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
The harmony 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 from this political agitation. On the one hand, the public
.functionaries of Cuba have had occasion to suspect that real or ima-
gined wrongs have been converted into a pretext for disturbing the ex-
isting 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 to-
wards 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 estab-
lishment 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-
& ffS.M. .
barked all that he possessed in the world--and in addition thereto some
means belonging to his friends in the United States-in the establish-
ment of a commission 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, "one 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
he sustained, throughout all this unfortunate collision with the Spanish
authorities, 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
In regard to the merits of the question at issue, it is important to
observe that the outrage complained of originated in an unfounded sus-
picion 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 upon this acquittal on the primary process, he rests his
claim for indemnity.
In the language of Mr. Webster: If it appears that Mr. West was
acquitted, after trial, of all complicity in the smuggling of the gunpow-
der, 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." 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 con-
ducted, 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 solici-
tations to awaken public sentiment in his behalf through the press. He
has sacredly respected the rights and feelings of Spaniards, by avoid-
ing all such publicity as might rouse indignant feelings on the part of
the American public; and has, for three years, patiently awaited the
award of justice 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 begin-
ning; that the mistake in which the alleged outrage originated has been
either overlooked or kept out of sight; that the sworn testimony of
American citizens has been branded as the mere passionate relations
of interested parties; and that, in the face of the deliberately pronounced
opinions of American Secretaries of State, ministers, and consuls, that
a gross and unjustifiable outrage has been perpetrated by Spanish func-
tionaries in Cuba upon American citizens, a Spanish minister has ven-
tured to declare his judgment to the American government, that "there
has been no ill-treatment and no injustice whatever committed, andcthat
S. Mis. 3 8
the ex part statement of the accused is destitute of foundation! A
declaration like this demands the most unsparing scrutingof the Amer-
ican 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 inju-
ries complained of.
BRISTOL, R. I., March 8, 1853.
Protest of Mr. James H. 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, S onally 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
SAGUA LA GRANDE, Island of Cuba, February 6, 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 pros-
trated, and anxiety and suffering caused to myself and friends. The
following brief statement of the facts bearing on my case may serve to
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 pas-
sengers landed, procured their passports and permission to remain, giv-
ing bonds, as is usual, for their good conduct. The brig proceeded to
discharge her cargo at Granadillo, a landing tor several sugar estates, dis-
tant a few miles from the mouth of Sagua river. One of the carpenters
went to work upon the lumber brought by the brig, at the atoresaid
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. 8.
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 at Sagua la Grande, this 5th day of February, 1850.
L .] FRANCIS R. GLEAN,
Vice Consul, 4c.
Translation of protest before the Spanish notary at Sagua la Grande.
In the port of Sagua la Grande, on the 28th day of February, 1850,
before me, the public escribano and witness, appeared Mr. James H.
West, of this vicinity, to whom I give credence from personal acquaint-
ance, 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 exami-
nation, 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, for all the
costs, damages, and prejudices that may accrue to him from the deten-
tion of his person and papers, certifying that on his part he has com-
plied with the requirements in every way demanded of him.
JAMES H. WEST.
Signed as witnesses:
D. JOSE BONAN.
D. MANUEL MARTINEZ.
ANDRES AR .
Translation of the order issued for the arrest of James 1 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.
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 communica-
.tion of the Hon. G. G. King, of Rhode Island, dated the 12th ult., to
this department, with copies of papers accompanying that communi-
cation; 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 citizens--
James 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
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 peace-
able 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.,
&cc., c., c., Madrid.
6 S. MI. 9.
CONSULATE OF THE 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 herdof, 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 Grana-
dillo?"-and a few more of 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 rela-
tion to what I knew about there being powder at Granadillo, to all
which I truly answered that I knew nothing; after which I was dis-
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 lacera-
ting 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 damages 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,
at Sagua le Grande, this nineteenth day of February,
,. A. D. 1850.
FRANCIS R. GLEAN.
S Mis. & 7
CONSULATE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
at the Port of Sugua 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,
.S.A. D. 1850.
FRANCIS R. GLEAN.
Protest of Edward Read Lambden.
