1823 – in April, the Jane and Beaufoy hunt for seals at South Georgia.
May 11th, James Weddell in the Jane, accompanied by Matthew Brisbane in the Beaufoy, arrive at New Island to over-winter.
July 4th, Bernadino Rivadavia, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Buenos Aires, having negotiated a cease-fire in the war of independence with Spain, signs the Preliminary Peace Convention with the Spanish commissioners; “ .. a preliminary Convention had actually been since agreed to, and signed by the Commissioners sent out .. by the Cortes.”
“Buenos Ayres has implicitly withdrawn from the struggle …. Buenos Ayres pacts with the Spanish to the detriment of the American cause.” [O’Leary 1883]
July 23rd, a William Robertson, in Buenos Aires, writes to the British Government to inform them that a convention, in preparation for a final settlement, has been agreed with Spain, whereby hostilities should cease for 18 months between Spain and her former colonies. Robertson also reports an arrangement whereby the Provinces produce $20 million which is to be made available to Spain, and used to resist French aggression, and in return for which Spain will acknowledge the independence of her former colonies.
Changing weather patterns cause financial problems for the cattle ranches, made worse by the Government in Buenos Aires refusing to allow prices to rise.
“The year of 1823 was one of great drought, and the cattle perished by thousands: the beef market was in so terrible a condition, that scarcely any were to be had, and what there was was very bad … “
In August, partners Luis Vernet and Jorge Pacheco approach the Government for permission to hunt wild cattle on East Falkland which they believe to have been “abandoned” – “ .. Don Jorge Pacheco and myself, convinced of the right of this Republic, and seeing it recognised by the tacit and general consent of all Nations during the 3 preceding years, solicited and obtained from the Government the use of the Fishery, and of the Cattle on the Eastern Malvina Island, and likewise tracts of land thereon, in order to provide for the subsistence of the Settlement we should establish there…”
“Vernet said later that when he embarked on the enterprise he was unaware of any British claim … “ [Cawkell 1983]
August 19th, US Minister Rush, in London, reports that the British are on the verge of recognising one or more of the new American States; ” The measure in question was, to send out one or more individuals under authority from this government to South America, not strictly diplomatic, but clothed with powers in the nature of a commission of inquiry, .. “
August 20th, asked about British intentions, Foreign Secretary George Canning writes to Ambassador Rush; “1. We conceive the recovery of the Colonies by Spain to be hopeless. 2. We conceive the question of the Recognition of them, as Independent States, to be one of time and circumstances. 3. We are, however, by no means disposed to throw any impediment in the way of an arrangement between them, and the mother country by amicable negotiation. 4. We aim not at the possession of any portion of them ourselves. 5. We could not see any portion of them transferred to any other Power, with indifference. If these opinions and feelings are as I firmly believe them to be, common to your Government with ours, why should we hesitate mutually to confide them to each other; and to declare them in the face of the world?”
On August 28th, Vernet and Pacheco receive approval to take an expedition to Soledad. The concession is signed by Governor Martin Rodriguez and Minister Bernard Rivadavia; “ .. in the knowledge that such a concession shall never deprive the State of its right to dispose of that territory as it may deem more convenient to the general interests of the Province, which shall happen as soon as its resources allow it to settle effectively and permanently there…”
[ This approval is often described as a ‘concession’, or ‘usufruct’ and, by some Argentine sources, as a ‘Decree.’ If the latter, then it was not gazetted. Both Rodriguez and Rivadavia must have been fully aware of Spain’s continuing claims to all its old territory including the Island of Soledad. Whether they knew of Britain’s outstanding claim is unclear. ]
In addition to the usufruct, Pacheco is given a grant of land on the island; “.. in discharge of a bona fide debt of £20,000 due to him from that Government… .”
An English merchant, Robert Schofield from Montevideo, applies to Vernet for a grant under the usufruct given by Buenos Aires. He is willing to provide two vessels for the venture. Pacheco and Vernet make the grant and leave the organisation of the expedition to Schofield.
In a letter, a citizen of Buenos Aires notes; “An Englishman has lately undertaken a speculation which has cost him a considerable sum, to have the exclusive privilege of taking cattle in the Falkland Islands – in fact to be sole proprietor for a term of years. He has forwarded to his new sovereignty a small colony of settlers, servants, &c.; the chances of his success are very doubtful. Buenos Ayres claims the jurisdiction of these islands, and those claims will not cause such a dispute as in the year 1770. The voyage to them is made in about fourteen days.” [Love 1825]
In September, Woodbine Parish applies for the post of Consul-General in Buenos Aires.
September 22nd, Parish is informed that Minister Canning has agreed to his appointment.
“..The Admiralty will prepare a Ship of War to take you out, and a person who is not to be called so, but will in fact be a Political Agent, will go with you. You will be joined with him in Commission to report upon the state of things in the provinces of La Plata, and he will return to England with the result of the information so collected, and should that be satisfactory enough to justify the recognition of the New State, he will probably eventually be named Minister…. You will have two Vice-Consuls with you, to be placed where you find it desireable upon your arrival at Buenos Ayres, and as you know Charles Griffiths, Mr. Canning will be very willing to appoint him as one of them.”
The Polignac Memorandum is issued by George Canning, the British Foreign Secretary following discussions with France. Britain declines to assist Spain in the retention of her colonies in South America, opening the way for diplomatic relations with Buenos Aires, Colombia, and Mexico.
October 7th, Weddell and Brisbane sail for the South Shetland Islands.
Schofield supplies two ships as part of his agreement with Vernet; the sealer Raphael and the brig Fenwick. Neither are in a good condition and the Raphael is subject to demands by creditors as it hasn’t been paid for. Vernet pays off the debts. (Cawkell 2001)
October 10th, Woodbine Parish is formally named as British Consul-General to Buenos Aires, tasked primarily with the promotion of trade between Britain and the United Provinces; ”He will recollect always that his character is purely a commercial one, and his object expressly of a conciliatory nature.” (Kay-Shuttlewrth 1910)
“… (8) The Consul-General will keep His Majesty’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs regularly informed of every occurrence of national interest within his Consularship, respecting either the trade of His Majesty’s subjects, or that of other Nations. The Consul-General will likewise not fail to transmit to His Majesty’s Government through His majesty’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, such correct intelligence as he can procure, respecting the arming, equipment, or sailing of any publick (sic) or private armed Vessel, which may affect British Commerce. He will likewise send accounts of the general course of Events, and of any particular event of publick Interest which may take place in or near the Consulate….”
December 2nd, in conformity with the Polignac Memorandum, to which the USA was an observer, President Monroe during his seventh State of the Union address declares that the USA will not accept any future colonization in the Americas by any European power;
“…. the occasion has been judged proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers…. … We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the governments who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as he manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States…” [This becomes known as the Monroe Doctrine.]
Canning responds that the United States has no right; “to take umbrage at the establishment of new Colonies from Europe in any unoccupied parts of the American continent.”
“ … it seemed that even Ferdinand would have to acknowledge that the end of the road had been reached. Yet, not unexpectedly, he did not and ignoring both the British and the United States warnings, he circulated the courts of Europe inviting them to attend a conference in Paris where Allied support ‘in adjusting the affairs of the revolted Colonies of America would be discussed.” (Costeloe 1986)
December 18th, just as the expedition is about to leave in Fenwick and Raphael, Vernet recognises that it could benefit from some benefit from a veneer of officialdom;
“Most Excellent Sirs,
The citizen Don George Pacheco says respectfully to your Excellency that the expedition to Port Soledad declined to make use of the uniformed unit which the goodness of your Excellency had favoured us, being ready to depart, Pablo Areguati, Captain of Militia will accompany it, by our mutual agreements and in order that the labourers and crews of foreign vessels may feel some unfair impressions of regards and submission it could be convenient both to the interests of governments and to commerce to install some authority. Therefore your Excellency will please to give to said Areguati the letter of Commander of the place without salary. By this insurance the country will get use of that abandoned Islands and even cause the vessels to pay anchorage of which due accounts shall be rendered to the Treasury. And Areguati intends to form out of the labourers a company of militia with its corporals and sergeants, to give to this establishment all projects for representation to secure its fortification, taking with him the arms and ammunition at the expense of the expedition. And if your Excellency would be pleased to destine a few cannons for defence against pirates.
The abandoned batteries would be repaired and put in a state of service whenever Govt. may choose to re-establish it as an exile. I have projected the domestication of the wild cattle, and the formation of Estancias in which two thousand merino sheep may graze with the intention to introduce their wool into the country and to show with what exactitude I shall fulfill this offer.
I present this petition signed by my bondsman begging that for the realisation of this project your Govt will please using its high faculties to grant me as property the necessary lands that I may require for such extensive undertakings, ordering the commander that I have proposed to give me regular possession as to a citizen of this province; who will defend that territory as a sacred property of the state.
I believe excellent sir that the character of my solicitations bears the stamp of convenience and justice and that it will search the approbation of your excellency and in confidence of which I beg and pray that in consideration of which I have said. Your excellency will please to decree agreeable to my dictation.”
