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SPECIAL SESSION. [SENATE.] MISCELLANEOUS,
An outrage alleged to have been committed on James H. West, a citizen of
the United States, by the authorities of the island of Cuba.
MARCH 14, 1853.-Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations, and ordered to be printed.
The harmooiy of feeling heretofore existing between citizens of the United States and those of Spain, relative to the island of Cuba, has been so disturbed by late exciting events, that those who have had causes of complaint, on either side, could scarcely hope for a patient and impartial hearing. The interests of American citizens in Cuba, and the just administration of government in that island, have alike suffered ftom this political agitation. On the one hand, the public functionaries of Cuba have had occasion to suspect that real or imagined wrongs have been converted into a pretext for disturbing the existing order of government; and, on the other, the American citizen has there found himself liable to be suspected without cause, and to suffer oppression without redress.
The claim of Mr. West against the Spanish government-which is the subject of the following documents-forcibly illustrates the above remarks; and its history tends to show that those who have been engaged, heretofore, in unlawful expeditions and illicit traffic, have entailed disaster upon the loyal citizen and the honorable merchant; while it no less clearly proves that the administrators of government, when their suspicions of hostile and illegal designs have been once strongly roused, are quite liable to commit hasty acts of injustice towards the innocent, and to persevere with obstinacy in a course of oppression, rather than condescend to acknowledge a mistake.
In view of these peculiar relations between American citizens and Cuba, it is due to Mr. West to declare that he never belonged to the class of agitators called flibustiers; and that he not only took no part in that political agitation, but that his interests all lay in the opposite direction. Mr. West went to Cuba with a view to a permanent establishment in business in that island; he married into the family of a Cuban planter; he held in his hands a sealed commission as the fiscal agent of a large estate; and, after a year or two of preparation, he em-
2 S. Mk. 3.
barked all that he possessed in the world-and in addition thereto some means belonging to his friends in the United States-in the establishment of a commi sion house.
It is also proper to say of Mr. West, personally, that he is generally acknowledged to be a man of prudent temper and amiable spirit, as well as of conciliating manners; and, as a consul in Cuba has justly said, Ione of the last men in the world to provoke hostile relations with any human being." No better proof of this can be desired than that hie sustained, throughout all this unfortunate collision with the Spanish uthorities, the most peaceful and friendly relations with them all, and commanded universal sympathy and good will.
One or two more remarks, in the opening of this case, will assist the appreciation of its merits, and of the spirit in which the controversy has been conducted.
In regard to 'the merits of the question at issue, it is important to observe that the outrage complained of originated in an unfounded suspicion of unlawful political designs against the government of Cuba. The utter groundlessness of the suspicion was demonstrated. within, a few days after the first proceedings in the, case, before a competent Spanish tribunal. Mr. West was fully examined and was completely acquitted; and ,upo~n this acquittal on the primary process, he rests his claim for indemnity.
In the language of Mr. Webster: "1If it appears that Mr. West was acquitted, after trial, of all complicity in the smuggling of the gunpowder, and of political designs, all which will be shown by that recQrd, it will then follow, as a matter of course, that the arrest was withou 't cause, and its further continuance wholly unjustifiable." Thus Mr. West does not appeal from the law, but to the law; and founds his claim upon the Judgment of a Spanish court in his favor.'
In regard to the spirit with which this controversy has been conducted, it will appear evident that the complainant has pursued the course indicated by a regard to peace and order. He has appealed to the Spanish government through the regular channels of his own. He has made no appeal to popular sympathy. He has even resisted solicitations to awaken. public sentiment in his behalf through the press. He has sacredly respected the rights and tbelingas of Spaniards, by avoiding all such publicity as might rouse indignant feelings on the part of the American public; and has, for three years, patiently awaited the award ofjustice through her legitimate channels.
How he has been requited for this peaceful 'and forbearing course of procedure, the documents that follow will disclose. From them it will appear that the proof of his wrongs has been resisted from the beginning; that the mistake in which the alleged outrage originated has been either overlooked or kept out of sight; that the sworn testimony o-f
S. Mis. 3. 3
the ex parte statement of the acccused is destitute of foundation!' A declaration like this demands the most unsparing scrutiny of the American government; and should it be found to be the language, not of justice, but of diplomatic zeal and partiality, then must the Spanish government be held to a rigid accountability for the outrage and injuries complained of.
BRISTOL, R. I., March 8, 1853.
Protest of Mr. James BI. West, and other documents.
CONSULATE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
for the Port of Sagua la Grande.
By this public instrument of protest be it known, that on the day and date hereof, before me, Francis R. Glean, vice-consul for the United States of America at the port of Sagua la Grande, personally appeared James H. West, a native of Bristol, Rhode Island, doing business at Sagua la Grande, in the island of Cuba, to make the following affidavit and protest, in the strongest manner possible, against all whom it may concern:
SAGUA LA GRANDE, Island of Cuba, February 5, 1850:
I, James Howe West, do protest in the strongest manner against the proceedings which have been had against me, and which have placed me in the situation in which I now find myself.
I am under arrest, my papers taken from me, my business prostrated, and anxiety and suflring caused to myself and friends. The following brief statement of the facts bearing on my case may serve to explain it.
The American brig Eolian, A. M. Jordan, master, of Portland, Maine, arrived at this port on or about the 5th day of January ultimo from Boston, Massachusetts, to my consignment, bringing an assorted cargo, and having on board two young men belonging to Boston, carpenters, who came out under contract to work for me at their trade. The passengers landed, procured their passports and permission to remain, givinag bonds, as is usual, for their good conduct. The brig proceeded to discharge her cargo at Granadillo, a landing tor several sugar estates, distant a few miles ftom the mouth of Sagua river. One of the carpenters went to work upon the lumber brought by the brig, at the aforesaid point of Granadillo. When the vessel was nearly discharged, there were discovered in an open shed, near where the aforesaid carpenter, and also an American cooper in my employ, were at work, about twenty kegs and some canisters of gunpowder. Immediately on this these men were seized, their trunks and persons searched, a watch taken from one of them, and they were hurried into the interior, after a night of confinement and cruel usage, and there imprisoned. The first intimation I had of the matter was my own arrest, the seizure of my papers and of my trunks and property, with orders to put me in
4 S Mis. 3.
close confinement in case anything should be found connecting me with the importation of the powder, and of political designs. My papers have all been detained, and have undergone the most rigid scrutiny; and, although nothing has been found to bear in the slightest degree upon the accusation, I Am still under arrest, and my papers, &c., detained, while the greatest injury is accruing to my business and prospects.
JAMES H. WEST.
In witness whereof, I herewith affix my signature and seal of office,
[s. s.] at Sagua la Grande, this 5th day of February, 1850.
FRANCIS R. GLEAN,
Vice Consul, 4v.
Translation of protest before the Spanish notary at agua la Grande.
In the port of Sagua la Grande, on the 2Sth day of February, 1850, bofbre me, the public escribano and witness, appeared Mr. James H. West, of this vicinity, to whom I give credence ftom personal acquaintance, and he says: That on the 30th day of January last he was required, by the lieutenant governor of this port, in consequence of a communication from the governor judge of Villa de Santa Clara, to remain in this place under arrest; his papers were taken from him under the belief that he was compromised in some criminal negotiation respecting the peace of this country; that, at the end of a week's exanination, he was completely absolved from this suspicion, as appears from the minutes of the proceedings; that he asked for his papers at various times, but was refused; that on the 11th day of February he made a memorial to the Captain General for the return of his papers, and up to this date has received no answer. In these circumstances he makes the most solemn protest against all whom it may concern, lbr all the costs, damages, and prejudices that may accrue to him from the detention of his person and papers, certifying that on his part he has complied with the requirements in every way demanded of him.
JAMES H. WEST.
Signed as witnesses:
D. JosE BONAN.
D. MANUEL MARTINEZ.
Translation of the order"issued for the arrest of James I West.
SAGUA LA GRANDE, .February 1, 1850. Prevent Mr. Jas. H. West from absenting himself from this town, and Captain Jordan from sailing from this port, until the resolution of the lieutenant governor of Villa Clara, who has advised this business; and, until his determination, the papers of West shall remain in the
S. Mis. 3. 5
same state in which they were taken, and, if convenient, a description of them shall be made.
Assessor and Judge.
FRANCISCO DE LA MADRID, Escribano, or Public Notary.
Mr. Clayton to Mr. Barringer.
[No. 16.] DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, April 1, 1850.
SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy of a communication of the Hon. G. G. King, of Rhode Island, dated the 12th ult., to this department, with copies of papers accompanying that communication; as also a duplicate of a despatch from Robert B. Campbell, United States consul at Havana, dated March 8, with enclosures. All these papers relate to a case of imprisonment and hardship, inflicted by the Spanish authorities of Villa Clara, in the island of Cuba, in the latter part of the month of January last, on three American citizensJames H. West, of Bristol, Rhode Island; Clement P. Blethen, of Philipsburg, Maine; and Edward Read Lambden-under the charge of having been concerned in smuggling gunpowder into the said island. You will perceive, by the documents forwarded to this department, that the sufferers, one and all, deny any participation in the crime charged against them; that they demand and expect from the Spanish authorities, who so wantonly ill-treated American citizens residing with passports on the said island, full and satisfactory indemnification for their personal and pecuniary sufferings; and that they look to their government for protection and assistance in their apparently just claims for indemnification.
You will bring this subject, as early as possible, to the notice of the Spanish government, and urge on it the necessity of instructing its officials in Cuba to treat with more kindness and consideration innocent citizens of a nation whose government has given to Spain so many proofs of friendliness. Cases of this and a similar character must, as the Spanish government will easily perceive, have great influence on the citizens of the United States, to fill them with aversion against a country, many of whose officers seem to seize with eagerness every opportunity to ill-treat American citizens.
The President has no desire to shield real offenders against the laws of Spain, under which they have voluntarily placed themselves, from deserved punishment; but he is resolved that no unjust oppression and persecution shall be practised against Americans pursuing their peaceable business, with the permission of the local authorities, in the colony of a friendly country.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN M. CLAYTON.
DANIEL M. BARRINGER, Esq.,
&c., 4 c., fc., Madrid.
6 $.Mis. 3.
CONSULATE OF TEE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
at the Port of Sagua la Grande, Cuba.
I, Francis R. Glean, vice-consul for the United States of America at the port of Sagua la Grande, do hereby certify, that, on the day and date hereof, before me personally appeared Clement P. Blethen, a native of Philipsburg, Maine, lately of Boston, Massachusetts, aged eighteen years, to make the following deposition and protest against whomsoever it may or doth concern, as follows:
I, Clement P. Blethen, do hereby declare under oath that I am a native of Philipsburg, in the State of Maine-aged eighteen years-lately of Boston, Massachusetts; came to the island of Cuba under contract to work at the carpenters' trade, having sailed from Boston on the 19th day of December, 1849, and arrived at Sagua la Grande on or about the 6th day of January, 1850, in the brig Eolian, Captain Jordan; on arrival took out the regular passport at Sagua la Grande, and thence proceeded to the port of Granadillo; from whence, after being at work about two weeks, I was taken from my bed about ten o'clock at night by persons supposed to be officers of the government, and, without any explanation of the cause, my arms were tied behind me and then tied back to back to another American, and kept in that manner until next morning at about nine o'clock, when I was untied, placed upon a horse, and under a guard conveyed to the town of Villa Clara, and there placed in solitary confinement for three days after that I was taken out to be examined, and had the following questions put to me through an interpreter: "What vessel did you come here in?" "Who hired you to come?" "What were you doing at Granadillo? "-and a few more df similar import; I was then remanded back to prison, and this time placed in a room with two other men, who were arrested at the same time I was, (one an American, the other a Frenchman,) where I was kept for the space of three days more; after which I was taken out and asked some questions in relation to what I knew about there being powder at Granadillo, to all which I truly answered that I knew nothing; after which I was discharged.
