Mr. Rodriguez to Mr. Bayard.
synoptical and chronological memorandum of the origin and vicissitudes of the claim of antonio maximo mora against the government of spain.
November 7, 1870.—A court-martial meets at Havana and passes, by default, a sentence of death and confiscation of property against fifty-one persons, one of them already dead, and all others absent, among them Antonio Maximo Mora, a citizen of the United States, naturalized in New York on May 19, 1869.
first promise of settlement.
November 25, 1870.—The Secretary of State of the United States instruct the United States minister at Madrid to enter a protest against the above sentence, and its enforcement against American citizens or their property. Citizens of the United States cannot be tried in Cuba, except as provided by treaty. Seizures of American property are forbidden by treaty. The penalty of confiscation of property was abolished in Spain by Article x of the constitution of 1837 and Article xiii of the constitution of 1869.[Page 380]
May 6, 1872.—The Secretary of State of the United States writes to the Spanish minister at Washington, that “he had several times, in interviews with him, brought to his attention the case of Antonio Maximo Mora, and other citizens of the United States, and that now he most urgently invites again the said attention to the said cases, with a view to their early and satisfactory adjustment.”
May 14, 1872.—The Spanish minister replies, suggesting that the question of restitution of the confiscated property might be submitted also to the arbitrators appointed under the executive agreement of February 11 and 12, 1871, between the State Departments of the two countries.
May 22, 1872.—The Secretary of State of the United States declines the proposition, and says: “The claims before the commission are for compensation for past injuries; but the applications for the release of the property are properly subjects for diplomatic intervention. I have, therefore, the honor to renew my request that energetic measures may be adopted to hasten such release, * * * as the property has been embargoed, or confiscated, in contravention of existing treaty stipulations between the United States and Spain.
December 23, 1872.—Telegram of the Secretary of State of the United States to the United States minister at Madrid: “Urge the immediate release and restoration of embargoed property.” * * *
January 3, 1873.—Telegram of the United States minister at Madrid to the Secretary of State of the United States: “Minister of state communicated to me to-day, under reserve, for your information, preliminary resolution of council of ministers for the return, of confiscated property.”
July 11, 1873.—Telegram of the United States minister at Madrid to the Secretary of State of the United States: “A decree of general character, directing the confiscated property to be released and returned to the owners, is about to be promulgated by the Spanish Government.”
July 14, 1873.—The United States minister at Madrid writes to the Secretary of State of the United States: “I have the satisfaction to forward * * *copy and translation of a decree * * * directing the immediate restoration of property.” (See “Foreign Relations of the United States in 1873,” pages 1008 and 1009.)
The decree of July 12, 1873, herein referred to, was not obeyed in Cuba, or even published. The belief was at first entertained that this disregard of the orders of the Madrid Government was due to insubordination on the part of the Cuban authorities; but it appeared afterward that it was due to secret instructions sent from Madrid to the governor-general at Havana. Those instructions, after reciting the reasons why the decree should not receive attention, used the following language:
In addition to the reasons already suggested to explain why the decree of July 12th instant can not he complied with, your excellency may say further that under article fourth of the same decree, certain rules and regulations are to be made by this department (the Spanish state department), or rather by the Havana, board of seized property, to be approved by this department, previously to any attempt to comply with any other of its provisions; and that said rules and regulations have not been as yet made or approved.” * * * “The circumstances that the said decree was officially communicated to the minister of Spain at Washington, with instructions to transmit it to the Secretary of State of the United States, which he did, and that the President of the United States in reply expressed his satisfaction, * * * are certainly calculated to complicate the matter, especially under the circumstances in which we are at present; but no action at all shall be taken, however, without first having the authorized opinion of your excellency.
second promise of settlement.
September 15, 1873.—The Spanish Government at Madrid sends an order to the governor-general of Cuba directing him to release the property of Antonio Maximo Mora and other citizens of the United States.
November 7, 1873—The Spanish Government at Madrid directs by cable the governor-general of Cuba to comply with the above order of September 15. The restitution must be made, he says, prior to the 30th of November, in order to avoid international complications.
