No. 401.
Mr. Curry to Mr. Bayard.

No. 135.]

Sir: Yesterday about noon I received a note, unofficial, from the minister of state, to which I immediately sent the subjoined reply.

At the appointed hour I repaired to the foreign office, and was promptly received by the minister in his usual bland and cordial manner. After some preliminaries, the President’s revocation was referred to * * * What weighed most upon his mind was the suspicion, or the fear, that the revocation was in the nature of a menace, or would be regarded by the Spanish people in that light. It gave me pleasure to assure him, and through him his Government, with emphasis and earnestness, that nothing could be more remote from the purpose or desire of the President. Fortunately I had transcribed the law under which the President acted, and I left the transcript as the proof that the refusal of reciprocity left the President no alternative.

In the friendliest and most courteous manner, * * * and manifestly not without impression, I referred to the industrial condition of Cuba, the successful competition of France and Germany in the growing of sugars, the consumption by the United States of 95 per cent, of the sugars exported from the Antilles, and showed that the imposition of the additional 10 per cent, would be practically a protective tariff to that extent in favor of French and German sugars.

After a free interchange of views Mr. Moret suggested, as a way out of present difficulties, the placing the collection of the tax under the fourth column. In reply I said that the United States preferred the third column as a lower tax, but what was specialty sought was the removal of discriminations and the equalization of the flags. The minister was requested to put his proposal in writing so that I might cable it in his own words [Page 812] to my Government. He seemed anxious to learn whether such a proposition as the basis of a new agreement would secure a postponement of the day when the operation of the tax would begin; but, of course, I declined to make any committal or express any opinion. He finally said he would formulate his proposal and send it to me in two hours. Last night at 10 o’clock I received the proposition. * * *

This morning I visited him as he had requested, at his house, and told him his proposal was not essentially different from the language heretofore used by the Spanish Government. In former papers the promise was to “equalize the flags” in every respect; in this, it was proposed to place “on entirely equal terms.” In view of former contentions, it was best to use very explicit language.

* * * * * * *

Should the President accede to the request of the Spanish Government, or rather of the minister of state, this legation will be greatly pleased to have positive instructions or full suggestions.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 135.]

Mr. Moret to Mr. Curry.

Dear Mr. Curry: The decision of the President re-establishing the 10 per cent, duties upon goods and produce from the Spanish Antilles takes me by surprise.

As the point was being discussed between ourselves, it is not easy to explain the act of the President without any hint or intimation from you.

* * * * * * *

After it I think nothing is to be done, but I will refrain to take any step without knowing your own mind.

For that reason, and despite my bad health, you will oblige me by calling at 5 o’clock at the foreign office, if such time is convenient for you.

Yours, sincerely,

[Inclosure 2 in No. 135.]

Mr. Curry to Mr. Moret.

Dear Mr. Moret: It win give me pleasure to meet you at the foreign office at 5 p.m. to-day.

I cannot very well understand, you will allow me in all frankness to say, how the action of the President should take you so by surprise. Under the laws of the United States he had no option to do otherwise. In my note to you of the 4th instant I stated, as explicitly as the language at my command enabled me to do, that to adhere to the construction put upon the royal order of June. 22. 1886, and the agreement of 13th February, 1884, will be to deprive the agreement of all validity and “restore the contracting parties to the status which existed prior to the signing of the agreement.”

In the interview which I had with you on the 12th, I stated that I expected every day to hear that the President had restored the 10 per cent, tax, and your reply was that it would complicate matters very much.

* * * * * * *

When both the parties to a discussion stand on an equal or the same footing, a mutually satisfactory result is more likely to be reached.

I am extremely sorry to hear of your bad health, and I thank you, despite your suffering, that yon have invited an interview. Knowing the extreme anxiety of my [Page 813] Government to avoid any occasion of offense with the Government of Spain, and its willingness, nay, readiness, to promote the fullest commercial intercourse and the most amicable relations, I am not without hope that a discussion between us may lead to an agreement profitable to both countries and free from all ambiguous interpretation.

Yours, sincerely,