No. 108.
Mr. Blaine to Mr. Trescot.

No. 2.]

Sir: While the circumstances under which the President has deemed it proper to charge you with a special mission to the republics of Chili, Peru, and Bolivia render it necessary that very much must be confided to your own discretion, it is desirable that you should be placed in full possession of his views as to the general line of conduct which you will be expected to pursue.

For this purpose it is not necessary at present to go further back in the history of the unfortunate relations between Chili on the one hand [Page 144] and Peru and Bolivia on the other, than the time when the defeat of General Piérola, his abandonment of the capital and the coast and their occupation by the Chilian army seemed to have put an end to all responsible native government in Peru. Lima having been surrendered on the 19th January, 1881, Piérola driven across the mountains, the Chilian military occupation consolidated, and the Chilian Government refusing to recognize Piérola as representing the Government of Peru, it became absolutely necessary that some government should be established, if Peru was not to remain simply a military district of Chili.

On February 25, 1881, Mr. Christiancy, the United States minister at Lima, wrote this Department as follows:

A movement has, therefore, been initiated among some of the leading citizens of Lima and Callao and encouraged by the Chilian authorities, to establish a new government in opposition to that of Piérola [who is still at Tacna or Yareja].

From this date to April 13, 1881, Mr. Christiancy kept the Department informed of the probabilities of the establishment of the Calderon government, so called from the name of the eminent Peruvian statesman who had been chosen as President. On that date he wrote:

In my own private opinion, however, if the provisional government had come up without any appearance of support from the Chilian authorities, it would have had many elements of popularity and would probably have succeeded in obtaining the acquiescence of the people. This new government realizes the importance of an early peace with Chili, the necessity of which must be recognized by every thoughtful man; while that of Piérola professes to intend to carry on the war; but it has no means for the purpose at present, and my own opinion is that any effort to do so will end in still greater calamities to Peru.

On May 23, the same minister, in a postscript to his dispatch of the 17th says:

Since writing the above it has become still more probable that the threat of “indefinite occupation” was intended only to drive the Peruvians into the support of the provisional government, as two days ago they allowed the government to send seventy-five soldiers to Tacna, Oroyo, &c., to control that part of the country, so as to allow the members of Congress to come to Lima; and it now begins to look as if Calderon might secure a quorum (two-thirds) of the Congress. If he does succeed, it will be some evidence that Peru acquiesces in that government. And if he gets the two-thirds of the members, I think I shall recognize the provisional government, or that of the Congress and the President they may elect, unless in the meantime I shall receive other instructions.

On the 9th of May, 1881, instructions had been sent to him from the Department, which crossed this dispatch, in which he was told:

If the Calderon government is supported by the character and intelligence of Peru, and is really endeavoring to restore constitutional government with a view both to order within and negotiations with Chili for peace, yon may recognize it as the existing provisional government, and render what aid you can by advice and good offices to that end.

Acting under these instructions, although with some expressed doubt as to the probable permanence of its existence, Mr. Christiancy, on the 26th of June, 1881, formally recognized the Calderon government. It is clear that this recognition was not an unfriendly intervention as far as the wishes and interests of Chili were concerned, for under date of May 7, 1881, two days before these instructions of the 9th were sent to Mr. Christiancy, Mr. Osborn, the United States minister to Chili, wrote from Santiago as follows:

In my 201, of date April 5, regarding the war in this section, I mentioned the fact that the minister of war, Mr. Vergara, who had been with the army at Lima, had been sent for, and was then on his way to Chili. Since his arrival the government has labored to reach a conclusion touching the course to be pursued with Peru, and to that end numerous and extended discussions among the ministers and prominent [Page 145] citizens of the republic, who had been invited to participate, have taken place. Three plans or propositions were discussed: First, that spoken of by me in my No. 201, involving the withdrawal of the army to Arica; second, the occupation of the entire Peruvian coast by the Chilian forces, and its government by Chilian authorities; and third, the strengthening of the government of Calderon, and the negotiation of a peace therewith. The propriety of entering into negotiations with Piérola was not even dignified with a consideration. After much labor the government reached the conclusion that the last proposition afforded the easiest way out of their complications, and it has been determined to send to Peru, in charge of the negotiations, Mr. Godoy.* * * The ministry has freely counseled with me regarding the difficulties of the situation, and in view of their previous determination to have nothing to do with Piérola, I cannot but applaud the result of their deliberations. To vacate the country now would be to turn it over to anarchy, and to attempt to occupy the entire coast would, in time, involve both countries in ruin. The most feasible way to peace is, in my opinion, the one resolved upon. In fact it is the only one which offers any reasonable hope of a solution of the difficulties during the present generation.

In giving the support of recognition to the Calderon government, therefore, so far was this government from doing what could be considered an unfriendly act to Chili, that it was, in fact, giving its aid to the very policy which Chili avowed, and which, in the opinion of competent judges, was the only method of reasonable solution.

And this conclusion of the government was strengthened and confirmed by the information which was transmitted to the Department by General Kilpatrick, the United States minister to Chili. General Kilpatrick was appointed after the recognition of the Calderon government, and was furnished with instructions, to which I have already referred.