Not finding myself guilty of any cause for imprisonment, or of having committed any offence against the laws of the country or rights of those who caused me to be imprisoned, doing me such an injury and lacerating me at the time of my arrest, when entirely ignorant of any reason for it, I therefore hereby protest against so unjust an imprisonment and unmerited suffering, and claim a remuneration and 4lamages for the same, as also for the loss of time and expenses incurred by myself and friends to procure my liberation.
In testimony hereof, I herewith affix my signature in the presence of the vice-consul, the day and ;date hereof.
CLEMENT P. BLETHEN.
In witness of same, I herewith affiX my signature and seal of office,
[L ]at Sagua le Grande, this nineteenth day of February,
[..]A. D. 185s0.
FRANCIS R. GLEAN.
S. Mis. S 7
CONSULATE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, at the Port of lugua la Grande.
I, Francis R. Glean, vice-consul for the United States of America at the port of Sagua la Grande, do hereby certify that the annexed affidavit is a true and faithful copy of the same on the date thereof.
In witness of same, I herewith affix my signature and seal of office,
at Sagua la Grande, this nineteenth day of February,
FRANCIS R. GLEAN.
Protest of Edward Read Lambden.
This affidavit and protest was made in the name and in behalf o said Lambden by Clement P. Blethen, said Lambden "not being permitted to communicate his own sufferings."
As it recapitulates "the same unjust imprisonment, and the same injuries suffered at the time of his arrest and conveyance to Villa Clara," it is here omitted.
Correspondence of the consul at Havana with the Intendente, the CYt Minister of Finance.
CONSULATE OF THE UNITED STATES, Havana, May 16, 1850.
SIR: Mr. James H. West, an American merchant, residing at Sagua la Grande, has repeatedly written to me complaining of what he deems to be the persecutions of this government, as practised towards himself and an American citizen of the name of Edward R. Lambden, who has for some months been imprisoned. These occurrences having taken place beyond the jurisdiction of this consulate, I did not feel authorized officially to intermeddle with them, but personally waited upon the Captain General, and drew his attention to the facts as represented to me.
His excellency stated that nothing political was involved in the affair, and being only a case of contraband, he had nothing to do with it; kindly stating, at the same time, that he would draw the attention of your excellency to the subject.
The United States consul at Trinidad, in the jurisdiction of whose consulate the occurrences took place, has written me a letter-:yesterday received-in which he calls my attention to the fact that Mr. James H. West is still under arrest, and Mr. Lambden in prison; stating, also, that he has officially addressed the Captain General upon the merits of their cases, and has been informed by his excellency that he can do nothing in the affair, as it is pending in the tribunal immediately under your jurisdiction, but that he has sent the consular communication to you. The consul at Trinidad has therefore requested my interposition,
8 S. Mis. 3.
as the case seems pending in Havana before the tribunal of which you are the chief.
Your excellency cannot fail to perceive the grievous injury inflicted upon Mr. West by his long arrest, and the sequestration of his papers, thereby depriving him of all facilities of business.
Bad as the case of Mr. West is, that of Mr. Lambden is still more painful. I beg leave, therefore, to call the prompt attention of your excellency to the condition of those unfortunate men, in the hope that you will take such steps as will insure a prompt termination of their trial, which has been already either progressing or stationary for about four months, thereby causing a delay harassing and grievous, and equivalent to a temporary denial of justice.
Messrs. West and Lambden are, of necessity, guilty, or they are innocent. If guilty, the law prescribes the punishment, and no complaint can be made of its being inflicted. If innocent, justice requires that they should be promptly declared so, that their arrest and imprisonment should terminate, and their reputations relieved from the imputations cast upon them. Should the law's delay cause these two American citizens to be kept longer in arrest and confinement, I must ask the favor of your excellency to furnish me with a copy of the charges against them, and of the proceedings had thereon, that they may be forwarded to my government, to which I have understood serious complaints have already been made by influential friends of Mr. West residing in the United States.
I have the honor to be, with considerations of great respect and esteem, your excellency's most obedient servant, ROBERT B. CAMPBELL.
His Excellency the Count of VILLANUEVA,
Sup., and Gen. of Finances, Island of Cuba, c., 6c.
Copy of translation, in reply.
"HAVANA, May 19, 1850.
"SIR CONSUL OF THE UNITED STATES IN THIS PLACE: I have received the communication your excellency has favored me with, of the 16th instant, and I have already consulted with the Attorney General of this section upon the particulars of which it treats; and, ftom what I have already seen, the result is: that the citizens of the United States, Messrs., James H. West and Edward R. Lambden, are imprisoned in consequence of the case in suit by the Judge of the Audience of Puerto Principe, and not by the one here. The cause of their being arrested is, that the said individuals were introducing, in contraband, into the county of Granadillo, twenty barrels" (that is, twenty kegs, in barrels of potatoes) "of gunpowder, which the said individuals appear guilty of; yet they do not suffer for this any extra vexation s; and, for my part, I have urged the zeal of said administration of Puerto Principe for speedy eflbrts in concluding this business. However, in obedience to what your excellency desires, and in conformity with the hints of said Attorney General, I will repeat my orders to the administration of that
S. Mis. 3. 9
province, that he should, without transgressing any points of the law, which he cannot violate, hasten and conclude the case in question as quickly as possi e, and I will inform your excellency of it in answer to your pre-note communication.
"EL CONDE DE VILLANUEVA."
Letter of James H. West, dated Sagua la Grande, August 13, 1850, to the 1Rev. John West.
My DEAR FATHER: I have just returned from a visit to Villa Clara, (the scene of the imprisonment of my men,) where I was summoned to give my final deposition. I was two days in being examined. I went prepared for any result, even imprisonment, (as to such an extent, I was informed, the authorities would be likely to carry their powers,) but I found, on the contrary, that the disposition was not to push things to extremities, but only to dally along in the expectation of extorting money.
They have imprisoned all they intend to in this case; and already feel many qualms in regard to the propriety of what has been already done on their part. The whole thing is regarded, by every one of them, as a matter which should never have been carried to such extremities. Still it is not the custom to drop a thing until a victim is squeezed to the extent his pocket with bear.
I will now give you a sketch of the proceedings before the judge at Villa Clara. The same extracts I forward to Mr. McLean (the American consul of this jurisdiction, residing at Trinidad de Cuba) to-day.
I was first questioned apart, as follows:
What articles, and when, has Mr. Emerson (the American planter who procured the introduction of the powder, through the master of the Eolian, for blasting wells on his estate) requested you to' remit to Granadillo for him?
Answer.-At various times, things for the use of the estate, such as materials for hogsheads and articles for food; and in conversation once or twice, had mentioned to me that he wished some blasting-powder, for the purpose of deepening wells which he was digging, But the latter article I have, at no time, ever sent him, or been instrumental in his getting. Emerson had previously said, in his examination, that he sent to Mr. West for powder.
Question.-Was the quantity he mentioned as requiring large or small?
Answer.-Small-a few kegs.
Question.-Did he give you a special charge to procure this, and in writing ?
Aniswer.--No. He merely remarked to me that he required it, without giving a special charge to procure it.
Question.--What articles did you send to Granadillo in barrels from the Eolian ?
Answer.--Three or Ibur barrels of oil, one of beef, one of flour, and
10 s. Mis. 34
a few barrels of potatoes; which beef, flour, and potatoes I purchased of Captain Jordan.
Question.-For whom did you ser d these potatoes
Answer.-For the use of the workmen at Grana illo, and for the estate.
Question.---Now, were you in Granadillo on or about the 26th day of January last, or were you not?
Question.---When there, did you know that there was ,powder in those barrels?
Question.-Did Mr. Emerson write you a letter, saying that the powder you had sent was not of a proper quality, and that he wished a coarser kind?
Answer.-I never received any such letter, or anything similar to it.
Question.-What conversation did you have with the major domo, (his clerk,) while in Granadillo?
Answer.-I told him those articles, the oil, &c., were sent for the use of the estate, and to take them under his charge.
Question.-The major domo says you told him there was medicine in those barrels; what do you say to this?
Answer.-That I told him no such thing.
He was then called and confronted wit me; he is a Frenchman, and was addressed as follows:
Question.-In your evidence you state that Mr. West told you there was medicine in those barrels. He says he did not. What have you to say?
Answer.-I might be mistaken in what Mr. West said, as he spoke Spanish very imperfectly.
Question.-Was it in Spanish that your conversation occurred?
Mr. Emerson was then called and questioned as follows:
Question.-There seems to be some difference between your evidence and Mr. West's. You state that you wrote a letter to Mr. West saying that the powder he had sent was not of a proper quality, and that you wished a coarser kind. Mr. West says that he received no such letter.
Answer.-It might be that the letter miscarried.
Question.-How did you send it?
Answer.-By an individual who was going from the estate to Sagua. I do not recollect who it was.
The next day Emerson, in conversation with me, and speaking of the difficulty of having an exact representation of what was intended to be said, remarked, that he did not depose that he had written me a letter, saying that he did not wish any more powder of the kind received, or saying anything about powder in his letter at all. What he meant to have said was, that he had written me not to send him anything more at all; but that to undertake to make an explanation might make the matter worse, and he thought it best to let it go as it was. ...Finally, I received my charge from the judge to this effect: That, inasmuch as I -was consignee of the vessel which brought the powder, and had hired and paid fbr the launches which had carried it, and
S. Mis. 3. II
as I had given charge to the major domo to take charge of the barrels in which it was concealed, I was a party to the culpability. And I was asked what defence I had to make?
I stated as follows: That as to being a party to the importation of the powder, I could have no better proof of my innocence than the admission of the captain of the vessel, who acknowledged, as appears in the examination, that he had brought it as a matter of speculation of his own, and without my knowledge. And as to its being carried in launches which were hired by me to land the cargo from the vessel, if the captain chose to put a few barrels in one of them, I could not consider myself responsible for it. And in regard to my being implicated in its transportation to Granadillo by what I said to the major domo, it was no more than what was perfectly natural to say, viz: that he should take care of the oil, beef, potatoes, &c., which had been sent by me for the use of the estate, and more especially as the major was recently hired by me, and the buildings in which these articles were placed were open sheds.
Thus closed my examination; and now the papers are sent to Puerto Principe, the capital of this part of the island, which is some 300 miles from here; and I am ordered to present myself there, or have a power of attorney to represent me. The journey is a long one, but I propose to undertake it, as, should I depute a lawyer to represent me, I might be compromised by him. The course Emerson has taken is in character with the man; he has endeavored to ease his shoulders at the expense of mine, but he has failed to do so.
Your affectionate son,
JAS. H. WEST.
Extract of a letter from the same, dated August 26, 1850.
MY DEAR FATHER: I wrote you under date of August 13, giving an account of my late examination, and the charge of the judge pronouncing me a party, which letter is important as showing the grounds existing against me. It is difficult to explain the object aimed at by the authorities in their persecution of me, from the fact that I have not learned what it is; and I am fully convinced thai they do not know themselves. It has been expected that I would come forward and pay money, in which case proceedings would be stopped. I believe there exists no real ground of action against me. In the first instance, I was arrested on suspicion of being a political offender. After the examination of my papers, and the transmission of the result to the Captain General, he officially declared that there was no political offence, and referred the matter to the revenue department. Meanwhile, the customhouse authorities had seized and sold the articles asserted to be smuggled, and consequently ended that offence; so that what can be the aim and design of further proceedings seems unaccountable. I believe there are pecuniary penalties for having over a certain quantity of powder in one's possession, and I presume the object is to make me liable on that account. You have seen, by the summing up of the evidence
12 S. Mis. 3.
by the judge, how far they have succeeded. I am much mistaken if such proof as that could ever convince Mr. Webster. I have written to Mr. McLean, asking his advice how to act under such circumstances. I am aware of all the sacrifices of my family and friends at home, consequent upon my misfortunes; and I am compelled to look on without the power to prevent them. Still I see, with you, light beyond the clouds, and think the day of relief will come.