This affidavit and protest was made in the name and in behalf or
said Lambden by Clement P. Blethen, said Lambden "not being per-
mitted to communicate his own sufferings."
As it recapitulates "the same unjust imprisonment, and the same in-
juries 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 Chiqc
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 repre-
sented 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 St Mis. .
as the case seems pending m 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 in-
nocent. If guilty, the law prescribes the punishment, and no com-
plaint can be made of its being inflicted. If innocent, justice requires
that they should be promptly declared so, that their arrest and imprison-
ment should terminate, and their reputations relieved from the imputa-
tions cast upon them. Should the law's delay cause these two Amer-
ican 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 for-
warded to my government, to which I have understood serious com-
plaints 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, tc., 4c.
Copy of translation, in reply.
"HAVANA, May 19, 1850.
"SIR CONSUL OF THE UNITED STATES IN THIS PLACE: I have re-
ceived 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, from 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 ofpo-
tatoes) "of gunpowder, which the said individuals appear guilty of; yet
they do not suffer for this any extra vexations; and, for my part, I have
urged the zeal of said administration of Puerto Principe for speedy
eflfrts in concluding this business. However, in obedience to what
your excellency desires, and in conformity with the hints of said At-
torney General, I will repeat my orders to the administration of that
S. Miff 3:
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 possip, and I will inform your excellency of it in answer
to your pre-noteFcommunication.
"EL CONDE DE VILLANUEVA."
Letter of James H. West, dated Sagua la Grande, August 13, 1850, to the
Rev. John West.
Mr 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
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 saever 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 Ameri-
can 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 td remit to Grana-
dillo 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 lat-
ter 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
Answer.-Small-a few kegs.
Question.-Did he give you a special charge to procure this, and in
Answer.-No. He merely remarked to me that he required it, with-
out giving a special charge to procure it.
Question.-What articles did you send to Granadillo in barrels from
Answer.-Three or four barrels of oil, one of beef, one of flour, and
a few barrels of potatoes; which beef, flour, and potatoes I purchased
of Captain Jordan.
Question.-For whom did you send these potatoes
Answer.-For the use of the workmen at Granadllo, and for the
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
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
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 pow-
der, and had hired and paid for the launches which had carried it, and
&. Mi. 3. 1
as I bad givenn 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 ad-
mission 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 con-
sider 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.
Mr DEAR FATHER: I wrote you under date of August 13, giving an
account of my late examination, and the charge of the judge pronounc-
ing me a party, which letter is important as showing the grounds ex-
isting 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 that they do not know them-
selves. 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 examina-
tion 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 custom-
house authorities had seized and sold the articles asserted to be smug-
gled, 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 pow-
der 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. Mi. 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, con-
sequent 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 SIR: 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 sub-
ject 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 dispo-
sition*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 inatten-
tion that you may suppose has been paid to the outrage committed on
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 departinent, who was at that time governor of this
place. I immediately addressed a note to him, and requested his ear-
liest attention to the case, and was informed by him that he had for-
warded 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 prop-
erty, 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 atten-
tion. 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 au-
thorities, 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 at-
tention; and I hope soon to be favored by him with an answer to the
communication addressed to his predecessor..
I 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 gov-
ernment should be made to pay severely for their wanton and unjusti-
fiable 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
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 proceed-
ing; 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 wells.]
Correspondence between the Minister of Foreign Afairs of Spain and the
American minister at Madrid.
PALACE, May 9, 1850.
Srn: 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 fit of this year,
under accusation, according to your excellency, "of participation in the
fraudulent introduction of powder into said island with political de-
signs." I will now say to your excellency that her Majesty's govern-
ment 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 will pursue its legal course; and that no account
