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of the United States, which forbids their entangling themselves in the concerns of other nations, and which permits their physical force to be used only for the defence of their political rights and the protection of the persons and property of their citizens, equally forbids their public agents to enter into positive engagements, the performance of which would require the employment of means which the people have retained in their own hands; but that this government has every reason to believe that the same influence which once averted the blow ready to fall upon the Spanish islands would again be found effectual on the recurrence of similar events; and that the high preponderance in American affairs of the United States as a great naval power, the influence which they must at all times command as a great commercial nation, in all questions involving the interests of the general commerce of this hemisphere, would render their consent an essential preliminary to the execution of any project calculated so vitally to affect the general concerns of all the nations in any degree engaged in the commerce of America. The knowledge you possess of the public sentiment of this country in regard to Cuba will enable you to speak with confidence and effect of the probable consequences that might be expected from the communication of that sentiment to Congress, in the event of any contemplated change in the present political condition of that island.

Mr. Van Buren to Mr. Van Ness.


Washington, October 13, 1830.

This government has also been given to understand that, if Spain should persevere in the assertion of a hopeless claim to dominion over her former colonies, they will feel it to be their duty, as well as their interest, to attack her colonial possessions in our vicinity, Cuba and Porto Rico. Your general instructions are full upon the subject of the interest which the United States take in the fate of those islands, and particularly of the former; they inform you that we are content that Cuba should remain as it now is, but could not consent to its transfer to any European power. Motives of reasonable state policy render it more desirable to us that it should remain subject to Spain rather than to either of the South American States. Those motives will readily present themselves to your mind; they are principally founded upon an apprehension that, if possessed by the latter, it would, in the present state of things, be in greater danger of becoming subject to some European power, than in its present condition. Although such are our own wishes and true interests, the President does not see on what ground he would be justified in interfering with any attempts which the South American States might think it for their interest, in the prosecution of a defensive war, to make upon the islands in question. If, indeed, an attempt should be made to disturb them, by putting arms in the hands of one portion of their population to destroy another, and

which in its influence would endanger the peace of a portion of the United States, the case might be different. Against such an attempt, the United States (being informed that it was in contemplation) have already protested and warmly remonstrated, in their communications last summer with the government of Mexico; but the information lately communicated to us in this regard was accompanied by a solemn assurance that no such measures will, in any event, be resorted to; and that the contest, if forced upon them, will be carried on, on their part, with strict reference to the established rules of civilized warfare.

Mr. Van Ness to the Secretary of State.


Madrid, August 10, 1836.


A person who has good means of information, has this moment informed me that the agents from the islands of Cuba and Porto Rico, now in Madrid, as well as other persons from there, have secretly aided in promoting the late disorders and changes here, for the purpose of facilitating the declaration and establishment of the independence of those islands. It is said to be believed by them that such a state of anarchy and confusion will exist here, that the accomplishment of their purpose will be an easy task; and I understand it to be their object to have the attempt made very soon. I cannot answer for the truth of this, but the importance of the subject, as it regards the United States, has induced me not to lose a moment in giving you the information.

[No. 124.]

Secretary of State.

Mr. Van Ness to the Secretary of State.


MADRID, December 10, 1836.

SIR: About twenty days ago I observed a piece in one of the principal newspapers of this city, relating to the island of Cuba, in which was stated a falsehood with regard to the President of the United States, which I thought called for a prompt and official denial and contradiction; especially as Mr. Calutrava, not having been in any political office until August last, and probably never having seen the President's last message, might be induced, together with many others now in office, to believe the statement alluded to. I therefore addressed to the editor of the paper, in which the statement had appeared, the following letter, and which I afterwards procured republished in the official Gazette of this city:


"To the Editors of the Revista Nacional:

"In your paper of the 19th instant, in an article under the head of "Independence,' treating of the island of Cuba, I have observed, in addition to various unfounded insinuations, the following statement:

"There is yet another fact of the gravest importance which fortifies the proofs of the designs to attempt independence. We refer to the last discourse (message) pronounced by the President of the United States to the Congress. In it is asserted, clearly enough, the absolute impossibility that the island of Cuba can continue united to the Metropolis, (mother country,) and the day of its emancipation is announced to be near at hand. The publicity given to this document, so far from being, in our opinion, prejudicial, we consider it useful, for reasons so obvious, that it would be trifling with the good sense of our readers to enumerate them; and as the divulging of it is not a fable, it may with reason be called an infamous calumny.'

"If this were one of the ordinary articles which frequently appear in the public papers of Madrid, abounding with error and injustice as it regards the United States, I should not have considered it necessary, and perhaps not even proper, to take notice of it; but as it contains a direct and positive assertion, that the President of the United States has made a public and official declaration of a nature injurious to the rights of her Catholic Majesty, and characterized that declaration as an infamous calumny, I deem it my duty, as the representative of those States at this court, to make a public and formal contradiction of the charge contained in the above extract. The President did not in his last annual message to Congress, nor in any other which I have seen, speak of the probability of a separation of the island of Cuba from the Spanish crown; nor has he even, in any manner, alluded to the question of such separation. Not only is it contrary to the truth that the President has made any suggestion of the kind imputed to him, but it may be asserted with the utmost confidence, that the United States have a peculiar interest in the preservation of Cuba to Spain, and that their desires in this respect are in perfect accordance with their interests. If any proof of this were wanting, other than the nature and circumstances of the case themselves afford, it might be found in the fact that the government of the United States, on at least one occasion, has contributed to avoid a blow, which, but for its friendly intervention, might have injuriously, if not fatally, affected the jurisdiction of Spain over that island. But I have said enough, since my object was merely to expose the want of foundation for the charge which has called forth this communication.

