Mr. Adee to Mr. Abbott .

No. 120.]

Sir: You are aware that at the time you entered upon your mission there was pending between the Government of the United States and the Government of Colombia a negotiation for the settlement by arbitration of certain claims of citizens of the United States upon the Government of Colombia. You will find in the archives of your legation ample information as to the character of these claims and the progress of these negotiations.

On July 31, 1889, you wrote this Department that you had been strongly impressed with the conviction that the Government of Colombia was very much disinclined to settle these claims by arbitration and was disposed to insist that they should be settled by regular proceedings in the native courts of Colombia.

Your dispatch was acknowledged, but no special instructions were sent you, for the following reason:

The states of South and Central America had accepted the invitation of the United States of America to meet in friendly conference in October of the same year, and among the subjects to be submitted to their joint deliberation was the project of a general system of arbitration, by which all questions of difference between them might be both promptly and amicably settled. This Government thought it not injudicious to suspend its discussion of these special claims, in the hope that the adoption of some such general system of arbitration would facilitate their final settlement.

As you are also aware, such system was recommended by the conference, and after the adjournment of that body a treaty of arbitration between themselves was signed by the following nations:

Honduras, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, Salvador, United States of Brazil, United States of Venezuela, and the United States of America.

It has been a matter of regret to the United States that, notwithstanding [Page 270] the very able and efficient service of the delegates from Colombia in the debates of the conference, the Government of Colombia has not as yet become a party to that treaty by its signature.

Of course, this Government has neither the disposition nor the right to press upon the consideration of Colombia action of the wisdom and propriety of which that Government is the sole judge. But, while waiting with hopeful anticipation a final agreement upon so important a subject, the Government of the United States finds itself forced to recall to the attention of the Government of Colombia the necessity of an early settlement of these claims, the consideration of which by the Colombian Government has not been as prompt or as satisfactory as the United States had a right to expect.

The discussion, although full and friendly, has been postponed and delayed by the necessity of constant references back to their Government by the Colombian ministers, and, if we can not confidently anticipate the consent of the Colombian Government to the system of general arbitration, the United States will be constrained to urge upon the Colombian Government the settlement of these claims.

The questions involved are grave and the interests at stake large, and it is very desirable that, guiding yourself by these instructions, you should learn from the Government of Colombia, whether it is prepared to give its minister full and sufficient authority to take up their discussion with the Department with a view to their early and final settlement.

I am, etc.,

Alyey A. Adee,
Acting Secretary.