No mention of any title however, is made in the short response from Captain-General Don Martin Rodrigues, Governor of the Province of Buenos Aires; “ … [this] Government, considering it a duty to protect commerce and to encourage every branch of industry in the country, has thought it proper to grant the Petitioner the lands that he solicits, under the express condition to make manifest the measurements under fixed boundaries in order to obtain the titles of property. ..”
On the same day, Woodbine Parish is interviewed by Minister Canning who; “.. having satisfied himself that Parish was not so young as he looked, Canning wound up by asking him what he thought of having the entire responsibility of the Commission thrown upon him, now that Roche could not arrive in time to sail … The answer was prompt .. (he) had no fear but that he should be able to carry out his instructions alone quite as well as in conjunction with anyone else…”
So little is known of the political situation in the United Provinces that Parish is given extensive instructions and a list of questions to be answered, such as; “1st. Has the Government so constituted already notified by a public act its determination to remain independent of Spain and to admit no terms of accommodation with the mother country? 2nd. Is it in military possession of the country … ? ”
Parish is provided with the traditional 3 snuff boxes, embossed with images of the King, to give as gifts to, “persons of the highest consideration.” He is also told that if, in the event of relations of a political, as opposed to purely commercial nature, being established with Buenos Aires, other persons would be appointed, after which Parish’s functions would be confined to those of a purely consular nature.
December 21st, Woodbine Parish, and Vice-Consul Charles Griffiths, leave Britain on HMS Cambridge.
December 26th, the Conde de Ofalia, Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, writes to Sir William a’ Court, British Minister to Spain, to propose a conference in Paris on the subject of the American colonies; “The King, our Sovereign, being restored to the Throne of his ancestors in the enjoyment of his hereditary rights, has seriously turned his thoughts to his American Dominions, distracted by civil war, and reduced to the brink of the most dangerous precipice. As during the last three years the Rebellion which prevailed in Spain defeated the constant efforts which were made for maintaining tranquillity in the Costa Firme, for rescuing the Banks of the River Plata, and for preserving Peru and New Spain, H. M. beheld with grief the progress of the flame of Insurrection, but it affords at the same time consolation to the King that repeated and irrefragable proofs exist of an immense number of Spaniards remaining true to their oaths of loyalty to the throne, and that the sound majority of Americans acknowledge that that hemisphere cannot be happy unless it live in brotherly connexion with those who civilized those countries.”
1824 – in January, Weddell and Brisbane separate. Brisbane in the Beaufoy remaining at Tierra del Fuego, while Weddell in Jane sails along the Patagonian coast before heading to the Falklands.
January 24th, Ferdinand VII of Spain decrees that his Government has no authority to negotiate the recognition of any revolted Spanish-American colonies. Spain still claims all of its territory in the Americas as its own.
January 30th, the British Government informs the US Minister in London that it will not attend the Paris conference proposed by Spain
February 2nd, the Fenwick, Pablo Areguati, 25 gauchos, with a few surviving horses – following a difficult journey – arrive on East Falkland.
[Where on East Falkland is not clear. The assumption is that they would have made for Puerto Soledad in Berkeley Sound where they may have found some shelter surviving from the Spanish occupation, yet the bleakness of the expedition’s situation suggests that they had landed elsewhere. The journey time is also more than double that which should have been expected. There is no information as to whether the vessel had stopped en-route or whether both ships arrived at the same time.]
February 12th, Areguati writes letters which he sends back to Buenos Aires on the Raphael,“We are without meat, without ship’s biscuits, and without gunpowder for hunting. We support ourselves by chance captures of rabbits, since there is no fat meat since we cannot go out to slaughter as there are no horses. I have resolved to tell you that we are perishing.”
“ .. hemos llegado a esta – el 2 del que corre sin novedad alguna con solos cinco caballos flacos, todos lastimados del Burque por que no cupieron mas. Con ellos no podemos ni registrar el campo. A pie hemos salido hasta cinco leguas y no encontramos bacas ningunas sino juntas de toros de a quatro y de a seis. Mi amigo sirvase V. protestar a mi nombre los perjuicios de sueldos de peones que se me originan y demas al Snr Schofield por no ponerme los caballos que hemos acordado. Estamos sin carne, sin galleta, y sin polvora por cazar. Nos mantenemos de conejos azados, pues no hay graza a causa de no poder salir a carnear por que no hay caballos. Con decirle a V. que estamos pereciendo, he concluido. Nos mantenemos baxo de tablas pasando los mayores frios y nieves en este tiempo; no tenemos Bote por ir a la Isla a cortar paja pues de dos Buques, ninguno me quiere dar uno porque los necesitan…” [Caillet-Bois 6th ed. 1982]
Schofield’s provisional contract with Vernet and Pacheco is confirmed before Areguati’s letters arrive in Buenos Aires. The contract stipulates that 20,000 head of cattle will be killed each year once Schofield has 100 working horses on the island – which must be achieved with 4 months.
After the contract is signed, Schofield, together with Emilio Vernet, set sail for the the archipelago in a brig, Antelope, with 60 more horses for the expedition and instructions for Areguati. Emilio Vernet’s purpose is to confer upon Areguati a title of Comandante;“ .. so that order is maintained and excesses avoided.”
March 2nd, Weddell arrives back at the Falklands.
March 19th, Weddell, arrives back at the Falklands in Jane, where he discovers two Spanish warships moored at Port Egmont – the 70 gun Asia, accompanied by the 20 gun Aquiles. While surprised to find Spanish warships there, Weddell contacts the vessels and is invited to dine with the commander.
March 31st, Woodbine Parish, after a delay in Brazil, finally arrives at Montevideo aboard HMS Cambridge. An English packet finishes the journey to Buenos Aires.
April 7th, in the Buenos Ayres Gazette; “ … Mr. Parish, the Consul-General, and Mr. Griffiths, the Vice-Consul, were received for the first time at the House of the Government by Senor Don Bernadino Rivadavia, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, when they presented their credentials … it is the first official Document from Europe, in which the Government of the country is addressed in a direct manner suited to the character which this Country has been endeavoring to deserve these 15 years…”
Bernadino Rivadavia and General Las Heras are given snuff boxes.
April 8th, Pablo Areguati and Emilio Vernet discover Capt. Lowe, of the sealer Adeona, removing wood from a wreck. Areguati challenges Lowe’s right to the wood and informs the sealer that the fishing rights are now privately owned. Lowe threatens to inform London and denounce Areguati’s expedition as ‘pirates’.
April 12th, Parish has a long interview with Minister Rivadavia; “With respect to Spain, he at once said, there was one positive determination come to by all People of whatever Party in the State, viz. To decline to enter into any negotiations whatever with the Government of that Country unless founded upon a previous Recognition of their Independence.”
April 27th, Parish writes to Canning,informing him of the problems Buenos Aires is experiencing with Spain.
May 22nd, George W. Slacum is appointed US Consul at Buenos Aires.
May 26th, Parish attends a banquet to celebrate the anniversary of the revolution. Toasts are drunk to the ‘State of Buenos Aires’.
Rivadavia negotiates a one million pound loan, through the sale of provincial bonds, with Barings Bank, on behalf of Buenos Aires.
June 7th, Areguati and Vernet abandon East Falkland; returning to Buenos Aires in the Fenwick and leaving behind 8 gauchos, including the foreman – Aniceto Oviedo.
June 25th, Woodbine Parish sends a report on the present condition of the United Provinces to the Foreign Office in London; “The United Provinces of la Plata, or, as they are sometimes called, the Argentine Republic, comprise, (with the exception of Paraguay and the Banda Oriental, which have become separate ..) the whole of that vast space lying between Brazil and the Cordillera of Chile and Peru, and extending from the 22nd to the 41st degree of south latitude. The most southern settlement of the Buenos Ayreans as yet is the little town of Del Carmen, upon the river Negro.”
[Confirmation that Buenos Aires did not consider the Falklands archipelago to fall within their ‘territory’ at this time.]
July 1st, Lieut. John Moore of HMS Rinaldo, writes a description of Berkeley Sound which he visited in 1814.
July 2nd, Areguati arrives back at Buenos Aires.
July 23rd, Canning urges his King to recognise Buenos Aires arguing that it had been virtually independent for many years during which no Spanish soldier had set foot there, and that a great number of British subjects had settled there. He concludes that Parish should be given powers to negotiate a Treaty which, when ratified, would amount to diplomatic recognition.
July 24th, the remaining gauchos are rescued from East Falkland by the British sealer, Susannah Anne. Once back in Buenos Aires they are paid off and the money invested in the expedition is considered lost.
In August, Matthew Brisbane sets out from the Thames towards the Falklands in the Beaufoy.
August 24th, Woodbine Parish is instructed to negotiate a commercial Treaty; ”.. placing on a permanent footing the commercial intercourse which has so long existed between His Majesty’s subjects and those States.”
