File No. 815.77/132a.

The Acting Secretary of State to Messrs. Stetson, Jennings and Russell, attorneys for Mr. Valentine.

Gentlemen: The Department acknowledges the receipt of your communication of the 15th instant1 in which you briefly review the developments in the matter of the claims of Mr. Washington S. Valentine against the Government of Honduras and state that Mr. Valentine is willing to make concessions to that Government upon condition that the whole matter in dispute shall now be settled by a board of arbitration. You suggest, on behalf of Mr. Valentine, that the Government of Honduras be advised, through diplomatic channels, of Mr. Valentine’s proposal and that it be suggested to that Government that it appoint an arbitrator with full authority to pass upon all the questions now in dispute between Mr. Valentine and Honduras; that Mr. Valentine shall appoint an arbitrator to represent him, the third to be named by the first two or, in the event of their failure to agree thereon, to be appointed by the Department of State.

As this proposal evidently contemplates a private arbitration of this matter, the propriety and desirability of which are to be determined entirely by Mr. Valentine and the Government of Honduras, the question would appear to be one in which the Department has no official concern other than attaches by reason of its general duty to do all it properly may to facilitate the adjustment of difficulties and disputes between American citizens and foreign governments. Pursuant to this duty, however, it will be glad, in the event such a method of settlement is proposed to the Government of Honduras and that Government manifests an unwillingness to accept the proposal, to instruct the Legation at Tegucigalpa to exercise such informal and unofficial good offices as it properly may, with a view to securing acceptance of such a proposition.

You will, of course, understand that in view of the fact that these claims of Mr. Valentine against the Government of Honduras seemingly have their origin in violations of contract, it is not improbable that as an official question between this Government and the Government of Honduras, the rules governing the presentation of contract claims will be applicable and that before any affirmative official action could be taken by this Government, it would be necessary to examine the question of exhaustion of local remedies by Mr. Valentine and the suffering of a denial of justice as a result of his resort to the courts.

I am [etc.]

Huntington Wilson.
  1. Not printed.