Mr. Tassara to Mr. Seward.
The undersigned, minister plenipotentiary of her Catholic Majesty, has the honor to bring to the knowledge of the honorable Secretary of State, that, as appears at the department, on the 15th instant, there left the port of Boston a vessel, the Cherokee, Captain Kennedy, under grave suspicion of being destined for the service of Chili or Peru.
The facts, according to the report of the consul of Spain at that port, are as follows: The consul having noticed that morning that the Cherokee, moored at the ship-yard of Mr. Harrison Loring, South Boston, had been armed and ammunitioned secretly for such purpose, and was to sail in a short time, sought assistance from the district attorney of the United States, who thought he ought not to act immediately of his own motion, but authorized said consul to address a telegram to the Secretary of State, respectfully requesting the detention of the vessel. Informed, however, by the consul that the Cherokee, [Page 618] perhaps aware of the steps that were being taken, took measures to hasten her departure, the district attorney gave due notice to the collector of the customs, and it was thought that the vessel would not be cleared, without at least waiting for the answer from the department; but that answer did not arrive until the morning of the 16th, and meantime the vessel had sailed, the very day, the 15th, at six o’clock in the evening, from the bay. So things are; and in virtue of fresh reports he had received, the consul addressed himself to the collector on the 16th, requesting him to take the steps necessary to bring back the Cherokee to the port of Boston to respond to the charges of violation of the laws of neutrality. The reply of the collector was that he had requested instructions from the Department of State. In such condition, and, as it seems, evidence existing that the Cherokee has in fact sailed under the conditions and with the purpose attributed to her, the undersigned finds himself called upon to draw the attention of the honorable Secretary of State to the necessity of making the laws of neutrality effective.
It is understood how direct are the charges, and how difficult the proofs in this class of cases; but for the detention of a vessel, reasonable cause ought to be sufficient, and in the present case everything induces the belief that the vesselought, by way of precaution, to be detained.
The undersigned is far from complaining of the Department of State, whose order, beyond question, could not earlier be received, but insists that the vessel ought not to have been allowed to sail so unconditionally. The circumstances of the case, moreover, authorize him to believe that the authorities of the United States will institute proceedings against the fitters out of the vessel for violation of the laws of neutrality, and even for the detention of said vessel wherever she may happen to be within reach of the authority of the United States.
The undersigned avails of the occasion to reiterate to the honorable Secretary of State the assurances of his highest consideration.
Hon. William H. Seward, &c., &c., &c.