to Mr. Bayard.
Lima, October 28, 1886. (Received November 20.)
Sir: I have received Department’s No. 97, of September 23, 1886, and I have to report that Congress, on the 24th instant, passed an act similar to the one referred to in that number, annulling all the interior acts of the Pierola and Iglesias Governments. I inclose a newspaper copy of the act, not yet signed or officially published, and translation. As the President has not the veto power, the signing and putting into effect is perfunctory.
The President has also signed the act annulling the Darsena contract. * * *
It will be observed the terms of the general act, referring to the Pierola and Iglesias Governments, at least ostensibly, are sweeping in their effect, and how far the act may reach, and whether it will affect foreign interests generally, will depend upon the construction given it. * * *
I concluded that I had best put into writing the substance of what I had to say to the minister of foreign relations on the subject. This I did, heading it “Memorandum,” as see copy herewith sent; and when I met him yesterday evening, per appointment, I had it read to him, and then left with him a copy. He said that the general principles announced were correct, and no one with the least knowledge of international law would deny them; but as no American interest was as jet infringed, he thought it premature that I should pass to him the [Page 923] note. I replied that the act of Congress was in its terms general and sweeping, and I thought my Government desired that he should be advised of its view of the international principles involved in the abstract; but since he had expressed full agreement with the views I had presented, I did not demand an answer, but would leave the paper as a “memorandum” of what I had said, so he might have it translated at his leisure, and I should send a copy to Washington, in a report to my Government. He then again expressed agreement with the general principles; but said he would reserve the right to reply if it should seem proper upon more careful consideration, but thanked me for relieving him of the necessity of answering. The whole interview, as was the previous, was perfectly agreeable and cordial.
After my interview of Monday my colleagues of England, France, Germany, and Brazil called to see and consult with me relative to the proper course, in view of the action of Congress, whether there should be joint diplomatic expression or not. I advised that I thought joint expression was not required; that I had already myself seen the minister of foreign affairs and should, perhaps, embody my views in a “memorandum.”
But the French minister afterwards asked General Salazar, the dean of the diplomatic corps, to call a meeting of the body, which he did for yesterday evening. I then expressed to my colleagues, collectively, the view somewhat more strongly, which I had previously presented at my own house, that it did not seem to me advisable that there should be joint expression; indeed, that I had taken such separate action as I thought best, and had an engagement for a future personal interview, made at the minister’s request, and I could neither join in a united expression nor permit any one else to speak for my Government in the premises; that I thought it would both be more friendly to the Government here, and more effective that each representative should act separately, according as the interests and the views of his Government should suggest.
So, when the question was put, whether it was proper that there should be joint diplomatic action, it was unanimously determined in the negative.
However, the English minister had already directed a note to the Government here, stating that England would never admit the non-responsibility of the present Government of Peru for the acts of its predecessors, and he sent a long cablegram to London announcing the fact.
The French minister had also addressed a short note to the Government here.
The Spanish minister had presented his views in a personal interview, and the German minister had expressed some intention of doing likewise, and the Chilian minister cabled for instructions.
But I think there is no difference of opinion among the members of the corps concerning the principle of responsibility. It did not seem to me worth while to cable at a considerable cost, as I know no immediate necessity for doing so.
I have, etc.,