Mr. Bigelow to Mr. Seward.
Sir: The Moniteur of yesterday contained an official account of the arrival of Admiral Pareja with his fleet at Valparaiso, on the 17th of September last, and the correspondence which had passed between him and the Chilian government up to the 24th of that month.
I felt impelled to call at once upon Mr. Rosales, the Chilian minister at this court, to express my surprise and regret at the apparently harsh and unreasonable conduct of the Spanish admiral, which I ventured to assure him would produce a very painful impression in the United States. I also expressed to him the hope that his country would be able to maintain her national integrity and honor.
Mr. Rosales seemed very much gratified by my visit and by the language I had used. He proceeded to give me a history of the differences which had come to such an unexpected issue, of which you are doubtless informed long before this, and then said the war thus commenced was likely to be a long and bloody one; that in his opinion there was no chance of an arrangement. The feelings of the Chilians towards the Spaniards had become so bitter that the nation would be but as one man against the invaders, in evidence of which he gave several striking illustrations. The debt of Chili, he said, was only about $18,000,000; the admiral would not be allowed to land a man upon the coast, to take a drop of water or an ounce of coal from their territory, though he were to burn every house within reach of his guns, and that before long Chili would have vessels as formidable as those of her enemies. Mr. Rosales also informed me that special agents had already been sent to California and Washington, as I inferred, though he did not distinctly say so, to get steamers to arm.
The impression left here upon the minds of all, as you will see by the press, is most unfavorable to the Spaniards, who seem recently to have relapsed into the old predatory habits contracted two or three centuries ago by her navigators on the coast of America. The conduce of Spain since the commencement of our war is calcalated to inspire a distrust of all the European states having or [Page 268] coveting possessions beyond the Atlantic, and it certainly seems as if the time had come when the power of the United States should be exerted to discourage enterprises like that which has placed the Mexicans at the mercy of an Austrian prince, desolated St. Domingo, extorted $3,000,000 from Peru, and now threatens Chili with a similar outrage. More now than ever, the United States seem to be regarded, on both sides of the Atlantic, as the natural and only competent protectors of the feebler states of the New World from the cupidity of the Old. Whatever we may be prompted to do, subject always to our traditional policy of non-intervention, towards discharging the duties which our institutions, strength, and position seem to assign us in the western hemisphere, will be likely, in my opinion, to receive the most general approval, if done upon our own exclusive responsibility, or at least without complicity with any European power.
I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.