No. 671.
Mr. Caldwell to Mr. Fish.

No. 20.]

Sir: The threatening relations between the Argentine Confederation and the Empire of Brazil, and the rapid and extensive arming of both powers indicate the possibility, if not the probability, of war. The negotiations now going on at Rio de Janeiro, it is hoped, and by many believed, will end in a peaceful solution. But if, unhappily, it should turn out otherwise, the geographical position of Uruguay is such that its prosperity, if not its independence and existence, would be at stake in the event of war. Its possession by Brazil would be of vital importance as a base of operations, and there is reason to fear that she would avail herself of any pretext to violate the neutrality of the soil of Uruguay, and even to take possession of its government. Such action by Brazil [Page 1362] this country has not the material force to prevent. I am assured by the President of this republic that in the possible event of war his government would maintain and enforce the most absolute neutrality. But as Uruguay is a weak country, placed between two stronger powers, both of which would, in the event contemplated, desire its soil as a battle ground, there is reason to fear that its neutrality might not be respected. In the contingency named I respectfully ask instructions to govern my conduct, if either power should violate the neutrality of this republic in such manner as to threaten its independence without any wrong done on its part.

Very respectfully, &c.,