to Mr. Evarts
Santiago, Chili , January 24, 1878. (Received March 5.)
Sir: In my dispatch to the State Department, No. 22, of date November 28, 1877, in regard to the revolt at Punta Arenas, in the Territory of Magallanes, I mentioned the fact that it had been reported here in the newspapers that Commander Rodgers, of the United States Steamer Adams, had sent on shore, at the suggestion of the local authorities at Punta Arenas, for the purpose of assisting in the re-establishment of order, 150 marines with two Gatling guns.
Since writing that dispatch I have had the pleasure of a personal interview with Commander Rodgers, from whom I learn that this report was not correct. The Adams remained in the harbor at Punta Arenas several days, and her commander afforded such aid to the authorities as seemed to be required, but it was not deemed necessary to send any men on shore, and none were sent for the purpose mentioned.
The action of Commander Rodgers has won for him the gratitude of the people of Chili. While he was in the port of Valparaiso, lie was the recipient of numerous courtesies from officials and prominent citizens. Upon hearing of his arrival, the Minister of Foreign Relations, under date of December 19, addressed me a note, in which he stated that the government had been informed of the valuable services rendered by Commander Rodgers, of the Adams, on the occasion referred to, and that it was exceedingly grateful to him for his action therein. He closed his note with a polite request that I should cause Commander Rodgers to be informed of the expression of these sentiments, and I promptly, and with pleasure, complied with his request. The note of Hon. José Alfonso, Minister of Foreign Relations, in Spanish, with English translation, is herewith inclosed.
Not only has the action of Commander Rodgers created a warm feeling for him personally among the people of Chili, but it has also done much to augment and intensify the friendly sentiments entertained here toward the Government of the United States.
Some time since, in conversation with the Minister of Foreign Relations in regard to the Punta Arenas difficulty, I took occasion to say to him that I was apprehensive that if the government should continue to make of Magallanes a place for colonizing its criminals, the safety of navigation in the Straits of Magellan might be seriously endangered. He listened attentively to what I had to say on the subject, and seemed to be much impressed by it, and in a few days thereafter he caused me to be informed that the government had definitely determined to send no more criminals to that territory. Those now there will be allowed to remain, but new convicts will be sent to some one of the islands of Chili, in the Pacific, probably Juan Fernandez.
The government has appointed a commission for the purpose of inquiring [Page 83] into the losses incurred by persons residing at Punta Arenas by reason of the revolt. The commission is instructed to include in its investigations the losses sustained by foreigners as well as by citizens. While the government has not committed itself to the reimbursement of those who were damaged, the creation of this commission would seem to point to some action in that direction in the future. I have not learned that the sufferers include any citizens of the United States.
I have, &c.,