On the same day, there is a new Buenos Airean Decree introducing a system to improve the publishing of official acts; “An Official Register shall be organised and published under the direction of the Ministry of Government. The Register shall be composed of all the laws, decrees, and orders,of a general tendency,or which demand a circular communication. … Every thing inserted in the Register shall be considered to be officially communicated and published.“
December 9th, its defeat in the Battle of Ayacucho in Peru effectively marks the end of Spanish rule in South America. [Costeloe 1986]
December 30th, Canning intimates to the USA that the British Government has decided to recognise the existence of three new American States – Mexico, Colombia and Buenos Ayres.
Canning’s requirements are that a new State; “.. shall have shown itself substantially capable of maintaining an independent existence, of carrying on a government of its own, of controlling its own military and naval forces and of being responsible to other nations for the observance of international laws and the discharge of international duties. These are questions of fact.”
December 31st, Britain’s decision becomes known to Spain.
“Spain’s position rested on a single, consistent policy; recognition of independence would not be granted. That fundamental position was maintained throughout the reign of Ferdinand VII …” [Costeloe 1986]
1825 – January 1st, Spain’s Minister Bermudez writes to George Canning in London; “The King will never consent to recognise the new states of Spanish America and will not cease to employ the force of arms against his rebellious subjects in that part of the world.”
January 16th, George Slacum arrives in Buenos Aires.
January 21st, the Court of Spain protests at the decision to recognise the independence of its colonies; “As to Buenos Ayres, England herself hardly can tell who it is that commands, or what form of Government exists there at present. Nevertheless, she must be apprized that a person called Albear, who, a short time ago, was proscribed, is now called upon to defend those who banished him ; and she cannot be ignorant that that unhappy Country is a prey to the rapacity of a few ambitious individuals: and that, in the state of progressive decline to which anarchy has been leading it, it may perhaps ere long be equally a prey to the Indian Savages who threaten it, and who, with impunity, make frequent inroads on its Territory. … H. M. considering that no act of proceeding of a third power can alter or weaken, much less destroy, the Right of His Sovereignty feels that he ought not to renounce them, nor will he ever do so. ..H. M. therefore declares in the face of the whole world that although he is ready to make to His American Subjects such concessions as may be compatible with His legitimate Sovereignty, with justice, with their real necessities, and well founded claims, that He neither acknowledges, nor ever will acknowledge, either directly or indirectly the independence of the Governments, which have established or shall hereafter establish themselves in Mexico, Terra-firma, Buenos Ayres, or any other part of His Trans-marine Dominions. H. M. declares also, that if, what he cannot expect, the Gov*, of H. B. M. shall persist in carrying into effect the conclusion of Treaties of Commerce with them, and the consequent diplomatick recognition which the communication of the English Minister announces, H. M. protests and will protest in the most solemn manner against these measures, by which the Treaties existing between the two Powers will be violated and the legitimate and imprescriptible Rights of The Throne of Spain attacked in the most serious manner”
“So far, then, as any practical rule can be deduced from historical examples it seems to be this – When a sovereign State, from exhaustion or any other cause, has virtually and substantially abandoned the struggle for supremacy it has no right to complain if a foreign State treat the independence of its former subjects as de facto established; nor can it prolong its sovereignty by a mere paper assertion of right…” [Harcourt 1863]
January 23rd, a Congress of the provinces grants Buenos Aires the power to conduct foreign relations.
February 2nd, following negotiation, the Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation is agreed and signed by Woodbine Parish on Britain’s behalf, while Jose Manuel Garcia Ferreyra signs for the United Provinces.
“Article 1 states, “There shall be perpetual amity between the dominions and subjects of his Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata, and their inhabitants.”
Article 3, ” His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland engages further, that in all his dominions situated out of Europe, the inhabitants of the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata shall have the like liberty of commerce and navigation, stipulated for in the preceding Article, to the full extent to which the same is permitted at present, or shall be permitted hereafter, to any other nation.”
The Treaty is passed to the Congress of the United Provinces for ratification. The process is confused and takes some days but eventually it is passed.
“In spite of the difficulties caused by intrigues on the part of the United States to obtain “most favoured nation” terms with Buenos Ayres, and to prove that a treaty of commerce was no recognition, and that consequently the United States were, and remained, the only true friends of the United Provinces,..”
Congress then appoints Don Bernadino Rivadavia, as Minister Plenipotentiary to the Courts of England and France. Senor Don Ignacio Nuñez, is appointed Secretary to the Legation at the English and French Courts. Vice-Consul Griffiths takes the Treaty to London.
March 25th, Foreign Secretary George Canning responds to Spain’s protest; “M. Zea concludes, with declaring that … the British Gov*., as violating existing Treaties; and the imprescriptible rights of the Throne of Spain. Against what will Spain protest? It has been proved that no Treaties are violated by us; and we admit that no question of right is decided by our recognition of the New States of America.”
“Mr Canning is highly popular in Buenos Ayres …. he is looked up to as the firmest friend of South American liberty.” [Love 1825]
“ .. there can be no doubt that under the rules of the prevailing international order Spain was the sovereign authority in the Americas.” [Calvert 1983]
“Canning’s distinction between de jure and diplomatic recognition and his application of it to the Spanish-American colonies are significant.” [Crawford 2006]
April, American diplomats attempt to persuade the Spanish Court to recognise the independence of their colonies, without success.
April 14th, Matthew Brisbane arrives back in England aboard the Beaufoy.
On his arrival in London, Minister Ignacio Nuñez, publishes a book describing his country. The work is comprehensive and lays out the political organisation and geography of the United Provinces, even including longitude and latitude readings for the main towns. He puts the most southerly of the United Provinces’ settlements at 37° S latitude and makes no mention of the Falkland Islands.
In June, Minister Plenipotentiary Don Bernardino Rivadavia is not presented to to King George IV at the levee because; “he had no regular credentials.”
July 5th, a new post of Permanent Under Secretary for the Colonies is created within the War and Colonial Office. The position is held by Robert William Hay. The post of Permanent Council given to James Stephen.
July 23rd, Griffiths returns to Buenos Aires with news that Woodbine Parish is appointed British chargé d’affaires in Buenos Aires, pending the arrival of a Minister.
August 6th, the new chargé d’affaires is presented to the Governor by Foreign Minister Garcia. Parish is given a $6,000 plate to commemorate the event.
September 25th, having spoken to a Spanish Minister, the USA’s Ambassador in Spain reports back to Washington; “ … he remarked repeatedly, that the King would never abandon his claim to these His ancient and rightful Possessions; ..”
October 11th, despite his initial reluctance, and those of his close adviser the Duke of Wellington, King George IV declares his intention to receive the Minister from Buenos Aires.
October 20th, US Ambassador Everett reports again from Madrid on the attempt to persuade Ferdinand VII to recognise his old colonies as independent nations; “… the British Government is now quiet in regard to this matter, and makes no attempt to influence the decision of Spain.”
December 8th, speaking to the House of Commons, Foreign Secretary Canning claims that he; “.. called the New World into existence to redress the balance of the Old.”
December 31st, in Buenos Aires, Vernet forms a company with family and friends to pursue his usufruct, and recover his losses. Pacheco cedes his rights of use in East Falkland to the new company. Vernet manages to raise $15,000.
1826 – January 3rd, before sailing for Port Soledad with a new expedition in the ship, Alert, Luis Vernet takes the usufruct granted by Buenos Aires in 1823 to the British mission where he obtains Vice-Consul Poussett’s affirmation of the signatures on the original document.
[ Sometimes described as a ‘counter-signature’ there are many questions surrounding this request by Vernet, not least why he thought it necessary. Argentine lawyer, Marcelo Kohen, has argued that it was a normal practice for such documents to be ‘legalised‘ by the recognition of a foreign Consul – as, for example, qualifications seen as valid in one country being certified for use in another, foreign, territory. While that argument may hold for the certification of documents it appears tenuous when applied to grants of land which a government believes to be within its own territory. It would suggest that one foreign State had some power over the territory of another. Another view is that Vernet was seeking some backing for his grant that he could show to belligerent seamen such as Capt. Lowe who saw no right by Buenos Aires to restrict their trade – or to the nationals of a country (by far the majority) which did not yet recognise the United Provinces as a sovereign State. More controversially, the signature may represent acknowledgment that an action approved by Article 3 of the 1825 Treaty was taking place. Of course, it may simply be that Vernet had become aware of the British claim through his contact with Woodbine Parish and did not wish to find himself on the wrong side of any dispute. Vernet, in his submissions to the British Government in the 1850’s, stated that he had sought British “protection.”]
“ .. it would appear Vernet had become aware of Britain’s interest in the islands as before sailing, .. he took his grant to the British Consulate where it received their stamp..” [Cawkell 2001]
February 28th, Lord John Brabazon Ponsonby is appointed Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary to the River Plate Provinces.
May 26th, two Royal Navy vessels, HMS Adventure and HMS Beagle are ordered to the south Atlantic by the Admiralty to undertake a hydrographic survey of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.
June 9th, following delays in obtaining horses, Vernet’s expedition finally arrives at Berkeley Sound in mid-winter. His gauchos, seeing snow on the ground for the first time, have to be persuaded to leave the ship.
