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U.S. Dept. of




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Reference to the Island of Cuba.

AUGUST 31, 1852.-Laid upon the table, and ordered to be printed.

Ex. Doc.
No. 121.

To the House of Representatives :

In answer to the resolution of the House of Representatives, requesting information relative to the policy of the government in regard to the island of Cuba, I transmit a report from the Department of State, and the documents by which it was accompanied.

WASHINGTON, July 13, 1852.


Washington, July 14, 1852.

On the 4th of February last, a resolution of the House of Represent-
tives, in the following words, was referred to this department:

"Resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to
communicate to this house, if not incompatible with the public interests,
all instructions from the Department of State to the diplomatic agents
of the United States abroad, not heretofore communicated to Congress,
declaratory of, or relating to, the policy of the government of the United
States in relation the island of Cuba."


The papers mentioned in the subjoined list are accordingly respectfully submitted.




Acting Secretary.


ZZ 19

List of papers accompanying the report of the Acting Secretary of State to the President, of the 14th of July, 1852.

Mr. Forsyth to Mr. Adams, extracts, November 20, 1822.
The same to the same, extract, December 13, 1822.
Mr. Adams to Mr. Forsyth, extract, December 17, 1822.
Mr. Forsyth to Mr. Adams, extract, February 10, 1823.
Mr. Adams to Mr. Nelson, extract, April 28, 1823.
Mr. Appleton to Mr. Adams, extract, August 6, 1823.
The same to the same, extract, July 10, 1823.
Mr. Nelson to Mr. Clay, extract, July 10, 1825.
Mr. Clay to Mr. Everett, extract, April 27, 1825.
The same to the same, extract, April 13, 1826.
Mr. Everett to Mr. Clay, with enclosure, August 17, 1827.
The same to the same, extract, December 12, 1827.
Mr. Van Buren to Mr. Van Ness, extract, October 2, 1829.
The same to the same, extract, October 13, 1830.
Mr. Van Ness to Mr. Forsyth, extract, August 10, 1836.
The same to the same, extract, December 10, 1836.
Mr. Stevenson to Mr. Forsyth, June 16, 1837.
Mr. Eaton to Mr. Forsyth, extract, August 10, 1837.
Mr. Forsyth to Mr. Vail, extract, July 15, 1840.
Mr. Webster to Mr. Irving, extract, January 17, 1843.
The same to the same, extract, March 14, 1843.
Mr. Upshur to Mr. Irving, extract, January 9, 1844.
Mr. Buchanan to Mr. Saunders, extract, February 4, 1847.
The same to the same, extract, June 17, 1848.
Mr. Saunders to Mr. Buchanan, extract, July 29, 1848.
The same to the same, August 18, 1848.

The same to the same, November 17, 1848.

The same to the same, extract, December 14, 1848.

John Forsyth to the Secretary of State.

[No. 51.]

MADRID, November 20, 1822.

SIR: I understand that this government are under serious apprehensions lest Cuba should declare itself independent, and place itself under our protection; that they are informed a society of Free Masons in Philadelphia has connexion with a society of Free Masons in Havana, with the object, it is supposed, to hasten the declaration of independence. This, according to their usual mode of judging of our conduct, is thought to be known and countenanced by our government. The squadron sent to Havana by the British, the pressure upon Spain at this moment, when she has so much reason to dread the determination of the European Sovereigns, by Great Britain, all combine to show the necessity of watchfulness on our part, as to the designs of that power, and the probability of their accomplishment afforded by the present condition and attitude of this country. A commercial treaty between Spain and England is desirable to England, but it is not of sufficient importance to induce her to take up the gauntlet for Spain against the combined Sovereigns. It is not of sufficient importance to induce her to guaranty the loans of money Spain must have for the support of the constitutional system. What, then, is the object of the one party, and how far will necessity oblige the other party to assist in the accomplishment of it? England desires the weight of Spain as a European ally; 2dly, the benefit of the commerce of the Peninsula; 3dly, to become the mediator between Spain and the Spanish American governments; 4thly, the possession of Cuba, to give her the command of the Gulf of Mexico; 5thly, the communication between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans over the Isthmus of Darien; 6thly, Montevideo.

