Mr. Foster to Mr. Shannon.
Washington, November 3, 1892.
Sir: I have received your dispatch No. 127 of June 29th, inclosing a note from the Salvadorian minister of foreign affairs of May 26 last, relative to the case of Henry R. Myers, late consul of the United States at San Salvador. Señor Gallegos’ note has received attentive consideration, [Page 50]but it fails to change the views of this Government with respect to this unfortunate affair and the proper principles which should govern its settlement.
Inasmuch as he recognizes “the principles of justice upon which rest the right to an indemnity for all the damage caused to the American consulate,” and he repeats that recognition in the name of his Government, I am unable to understand his contention that this Government should be entirely excluded from the determination of its amount. The simple statement of the difference between the respective positions of the two Governments furnishes its own comment. The Government of the United States insists that the question of the amount of indemnity is one for common agreement between the two Governments. It makes no claim of any right to determine it alone, but only to participate in its determination. The Government of Salvador, on the other hand, maintains it is a question for its own exclusive settlement through its own tribunals.
Did it promise any good purpose I should desire to consider in detail the line of Señor Gallegos’ argument, but it is evident that this already prolonged discussion is not serving to bring the views of the two Governments into accord. Without reiterating, therefore, the views of this Government, which it maintains as heretofore expressed, I proceed at once to the offers with which Señor Gallegos concludes his note. He proposes to submit to the Salvadorian tribunal of public credit “to decide regarding the indemnity to be paid, fixing the amount and mode of payment.” This proposition is no wise different in principle from the general one which he made January 2 last, to refer the matter to the tribunals of his own Government. This Government is necessarily as constrained to refuse the one as it was the other. If his Government desires for its own information to take the advice of its tribunal of public credit with respect to the amount of damage which was done, it of course can do so, and should the sum recommended by that tribunal be thought by this Government to be reasonably sufficient, it would gladly accept it. But it could not otherwise.
The minor and incidental question with respect to the justice of making some reparation for the personal injury done to Mr. Myers, Señor Gallegos proposes to refer to the arbitration of a friendly power. This Government always welcomes such a mode of adjustment of international differences in every proper case where such a resort becomes necessary. But I am sure the Salvadorian minister of foreign affairs will agree with me that it would be quite futile to refer to international arbitration simply an incidental feature of this case, and that its least important one. Then, too, the whole affair is hardly worthy to be dignified by a proceeding of that importance.
I feel confident that you and Señor Gallegos in a personal conference could easily agree upon a settlement of this matter mutually satisfactory to both governments. Upon the occasion, therefore, of your next visit to San Salvador you will confer with him to that end. Any reasonable sum sufficient to reimburse this Government for the destruction of its property and the property of its consul, and to afford some slight reparation to Mr. Myers for his injuries, would be entirely satisfactory. Should the Salvadorian Government upon further consideration desire of itself to propose such a sum, the spontaneity of such an offer could but strengthen the already happily existing bonds of friendship uniting the two republics.
It only remains for me to say in reply to your dispatch No. 143, of July 11, that so far as this Department is informed there was no formal [Page 51]written agreement signed by Lieut. Denfield and the Salvadorian secretary-general. The words “expressed in writing” found in the Department’s instruction of April 6 had reference simply to the fact that an agreement was made to carry out certain conditions which were at the time in writing, so that every occasion for misunderstanding with respect thereto was removed. I send you herewith copies of Mr. Mizner’s instruction* to Lieut. Denfield and the latter’s report,* which should have accompanied the copy of Mr. Mizner’s dispatch No. 141, of August 18, 1890. You will observe that Lieut. Denfield says that after the first two conditions had been complied with, and the third in so far as the property and archives were remaining, he “then called on the secretary-general who agreed to comply with the remaining articles contained in the United States minister’s letter of instructions.” That this correctly expresses the understanding which was arrived at, I believe has never been questioned. Señor Gallegos in his note to you January 11 last said, “My Government at once confirms in this respect the offers made by the secretary-general to Lieut. Denfield, since it recognizes the principles of justice upon which they rest.”
I am, etc.,