November 24, 1873.—The colonial minister, who has come to Havana to personally superintend the restitution of the property of American citizens, addresses a communication to the governor-general recommending said restitution to be commenced at once.
Neither these orders of September 15 and November 7, 1873, nor the movement of the Spanish colonial secretary ended in any practical result, because of the contemporary fall of the Spanish Republic. Gen. Pavia, at the head of his soldiers, invaded the palace of the Cortes and expelled and disbanded the representatives of the nation, establishing a temporary government, at whose head he placed Marshal Serrano. The colonial secretary left Cuba in haste, and the matter of the restitution of American property was allowed to drop.
third promise of settlement.
November 5, 1875.—The Secretary of State of the United States writes to the United States minister at Madrid, making a historical review of all that had happened in the matter of the “arbitrary seizure and withholding of the estates and property of citizens of the United States and Cuba, under proceedings of confiscation,” and saying the following: “This simple narration of facts, * * * the promises made and repeated, the assurances given from time to time that something should be done, the admission of the justice of the demands of this country, at least to the extent of expressing regret for these wrongs and promising redress, followed, as they have been, by absolutely no performance, need no extended comment.” * * * “The President feels that the time is at hand when it may be the duty of other governments to intervene” (in the affairs of the Island of Cuba), and that “it is his duty at an early day to submit the subject in this light, and accompanied by an expression of his views, * * * to the consideration of Congress.” “This conclusion is reached after every other expedient has been attempted and proved a failure, and in the firm conviction that the period has at last arrived when no other course remains for this Government. It is believed to be a just and friendly act to frankly communicate this conclusion to the Spanish Government.
February 9, 1876.—The Spanish secretary of state writes to the United States minister at Madrid: “I have the satisfaction to inform your excellency that the Government of his majesty, accepting as sufficient proof of the nationality of those persons (Mora and three other claimants) the evidence furnished by your excellency, * * * but considering that under the laws of Spain the executive power has no authority to reverse or nullify the final decisions of a court, has reached the conclusion of granting a pardon to the said persons and ordering in consequence thereof that the confiscation [Page 382] of the property made under the sentence aforesaid should be discontinued and that the property should be at once placed at the free disposal of the owners. This decision of his majesty’s Government has been communicated this very day by cable to the superior authorities of Cuba, and your excellency may rest assured that it will be faithfully executed.
May 13, 1876—The United States consul-general at Havana reports as follows: “The authorities here pay no attention to the representations of Mr. Mora’s agent in regard to the restoration of his property. * * * The Government refuses to receive the memorials of the agent on the ground that there is no positive proof of his being the legally constituted attorney. All this is mere subterfuge. Mr. Gonzalez (the agent) has been * * * recognized as the attorney of Mr. Antonio Maximo Mora. The powers of attorney he holds have been duly approved by the General Government, admitted, and duly registered. Aside from the evident purpose of the subordinate authorities to create obstacles it is possible that they may have some personal objection to Mr. Gonzalez, although I know of no motive therefor.”
The matter remained in this way for ten years longer, during which time, however, the Mora case was frequently urged. In 1883 (July 2), Mr. Foster, then the United States minister at Madrid, made a vigorous presentation of the case, but Marquis de la Vega de Armijo, then the Spanish secretary of state, did not even reply to his note, and allowed the whole time he was in office to pass without taking any notice of Mr. Foster’s note. For this he was highly eulogized in the Cortes by the opposition, in whose eyes his action was considered patriotic. (See Extracto Oficial, or Spanish Congressional Record, May 28, 1887.)
fourth promise of settlement.
March 3, 1886.—Mr. Curry, United States Minister at Madrid, presents again the case to the consideration of the Spanish Government.
June 30, 1886.—Señor Moret, the Spanish secretary of state, replies as follows:
Palace, June 30, 1886.
Most Excellent Sir: The claim which your legation has made in relation to the property of Antonio Maximo Mora, which was confiscated in the Island of Cuba, has been kept for some time under the most friendly consideration by the Spanish Government.
If the positive orders transmitted to the captain-general of Cuba for the restitution of that property have not been as yet complied with, the failure has been due to the peculiar occurrences which have taken place in that island and to legal difficulties which prevented the property from being returned.
