Mr. Blaine to Mr. Conger .
Washington , December 3, 1890.
Sir: Your legation contains evidence of the fact that a Brazilian squadron, composed of the armored cruiser Aquidaban, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Balthazar da Silveira, and the corvette Granabara, sailed from Rio de Janeiro about October 20 last for New York, to return the visit of friendship and congratulation made by the United States Squadron of Evolution to Rio de Janeiro in June and July of the present year.
In order that the Government of the United States might testify its appreciation of this courtesy and render the welcome given to Admiral da Silveira and his squadron equal in its demonstrations of cordiality and good will to that accorded to Rear-Admiral John G. Walker and the Squadron of Evolution under his command while in the waters of Brazil, the coöperation and assistance of the Navy, War, and Treasury Departments were requested, to the end that no official ceremony or observance proper to the occasion should be omitted.
Rear-Admiral Walker was designated by the President as his representative to receive the Brazilian admiral upon his arrival at New York and to accompany him to Washington. In this duty he was assisted by Lieut. T. B. M. Mason, naval secretary to the Secretary of the Navy, and by Lieutenants B. H. Buckingham and S. A. Staunton, officers of his personal staff, as commander-in-chief of the Squadron of Evolution. Admiral Walker, accompanied by his aids, took up his quarters at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York on November 23.
Rear-Admiral Gherardi, commanding the United States naval forces on the North Atlantic Station, was placed in charge of the ceremonies afloat attending the arrival of the Brazilian squadron. The Yorktown was ordered to report to him for temporary duty, and he was directed to form of the Yorktown and Dolphin a naval division, to await at Sandy Hook the coming of the visitors, to meet them off the bar, and to escort them to an anchorage off Twenty-third street, North River, when they would be received by the Philadelphia, Admiral Gherardi’s flagship. Minute instructions were issued to cover all details of salutes and ceremonies and the order of escort.
Rear-Admiral D. L. Braine, commandant of the navy yard, New York, was directed to extend to the visiting squadron all official courtesies [Page 24] which came within the province of the naval officer in command ashore.
Admirals Gherardi and Braine were officially informed of Admiral Walker’s appointment as the President’s representative, and were instructed to afford him every facility and assistance in their power.
The War Department issued the necessary orders for the salutes to be fired from the forts in New York Harbor.
The Treasury Department directed the revenue cutters of New York to assist in the ceremonies of reception, and ordered their commanding officers to report to Admiral Walker for instructions.
The coöperation of the State and city authorities of New York was also requested, and arrangements were made with the health officer to board the Brazilian vessels in the lower bay, thereby avoiding a delay in the Narrows.
The Yorktown anchored in the lower bay, inside Sandy Hook, Saturday afternoon, the 22d of November. The Dolphin came down and joined her the next morning. Arrangements were made with the signal station ashore by which the approach of the Brazilian squadron should be announced.
At 2.25 p.m. of Tuesday, November 25, the preconcerted signal was shown by the signal station, and a few minutes later the Guanabara appeared and then the Aquidaban, three-quarters of a mile astern of the leading ship. The weather was so hazy that the squadron was not made, from the signal station until close to the Hook. The Dolphin and Yorktown weighed and awaited the approaching vessels. As soon as the Aquidaban had crossed the bar an officer was sent to her from the Dolphin, with Commander Stirling’s compliments, to make the usual call of ceremony.
The Dolphin fired a national salute of twenty-one guns, the Brazilian ensign at the main. This salute was returned by both the Aquidaban and Guanabara, the American flag at the main. The Dolphin then saluted Admiral da Silveira’s flag with fifteen guns, which salute was returned by the Aquidaban, her band playing the American national air. The Aquidaban also dipped her colors, which compliment was returned by the Dolphin and Yorktown.
It being too late to go up the harbor, both squadrons anchored for the night, and visits were made to Admiral da Silveira by Commanders Stirling and Chad wick. At 8 a.m. of the 26th the squadron got under way and stood up the harbor in the following order, in column, Dolphin, Yorktown, Aquidaban, Guanabara. On nearing the Narrows, at 9.25, forts Hamilton and Wadsworth each fired a salute of twenty-one guns, their garrisons being paraded and the Brazilian ensign displayed.
In return, each of the Brazilian ships, as she reached the Narrows between the forts, manned yards, displayed the American ensign at the main, and fired a salute of twenty-one guns.
On approaching Governor’s Island, at 10.30, the garrison was paraded and a salute of twenty-one guns was fired from the fort, the Brazilian ensign being displayed at the time. This salute was returned by the Aquidaban.
At 10.45, on approaching the anchorage, the Brazilian admiral was saluted by the Philadelphia with fifteen guns, the Brazilian flag at the fore, which salute was returned by the Aquidaban hoisting her jib and with the American flag at the fore. The marine guard of the Philadelphia was paraded, and her band played the Brazilian national hymn. These courtesies were returned by the Aquidaban. She also dipped her ensign and admiral’s flag, which was answered by the Philadelphia.[Page 25]
At 11.10 the vessels of both squadrons anchored, the Brazilian ships being placed nearest to the Twenty-third street landing.
As soon as the Aquidaban had anchored in the berth assigned her near the Philadelphia, she was boarded by the flag lieutenants of admirals Walker, Gherardi, and Braine, who conveyed to Admiral da Silveira the welcome of their respective chiefs and the usual official compliments and offers of assistance.
Lieutenant Staunton informed the Brazilian admiral that Admiral Walker, as the President’s representative, would receive his visit at the Fifth Avenue Hotel; also that Admiral Walker would give a dinner that evening to himself, his staff and commanding officers, and that on Thursday, November 27, he would escort Admiral da Silveira and the officers selected to accompany him to Washington.