In his dispatch No. 3, under date August 15, 1881, he says:

I have the honor to report that, so far as the assurance of public men can be relied upon, your instructions have been complied with; your ideas of final terms of peace accepted, not only by the present administration at Santiago, but still better by Señor Santa Maria, the President elect, whose administration will have begun when you receive this note.

General Kilpatrick then proceeds to give a detailed account of a lengthy interview with the leading and most influential members of the Chilian Government, in which he quotes the following as the final assurances given to him by the Chilian secretary of state:

You may therefore say to your government that every effort would be given by Chili to strengthen the government of President Calderon, giving to it the most perfect freedom of action, considering the Chilian occupation. That no question of Chilian annexation would be touched until a constitutional government could be established in Peru, acknowledged and respected by the people, with full powers to enter into diplomatic negotiation for peace. That no territory would be exacted unless Chili failed to secure ample and just indemnification in other and satisfactory ways, as also ample security for the future; and that in no case would Chili exact territory save where Chilian enterprise and Chilian capital had developed the desert and where to-day nine-tenths of the people were Chilian.

But after this recognition, made in entire good faith to both parties, three things followed:

The presence of a United States minister at Lima accredited to the Calderon government, and the reception in Washington of a minister from that government, gave it, unquestionably, increased strength and confidence.
The adherents of Piérola, realizing the necessity of peace and the existence of a stable government to negotiate it, gradually abandoned the forlorn hope of continued resistance, and gave their adhesion to the Calderon government.
The congress which assembled within the neutral zone set apart [Page 146] for that purpose by the Chilian authorities, and which was further allowed by the Chilian Government to provide for the military impositions by the use of the national credit, and thus recognized as the representative of the Peruvian people, authorized President Calderon to negotiate a peace, but upon the condition that no territory should be ceded.

As soon as these facts indicated the possibility of a real and independent vitality in the constitution of the Calderon government the Chilian military authorities issued an order forbidding any exercise of its functions within the territory occupied by the Chilian army—that is, within the entire territory west of the mountains, including the capital and ports of Peru.

Unable to understand this sudden and, giving due regard to the professions of Chili, this unaccountable change of policy, this government intructed its minister at Lima to continue to recognize the Calderon government until more complete information would enable it to send further instructions. If our present information is correct, immediately upon the receipt of this communication they arrested President Calderon, and thus, as far as was in their power, extinguished his government. The President does not now insist upon the inference which this action would warrant. He hopes that there is some explanation which will relieve him from the painful impression that it was taken in resentful reply to the continued recognition of the Calderon government by the United States. If, unfortunately, he should be mistaken, and such a motive be avowed, your duty will be a brief one. You will say to the Chilian Government that the President considers such a proceeding as an intentional and unwarranted offense, and that you will communicate such an avowal to the Government of the United States, with the assurance that it will be regarded by the government as an act of such unfriendly import as to require the immediate suspension of all diplomatic intercourse. You will inform me immediately of the happening of such a contingency and instructions will be sent you.

But I do not anticipate such an occurrence. From the information before the Department, of which you are possessed, it is more probable that this course will be explained by an allegation that the conduct and language of the United States minister in Peru had encouraged the Calderon government to such resistance of the wishes of Chili as to render the negotiation of a satisfactory treaty of peace with the Calderon government impossible. Any explanation which relieves this action of the Chilian Government of the character of an intentional offense will be received by you to that extent, provided it does not require as a condition precedent the disavowal of Mr. Hurlbut. Whatever may be my opinion as to the discretion of all that may have been said or done by Mr. Hurlbut, it is impossible for me to recognize the right of the Chilian Government to take such action without submitting to the consideration of this government any cause of complaint which it was prepared to allege against the proceedings of the representative of the United States. The Chilian Government was in possession of the instructions sent to that minister, as well as those to his colleague at Santiago. There was no pretense that the conduct of General Kilpatrick was anything but friendly. Chili was represented here by a minister who enjoyed the confidence of his government, and nothing can justify the assumption that the United States was acting a double part in its relations to the two countries. If the conduct of the United States minister seemed inconsistent with what Chili had every reason to know was the friendly intention of the United States, a courteous representation through the Chilian minister here would have enabled this government promptly to [Page 147] correct or confirm him. You are not therefore authorized to make to the Chilian Government any explanation of the conduct of General Hurlbut, if that government, not having afforded us the opportunity of accepting or disavowing his conduct, insists upon making its interpretation of his proceedings the justification of its recent action.

It is hoped, however, that you will be able, by communication, at once firm and temperate, to avoid these embarrassments. If you should fortunately reach the ground where frank, mutual explanation can be made without the sacrifice of that respect which every government owes to itself, you will then be at liberty, conforming your explanation to the recent instruction to Mr. Hurlbut, with a copy of which you are furnished, to show to the Government of Chili how much both his words and acts have been misconceived.