"I have the honor to remain your obedient servant,


When the Revista published my letter, it was done in a way not to call much attention; and the direction to that paper at the head was left out, so as to afford the inference that it might have originally been addressed to some other paper; and, consequently, that some other

paper might have promulgated the falsehood. I therefore took the communication to the director of the official paper, (Gazette,) and requested him to publish it in its original state, which he promised me to do. Two days afterwards, I received an intimation from a person employed in the Gazette office, that my communication had been carried to Mr. Calutrava, and was for the present retained by him; and, further, that he, Calutrava, had expressed himself in terms of dissatisfaction with the President. I immediately went to see Mr. Calutrava, carrying with me the President's last message; and I began by telling him of the statement I had seen in the Revista, and of my contradiction; but adding that my letter had been so badly published in the Revista, that I had carried it to the Gazette office, where they had promised to insert it, but for some reason or other had not yet done it; and that as the Gazette was the official paper of the government, I hoped that he would direct the insertion of my letter. He answered that the Gazette was a private establishment, but received a certain sum from the government for the insertion of official documents and acts. Upon which I told him that I had understood that communications sent to the Gazette were generally first laid before the ministers, to which he replied that it was a mistake. I then offered to show him the President's message, which I held in my hand, and to point him to that part relating to Spain, and to the island of Cuba; but he declined looking at it, saying, that if he had entertained any doubt about the matter, my word was sufficient to satisfy him. After some further explanations by me about this subject, he sent for the first officer (chief clerk) of his department; and on his appearance, he said to him: "Was there not something said the other day about a letter from the minister of the United States to the Gazette?" To which the clerk replied: "Yes, there was one." "Where is it?" asked the minister. "It is returned, with directions for its publication," answered the other. "It appears, then," said the minister to me, "that it has been sent here, and has already been directed to be published." The result was somewhat inconsistent with what he had before said to me; but I was satisfied; and he expressing himself equally so, I left him. There has been no attempt to contradict, or lessen the force of my article, and it was well published in the Gazette.


In regard to the situation of things in the island of Cuba, it already appears that my late warnings to you have been well founded and seasonable. It is well known here that General Lorenzo, who commands at St. Jago de Cuba, has proclaimed and sustains the constitution of 1812, in defiance of the orders of the Captain General at the Havana, Tacon; and some assert that the negro question is mixing with the political one. The government observes silence. I have not seen the minister for some days, on account of his being closely occupied during these days in the Cortes. I think it will be very difficult to keep down the island of Cuba in the existing state of the government here, and also from the manner in which they are draining and anticipating the resources of the island. They commenced upon the plan of paying the dividends due upon the foreign debt, the 1st of November, by issuing to the creditors bonds upon the treasury of Cuba, bearing five per cent. interest, and payable in four annual instalments, when, at the

same time, they had already drawn largely in advance upon the trea-
sury. It was found, however, that the plan would not go down ; and
after a few of the Cuban bonds had been sent into the market, this gov-
ernment disavowed the arrangement made by its agent, and adopted
the plan of giving obligations directly upon the royal treasury here, and
also bearing 5 per cent. interest, but payable in six and twelve months.
Had the first arrangement been carried into effect, it would have ope-
rated like a mortgage of Cuba to foreigners, mostly English; and as it
is, her revenues are well pledged always in advance, since it is the
most important resource remaining in the power of this government to
raise money upon. How long Cuba herself will bear this mode of an-
ticipating and pledging, not to say draining, may be considered quite
uncertain. But in another view, no person can doubt the bad results
with regard to that island, from the changes and revolutions which are
taking place in the mother country. In the first place, here is estab-
lished a constitution, and one of very democratic tendency for a mon-
archy, while in the neighborhood of the island are several independent
States, who, like herself, have been colonies of Spain, and whose inde-
pendence is at this moment about being formally confirmed by Spain;
and, in the second place, to Cuba is obstinately refused either the one
or the other of these privileges, so that she has to remain in a state of
colonial bondage, and bearing the burden of sustaining in the mother
country those principles of liberty the application of which to her is
denied. Under all the foregoing circumstances, then, it will be seen in
due time whether my predictions will prove correct. I had forgotten
in its place to add, that if Carlos should succeed here, the question
might be considered quite doubtful whether the island would consent
to pass to what might be called another government.
I have con-
versed with Mr. Calutrava once or twice on this subject since he has
been minister, and found him incredulous as to any danger. He be-
lieves that the fear of the negroes is worth an army of 100,000 men,
and that it will prevent the whites from making any revolutionary at-
tempts. One thing is certain: this government can send no force from
Spain to oppose any attempt that may be made on the island. If
what is there be insufficient, there will be no remedy.


Secretary of State.

Mr. Stevenson to Mr. Forsyth.

[No. 28.]

SIR: 1 have the honor of communicating to you, confidentially, the result of an interview I have lately had with Lord Palmerston, on a subject of a very delicate and interesting character.

You have doubtless seen, both in the English and French newspapers, the various speculations which have appeared on the subject of a large Spanish loan, supposed to have been made by a banker in Paris,

London, June 16, 1837.


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