Your affectionate son,
JAS. H. WEST.
Letter of the consul at Trinidad to Rev. John West.
CONSULATE OF THE U. S. A., TRINIDAD DE CUBA,
September 22, 1850.
DEAR SI: Your favor of the 21st August was received by me, by the last mail from Havana. Its contents have my deep consideration.
The extreme sensitiveness of the authorities of this island on the subject of consuls interfering in a diplomatic character in any points at issue between them and the said authorities, renders it almost impossible for us to arrange any matter to the satisfaction of the parties concerned. More power must be granted to consuls, or a more conciliatory disposition be manifested on the part of the Spanish authorities, before a better state of things can exist. I need only call your attention to the unavailing attempts of our excellent consul, Campbell, to negotiate with the Captain General, on a late occasion, for the release of the men taken from the island of Contoy.
I make the foregoing remarks in explanation of the seeming inattention that you may suppose has been paid to the outrage committed on your son.
As soon as I was informed by him of the circumstances connected with his imprisonment and the sequestration of his property, I wrote to the governor of Villa Clara, demanding an immediate investigation of the affair. He answered by referring the matter to the commandant general of the department, who was at that time governor of this place. I immediately addressed a note to him, and requested his earliest attention to the case, and was informed by him that he had forwarded the documents, together with the disposition of them, to the Captain General. I then applied to his excellency for an immediate trial, when, if no evidence criminating the parties could be adduced, I required their release, and the delivery of your son's papers and property, forthwith. In reply the Captain General informed me that the case had been sent to Puerto Principe, and that he would request the intendente (judge) of the court at that place to give it his early attention. When you are informed that there is but one mail per week, and that it is impossible to answer communications until the ensuing week, you can form some idea of the vexatious delay your son's business has been subjected to. Tired, however, of being referred to so many anthorities, I laid the whole matter before Mr. Clayton, who, I am sorry
S. Mis. 3. 13
to say, never replied to the communication. I have every reason to believe that our present efficient secretary will give the matter his serious attention; and I hope soon to be favored by him with an answer to the communication addressed to his predecessor..
1 have not the slightest hesitation in saying that your son' s case is an outrage on the rights of an American citizen, and that the Spanish government should be made to pay severely for their wanton and unjustifiable conduct;- and I have learned, unofficially, that a demand has, been already made on that government for remuneration for the injuries inflicted on our persecuted countrymen.
With a tender of my services, I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Rev. JOHN WEST.
[The first despatch of Mr. Barringer to the Spanish Secretary of State is here omitted, as other documents, not absolutely essential to the case, have been in the preceding and subsequent stages of proceeding; among which is an affidavit of Captain Jordan, of the brig Eolian, before Thos. A. Deblois, esq., district attorney for the State of Maine, declaring that he purchased the smuggled powder in question by order and on account of Mr. Emerson, a planter in Cuba, for the purpose of blasting out welts.]
Correspondence between, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain and the American minister at Madrid.
PALACE, May 6, 1850.
SIR: I have carefully read the note of V. S., dated 26th ultimo, in relation to the imprisonment of Mr. West, Mr. Blethen, and Mr. Lamb." den, which took place in the island of Cuba, at the fi# of this year, under accusation, according to your excellency, 4of participation in the fraudulent introduction of powder into said island with political designs." I will now say to your excellency that her Majesty's government has received no communication from the authorities of the island upon this occurrence; and that, on this account, I ought to suppose that the affair has been considered by those tribunals as of an ordinary nature; that the case wil pursue its legal course; and that no account will be given of it to the supreme government, unless the final result
14 S. Mis. 3.
place, it shall result that the Spanish functionaries have overstepped the sphere of their legal powers, using towards the accused a severity not authorized by the laws, the government of her Majesty is firmly resolved to inflict upon those who may have thus abused their position, all the rigor of justice, in order to give in this manner. a public testimony of its rectitude; and to offer to those aggrieved, and to their government, that reparation which Spain, in her turn, would be disposed to claim in like circumstances.
Here I might finish my response, as the state of the business permits me to do, and to say no more; but the vehemence and the unusual warmth with which the demand of your excellency is conceived, obliges me to enter into some expositions, which will be perhaps profitable, in order that there may not be given, mistakenly, to this matter a character which, in my judgment, it is very far from possessing.
Your excellency will excuse me, first of all, if I say that the demands contained in the note to which I have the honor to reply, do not seem to me to be in harmony with the very statement of facts upon which they are founded. From the statement presented by your excellency, which, I repeat, is the first that has come to the notice of her Majesty's government upon this affair, there appear several facts to which I ought to call your excellency's attention.
First. It appears that there has been fraudulently introduced into the island of Cuba a considerable quantity of gunpowder, which, in itself, constitutes a crime, according to the laws of the country ; and, furthermore, the very strongest indication of complicity with those who,
within and without the island, conspire to overturn the established order of things, making themselves guilty of the crime of rebellion.
Second. That the powder was taken to Cuba by one of those proceeded against, a citizen of the United States, according to the declaration of the delinquent himself.
Third. That the powder was transported in a vessel whose cargo was consigned to another of those proceeded against, also a citizen of the United States.
Fourth. That the same powder was discharged, and hidden in the habitation, or shed, of this same defendant. And
F/Ih. Thathose Anglo-Americans who aided in discharging it must have contributed, in a greater or less degree, to the fraud or crime.
These facts established, which all result from the statement presented by your excellency, I cannot do less than manifest to you that the judicial authority of the district would have incurred a grave responsibility if it had not proceeded immediately to institute the primary inquiry of the offence, in the form which the laws provide, and to proceed against those who should appear to be accomplices or authors. The laws of all civilized countries establish, that as- soon as it is known that a crime exists, steps may be taken to make it evident judicially; to investigate it, and to chastise its authors. Those of Spain authorize the judge to arrest every person against whom strong suspicion may appear of having had any participation in the offence which is prosecuted; and ACCORDING~ TO THIE FIRST DECLARATIONS OF THE PRIMARY PROCESS, SO THE SUJSPECTED PERSON MAY CONTINUE IN PRISON; MAY REMAIN CONFINED TO THE
S. Mis. 3 15
CITY AND ITS LIMITS; MAY BE SUBJECT TO BAIL2 OR IN COMPLETE LIBERTY.
The facts being known, then, and also what the laws of Spain prescribe with respect to them, your excellency will easily perceive what ought to be the conduct of the Spanish authorities in the present case. An act highly criminal has been committed. This act, aggravated by a multitude of circumstances, which your excellency cannot be ignorant of, has been committed by an Anglo-American; there are the strongest suspicions that some others of his countrymen may have had a participation in it; the local authorities proceeded, in conformity to the laws, to imprison those suspected, as it would have proceeded if they had been Spaniards. By consequence, if this is so, as in substance appears from the statement presented by your excellency, the demand, which is founded upon that statement, cannot be tenable, EXCEPT IN WHAT RELATES TO THE ILLEGAL AND GRATUITOUS SEVERITY, which according to the narrative remitted by your excellency, has been used towards some of the accused; concerning which, I repeat to your excellency that, the frtcts being ascertained, the government of her Majesty will put in execution the severest justice and the proper reparation.
For the rest, your excellency will excuse me the signification of my doubts upon the exactness of the narrative which you have remitted to me. I judge that too much credit has been given to the relation made by private or interested individuals, and that actually it ought to be qualified as exaggerated in many points; among others, where it is complained that their property has been confiscated. This cannot be a fact. The laws of Spain prohibit confiscations; and, at all events, it never could have decreed except in the final sentence, from which stage this case may be far distant.
But, leaving these considerations, I can do no less than call the attention of V. S. to the importance which the authorities of the island must necessarily give to the fact of the fraudulent-introduction of so great a quantity of gunpowder, seeing, as they do see, organized in the United States, a perpetual conspiracy against the island of Cuba. The government of the confederacy, indeed, has seen itself obliged, not long since, to repress, in its own territory, the attempts of invasion against the island; and it cannot therefore wonder that the authorities of the country menaced proceed against the aggressors, and take measures to discover them, and punish them by the means which the laws establish. And the government of Spain does not expect (since that of the United States has declared, in a solemn document, which has received so much applause from the civilized world, and so much: acknowledgment forom Spain, that it would not lend its protection to those who should compromise themselves in such criminal enterprises) that it seek now to interpose its mediation in favor of those who may turn out guilty, without more foundation than the passionate relations of the interested persons themselves.
The government of her Majesty flatters itself that, in view of these observations, your excellency will perceive that the business is not yet in a state to afford a shape to any formal reclamation. The terms in which your excellency conclhides your above-mentioned note, fortify it in this persuasion; for, if the respectable President of the United States
16 S. Mis. 3.
allows, as he cannot but allow, that the citizens in question are legally subject, as are all Joreigners, to the criminal laws and jurisdiction oJ the country in which they transgress, it is clear that there can be no claim, on account of the proceedings which are prosecuted against them, so long as these are in conformity with what the laws prescribe. Now if in anything they (the laws) have been disregarded, the Spanish government is determined to repress, with a strong hand, the excess; both because such is its duty, and because, in this particular case, proportioned to the fulfilment of its most sacred obligations would be tho satisfaction of gratifying, in its just demands, a friendly nation.
I approve, &c., &c., &c.,
PEDRO J. PIDAL.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, Madrid, May 10, 1850.