It is difficult for me to say now how far an explanation would be satisfactory to the President which was not accompanied by the restoration or recognition of the Calderon government. The objects which he has at heart are, first, to prevent the misery, confusion, and bloodshed which the present relations between Chili and Peru seem only too certain to renew; and, second, to take care that in any friendly attempt to reach this desirable end the Government of the United States is treated with the respectful consideration to which its disinterested purpose, its legitimate influence, and its established position entitle it. The President feels in this matter neither irritation nor resentment. He regrets that Chili seems to have misconceived both the spirit and intention of the Government of the United States, and thinks her conduct has been inconsiderate. He will gladly learn that a calmer and wiser judgment directs her counsels, and asks in no exacting spirit the correction of what were perhaps natural misunderstandings. So he would be satisfied with the manifestation of a sincere purpose on the part of Chili to aid Peru, either in restoring the present provisional government or establishing in its place one which will be allowed the proper freedom of action necessary to restore internal order and to conduct a real negotiation to some substantial result.

Should the Chilian Government, while disclaiming any intention of offense, maintain its right to settle its difficulties with Peru without the friendly intervention of other powers, and refuse to allow the formation of any government in Peru which does not pledge its consent to the cession of Peruvian territory, it will be your duty, in language as strong as is consistent with the respect due an independent power, to express the disappointment and dissatisfaction felt by the United States at such a deplorable policy.

You will say that this government recognizes without reserve the right of Chili to adequate indemnity for the cost of the war, and a sufficient guarantee that it will not again be subjected to hostile demonstration from Peru; and further, that if Peru is unable or unwilling to furnish such indemnity, the right of conquest has put it in the power of Chili to supply them, and the reasonable exercise of that right, however much its necessity may be regretted, is not ground of legitimate complaint on the part of other powers. But this government feels that the exercise of the right of absolute conquest is dangerous to the best interests of all the republics of this continent; that from it are certain to spring other wars and political disturbances; and that it imposes, even upon the conqueror, burdens which are scarcely compensated by the apparent increase of strength which it gives. This government also holds that between two independent nations hostilities do not, from the mere existence [Page 148] of war, confer the right of conquest until the failure to furnish the indemnity and guarantee which can be rightfully demanded.

The United States maintains, therefore, that Peru has the right to demand that an opportunity should be allowed her to find such indemnity and guarantee. Nor can this government admit that a cession of territory can be properly exacted far exceeding in value the amplest estimate of a reasonable indemnity.

Already, by force of its occupation, the Chilian Government has collected great sums from Peru; and it has been openly and officially asserted in the Chilian Congress that these military impositions have furnished a surplus beyond the cost of maintaining its armies in that occupation. The annexation of Tarapacá, which, under proper administration, would produce annually a sum sufficient to pay a large indemnity, seems to us to be not consistent with the execution of justice.

The practical prohibition of the formation of a stable government in Peru, and the absolute appropriation of its most valuable territory, is simply the extinction of a State which has formed part of the system of republics on this continent, honorable in the traditions and illustrations of its past history, and rich in the resources for future progress. The United States, with which Peru has for many years maintained the most cordial relations, has the right to feel and express a deep interest in its distressed condition; and while with equal friendliness to Chili we will not interpose to deprive her of the fair advantages of military success, nor put any obstacle to the attainment of future security, we cannot regard with unconcern the destruction of Peruvian nationality. If our good offices are rejected, and this policy of the absorption of an independent state be persisted in, this government will consider itself discharged from any further obligation to be influenced in its action by the position which Chili has assumed, and will hold itself free to appeal to the other republics of this continent to join it in an effort to avert consequences which cannot be confined to Chili and Peru, but which threaten with extremest danger the political institutions, the peaceful progress, and the liberal civilization of all America.

If, however, none of these embarrassing obstacles supervene, and Chili receives in a friendly spirit the representations of the United States, it will be your purpose—

  • First. To concert such measures as will enable Peru to establish a regular government, and initiate negotiation.
  • Second. To induce Chili to consent to such negotiation without cession of territory as a condition precedent.
  • Third. To impress upon Chili that in such negotiation she ought to allow Peru a fair opportunity to provide for a reasonable indemnity; and, in this connection; to let it be understood that the United States would consider the imposition of an extravagant indemnity, so as to make the cession of territory necessary in satisfaction, as more than is justified by the actual cost of the war, and as a solution threatening renewed difficulty between the two countries.

As it is probable that some time will elapse before the completion of all the arrangements necessary for a final negotiation, this government would suggest a temporary convention, which, recognizing the spirit of our present friendly representation, would bring Peru and Chili into amicable conference and provide for a meeting of plenipotentiaries to negotiate a permanent treaty of peace.

If negotiation be assured, the ability of Peru to furnish the indemnity will be a matter of direct interest. Upon this subject we have no information upon which definite instructions can now be based. While [Page 149] you will carefully abstain from any interposition in this connection, you will examine and report to this department promptly any plans which may be suggested.

You will not indicate any wish that the Government of the United States should act as umpire in the adjudications between the contending powers. Should an invitation to that effect be extended, you will communicate by telegraph for instructions. The single and simple desire of this government is to see a just and honorable peace at the earliest day practicable, and if any other American government can more effectively aid in producing this auspicious result, the United States will cordially sustain it and lend such co-operation as the circumstances may demand.

I am, &c.,