Consul Walter Cope is attached to the British Legation in Buenos Aires.
In September, the sealer Sprightly hunts at the Falkland Islands.
September 4th, George Canning, writing with regard to the prospective Austrian recognition of Greece, notes; “We have never recognised in Spanish America any State in whose territory the dominion of the mother-country has not been practically extinguished, and which has not established some form of government with which we could treat.”
September 15th, Ponsonby arrives at Buenos Aires on HMS Ranger.
September 19th, Lord Ponsonby presents his credentials to the Government.
[ Ponsonby had travelled via Brazil, where he had attempted, and failed, to reach an agreement with the Emperor on the issue of the Banda Oriental (modern-day Uruguay). Lord Ponsonby’s views on what he found on his arrival in Buenos Aires raised questions over whether the United Provinces had actually met Canning’s ‘test‘ despite the initial, enthusiastic, reports of Woodbine Parish. cf. December 30th, 1824]
In November, as part of negotiations with the United States over the northwest coasts of North America, the British commissioners present their opinion regarding the attainment of sovereignty rights; “Upon the question of how far priority of discovery constitutes a legal claim to sovereignty, the law of nations is somewhat vague and undefined. It is, however, admitted by the most approved writers- that mere accidental discovery, unattended by exploration- by formally taking possession in the name of the discoverer’s sovereign – by occupation and settlement more or less permanent – by purchase of the territory, or receiving the sovereignty from the natives – constitutes the lowest degree of title; and that it is only in proportion as first discovery is followed by any or all of these acts, that such title is strengthened and confirmed.” [Greenhow 1842]
1827 – January 28th, a French surgeon, L. Gautier, on board a ship at anchor in Berkeley Sound, writes to a friend in Nantes; ‘Port Louis, ile Falkland’ –“Captain Low is leaving immediately for England. We are going to leave the island to go to our destination. We have found at this place all that we were promised by theSpaniards, we have eaten much local game and fish. Captain Upham has taken on two passengers here – an American belonging to the ‘Sprei’ and a Spaniard from the island of Chiloe. Captain Norris of the ‘Sprei’ is a little better of the scurvy. Please excuse my style of writing. They are hurrying me to have lunch and go ashore to advise Captain Norris, who is sailing in Captain Low’s ship.”
March 9th, Lord Ponsonby writes to Foreign Secretary Canning to inform him that the Provinces had all rejected the central authority of Buenos Aires, declaring against the proposed Constitution and, in some cases, recalling the representatives to Congress. Ponsonby also describes the inhabitants of the Banda Oriental; “wild and savage, but not more so than here (Buenos Ayres), and, I believe everywhere else on this continent.”
“The already marked inflation, a result of the expansion of credit after the Barings loan, accelerated its soaring pace. The Brazilian blockade also exacerbated opposition to the government from the cattlemen, whose earning from exports fell sharply, and from British merchants, for whom inflation imposed a crippling indirect tax.” [Rock 1986]
In Buenos Aires, President Rivadavia denounces the Provincial chiefs as rebels and anarchists.
March 23rd, William Langdon, in his own ship, the Hugh Crawford, sails from Hobart, Tasmania en-route to England via Cape Horn.
May 22nd, Langdon, arrives at the Falkland Islands after being becalmed off Cape Horn for five weeks; “… and having only one cask of water left on board, put into Berkeley Sound, and anchored about two miles up; watered easily, and procured some fine beef at two pence per pound, from Don Vernet’s brother (then there,) who sent it down in a whaleboat from the settlement, and with it a letter warning that officer not to kill any of the cattle or wild pigs. ..”
May 25th, Langdon sails for England.
June 27th, following reports of a cattleman’s revolt, and without the support of the merchants, Rivadavia is forced to resign. Central authority largely collapses. Manuel Dorrego assumes power for a second time.
The condition of internal affairs in the so-called United Provinces went from bad to worse in the summer and autumn of 1827. Dorrego, the new Governor, argued with Moreno, the Secretary of Government, and the latter retaliated by accusing Dorrego of wishing to prolong the war for personal motives in order to make pecuniary profit out of the situation in Brazil…” [Kay-Shuttleworth 1910]
“Another bitter spate of civil war supervened. To placate the caudillos, Manuel Dorrego, .. nullified the Constitution, reacknowledged the autonomy of the provinces, and himself reassumed the title of governor of Buenos Aires. The former United Provinces were now the Confederation of the River Plate, or the Argentine Confederation. To end the Brazillian blockade, Dorrego declared support for peace on the east bank and eagerly accepted an offer of mediation that Rivadavia had ignored from the British envoy, Lord Ponsonby.” [Rock 1986]
In September, a Royal Navy vessel engaged in the search for pirates and privateers in the region of the River Plate and the south Atlantic, calls in at Berkeley Sound. The commander notes that there is a settlement in possession of a ‘German’ who is operating on behalf of a group of merchant investors in Buenos Aires.
Luis Vernet buys out the remaining shareholders of the association formed in 1826.
1828 – In January, Woodbine Parish writes to his father; ” … It is almost impossible now, I fear, to preserve the National Executive of Buenos Ayres … and all must go to anarchy and confusion.”
Luis Vernet settles upon a plan convert his fledgling settlement from a commercial enterprise, to a political one; “… having realised the natural advantages that it might provide the country, I conceived the project of establishing a Colony directly subordinate to Buenos Aires which at the same time would give the state the benefit of putting the sovereignty over the coasts and islands of the south beyond doubt.. ” [AGN, Sala VII, Legajo 129, doc. 59]
January 5th, Vernet submits his proposal for a colony on East Falkland to the Government in Buenos Aires; ““ .. I have thought it convenient to exert myself in the establishment of a Colony on the island of Soledad of the cluster called Malvinas. But since for this the protection of Government is necessary, as well as those considerations that ought to be propagated, not only to the owner of this undertaking, but also to the new Colonists, I consider it expedient for the success of this important object that your Excellency will be pleased to cede to me both rights of possession and of property and to protect me in the same, with respect to all the lands of that Island that have not been ceded to Mr Jorge Pacheco, as also the Island of Staten land on the coast of Terra del Fuego. On condition of establishing a Colony within three years after the Date of the grant of permission to be under the immediate Dependence of Buenos Ayres, as also the Colonists who are to be considered Citizens of the Republic, and are to enjoy the same rights.
That it shall also be a final condition that if it should be found useful to extend to other Islands on account of the increase of population, I shall be bound to communicate with the Govt. on the subject in order to determine with its concordance what may be most convenient. Also that the Colony once established, the Colony shall be free of every description of taxes, contributions, and duties for the post thirty years after its formation. That for the same term the Colony shall enjoy the exclusive right of the fishery on the Coasts of Terra del Fuego – Malvinas and all other coasts and Islands of the Republic, which however shall not exclude the natives but only foreign nations.
It will be here proper to bear in mind that the Government, by permitting me to establish the Colony in the Malvina Islands under the stated conditions, does nothing more than reoccupy a territory that laid abandoned, but which once having been acquired by the Spaniards, this Government has not lost the right to take possession of. There is no better way to prevent any other nation from entertaining private views than by the establishment of a Colony. This comes under the immediate inspection of a Government in every civilized country. These islands being found abandoned would belong to the first that occupied them particularly as they belong to the line existing beyond the frontier. The object of my solicitation is that your Excellency may re-assume its rights, and put into execution the jurisdiction over these Islands which otherwise may be lost.
It is superfluous to analyse the incalculable advantages that will result from the colonisation of these Islands such as the increase of population, the extention of boundaries, the acquisition of excellent harbours, and the creating of a new branch of industry with the fishery, and which fishery having a tendency to the raising of many and good Seamen, natives of the country it is to be hoped that some future day the Navy of Buenos Ayres will become formidable wherefore I beg your Excellency will be pleased to grant me the requested permission, and what else is contained in this my petition”
“The Government, taking into consideration the great benefit the Country will derive by populating the Islands, the ownership of which is solicited, and that, besides the increase of commerce, which naturally must result with other Nations, new channels will be opened to national prosperity by encouraging the important branch of Fishery, the benefit of which would flow to the inhabitants of the Republic, which hitherto have fallen into the hands of Foreigners; that in the present war with the Emperor of the Brazils, and in any other in which the Republic may some future day see itself engaged.
Nothing can be more convenient than to find among those Islands a point of support for maritime operations, and furnish the Privateers safe Harbour to convey their prizes to; that for the settling and extensions of Territory on the Southern Coasts, the settlements on these Islands is a great step; and lastly, that the great expenditure required to put in undertaking a scheme of this nature can by no means be compensated, but by the ownership of lands, which if not granted an opportunity of doing a great national deed would be lost, and even the right of Sovereignty over them; doth in conformity to the spirit of the Law of 22 October 1821, cede to Mr Lewis Vernet, Resident and Merchant of this place, the Islands of Staten Land and all the lands of the Island of Soledad, excepting those that were ceded to Snr. George Pacheco by Decree dated 13 December 1823 and which was ratified by a Decree of this day and excepting moreover an extent of 10 square leagues in the bay of San Carlos, which Government reserves for itself; with the object and under the express condition, that within three years of the date thereof, a Colony shall be established, and that at that end of this time, the Government shall be informed of its state, in order to determine what it may consider convenient for the interior or exterior administration of the same.
