Mr. Scruggs to Mr. Foster.

No. 325.]

Sir: Messrs. H. L. Boulton & Co., of this city, agents of the American line of steamers, known as the “Red D,” which ply regularly between New York and the Venezuelan ports via Curaçao, have, upon several occasions during the present civil war, been applied to by one or the other of the several factions contending for power for use of their steamers out of their regular itinerary. In a note of the 31st instant, a copy of which I inclose, the agents referred the matter to me.

In my reply of the same date, a copy of which is likewise submitted, I advised them to uniformly, but courteously, refuse all such service, as the surest method of preserving the neutral character of their vessels and of avoiding troublesome questions.

I am, etc.,

Wm. L. Scruggs.
[Inclosure 1 in 325.]

Messrs. Boulton & Co. to Mr. Scruggs.

Sir: As agents of and shareholders in the American line of steamers, known as “The Red D Line,” we have on different occasions been asked by one or other of the two military factions now at war in this country for the service of our steamers, and especially for that of the auxiliary steamer, the Merida, and fearing that such service may prejudice the neutrality of the line, as well as our own, and affect moreover the postal contract we are under with the Government of the United States for carrying the mail between the two countries, we take the liberty of applying to you, with the object of asking the favor of your opinion and advice on these all important points, as we are naturally desirous of doing no act that may compromise the steamers, as American vessels, or as the property of the Red D Line, or in anywise endanger bur neutrality, or failing in the performance of the postal contract of the Red D Line with the American Government.

At the same time we are anxious at all times to prove to the authorities of this country, whether legitimate or revolutionary, whenever the services of the steamers may be applied for, that we are not acting from caprice or as partisans of this or that side in our refusal to comply with their wish.

We shall feel particularly obliged if you will favor us at your earliest convenience with an answer to this note, and thanking you beforehand for your courtesy,

We remain, etc.,

H. L. Boulton & Co.
[Page 621]
[Inclosure 2 in No. 325.]

Mr. Scruggs to Messrs. Boulton & Co.

Gentlemen: Replying to your courteous note of this date, I have to say that the ships of the Red D Line, being registered American vessels, entitled to all the privileges and immunities as such, and being besides under contract with the United States Government for carrying the mails, can not be chartered or otherwise used by any one of the factions now contending for power in Venezuela, without manifest prejudice to their neutral character and to the interests of the United States. It is hoped, therefore, that you will courteously but firmly refuse to allow them to be so used.

I am, etc.,

Wm. L. Scruggs.