the attention of Mr. Ulloa to that point, or delay until a definite answer shall have been received to the reclamation on the part of the United States.
Concerning the reclamation of the Spanish government, * * * you may state that as the case now stands the demand of Spain has been rejected, and no probability exists of a change of decision on that question.
The reclamation of the Government of the United States stands upon different ground, and while being maintainable because the Virginius was illegally captured, is also maintainable upon the simpler and broader ground that no informality in the papers of the vessel, and no facts arising from her character or acts, could, under any circumstances, palliate or excuse the wanton, wicked, and brutal assassination of defenseless [Page 1228] men, who had unfortunately fallen into the hands of the military authorities in Cuba.
The rejoinder of the minister of state is a plea for delay.
It is doubtless competent for the government of Spain to take such advice and counsel as it may desire, but this is a domestic question in which this Government can in no way participate.
The Government of the United States, satisfied of the justness of its reclamation, presents it with no doubt or hesitation. We require no reference to assure us of the propriety and justness of our demand.
If it be necessary to say anything on this point, you will inform the minister for foreign affairs that it is not the intention of this Government to take any part whatever in the means by which the government of Spain may reach a conclusion, but that we insist that such conclusion should be speedily arrived at, and this vexatious and dangerous question be once for all adjusted.
* * * * * * *
You are therefore instructed to press the reclamation of the United States upon the government of Spain firmly and plainly, and to represent that the delay in according to this Government what has been too long withheld is deemed a serious menace to the continued good relations of the two countries.
I am, &c.,