Mr. Palmer to Mr. Blaine.
Madrid, July 31, 1889. (Received August 16.)
Sir: In acknowledgment of the Department’s No. 3 of May 30, last, giving full details of the present status of the Mora case and instructing me to leave a copy with the minister of state, I have the honor to report that an earlier reply has not been sent because since my assumption of the charge of the legation, on June 17, I have devoted myself to examining the full correspondence on file in the legation in reference to the subject and to acquainting myself with the situation of men and things at this court, so that I might act understandingly, not only as to the merits of the case, but also as to methods which would most likely insure success. In other words, I desired to orient myself.
The impression which I have received from an examination of the record of the case is that the Government is entirely dependent upon the Cortes for the means of meeting the obligation which it has contracted. If the property of Mr. Mora were in existence and withheld from its owner by an executive order, an executive order could release and return it, but as the property has disappeared and must be replaced by money, I can find no ability in the Government to raise the money without an authorization or appropriation from the Cortes.
It is unnecessary for me to call the attention of the Department to the attitude of watchful hostility which has been adopted toward the claim by the Cortes which has just closed its session. In the debate of February, 1888, the Government secured its majority of 170 to 47 against the motion of censure of Señor Lastres by the explicit declarations of Señor Moret that a separate appropriation would not be asked in behalf of the Mora claim, unless some provision were at the same time made for the payment of Spanish claims against the United States, and in the debate of January, 1889, the withdrawal of another resolution was effected by an assurance to the same effect, given by the Marquis de la Vega de Armijo.
In my No. 15, of 29th instant, I have attempted to give some account of the course of events which resulted in the abnormal political situation, and of the success of the factions of the opposition in defeating every effort on the part of the Government to proceed, not only to the discussion of most important legislation, but even of the budgets for the new fiscal year. As the Government was also daily expected to suspend the sessions, I could see no advantage in an immediate presentation of the question to the minister of state, and I concluded that it would be better to defer it until the autumn, when the political atmosphere shall have cleared up, or when there may be a new government or a new Cortes, or both.[Page 396]
I arrived at this decision with some delicacy, but believing the time of the delivery of the instruction was to some extent left to my discretion and that the Department will realize that if the instruction had been presented by the Government to the house of deputies in addition to the other correspondence which is before it, or if the appropriation had been asked for, the whole question which in calmer moments has excited such bitterness, would in the present heated temper of the house have been seized with delight by the opposition as another weapon of arraignment of the Government, not only for the purpose of effecting the rejection of the appropriation, but even of endangering the existence of the present liberal administration.
In the mean time, as the instruction of the Department in general terms expresses the entire willingness of the Government of the United States to enter upon the consideration of the Spanish claims, it would undoubtedly be of service to me in the negotiation if the Department would inform me as to its reply to the proposition of the Marquis de la Vega de Armijo, reported to the Department in the legation’s No. 362, of October 22, 1888, recommending that the claims of Spain be examined by a representative of the State Department in conjunction with the Spanish minister at Washington.
I have, etc.,