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June 15, 1861, Lord Lyons, British minister, and M. Mercier, French minister at Washington, called on Mr. Seward, and proposed each to read an instruction which he had received from his Government and to leave a copy of it, if desired. Mr. Seward, before consenting that the papers should be officially communicated to him, inquired as to their contents, and, after inspecting them, he " declined to hear them read, or to receive official notice of them." "The British Government while declining, out of regard to our natural sensibility, to propose mediation for the settlement of the differences which now unhappily divide the American people, have nevertheless expressed, in a very proper manner, their willingness to undertake the kindly duty of mediation, if we should desire it. The President expects you to say on this point to the British Government, that we appreciate this generous and friendly demonstration; but that we can not solicit or accept mediation from any, even the most friendly quarter."
Mr. Seward, Sec. of State, to Mr. Adams, min. to England, No. 21, June
See supra, § 911; S. Ex. Doc. 38, 37 Cong. 3 sess.; 55 Br. & For. State
In the war between Spain and the republics on the west coast of South America in 1865-66, the United States "seeks the friendship of neither at the cost of unfairness or concealment in its communications to the other. We have tendered our own good offices to each. They have not been accepted. We have concurred in a suggestion that the merits if these unhappy controversies should be referred to the Emperor of Russia. We are quite willing to see Great Britain and France undertake the task of mediation. We will favor that or any other mediation the parties may be inclined to adopt. We seek no acknowledgments or concessions from either party as an equivalent for impartiality and friendship.”
Mr. Seward, Sec. of State, to Mr. Hale, Oct. 27, 1866, MS. Inst. Spain XV. 582. See same to same, Dec. 20, 1866, inclosing mediating action of House of Representatives, and making specific proposals of mediation; and see, also, same to same, Feb. 25, 1867, Aug. 27, 1868.
One of the most remarkable mediations of the United States is that which was begun in 1866 and concluded in 1872 for the purpose of bringing to a close the war between Spain, on the one hand, and the allied republics of Peru, Chile, Bolivia, and Ecuador on the other. As early as December 20, 1866, Mr. Seward instructed the diplomatic representatives of the United States near the belligerent governments to propose that a conference should be held at Washington. Spain was willing to accept the proposal on certain conditions. Bolivia and Ecuador were disposed to do whatever Chile and Peru might agree upon. Chile and Peru were willing
to accept only on certain conditions, one of which was that Spain should acknowledge that the bombardment of Valparaiso was a violation of international law. This Spain refused to do, and Mr. Seward's first effort was thus unsuccessful; but, as the war itself eventually fell into a state of "technical continuance," he renewed his proposals on March 27, 1868. Spain substantially accepted. Chile thought that the conclusion of a definitive peace would be impossible, but intimated a readiness to enter into a truce, which would offer to neutrals all the guarantees and securities which they could properly claim. Bolivia concurred in Chile's views; Peru and Ecuador were disposed to accept unreservedly. On October 22, 1869, Mr. Fish, as Secretary of State, renewed the invitation for a conference. Such a conference was opened at the Department of State October 29, 1870, under the presidency of Mr. Fish. Owing to the question as to the bombardment of Valparaiso, it was found to be impossible to conclude a formal peace; but on April 11, 1871, the delegates in the conference agreed upon and signed an armistice by which the de facto suspension of hostilities between the belligerents was converted into a general armistice or truce," which was to "continue indefinitely," and could not be broken by any of the belligerents "save in three years after having expressly and explicitly notified the other," through the Government of the United States, "of its intention to renew hostilities;" and it was provided that, during the continuance of the armistice, all restrictions on neutral commerce which were incident to a state of war should cease.
See, more fully, Moore, Int. Arbitrations V. 5048-5056.
The conference reassembled January 24, 1872, but adjourned on the same
See, also, Mr. Seward, Sec. of State, to Mr. Robinson, min. to Peru, No.
between that country and Spain had been exchanged. This intelligence was received with much gratification." (Mr. Bayard, Sec.
of State, to Mr. Flores, July 31, 1886, MS. Notes to Ecuador, I. 99.) Separate treaties of peace were previously concluded by Spain with Peru and Bolivia. (Moore, Int. Arbitrations, V. 5056.)
"A pressure upon the belligerents to secure their acceptance of the good offices of the United States for the attainment of peace would prove impracticable; and even if it were practicable, I can not think it would be expedient. If our proposition is a beneficent one, as we suppose, it may be expected to commend itself to favor. If not beneficent, it ought to be rejected. In either case our high responsibility is discharged."
Mr. Seward, Sec. of State, to Mr. Asboth, No. 28, April 1, 1867, MS. Inst.
“Washburne telegraphs that France requests United States to join other powers in effort for peace. Uniform policy and true interest of United States not to join European powers in interference in European questions. President strongly desires to see war arrested and blessings of peace restored. If Germany also desires to have good offices of United States interposed, President will be glad to contribute all aid in his power to secure restoration of peace between the two great powers now at war, and with whom United States has so many traditions of friendship. Ascertain if North Germany desires such offices, but without making the tender thereof unless assured they will be accepted."