This combination of circumstances, as well as the time elapsed, render at this date the strict compliance with the orders—that is, the actual restitution of the property—impossible. But as the Spanish Government desires to give one proof more of its consideration towards the Government of the United States and towards your excellency, who so worthily represents it, it has not hesitated to propose the payment a sum of money which will represent an equitable indemnity for the value of said property.
If your excellency accepts this proposition, we can by mutual agreement, upon examination of the record, fix the amount of the indemnity, and then the colonial secretary shall make in his budget an appropriation to pay the sum agreed upon by us, unless upon consideration of the analogous questions pending between the two nations, some other more expeditious way of immediate payment to the claimants happens to be found out. All of this is on the express condition that all further claim for the seizure of the property and for everything else bearing any relation therewith is waved and given up.
I remain, etc.,
To the Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States.
November 29, 1886.—The Spanish secretary of state, Señor Moret, writes to Mr. Curry, the United States minister at Madrid, as follows:
Palace, November 29, 1886.
Most Excellent Sir: In reply to yonr excellency’s note of the 20th instant on the matter which we know by the name of the Mora claim, I have the honor to inform your excellency that the council of ministers has examined the matter in detail, and, feeling itself animated by the desire to fulfill the engagements formerly contracted and to respond to the claims of the United States, has decided upon the terms of settlement which I have now the honor to transmit to your excellency, and are as follows:
- First. To fix as a definite amount to be paid for the confiscated property of Mr. Mora, which the Government decided to return in 1873 and 1876, the sum of $1,500,000. This sum shall cover all indemnity that can be claimed for the principal as well as for interest and damages.
- Second. This sum shall be paid by a charge upon the Cuban budget, and the colonial secretary shall propose to the Cortes in the next budget of 1887–’88 the means of payment.
I must add that as the colonial budget is not in condition to support at one time the considerable sum of $1,500,000., especially after the arrangements just made for the payment of the debt and outstanding obligations, the Government has naturally reserved the determination of the most practicable method of paying the amount, of which I shall have occasion to give to your excellency due information.
If your excellency, as I hope, will find these conclusions to be just, and will be good enough as to express to me your assent to them, we can consider that this matter, which your excellency aptly qualifies as protracted and as annoying to both governments, is terminated on condition, as I have already had the honor to inform your excellency in my note pf June 30th ultimo, that both Mora and the Government of the United States in his behalf shall waive and give up all further claim for the seizure of this property and everything else concerning it.
I avail myself of this opportunity, etc.,
The Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States.
December 7, 1886.—The United States minister at Madrid, Mr. Curry, replies to Señor Moret as follows:
Legation of the United
Madrid, December 7, 1886.
Most Excellent Sir: In reply to your excellency’s note of the 29th ultimo, offering the amount of $1,500,000 in settlement of the claim presented by this legation to the Government of Spain, in behalf of the American citizen, Antonio Maximo Mora, for the embargo of his property in Cuba, I have the honor to state that I have communicated with my Government in regard to the matter, and have been informed that the above offer is accepted by it. I also take pleasure in repeating the statement made in the note which I had the honor to send to your excellency on July 1 last, that the amount of indemnity agreed upon, and paid, will be accepted by my Government as a full discharge of all demand against the Government of Spain growing out of the claim of this citizen of the United States.
While expressing to your excellency the gratification felt by the United States Government of an action so much in accordance with the well-known sense of honor of the Government of Her Majesty, I beg to inform your excellency that I am ready at any moment, as your excellency suggests, to arrange the details of payment in order that this question, which your excellency admits to have been tedious and annoying, may as soon as possible be finally removed from the consideration of both governments.
I avail, etc.,
J. L. M. Curry.
His Excellency S. Moret, Secretary of State.
June 13, 1887.—The Spanish, colonial secretary submits to the Cortes the appropriation bill (Budget) for the year 1887–’88, Article 20 of which reads as follows:
Art. 20. Authority is hereby given to the Government to pay the amount of the claims allowed to citizens of the United States by agreement made between the Secretary of State and themmister plenipotentiary of that Republic.
