Mr. Curry to Mr. Bayard.

No. 76.]

Sir: The Cuban embargoed-estate claims have been a source of much labor and annoyance. The particular claim of Antonio Maximo Mora has elicited memorials, testimony, arguments, instructions, dispatches, and notes sufficient to fill a large folio volume. On May 3, 1883, after the United States and Spanish Commission had closed their labors, instructions were issued to this legation to present the case of Mora anew and, in view of its intrinsic importance and the lapse of time since the original seizure of the property, to secure, if possible, an early consideration and payment. A strong note was presented on the 4th of July, 1883, but the records of this legation show no departure from the chronic habit of postponement and delay. The case and papers were probably “pigeon-holed” until “mañana” should arrive.

In No. 28 of January 22, 1886, fresh instructions were presented with injunctions to “press” the claim. The wish of the Department has been followed literally. Orally and in writing, arguments and energy have been put forth, as opportunity offered or could be made. The Spanish Government has felt reluctant to make itself pecuniarily responsible for the bad conduct of remote officials, and has looked with suspicion upon the claims for restoration of property, or indemnity, made by persons who, it is alleged, had become American citizens to shelter themselves under that ӕgis, and thus stimulate more effectively and with impunity the insurrectionary spirit that prevailed in the Island of Cuba. Impecuniosity has coerced or increased an unwillingness to assume liabilities with which the home Government had no immediate connection and no responsibility beyond what grows out of the general liability of principal for the acts of agent.

The policy of concentrating instead of diffusing effort, sustained by unflagging diligence, has borne early fruit. The letter of Minister Moret, of which a copy and a translation are inclosed, is a distinct and unequivocal agreement to pay what will represent an equitable indemnity for the value of the property of which Mr. Mora has been dispossessed. My reply to this satisfactory note is inclosed.

Soon I asked for the conference which the minister suggested in order to agree upon the amount of the indemnity. As the late treaty between Spain and Great Britain is under discussion in the Cortes, the minister of state, to expedite a settlement, appointed two sub-secretaries to act for him. On the 5th instant I repaired, in company with the secretary of legation, to the office of the minister. The sub-secretaries met us and we entered upon the conference. To their suggestion that formal and [Page 365] reliable proof was needed to sustain the specifications and that reference must be had to the consul-general, I replied that the claim had been pending for sixteen years, that the note of the secretary was full acknowledgment of Spain’s obligation and willingness to pay, and that the demand for other documents seemingly looked to a prolongation for another sixteen years. The secretaries protested against such a construction, stated that the note sent to me had been approved by Mr. Mores’s colleagues, and, that there might be an adjustment of the matter, asked me to mention a sum which would be accepted in liquidation of the claim. I mentioned $1,800,000. We were informed that the proposition would be submitted to the minister and an early reply was promised. As yet we have no sign of acceptance or rejection. The old Romans in Carpe diem confirmed a Christian duty. Spaniards seem not to have learned that the present ever is; the future never is.

I commit, during my needed vacation (for the experiences of the last few months have kept me in a strain of nervous inquietude and mental excitement) the further prosecution of this case, under the unequivocal promise made, to Mr. Strobel, with fullest confidence. It may become necessary, in order to leave no loop to hang a doubt upon, to apply to the Department for the original documents, or authenticated copies of them, on which instructions No. 3, May 3, 1883, were issued to this legation.

I have, etc.,

J. L. M. Curry.
[Inclosure 1, in No. 76.—Translation.]

Señor Moret to Mr. Curry.

My Dear Sir: The claims which your legation has made against the Spanish Government relative to the embargoed property in the Island of Cuba of Messrs. Antonio Maximo Mora and D. José Maria Mora, have deserved for sometime the most friendly consideration from the Spanish Government.

If the definite orders sent to the captain-general of Cuba for the return of the embargoed property have not been complied with until the present time, it is due to the peculiar occurrences that have taken place in that island, as well as to the legal difficulties that have appeared to prevent the return of the property.

This combination of circumstances, and the time which has elapsed, make at this day the strict accomplishment of the order impossible; that is, the restoration of the property, but as the Spanish Government desires to give one proof more of its consideration for the Government of the United States, and for your excellency who so worthily represents it, it has not hesitated to propose the payment of a sum of money which will represent an equitable indemnity for the value of said property.

If your excellency, therefore, accepts this proposition, we can by mutual agreement fix upon the amount of the indemnity in view of the data and facts which are shown in the documents of the case, after which the minister of the colonies can include in his budget the sum upon which we have agreed, if, from the analogous questions pending between both nations, there should not result some more expeditious means of immediate payment to the claimants, on the express condition that they shall renounce any further claim for the embargo of their property and for everything that bears any relation with it.

I renew, etc.,

S. Moret.

Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 76.]

Mr. Curry to Señor Moret.

Excellency: I have the honor to acklowledge the receipt of your excellency’s note of yesterday, informing me that as a result of events in the Island of Cuba, of legal difficulties that have arisen, and of the lapse of time since its embargo, it would [Page 366] be impossible for the Government of Spain to give effect to the order restoring the property of the American citizen Antonio Maximo Mora, but proposing the payment of a sum of money which will represent an equitable indemnity for the losses sustained by him.

It gives me much pleasure to state that the Government of the United States accepts a proposition so in harmony with justice and to inform your excellency that I am ready, at any moment, to confer with your excellency upon the amount of the indemnity. In view of the exalted sense of justice and honor shown by the Government of Her Majesty in regard to this matter and the full data, referred to by your excellency, as existing in the documents of the case, I am confident we can arrive at an immediate and satisfactory conclusion in time, as your excellency thoughtfully suggests, to include the amount in the budget of his excellency the minister of Ultramar. The amount of indemnity agreed upon and paid will be accepted by the Government of the United States as a full discharge of all demand against the Government of Spain as growing out of this claim.

In this connection I can not withheld the expression of the high appreciation of this action of the Spanish Government as felt by myself, and that will be felt, as soon as I shall have the pleasure of communicating your official note, by the Government of the United States, a feeling produced, not only by the just decision of Her Majesty’s, Government, but also by the generous interest which your excellency has personally exhibited in the settlement of this wearisome question and of all contentions that interfere with the most perfect accord between our respective governments.

I take advantage of this opportunity to renew to your excellency the assurances of my most distinguished consideration.

J. L. M. Curry.

His Excellency S. Moret.