will be given of it to the supreme government, unless the final result
may be worthy of raising it to the notice of her Majesty. But the
Spanish government, desirous-in the view of the note of your excel-
lency-to know with exactness the facts to which it alludes, has
directed information to be instantly sought for from the Captain Gen-
eral of Havana, which was done by the mail of to-day. And, pending
this, I can assure V. S. that if, from the investigations which will take
S. Mi. 8.
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 test-
mony of its rectitude; and to offer to those aggrieved, and to their gov-
ernment, 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 pro-
ceeded against, a citizen of the United States, according to the decla-
ration 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
Fifth. That~hose Anglo-Americans who aided in discharging it
must have contributed, in a greater or less degree, to the fraud or
These facts established, which all result from the statement presented
by your excellency, I cannot do less than manifest to you that the ju-
dicial authority of the district would have incurred a grave responsi-
bility 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 AccoRDIN To
THE FIRST DECLARATIONS OF THE PRIMARY PROCESS, SO THE SUSPECTED
PERSON MAY CONTINUE IN PRISON; MAY REMAIN CONFINED TO THE
.Mi&. & 1
CITY AND ITS LIMITS; MAY BE SUBJECT TO BAIL, OR IN COMPLETE
The facts being known, then, and also what the laws of Spain pre-
scribe 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 igno-
rant 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 sub-
stance 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 facts 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 com-
plained 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 atten-
tion ofV. 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'gov-
ernment 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 estab-
lish. 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 acknowledg-
ment from 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 in-
terested 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 concludes your above-mentioned note, fortify it
in this persuasion; for, if the respectable President of the United.States
8, Mis. &.
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 deter-
mined 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 the 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 excel-
lency's communication, I had supposed that some notice of the occur-
rences 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 be-
lieve 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 t6 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 what-
ever 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 negotia-
tions, and the usual means of redress between friendly nations. It is
unnecessary to remind your excellency that this hope is sincerely en-
tertained from the good offices and friendly dispositions of her Majes-
ty'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 information sought,
S. Mis. 3.
(and I trust may add, IN ANY OTHER WAY,) that the Spanish func-
tionaries in the island of Cuba have exceeded the limits of their right-
ful 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 de-
sire from others in similar circumstances. This assurance having been
vouchsafed to me, by your excellency, in behalf of her Majesty's gov-
ernment, 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 com-
ment," both on the nature of the demands made by me, in my communi-
cation 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
oflf some remarks in reply, both for the purpose of preventing further
misconception, and correcting the errors in fact into which your excel-
lency, no doubt inadvertently, has fallen, as well as to expose the un-
tenable 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 ac-
knowledging the receipt of my note of the 26th ultimo, your excellency,
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 wan-
tonly 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
tb the requisitions of my note of the 26th ultimo. The demand is, first,
for the release of those who may be still under arrest or in confinement-
for the restoration of the papers and property of Mr. West, one of the ac-
K Mix 3.
caused, 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 re-
paration is asked, should have participated 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 knowl-
edge, 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 smug-
gling 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 smug-
gling, much less of doing the same with political designs-the crimefor
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 under-
gone 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 dis-
charged 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 Anglo-
American 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. i9
accusation against hinm when it appears, not only that he was ignorant
Tothe: fact4f said transportation, but that another person avowed him-
:e6f as itsh fe author. The fourth assumption, that "the same powder.
wvs discharged and hidden in the habitation or shed of this same de-
fendant," 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 excel-
lancy, are equally inadmissible; for it does not appear that any Anglo-
Americans, 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 fraud 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 juris-
dietion' 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 Anglo-
Americans, 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 fancy 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 sys-
tem 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 state-
ment 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 "con-
fiscated." 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 ex-
cellency must be well aware that "sequestration" is only the incipiefit
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 fairly, it is charitable to suppose that,
in furnishing information for the use of his government, an individual
unlearned in the technical niceties of legal diction may have been mis-
taken 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 Pre-
sident," 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 fer
highest policy; and that every just cause of complaint should be remolvd
from a people whose position naturally brings them in such frequent
intercourse and constant contact with the inhabitants of her West India
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
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 perhaps impa-
tience, 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 of due respect for her Majesty's government, which you so wor-
thily represent, that I have spoken earnestly upon this subject.
I approve this occasion to renew the assurances of my most distin-
guished consideration, and have the honor to be, your excellency's obe-
D. M. BARRINGER.
His Excellency the MARQUIS OF PIDAL,
Minister of State, 4c., tc.
Mr. Webster's Despatch.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, July 28, 1860.
SSIR: 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 immedi-
ate release of Mr. West and of his employes, 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.
