Mr. Hay to Mr. Buchanan.

No. 481.]

Sir: The Department has received and read with much interest your dispatch No. 643, of February 23, reporting the appointment of the British commission to examine the Argentine-Chilean documents bearing on the boundary controversy, and making certain observations as to the various interpretations of the meaning of article 1 of the Argentine-Chilean treaty of 1881, particularly with reference to the different translations of article 1, printed in the Foreign Relations and British State Papers and by the Argentine department of foreign affairs published in the pamphlet by Dr. Lamarca, of which you transmit copy.

The text of the translation of the treaty of 1881, published by this Government in the volume of Foreign Relations for that year, page 12, was communicated to this Department by the United States minister, General Osborn, in his dispatch No. 338, of October 27, 1881. The version sent was merely a press clipping taken from an English paper published in Buenos Ayres, and was unaccompanied by the Spanish text. Had the Department been in possession of the Spanish text [Page 3] of the treaty, it would doubtless at the time have noted the faulty translation of the press clipping, which rendered “vertientes” by “springs” instead of “declivities” or “slopes,” and “pasar por entre” by “to cross” instead of “to pass between.”

In view of the importance which has been given to the publication of this translation in the volume of Foreign Relations, it may be advisable for you to take a favorable opportunity to state to the Argentine minister of foreign affairs that the translation was in no sense an official one, and that this Government can have no responsibility in any claim which may be advanced by either party as to its correctness by reason of such publication in a United States document.

I am, etc.,

John Hay.