Mr. Christiancy to Mr. Irigoyen.
Lima, Peru , June 1, 1879.
Mr. Minister: On the 7th of April last my predecessor, Mr. Gibbs, in answer to your note of the 5th of that month, undertook to define the cases in which vessels were entitled to use the American flag, and in answer to your second question stated that “there is no law that permits foreign vessels to use the American flag.”
I have now the honor to inclose to you a copy of the letter of the Secretary of State of the United States to me in answer to Mr. Gibbs’s letter to the Secretary (inclosing the copy of Mr. Gibbs’s note to you), from which you will discover that the answer of Mr. Gibbs to your second question needs a slight modification as applied to such foreign-built vessels as may have been purchased by American citizens in good faith. But this modification is not, as I conceive, of any practical importance upon any question likely to grow out of the present war, as all sales of vessels by citizens of either belligerent would require almost scrupulous investigation on the part of the United States consuls, showing affirmatively the good faith of such sales before they would be recognized, such transfer, owing to the very nature of the case, being liable to strong suspicion of fraud.
Accept the assurance of the high consideration and esteem with which I have the honor, &c.,