to Mr. Osborn
Washington , December 27, 1880.
Sir: My attention has been called to the following passage of your remarks at the conferences held at Arica, Peru, on the 15th of October last, as reported in the second protocol of those conferences:
His excellency Mr. Osborn remarked that it seemed proper to him, as well as to his [Page 121] colleagues, to place upon record that the Government of the United States does not seek the position of arbiter in this question. A strict compliance with the duties inherent to that position would involve much trouble and great labor, and, while he could not doubt that his government would accept the position if properly requested to do so, it was nevertheless proper that it be understood that its representatives did not court that distinction.
As it is not quite clear what the meaning and scope of your remark on that occasion was, I will thank you for explanation upon the subject. There was no impropriety in your making it clear to the representatives of the belligerent states that this government had no desire to unduly urge its arbitration upon them. If, however, it was your purpose to convey the impression that we would not cheerfully assume any labor and trouble incident to arbitration in the interest of peace and the service of justice, you have not correctly appreciated the views and wishes of this government. It is the sincere desire of the President to see an honorable and lasting peace secured among the South American republics now engaged in war, and he will shrink from no effort or responsibility which can properly tend to the accomplishment of such a desirable result.
In order to remove a possibly wrong impression which your language may have made upon the representatives of the belligerent powers, you will read this instruction to the minister for foreign affairs of Chili; and I will instruct Mr. Christiancy and Mr. Adams to read a copy of it to the ministers for foreign affairs of Peru and Bolivia, respectively.
I am, &c.,