The payment shall be made in such a form as may be agreed upon between the [Page 384] two governments; and the sums which the Spanish Government has to receive for its own pending claims shall necessarily be applied to cover that item.
For the purposes of this article an appropriation as large as necessary shall be understood to be hereby made.
The foregoing bill never became a law. The meetings of the Cortes was suspended by royal decree of July 11, 1887. When the Cortes met again, on December 1, the appropriations of the preceding year were made available and the budget of 1887–’88 was left unacted upon.
August 22, 1887.—Mr. Curry, United States minister, at Madrid, writes to one of Mr. Mora’s lawyers as follows:
The Cuban budget, as presented by the minister of Ultramar, contained an appropriation, which, in the aggregate, covered all allowed claims. But for the un fortunate complications growing out of the army reorganization scheme, threatening a ministerial crisis, and necessitating, as Sagasta thought, a prorogation of the Cortes, * * *, the budget would have become a Jaw in a few days and the claims * * * would have been adjusted. The definite sums for the various claims had been fixed by Mr. Moret and myself.
February 22, 1888.—Señor Lastres, a member of the Spanish Cortes, introduced a resolution repudiating the agreement between Señor Moret and Mr. Curry for the settlement of the Mora claim, and directing the Government not to pay anything on this account.
February 24, 1888.—The above resolution was defeated, after a protracted debate, by a vote of 170 against 47.
March 26, 1888.—Mr. Curry, the United States minister at Madrid, writes to one of Mr. Mora’s lawyers (Mr. Paige) in reference to certain declarations made by Señor Moret in the Cortes in defense of his action against the attacks of Señor Lastres and his followers, and says:
Señor Moret’s speech in one particular was unsatisfactory. His defense of the Mora agreement and his familarity with the details of the claim are beyond what I had anticipated, But he impliedly, if not in fact, made the payment of Mora contingent on reciprocity. To that construction I instantly and firmly made an emphatic protest; but to my denial of his interpretation a verbally promised response has not yet come. I have no reason for thinking that our Government will not insist upon a specific performance of the obligation. * * * The present status of the Mora case will be presented in full in a dispatch, which I presume the Department will not be unwilling to show to persons interested.
April 12, 1888.—Mr. Curry, the United States minister at Madrid, writes to another lawyer of Mr. Mora’s (Mr. Conkling), and says:
The proposition of the Spanish Government to settle the Mora case by the payment of $1,500,000, which was to be charged to the Cuban-budget for 1887–’88, was accepted by our Government and constituted a finality. * * * In candor I must say that I have no reason to question the bona fides of the Government, and much less to withdraw confidence from the minister of foreign affairs, Mr. Moret. A threatened ministerial crisis caused the prorogation of the Cortes last summer before the budget was acted on. When the National Legislature reassembled the Mora case and Mr. Moret were assailed with virulence and acrimony. * * * Moret responded with vigor and eloquence; but it must be conceded that he made some declarations which were not in strictest harmony with or inferential from the agreement of his Government. To these declarations and inferences I promptly entered my dissent and protest. * * * Thus the matter stands.
April 16, 1888.—The Spanish colonial secretary submits to the Cortes the budget for 1888–’89, with no provision to pay the Mora claim or any other claim.
April 24, 1888.—The United States minister at Madrid, Mr. Curry, writes to the Spanish secretary of state, Señor Moret, and says:
I hope that your excellency, in behalf of your excellency’s Government, will give me such assurances as to dispel and reject far away from my mind any suspicion (recelo) which may have arisen out of the omission about which I have the honor to call the attention of your excellency.
May 12, 1888.—The Spanish secretary of state, Señor Moret, replies to the above as follows:
Palace, May 12, 1888.
Sir: In reply to the note which your excellency had the kindness to address me on April 24. I have the honor to say that the Government did not put in the budget of the Island of Cuba the item or article inserted in the budget of last year for the execution of the agreement made with the Government of your excellency, in reference to the indemnities to be paid to American citizens, nor has it put in it any new clause for the same purpose, because of the reasons that I shall now set forth, and to which I hope your excellency will give their full value.
