No. 398.
Mr. Curry to Mr. Bayard.

No. 132.]

Sir: Yesterday I received a note from minister of state, a copy of which with translation is inclosed.

The note removes all doubt as to the interpretation which the Spanish Government puts upon the royal order of 22d June, 1886, and the agreement of 13th February, 1884. While writing an acknowledgment I received the cablegram instructing me to communicate to the minister the revocation of the proclamation of 14th February, 1884.

I trust the prompt and necessary action of the President will dispose the mind of the present Government to an early adjustment of all pending disputes.

* * * * * * *

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 132.—Tranlsation.]

Mr. Moret to Mr. Curry.

Excellency: I have the honor to inform your Excellency that I am advised by the minister of ultramar that he has officially stated to the governor-general of the Island of Cuba that the royal order of 22d June ultimo, ratifies and confirms that of 13th September, 1884, it being understood by both that the third column of the tariff is only applicable to the natural products of the United States proceeding from its ports and shipped in its vessels directly to the Spanish Antilles; therefore the equality of flag only embraces said products and in the conditions set forth; but in no case foreign products, even when the vessels in which they are carried are and proceed from the United States.

This decision is the same as is contained in the two orders mentioned, although it is set forth in different words, and the only proper one conforming to the text of the agreement with the United States faithfully and honestly interpreted, as the equality of flag referred to in the royal order of 22d June, 1886, exclusively refers to the merchandise and products belonging to said nation and in no case to the others which through transshipment or otherwise maybe carried by its vessels directly from the North American ports to those of Cuba and Porto Rico.

I avail, &c.,

[Inclosure 2 in No. 132.]

Mr. Curry to Mr. Moret.

Excellency: Your note of the 9th October, received yesterday, confirms what I telegraphed to my Government several days ago as to the action of the Spanish Government in construing adversely to the equalization of the Spanish and American flags the royal order of 22d June last. After the notes of the 4th and 5th of October, which I had the honor to address to your excellency, it would be superfluous to express the astonishment and regret of the Government of the United States at such unexpected action. On the 23d June I wrote thus to your excellency:

“The official orders issued from the ministry of ultramar, placing products of the United States and products of foreign countries transshipped in ports of the United States, [Page 810] carried to the Antilles in vessels of the United States on an equal basis with such products carried in Spanish vessels, &c., a copy of which, you did me the kindness to send in advance of promulgation, will he received by the Government of the United States with liveliest satisfaction, as renewed proof of the friendly disposition of Spain, and of the desire to promote larger and more unrestricted commercial intercourse.”

It was supposed that the royal order conformed to the understanding of the United States in assenting to the agreement of February, 1884, and paying an adequate compensation for the suppression of the differential flag duties. The action of the Spanish Government practically nullifies the agreement of 1884, as contemplated and executed by the United States, and therefore leaves the President no alternative but to revoke the proclamation of February 14, 1884, suspending the collection of the 10 per cent, duty imposed on the products of, and articles proceeding from, Cuba and Porto Rico, under the Spanish flag.

I am instructed, therefore, to inform your excellency that the revocation was proclaimed yesterday, but, in order to give reasonable notice, it will not go into effect until the 25th instant.

The President of the United States takes this action most reluctantly, being constrained thereto by the course of the Spanish Government.

For more than a quarter of a century the Governments of Spain and the United States have been engaged in a contest of retaliatory tariffs. The good and the wise and the peace-loving of both countries must alike deplore this unprofitable and irritating strife. Civilization, good government, international peace, the prosperity of both countries, require the cessation of these retaliatory measures. Forbearing an unavailing discussion of the past, the two Governments can, it is to be hoped, agree upon some adjustment, not dilatory, but prompt, of all questions of dispute. The Government of the United States holds itself in readiness to co-operate with the sagacious statesmanship of the present Government to effect a speedy and honorable settlement of all questions which may engender irritation or prevent the fullest commercial intercourse.

I avail, &c.,