And further, the Government, wishing to contribute as much as possible to the encouragement and prosperity of the Colony, has further determined:
First, that the Colony shall be free of every description of contribution, excepting what may be necessary for the maintenance of the local Authorities, that may be established free of excise, tolls, and export duties, as also free of import duties, on such merchandise as shall be introduced for the use of the Colony, which privileges are granted for 20 years, exclusive of the 3 years fixed for the establishment of the Colony.
Secondly, that for the same term of 20 years the Colony will be at liberty to carry on the Fishery, free of duties at the two Islands whose property is ceded, in all the Islands of Malvinas, and on the Coast of the Continent south of Rio Negro of Patagonia. …..”
“The Government, … ; issued a Decree on the 5th of January, 1828, whereby, in conformity with the spirit of the Law enacted by the Honorable House of representatives, on the 22nd October, 18211, granted me the right of property to the lands on the Island, (after deducting tracts conceded to Don Jorge Pacheco, and 10 square leagues which the Government reserved to itself in the Bay of San Carlos) and likewise to Staten Land. It also conceded to the Colony an exemption of taxation for 20 years, and for the same period the exclusive right to the Fishery in all the Malvinas, and on the Coasts of the Continent to the South of the Rio Negro; under the condition that within 3 years I shall have established the Colony.” [Vernet 1832]
This Decree is not published in the official Gazette, nor circulated amongst the diplomatic community.
“ It is said that officers in the Buenos Ayrean army, relations of Mrs. Vernet, had claims upon their Government, which they agreed should be liquidated by receiving certain sums of money from Mr. Vernet; in consideration of which the Government made over to him their pretended right of property in the Falklands and Staten Land.” [Fitzroy 1839]
The 1823 land grant to George Pacheco is ratified in a separate Decree also signed into law on the 5th.
Matthew Brisbane, in the British sealer Hope, sails from the Port of London for the South Seas.
January 30th, Luis Vernet submits this second grant from Buenos Aires to the British mission. The signatures on the grant are again affirmed but on this occasion, Vernet is summoned by Woodbine Parish.
Vernet tells Parish that he hopes that his settlement will fall under the “protection” of the British Government.
Parish asks him to prepare a full report on the islands for the British Government.
[Cawkell 2001 p.50. Consul Griffiths is believed to have been the one to append his signature on this, the second, occasion. Parish does not seem to have been concerned about what appeared to be a commercial venture – unaware, it would seem, of the pretensions of the latest Decree, which had not been published and may be seen as a covert act. It would be another year before the issue would take on a political hue. ‘]
“Hearing that England claimed the sovereignty of the Islands, he (Vernet) now applied to Great Britain, through their Charge d’Affaires, for the protection of his colonists.” [Kay-Shuttleworth 1910]
April 23rd, Brisbane’s ship, Hope, is wrecked off South Georgia.
Buenos Aires defaults on the Barings Bank loan.
May 25th, Emilio Vernet writes in his diary about the 1810 Revolution celebrations on East Falkland; “.. dawn broke with some heavy showers and hail. At sunrise three cannon shots were fired and the flags of both Great Britain and Buenos Aires were hoisted; 10 at noon, three more cannon shots were fired, and three more in the evening. After lunching meat roasted with hide on and cakes especially prepared for the occasion, we practised target shooting until dusk. People organized a ball at the cooper’s ranch, which lasted all night”.
June 30th, Adeona sails from the Patagonian coast to the Falkland Islands, en-route to Britain, carrying letters from the surveying vessels Adventure and Beagle.
In July, Vernet purchases 31 negro slaves at Patagones, on the Rio Negro, for shipment to East Falkland.
July 31st, Lord Ponsonby transfers to Brazil to negotiate an agreement between Brazil and Argentina with regard to the dispute over the Banda Oriental. Woodbine Parish remains as charge d’affaires and Stephen Henry Fox is appointed to replace Ponsonby at Buenos Aires.
August 14th, William Beach Lawrence, charge d’affaires of the United States in London, writes to Henry Clay, Secretary of State of the United States; “The three Spanish American Ministers or Charges recognized at Court, are never included, except on the most formal occasions, in the invitations even of the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Though personal civilities have been extended by Lord Aberdeen, since his accession to office, to all the Representatives of European Powers and to me and though the Court circular announced that he had entertained all the Foreign Ministers, the gentlemen referred to have been wholly unnoticed.”
August 27th, a peace treaty, the Treaty of Montevideo, is signed by Brazil and Argentina. Both agree to recognise the independence of the Republica Oriental del Uruguay.
[News of the Treaty was not well received in Argentina, which had appeared to be winning. Government support collapsed and General Lavalle was able to take power in December, 1828. Some of the negotiators were shot. Britain, which had exerted huge pressure to get the agreements signed, was the obvious scapegoat.]
“ .. Uruguay joined Paraguay as the third independent state to arise from the ashes of the former Viceroyalty of the River Plate.”
September 4th, Emilio Vernet records the arrival at Soledad of his brother’s slaves, on the Luisa, in his diary.
Argentina’s army, which had been fighting on the east bank of the Rio de la Plata prior to the peace treaty being signed, returns to its own territory in two detachments; troops under General Juan Lavalle go to Buenos Aires, while those commanded by Jose Maria Paz head to Cordoba.
“Both immediately made a bid for power … in Buenos Aires the hapless Dorrego was seized by Lavalle’s men and shot; …”
December 3rd, General Lavalle presents himself as Governor of Buenos Aires to the British, French and US representatives who, after consulting, agree to delay recognition of the new regime.
1829 – On March 7th, Matthew Brisbane, marooned on South Georgia since April, 1828, sails for Montevideo in a shallop found partially built some 60 miles from the wreck of the Hope, anf finished with materials salvaged from the wreck. Ten of the crew remain behind.
March 12th, Lavalle announces the formation of a new force for the defence of Buenos Aires, to be made up of foreigners, the ‘Batallon del Comercio Extrangero’. The order is signed by Admiral Brown.
On the Island of Soledad, Luis Vernet finds himself unable to enforce his fisheries concession as his protestations are ignored by the numerous British and American sealers; “Merchant Vessels of all Nations frequented the Colony in their voyages to the Pacific, and on their return from thence. They there took in fresh provisions, refitted themselves and recruited their sick. … The Fishing Vessels, … which trafficked amongst the Islands, began to avoid coming into contact with it: they seldom called at the Port, confining themselves to the Bay of San Salvador, distant by water 14 leagues from the Colony. Whenever they did visit it, they received the best treatment. I have not spoken with any of them, that was not aware of the prior dominion of the Spaniards, on the prohibition imposed by them to frequent those Seas, and of the Act of Sovereignty exercised by this Republic in 1820, warned not to continue fishing there, they all promised to obey, but none of them ever did so; and the Colony, without any repressive force, beheld its prerogatives rendered sterile and contemned…”
March 13th, HMS Tribune, hunting for pirates in the south Atlantic, arrives at Berkeley Sound where the commander, Capt. John Wilson, discovers that the settlement contains some 50 men, women and children. Immediately recognising a challenge to Britain’s sovereignty, Wilson prepares a report for Rear-Admiral Robert Otway in Rio de Janeiro expressing his concerns; “Remember they are virtually ours, being ceded to us by Spain… The people of Buenos Ayres can have no pretensions to them.”
Newspapers in Buenos Aires report the intended establishment of a penal colony in the Falkland Islands.
March 15th, Parish writes to the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Aberdeen; “In a sentence lately passed upon some Convicts, and signed by the acting Government of Buenos Ayres it was expressed that they were to be banished to the Martin Garcia; “until the establishment at the Falkland Isles should be ready for their reception.” This, and the circumstances of this Government having taken upon itself at various times to grant to individuals privileges to form temporary Settlements in those Islands for the purposes of Sealing and taking the Wild Cattle which are to be found there, induces me to bring the pretensions of this Government to the Sovereignty of those Islands under your Lordships notice, not being aware that His Majesty has ever formally relinquished his ancient claims to them, and considering that now that the Commerce of the Pacific is open to the World, they may perhaps be thought of much greater value than formerly, when His Majesty settled his Rights with the Court of Spain. … It was the practice of the Spaniards previously to the South American Revolution constantly to maintain a guard in one of those Islands over Convicts who were sent there for punishment, and also a small vessel of War, which, as well as the guard, was annually relieved from Buenos Ayres. … this practice was discontinued, but the Buenos Ayreans have not the less ever considered the Territory as belonging to them, and as far as I can learn, they now have some idea of re-occupying it in the same manner and for the same purpose as the Spaniards did.”
