Mr. Foster to Señor Bolet Peraza.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 24th instant in further relation to the recent detention of the steamer South Portland at New York, upon suspicion of intent to be employed in violation of the statutes of the United States in regard to neutrality.

As I before had the honor to make known to you, the question raised in this case was a judicial one, and the action of the executive power in causing the precautionary detention of the vessel was prompted by friendship for the Government and people of Venezuela, and was carried to the utmost extent of executive authority with a view to permitting every proper judicial resource to be availed of. The usual machinery of the law having been duly set in operation, the matter was withdrawn from executive control and direction. While I note your criticisms of the method followed in the investigation, I am unable to accept them as valid. The case was from the outset in the hands of the law officers of the Government having large experience in this class of proceedings, and I must presume their action to have been impartial and in accordance with the law. Hence I am unable to admit as well-grounded, in law or in fact, the protest and contingent claim of damages you announce.

I note your concluding request that, in obedience to the cordial sentiments of the United States for Venezuela, orders be sent by telegraph to the commanders of the naval vessels of the United States now in Venezuelan waters not to permit the South Portland, which has been cleared for Trinidad, to land contraband of war at Puerto Cabello, which port you state to be now occupied by a revolutionary faction. Even were a state of belligerency duly recognized and the obligations of international neutrality flowing therefrom actually incumbent upon this Government, I need hardly point out to you that no duty to assist one of the combatants to blockade a hostile port, or to assume to exercise belligerent rights and powers in respect of such contraband of war, could exist. The function of blockade and the rights to be exercised in respect to contraband of war pertain exclusively to combatants, and may not be assumed by a neutral power, however friendly.

Accept, etc.,

John W. Foster.