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the minister should see fit to consult her. I have already intimated to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs my wish to have a private interview with him, and received an answer, through his secretary, that he was confined to his chamber by a severe attack of the gout, but would see me so soon as he was able to attend to business. Whether I shall ask an audience of General Narvaez will depend on my meeting with a favorable opportunity for doing so.
At this stage of my report, I heard there was likely to be a change in the office of Minister of Foreign Affairs.
I deemed it prudent to see General Narvaez, and ascertain the truth of the rumor. He readily informed me the health of the Duke of Sotomayor rendered it necessary for him to retire, and that Mr. Pidal would take his place. I at once decided to ask a private interview of General Narvaez, and to make to him my communication in regard to Cuba. He, without hesitation, acceded to my request, if it should be my pleasure to make any communication to him.
It was arranged I should call the next day, when he would receive me at an early hour. I accordingly called at the hour appointed, and opened the conversation by stating the information which had been given by Mr. Campbell relative to the threatened insurrection in the Havana; your instructions to our consul as to the caution to be used in his words and actions, to avoid even the suspicion of encouraging the insurgents; and the positive order of the Secretary of War to Major General Butler to prevent any attempt on the part of the volunteers in their return from Mexico from stopping at the Havana. He expressed himself as thankful for the information; as entirely satisfied with the conduct of our government; and requested me to express muchas gracias, many thanks, to the President for his course in the business. He further said they had their difficulties to contend with, both in Cuba and at home; but should always look with confidence to our great country, from the friendly relations which had so long existed between Spain and the United States.
He requested to be furnished with copies of your answer and of the Secretary's order. I promised to give him a copy of the order to General Butler, and of so much of your letter as referred to the subject; with the understanding that the information given by Mr. Campbell was not to be used in any way to excite prejudices against him as our consul.
I considered this a favorable moment to introduce the subject which had been the peculiar object of my visit. I began by saying: "His excellency would allow me to advert to another matter in regard to the island of Cuba, which, though one of delicacy, was of great importance to us, and I trusted he would receive my communication in the same friendly spirit in which it was made." He replied it would afford him much pleasure to hear anything I might have to say. I continued: "His excellency was fully aware of the very deep interest which the United States felt in everything connected with the present condition and future prospects of Cuba; its position, its great importance to our commerce, the condition of a portion of its population, were well calculated to increase the interest we felt in its fate." He expressed his full assent to all of this. I said, "that whilst the President and our people
were perfectly content that it should remain a colony of Spain, and did not by any means desire to change that relation, several events had recently taken place well calculated to excite our fears, and to create some alarm on the subject. I should content myself by referring him to a few of them.
"The recent revolution in France, and the order by its provisional government for the immediate emancipation of the slaves in the French islands, and the fatal consequences which had followed, had produced great anxiety in the United States as to its effects on the Spanish islands. He would doubtless recollect the speech of Lord George Bentick, at the last session of Parliament, on the subject of the Spanish bond-holders, and of the reply of Lord Palmerston, asserting the right of the British government to wage war against Spain for the recovery of these debts whenever it might deem it expedient." His excellency very emphatically signified his recollection of these speeches. "These circumstances, in connexion with the recent suspension of all diplomatic intercourse between the two governments, had added to the anxiety of the United States as to the condition of Cuba. They had led the President to believe the time had arrived when it was prudent for him to give to the minister at this court authority to treat on the subject of Cuba, if it should be the pleasure of Her Catholic Majesty to enter into such a negotiation. I had been honored by the President with a special commission for this purpose; a fact which I had been directed to communicate to the government of Her Majesty in confidence, and which, from the respect I entertained towards his excellency, had induced me to make it known to him." He said in reply, "That he received the information with much pleasure; that whilst he should consider it as confidential, it might be best that the Minister of State should be made acquainted with it; that he enjoyed his full confidence, and might be implicitly confided in." I rejoined: "I did not doubt on that score; but had thought, from the nature of the subject, as the Minister of State was just about to enter upon the duties of his office, it was most proper to make the communication to his excellency."