SIR: I had the honor, on the 8th instant, to receive your excellency's communication dated the 6th of the same month, in reply to mine of the 26th ultimo, on the subject of the imprisonment of three American citizens in the island of Cuba. Previous to the receipt of your excellency's communication, I had supposed that some notice of the occurrences referred to had been given to her Majesty's government, by the local authorities. But it may be, as your excellency suggests, that they regarded the affair as "of an ordinary nature," and that no account will be given through that channel to the supreme government, unless the result of the matter may, in their opinion, make it "worthy of being raised to the notice of her Majesty." I trust there is no reason to believe that transactions of this kind are of such frequent occurrence in that part of her Majesty's dominions as to render them "ordinary," in their nature, according to the judgment of the local tribunals. I can, however, assure your excellency, that whatever may be the opinion of the local authorities as to the character of such proceedings, or whatever their purpose of informing the supreme government in such cases as they may deem worthy of her Majesty's notice, the government of the latter will not fail to be duly notified of the same by that of the United States, as often as it shall have reason to believe that the just rights of its citizens have been violated, and as long as it is able to cherish the hope that reparation may be obtained by peaceful negotiations, and the usual means of redress between friendly nations. It is unnecessary to remind your excellency that this hope is sincerely entertained from the good offices and friendly dispositions of her Majesty's government; and that no reparation for injuries or violations of right will be demanded in this, or similar cases, which the government of the Federal Union would not most promptly and cheerfully extend to Spain under like circumstances. I am pleased to learn from the reply of" your excellency, that steps have been taken by the Spanish government to inform itself correctly of the facts on which my demands of the 26th ultimo were based, and, in behalf of my government, I must be allowed to express my grateful sense of the pledge given by that of her Majesty, that if it shall appear from the in,/brmation .ought,
S. Mis. 3. 17
(and I trust I may add, TN ANY OTHER WAY,) that the Spanish functionaries in the island of Cuba have exceeded the limits of their rightful authority, "using towards the accused severity not authorized by the laws," the government of her Majesty is resolved to inflict the most rigorous punishment on the transgressors, and to tender to those who may have been aggrieved, and to the government which is bound to protect their rights, the fullest reparation in its power, and which it would desire from others in similar circumstances. This assurance having been vouchsafed to me, by your excellency, in behalf of her Majesty's government, and steps having been taken to be informed in regard to the facts in dispute, (which no one will be more happy than myself to learn may turn out, according to your excellency's opinion, to be less censurable than I believe them to be,) I might here close, in this stage of the business, whatever observations it would have been my duty to make under ordinary circumstances, in answer to the communication of your excellency. But your excellency has been pleased to comment, both on the nature of the demands made by me, in my communication of the 26th ultimo, and on the statement of facts which caused and accompanied it, in a manner that makes it necessary that I should offer some remarks in reply, both for the purpose of preventing further misconception, and correcting the errors in fact into which your excellency, no doubt inadvertently, has fallen, as well as to expose the untenable deductions which have been made from the premises thus erroneously assumed. With one so learned, both in matters of law and of diplomatic procedure, as your excellency is known to be, I will not controvert the propriety or the necessity of the comments you deemed it your duty to make. I had supposed, however, that in acknowledging the receipt of my note of the 26th ultimo, your excellence, without prejudging the facts on which the application was founded, would have been content with stating that her Majesty's government, desirous to give proof of good- faith and friendship for that of the United States, had directed the proper inquiry to ascertain the truth of the allegations on which the demand was founded; and with giving a simple and prompt pledge on its behalf, that, if they were found to be such as they were represented, or such as deserved in any way the notice and reparation due from one friendly nation to another, efficient or satisfactory action would be taken in whatever the justice and exigency of the case might require. This would have been sufficient, at least in this present state of the question. The interference of her Majesty's government was not insisted on nor expected, except on condition of the innocence of the persons accused, and whose release and indemnification are demanded by the government of the United States, or until it was satisfied that, if any of them were guilty, (which is denied, as the facts now appear,) the local authorities had not wantonly abused their power in the infliction of unnecessary violence and severity of treatment upon the accused.
Your excellency observes that the demands are not in harmony with the statement of facts on which they are founded. It is well to recur to the requisitions of niy note of the 26th ultimo. The demand is, first, for the release of those who may be still under arrest or in confinement-for tbe restoration of the papers and property of Mr. West, one of the ac2
18 S. Mis. 3.
cused, and ample reparation to each of the said parties for their personal and pecuniary sufferings, under what is apparently an unjust and wanton outrage on American citizens, residing, with passports and the usual permits, in the island of Cuba; and, secondly, fbr security against similar conduct and abuses for the future. That this whole demand is based on the supposed innocence of the parties interested, and the severity and cruelty practised upon the accused, is most manifest from the entire tenor of the note. There is the fullest assurance that, while the President is resolved that no unjust oppression and persecution shall be practised against American citizens pursuing their peaceful business, with the permission of the local authorities, in the colony of a friendly country, he has no desire to shield real offenders against the laws of Spain from deserved punishment.
Here is the wide difference between your excellency and myself. My demand is made on the supposition of the innocence of the parties charged. Your argument is drawn from the assumption of their guilt; or, to say the least, the suspicion of their participation in the offence of smuggling powder into the island of Cuba, sufficiently strong to justify the proceedings which have been had against them. It is not enough that this article was fraudulently introduced. There must be either proof or strong suspicions that the parties accused, and for whom reparation is asked, should have partzcipated in the offence, to authorize their arrest, much more their ill-treatment and long confinement. Now, how do the facts appear? The very statement to which we both refer EXPLICITLY EXONERATES the three Americans in question from all knowledge, much more from any improper connexion with the offence. It expressly declares that Captain Jordan, of the brig Eolian, avowed himself as "the only person interested in the gunpowder; and that the same had nothing to do with political designs, but was a mere smuggling adventure." There is not the slightest proof of any agency on the part of Mr. West, Mr. Blethen, or Mr. Lambden, in this act of smuggling, much less of doing the same with political designs-the crime for which they were arrested and confined. One was a carpenter, who had gone out under contract, to work at his trade. Another was a cooper, on the island at the time; and. all were actually engaged at their respective avocations, under the usual permission from the Cuban authorities. In regard to the case of Mr. West it moreover appears that, having undergone a most searching and prolonged examination, both as to himself and his papers, the judge having it in charge declared and certified that nothing had been discovered against him, but that he could not be discharged from arrest without orders from higher authority.
The first two assumptions of your excellency-that powder was smuggled, and that it was taken to Cuba by a person accused, a citizen of the United States-are, therefore, inapplicable to the matter in hand, unless such facts, in the judgment of the local authorities, are allowed by your excellency to be sufficient to justify the arrest of any AngloAmerican in Cuba, under the pretence "of complicity with those who, within and without the island, conspire to overthrow the established order of things."
The third assumption, that the powder was transported in a vessel whose chief cargo was consigned to Mr. West, affords no ground of
s. Mis. 3. 19
accusation against him when it appears, not only that he was ignorant of the fact of said transportation, but that another person avowed himself as its sole author. The fourth assumption, that "the same powder. was discharged and hidden in the habitation or shed of this same defendant," is not warranted by the statement. Besides, Granadillo is the usual landing for the merchandise of several neighboring estates. The fifth assumption, and the inference drawn from it by your excellency, are equally inadmissible; for it does not appear that any AngloAmericans, much less either of the three for whom indemnity is now claimed, either aided in the discharge of the powder from the vessel, or contributed in the slightest degree to the fiaud or crime of which your excellency speaks. I readily agree that, by the general rule of international law, foreigners are subject to the criminal laws and jurisdiction of the country in which they transgress. BUT THERE MUST BE SOME EVIDENCE-some well-grounded suspicion of guilt. It surely will not be considered as either just or wise to suspect or arrest all AngloAmericans, citizens in a particular vicinity, because one admits himself the sole author of a crime which may have been committed in that neighborhood; much less would it accord with either national justice or sound policy, that, because the authorities in the island of Cuba see, as your excellency remarks, or Jhncy they see, as I may be allowed to add, "a perpetual conspiracy organized in the United States against the island of Cuba," they have a general discretion to establish a system of espionage, seizure, and unlawful detention of American citizens, to discover, if possible, any proof of' connexion with this supposed conspiracy, or the alleged crime of rebellion against the Spanish crown.
Your excellency is equally unwarranted in assuming from the statement which accompanied my note, that "too much credit had been given to the relation of friends and interested individuals ;" and that my government has "no more foundation than the passionate relations of the interested persons themselves" for the course it has adopted, or may think proper to pursue. As illustrating the exaggerated accounts which your excellency imagines may have been given by the. parties themselves, it is said that they complained that their property was "confiscated." The allegation was, that the property of Mr. West was "sequestered," and his papers not restored. While I agree that judicial "confiscations" cannot take place except in a final decree, your excellency must be well aware that "sequestration" is only the incipient step that may end in "confiscation." But, waiving all controversy about the technical accuracy of language, which was intended only to give the truth substantially and fairty, it is charitable to suppose that, in furnishing information tbr the use of his government, an individual unlearned in the technical niceties of legal diction may have been mistaken in the use of'a particular word, as that your excellence, or myself, might unintentionally, in a translation from a foreign language,. give a single expression more than its legitimate meaning.
Your excellency need not fear that the government of the United.: States will interpose its mediation in favor of those who may prove to be offenders against the laws of Spain. It well knows, and will fully per-. form, its whole duty towards a friendly power. The "respectable President," to whom your excellency refers, having done entire justice to ,
20 S. Mis. 3.
others, expects the same to be extended to his government and its own citizens entitled to its protection.
It must be obvious to your excellency that the duty of Spain is her highest policy; and that every just cause of complaint should be removed from a people whose position naturally brings them in such frequent intercourse and constant contact with the inhabitants of her West India possessions.
I will add nothing more to my previous statement in regard to the cruel treatment and excessive violence inflicted upon the accused after their arrest and confinement, in which some of them remained until the 5th of March, and may, for aught that appears to the contrary, still be imprisoned. Nor will I, in the present state of the business, offer any remark on the total failure of your excellency to notice that part of my note which seeks assurance and security against similar abuses for the future.
Your excellency will excuse me for saying, in conclusion, that I am not aware of having felt or exhibited any vehemence or unusual warmth in this matter. If I have shown some earnestness, and perpaps impatience, it arises from the subject itself, and the deep interest Which is naturally felt by a government and people who most highly appreciate the liberty and personal rights of the citizen in every case of injustice and oppression. Your excellency may rest assured it is not from any want ot due respect for her Majesty's government, which you so worthily represent, that I have spoken earnestly upon this subject.
I approve this occasion to renew the assurances of my most distinguished consideration, and have the honor to be, your excellency's obedient servant,
D. M. BARRINGER.
.His Excellency the MARQUIS OF PIDAL,
Minister of State, 4c., Jr.
Mr. Webster's Despatch.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, July 28, 1850.
SIa: I have the honor to transmit to you herewith a copy of a second affidavit and protest made by Mr. James H. West, of Bristol, Rhode Island, before the United States consul for Sagua la Grande, Cuba. This protest is accompanied with a certificate from Messrs. Reed & Wainwright, merchants, Boston.
You will without delay place copies of these papers in possession of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and insist upon an order for the immediate release of Mr. West and of his employs, Blethen and Lambden, as well as for speedy and ample indemnification to him for the outrage, and for the pecuniary losses which he has suffered in consequence of his imprisonment, and of the withholding from him of his commercial books and correspondence.
Upon the application of the parties aggrieved, my predecessor ad-
S. Mis. 3. 21
dressed instructions to you on the 1st of April last, to which we have your despatches in reply, Nos. 16 and 17, of the 2d and 11th of the following month, containing your correspondence with the minister of foreign relations of Spain upon the subject of this outrage upon three American citizens. This correspondence, upon your part, is entirely approved by me; nor do I perceive that you have justly laid yourself open to the animadversions contained in the correspondence on his part.
You will please to assure his excellency, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain, that although this government does not incline to magniftr small matters into things of great importance, yet it regards any act depriving an American citizen of his personal liberty as a subject of very just complaint until a proper charge for such deprivation be established onfull and sufficient evidence.
And I desire his excellency, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to understand distinctly that no Spanish subject will be deprived of his liberty by order of this government, or any branch of it, on mere suspicion, or on any slight grounds or unfounded imputations; and that in this respect we confidently anticipate concurrent and reciprocal sentiments and conduct from the Spanish government.
You are instructed, however, to lose no time, after the receipt of this despatch, in addressing a note to the Spanish minister, apprizing him of the views of your government, and requesting of him a true copy of the proceedings in this case before the legal tribunals of Sagua la Grande. If it appears that Mr. West was acquitted, after trial, of all complicity in the smuggling of the gunpowder, and of political designs, all which will be shown by this record, it will then follow, as a matter of course, that the arrest was without cause, and its further continuance wholly unjustifiable.
You will receive herewith a copy of the rules and regulations of the port of Havana, and also a statement of facts furnished to this department by the Rev. John West, the father of the accused.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
DANIEL M. BARRINGER, Esq.,
4 c., Jjc., Sic, Madrid.
CONSULATE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
/or the Port of Sagua la Grande.
