John Forsyth to Anthony Butler, 11 November 1834

John Forsyth to Anthony Butler, 11 November 1834

No. 86. 

Mr. Forsyth to Mr. Butler.


Department of State,



The letters addressed to you by this Department on the 20th April and 22d August last, will have put you in possession of a recent correspondence between the minister plenipotentiary of the United States at Madrid and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of her Catholic Majesty, in regard to the acknowledgment of those States in this hemisphere which were formerly colonies of Spain. The subject having been again brought to the notice of the Spanish Government, her Majesty directed an answer to be returned, expressing her readiness to receive commissioners from those States; and there is reason to believe that if the negotiation be early commenced, and be carried on with a proper disposition on both sides, that great object may now be accomplished.

On the receipt of Mr. Van Ness's despatch, I lost no time in communicating to the representatives of those States near this Government a copy of Mr. Martinez de la Rosa's note: and by the President's direction I now transmit a copy to you, to be immediately communicated in similar terms to the Mexican Government. A copy of my note to Mr. Castillo is also enclosed.

The interest which the United States have always taken in promoting the object in question, and the satisfaction with which the new States have seen their friendly efforts, justify the President in expressing the hope that the Government of Mexico may see proper to avail itself of the favorable sentiments now entertained by her Catholic Majesty, by promptly despatching one or more commissioners to treat on the subject; and, in making known this wish to that Government, you will take care that the disinterested and friendly character of the President's motives, in relation to the whole matter, shall be clearly understood.

It is not impossible that the Spanish Government may endeavor to obtain from the new States, as the price of its recognition, some privileges for its commerce or subjects. As such concession would be contrary to the true policy of the new States, and unjust towards the United States and other friendly Powers, you will endeavor to prevent any authority being given to the Mexican commissioners for conceding to Spain any privileges which are not to be enjoyed by the United States.

The occasion is believed to be favorable for adverting to the proper basis of the relations between the United States and the new States. Some of those States have stipulated among themselves for preferences for their commerce with each other, and privileges for their citizens within each other's territories. Such stipulations are equally at variance with the true interests of those States and the just expectations of the United States. If, as has been understood, they were entered into with a view to unite the new States more closely in resisting any attempt which might be made to bring them again under the Spanish Crown, that motive will cease by the acknowledgment of their independence on the part of Spain. They will then be free to follow those wise and liberal principles of policy from which the United States have never sought to turn them, even in their own favor. If any preference be due by the new States, it would be to that nation who, from the earliest moment, has sympathized with them in their patriotic struggles, who was the first to acknowledge them as sovereign States, who threw around them its powerful protection, by proclaiming in the face of all Europe that it would not permit any interference by foreign Powers for their subjugation; and whose generous friendship has never ceased its exertions until all danger to their independence is about to terminate by the acknowledgment of Spain. The United States, however, consistent throughout in the disinterestedness of their conduct towards them, desire no preference. But they know too well what is due to themselves to be satisfied if a preference be granted to others.

It is the President's desire that the views entertained by him on this subject should be explained to the Government of the new States by the representatives of the United States near them, and that suitable efforts be made to prevent the adoption of such stipulations by those who have not previously entered into them; and, where they already exist, to induce their removal, or, at least, such a modification of them, as will prevent their operating to the disadvantage of the United States.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,


Anthony Butler, Esq., 

Chargé d'Affaires of the United States, Mexico. 

(Same to C.G. De Witt, No. 22; R.B. McAfee, No. 21; Richard Pollard, No. 8; Samuel Larned, No. 28.)

Note: Because this document is only a verified first-pass transcription, it and the document metadata may still contain errors.
Editorial Note:

Enclosed in MVB to the U.S. House of Representatives, 4 July 1838 (HRExdoc 351).