The Government has been compelled, before all, to pay attention to what happened in the Congress of Deputies during the discussion of this subject in December and January last. The effect of that long and minute debate was the conviction on the part of the Government that the chamber was not disposed to sanction what the Government had done, unless all other American claims were settled and liquidated, so that there should be a definite disposal both of the claims held by the United States against Spain, which have been the subject of negotiations, and of those held by Spain against the United States, which are being negotiated at Washington.
Under this condition of things, and in view of the fact that the opinion of the different groups of the opposition has been expressed, the reproduction of the item, with the clearness required by parliamentary rules, would have assuredly provoked a negative vote of the House, which would have been injurious to the very purposes of the note of your excellency, to which I now have the honor to answer.
On the other hand, the propositions which your excellency made to me on the 15th of December ultimo, formulating in the name of the Government of the United States, as a consequence of our negotiations, a general arrangement of all the claims existing between the two governments, are now under discussion. Under the authority that your excellency gave me for that purpose, I reported these propositions to Congress, and I think that it would not be prudent to ask for the appropriation necessary to pay the claim of Antonio Maximo Mora, without accompanying the petition with some analogous and reciprocal resolution in reference to the totality of the claims, sufficient to terminate the question entirely.
The urgency of the parliamentary business in which I have been engaged has prevented me from replying as yet to the note of your excellency just referred to. I shall have the honor to do so in a few days.
It is my duty to say further that for the purpose in view it is of no consequence and makes no difference at all that the item referred to by your excellency has not been put in the budget of Cuba of the present year, because the Government can at any time introduce a bill in Congress asking for such an appropriation as is necessary.
In ending in this way my reply to the note of your excellency of April 24, I desire in every way to make it evident that the Government does not propose or assume to alter in any way what has been agreed upon with the Government of the United States; but that for the very reason that it respects scrupulously its engagements, it must appreciate the manner and the moment in which, upon consideration of the parliamentary antecedents of the question, it may be most opportune to introduce in Congress, with probability of success, the proper resolution. Being assured that in any other way any resolution which has not the general and total character which I have indicated would be rejected by Congress, the Government could not expose itself to such a refusal, which would complicate the subject and delay the settlement instead of terminating it, as must be done for the good of the two countries and is desired by them.
I trust that these considerations will completely satisfy your excellency and will give also to the Government of your excellency the assurance that the Government of the Queen Regent does not modify or alter the attitude taken by it on this subject.
I gladly avail of this opportunity, etc.,
His Excellency J. L. M. Curry.
June 30, 1888.—The United States minister at Madrid writes to the new Spanish secretary of state (Marquis de la Vega de Armijo) as follows:
Legation of the United
Madrid, June 30, 1888.
Sir: I have the honor to invite the attention of your excellency to the status of the claim of Antonio Maximo Mora, which was originally presented to the Spanish Government on the 2d of June, 1883, at the time when your excellency was in charge of the ministry, over which you so worthily preside.[Page 386]
It is unnecessary for me to refer to the correspondence and to the different stages of the negotiation which preceded the note of your excellency’s distinguished predecessor, Señor Moret, of the date of June 30, 1888, which, after explaining the impossibility of returning the property itself, stated that (“deseando el Gobierno espafiol,” etc., * * * ) “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 delivery of a sum of money which will represent an equitable indemnity for the value of said property.”
A prompt response was made hy this legation on the following day, July 1, accepting the above proposition.
It is also needless to trace the different steps in the further negotiations which had for their object a just estimate of the value of the property, and which led to the note of Señor Moret of November 29, 1886, containing the following statements and propositions:
“El Consejo de Ministros. * * * The council of ministers has examined the matter in detail and, being animated by the desire to fulfill the engagements formerly contracted and to respond to the claims of the United States, has decided upon the terms of settlement, which I have the honor to transmit to your excellency, and are as follows:
- “First. To fix as a definite amount to be paid for the confiscated property of Mr. Mora, which the Government decided to return in 1873 and 1876, the sum of $1,500,000. This sum shall cover all indemnity that can be claimed for the principal, as well as for interest and damages.
