No. 690.
Mr. Russell to Mr. Fish.

No. 86.]

Sir: I have the honor to report that on July 6 I was requested by the minister of foreign affairs to meet him, and that on doing so I found that the President desired to deliver to me the sum on deposit under the award of the mixed commission. He also desired me to make a new demand. * * I assented to the request, stating that I should found my new demand upon the idea, which I entertained, that the force of the act of February 25, 1873, had not been appreciated. I added that if the effect of that law had been properly understood Venezuela would not have argued with the executive power a question that had been settled by the legislature.

The promise was made that I should have the funds in time to remit by the next mail; and 1 had arranged with Mr. Boulton to purchase a large amount of drafts on London for that purpose. The minister of foreign affairs, however, called to-day to say that, owing to his engagements he was not able to complete his letter in time for the New York steamers. I requested him to say this in a letter, and he sent a note, which I inclose herewith with a translation. I shall, of course, receive no conditional payment.

[Page 1382]

The interview of July 6 had been preceded by several unofficial ones, with persons intimate with President Guzman, in which I had anticipated the instructions of No. 51, received this day, and had declared my firm belief that the United States Government would insist on its demand, and would be sustained by Congress and the people. These interviews being sought by the President’s friends gave me an opportunity to express, with great freedom, my views as to the course of Venezuela.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 86.]

Mr. Russell to Señor Blanco.

Sir: Upon reading anew your excellency’s note of June 11, in which you argue against the payment of the amount deposited on account of the United States claimants, and ask that the note may be transmitted to the President of the United States, it occurs to me that I ought to lay before your excellency and your government the act of Congress of February 25, 1873, which is as follows: “Be it enacted, &c., that the adjudication of claims by the convention with Venezuela of April 5, 1865, pursuant to the terms of said convention, is hereby recognized as final and conclusive, and to be held valid and subsisting against the republic of Venezuela.”

Your excellency will see that the Executive of the United States is bound to consider the awards as obligatory and final, while this law remains in force. The President cannot set aside and annul, or even suspend, what the legislature has enacted into law.

It has seemed to me that the force of this law, not “resolution,” has not been appreciated.

I am convinced; that upon consideration it will be seen that while the law remains upon the statute-book the Executive of the United States only performs a plain duty in demanding the money, which is now deposited on account of the North American claimants, under the awards of the commission; and in my view the compliance with the demand to make payment, in no way adds to nor takes from the respective rights of either nation in the matter.

I must be allowed, therefore, to renew the demand contained in my letter of May 15, and I take this occasion to renew to your excellency my assurances of distinguished consideration.


His Excellency Hon. Dr Jesus Marie Blanco,
Minister of Foreign Relations.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 86.—Translation.]

Señor Blanco to Mr. Russell.

I am occupied in the preparation* of the note of your excellency of the 7th. The arrival of the New York steamer, and her immediate departure to-morrow, will not leave me the necessary time so that your excellency may receive it in season for this occasion, for your excellency knows that I am charged with two departments of business; but as I desire that you should know it, I can tell you that the funds deposited and those which fall due in future will be delivered to the legation with the security of the rights of Venezuela.

With sentiments of consideration, I am your excellency’s obedient servant,


To His Excellency Mr. Thomas Russell, &c., &c.

  1. Probably the words “de la contestaction” of the answer are omitted from the letter, which was written in haste.