Viscount de Santo-Thyrso to Mr. Sherman.


Most Illustrious and Most Excellent Sir: As I told you in the course of the conversation which I had the honor to have with your excellency on the 7th instant, I instructed Mr. Laidley, in charge of His Majesty’s consulate at San Francisco, to investigate the insult to the Portuguese flag at Monterey, Cal. Mr. Laidley, after having been to Monterey, where he has made a personal investigation of the case, reports to me as follows:

Manuel Ortins, a man of Portuguese origin, who is naturalized as an American citizen, desiring to celebrate the 4th of July, hoisted over his house the American flag, which is his own, and, together with it on another corner of the roof, the flag of his forefathers, viz, the Portuguese flag. I mention these facts inasmuch as they show with what care the investigation was made, and the fact that the situations of the two national emblems were altogether similar so that they were not calculated to irritate the most delicate susceptibility. The flagstaff’s on which the flags were raised, adds Mr. Laidley, were of the same height and about 26 feet apart.

At about noon on the aforesaid 4th of July someone told Ortins that the Portuguese flag was not on the flagstaff, and that a certain Mr. Seely had paid a boy 16 years of age, named Thomas Harvey, to haul it down.

Ortins, having ascertained that such was the fact, again hoisted the Portuguese flag in the same place. The flag was subsequently again taken down by another youth, named Harry Pennington, who gave it to a man called Happy Harry, who disappeared with it. In the evening the flag was burned at a place called Whale Point, but the acting consul at San Francisco was unable to find out by whom.

Two pieces of the flag were found on the morning of the 5th (6th?) by Manuel José da Silva, a subject of His Majesty, and were delivered by him to Mr. Ernest Michaelis, a justice of the peace.

Ortins complained to the local authorities, who instituted proceedings against M. P. Seely for “disturbing the peace.” As Seely stated that he had important business in San Francisco he was admitted to bail in the sum of $20 and the trial was adjourned sine die.

The insult to the flag of a friendly country is evident and is aggravated by the fact that it occurred in a State in which there is a numerous Portuguese colony, and in which, consequently, it might have given rise to conflicts which would certainly have been equally lamented by His Majesty’s Government and by that of the United States of America.

I am firmly convinced that the American courts to which the judicial question is intrusted will decide it in accordance with light and law, not losing sight of the gravity of the case.

[Page 433]

As to the purely international question, I know the respect which the American Government has for the rights and the dignity of others, and the words that your excellency did me the honor to address to me on this subject have still further confirmed me in my previous conviction.

I therefore confine myself to a simple statement of the facts, leaving it to your excellency, with your spirit of enlightenment, and to the sentiments of justice and courtesy of the American Government, to form a proper estimate of said facts.

I avail myself, etc.,