By this public instrument of protest be it known, that on the day and date hereof; before me, John D. Hall, acting as vice-consul for the United States of America at the port of Sagua la Grande, personally appeared James H. West, a native of Bristol, State of Rhode Island, doing business at Sagua la Grande, in the island of Cuba, to make the following affidavit and protest, in the strongest manner possible, against whom it doth or may concern:
SAG A LA GRANDE, Island of Cuba, May 20, 1850:
I, James H. West, a citizen of the United States, and native of Rhode Island, residing for commercial purposes in this place, do sol-
22 S. Mis. 3.
emnly protest against the present state under which I am held, both in person and property, by the lawful authorities, for causes of which I am ignorant; certifying that on the 5th day of February last I extended a protest before the American consular agent at this place, in which I made known that I had been placed under arrest on the 30th day of January previous, and my papers seized, in consequence of some powder supposed to have been landed from a vessel wbich came to my consignment. Although, in one week after my arrest, it was proved, from the examination of my papers and of witnesses, that the powder was imported without my knowledge or participation, I have to this day been deprived of the enjoyment of my property, or the effects imported by me in said vessel, or the use or even copies of my commer.cial books and papers, or the privilege of leaving the jurisdiction in which I am arrested, which is at a distance from my family and interests.
I certify that I have made frequent applications to the authorities for .my release and my property, but have been uniformly refused either; that I have corresponded with the American consuls at Trinidad and Havana, but have experienced no relief to my situation; that if I am guilty of any crime or fault against the government, I am not aware of it; neither have I been informed by any ojjcial communication that any charge exists against me.
I also testify that an American cooper, employed by me, by the name of Edward Read Lambden, was arrested two days before myself, and has, from that time to this, been confined iu prison; and also that a French subject in my employ was arrested at the same time with him, and is still in prison; also, that the tools belonging to two American carpenters in my employ have been detained from them up to this time, thereby rendering their services to me valueless; that my property has gone to waste, and my business ruined, in consequence of these proceedings against me; and that I place myself under the American government as a citizen thereof, and claim and demand damages to the amount of fifty thousand dollars for the injuries I have been and am suffering.
JAMES H. WEST.
[Le ~ In witness whereof, I herewith affix my signature and seal of
office, at Sagua la Grande, this 20th day of May, 1850.
JNO. D. HALL,
Acting Vice Consul of the United States of America.
Letter of the American minister at 3Madrid to Rev. John West.
MADRID, September 26, 1850.
DEAR SI: I have had.the pleasure to receive your communication of the 16th ultimo, on the subject of the arrest and imprisonment of Mr. James H. West and his employs in the island of Cuba. You will find on file in the Department of State, copies of all the correspondence between the Spanish government, the Department of S, ate, and myself, in regard to this case, to the 12th instant. From these you will more fully learn the points to which you may usefully direct your
s. Mis. 3. 23
attention in future, in procuring any further evidence to support the claim for their release and indemnification.
The Spanish government has refused to release them, except according to the usual course of judicial proceeding in their courts. It appears, fiom the reply of her Majesty's minister of State, that there is no charge against them of complicity in political designs; but that they are detained and being tried simply for an act of contraband, in smuggling twenty barrels [kegs] of gunpowder into the island. It seems to me that their treatment, on such a charge, has been most oppressive, and demands reparation. Under the existing state of things, however, I must await the further advice and instructions of our government.
Gratefully acknowledging the kind terms in which you have been pleased to speak of my efforts, in the correspondence on this subject, I have the honor to be, dear sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
D. M. BARRINGER.
Rev. JOHN WEST, Bristol, R. L
Letter from same to same.
MADRID, October 9, 1850.
DEAR SiR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letters of the 3d and Sth ultimo, with enclosures.
In the present state of the case, I would advise you to go in person to Washington, and examine all the correspondence, and ascertain fully the views of the department in the future prosecution of the demand for the release of your son and his employes, and his claim for indemnification, under the statement lately presented by the Spanish government through this legation. My own opinion is unaltered, that he has a good and just claim for indemnity; and that he and those connected with him in this affair have been the victims of much oppression, and are entitled to the tillest satisfaction, and your son, especially, to the warmest sympathy and support. I regret much to hear of the death of poor Lambden.
I remain, very truly, your obedient servant,
D. M. BARRINGER.
Rev. JOHN WEST, Bristol, R. 1.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
W~ashington, March 31, 18$51.
Sift: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 21st instant, with its enclosures, and of the 28th January last. The answver to the latter had been postponed, in expectancy of an earlier receipt of official information respecting the subject of your communications.
The enclosed is an extract from a despatch of the Spanish Minister of
24 S. Mis. 3.
Foreign Affairs to the Spanish minister near this government; the latter communicated to me on the 20th instant.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. S. DERRICK,
Rev. JOHN WEST, Troy, New York.
Letter from the Spanish minister to Don Calderon de la Barca.
FIRST BUREAU OF THE DEPARTMENT, SECOND SECTION.
Madrid, February 6, 1851.
MOST EXCELLENT SIR: On the evening of the 29th of last January, the pedaneo (a petty judge) of San Lazaro seized twenty barrels of powder in the warehouses of Don Enrique Emerson, in a creek of Granadillo; and ascertained that there wcre yet missing other freight-boats belonging to a vessel of Sagua, which had brought over timber for a new warehouse which Emerson was erecting, and that said vessel might probably bring mere barrels and some arms. In consequence of this the pedaneo proceeded to draw up a summary of the circumstances, and to arrest Edward Read and Clement Blethen, Anglo-American, and also Don Allejo Echandi-all of whom he believed to be guilty of introducing the powder; and having no convenient place to confine them in, he sent them to the town prison.
With regard to Jas. H. West, it has been proved that he was not. only the consignee of the brig Eolian, that brought over the powder that was found at Granadillo, but that he had forwarded various canisters of that article to Don Enrique Emerson; and, in view of all these circumstances, the judge-advocate ordered, as a precautionary measure, not that he should be arrested, as it is presumed in the account given by Mr. Barringer, but that he should be prohibited from leaving the village and port of Sagua-an arrangement which, so far from involving imprisonment, or implying any arbitrary conduct, only evinces deference and consideration, which were poorly responded to by West; seeing that, as it has been proved.upon inquiry, he made a journey to Cardenas in violation of said prohibitory order, which rendered it necessary to renew the same, while the suit fbr smuggling was still pending in the court of that district. It is true, that the papers of West were both inspected and detained ; but they were returned to him, by direction of the intendant, on the 29th of May last, with the exception of some which related to the cargo of the brig Eolian, and which are attached to the writ; and if he has been deprived of these documents for any length of
tmit was owing to the course of procedure which the wvrit had to undergo, having to pass through various phases of examination in the military court, until it was referred to the department of finances, by order of the Captain General-all of which necessarily occasioned some delay.
With regard to the confiscation and seizure of goods belonging to the same, this wvas effected by seizing such timber as was supposed to be his property, out of the bulk which was brought over by the aforesaid brig,
S. Mis. 3.
and partly deposited in Granadillo. The inference, from all that has been demonstrated, is, that the three Anglo-Americans, aforesaid, have not experienced any undue ill treatment or molestation; and there was no greater severity used towards them than the laws require, and is meted out to Spaniards themselves. The same treatment was observed towards Emerson, in whose establishment, or mill, there were found twenty-nine canisters of the same quality of powder as that contained in the five canisters of Read; and although he was on this account arrested and imprisoned, yet, at the expiration of five or six days, he was liberated; while his slaves, who had been apprehended, were also set free.
MANUEL BERTRAN DE LIS.
TROY, NEW YORK, April 7, 1851.
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 31st ultimo, with its enclosure, in which you inform me that the answer to my letter of the 25th of January last had been postponed in expectancy of earlier official information on the subject to which it relates; and, also, that the enclosed extract from a despatch of the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs to the minister of Spain near this government, was communicated to you on the 20th of March. The document just received appears to conflict, on some points, with evidence now in possession of the department, and on which I conceive its statements to be erroneous, while it distinctly admits those facts in the case wfiich are most material to the question at issue. And I now proceed respectfully to suggest to the consideration of the department the reasons which have conducted me to this conclusion. The first erroneous statement is that which denies the arrest of the complainant. The despatch says, "the judge advocate ordered, as a precautionary measure, not that he should be arrested, but that he should be prohibited from leaving the village and port of Sagua." This distinction between a judicial arrest and the restraint of personal liberty within territorial limits, even if it were sustained by the facts, would furnish no sufficient defence against the claim as set fbrth in the despatch of Mr. Webster, of July 28, 1850; for, as if to anticipate this merely technical objection, the American Secretary of State says, "this government regards any act depriving an American citizen of his personal liberty as a subject of very grave complaint." And it is admitted in this despatch of the Spanish Secretary of State that Mr. West was restrained of his personal liberty within the village and port of' Sagua. But, in order to remove all doubt in regard to the legal and judicial arrest of the complainant, it is only necessary to refer to the official documents in this case, among which will be found the judicial order which was served upon him, which brings the act complained of within the most technical definition of an arrest, inasmuch as he was deprived of his personal liberty by a mandate being served upon him by a judicial officer of the court. And when we proceed to learn in what manner this mandate was executed, its effects will best explain its true nature and design; on which Mr. West has himself justly observed
2S. Mis. 3.
that "when it is said he was not arrested, but only prohibited from leaving the village and port of Sagua, the distinction will appear but a mockery to the victim, who was cut off from all access to his business at Granadillo, severed from his family at Cardenas, and forbidden to leave the island for his home in the United States." But the despatch proceeds not only to exonerate this act from the charge of being an arrest, but to exalt it into an act of deference and consideration. Its language is: "this treatment of Mr. West, so far from implying any arbitrary conduct, only evinces deference and consideration." Now, when it is considered that Mr. West was stripped of all his property, exposed to disgrace in the eyes of the community, and confined within the limits of a town far from his family and country, obliged to support himself without the power of transacting business in his own name, what can be meant by this deference and consideration but this: that any treatment short of personal violence and death is lenient and courteous towards an American citizen who happens to fall under the suspicions of the Spanish functionaries of Cuba? But the despatch proceeds further to say, that the above deference and consideration "were poorly responded to by West, seeing that he made a journey to Cardenas in violation of said prohibitory order." This only irregularity, even of the slightest character, which the whole proceedings disclose on the part of Mr. West, will appear, when the facts are stated in full, not only mitigated, but in a light reflecting severely on the Spanish government. Mr. West, after several months' confinement within the limits of Sagua, received information that his wife and child lay, as was supposed, at the point of death, at Cardenas. He applied for a assport, and was refused, although he offered the most responsible bail for his safe return; nor did he leave Sagua until the governor assured him that, although he was not permitted to give him a passport, he would take no official notice of his absence. The despatch in question next proceeds to offer a qualifying explanation of the seizure of Mr. West's property: "With regard to the seizure and confiscation of goods belonging to Mr. West, this was effected by seizing such timber as was supposed to be his property, out of the bulk which was brought over by the aforesaid brig." Now, the documents, and the legal proceedings in this case, will show that the entire cargo of said vessel, all of which belonged to Mr. West, and was of value to him about ten thousand dollars, was seized, and is to the present time withheld from him; and, further, the sum of two thousand dollars was paid by him on condition of having the cargo released, which condition has never been fulfilled. In regard to the treatment of the prisoners, the despatch proceeds to say, that "Read and Blethen were sent to the town prison because there was no convenient place to confine them in." No reference is here made to what took place before they were sent to the town prison; whereas one of the Americans declares, under oath, that this occurred "after a night of confinement and cruel usage ;" while the two suffrers declare, on oath7, that they were placed astride upon a log during the night, with their arms pinioned behind them, and their wrists tied so tightly with cords as to cause the blood to ooze through the skin, and the next day were sent on horseback behind their guard to the prison at Villa Clara, thirty miles distant. There, as the des-
S. Mis. 3. 27
patch admits, they were placed in confinement; and there Lambden remained a prisoner five months, and died only a few days after he was released on bail.
