Mr. Egan to Mr. Blaine.


I have to-day received the following reply to my note of 22d instant:


Sir: The undersigned has had the honor to receive your excellency’s communication dated 22d instant, received in this Department the 23d, and the duly authenticated copies of the instructions which the honorable Secretary of State, of Washington, has sent to your excellency by cable under dates of the 21st instant and the 23d of October, 1891. In the instructions of the 21st instant the honorable Secretary of State informs your excellency that His Excellency Mr. Harrison, after carefully examining all that has been submitted to him by the Government of Chile, with respect [Page 310] to the event which occurred in Valparaiso on the evening of the 16th of October, and taking into consideration the testimony of the officers and crew of the vessel, the Baltimore, and of others who witnessed the event, has arrived at the following conclusions:

  • First. That with regard to that assault there has been no change whatever made in the character given to it by the first report of the event, to wit, that it was an attack upon the uniform of the Navy of the United States, which had its origin and motive in a feeling of hostility toward that Government and not in any act of the individual sailors belonging to it.
  • Second. That the public authorities at Valparaiso evidently did not do their duty in protecting those sailors and that a part of the police and some Chilean soldiers and sailors rendered themselves guilty of unprovoked assaults on the sailors of the United States before and after the latter were arrested, and that he believes that Riggin was killed by the police or the soldiers; and
  • Third. That he is consequently compelled to carry the question back to the state in which it was placed by the note of the Hon. Mr. Wharton, dated October 23, and to ask for suitable satisfaction and some adequate reparation for the injury done the Government of the United States. The honorable Secretary of State, Mr. Blaine, regrets that the Government of Chile has not, from the very first, duly appreciated the gravity of the question raised, and that it has attributed to it no other importance than that of an ordinary quarrel between sailors, adding that no government which respects itself can consent to civil or military persons employed in its service being maltreated or killed, in a foreign territory, on account of resentment for acts which it may have committed, or which may be imputed to it, without requiring adequate reparation.

The Hon. Mr. Blaine, in this connection, recalls the fact that the Government of the United States has voluntarily recognized this principle, and has acted accordingly, when any injury has been committed by its people against anyone holding an official position of a foreign country, in consequence of acts which had aroused resentment. In such case the United States have never sought words of little weight or ambiguous meaning in order to make reparation, but have condemned such acts in vigorous and energetic terms, and have never refused to give other adequate satisfaction. The honorable Secretary of State, Mr. Blaine, states, moreover, that it is not his intention to discuss the details of the incident of October, but only to set forth the conclusion at which his Government has arrived. The honorable Secretary of State says: “We have given every kind of opportunity to the Government of Chile to offer explanatory or extenuating circumstances, and we have given due consideration to the fact that the Government of Chile during a great part of the time which has elapsed since the 16th of October, has been in a provisional situation.” He then adds that he is directed by His Excellency Mr. Harrison to say that he has been compelled to take notice of the instructions sent by Mr. Matta, minister of foreign affairs to the Chilean minister in Washington, under date of December 11, because, although they were not officially communicated to his Government, they received the greatest possible publicity, and that consequently he demands the immediate withdrawal of the said instructions as to those parts which he considers offensive and adequate satisfaction, in order that the diplomatic relations between the two nations may not be interrupted.

Without any intention of opening a discussion as to the facts referred to by the communication, which I have extracted, and confining himself to the first part of the instructions of the honorable Secretary of State, the undersigned must state to your excellency the regret with which the Government of Chile sees that His Excellency the President of the United States finds reason to continue to regard the incident of October as an attack caused by a hostile feeling toward the uniform of the Navy of the United States. That unfortunate occurrence took place on a sudden, in a district where the sailors of the vessels lying in the Bay of Valparaiso are in the habit of assembling, without distinction of nationality.

From the nature of the incident it would be impossible to prove that there was no doubt as to the special cause which served as its origin or pretext; but the undersigned can assert that that cause was not a hostile feeling toward the uniform of the Navy of the United States, because the people of Chile have always esteemed and respected that uniform ever since the time when they saw it figuring honorably in the ranks of the soldiers and sailors who, in a glorious struggle, gave it independence and established the Republic. The undersigned admits that the occurrence of October 16 was of greater gravity than those which usually occur in the same district between the sailors who frequent it, and the fact of knowing that two deaths have resulted from it among the 16 wounded men of the Baltimore, has sufficed to give it an extraordinary character, and to induce the Government of Chile to hasten to adopt the measures necessary to discover and punish the guilty parties, to offer in due time, if there should be ground for so doing, such reparation as might be due.

The preliminary examination was commenced on the morning which followed the [Page 311] night of the conflict, some days before you presented your complaint; hut the investigation could not he finished with the rapidity that the Government of Chile desired, because the rules of procedure in criminal matters which are established by our laws are of slow application, and it was not possible for the President of the Republic to modify or set them aside. This delay, which was inevitable, owing to the independence with which the judicial authorities must act, has compelled the Government of the undersigned to delay, greatly to its regret, the settlement of the difficulty pending with your Government, and a spontaneous offer of reparation for the injury done to the sailors of the Baltimore, and that might be attributed to Chilean soldiers or sailors, or that might affect the responsibility of Chile.

In view of your communication, and considering that, up to date, it has been impossible for the trial initiated by the judge of the criminal court of Valparaiso to be decided, the undersigned regards it as his duty to declare once more that the Government of Chile laments the occurrence of October 16, and by way of showing the sincerity of his feeling and the confidence which he has in the justice of his cause, he declares his willingness not to await the decision of the examining judge and proposes to the United States Government that the case be submitted to the consideration of the Supreme Court of Justice at Washington, to the end that that high tribunal, with its learning and impartiality, may determine, without appeal, whether there’ is any ground for reparation and in what shape it should be made.

