Robert B. Campbell to James Buchanan, July 17, 1848

    Source citation
    Robert B. Campbell, Letter from Robert B. Campbell to James Buchanan, July 17, 1848, Diplomatic Correspondence of The United States, Inter-American Affairs, 1831-1860, Volume XI, Washington, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1939, p. 441-443.
    Author (from)
    Campbell, Robert B.
    Date Certainty
    Michael Blake
    Transcription date
    The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    Havana, July 17, 1848.

    SIR: Much excitement has prevailed here and considerable alarm felt in consequence of the arrest at Cienfuegos, and the bringing to this City for trial a Mr. Ysnaga and a Mr. Villegas on the charge of conspiracy against the Spanish government with a view to the Independence of Cuba and her subsequent annexation to the United States. These arrests produced results that perfectly astonished all persons unacquainted with the Creole character, they caused universal panic among the Patriots you could see scarce a person in the public haunts previously most thronged, and not a word was to be heard of the evils of the Spanish domination or the advantages of Republicanism or annexation. All were hushed as death, although the agitators had previously represented all things as fully prepared for an immediate outbreak. I however know the people well enough to feel assured that is panic will be of short duration, and that as soon as this incubus of fear is removed the agitations will be recommenced with encreased vigor. The Government was foild in the most important attempt at arrest, to wit, that of Gen Narciso Lopez who escaped to Matanzas and sailed for the United States where he is probably arrived about this time.

    I have watched all proceedings which have been held, and so far as I can learn no conviction of the persons heretofore arrested will take place as it is understood that the Captain General in his official communication sent by the Correo of yesterday to his Government writes "That he found the Island in a wretched state; that all the creoles, and very many of the old Spaniard's are in favour of annexation to the United States, that he has made arrests of two distinguished individuals but fears he can obtain no evidence upon which he can either shoot or punish them." The worst of the affair is the escape of Gen Narciso Lopez to the United States." Under Spanish practice every individual is deemed guilty of charges preferred against him untill his innocence is established by subsequent investigation, and the person charged as the above named individuals have been are immediately thrown into separate, and loathsome dungeons under ground, and without ventilation.

    I have no reason for believing that any American citizen is any manner compromised in any revolutionary attempt, but it is possible there may be; in that event I shall use every means to prevent any duress during trial but such as may be necessary for the safe keeping of the person, and being anxious to avoid the assumption of any position which I cannot effectually maintain I must ask the favor of you to give me the earliest possible answers to the following queries.

    1st. Am I as Consul to extend protection as a citizen to a native of this Island who after being naturalized in the United States returns, and resides in this Island?

    2nd. Am I to consider, and protect as an American citizen a native of this or any other Country who in the United States has appeared before a Marine Court and given notice of his intention to become a citizen, but has taken no farther steps to consummate such intention? The necessity of an answer to this question does not arise from many doubt upon my own mind but I have presented to me such an evidence of notice of intention given in 1847 with a Consular certificate on the back that the individual was an American citizen.

    3rd. Am I to consider and protect as American citizens persons born or naturalized in the United States who have taken out letters of domiciliation on this Island? These letters are obtained, as follows, a petition is drawn up and presented in writing to the Capt. Gen who gives the accompanying order (which I have translated) and the individual who applies for a letter of domiciliation takes before a Notary Public the oath a form of which is herewith enclosed.

    Intelligence has this day reached Havana of an Insurrection of the blacks having taken place in the Island of Santa Cruz, and that many lives have been lost: Assistance has been asked of the Government of Porto Rico and a regiment was immediately dispatched to the succour of the whites. An Aidecamp of the Governor of Porto Rico is here, who it is said is seeking aid of men and money of this government to quell disturbances in that Island.

    I am [etc.].

    How to Cite This Page: "Robert B. Campbell to James Buchanan, July 17, 1848," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,