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    Martin Van Buren Letter Signed as Secretary of State. Five pages, 8" x 13", Washington, February 10, 1831, to John M. Forbes, Chargé d' Affaires to Buenos Ayres. In this detailed letter, Martin Van Buren instructs the United States Chargé d' Affairs to Buenos Aires to inquire into the Governor of Falkland Island, Luis Vernet's circular warning U.S. fishing vessels to stay clear of valuable whaling and seal fisheries in the area.

    He writes, in part: "It appears from the decree, that the Government of Buenos Ayres asserts a claim to the Falkland Islands, and all others near Cape Horn, including that of Terra del Fuego, upon the ground that they were formerly occupied by Spanish Subjects, were incorporated in the Vice Royalty of Rio de la Plata, under the Spanish Monarchy, and that the said government succeeded to all the rights of that Vice Royalty, as a necessary consequence of the Revolution of 25th May 1810, which rendered it independent of that Monarchy. The decree accordingly provides for the civil and military government of the said Islands, by officers to be appointed by the Buenos Ayrean Government, fixes the residence of the officers to be so appointed on the Island of Soledad, and invests them with authority to see to the execution of the regulations concerning the Fisheries upon the coasts of these islands, without defining the character or nature of those regulations. The principal object of the circular letter of Governor Vernet which is stated by Mr. Trumball to have been communicated to the captains of American vessels, four or five in number, lately in the region, is evidently intended as a warning to those captain's and others engaged in the whale and seal fisheries there, to desist from the use of those fisheries though they have heretofore always been considered as entirely free to that of all nations whatever and as the exclusive property of none...In the mean time, it is moreover the wish of the President, that you should address an earnest remonstrance to that Government against any measures that may have been adopted by it, including the decrees & circular letter referred to, if they be genuine..."

    In 1831 Vernet's government seized the American ship Harriet for breaking restrictions on seal hunting. The American consul in Buenos Aires dispatched the USS Lexington to recover the ship and its crew. The captain of the Lexington arrested several local officials and also offered passage back to Montevideo for any local residents who desired it. The captain then declared the Falklands res nullius - free of all government. This is an important letter associated with a little-known American military action. The letter has the usual fold creases and there are some small splits in the creases, otherwise it is in near fine condition.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2011
    8th-9th Friday-Saturday
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