“… it would be well to note that what prompted Britain’s charge d’affaires in Buenos Ayres to draw Lord Aberdeen’s attention to the islands was the apparent intention of the Buenos Ayrean government to establish a penal colony there. Such an establishment would have constituted an undeniably formal Argentine presence in the Falklands, and it was this possibility, together with other formal assertions of sovereignty, against which the British Government reacted. Britain might not object to the presence of individuals on the Falklands, but any formal foreign activity in a ‘British’ possession constituted a challenge to her sovereignty which could not be allowed to pass without protest.” [Mufty 1986]
March 18th, following a further announcement of a military force to be made up of all foreigners, the ‘Battalion of the Friends of Order’, Woodbine Parish protests and points out that such an Order is in breach of the Treaty of 1825. Lavalle is forced to rescind the Decree. The French follow suit, and there is an outburst of anti-British sentiment in the Province, whipped up by Rivadavia.
On the same day, HMS Tribune leaves Berkeley Sound.
March 21st, George Whitington, a London merchant, talks to the Colonial Office about settling the Falklands.
April 9th, Matthew Brisbane arrives in the town of Rio Negro where he reports the loss of the Hope.
April 12th, William Langdon, now in England, writes to the MP, Thomas Potter MacQueen; ” Lord: Having captained a merchant ship during five trips to New South Wales and returned to London via Cape Horn, I have seen the need to establish a colony in the Falkland Islands in order to provide …. water, supplies or repairs in case of accident. … Numerous boats are now used commercially in New South Wales and Van Diemans land exclusively prisons ships and whalers. Most of them are forced to anchor in one of the Brazilian ports for water, etc.., if they return by the Eastern route. All this would be absolutely unnecessary if there was an established colony … A contingent of 100 men would do, and everything you need will be forwarded through any prison ships, these ships on behalf of the government might take a certain amount of masts for each colony and leave them there for the provisioning of the ships of His Majesty or any other that requires them.
What induces me to inform you that this is because you are a major landowner in Australia and naturally interested in this trade, … I am sure that the importance and need for the British government to occupy a port of communication between the colony and the mother country can not go unnoticed by anyone who is interested in its prosperity.
Please let me add, Sir, I was in Berkeley Sound ten months ago and found the islands held by a German director and about 20 men …, [who] had been sent there by a company of merchants of Buenos Aires [which] obtained a concession from the government of that state, and its aim was to kill the cattle to remove the skins. They had already met about 1000 and I think in the islands there are over 10,000 plus horses. They catered my boat with excellent salt beef and they said they had large quantities ready for export. They had been there for 12 months and none of them had been ill for a single moment. The terrain looks very good in many places and saw several species of edible plants that grow abundantly. … If you think these comments may be submitted to the government of His Majesty, I shall be happy, sir, to provide any additional information.”
MacQueen “entreats” on Langdon’s behalf; “while England slept a foreigner was stealing a march on her.”
Back in Buenos Aires, Vernet petitions the Government;“ It is evident that the Seal Fishery in those Islands, is exhaustible, for in the time of the Spaniards it was so abundant, that only large Vessels were engaged in it, and now only small Vessels are employed. Foreigners who only seek present and immediate utility, without considering the future, effect the slaughter in a pernicious manner. They set fire to the fields and slaughter indiscriminately, and in all seasons, even in that of bringing forth young. In consequence of this, and of the constant and great concourse, has ensued the present diminution of Seals, of which there are now scarcely the twentieth part of what there were in 1820. It is not impossible that this valuable species may return to its former abundance, by means of a well regulated slaughter, and some years of respite. But while Foreigners continue to slaughter, it is impossible, and the species will become extinct. If this takes place, the Colony is undone, for the slaughter is the great allurement … I perceived the danger to which this disorder exposed the Colony; and did not venture to bring out new Settlers without having an effectual guarantee for their fully enjoying their privileges. For this reason I requested the Government to furnish me with a Vessel of War, to enable me to cause the rights of the Colony to be respected. The Government was aware of the necessity of the measure;..”
April 20th, Vernet reports to Parish that the Colony on Soledad now consists of; ’10 white inhabitants, 10 seafaring men, mostly English and Americans, 18 Negroes indentured for 10 years, 12 Negro girls, 52 in all, a brother and brother-in-law of Mr. Vernet.’ He adds that he is preparing to embark with more settlers; “ .. eight families including Mr Vernet, and seven single men, Germans. In all 33 individuals.”
April 23, Matthew Brisbane sails from the Rio Negro in the Triunfo.
April 25th, Woodbine Parish obtains copies of the 1823 and 1828 grants from Luis Vernet, which he sends to London; “With reference to my despatch no.17 of the 15th Ultimo upon the subject of the Falkland Islands, I now enclose for your Lordships’ information, copies of the Grants which have been made by the Government of Buenos Ayres, of the Isle of Soledad, as well as of Staten Land, whereby your Lordship will observe the terms upon which .. Vernet has undertaken to form Settlements in those places. I have procured these papers from Mr. Vernet himself,…. I understand from him that he will have sent to Soledad, and Staten Land in this year, and the last, about one hundred persons altogether, of different Nations… He would, I believe, be very happy if His Majesty’s Government would take his Settlement under their protection. ..”
“You cannot doubt the veracity of Parish, especially as the document is intended for ministers… Moreover, our knowledge of the documentation leads us to believe that there must have been a manifestation of recklessness by Vernet, torn, possibly, by reservations and counterclaims to make him the business manager of His Majesty. But I doubt that Vernet at that time was well informed about the legitimacy of our titles, and, therefore … said the words reported in Parish’s note. ” [Cailles-Bois 6th ed. 1982]
April 26th, following defeat at the battle of Márquez Bridge, Juan Lavalle is besieged in Buenos Aires by General Juan Manuel Rosas.
May 2nd, Capt. Matthew Brisbane arrives in Buenos Aires.
May 15th, a charter is agreed between Brisbane and Luis Vernet, for the brig Betsy which is to sail first for Port Louis and Staten Land, after which the vessel is to be taken over by Brisbane for his rescue attempt.
“… for the sum of one thousand Spanish Milled Dollars for every calendar month that she may be at his disposal the charter to begin from the day the Brig is placed at the disposal of Captn Brisbane and to cease from the day she is returned to safe moorings at Port Louis of Falkland Island … The only object of this Charter is to enable Captn Brisbane to deliver his Seamen that were wrecked upon the Island of New South Georgia in the Schooner “Hope” of London and are presumed still to exist upon said Island … and lastly Vernet engages to give to Captn Brisbane and his men a free passage in the Brig when she returns from the Falklands Islands to the River Plate.”
May 20th, Brisbane completes a Public Instrument of Declaration and Protest recording the loss of the Hope, which is submitted to the British Consulate in Buenos Aires; signed by himself, Isaac Henzell (Mate) and John Daniels (Seaman).
June 5th, in receipt of information from both Rear-Admiral Otway, and charge d’affairs Parish, the Foreign Office in London conclude that action is necessary as Britain’s rights have not lapsed.
‘Political and Military Command of the Malvinas’ .
“When the glorious revolution of May 25, 1810 these provinces were separated from the domination of the metropolis, Spain had a material possession in the Falkland Islands, and all others around Cape Horn, including that known under the name of Tierra del Fuego, that possession be justified by the law of the former occupant, by the consent of the principal maritime powers of Europe and the adjacency of these islands to the continent that formed the Viceroyalty of Buenos Aires, whose government depended. For this reason, having entered the Government of the Republic in succession all the rights he had over these provinces the ancient metropolis, and enjoyed their viceroys, has continued to exercise acts of ownership on these islands, ports and coasts even though the circumstances have not allowed now to that part of the territory of the Republic, the care and attention that its importance demands, but need not be delayed any longer measures that can to shield the rights of the Republic making while enjoying the benefits that can give the products of those islands, and ensuring the protection due to its population, the Government has agreed and decreed:
Article 1: The Falkland Islands and adjacent to Cape Horn in the Atlantic Ocean, will be governed by a Political and Military Commander, appointed immediately by the Government of the Republic.
Article 2.- The residence of the political and military commander will be in the Isle of Solitude, and it will establish a battery under the flag of the Republic.
Article 3.- The Political and Military Commander will see the population of the islands the Laws of the Republic, and take care of their costs of enforcement of regulations on fishing for amphibians. Article 4 .- Communicate and published.
Signed, Martin Rodriguez, Salvador M.del Lane. ”
[ June 10th, 1829 was the 59th anniversary of the British surrender at Port Egmont in 1770. Coincidence? There appears little evidence either way, although if this date was not merely a coincidence, then it suggests that Lavalle had taken a deliberate, and provocative, pot-shot at Britain. It is known that many in Argentina had been unhappy at the conclusion of the dispute with Brazil. So unhappy in fact, that the negotiators and President Manuel Dorrego had been shot. Lavalle had been fighting in the Banda Oriental right up until the peace, and felt particularly aggrieved. In June, 1829 however, General Lavalle was beset on all sides. His government was incapable of running the Province, General Rosas was at the doors of Buenos Aires, and what little support he had was failing fast. It was in this atmosphere that the 1829 Decree was formulated. The last act of a dying regime.]
June 13th, this Decree is published in the Government’s official Gazette.
