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our Union-that I thought it would not be difficult to predict that an unsuccessful rising would delay, if it should not defeat, the annexation of the island to the United States,' and I assured him that the aid of our volunteer troops could not be obtained.
"Thus you will perceive with what scrupulous fidelity we have performed the duties of neutrality and friendship towards Spain. It is our anxious hope that a rising may not be attempted in Cuba; but if this should unfortunately occur, the Government of the United States will have performed their whole duty towards a friendly power."
Mr. Buchanan, Sec. of State, to Mr. Saunders, min. to Spain, June 17, 1848, MS. Inst. Spain, XIV. 256; H. Ex. Doc. 121, 32 Cong. 1 sess. 42-49.
"Although these offenders against the laws have forfeited the protection of their country, yet the Government may, so far as is consistent with its obligations to other countries and its fixed purpose to maintain and enforce the laws, entertain sympathy for their unoffending families and friends, as well as a feeling of compassion for themselves. Accordingly, no proper effort has been spared and none will be spared to procure the release of such citizens of the United States engaged in this unlawful enterprise as are now in confinement in Spain; but it is to be hoped that such interposition with the Government of that country may not be considered as affording any ground of expectation that the Government of the United States will hereafter feel itself under any obligation of duty to intercede for the liberation or pardon of such persons as are flagrant offenders against the laws of nations and the laws of the United States. These laws must be executed. If we desire to maintain our respectability among the nations of the earth, it behooves us to enforce steadily and sternly the neutrality acts passed by Congress and to follow as far as may be the violation of those acts with condign punishment.
"But what gives a peculiar criminality to this invasion of Cuba is that, under the lead of Spanish subjects and with the aid of citizens of the United States, it had its origin with many in motives of cupidity. Money was advanced by individuals, probably in considerable amounts, to purchase Cuban bonds, as they have been called, issued by Lopez, sold, doubtless, at a very large discount, and for the payment of which the public lands and public property of Cuba, of whatever kind, and the fiscal resources of the people and government of that island, from whatever source to be derived, were pledged, as well as the good faith of the government expected to be established. All these means of payment, it is evident, were only to be obtained by a process of bloodshed, war, and revolution. None will deny that those who set on foot military expeditions against foreign states by
means like these are far more culpable than the ignorant and the necessitous whom they induce to go forth as the ostensible parties in the proceeding. These originators of the invasion of Cuba seem to have determined with coolness and system upon an undertaking which should disgrace their country, violate its laws, and put to hazard the lives of ill-informed and deluded men. You will consider whether further legislation be necessary to prevent the perpetration of such offenses in future.
"No individuals have a right to hazard the peace of the country or to violate its laws upon vague notions of altering or reforming governments in other states. This principle is not only reasonable in itself and in accordance with public law, but is ingrafted into the codes of other nations as well as our own. But while such are the sentiments of this Government, it may be added that every independent nation must be presumed to be able to defend its possessions against unauthorized individuals banded together to attack them. The Government of the United States at all times since its establishment has abstained and has sought to restrain the citizens of the country from entering into controversies between other powers, and to observe all the duties of neutrality. At an early period of the Government-in the Administration of Washington-several laws were passed for this purpose. The main provisions of these laws were reenacted by the act of April, 1818, by which, amongst other things, it was declared that if any person shall, within the territory or jurisdiction of the United States, begin, or set on foot, or provide or prepare the means for, any military expedition or enterprise to be carried on from thence against the territory or dominions of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people, with whom the United States are at peace, every person so offending shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor, and shall be fined not exceeding $3,000 and imprisoned not more than three years. And this law has been executed and enforced to the full extent of the power of the Government from that day to this.
"In proclaiming and adhering to the doctrine of neutrality and nonintervention, the United States have not followed the lead of other civilized nations; they have taken the lead themselves and have been followed by others. This was admitted by one of the most eminent of modern British statesmen, who said in Parliament, while a minister of the Crown,' that if he wished for a guide in a system of neutrality he should take that laid down by America in the days of Washington and the Secretaryship of Jefferson;' and we see, in fact, that the act of Congress of 1818 was followed the succeeding year by an act of the Parliament of England substantially the same in its general provisions. Up to that time there had been no similar law in
England, except certain highly penal statutes passed in the reign of George II., prohibiting English subjects from enlisting in foreign service, the avowed object of which statutes was that foreign armies, raised for the purpose of restoring the house of Stuart to the throne, should not be strengthened by recruits from England herself.
"All must see that difficulties may arise in carrying the laws referred to into execution in a country now having 3,000 or 4,000 miles of seacoast, with an infinite number of ports and harbors and small inlets, from some of which unlawful expeditions may suddenly set forth, without the knowledge of Government, against the possessions of foreign states."
President Fillmore, annual message, Dec. 2, 1851, Richardson's Messages, V. 113, 115-116; Mr. Webster, Sec. of State. For the special message of President Taylor, June 1, 1850, on attempts to get up armed expeditions in the United States for the purpose of invading Cuba, see S. Ex. Doc. 57, 31 Cong. 1 sess.
