No. 556.
Mr. Buck to Mr. Bayard.

No. 138.]

Sir: On the 6th instant the House of Deputies by a vote of 44 to 33 rejected article 1 of the judicial bill, which proposed annulment of all appointments made in the department of the judiciary by the late council of ministers, while they approved without discussion annulment of all appointments made in the same department under the governments of Pierola and Iglesias from December 21, 1879, to December 2, 1885.

Also a bill has been introduced in the Deputies to annul all interior acts of the Pierola and Iglesias governments. Were such a measure to pass, it would, T apprehend, be construed here to reach with disintegrating touch contracts of the greatest importance heretofore entered into with foreigners, especially the railroad contracts by which the three most important railroads in Peru were placed under lease to Americans, and the Oallao Muelle y Darsena contract.

In advance of definite outcome in the direction of the proposed action of the Peruvian Government disregarding or annulling contract rights of American citizens in properties perhaps worth more than $ 100,000,000, which would in effect be confiscation, it seems desirable that I should be advised in an instruction of the views of our Government.

I make this suggestion in a spirit of that precaution which the importance of the interests involved may seem to require as “due vigilance.”

I have, etc.,

Chas. W. Buck.

P. S.—Since writing the above, the House of Deputies have unanimously adopted the report of a special committee appointed to investigate the “Muelle y Darsena” contract, by which the approval of Congress is refused to the renewal made by the Iglesias Government, April 10, 1885, and it is declared null.

It seems the abrogation will pass in the Senate also. The committee claim that, as the original contract, made August 16, 1869, was approved by Congress, the renewal should likewise be so approved; and, further, that the contract was not only in violation of the laws of 11th and 28th of January, 1869, but also of articles 23 and 27 of the constitution of of 1860, which articles were confessedly in force under the Iglesias Government, but refers to the constitutional articles in connection with that Government, without prejudice to the right of Congress to annul or validate its acts.

[Page 921]

On the other hand, it will be claimed, presumably, that subsequent action of the Iglesias Congress (whose Government at the time was recognized as that of Peru by France and other countries) of the 26th of March, 1884, and resolution of the same assembly, 2d April, 1885, conferring powers to raise money for the pacification of the country, and perhaps, also, the general dictatorial powers conferred on Iglesias by Congress covered and made valid the contract.

This action of Congress, it will be observed, is special, and does not relate to the proposition to which I have referred, to annul all acts generally of stated preceding Governments. And so long as the action is special, and limited in its intent to the “Darsena,” I see no such imminent danger to American interests as to require from me official expression upon principles which might associate those interests which exist under different facts with the Darsena.

I have, etc.,

Chas. W. Buck.