There are one or two errors of fact, of less importance, which now remain to be noticed. One of these is a mistake in regard to the quantity of the smuggled powder. The despatches of the Marquis de Pidal and Seflor Bertran de Lis, both speak of twenty barrels of powder; and the former lays much stress on the introduction of "so considerable a quantity" of that article; whereas they were kegs, and not barrels; the mistake growing out of the fact that the kegs were concealed in barrels of potatoes. It is of some importance to correct this error, inasmuch as it removes a suspicious and alarming circumstance, and proves that the quantity was no more than is often used on estates for mechanical purposes, especially in blasting deep wells. And, moreover, this same powder, it is said, was sold at auction, and purchased 1br this purpose by Mr. Emerson, the same planter who contracted with Captain Jordan for procuring it. One more error deserves correction, and the rather because it has been repeated in the present despatch, after having been exposed by Mr. Barringer in his reply to the former. I now refer to the statement that the warehouse, at the landing where the powder was found, was for private instead of common use. The former Spanish Secretary of State termed it the property of Mr. West, and the latter, of Mr. Emerson; whereas it is, as Mr. Barringer properly described it, a common place of deposite for the neighborg plantations, and belonging neither to Mr. West nor Mr. Emerson.
Having thus noticed the erroneous statements in this despatch, I beg leave, in conclusion, to ask the attention of the department to a point which is essential to the whole question at issue, but which has been either kept out of view, or blended with another, in the correspondence of the Spanish ministers. It is this: that the original offence charged upon the accused was a political one, and that he was judicially acquitted. In the opening of the late despatch of the Spanish minister of State it is said, that "the pedaneo (petty judge) seized twenty barrels of gunpowder." Now, had there arisen no suspicion (filse and groundless as it proved to be) that other transactions and political designs were connected with this powder, the whole affair would have been treated, as the Spanish government were afterwards obliged to treat it, as a mere smuggling adventure. The powder would have been confiscated, and a fine imposed on the violators of the law had they been discovered; but no arrests would have been made, and none of the disastrous consequences that ensued would ever have occurred. But after the discovery of the powder, the despatch proceeds to say: "When it was ascertained that said vessel might probably bring more barrels and some arms, in consequence of this the pedaneo proceeded to arrest Edward Read and Clement Blethen, whom they believed to be guilty of bringing the powder; and ordered that Mr. West, the consignee of the vessel, should be prohibited from leaving the village and port of Sagua." Hence the alleged offence assumed the form of" smuggling with political designs. On this charge the cargo and papers of Mr. West were seized, and he was arraigned before a military tribunal, and, after examination under this primary process, lie was acquitted of the alleged offence, and
28 S. Mis. 3.
a certificate to that effect was signed by the judge, scribe, and interpreter of the court, and so certified by the governor of Sagua to the governor of Villa Clara. Here, then, the process against Mr. West should have terminated, and his person, papers, and property, have been released. And here is where Mr. Webster, in his despatch of July, 1850, founds his demand for indemnity; "the arrest having been proved to be without cause, its further continuance was wholly unjustifiable." But the course of judicial proceedings required the reference of this sentence to the adjudication of the military head of the governnent, the Captain General; and here, as we have it stated in the letter of the intendant to the American consul at Havana, "his excellency stated that nothing political was involved in the affair." Here, then, the trial on the alleged political offence terminated finally; and it was turned over to the civil department as a simple revenue question. This is stated in the late despatch of the Spanish minister of State, where he says that "the delay was owing to the course of procedure which the suit had to undergo, having to pass through various phases of examination in the military court, until it was referred to the department of finance by the Captain General." From all the foregoing considerations the explanations of the Spanish minister of State appear to be wholly unsatisfactory. They admit the material facts asserted by the complainant; that Mr. West was restrained of his personal liberty; that his papers and property were seized; and that the introduction of the powder, whi at first assumed a political character, and was prosecuted as such, was afterwards found to be, and was treated as, a mere smuggling adventure. And in regard to Mr. West's entire innocence of being a participator in either the alleged political or revenue offlnce, the language of Mr. *Barringer to the Marquis de Pidal is adequate and conclusive. He says: "The very statement to which we both refer, explicitly exonerates the three Americans in question from all knowledge, much more from any improper connexion with the offence. It expressly declares that Captain Jordan, of the brig Eolian, avowed himself as the only person interested in the powder, and that the same had nothing to do with political designs, but was a mere smuggling adventure. There is not the slightest proof of any agency on the part of Mr. West, Mr. Lambden, and Mr. Blethen, in this act of smuggling, much less of doing the same with political designs, the crime for which theywere arrested and confined. In regard to the case of Mr. West, moreover, it appears that, having undergone a most searching examination both as to himself and his papers, the judge having it in charge declared and testified that nothing had been discovered against him."
The complainant, therefore, again throws himself upon the protection of his government, and urges the enforcement of his claims, as set forth in the dispatch of the honorable Secretary of State, of July 28, 1850.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. S. DERRICK, Esq.,
Acting Secretary, 4'c., 4c.
S. Mis. 3. 29
PROCEEDINGS IN CONNEXION WITH A MEMORIAL TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF RHODE ISLAND.
To the General Assembly of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations:
The undersigned respectfully memorializes, in behalf of his son, James H. West, as follows, viz:
That Mr. James Howe West is a native and resident of the State of Rhode Island; that in December, 1849, he went to the island of Cuba for commercial purposes; that on the 2Sth January, 1850, he was arrested at Sagua la Grande, by the military authorities, on suspicion of political designs against the government, and his property seized; that, after a trial before a military court he was fully acquitted; that, notwithstanding his proved and certified innocence,' his arrest was continued, his papers and property withheld from him, and three of his employes seized and imprisoned, and treated with such cruelty as to cause the death of one of them; and that a series of vexatious and expensive proceedings has been continued up to the present time, depriving him of his personal liberty, and of his rights and profits in the prosecution of his business, involving himself and friends in large pecuniary losses and embarrassments, and dishonoring his good name in the eyes of the community, by branding him as an arrested and suspected man. That no pains or expense have been spared to prosecute his case, in order to obtain redress through the American government; but that, after the lapse of two years, no relief, or prospect of any, has been obtained.
The undersigned, therefore, prays your honorable body that the senators in Congress from this State be instructed to inquire into the facts of this case, and to adopt all constitutional means to secure relief to one of your fellow-citizens thus oppressed, without cause, and in violation of law, by the subordinate officials of a foreign government.
And, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Resolutions of General Assembly, February 3, 1852.
Whereas this General Assembly has received information that James H. West, a citizen of Bristol, Rhode Island, is now restrained of his liberty at Sagua la Grande, in the island of Cuba, and that the property of said West has been taken, and is now detained from him by the authorities of that island, without any adequate or just cause, all of which has been communicated to the executive department of the general government, and has been the subject of a correspondence between said general government and the government of Spain: therefore,
Be it resolve ed, That the senators and representatives in Congress from this State be requested to use all means within their control to ascertain whether or not the information received by this General As-
30 S. Mis. 3.
sembly, in relation to the restraint of the personal liberty, and the detention of the property, of the said West, be true; and if the same shall appear to be true, and the said West shall appear to be deprived of his liberty and property without any adequate or just cause, that said senators and representatives be, and are, requested to employ all constitutional means within their control which may tend to procure the release of said West, and the restoration of his property, with a suitable and proper indemnity to him for any injury which he may have received.
Resolved, That his excellency, the governor, be requested to cause copies of the above resolution to be forwarded to the senators and representatives in Congress from this State.
A true copy. Attest:
Secretary of State.
STATE OF RHODE ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS,
January Session, A. D. 1S52.
Copy of documents forwarded by the Non. Charles 7. James to Governor
Allen, in reply to the resolutions of the General Assembly.
SIR: Having received, through your hands, a copy of the resolutions passed by the General Assembly of the State of Rhode Island, during their session in January last, respecting Mr. James H. West, I have now to ask of you the favor that you will transmit to that assembly the enclosed copy of a despatch, dated the 20th March, 1S52, from Mr. Calderon, the Spanish minister, in explanation of the proceedings instituted by the Spanish authorities against Mr. James H. West. Under the circumstances, as set forth under Mr. Calderon's note and its enclosure, the department could do no more at this time for Mr. West than to ask of the Spanish government all possible despatch in the legal proceedings against the accused.
A copy of the resolution has been communicated to Mr. Calderon, with the request that he would again bring the subject to the notice of the authorities of Cuba.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. CHARLES F. JAMES,
U. S. Senator, Washington.
Seiior A. Calderon de la Barca to Hon. Daniel Webster.
-LEGIATION OF SPAIN IN WASH-INGTON,
. Washington, March 20, 1S52.
In the department at present under the worthy charge of the Hon. Daniel Webster, there will undoubtedly be found the disagreeable correspondence which has taken place between Mr. Barringer, minister of the United States at the court of Spain, and the Marquis de Pidal, her
S. Mis. 3. 3
Catholic Majesty's Secretary of State, in consequence of certain representations made by the former against the arrest of Messrs. James H. West, Edward Read, oand Clement P. Blethen, who were apprehended on the 2d of January, IS50, for having fraudulently introduced powder from on board the American brig Eolian into Granadillo, near Sagua Ia Grande, in the island of Cuba. Copies of this correspondence were transmitted to the undersigned by his government, which having received, he comrmunicated the explanations contained therein to the Hon. Mr. Clayton, who considered them sufficient, and gave assurances to that effect.
The Hon. Daniel Webster having succeeded to the Secretaryship of State, the undersigned spoke to him about this business, and he had the satisfaction of hearing him declare and explain, with his characteristic lucidness, the principle of the law of nations, which says, "that every foreigner going to another country to reside and to pursue some occupation, subjects himself and must abide by the laws of the country which he has selected for his residence and for the pursuit of his occupations.
In the first reply of her Catholic Majesty's Secretary of State, the Marquis de Pidal, to Mr. Bartinger, under date May 6, 1850, he told him, as it will appear at the department, that he had asked for and expected to receive information in regard to what had taken place in the premises, and that he had already written, moreover, tothe Captain General of the island of Cuba, directing him to examine impartially into the business, and to punish those who had been guilty of irregularity or violation of the law, if any such had been committed.
In the absence of Mr. Webster, the undersigned submitted these instructions for perusal to Mr. Derrick, who was then performing the functions as Secretary of State.
The information which had been requested, did, in fact, reach Madrid, and the same went to prove that there had been no irregularity, no ill-treatment, no act of injustice whatever committed, and the ex parte complaint of the accused was destitute of foundation.
Sefnor Don Manuel Bertran de Lis, who has succeeded the Marquis de Pidal as her Majesty's Secretary of State, has forwarded these particulars to the undersigned in proof of the justice, prudence, and circumspection with which the authorities of Havana have proceeded in this case; and feeling convinced that he (the undersigned) could not express himself in terms more adequate and conclusive than those used in the instructions which he his just received from his excellency, he encloses an exact copy of the same to the honorable Secretary of State, whose clear judgment and rectitude of principle will, he flatters him-" self, confirm the assertion contained in the preceding part of these Friendly explanations.
The undersigned avails himself of this occasion to renew to the Hon. Daniel Webster the assurances of his most distinguished consideration.
A. CALDERON DE LA BARCA. Hon. DANrIEL WEBSTER,
Secretary of S&ate of die United States.