That Great Britain has any fixed determination as to the 4th, 5th, and 6th objects, I will not pretend to affirm positively, but my impressions are strong that she has. If she has, the means of success are a guarantee of loans, taking a lien upon some or all of them as an eventual indemnity, or a purchase of them. or a purchase of them. The guarantee of Cuba against the designs of the United States would not be an unlikely mode of proceeding. The island, however, will be most reluctantly surrendered by Spain, and the population of the island itself is known to be hostile to any transfer to Great Britain.



The commercial treaty opens the road to Great Britain to profit by the necessities of Spain. If the Congress do nothing decisive, I hope nothing of consequence will grow out of the determination to treat with England. Whatever may happen, I am here without power to do more than to give you notice of what may be done or intended. Without instructions, I can make no offers to this government in order to divert them from this course, nor [do] I perceive what offers we could [make that] in her present situation could induce Spain not to

pursue [it]; and we are here, I am constrained to say, not considered in the friendly light we ought to be considered by Spain.


On the subject of Cuba I have taken all due pains indirectly to remove the apprehensions of the government. To several deputies of the Cortes, and to persons who I presumed would repeat what I said to the ministers, I have spoken of Cuba as a very desirable acquisition to any power, but that our interest required, as there was no prospect of its passing into our hands, that it should belong to Spain; that as English property, it would be infinitely injurious to us; as Colombian or Mexican, it would not but be hurtful. Independent of its formidable position, its slave population would make us anxious to keep the island out of the hands of governments which would be compelled, by their institutions, to make changes in it, extremely dangerous to the repose and prosperity of the southern States. In a conversation with one of the members of the political commission of the Cortes, I expressed a conviction that Spain would procure, by an immediate recognition of Colombia and Mexico, and the adoption of a liberal system of commerce, a guarantee of the island from Colombia, Mexico, and the United States; the three powers being equally interested to keep it in the hands of Spain, out of the hands of England, and of each other. He asked permission to speak of it to the ministers, which I gave him, provided he spoke of it to the ministers as a matter of opinion on a subject which had never been even named to me by my gov



Secretary of State.

John Forsyth to the Secretary of State.


[No. 53.]

"MADRID, December 13, 1822.
I received a few days since






a note from Mr. San Miguel, me that the Spanish squadron in the Gulf of Mexico was about to be reinforced. I supposed it probable that a similar note had been written to all the foreign ministers, but find that this was not the fact. My was written after ascertaining this. What the motive is for sending a naval reinforcement you may probably understand better than I do, having direct information from Havana. As far as we are informed here, a land force would be more useful for destroying the piracies of Cuba, and of breaking up their 'connexion with Havana. It is more probable the view is to protect Cuba, and to assist the government party against the Mexican and Colombian governments.

"Hon. JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, &c., &c., &c."

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SIR: The present condition of the island of Cuba has excited much attention, and has become of deep interest to this Union. From the public despatch and other papers which you will receive with this, you will perceive the great and continued injuries which our commerce is suffering from pirates issuing from thence, the repeated demands made upon the authorities of the island for their suppression, and the exertions, but partially effectual, of our own naval force against them. There is another point of view, however, in which the condition of the island is yet more an object of concern. From various sources intimations have been received here that the British government have it in contemplation to obtain possession of the island. It is even asserted from sources to which some credit is due, that they have been for more than two years in secret negotiation with Spain for the cession of the island; and it is added that Spain, though disinclined to such an arrangement, might resist it with more firmness, if, for a limited period of time, she could obtain the joint guarantee of the United States and France, securing the island to herself.



Washington, December 17, 1822.

There is reason, also, to believe that the future political condition of the island is a subject of much anxiety and of informal deliberations among its own inhabitants; that both France and Great Britain have political agents there observing the course of events, and perhaps endeavoring to give them different directions. The President has, therefore, determined to despatch to you a special messenger to deliver this letter; upon receipt of which, he wishes you to take such measures as may be adapted to obtain correct information, whether such a negotiation as has been above suggested is on foot between Spain and Great Britain; and if so, to communicate to the Spanish government, in a mauner adapted to the delicacy of the case, the sentiments of this government in relation to this subject, which are favorable to the continuance of Cuba in its connexion with Spain.

Minister Plenipotentiary U. S., Madrid.

John Forsyth to the Secretary of State.

[No. 58.]

MADRID, February 10, 1823.

SIR: * * * I reminded Mr. San Miguel that there were portions of the Spanish dominions whose vicinity to our territory rendered us deeply interested in their fate, naming particularly the island of Cuba; that, in the event of war with France, hostilities with Colombia and Mexico continuing, the situation of the island would be extremely crit

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