No. 195.

Mr. Becerra to Mr. Bayard.


Sir: The American steamer City of Mexico, which, until recently, belonged to Messrs. F. Alexandre & Co., No. 33 Broadway, New York, was expressly chartered for the service of the rebellion on the Atlantic coast of Colombia by the agents who were appointed in that city early in March last by the leaders of that rebellion. On the 12th of the same month the aforesaid vessel sailed from the port of New York, being ostensibly bound to Bocas del Toro, and having on board, according to her manifest, wheat, flour, and other provisions. Bocas del Toro, however, is not a Colombian coast, with ports open to foreign commerce, and it was not true that the whole cargo was composed of the articles declared at the custom-house. She carried, moreover—and this was the principal, if not the sole, object of her trip—a large quantity of arms and munitions of war, among which were several guns such as are used for tiring grape-shot.

The vessel, although she had obtained a clearance for Bocas del Toro, sailed direct to Sabanilla, where she discharged her cargo of munitions of war and delivered it to the rebels. She next, doubtless fulfilling the agreements made in her special contract, placed herself at the service of the rebels and conveyed rebel officers and soldiers to Rio Hacha, which port was occupied and defended by loyal troops, and there, acting with unexampled perfidy, which in part produced its natural effect, presented herself as a neutral merchant vessel, sailing under the American flag. Having been received in that capacity by the local authorities, the custom-house officers went on board, where they were placed under arrest; the boat in which they had come was seized, and they were in imminent danger of being shot. In the next place, the vessel, pursuing the same course of perfidy and deceit, endeavored, although unsuccessfully, to get possession of a national war schooner which was anchored in those waters.

The captain of the City of Mexico, who, after that series of outrages, has just anchored in the waters of New York, is named John O’Brien, and his first officer is a man named John H. McArthy, who did not hesitate to give an account of the events above enumerated to the Colombian consul in New York.

The authorities of the port of Rio Hacha inform me that they will speedily send documentary evidence of the facts stated; but in the mean time McArthy and the men composing the crew of the City of Mexico can and ought to be summoned to give their testimony.

To this effect I formally charge the aforesaid vessel, the City of Mexico, and her captain, officers, and crew, with willful and persistent violation of the neutrality laws of the United States. I also charge with similar violation the owner or owners of the vessel, and the parties who chartered her for this purpose, and who placed her, as appears from the facts, at the disposal of the rebels in Colombia.

In view, moreover, of the very great calamities and disasters which a war, aided and abetted in the United States by the most flagrant violations of the duties of neutrality, is causing in my country, I cannot do less than, protest, as I hereby do protest, against these violations, [Page 254] and I once more appeal to the American Government to repress and punish them in the present case, which is so clear, in my judgment, as to admit of no manner of doubt.

I once more renew, &c.,