Mr. Fish, Sec. of State, to Mr. Bancroft, min. to Prussia, tel., Sept. 9,
See, also, Mr. Fish, Sec. of State, to Mr. Washburne, min, to France, tel.,
Sir Edward Thornton, writing to Earl Granville, September 12, 1870, reported that on the preceding day Mr. Fish, in a conversation at his own house, stated that Mr. Washburne had been requested by the French minister of foreign affairs to ask whether the United States would be disposed to mediate conjointly with the European powers for the restoration of peace between North Germany and France. Mr. Fish, by direction of the President, had instructed Mr. Washburne that it was contrary to the traditional policy of the United States to intervene in the affairs of Europe, and that the Government was therefore precluded from offering mediation conjointly with the European powers. In this particular case, said Mr. Fish, it was the more impossible for the United States to interfere, because it was a question of dynasty which had been the origin of the war and in which the United States could take no part. But Mr. Washburne
had been further instructed that if France and North Germany should both ask the good offices and sole mediation of the United States for the restoration of peace, the Government would feel it its duty, for humanity's sake, to accept the task. Sir Edward Thornton observed that any durable arrangement would hardly be feasible without consulting the interests of other European powers. Mr. Fish replied that the United States would not have the slightest objection to confer with other European governments upon the subject that it would indeed be absurd to attempt the establishment of a durable peace without listening to the expression of their views, but that the United States would be obliged to decline a joint official mediation with European powers.
61 Brit. & For. State Papers, 784.
"The reasons which you present against an American intervention between France and Germany are substantially among the considerations which determined the President in the course and policy indicated to you in the cable dispatches from this office on the 9th instant, and in rejecting all idea of mediation unless upon the joint request of both of the warring powers.
"It continues to be the hope of the President, as it is the interest of the people of this country, that the unhappy war in which France and North Germany are engaged should find an early end.
"This Government will not express any opinion as to the terms or conditions upon which a peace may or should be established between two Governments equally sharing its friendship, but it is hoped that the prolongation of the war may not find its cause either in extreme demands on the one side, or extreme sensitiveness on the other side.
"So far as you can consistently and without my official interposition of advice or of counsel, it is hoped that you will lose no proper opportunity to indicate the wishes and hopes of the President and of the American people as above represented, and to contribute what you may to the presentation of such terms of peace as befit the greatness and the power which North Germany has manifested, and as shall not be humiliating or derogatory to the pride of the great people who were our earliest and fast ally."
Mr. Fish, Sec. of State, to Mr. Bancroft, Sept. 30, 1870, For. Rel. 1870, 194.
"We were asked by the new Government [of France] to use our good offices, jointly with those of European powers, in the interests of peace. Answer was made that the established policy and the true interests of the United States forbade them to interfere in European questions jointly with European powers. I ascertained, informally and unofficially, that the Government of North Germany
was not then disposed to listen to such representations from any power, and though earnestly wishing to see the blessings of peace restored to the belligerents, with all of whom the United States are on terms of friendship, I declined, on the part if this Government, to take a step which could only result in injury to our true interests, without advancing the object for which our intervention was invoked. Should the time come when the action of the United States can hasten the return of peace, by a single hour, that action will be heartily taken.”
President Grant, annual message, Dec. 5, 1870, For. Rel. 1870, 4.
In June, 1879, simultaneous but independent overtures were made to the United States by the cabinets of London and Berlin looking to a future formal proposal from Germany and Great Britain to act with them in a mediation between the belligerents in South America in the interest of the protection of commerce. The United States, while indicating its readiness to assist in the restoration of peace whenever its good offices might be usefully proffered, stated that it did not look with favor upon any premature effort, or any effort in combination with other neutral powers, which would carry an impression of dictation or coercion in disparagement of belligerent rights. The United States subsequently intimated to its minister in Bolivia, with reference to a conversation which he had had with the minister of foreign affairs and acting President of that country, that it would be willing to use its mediation with a view to arbitrating or otherwise composing the differences between Chile and Peru and bringing about an honorable ending of the war.
Mr. F. W. Seward, Act. Sec. of State, to Mr. Pettis, min. to Bolivia,
See Sir E. Thornton, Brit. min., to Mr. Evarts, Sec. of State, Sept. 8.
The United States minister at Lima having, early in 1883, united with the representatives of France, Great Britain, and Italy, to bring about a joint intervention in South American affairs, his action was disapproved. (Mr. Frelinghuysen, Sec. of State, to Mr. Logan, March 7, 1883, and tel. of April 2, 1883, MS. Inst. Chile, XVII. 60, 77.)
"The war between the Republic of Chili, on the one hand, and the allied Republics of Peru and Bolivia on the other, still continues This Government has not felt called upon to interfere in a contest that is within the belligerent rights of the parties as independent states. We have, however, always held ourselves in readiness to aid in accommodating their difference, and have at different times reminded both belligerents of our willingness to render such service. "Our good offices, in this direction, were recently accepted by all