Mr. Adee to Viscount de Santo-Thyrso.
Washington, July 28, 1897.
Sir: Referring to your note of the 21st instant, and your oral communications since then, concerning an alleged insult to the Portuguese flag at Monterey, Gal., I have the honor to inform you that I have received, under direction of the governor of California, a copy of the report submitted by the district attorney of Monterey County, with a complete copy of the testimony taken in the investigation, which was promptly ordered upon your request.
Mr. Zabala, the district attorney, reports that it was with difficulty that he secured the testimony in the case, being unable to obtain much assistance at the hands of reluctant witnesses, whose unwillingness to testify he attributes, not to any desire on the part of the citizens of Monterey to suppress the facts in the case, but to the natural aversion of the people to become witnesses at any time.
The testimony indicates that the Portuguese flag was flying, as described by you, side by side with the American flag, on poles of equal height, but separated by the width of Mr. Ortins’s shop, about 18 or 20 feet. It appears to have been taken down twice, the first time soon after noon, by some unknown person, after which it was raised again by Mr. Ortins; and the second time between 5 and 6 o’clock in the afternoon, when the halyards were cut by a small boy at the instance of one Harry Morton, after which it disappeared, and, although charred fragments were found at some distance from the spot, the person who burned the flag could not be identified.
A certain Captain Seeley, a drillmaster of the Monterey Cadets, is identified by several witnesses as having instigated the lowering of the flag in question.
The district attorney adds in his report that—
The acts of both Seeley and Morton must not be attributed to the citizens, and the latter surely disavow all blame for the deeds of Captain Seeley, an adventurous drill-master of unknown and unbegrudged antecedents, and of Harry Morton, an extremist in the imbibing from the flowing bowl.
I transcribe for your information the report of the district attorney and the testimony which accompanied the same, feeling assured that you will find therein abundant proof that the lawless act of which you have complained in no wise represented the feelings of the law-abiding portion of the community. That no insult to the Portuguese Government could be intended is obvious when it is considered that Mr. Ortins, who displayed the flag, was himself a naturalized citizen of the United [Page 434]States, and as such had no right to fly the flag of the country of his origin for the distinctive purpose of protection or in assertion of any right claimable by him as a Portuguese subject. So far as his individual rights are concerned, he had a remedy at law against the guilty parties, but declined to lodge a complaint.
These circumstances, however, do not exclude sincere regret for the occurrence and disavowal of sympathy therewith on the part of the reputable citizens of Monterey, which I have now the pleasure to express to you.