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 llth 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
You will please to assure his excellency, the Minister of Foreign Affairs
of Spain, that although this government does not incline to magnify
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
on full and sufficient evidence.
And I desire his excellency, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to under-
stand 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 re-
spect 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 un-
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 depart-
ment by the Rev. John West, the father of the accused.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
DANIEL M. BARRINGER, Esq.,
Sc., 4., c Madrid.
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, 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 busi-
ness 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:
SACIA 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-
SS. Mis. &
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 6th 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 30tb day of
January previous, and my papers seized, in consequence of some pow-
der supposed to have been landed from a vessel which 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 im-
ported 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 inter-
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 official communication that any
charge exists against me.
SI 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 is 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 car-
.penters 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 proceed-
.ings against me; and that I place myself under the American govern-
ment 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.
S In witness whereof, I herewith affix my signature and sealpf
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 Madrid to Rev. John West.
MADRID, September 26, 1850.
DEAR SIR: 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 corre-
spondence between the Spanish government, the Department of State,
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.
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 accord-
ing to the usual course of judicial proceeding in their courts. It ap-
pears, 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 smug-
gling twenty barrels [kegs] of gunpowder into the island. It seems to
me that their treatment, on such a charge, has been most oppressive, and de-
mands 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 ser-
D. M. BARRINGER.
Rev. JOHN WEST, Bristol, R. I.
Letter from same to same.
MADRID, October 9, 1850.
DEAR SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your let-
ters of the 3d and 8th 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 fir indemnity; and that he and those connected with him in this
affair have been the victims of much oppression, and are entitled to the
fullest 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,
Washington, March 31, 1851.
SIa: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communi-
cation of the 21st instant, with its enclosures, and of the 2Sth January
last. The answer to the latter had been postponed, in expectancy of
an earlier receipt of official information respecting the subject of your
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 pow-
der in the warehouses of Don Enrique Emerson, in a creek of Granadillo;
and ascertained that there were yet missing other freight-boats belonging
to a vessel of Sagua, which had brought over timber for a new ware-
house which Emerson was erecting, and that said vessel might probably
bring more 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 cir-
cumstances, 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 im-
prisonment, 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 in-
spected 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 mili-
tary 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 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,
S. Mis. 8.
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 Emer-
son, 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 communi-
cation 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 post-
poned 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 evi-
dence 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 pro-
hibited 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 forth 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 govern-
ment 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 judi-
cial officer of the court. And when we proceed to learn in what man-
ner this mandate was executed, its effects will best explain its true
nature and design; on which Mr. West has himself justly observed
o6 S. 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 cour-
teous towards an American citizen who happens to fall under the-sus-
picions of the Spanish functionaries of Cuba? But the despatch pro-
ceeds further to say, that the above deference and consideration "were
poorly responded to by West, seeing that he made a journey to Car-
denas 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
passport, and was refused, although he offered the most responsible
bail for his safe return; nor did he leave Sagua until the governor as-
sured him that, although he was not permitted to give him a passport,
he would take no official notice of his absence. The despatch in ques-
tion 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 pro-,
ceedings 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 des-
patch 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 sufferers declare, on oath, 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 Sefior Bertran de Lis, both speak of twenty barrels of pow-
der; and the former lays much stress on the introduction of "so consider-
able a quantity" of that article; whereas they were kegs, and not bar-
rels; 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, more-
over, this same powder, it is said, was sold at auction, and purchased
fbr 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 prop-
erly described it, a common place of deposit for the neighboring plan-
tations, 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 ac-
quitted. 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 (false and ground-
less as it proved to be) that other transactions and political designs
4qjere connected with this powder, the whole affair would have been
treated, as the Spanish government were afterwards obliged to treat it,
a a mere smuggling adventure. The powder would have been con-
ficated, 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, he was acquitted of the alleged offence, and
28S. Mi. 3.
a certificate to that effect was signed by the judge, scribe, and inter-
preter 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 unjusti-
fable." But the course of judicial proceedings required the reference
of this sentence to the adjudication of the military head of the govern-
ment, 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 examina-
tion 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 com-
plainant; that Mr. West was restrained of his personal liberty; that his
papers and property were seized; and that the introduction of the pow-
der, which at first assumed a political character, and was prosecuted
as such, was afterwards found to be, and was treated as, a mere smug-
gling adventure. And in regard to Mr. West's entire innocence of be-
ing a participator in either the alleged political or revenue offence, 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 know-
ledge, 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 ad-
venture. 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 examina-
tion 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 despatch of the honorable Secretary of State, of July 28, 1850.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. S. DERRICK, Esq.,
Atling Secretary, 4c., 4c.