The undersigned would remind you, referring to the conduct of the Valparaiso authorities, that it appears from the preliminary examination that they sent without delay to the scene of the conflict all the forces at their disposal belonging to the special guard of the intendencia and to the police. Swanson, Cass, Nichols, Downey, Honner, Cunningham, Williams, Talbot, Hollard, Hodge, Butler, etc., seamen belonging to the crew of the Baltimore, stated to the interpreter of that vessel that the object of the police in arresting them was to shelter them from any attempt at attack by the excited people. The undersigned thinks that the action of the police in this matter should be considered with due allowance for the civil war which had recently been brought to a close. The body was not yet properly organized, nor did it have the force that was required to put down a disorder of such proportions in a short time.

In this connection it is proper to recall the words used by the honorable Secretary of State at Washington in his note addressed to the Marquis Imperiali, and bearing date of May 21,1891: “There is no government, however civilized it may be, however great may be the vigilance displayed by its police, however severe its criminal code may be, and however speedy and inflexible maybe its administration of justice, that can guaranty its own citizens against violence growing out of individual malice or a sudden popular tumult.” This was precisely the situation of the administrative authorities at Valparaiso on the occasion of the occurrence which took place in October.

The undersigned hopes that the foregoing will convince the honorable Secretary of State that the Government of Chile attaches due importance to the question now under discussion; that he does not for a moment hesitate to condemn, in vigorous terms, the act committed on the 16th of October, or to offer such reparation as is just, and that he has not neglected the opportunity to express these sentiments before now, since on various occasions, and through the plenipotentiaries of both countries, he has forwarded explicit declarations on the subject to Washington.

The undersigned takes the liberty to recall the fact that, five days after he had taken charge of the department of foreign relations, he addressed to the minister of Chile in the United States a telegram which, in the part relating to this matter, says: “Express to the United States Government what has already been stated, adding all the data that are known, in the most correct and amicable form; express to the United States Government very sincere regret on account of this unfortunate incident, which although and (not) strange in the ports of the world, this Government doubly laments, owing to its sincere desire to cultivate friendship with the United States.”

If the United States Government should not accept the foregoing explanations as satisfactory, notwithstanding that the judicial authorities hold the guilty parties responsible for the disorder of October 16, the undersigned must recall the circumstance that the Government of Chile, through the medium of its minister in Washington, has expressed the desire to submit any misunderstanding (dispute) to decision by arbitration by any power or tribunal which may be indicated to it; and, in fact, arbitration was suggested in conference with the minister of Chile in Washington on the 30th of December, when the Government of the undersigned declared its good will and its resolve to accept arbitration after the final judgment, which would not be further delayed many days in furtherance of its purpose to give a speedy solution to the incident in the most friendly terms.

The Government of the undersigned called upon its minister for a definite reply on the 11th instant, and on the 13th Minister Montt reported that, notwithstanding certain observations made by the American State Department with respect to the opportuneness of resorting to arbitration, he had, nevertheless, agreed with the Hon. Mr. Blaine [Page 312] that, if any divergence of views or disaccord should supervene after the verdict of the judge of Valparaiso, such controversy would yield to arbitration. The undersigned hastened to declare that he would fully accept such an agreement; for which reason the Government of Chile deems that the case has arisen for submitting to arbitration, in terms as ample as those above indicated, any difference of views which it may have with the Government of the United States concerning the incident of the Baltimore.

There is therefore submitted to the honorable Secretary of State of the Department of Foreign Relations of Washington the designation of either the Supreme Court of Justice of the United States or a tribunal of arbitration to determine the reparation which Chile may have to make for that lamentable occurrence.

As for the dispatch addressed under date of the 11th of December to the Chilean minister in Washington by the minister of foreign relations of the Provisional Government, the undersigned submits that there could not be on the part of the Government of Chile the purpose to inflict any offense upon the Government of the United States, with which it desires ever to cultivate the most friendly relations. Consequently the undersigned deplores that in that telegram there were employed through an error of judgment the expressions which are offensive in the judgment of your Government.

Declaring in fulfillment of a high duty of courtesy and sincerity towards a friendly nation that the Government of Chile absolutely withdraws the said expressions, the undersigned trusts that this frank and explicit declaration, which confirms that which had already been made to the honorable Secretary of State in Washington, will carry to the mind of His Excellency Mr. Harrison, of his Government, and of the American people the conviction that the Government and the people of Chile, far from entertaining a feeling of hostility, have the lively desire to maintain unalterable the good and cordial relations which, up to the present time, exist between the two countries—a declaration which is made without reservation in order that it may receive such publicity as your Government may deem suitable. With regard to the suggestion made touching the change of the personnel of your legation to which the instructions of the honorable Secretary of State refer, it is incumbent upon the undersigned to declare that the Government of Chile will take no positive step without the accord of the Government of the United States, with which it desires to maintain itself in friendly understanding.

The undersigned brings this already long communication to a close in the assurance that he has therein set forth everything that can fully satisfy your Government. The Government of Chile cherishes the conviction that the relations with the Government of the United States should be sincerely and cordially maintained under the shelter of that mutual respect and that good understanding which are based upon the just and equitable appreciation of the facts, and on the appreciation to be given to the spontaneous declarations made on either side. The undersigned moreover declares that in presenting its explanations his Government finds its inspiration in the words of the instructions which you have quoted and which assure the Government pf Chile that the President is not disposed to exact or ask anything which your Government would not under the same circumstances spontaneously concede.

With sentiments of distinguished consideration, I am, your obedient servant,

Luis Pereira.

I await instructions.