32S Mis. 3.
The Spanish Secretary for Foreign Affairs to Sezior Calderon de la Barca.
FIRST BUREAU OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Second Section, Madrid, February 6, 1851. MOST EXCELLENT SIR: On the evening of the 29th of last January, the pedaneo (a petty judge) of Sagua la Grande, seized twenty barrels of powder in the warehouses of Don Enrique Emerson, in a creek of Granadillo, and ascertained that there were yet missing other freightboats belonging to a vessel of Sagua, which had brought out timber for a new warehouse which Emerson was erecting, and that said vessel might probably bring more barrels and some arms. In consequence of this the pedaneo (petty judge) proceeded to draw up a summary of the circumstances, and to arrest Edward Read and Clement Blethen, AngloAmericans, and also Don Alejo Echandi, all of whom he believed to be guilty of introducing the powder; and having no convenient place to confine them in, he sent them to the town prison.
The lieutenant governor, who repaired to the spot, met the prisoners on his way, who were neither bound nor ill-treated, but were mounted on an animal, and riding with all poAible ease. They did not coinplain of any arbitrary act, as it was natural they should if such had been committed, nor does it appear from the proceedings in the case that any act of the kind was committed; nor was there any intimation given in court, either then or since, that the Anglo-Americans had been so tightly bound together as to cause the blood to start from their arms, as it has been asserted by the American minister.
As to the question whether the arrest of the Anglo-Americans aforesaid was arbitrary or not, it is enough to say, that in the trunk of Read there were found, while the examination was going on, canisters filled with powder, the finding of which fixed the guilt upon him-the introduction of said powder sometimes assuming a political character, which was the impression at first, and subsequently that of a simple smuggling operation, as it was eventually proved to be, casting suspicion upon Blethen, who was his companion and messmate. As there was a lieutenant governor ad interim at Villa Clara, in consequence of the actual governor having gone to Granadillo, the former received the prisoners and placed them in solitary confinement, until the latter gentleman, accompanied by the assessor and the notary public, should return and determine what was proper to be done in the premises-which was a very prudent step to take, supposing him to be ignorant of the guilt of the accused, and aware of the fact that their deposition had not been taken in Granadillo for want of interpreters. The judge advocate returned on the morning of the 31st of January, and on the same day were taken the depositions in regard to Read and Blethen, who from that moment ceased to b5e kept in solitary confinement; and, in view of said depositions, and of other testimony which was taken in the premises, the judge issued an order on the 4th of February directing Blethen to be set at liberty, and Read to be considered as a prisoner-all of' which was effected on the same day. From that time Read was removed to a handsome chamber, the best to be found in the prison-
S. Mis. 3. 33
building, where he was not only allowed to have free communication with those around him, but to remain with his door always open fbr purposes of exercise, which he partook by walking in the court-yard, through the chapter-room, and even under the porches in front of the edifice adjoining the play-grounds-being treated with the greatest consideration, as the good state of his health showed when he was released. from prison, on bail, on the 27th of June. As soon as the aforesaid Read was set at liberty he begged that his trunk, together with the clothes and tools which had been shipped to him from Granadillo, might be returned to him; and the same were forthwith ordered to be returned.
With regard to James H. West, it has been proved that he was not only the consignee of the brig Eolian, which brought over the powder that was found in the Granadillo, but that he had forwarded various canisters of that article to Don Enrique Emerson; and in view of all these circumstances, the judge advocate ordered, as a precautionary measure, not that he should be arrested, as it is presumed in the account given by Mr. Barringer, but that he should be prohibited from leaving the village and port of Sagua-an arrangement which, so far from involving imprisonment or implying any arbitrary conduct, only evinces deference and consideration, which were poorly responded to by West, seeing that, as it has been proved upon inquiry, he made a journey',to Cardenas in violation of said prohibitory order, which rendered it necessary to renew the same, while the suit for smuggling was still pending in the court of that district. It is true that the papers of West were both inspected and detained, but they were returned to him, by direction of the intendant, on the 29th of May last, with the exception of some which related to the cargo of the brig Eolian, and which are attached to the writ; and if he has been deprived of these documents for any length of time, it was owing to the course of procedure which the writ had to undergo, having to pass through various phases of examination in the military court, until it was retrred to the Department of Finances by order of the Captain General-all which necessarily occasioned some delay. With regard to the seizure and confiscation of goods belonging to the same, this was effected by seizing such timber as was supposed to be his property, out of the bulk which was brought over by the aforesaid brig and partly deposited in the Granadillo.
The infierence from all that has been demonstrated is, that the three Anglo-Americans aforesaid have not experienced any undue ill treatment or molestation, and that there was no greater severity used towards them than the laws require, and is meted out to Spaniards themselves. The same treatment was observed towards Don Enrique Emerson, in whose establishment or mill there were found twenty-nine canisters of the same quality of powder as that contained in the five canisters of Read; and although he was on this account arrested, not imprisoned, yet, at the expiration of five or six days, he was liberated on bail, while his slaves, who had been apprehended by the pedanco at San Lazaro, were also set free.
It is also stred in the account given by Mr. Barringer, that Captain Jordan, of the brig Eolian, was put under arrest. This is another mistake, because nothing else was done in regard to the captain than
34 S. Mis. 3.
to forbid his leaving the port of Sagua without the consent of the lieutenant governor, said captain being duly notified to that effect. And yet, notwithstanding this prohibition, the captain made his escape with his brig.
Such are the facts which have been elicited by the testimony which has been transmitted by the Captain General, and which I hereby communicate to your excellency by royal command, in order that, on being made known to the American government, they may serve to do away with the unfavorable impressions which may have been produced by the erroneous statements of Mr. Barringer on the subject in question, and exhibit in its proper light the prudent and just course of the authorities of the island of Cuba in the premises.
MANUEL BERTRAN DE LIS.
To the most excellent the MINISTER PLENIPOTENTIARY
of other Catholic Majesty, in Washington.
A true copy
A. CALDERON LE LA BARCA.
Remarks in explanation of the despatch of Mr. Calderon, the Spanish Minister, and its enclosure, to Mr. Vebster.
BRISTOL, RHODE ISLAND,
January 28, 1853.
His excellency the governor of Rhode Island having deposited in your bands certain papers received from the Department of State, through the Hon. Charles T. James, senator in Congress from this State, the undersigned, with the advice and consent of his excellency, has the honor to submit the following remarks in explanation of them, and in defence of the claim of Mr. James H. West against the Spanish government to which they relate. #
The claim of Mr. West having been presented to the United States government in the month of March, 1850, and the two successive cabinets of General Taylor and President Fillmore having demanded redress from the court of Madrid, the two Secretaries of State, Mr. Clayton and Mr. Webster, the American minister at the court of Spain, and the consuls in Cuba, having all concurred in their opinion of its reasonableness, a memorial was presented to the General Assembly of Rhode Isla"d, at its January session of 1852, in which the question was submitted to its consideration, whether, inasmuch as the preceding measures had failed to bring this business to a close, it was not a proper subject to submit
-to the notice of the United States Congress, in order to secure the adoption of further measures for the relief of the complainant, and for the honor of the nation. The said memorial was submitted, in each house of the assembly, to a special committee, who reported resolutions that were adopted by a unanimous vote in both houses. These resolutions reqluested the senators and representatives in Congress from this State to employ all proper, means to cause an investigation of tle facts, and to adopt every constitutional measure in their power to secure redress to
S. Mis. 3. 35
the complainant; and they were forwarded to Washington by his excellency the governor, as requested therein. Instead, however, of being brought directly to the notice of Congress, they were submitted, first, to the consideration of the Hon. Secretary of State. This was an unusual act of courtesy, inasmuch as Mr. Webster had been previously informed of the course proposed to be pursued, and had interposed no objection against it. The Hon. Secretary, by a still more liberal exercise of courtesy, placed a copy of the resolutions in the hands of the Spanish minister at Washington. The manifest design of the above course of procedure was, to tmirnish the minister of Spain with the latest opportunity to advance any fresh views of the subject, and to offer any information that might have been recently received in regard to it. Mr. Calderon, the Spanish minister at Washington, replied to Mr. Webster, in a letter enclosing an extract from a despatch of the Spanish Minister of State at Madrid. This letter and its enclosure were forwarded to his excellency the governor of Rhode Island, and by him placed in the hands of the committee, to whom I now proceed, as advised, to offer some explanatory remarks.
The line of argument which Mr. Calderon has seen fit to pursue, is extreme and uncompromising. He opposes an unqualified denial to the truth and justice of this claim, and cites the authority of the two American Secretaries of State, Mr. Clayton and Mr. Webster, as committed in his favor. Such a course of necessity compels a scrutiny, which, while it will not fail in courtesy, will be pursued without fear or favor.
The letter of Mr. Calderon first reverts to the earliest stage of the correspondence at the court of Madrid; and states that he, Mr. Calderon, communicated to the Hon. Mr. Clayton the explanations contained in the despatch of the Marquis de Pidal, the Spanish Secretary of State; and that Mr. Clayton "considered them sufficient, and gave assurances to that efl~ct." Now, a reference to that despatch, dated May 6, 1S50, will show that it presents two very dissimilar topics. In one portion of the despatch, the Spanish Minister of State gave assurances that his government would investigate the facts; and also pledged itself; in accordance with the results of that inquiry, to award justice to the injured and punishment to the guilty. If these were the explanations referred to, they might well afford satisfaction to the American Secretary of State, and draw from him assurances to that effect. The other leading topic of that despatch involves the merits of the question at issue, and upon which the Marquis de Pidal directly controverts the positions assumed by Mr. Clayton and Mr. Barringer, on the same statement of facts, and labors to convict the American government of having made demands unsupported by the facts on which they were founded. With these explanations of the Spanish secretary it is obvious Mrt. Clayton could not have been satisfied, nor, in that stage of the business, have given any such assurances. if, however, these explanations, made byb Mr. Calderon to Mr. Clayton, consisted merely of conversatdnal comnments upon the correspondence referred to, the assurances of satisfaction on the part of Mr. Clayton must have been of a qualified nature; so that it is impossible for these assurances, at that juncture, to have
36 S. s. 3.
been of such a nature as to compromise a claimant in whose behalf Mr. Clayton had interposed.
The letter of Mr. Calderon next expresses his satisfaction in having held conversation with Mr. Webster, who succeeded Mr. Clayton as Secretary of State, and in having heard him explain the principle of the law of nations, that any foreigner going to another country to reside there, and to pursue some occupation, must abide by the laws of the country. If this remark is intended to imply that the complainant in this case had controverted that canon, and desired to be justified contrary to the law, it is an assumption not warranted by the documents, vhich plainly show, on the contrary, that the injured party himself apeals to the records of a Spanish tribunal as the most conclusive evience of the justness of his claim. The point of law, therefore, is one which has never been at issue in the case. But further, if Mr. Calderon supposed or meant to imply that the opinions of Mr. Webster were in any respect adverse to this claim, it can only be necessary to refer to the despatch of that honorable Secretary dated July 28, 1850, to show that Mr. Webster has there solemnly, deliberately, and in the most forceful and conclusive terms, endorsed the justice of this claim both in law and in fact. And hence this reference to the authority of Mr. Webster is of no advantage to the explanations of Mr. Calderon.