S. Mis. 3.
PROCEEDINGS IN CONNEXION WITH A MEMORIAL TO THE GENERAL AS-
SEMBLY OF RHODE ISLAND.
To the General Assembly of the State of Rhode Island and Providence
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 28th January, 1850, he
was arrested at Sagua la Grande, by the military authorities, on sus-
picion 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 pros-
pect 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:
Be it resolved, 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 de-
tention 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 con-
stitutional means within their control which may tend to procure the
release of said West, and the restoration of his property, with a suit-
able and proper indemnity to him for any injury which he may have
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. 1852.
Copy of documents forwarded by the Hon. Charles T. 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, 1852, from Mr.
Calderon, the Spanish minister, in explanation of the proceedings insti-
tuted by the Spanish authorities against Mr. James H. West. Under
the circumstances, as set forth under Mr. Calderon's note and its en-
closure, 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.
Senor A. Calderon de la Barca to Hon. Daniel Webster.
LEGATION OF SPAIN IN WASHINGTON,
Washington, March 20, 1852.
In the department at present under the worthy charge of the Hon.
Daniel Webster, there will undoubtedly be found the disagreeable cor-
respondence 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 repre-
sentations made by the former against the arrest of Messrs. James H.
West, Edward Read, and Clement P. Blethen, who were apprehended
on the 2d of January, 1850, for having fraudulently introduced powder
from on board the American brig Eolian into Granadillo, near Sagua la
Grande, in the island of Cuba. Copies of this correspondence were
transmitted to the undersigned by his government, which having re-
ceived, he cominunicated 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 lu-
cidness, the principle of the law of nations, which says, "that every
foreigner going to another country to reside and to pursue some occu-
pation, subjects himself and must abide by the laws of the country
which he has selected for his residence and for the pursuit of his occu-
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 ex-
pected to receive information in regard to what had taken place in the
premises, and that he had already written, moreover, to the Captain Gen-
eral of the island of Cuba, directing him to examine impartially into the
business, and to punish those who had been guilty of irregularity or vio-
lation of the law, if any such had been committed.
In the absence of Mr. Webster, the undersigned submitted these in-
structions 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 Mad-
rid, 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.
Seflor Don Manuel Bertran de Lis, who has succeeded the Marquis
de Pidal as her Majesty's Secretary of State, has forwarded these par-
ticulars to the undersigned in proof of the justice, prudence, and cir-
cumspection 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 has just received from his excellency, he en-
closes 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
The undersigned avails himself of this occasion to renew to the Hon.
Daniel Webster the assurances of his most distinguished considera-
A. CALDERON DE LA BARCA.
Hon. DANIEL WEBSTER,
Secretary of State of the United States.
S.- MiS. &i
The Spanish Secretary for Foreign Afairs to Senor Calderon dela 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, seiz&l twenty barrels
of powder in the warehouses of Don Enrique Emerson, in a creek of
Granadillo, and ascertained that there were yet missing other freight-
boats 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, Anglo-
Americans, 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 possible ease. They did not com-
plain of any arbitrary act, as it was natural they should if such had
een 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 afore-
said 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 intro-
duction 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 Ble-
then, who was his companion and messmate. As there was a lieuten-
ant 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 be 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.
building, where he was not only allowed to have free communication
with those around him, but to remain with his door always open for
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 con-
sideration, 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 neces-
sary 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 direc-
tion 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 referred to the Depart-
ment of Finances by order of the Captain General-all which neces-
sarily occasioned some delay. With regard to the seizure arid confis-
cation 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
The inference from all that has been demonstrated is, that the three
Anglo-Americans aforesaid have not experienced any undue ill treat-
ment 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 pedaneo at San
Lazaro, were also set free.