[In legal terms, this public act of the United Provinces, set the ‘critical date’ for arbitration purposes. “… in the ordinary course of events and assuming that once a concrete issue has arisen between two countries, they decide to settle it by international adjudication, the critical date would in principle be the date which they agreed to submit the dispute to a tribunal. However, there may be cases where the critical date should nevertheless be some other date… one object of the critical date is to prevent one of the parties from laterally improving its position by means of some step taken after the issue has been definitely joined, …” Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice in the Minquiers and Ecrehos Case before the ICJ in 1953. Argentina’s Foreign Minister Costa Mendez, speaking to the Security Council on 3rd April, 1982 suggested that January 3rd, 1833 should be considered as the ‘critical date’ but this appears to have been a political move to strengthen Argentina’s case. cf. May 23rd 2008. ]
Luis Vernet is granted the title of ‘Civil and Military Commandant of Puerto Luis’, but this is not gazetted.
“ .. By a Decree bearing date the 5th of January, 1828, the property of the waste lands on the Island of Soledad was granted to me, on condition that I should establish a Colony within the term of 3 years: to the Colony was granted an exemption of Taxes and Imposts for 20 years, with the enjoyment of the Fishery in all the Malvina Islands and on the coasts of the Continent to the South of the Rio Negro. By this it appears that the character of my undertaking to colonize the Malvinas was exclusively and essentially mercantile; and thus it was that I, with my own capital, and without any assistance whatever from the Government, had established the Colony and maintained it in the same manner, under the title of Director, which was conferred on me by the before-mentioned Decree. The Colony commences various labors, and entered on the enjoyment of the rights and privileges granted. The depredations of Foreigners on the Coasts still went on and there was no force in the Colony capable of restraining them, nor was there any public Officer to protest against them. This state of disorder obliged me to require the Government to adopt some measures. Accordingly, by Decree on the 10th of June, 1829, it ordered that a Civil and Military Governor of those Islands, and their adjacencies up to Cape Horn, should be appointed, imposing on him the duty of carrying into effect the regulations relative to the Seal-fishery. The nomination of this charge might have fallen upon any other person than the Director. But the Government, either believing me to be the most proper person, or to save the expense of a salary, which, in any case, would have been necessary, thought it expedient that the Director of the Colony should also be Civil and Military Governor; and, by another distinct Decree, although of the same date, it nominated me to fill this office. … The Decree which ordered that a Governor should be named was published by the press; but the other under the same date, in which I was appointed Governor, was not published. This circumstance has doubtless given rise to the idea that I had appropriated to myself this title ..” [Vernet 1832]
Vernet has also requests a warship to assist in the fisheries protection. This is not granted, but he is provided with 4 cannon, 50 rifles and ammunition, 20 quintals of iron, a bellows and blacksmith equipment, carpentry, construction and farming tools.
June 20th, Parish’s letter of March 15th, is copied to Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, Sir George Murray, for his consideration.
On the same day, Betsy sails with for East Falkland with Luis Vernet, Matthew Brisbane and 38 new English and German settlers on board. Vernet is accompanied by his wife, Maria Saez, and children, Emilio, Luisa and Sofia.
June 24th, the civil war started by Lavalle’s take-over of Buenos Aires reverts to an uneasy peace.
Following the ‘preliminary‘ accord signed in 1823, a peace Treaty is agreed between Spain and the Argentine Republic – “(This) did not mean, however, the beginning of official bilateral relations as internal problems in both countries later caused a long estrangement.”
June 26th, Woodbine Parish informs London of the Decree; “ Since my despatches No.17 and No.24 to your Lordship upon the subject of the Falklands, the Provisional Government of Buenos Ayres has copied a decree of which I forward a copy for your Lordships information, formerly asserting the Rights of the Republic to those Islands. I believe that the steps lately taken by Mr Vernet to increase his Colony, at the Isle of Soledad, have drawn the attention of the Buenos Ayrean Authorities to the subject, and have led to this measure. But, I do not learn that they at present contemplate taking any further steps in pursuance of their Decree, beyond the conferring upon Mr Vernet himself the Honorary appointment of Political and Military Governor of his own Settlement.”
Lavalle’s administration is declared “intrusive” and its proceedings disavowed.
June 29th, the Foreign Office forward Parish’s April 25th letter to Sir George Murray.
July 2nd, Sir John Barrow, Permanent Secretary to the Admiralty argues for an immediate return of British forces to the archipelago in a letter to Robert Hay, Permanent Under-Secretary for the Colonies.
July 9th, Foreign Secretary, George Hamilton-Gordon, Lord Aberdeen, requests a legal opinion regarding the British title to the Falklands archipelago. Lord Dunglas writes from the Foreign Office to the Advocate-General, Sir Herbert Jenner; “ … the Government of Buenos Ayres has recently claimed them as their territory, under a title derived from the Crown of Spain; Lord Aberdeen asks you to consider the circumstances and inform His Lordship of your opinion on how much time need elapse without British occupation … (to) invalidate the claim of this country over the islands in question ..”
July 10th, the Colonial Office circulates a memorandum setting out the advantages of “resuming possession,” and expressing surprise regarding Buenos Aires; “.. assuming to themselves the right to dispose of the Islands and the projects which they have in regard to them.”
July 11th, further pressure comes from Mr. Beckington, a supporter of Western Australian settlement, who writes to the British Government is support of a base in the south Atlantic; “.. either in the Falkland Islands , in the south part of the continent, or even in Tierra del Fuego itself.”
July 15th, Vernet arrives back in the Islands with the resolve to; ” … employ all my resources and avail myself of all my connections in order to undertake a formal colonization which should… lay the foundation of a national Fishery which has been at all times and in all countries the origin and nursery of the Navy and Mercantile Marine…”.
Around the same time, Capt, Davison in command of the American sealer Harriet, arrives in San Salvador Bay where he is presented with a copy of vernet’s sealing restrictions by Matthew Brisbane.
July 23rd, Sir George Murray writes to the British Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington, “It appears to me that the interval between the cessation of the power of old Spain and the consolidation of that of the new governments in South America would be the best time for our resuming our former possession of the Falkland Islands…. I have not spoken with Lord Melville on the subject, but I believe he is very sensible of the importance in the naval point of view of the occupation of those islands.”
July 25th, Wellington responds, ” It is not clear to me that we have ever possessed the sovereignty of all these islands. The convention certainly goes no farther than to restore to us Port Egmont, which we abandoned nearly sixty years ago. If our right to the Falkland Islands had been undisputed at that time and indisputable, I confess that I should doubt the expediency of now taking possession of them. We have possession of nearly every valuable post and colony in the world and I confess that I am anxious to avoid to excite the attention and jealousy of other powers by extending our possessions and setting the example of the gratification of a desire to seize upon new territories. But in this case in which our right to possess more than Port [Egmont] is disputed, and at least doubtful, it is very desireable [sic] to avoid such acts. I am at the same time very sensible of the inconvenience which may be felt by this country and of the injury which will be done to us if either the French or Americans should settle upon these islands, the former in virtue of any claim from former occupancy, the latter or both from any claim derived by purchase or cession from the government of Buenos Ayres.
That which I would recommend is that the government of Buenos [Ayres] should be very quietly but very distinctly informed that His Majesty has claims upon Falklands Islands and that His Majesty will not allow of any settlement upon, or any cession to, individuals or foreign nations of these islands by Buenos Ayres, which shall be inconsistent with the King’s acknowledged right of sovereignty. I think that this is all that can be done at present. It will have the effect of impeding any settlement or cession by Buenos Ayres and as we may suppose that the French and Americans will hear of this communication they will not be disposed to act in contravention to it unless determined upon a quarrel with this country.”
July 28th, Sir Herbert Jenner’s legal opinion is given; “I am humbly of the opinion that the right which this country aquired by the original discovery and subsequent occupation of the Falkland Islands cannot be considered as in any manner affected by the transactions, which occurred previously to the year 1774. So far from those rights having been abandoned they have always been strenuously asserted and maintained, particularly in the memorable discussions with Spain referred to in your Lordship’s letter, which terminated in the restoration of the English Settlement and Fort which had been taken by the Spanish Forces.
The claim, therefore, to these Islands, now advanced by Buenos Aires, cannot be admitted upon any supposed acknowledgement or recognition of the right of Spain by this Country; if it is capable of being maintained on any ground, it must be upon the supposition, that the withdrawing of the British Troops in 1774, and the non-occupation of these islands since that time, amounted to a virtual abandonment of the right originally acquired, and that, being unoccupied, the Islands in question reverted to their original state, and liable to become the property of the person who might take possession of them. But I apprehend that no such effect is to be attributed to either or both of these circumstances.
The symbols of property and possession which were left upon the Islands sufficiently denote the Intention of the British Government to retain these rights which they had previously acquired over them, and to reassume the occupation of them when a convenient opportunity should occur.”
Despite the pressure to re-occupy the Falklands, Wellington’s final decision is that a warning should suffice and that Britain’s right be protected by the implicit threat of action should the warning prove insufficient. 30,000 British troops are already garrisoned around the world and a further commitment is not deemed necessary.
