File No. 819.77/150.

The American Minister to the Secretary of State.1

No. 309.]

Sir: Referring to my despatch No. 302 of the 27th instant, relative to Mr. Basil Burns Duncan’s railway contract, I have the honor to inform you that Mr. Duncan called upon me on the following day and handed me a letter of which the following is a copy:

Las Cascadas, C. Z.,
January 27, 1913.

To the Technical Board appointed to examine the Chagres Railroad Contract, Panama.

Gentlemen: In the knowledge that you are about to examine, in behalf of the American Government, contract No. 70, drawn up between the Panama Government and myself for the construction of the Chagres Railroad with the exclusive object of developing that part of the country, I desire to inform you that I am willing to alter or suppress any clause in the said contract which may be found to conflict with the interests of the United States.

I trust, therefore, that you will kindly take note of this declaration before coming to any resolution which may be contrary to the carrying out of the above mentioned contract.

Yours very respectfully,

B. Burns Duncan.

In reply to his earnest request I then informed Mr. Duncan of the general tenor of the technical Commission’s report at which he expressed some disappointment, repeating his willingness to alter his contract in any way desired. He further requested that the Department’s decision might be expedited so far as possible as, if he was unable to submit his contract to the present Assembly, he would be obliged to wait for two years until the next session of the Assembly. I assured Mr. Duncan that the Department would not delay its decision any longer than was absolutely necessary.

Señor Lefevre, Minister for Foreign Affairs, has now informed me that there must have been some mistake in President Porras statement to me on January 8th to the effect that this contract had not then been sent to the Assembly, since it had actually been sent a few days before. Señor Lefevre added that in compliance with my request further proceedings upon it by the Assembly had been postponed pending the receipt from me of information as to the Department’s desires.

I have [etc.]

H. Percival Dodge.
  1. A copy of this despatch and inclosure was sent to the Secretary of War February 12, for his information.