From these incidental subjects the letter in question next proceeds to remark upon the despatch which it encloses, and affirms its important bearing upon the question at issue in these words: that "these particulars" went to prove that there had been no irregularity, no ill treatment, no act of injustice whatever committed, and that the ex parte complaint of the accused was destitute of foundation." It is proper now to inquire, what is the despatch which imparts to this whole matter so novel and changed a complexion? what are the particulars communicated in it, and what are the conclusions of its writer himself? All of which tend to prove this startling conclusion:
First. The document itself is an extract from a despatch of the Spanish Secretary of State to the Spanish minister at Washington, respecting which Mr. Calderon says, that, "feeling convinced that he could not express himself in terms more adequate and conclusive than those used in the instructions he has just received from his excellency, he encloses an exact copy of the same to the honorable Secretary of State." The date of this despatch becomes, in the present stage of this business, a material point. The American Secretary of State would naturally expect from the Spanish minister, if he transmitted any documents, those of recent date, and imparting information not already in the possession of the department. Mr. Calderon, therefore, makes it a point to call the attention of Mr. Webster to a document as "just received" from the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs; he, Mr. Calderon, then writing under the date of March 20, 1852. On looking at the despatch itself, it is found to bear the signature of Don Manuel Bertran de Lis, and is dated at Madrid, February 6, 1851, a period of thirteen months previous. Recurring now to the files of the Department of State, we find that Mr. Calderon had, under date March 20, 1851, or twelve months previous, transmitted to Mr. Derrick, the then Acting Secretary of State, a despatch signed by Don Manuel Bertran de Lis, dated February 6,
S. 1. 3 37
1851, and containing the same matter, word for word, with only the exception of some paragraphs which were omitted in the copy sent to Mr. Derrick, and so indicated therein, but inserted in the later copy sent to Mr. Webster. This is a most extraordinary anachronism; and is, on the face of the papers, unsusceptible of solution, except that, by some unfortunate oversight, Mr. Calderon forwarded to Mr. Webster, under date March 20, 1852, a document as "just received," which he had placed in the hands of the department just one year before. Copies of all the papers here referred to will be found in their appropriate place among the documents accompanying these remarks. Such, then, appears to be the despatch transmitted to Mr. Webster, and by him to the legislature of Rhode Island.
Second. The particulars communicated in this despatch next require attention. It has been already stated, that extracts from the despatch in question were transmitted to Mr. Derrick. A copy of the same was furnished to the undersigned by Mr. Derrick, in a letter dated March 31, 1851, in which he states that the said despatch was communicated to him by the Spanish minister at Washington, under date of the (then) 20th instant. To this letter and its enclosure, both of which will be found among these documents, a reply was prepared at large by the undersigned, under date April 7, 1851, which is also hereunto appended. It is not necessary to repeat here what was there urged in detail upon the particulars of this despatch. It is sufficient now to say, that Seflor Bertran de Lis, instead of furnishing evidence that tends to prove the claim of Mr. West to be destitute of foundation, distinctly admits all the material points of the complaint. A reference to it will show that he admits that the employes of Mr. West were arrested, imprisoned, and treated with severity; he admits that Mr. West was deprived of his personal liberty, and that his papers were seized and detained, and his property sequestered. He admits that these proceedings originated in a suspicion of political designs, and that they were investigated by a military court. He admits that the accused were found innocent of that offence; and finally, he admits that the whole affair turned out to be a mere smuggling adventure. Now, this is all that the complainant needs to have conceded. These are the very grounds of the complaint, as set forth in the despatch of Mr. Webster, of July, 1850, and of the requisitions therein made against the Spanish government. That despatch says: "If it appears that Mr. West was acquitted, after trial, of all complicity in the smuggling of the gunpowder and of political designs-all which will be shown by that record-it will then follow, as a matter of course, that the arrest was without cause, and its further continuance wholly unjustifiable." And, in this enunciation of the law, Mr. Webster appears to be fully sustained by the Marquis de Pidal, in his despatch to Mr. Barringer, dated May 6, 1850, who there says, that "according to the first declarations of the primary process the accused may" (if acquitted) "be in complete liberty." From all which it appears that the despatch enclosed by Mr. Calderon in the letter referred to, and from which he has deduced the broad conwclusion against the claim of Mr. West, admits the very facts on which the claim is founded.
Third. The remaining inquiry, in relation to the despatch in hand,
38 S. Mis. 3.
is this: What are the conclusions which the Spanish Secretary of State himself draws from his own statements?
In order to show that the minister of State draws no such inference
as that "there was no ill treatment, and no act of injustice whatever committed," it is only necessary to cite his own words: "The inference from all that has been demonstrated is, that the three Anglo-Americans have suffered no undue ill treatment; and that no greater severity was used towards them than the laws require." Require towards whom? The answer must be, towards the guilty. Thus the Secretary of State of Spain admits that there was ill treatment and severity used towards the Americans, and only combats the idea of its having been greater than the guilty deserve. How, then, is Mr. Calderon justified in concluding that there was no ill treatment whatever committed? But, while the inference drawn by Mr. Calderon is thus explicitly contradicted by the despatch itself,, it must be equally obvious that the conclusion of Seflor Bertran de Lis himself is alike unfounded; for even his qualified inference assumes the guilt of the accused, and must, therefore, if they were innocent of the political crime fbr which they were arrestedwhich also he elsewhere admits-of necessity fall to the ground. Passing from these considerations on the general character and scope of this despatch, the undersigned would ask attention to some of its particulars. The few paragraphs inserted in the present copy of this despatchwhich were omitted in the former one-relate exclusively to the treatment of the employs of Mr. West. They are intended to meet or modify the alleged severe treatment of the complainants. But, allowing these explanations all the force that can be justly claimed for them, the testimony adduced, besides being merely negative in its explanations, fails to meet the true matter of complaint. The Spanish Secretary of State misapprehends the first alleged act of cruelty towards the two prisoners, Blethen and Lambden. His excellency states the complaint thus: that "the Anglo-Americans were so tightly bound together as to cause the blood to start from their arms." It is also supposed that this alleged act of cruelty took place on the morning after the arrest, while the prisoners were on horseback on their way to prison. And the despatch, therefore, states in explanation that the lieutenant governor, when he met them at that time, neither saw nor heard of any such treatment.
Now, no such statement as this will be found among the documents of this case. The true statement is this: that on the evening of their arrest at Granadillo, the accused were taken from their beds at about 10 o'clock; that their arms were tied so tightly as to lacerate the skin, and, of course, to cause the blood to ooze from it; that they were then bound, back to back, until 9 o'clock on the next morning, when they were untied and transported on horseback, under guard, to the prison of Villa Clara, about thirty miles distant. It must be evident from this that the explanation ini the despatch does not meet the charge or deny the real complaint at all; for what the lieutenant governor did not see or hear on the dlay after is of no force or pertinency to the matter in question. Nor, again, does it avail ainy more to say, with the despatch, that no complaint of such cruelty was made at the time or afterwards, and that no record of it was found in the proceedings; for it is not probable that the prisoners, if-being foreigners--they could have made
S. Mis. 3. 39
themselves understood, would have hazarded worse treatment by the utterance of unavailing complaints; nor is it any more reasonable to suppose that these petty officials would have paraded their own wanton acts of cruelty on the records of the court. But it is a mistake to say that the prisoners made no complaint of such treatment; for, at the earliest possible opportunity, on the 19th day of February, their solemn affidavit and protest was made before tl American consul at Sagua. Some further misapprehensions of the facts might be pointed out; but no other remarks seem to be required on this tCpic. From what has been already said, it must appear sufficiently plain that the explanations offered in the despatch of the Spanish Secretary of State cannot be admitted to be "adequate and conclusive." The undersigned, in exposing the errors which are so manifest in the several despatches of the Spanish ministers, wishes to be distinctly understood. It is by o means his intention to impute to the distinguished persons referred to any intentional or conscious errors. On the contrary, he is free to admit the sincerity of purpose and conviction under which the erroneous statements may have been made. But they have been betrayed into these errors by the denial or evasions of the petty functionaries in Cuba, from whom these perversions have emanated. And, most assuredly, if the Spanish Secretary of State could feel himself at liberty to intimate, in his despatch to Mr. Barringer of May 6, 1850, that the American government had advanced claims having no better foundation than the passionate statement of interested persons, much more may it be retorted that the denial of thp statement has no better foundation than the declarations of interested individuals; for who, among the complainants, can be more interested in sustaining the statement than are the petty officials in Cuba in denying it? These men, having first perpetrated the alleged outrage, and having learned froni their own government that "if they had overstepped their legal powers, using towards the accused a severity not authorized by the laws, the government of her Majesty was firmly resolved to inflict upon those who may have abused their position, all the rigor of justice "-these persons, surely, lay under the strongest possible inducement to evade the discovery of the truth, in order to screen themselves from merited punishment. And, were the facts fully and truly represented on their part, it can scarcely be credited that any opposition would have been encountered in pressing the claim of these injured Americans.
A concluding remark is required in regard to the position assumed in this aflair by the Spanish minister at Washington. It will be readily conceded that his excellency has fully vindicated his devotion to his country's interests. But it may be reasonably questioned, whether he may not have been too much influenced by a suspicion of the guilt of the accused parties; and also by a too great reluctance to admit that the American might be right, if thereby it put the Spaniard in the wrong. But, however this may be, it appears to be unfortunate that the Spanish minister has laid himself open to animadversion in this business. It is unfortunate for the cause of Mr. Calderon that he should even appear adverse to a full investigation of this subject. This is particularly true, if the Spanish minister was the party who originally received from Boston the information (now acknowledged to be destitute of foundation) that the brig Eolian was there being furnished
40 S. Mis. 3.
with arms and ammunition for the Lopez invasion; and if, by.communicating this unfounded rumor to the Captain General of Cuba, he became the procuring cause of all the consequent sufferings to these innocent Americans. It is unfortunate for the cause of the Spanish minister that-while he admits, in the document here forwarded, that the suspicion of political designs connected with supposed arms and ammunition in the brig EoliaA has proved destitute of foundation, and that the information forwarded to the Captain General, by consequence, was destitute of foundation-his excellency should appear to stand between the resolutions of the General Assembly and the Congress of the United States, to prevent an investigation of the truth, as petitioned for by one of the sufferers. Had Mr. Calderon responded to the note ol Mr. Webster which communicated the resolutions, either without comment or with an assent to the course proposed, the desired investigation would have taken place as proposed, and the present disagreeable correspondence would have been spared.
The undersigned now trusts that the committee having in charge the dcespatches of the Spanish minister, and aided by the foregoing explanations, will not hesitate as to the character of their report; and that they will declare their opinion of the insufficiency of these despatches, either in affording satisfactory explanations of the alleged outrage, or in suggesting any reason why the subject should not be submitted, as proposed, to the consideration of the Senate of the United States.
In behalf of JAMES H. WEST.
To the JOINT COMMITTEE
of the General Assembly of R. L on Executive Papers.
STATE OF R. ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS,
In General Assembly, January Session, A. D. 1853.
The lieutenant governor, from the Committee on Executive Papers, presented the following resolutions as their report on the case of Mr. James H. West:
"Whereas the following resolutions were passed by the General Assembly, on the 3d day of February, A. D. 1852, (see resolutions,) therefore the said committee beg leave to submit the following resolutions as their report:
"Resolved, That this General Assembly, having received certain documents of the minister of Spain at Washington, in explanation of the proceedings instituted against Mr. James H. West, regards them as insufficient for the purpose of justifying the alleged outrage upon Mr. West and his property; and also of preventing the resolutions above recited from being carried into effect.
"Resolved, That these resolutions be forwarded to the Hon. Charles T. James, senator in Congress from this State, and that he be requested to cause said resolutions to be laid before the Senate of the United States."
A true copy. Attest:
Secretary of State.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
3 1262 04533 2920
TIlTS VOLUMiE HAS BEE*
BY THE UNIVERSITY OF
f LORIDA LIBRARIES"