It is also staed 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 lieu-
tenant governor, said captain being duly notified to that effect. And
yet, notwithstanding this prohibition, the captain made his escape with
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 pro-
duced 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 her Catholic Majesty, in Washington.
A true copy
A. CALDERON LE LA BARCA.
Remarks in explanation of the despatch of Mr. Calderon, the Spanish Min-
ister, and its enclosure, to Mr. Webster.
BRISTOL, RHODE ISLAND,
January 28, 1853.
His excellency the governor of Rhode Island having deposited in
your hands 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 govern-
ment 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 Islaid, 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 adop-
tion 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 re-
quested 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.
the complainant; and they were forwarded to Washington by his ex-
cellency 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 previ-
ously informed of the course proposed to be pursued, and had inter-
posed no objection against it. The -Ion. 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 furnish 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 enclo-
sure were forwarded to his excellency the governor of Rhode Island,
and by him placed in the hands of the committee, to whom I now pro-
ceed, 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 com-
mitted in his favor. Such a course of necessity compels a scrutiny,
which, while it will not fail in courtesy, will be pursued without fear
The letter of Mr. Calderon first reverts to the earliest stage of the
correspondence at the court of Madrid; and states that he, Mr. Calde-
ron, 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 effect." Now, a reference to that despatch, dated May 6, 1850,
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 ac-
cordance 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 lead-
ing 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 Mr. Clayton
could not have been satisfied, nor, in that stage of the business, have
given any such assurances. If, however, these explanations, made by
Mr. Calderon to Mr. Clayton, consisted merely of conversational com-
ments upon the correspondence referred to, the assurances of.satisfac-
tion 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
S. Mis. 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 con-
trary to the law, it is an assumption not warranted by the documents,
which plainly show, on the contrary, that the injured party himself ap-
peals to the records of a Spanish tribunal as the most conclusive evi-
dence 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. Calde-
ron 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 particu-
lars" went to prove that there had been no irregularity, no ill treat-
ment, 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 mat-
ter so novel and changed a complexion? what are the particulars com-
municated 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 Span-
ish 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 ex-
pect 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 pre-
vious. 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,
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, 1861, 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 ap-
pended. 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 Senor 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 proceed-
ings 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 ihe 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,
1860, who there says, that "according to the first declarations of the
primary process the accused may" (if acquitted) "be in complete lib-
erty." 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 conclusion against the claim of Mr. West, admits the very facts
on which the claim is founded.
SThird. The remaining inquiry, in relation to the despatch in hand,
88 S. Mis. 3.
is this: What are the conclusions which the Spanish Sebretary 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 Sefior
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 for which they were arrested-
which also he elsewhere admits-of necessity fall to the ground. Pass-
ing 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 despatch-
which were omitted in the former one-relate exclusively to the treat-
ment of the employs of Mr. West. .They are intended to meet or
modify the alleged severe treatment of the complainants. But, allow-
ing 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 des-
patch, 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 in 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 day after is of no force or pertinency to the matter in
question. Nor, again, does it avail any 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.
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 tle 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 explana-
tions 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.no
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 state-
ments 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 gov-
ernment had advanced claims having no better foundation than the
passionate statement of interested persons, much more may it be retort-
ed that the denial of the 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 from 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 "-tlyse 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 press-
ing the claim of these injured Americans.
A concluding remark is required in regard to the position assumed
in this affair by the Spanish minister at Washington. It will be read-
ily 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 origi-
nally received from Boston the information (now acknowledged to be
destitute of foundation) that the brig Eolian was there being furnished
. & M&i. 3.
with arms and ammunition for the Lopez invasion; and if, by.com-
municating this unfounded rumor to the Captain General of Cuba, hW
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 deigns connected with supposed arms and
ammunition in the brig Eoliaff 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 be-
tween 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 ok
Mr. Webster which communicated the resolutions, either without com-
ment or with an assent to the course proposed, the desired investiga-
tion 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
despatches of the Spanish minister, and aided by the foregoing expla-
nations, 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 behal of JAMES H. WEST.
To the JOINT COMMITTEE
of the General Assembly of R. I. 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 resolu-
tions 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
A true copy. Attest:
Secretary of State.