Mr. Adee to Señor Bolet Peraza.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 10th instant, in further relation to and confirming your telegram of the previous evening, concerning the steamer South Portland, which was stated by you to be preparing to leave the port of New York with arms and munitions of war, destined for the revolutionaries of Venezuela.

As you were informed by my telegram of the 10th instant, the collector of customs at New York, under instructions communicated to [Page 641] him by the Secretary of the Treasury, had taken steps to prevent the departure of the said steamer pending an investigation.

In that telegram I had the honor to advise you to lay such proofs as you might possess before the collector, and in my telegram of to-day, of which I inclose a copy herewith, I further requested you to confer with the United States attorney for the southern district of New York with a view to instituting by competent complaint, under oath and with submission of proofs, the judicial proceedings necessary in such cases.

Your note of the 10th instant appears to suggest your impression that it is the province of the Government of the United States to continue the proceedings and determine whether or not the vessel in question has violated the neutrality laws of the United States. Such a determination, however, can only be reached by due process of law; and, following the rule established in such cases, the direct intervention of the executive department of this Government is limited to taking such steps as may afford a reasonable opportunity for substantial complaint before the competent judicial authorities, and for the adoption by them of such measures as may bring the case within the jurisdiction of the court.

Under all the circumstances, I need not impress upon you the necessity for immediate action in order that the machinery of justice may be duly set in motion; and I am sure, Mr. Minister, that you will appreciate the urgency of promptly doing so in order that the temporary and purely precautionary intervention of the Executive in this relation may be replaced by regular judicial process of libel and trial.

Accept, etc.,

Alvey A. Adee,
Acting Secretary.