At 1 p.m. Admiral Walker, attended by his staff, received Admiral da Silveira and his staff in the parlors of the Fifth Avenue Hotel. The Brazilian admiral then paid his respects to admirals Braine and Gherardi. These calls were returned later in the day. In the evening Admiral Walker, representing the President, gave a handsome dinner of twenty-four covers at the Fifth Avenue Hotel.
The Brazilians present were Admiral da Silveira, his two aides, and his commanding officers. To meet them were invited admirals Braine and Gherardi, General Howard, Chauncey M. Depew, esq., Collector Erhardt, Charles A. Dana, esq., and several other distinguished gentlemen.
On Thursday Admiral da Silveira, his aides, commanding officers, and thirteen other officers, a party of eighteen, escorted by Admiral Walker and his aides, were brought to Washington in a special car attached to the limited express, and quartered at the Arlington Hotel as the guests of the State Department. I designated Mr. Sevellon A. Brown, the chief clerk of this Department, as my representative, to personally receive in Washington the nation’s visitors, and to extend to them every courtesy and welcome.
At half past 12, November 28, the Brazilian admiral and his officers, escorted by Mr. Sevellon A. Brown and Admiral Walker and his aides, were received by me at my house oh Madison Place.
At 1 o’clock I accompanied the visitors to the Executive Mansion, where they were to be formally received by the President. The members of the Cabinet, major-general commanding the Army, and the principal officers of the Army and Navy present in Washington had been assembled to assist in the reception. Admiral Balthazer da Silveira, with a brief and appropriate speech in English, presented to the President the gold medal and letter with which he had been charged by the Government of Brazil. The President made a suitable response and then received the Brazilian officers in attendance upon the admiral.
The foreigners were then presented to the members of the Government and officers who had been invited to meet them, and an elaborate lunch was served.
In the evening the President gave a card reception in honor of the visitors, and invited them to remain to supper after its close. Upon their return to the Arlington Hotel they were serenaded by the Marine Band.
Saturday, the 29th, was devoted to an excursion to Mount Vernon, on the Dispatch. A large party of ladies and gentlemen had been invited by the State Department to meet the Brazilians. The day was fine, and a part of the Marine Band was taken on board. Lunch was [Page 26] served before the arrival at Mount Vernon. In anticipation of this visit, Admiral da Silveira had caused to be sent a beautiful floral offering, which was placed at the tomb of Washington.
In the evening the Brazilian admiral and some of his officers were dined by the Metropolitan Club of this city.
On Monday, December 1, the visitors, under the escort of Admiral Walker and Mr. Sevellon A. Brown, were taken in a special car to Annapolis, where they were shown over the Naval Academy and entertained at lunch by the Superintendent.
In the evening the Secretary of the Navy gave to Admiral da Silveira and his principal officers a dinner of thirty covers at the Arlington Hotel. With the exception of Mr. Sevellon A. Brown and myself the guests were naval officers.
On Tuesday evening, December 2, Admiral Balthazar da Silveira gave a handsome dinner of eighty six covers at the Arlington Hotel in recognition of the courtesies that he had received. His guests were the Vice President, the members of the Cabinet, the Speaker of the House, Senator Sherman, distinguished officers of the Army and Navy, the governors of the Metropolitan Club, and others. The speech-making at this, as at the other dinners, was brief but very happy and forcible in its allusions to the new Republic, and to the friendship and comity existing between the nations of the Western Hemisphere.
On Wednesday, December 3, the visitors were escorted back to New York in a special car by Mr. Sevellon A. Brown and lieutenants Buckingham and Staunton.
On the 12th of December, at 12.30 p.m., the Brazilian squadron left New York. The Yorktown, detailed as an escort, preceded it down the river. At the battery the Aquidaban fired a salute of twenty-one guns, the American flag at the main. This salute was returned by the Yorktown. At the Narrows the Aquidaban fired a second national salute of twenty-one guns, which was returned by Fort Hamilton. The Aquidaban needed some repairs to her anchor gear, and all the ships anchored inside the Hook.
At 12.40 p.m. of the 13th the three vessels stood out over the bar. On nearing the Scotland Light Ship the Yorktown sheered out of the column, and as the Aquidaban passed fired, at 1.30 p.m., a national salute of twenty-one guns, the Brazilian ensign at the main. This salute was returned by the Brazilian flagship, the American ensign at the main, and her band playing the American national air. The Yorktown then saluted the admiral’s flag with fifteen guns, cheered ship, and hoisted the signal International Code: “Wish you a pleasant voyage.” The Aquidaban returned the salute and cheers and hoisted signals: “Adieu” and “Thanks.”
The Yorktown then stood in, and as she passed the Guanabara she cheered ship and hoisted the same signal. The Guanabara returned the cheers and signaled: “Adieu” and “Thanks.”
The Brazilian squadron stood to the southward and the Yorktown returned to port.
The day was fine, and the salutes and ceremonies were effective and impressive.
I am directed by the President to express the great pleasure it afforded him to welcome to our shore the visitors as the representative of a friendly sister Republic—the youngest of the Southern continent. It was an auspicious occasion, and he appreciates it as such. He regards this exchange of official courtesies as one of the surest and most [Page 27] direct means of maintaining and strengthening the amicable ties now happily subsisting between the United States and Brazil. Every tendency of such a visit is to promote general good feeling and to bring into more intimate friendly and personal relations the citizens of both Republics. In this sense the President viewed the recent complimentary visit of the Brazilian squadron, and every American felt a sympathetic interest in its presence in our waters, and hopes for it a safe and pleasant return voyage.
I am, etc.,