- “Second. This sum shall be paid by a charge upon the Cuban budget, and the colonial secretary shall propose to the Cortes in the next budget of 1887–’88 the means of payment.”
On December 7 the legation replied to the above note, agreeing to accept the sum offered in full discharge of the claim.
In view of the above correspondence the Government of the United States naturally believed that the Mora case was definitely settled, and looked with confidence to a provision for its payment in the Cuban budget of 1837–’88.
The Cortes adjourned without having passed this budget. The report of the committee, however, without referring particularly to this claim, had a qualifying reference to the American claims in general, which, whatever application it might have to other claims, could not, in the face of the exchange of notes to which I have referred, have any relation to the claim of Antonio Maximo Mora; and exception was taken to affect that case, in the note which I had the honor to address to Señor Moret on December 15, 1887, transmitting a project of agreement for the settlement of other outstanding claims between the two governments.
The theory that the payment of the Mora case was in some way connected or dependent upon the payment of other claims, which first appeared in the report of the above committee, received further development in the speech of Señor Moret during the debate on this question on the 23d and 24tfr of February last. As soon as the official report was before me, I again, on the 5th of March last, took the liberty of calling the attention of Señor Moret to the fact that the correspondence between this legation and the Government of Spain on this subject clearly showed that the statement of his excellency in reference to reciprocity of payment of claims could not apply to the case of Mora. In another note of April 24th I also expressed surprise and regret at the omission of any provision for the payment of the claim from the Cuban budget, as published in the “Gaceta” of the 19th of the same month.
In reply to the latter note, dated May 12, 1888, Señor Moret explained that the failure to provide in the budget for the payment of the claim was caused by the unfavorable sentiment in the Chamber of Deputies, which would have produced an unfavorable vote; but that the omission of that provision had no signification, because “el Gobierno,” etc., * * * “the Government can at any time introduce a bill in Congress asking for such an appropriation as is necessary.”
I have taken the liberty of making the above summary in order that your excellency may observe how important from an international point of view is the position occupied by this subject. By the distinct proposition of the Spanish Government to pay $1,500,000 in full discharge of the claim, and by the distinct acceptance of this proposition on the part of the Government of the United States, the Mora case was raised from the debatable and negotiable ground which it had previously occupied to the height of an international compact binding upon both governments.
For the early and final disposal of the question the Government of the United States, therefore, relies with confidence upon the justly celebrated promptness and punctiliousness with which the Spanish Government fulfills its engagements, and awaits with interest any information which your excellency will be good enough to transmit through me as to the methods and details of payment.
I gladly avail myself, etc.,
J. L. M. Curry.
August 7, 1888.—The Spanish secretary of state sent the following reply to Mr. Strobel, chargé d’affaires ad interim of the United States:
Ministry of State,
Palace, August 7, 1888.
My Dear Sir: I have received the note which the minister of the United States at this court was good enough to address to me on June 30th last, in which he gives a summary of the correspondence which during the last two years has passed between the legation under his worthy charge and this ministry relative to the claim of Antonio Maximo Mora, and declares the confidence felt by his Government that the Government of Her Majesty will at an early date adopt suitable measures for the payment of the sum to which the indemnity in the case amounts.
It does not appear to me to be necessary for the moment to enter upon an examination of the considerations set forth by your legation in the note to which I have the honor to reply, in reference to the engagement contracted in the special case of Mr. Mora, because the cabinet, of which I form a part, nourishes the purpose and the desire of satisfying, as far as it lies in its power, the Government which you represent. I may be allowed to add, however, that this desire and this purpose are now, as they were during the previous administration, subject to the decision of the Cortes of the Kingdom. And the clear proof of this was the inclusion in the colonial budget of 1887–’88 of the appropriation necessary for the payment of the above claim, which explicitly showed that the proposition had to be definitely submitted to the examination and approbation of the legislative bodies. This necessity was also made clear by Señor Moret whenever he handled this subject in the discussions which arose in regard to it in the Congress of Deputies.