See circular of Mr. Webster, Sec. of State, to marshals, district attorneys, and collectors of customs, Sept. 3, 1850, MS. Circulars, I. 108. As to the cases of Messrs. Henderson and Quitman, see Mr. Webster, Sec. of State, to Mr. Hunton, U. S. district attorney at New Orleans, Feb. 28, 1851, 38 MS. Dom. Let. 481.
For the President's proclamation of Aug. 11, 1849, as to threatened invasions of Cuba and Mexico, see 39 Br. & For. State Papers (1849, 1850), 77.
June 26, 1855, J. W. Fabens, in a letter to Mr. Marcy, Secretary of State, solicited the interference of the Government of the United States to further what was called the Kinney expedition. to Nicaragua, and to protect the lives and property of those concerned in it after they should have arrived in that country. The professed object of the expedition was that of peaceful colonization, but the Government of Nicaragua had issued a proclamation denouncing it as a filibustering or "piratical" enterprise for the subversion of the national independence, and a grand jury at New York had, after investigation of the case, presented both Kinney and Fabens for trial on a charge of fitting out a hostile expedition. When Fabens applied to the Department of State for assistance, this charge had not been tried, owing to the fact that Kinney had evaded trial by leaving the United States. Under the circumstances Mr. Marcy declined to act upon Fabens's assurance that the expedition was a lawful one. “I am aware," said he, “that civil discord now prevails in the Republic of Nicaragua, and it is natural to conclude that what one party oppose another may favor. While this Government believes it prudent to abstain from interfering as far as practicable with these internal divisions, yet it can not decline, in certain emergencies, to decide who possess the political power of the state. Our minister in Nicaragua has regarded the authorities which issued the proclamation against
your expedition to be in possession of the executive power of Nicaragua; he has been received by and [has] treated with them as the Government of that country, and has lately negotiated a treaty with them. This fact has an important bearing on the subjects presented in your letter of the 26th instant, and sustains the positions I have taken in this reply to it."
Mr. Marcy, Sec. of State, to Mr. Fabens, June 29, 1855, 44 MS. Dom. Let. 173.
The National Intelligencer of Washington, issue of Feb. 25, 1857, gives an extract from a decision rendered on the preceding Saturday by Commissioner Morell, denying the motion to dismiss the complaint against Fabens and Boulton, who were under arrest for violating the neutrality laws in recruiting men for hostile service in Nicaragua. The Washington Union, July 22, 1854, discusses the charge which Mr. Justice Campbell had then lately delivered to the grand jury at New Orleans on the question of what constitutes an unlawful expedition.
The undersigned, Secretary of State of the United States, has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the note of Mr. Molina, chargé d'affaires of the Republic of Costa Rica, of the 6th instant, inviting the attention of the undersigned to current events in Nicaragua.
"The motives which Mr. Molina assigns for this proceeding are natural and are appreciated by the undersigned. It is apprehended, however, that he is mistaken in ascribing, as he apparently does, the recent revolution in Nicaragua solely to the armed intervention of citizens of the United States. The undersigned is informed that such of those citizens as took part in the contest which led to that result, were invited by citizens of that Republic as auxiliaries. If, in accepting this invitation, they should have violated their duties as prescribed by the laws of the United States, they will be called to account. on returning within the jurisdiction of those laws.
"The Government of the undersigned regrets that persons who may owe it either temporary or permanent allegiance should proceed from the United States to any foreign country for hostile purposes and acknowledges its obligation to prevent this misdemeanor by all proper means. The laws of the United States by which this policy and obligation are declared and, acknowledged, are believed to be ample for their purpose. Circumstances, however, imputable neither to the inadequacy of those laws nor to the want of good faith in the persons charged with their administration may occasionally enable offenders to escape detection. In the case under consideration Mr. Molina will acknowledge the force of such circumstances. The United States citizens who have taken part in the recent commotions in Nicaragua were most if not all of them passengers in the steamers between San Francisco and San Juan del Sur. On embarking, they
were to all appearances peaceful citizens returning to their original homes in the Atlantic States. There was nothing connected with their embarkation which would justify their arrest, for this, as Mr. Molina is aware, under the Constitution of the United States could only be done with the existence of probable cause supported by the oath or affirmation of a credible witness. It is understood, however, that many persons against whom reasonable suspicion existed were in point of fact prevented from proceeding from San Francisco to San Juan del Sur.
"In regard to the recognition of the new government of Nicaragua by the United States minister in that Republic, the undersigned has the honor to acquaint Mr. Molina that that proceeding was not authorized by but was contrary to the instructions of this Department.
"The undersigned is aware that the independence of states which may be comparatively weak in physical power is as dear to them as that of the strongest. It is the desire, the determination, and, the undersigned will add the interest of the United States to respect that independence. If they were to disregard it by any culpable act or omission they would forfeit the respect of other civilized states and would also lose that moral strength which, with the amplest physical resources, is indispensable for national respectability and even independence."
Mr. Marcy, Sec. of State, to Mr. Molina, Costa Rican min., Dec. 10, 1855,
"The United States gave an early example to other nations in regard to
In Mr. Cass's instructions of July 25, 1858, to Mr. Lamar (MS. Inst. Am. States, XV. 321) the vigilance and good faith of the United States in putting down filibustering preparations in Nicaragua is shown in detail. An extract from these instructions on another point is given in Correspondence in relation to the Proposed Interoceanic Canal (Washington, 1885), 281.