Mr. Frelinghuysen to Mr. Phelps.
Washington, November 15, 1883.
Sir: Your several dispatches, so far as received to date, reporting the military and political situation in Peru, have been considered with the attention demanded by the importance of the occurrences you narrate. As supplemented by your later telegrams, they show the conclusion of a treaty of peace between General Iglesias and the Chilian [Page 728] plenipotentiary, on what are understood here to be bases substantially in accord with the terms of the protocol previously signed between General Iglesias and the representative of Chili; the evacuation of Lima by the Chilian forces; the installation there of a form of provisional administration under the Presidency of General Iglesias; and the revolt of the residents or garrison of Arequipa against the authority of Vice-President Montero, who thereupon escaped by flight. Besides this, it appears that the first public act of General Iglesias on assuming control of the provisional government thus established was to issue a convocation for an assembly of delegates, to be chosen by the people of Peru, to whom is to be referred the question of accepting and ratifying the treaty which has been signed, and who are further to decide the Presidency of the Peruvian Government.
Of the terms of the treaty itself I cannot at present speak. You are already acquainted with the views of this Government upon the main point involved. It remains to be seen whether the people of Peru, in the expression of their national sovereignty, are disposed to accept the terms proposed to them. With this the Government of the United States has no desire to interfere. It respects the independence of Peru as a commonwealth entitled to settle its own affairs in its own way. It recognizes too keenly the calamities of protracted strife, or the alternative calamity of prolonged military occupation by an enemy’s forces, to seek, by anything it may say or do, to influence an adverse decision of the popular representatives of Peru. And a due respect for their sovereign independence forbids the United States from seeming to exert any positive or indirect pressure upon these representatives to influence their course.
The state of facts reported by you makes it necessary to give you instructions respecting your relations with the provisional government. With the people of Peru this country aims, as it has always aimed, to maintain relations of friendship and sympathy. With the particular administration which may for the time assume to control the affairs of Peru we have little direct concern, except so far as our attitude towards it shall express our friendliness to the nation; hence we have no partiality for the Calderon-Montero government or desire that you should manifest any. Should the Assembly which is about to convene be elected under circumstances entitling it to represent the people of Peru and declare for General Iglesias, this Government would no doubt recognize him. This, however, it is unnecessary to say, as such an announcement in advance of the action of the Assembly might in effect exert an influence upon its deliberations which we seek to avoid.
In the mean time, however, your attitude towards whatever administration may have actual control of the public affairs of Peru should be unconstrained, although informal, and of a character to impress them with a sense of the good-will we bear to the Peruvian people.
I have thought it well that you should know generally the position this Government takes, and to that end this instruction is sent you. I await information from you when you have any to communicate by mail or, when necessary, by telegraph.
I am, &c.,