File No. 815.77/105.

The American Minister to the Secretary of State.

No. 95.]

Sir: Referring to my cablegrams of the 7th instant and the 9th instant, and to your telegraphic reply of the 10th instant, I have the honor herewith to enclose copies of the three notes addressed to me by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the 7th and 8th instant in regard to the action of Commander Dismukes of the Petrel in landing forces at Puerto Cortés in connection with this Government’s resumption of possession of the National Railroad. Translations accompany the notes.

Your instructions contained in your telegram of the 10th instant were at once formally complied with. Yesterday in conversation the Minister for Foreign Affairs showed some disappointment because greater satisfaction was not offered to this Government and expressed the hope that written instructions in that sense might be oh the way.

I have [etc.]

Charles D. White.
[Inclosure 1—Translation.]

The Minister for Foreign Affairs to the American Minister.

Mr. Minister: The Comandante of Puerto Cortés reports by telegraph this morning that an armed force has disembarked from the American war-vessel at present anchored in those waters; and that this force, having subsequently reembarked, left one of its members, armed, in the office of the agent of the wharf, Mr. Greely, where he remains.

The presence, of American vessels in Honduran waters is always pleasing to this people and its authorities, likewise that of their marines on its soil; but always with the understanding that they come unarmed, as is international practice between friendly nations.

The present situation in Honduras being perfectly tranquil, so that no danger threatens American lives and interests and, on the other hand, said interests and lives being perfectly guaranteed by the laws and Government, the disembarking of said force and the fact that afterward, when it had been retired, one of its members still remained, as a sentinel, in a place that is not and cannot be for that purpose in view of the friendly relations that exist between Honduras and the United States and it being a question of foreign territory, could not fail to cause surprise.

With this understanding, I have the honor, with instructions from the President, to address your excellency in order to ask whether you have notice of the acts cited and of their significance, since, if true, they do not correspond with the orderly and constitutional condition of the country nor with the friendly sentiments that inspire the relations of the two Governments, which that of Honduras has always desired should be close and sincere.

With sentiments [etc.]

Mariano Vásquez.
[Page 600]
[Inclosure 2—Translation.]


Mr. Minister: With instructions from the President, I have the honor to transcribe to your excellency the following telegraphic messages:

Puerto Cortés, February 7, 1912.

At this moment, which is quarter before 11 of the morning, I have received from the Vice Consul of the United States in this port, Mr. J. H. Watts, the communication which literally says:

American Consular Service,
Puerto Cortés, February 7, 1912.

General, and Departmental Governor,


My Dear Sir and General: I have the honor to advise you that, having refused us a brief delay in taking possession of the railroad, sufficient to permit instructions to be received from Washington and Tegucigalpa, the captain of the war-vessel now in the port has taken possession for the time being of said railroad until able to receive replies to his telegrams and cables, in which case he will return the railroad in accordance with his orders.

With high respect [etc.]

J. H. Watts.”

In order to reply to this communication I await your instructions.

Yours [etc.]

Andrés Leiva.

Puerto Cortés, February 8, 1912.

Mr. President: At this moment 10 armed marines disembark without consent of this Comandancia.

I await your orders.

F. C. Quintanilla.

My Government, Mr. Minister, has with profound surprise seen the conduct of the Commander of the war-vessel Petrel, inasmuch as the matter in question has as yet no international character and the act committed by him, with violation of the national territory, is in every light contrary to the universally recognized principles of the law of nations.

This act, Mr. Minister, constitutes, further, a transgression of the sovereignty of the nation, for the exercise of jurisdiction belongs to its established authorities alone, in conformity with legal precepts.

In view of what is here set forth, the Government is in duty bound to protest against the acts committed by the Commander of the war-vessel mentioned, acts which it attributes exclusively to said Commander; for it does not for a moment imagine that the American Government, cultured and civilized as it is, has authorized such acts, much less if there are taken into account the frank and cordial relations that today more than ever strengthen the bonds of friendship between the Governments of Honduras and the United States of America.

With the most distinguished consideration [etc.]

Mariano Vásquez.
[Inclosure 3—Translation.]

Mr. Minister: I have the honor to transcribe to your excellency the following telegram:

Puerto Cortés, February 8, 1912.

We have the honor to transcribe to you the communication which at this moment, which is 10.15 a.m., we receive from Mr. D. E. Dismukes, Captain of the American war-vessel Petrel, of which the translation that accompanied the Spanish says:

Puerto Cortés, February 7, 1912.

“Mr. F. C. Quintanilla, and Mr. Andrés Leiva,
Puerto Cortes, Honduras.

Sirs: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated the 7th instant, in which you warn me to withdraw the armed force which I disembarked in the territory of Honduras in connection with taking possession of the National Railroad on the part of the authorities of the Government of Honduras, formally protesting against this action on my part and making me responsible for the same.

“In reply I must remind you that before taking these steps to avoid your taking possession by force of the general office of the Railroad, you were respectfully and urgently requested by the American Consul in a written communication to delay your action until he, as well as I, could telegraph to our respective Departments and receive replies.

“My opinion, as well as that of the American Consul, is that the manner in which you attempted to violate the rights of American citizens, which are recognized or at [Page 601] least, were actually enjoyed under the previous Government of Honduras, was very precipitate, and arbitrary. For these reasons, you not having conceded the time necessary to enable me to communicate with my Government, upon my own responsibility I disembarked the force mentioned in your letter. And I have the honor to assure you that it will not be possible for me to comply with your request to retire said forces without first receiving instructions from my Government.

“I have [etc.]

E. D. Dismukes.

Yours [etc.]

F. C. Quintanila.

Andrés Levia.

In the foregoing message the Captain of the war-vessel Petrel, Mr. E. D. Dismukes, personally assumes the responsibility for the act in violation of our national territory committed at Puerto Cortes; therefore your excellency will find no difficulty in intervening to terminate the unauthorized acts of the Captain of the Petrel, giving to my Government the reply which it awaits from your high justification to the notes which I have had the honor to address to you.

With sentiments [etc.]

Mariano Vásquez.