Here our conference ended. As you will see, I was somewhat guarded in the latter part of my expressions, and that the minister was not very explicit in his reply. He evidently was pleased with the communication. He was not only courteous and respectful, but manifested the greatest attention and interest during the whole of the conversation. I deemed it most prudent not to use the word "cession," and am not exactly certain that he understood me as being authorized to treat for the cession, or merely for the security of Cuba. At all events, I did not think it politic, at this stage of the business, to be more explicit, or to press the matter further. I have opened the subject, apprized him of my authority, and can hereafter advert to the subject as circumstances may justify. I am well satisfied nothing will induce the Spanish government to part with Cuba but the apprehension of a successful revolution in the island, or the fear of its seizure by England. The national pride and character of these people would not induce them readily to give up on the first point. I have reason to know the government are not without their fears on the latter point. As I learn, private letters from England give them to understand that Lord
Palmerston is disposed to give them trouble, and that the bond-holders are pressing that something decisive should be done in their behalf. If the government shall entertain any serious fears in regard to the matter, they would likely open the subject, and thus enable me to bring forward a formal proposition to treat for a cession. I deem it, therefore, the better policy to suffer the thing to rest as it is for the present. The court will remain here for some weeks, when I shall have the opportunity of meeting the ministers in an informal way, without attracting that attention which our official visits in Madrid would likely excite. Besides, I can, at my discretion, as the matter now stands, renew the subject with the new Secretary, which I shall most certainly do should I discover the least grounds to suspect that they are laboring under any misapprehension as to my conversation with General Nar
Mr. Pidal belongs to the French party-is strongly prejudiced against the English, and will warmly second General Narvaez on that point. He was Secretary of War at the time of the Queen's marriage-is the brother-in-law of Mon, who was the Minister of Finance at the time, and the great co-laborer of Count Bresson in support of the Montpensier marriage. Still he is strongly Spanish in his feelings and character, and not likely to join in promoting an act calculated to shock the national pride. On the other hand, he is a bold, rough, independent man, and would fearlessly carry out any measure he might undertake. Of the Queen Mother I have already spoken, so that you have a pretty accurate idea of the persons with whom I have to deal, and of the probability of success. You will naturally inquire if the state of the finances is to have no effect on the question. With an empty treasury and the expenses daily increasing-with the credit of the government so far reduced as to be driven to the necessity of resorting to a forced loan to raise the small sum of five millions, one would suppose such a state of things as this would be the first consideration with those charged with the administration of the government. But, unfortunately, such is the desperate state of the finances, and of the public debt, that all seem to despair of correcting them. The foreign debt is estimated at four hundred millions of dollars, of which the agent of the English creditors claims two hundred and fifty millions. Of the domestic debt, what is the amount, no one seems to know: 'tis said even the government keeps no account of it; or if it does, will not let it be known. It is stated at three hundred millions three per cent., exchangeable for certain kinds of public property. Mr. Henderson is still at Madrid, acting as agent of the bond-holders, and boasts of occasionally receiving a note of promise from General Narvaez. The fact is, I expect he is merely kept there for appearances. I do not see how they can well meet the heavy demands on the treasury, even if so disposed. Certainly they cannot, without that radical reform which no ministry has the resolution to undertake. The average receipts for the last four or five years have been sixty-five millions of dollars, and the expenditures seventy millions. The army is computed at one hundred and fifty thousand in the Peninsula, fifteen or twenty thousand for Cuba, and fifteen thousand for the other colonies. As
matters now stand, when the country is governed by the bayonet, there is little prospect of a reduction.
The government places a much higher estimate on the revenues of Cuba than you seem to calculate. They place it at twelve millions of dollars, and after deducting the expenses of the civil and military, claim for the treasury six millions. Besides this, the orders or rents on the treasury, pay to the navy, and employment to persons who would be entitled to retiring pensions at home, together with the profits from the flour monopoly, make, according to the estimate here, some fifteen or twenty millions annually. I doubt, therefore, if we have anything to calculate on from a financial view of the question. Hence my conclusion that nothing short of necessity, arising from their fears as to the consequences, will force them to act.
