to Mr. Thomas O. Osborn.
Washington, January 18, 1879.
Sir: Your dispatch, No. 207, of the 11th of November last, relative to the case of the bark Devonshire, has been received. It announces the unconditional restitution of that vessel by order of the Chilian Government, by whose authority it had been seized at the Ils de. Leones, while trespassing, as is alleged, on the territory of Chili. Intelligence of the release of the vessel has also been confirmed from other quarters.
Although this may to a certain extent be regarded as a gratifying result, it is unsatisfactory on the whole, for, while the boundary dispute between the Argentine Republic and Chili remains unsettled, similar seizures of vessels, whether our own or of other nations, may occur at anytime. It is, consequently, deemed important for the well-being of those republics, and for the maintenance of friendly relations them with maritime powers, that they should diligently endeavor to settle the question on a solid foundation.
You will urge this view on the Argentine Government with all the address which you can command.
It is not supposed that the dispute is beyond the reach of an honorable [Page 16] adjustment between the parties directly; but in the contrary case, and should it be desired by them, the United States would not withhold any proper exercise of their good offices.
In this case, and in others which must happen, if the controversy between these governments shall not be concluded, no sufficient reason is seen why either should not be held accountable for any injury which may have been occasioned or may result to vessels and citizens of the United States. We necessarily feel great solicitude lest the dispute should be inflamed, by accident or delay in its settlement, into an open rupture between the parties. This could not fail, more or less, to inflict disaster upon the mercantile marine of those countries to whose vessels the Straits of Magellan are a thoroughfare. We trust, therefore, that the Argentine Government will give a proof of its regard for the general tranquillity by honestly endeavoring speedily and finally to settle the dangerous question.
I am, &c.,