My worthy predecessor in his note of May 12 ultimo explained the potent reasons which had influenced the mind of Her Majesty’s Government in not reproducing in the Cuban budget of this year the provision inserted in the same the year before respecting the indemnities of American subjects. Señor Moret feared—in my judgment with superabundance of reason—that in view of the discussions in Congress in December and January last, and of the state of public opinion in reference to the subject now occupying in, the Cortes would not sanction what had been done by the Government unless the request for the appropriation necessary to pay Mr. Mora would be accompanied by an agreement between the two Governments In reference to the whole amount of the American claims; and should include the decision and settlement of these in such terms that both the claims of the United States against Spain, which have been the subject of the last negotiations, and the claims presented by Spain against the Government of the United States, which are being negotiated in Washington, should be definitely disposed of.
In view of the above facts, Her Majesty’s Government hopes that the Government of the United States will facilitate the execution of what was agreed upon in the case of Mora, which, without the general settlement to which I have referred, might be rendered impossible or indefinitely postponed, in opposition to the desires of the Madrid cabinet. The bases of such a settlement were stated in the note, which, with the due authorization of his Government, Mr. Curry addressed to my predecessor on December 15 of last year.
These bases, an examination of which is being made by the ministry under my charge, can serve as a starting point for said settlement, always providing that the Mora claim be included, although not discussed, and in this way be placed on the same footing as the others, and be deprived of the character of priority in payment, which is the principal difficulty in the way of its approbation by the Cortes of the Kingdom.
You, with your good judgment, will not fail to understand the impossibility of contending with success against the opinion of Parliament and the country, when both see that while Spain has duly paid all the claims presented by the United States, the day never comes when the claims which have for so many years been presented in their turn by Her Majesty’s Government are attended to and paid. Hence, there results an inequality which has no place in the rectitude and impartiality of the men who succeed each other in the Government of the Union.
The Cortes of the Kingdom, I am convinced, will not fail to vote the necessary appropriation for the payment of the Mora claim, if they understand that this payment coincides with the payment of the Spanish claims to be effected by the American Government. Hence the necessity of proceeding during the parliamentary recess to an immediate general and definite settlement of all pending claims to the advantage not only of the claimants of the two nations, but to the increase of the friendly relations, the maintenance of which is such a source of gratification to the Government of Her Majesty the Queen Regent of Spain.
I avail myself, etc.,
Ei Marques de la Vega de Armijo.
January 18, 1889.—Marquis de la Vega de Armijo explains to the Congress of Deputies, in reply to Señor Lastres and the opposition, what his real intentions are: He thinks that the alleged Spanish claims against the United States are for an amount larger than the Mora claim and all other claims of the United States against Spain, and expects that the practical result would be a gain for Spain: “Podemos todavia salir ganando.”
He said: “It is not possible for any government to refuse entirely to a foreign nation what had been previously offered to her under the signature of an official having full authority to conduct the foreign relations of the country. * * * What can be done only is to endeavor to give them a new aspect (una nueva faz); and I hope and trust to get out of this business without needing to come to Parliament and ask it for resources.”
If Spain were not the proud and chivalrous nation that history has proved her to be, the conclusion which might perhaps be drawn from the foregoing memorandum would justify the assertion of one of her lawyers in this city. It might be said that her promises had no other object in view than securing temporary relief from pressure on the part of the United States, but no intention at all to do justice to the claimants, or show deference and friendship to the American Government. The lawyer aforesaid, Mr. John D. McPherson, stated, in 1880, “that in ordering the restitution of this property Spain admitted nothing, but simply made a sacrifice for the purpose of securing peace.”
The restitution of Mr. Mora’s property ought to have been made, when asked for, in 1872, or at least when ordered in 1873 and 1876. The payment of the sum of money proposed by Spain herself in lieu of that restitution, a sum of money which Spain herself suggested, ought to have been made, when promised, during the fiscal year of 1887–’88. Neither that restitution, nor this payment, have anything to do with any other claim, whether settled or unsettled, whether American or Spanish. Spain can not mix the case of Mr. Mora with any other case, deprive it of the priority of payment which was agreed upon, or make it dependent in anyway whatever upon any other arrangements between both nations.
Attorney in Fact and Counsel for Antonio Maximo Mora.