Allow me now to present the view I ventured to hint at some short time since. In Mr. Forsyth's instructions to Mr. Vail-15th July, 1840, No. 2-is to be found the following very strong language: "You are authorized to assure the Spanish government, that in case of any attempt, from whatever quarter, to wrest from her this portion of her territory, (Cuba,) she may securely depend upon the military and naval resources of the United States to aid her in preserving or recovering it." This assurance was accordingly given by Mr. Vail, and again repeated by Mr. Irving, under his instructions from Mr. Webster. With this guarantee for the safety of the island, the Spanish government has rested in perfect security. At the time of Mr. Bulwer's dismissal, when the public apprehended a rupture with England, it was a common remark at the Puerta del Sol-the great theatre for political discussion-" that the United States would aid us in the protection of Cuba." Now, whilst I would not formally withdraw this assurance, I suggest the propriety of changing our tone by saying, "In a war between Spain and England the United States might feel greatly embarrassed, from her friendly relations with England; that she is not only our ally, with whom we are at peace, but with whom, at present, we have the most intimate commercial relations; that whatever we may think of her colonial policy, in the extension of her commerce and for the advancement of her manufactures, the United States would feel great reluctance in an open rupture with her at this time: besides, she might claim from us the same neutrality in a war with Spain as she had observed in our late contest with Mexico." This language might do good; and, as I think, could do us no harm. And whatever might be our secret resolution-that under no circumstances 'could we allow Cuba to come under the control of England-still it might be as well for us to keep this resolution to ourselves.
In my interviews hereafter with the minister I shall venture to present this view of the subject, as a reason why we should greatly prefor the purchase of Cuba to any interference to prevent its falling into the power of England.
I have thus given you a full account of what has taken place since the reception of your despatch-of the difficulties which surround the subject, of my prospects, and of the course I design to pursue in regard to this interesting subject. I feel highly flattered in having confided to me a trust in whose successful execution I should connect
my name with one of the most important events in our diplomatic history. I am, sir, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAMES BUCHANAN, Esq.,
R. M. SAUNDERS.
Secretary of State.
Mr. Saunders to Mr. Buchanan.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
SIR: I reached here this morning from La Granja, and was somewhat surprised to find the gentleman who had engaged to carry my despatch to Liverpool had not yet left, but expects to do so to-night. It is perhaps as well, as it enables me to add information on the subject of a more definite character. On the 15th instant I had an interview with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in which I was more explicit in my communication, and he more candid in his reply. I repeated the interest which the United States felt in the present and future condition of Cuba, and the belief of the President that possibly the existing state of things might render it desirable for her Majesty to enter into negotiations on the subject. He said he had been informed by General Narvaez of the nature of my communication to him, and of my authority; that, if I wished to press the matter further at this time, he should like to hear whether I proposed to treat for the cession of Cuba to the United States, or for its security to Spain; and, in the event of a difficulty with England, whether Spain could rely for any aid from the United States. I answered that it was from the fear of a difficulty with England, and the threat on her part to seize on Cuba, which had, in part, induced the President to give me the special authority he had done at present; that, as his excellency would see, an open rupture between Spain and England-the allies of the United States-might greatly embarrass her as to the part which she, as a neutral, might find it necessary to take: that, whilst self-preservation and the interest of her commerce might prevent her from remaining passive in the event of any pressing danger, she would greatly prefer a direct purchase of Cuba, to involving herself in a war with England on that account. He said he fully understood our difficulty; that, from the present state of things, he did not anticipate anything of the kind; that it was but candid in him to say, he could not hold out any prospect at present of a cession; that possibly time might bring it about. Cuba was reported to them as being secure, but there was no telling how long it might remain so. He was pleased to receive my communication; should treat it as entirely confidential; and if anything should occur to produce a different state of things, he should not fail to inform me of it.
The above is, in substance, what transpired. I did not deem it prudent to urge the matter further at this time, but shall not fail to keep myself fully informed of everything which may occur, and should I see the least prospect of success, shall, of course, avail myself of it. You may possibly see in the English papers some reference to the