Memorandum handed by the Chilean minister to the Acting Secretary of State.

Mr. Secretary: I have asked this interview rather in the hope of preventing the raising of questions between our Governments than of making any formal representation.

I feel very deeply, as does my Government, the recent prompt and friendly action of the United States in its successful effort to enforce the most rigid execution of its neutrality laws, and rest secure in our confidence chat in our domestic troubles we will receive all that justice and generous consideration which the United States has always extended to its sister republics.

You are aware, as I am, that the insurgents in Chile are naturally desirous [Page 318] that they should be recognized as belligerents by the nations of the world, and in your own experience you have ample evidence of the consequences of such recognition. I make no reference now to the presence of Mr. Trumbull here as the agent of the insurgents. Mr. Trumbull does not, as I understand, claim any official character as their representative, and, indeed, as a person held under criminal prosecution by the courts of the United States for alleged violation of its neutrality laws, I would deem it unbecoming in me to trouble you with any remarks either as to his presence or purposes. But I am informed, upon such authority as I think makes it my duty-to call your attention to the fact, that Mr. Montt is about to arrive at New York in the alleged character of a diplomatic representative of the insurgents, seeking to obtain from the Government of the United States a recognition of their being belligerents.

It is not to be presumed that he will be recognized in such character without an opportunity being allowed to the Chilean Government to explain to the Government of the United States the serious consequences and the injustice which would be done to it (in its judgment) by such recognition.

But Mr. Montt will in all probability confine himself to the request that he be received “unofficially.”

You will recollect that in 1861, at the commencement of the civil war in the United States, the foreign secretary of Great Britain in a conversation with Mr. Dallas, then United States minister in London, “the British secretary told Mr. Dallas that the three representatives of the Southern Confederacy were then in London; that Lord John Russell had not yet seen them, but that he was not unwilling to see them unofficially.”

On May 21, 1861, Mr. Seward, then Secretary of State, thus instructed Mr. Adams, who had succeeded Mr. Dallas:

The President regrets that Mr. Dallas did not protest against the proposed unofficial intercourse between the British Government and the missionaries of the insurgents.

Intercourse of any kind with the so-called commissioners is liable to be construed as a recognition of the authority which appointed them. Such intercourse would be none the less hurtful to us for being called unofficial, and it might be even more injurious, because we should have no means of knowing what points might be resolved by it. Moreover, unofficial intercourse is useless and meaningless, if it is not expected to ripen into official intercourse and direct recognition. It is left doubtful here whether the proposed unofficial intercourse has yet actually begun. Your own antecedent instructions are deemed explicit enough, and it is hoped that you have not misunderstood them. You will, in any event, desist from all intercourse whatever, unofficial as well as official, with the British Government, so long as it shall continue intercourse of either kind with the domestic enemies of this country. When intercourse shall have been arrested for this cause, you will communicate with this Department and receive further instructions.

And on May 30, 1861, Mr. Seward thus addressed Mr. Dayton, United States minister at Paris:

First, I desire that Mons. Thouvenel may be informed that this Government can not but regard any communications held by the French Government, even though unofficial, with the agents of the insurrectionary government in this country as exceptionable Ttnd injurious to the dignity and honor of the United States. They protest against this intercourse, however, not so much on that ground as on another. They desire to maintain the most cordial relations with the Government of France, and would therefore, if possible, refrain from complaint. But it is manifest that even an unofficial reception of the emissaries of disunion has a certain though measured tendency to give them a prestige which would encourage their efforts to prosecute a civil war destructive to the prosperity of this country and aimed at the overthrow of the Government itself. It is earnestly hoped that this protest may be sufficient to relieve this Government from the necessity of any action on the unpleasant subject to which it relates. (Foreign correspondence of date.)

[Page 319]

In 1865, an effort having been made through Mr. Corwin, at one time minister to Mexico, to secure for an agent of the Emperor Maximilian a hearing before the State Department, Mr. Seward caused to be published the following memorandum:

Department of State,
Washington, March 13, 1865.

Mr. Seward read to Mr. Corwin as follows: It is a fixed habit of this Government to hold no official intercourse with agents of parties in any country which stands in an attitude of revolution antagonistic to the sovereign authority in the same country with which the United States are on terms of friendly diplomatic intercourse.

It is equally a fixed habit of this Government to hold no unofficial or private intercourse with persons with whom it can not hold official intercourse.

For these reasons the overture submitted by Mr. Corwin to the Secretary of State is declined. (Ex-. Doc. No. 73, Thirty-ninth Congress, first session, p. 574.)

On the 17th of July, 1865, the Marquis de Montholon, the French minister, having delivered to Mr. Seward a copy of a letter from the Emperor Maximilian to the President, Mr. Seward said:

On the 18th the Secretary of State delivered back the copy of the letter to the Marquis de Montholon, and said that the United States are in friendly communication now, as heretofore, with the republican government in Mexico, and therefore can not depart from the course of proceeding it has heretofore pursued towards that country, and that, of course, the President declined to receive the letter or to hold any intercourse with the agent who brought it.

Informed by these precedents, I can confidently hope that no such questions will be allowed to disturb the long and cordial relations that have existed between our two Governments.

I think that I can say with truth that the effort of the Chilean Government, and not an unsuccessful effort, has been to impress upon its people that there is neither stability nor progress nor prosperity for any people who do not realize that the proper cure for all political domestic difficulties is in the regular and constitutional remedies with which the laws and established constitution always supply a free people. And surely the experience of the United States must have furnished ample proof that the great obstacle in the way of the growth of the South American republics has been the fatal habit of forcible and irregular pronunciamentos against the regular method of peaceful political life. These unfortunate insurgents have only opened another chapter in this sad history. They have caused great distress and much bloodshed, but they have failed to lay any foundation for a regular government and have deluded but a small portion of the industrious Chilean population. But these are not questions which I have asked this interview to discuss. They are domestic questions which no great power has more earnestly taught the world than the United States that they must be settled by the effort, the patriotism, and the wisdom of each nation for itself.

In a very little while—in less than one month—there will be the regular constitutional change of administration, when the people of Chile, in the full freedom of their rights, will decide who shall govern them, and when the fairest opportunity will be given them to reconcile the difficulties which divide them.

It would be sad indeed if mistaken encouragement should be, at such a moment, given to those who, whatever be their motives or complaints, rest their faint hopes of success upon the destruction of regular constitutional government and the recognition of their highest interests to the fatal chances of civil war.

Prudencio Lazcano.