August 8th, Lord Aberdeen sends instructions to Parish; “The information contained in your dispatch of the 15th of March and 25th of April respecting the measures which have recently been adopted by the Government of Buenos Aires has engaged the attention of His Majesty’s Government. It appears that the Republik, attempting to execute the full rights of sovereignty over these Islands, has made grants of land, and has conferred exclusive privileges upon certain individuals to a term of years. These acts have been done without deference to the validity of the claims which His Majesty has constantly asserted to the sovereignty of the Falklands; and it is therefore essential that the proceedings of the Republican Government should not be permitted to injure the rights of His Majesty. Those Rights, founded upon the original discovery and subsequent occupation of the islands, acquired an additional sanction from the restoration by hos Catholic Majesty of the British Settlement in the Year 1771, which in the preceding year had been attacked and occupied by a Spanish Force, and which act of violence had led to much angry discussion between the Governments of the two Countries.
It cannot be entertained that the abandonment of this Facility in the Year 1774 by the British Government is in any degree to be considered as … to invalidate His Majesty’s just pretensions.
The Naval Force was withdrawn, and the settlement relinquished, in pursuance of a system of economical retrenchments adopted at that time, … the symbols of possession and property were left upon the Islands. When the Governor took his departure the British flag remained flying; and all those formalities were addressed which indicated the rights of ownership … the intention to assume the occupation of the territory at a more convenient season.
His Majesty’s Govt are aware of the increased importance of those Islands. The change in political condition of South America, and the nature of our relations with the various States … with the great extension of commerce in the Pacifik Ocean, will render mighty desirable the possession of some secure points from where our shipping may be supplied and if necessary, refitted. In the event of our being engaged in War in the Western Hemisphere, such a station would be almost indispensable to its successful prosecution.
It is not in my power at the present moment, to inform you of the final determination of His Majesty’s Government with respect to those Islands; and whether it shall be thought proper to restore possession of a settlement which had been extinguished for a time, although never abandoned. The question is one of much delicacy there being important consequences, and demanding therefore, the most mature deliberation… in order to preserve entire the rights of His Majesty, and to prevent all injury from the proceedings of the Government of Buenos Ayres, you will inform that Govt of the existence of His Majesty’s pretensions in their full force.
You may also give it to be understood that His Majesty will not view with indifference, nor can he recognise any cession of territory by the Govt. of Buenos Ayres, either to individuals or to any foreign nation, which shall be found incompatible with the just rights of Sovereignty to which His Majesty lays claim, and which have heretofore been exercised by the crown of Great Britain.”
[News of the Decree had not yet reached London and the instructions were based on the Buenos Airean proposal to establish a penal colony.]
August 30th, at Soledad, María Vernet writes in her diary; “Very good Saint Rose of Lima day, so Vernet has decided to take possession today of the islands in the name of the government of Buenos Aires.”
Vernet proclaims his Governorship, announcing; “ the formal act of dominion on behalf on the Republic of Buenos Aires on these Falkland Islands of Tierra del Fuego and its adjacent and other territories.”
The; “ .. Governorship and the Commandantcy of the Island was reinstalled, under salutes of artillery.” [Vernet 1832]
“… and to that effect, the flag of the Republic has been hoisted and saluted in the best way permitted by the incipient condition of this population. The Commander expects that all inhabitants will be constantly subordinated to the laws, living like brothers and sisters in union and harmony in order that the expected population increase which the Superior Government has promised to foster and protect may give rise -in this Southern territory- to a community that will honor the Republic whose control we recognize. Hail the Nation!” (Marcelo Vernet 2011)
Luis Vernet circulates a message to those whalers and sealers anchored around the Islands informing them of his newly granted authority. Puerto Soledad reverts to being called Puerto Louis.
September, Woodbine Parish assists General Rosas in devising a scheme for the appointment of a permanent Government. (Kay-Shuttleworth 1910)
September 3rd, Parish’s despatch regarding the Buenos Aires Decree arrives in London. (Mufty 1986)
September 17th, Lord Aberdeen writes to Parish; “Having in my despatch No. 5 of the 8th August 1829 fully explained to you the opinion of HM Government as to the rights of the Crown of Great Britain with regard to those Islands, I have now only to instruct you to address a note to the Buenos Ayrean Minister … protesting formally in the name of His Majesty against the terms of the above mentioned Decree, as infringing these just rights of sovereignty over the Falkland Islands which His Majesty has never relinquished.”
A draft-Protest is enclosed.
October 2nd, US Secretary of State, Martin Van Burren, writes to the US Minister in Spain, Cornelius Van Ness; “ … The contest between Spain and her former colonies must now be considered as at end; yet, still entertaining vain hopes of reconquering them, she withholds her acknowledgment of an independence which has long since been recognized by the most powerful and influential Governments of Europe, ..”
The Spanish historian, Don Mariano Torrente, writes in his historical account entitled Historia de la Revolucion Hispano-Americaux; “ The King’s possessions in America occupy an immense plot that extends from 41º 43′ lat. S. to 37º 48′ lat. N…”
[Written in the present tense. Ferdinand still held to his ‘legal’ rights.]
November 18th, Parish receives Lord Aberdeen’s instruction and draft-Protest.
”The undersigned H.B.M. Charge d’Affaire has the honour to inform H.E. General Guido the Minister Encharged with the Department of Foreign Affairs that he has communicated to his Court the official document signed by General Rodriguez and Dn Salvador Maria del Carril, in the name of the Government of Buenos Ayres, and published on the 10th of June last, containing certain Provisions for the Government of the Falkland Islands. The undersigned has received the orders of his Court to represent to H.E. General Guido that in issuing this decree, an authority has been assumed incompatible with His Britannic Majesty’s rights of sovereignty over the Falkland Islands. These rights, founded upon the original discovery and subsequent occupation of the said islands, acquired an additional sanction from the restoration, by His Catholic Majesty, of the British settlement, in the year 1771, which, in the preceding year, had been attacked and occupied by a Spanish force, and which act of violence had led to much angry discussion between the Governments of the two countries.
The withdrawal of His Majesty’s forces from these islands, in the year 1774, cannot be considered as invalidating His Majesty’s just rights. That measure took place in pursuance of a system of retrenchment, adopted at that time by His Britannic Majesty’s Government. But the marks and signals of possession and property were left upon the islands. When the Governor took his departure, the British flag remained flying, and all those formalities were observed which indicated the rights of ownership, as well as an intention to resume the occupation of that territory, at a more convenient season.
The undersigned, therefore, in execution of the Instructions of his Court, formally protests, in the name of His Britannic Majesty, against the pretensions set up on the part of the Argentine Republick, in the decree of 10th June, above referred to, and against all acts which have been, or may hereafter be done, to the prejudice of the just rights of sovereignty which have heretofore been exercised by the Crown of Great Britain. The undersigned, &c. (signed)
Woodbine Parish Buenos Ayres November 19th, 1829”
November 25th, General Guido acknowledges receipt of the British Protest, “ The undersigned Minister for Foreign Affairs has received and laid before His Excellency the Governor the communication which HM Gov Charge de Affaires Mr Woodbine Parish has been pleased to address to him under date of the 19th November, protesting against the Decree issued on the 10th of June last, appointing a Political and Military Commandant for the Falkland Islands. The Government will give their particular consideration to this said note from Mr Parish, and the undersigned will have the satisfaction of communicating to him their resolution upon it, as soon as he receives orders to do so.”
“ .. no answer was made to it, and it was kept entirely secret by the Government.” (Greenhow 1842)
December 5th, Parish informs London of his action; “I herewith enclose for your Lordships information the copy of an Official Note which … I presented to General Guido the Minister encharged with the Foreign Department, protesting in His Majesty’s name against the Pretensions set up in the past of the Republic to those possessions. Having explained at the same time generally to the Minister the tenor of my communication, he promised to give his immediate and serious attention to the subject.”
December 8th, Juan Manuel de Rosas is elected as Governor and Captain-General of the Province of Buenos Aires.
1830 – February 5th, a daughter is born to Luis Vernet and his wife at Port Louis.
March 13th, the new Rosas Government issues a Decree; “Every person who might be considered as author, or accomplice, in the affair of December 1st, 1828, or of any of the outrages committed against the laws, by the intrusive Government, and who had not given unequivocal proofs that he held those proceedings in abomination, should be punished as guilty of rebellion.”
A child, Juan José Simón, is born to the indentured slave, Carmelita.
May 29th, a civil marriage takes place at Port Louis between Gregorio Sánchez Santiagueño and Victoria Enriques.
July 30th, reported in the Australian newspaper of Sydney, New South Wales; “The Seringapatam frigate, on the Brazil station, has been ordered to take possession of the Falkland Islands, as a British settlement, on the plea that they do not now belong to any power. For its excellent harbour and good water, it will be highly beneficial to our shipping, as a place of rendezvous, and for refreshment.”
During September, news arrives in Buenos Aires of the death of George IV in London. Rosas orders 3 days of public mourning.
In October, the British Packet and Argentine News reports; “Falkland islands: The arrival of Capt. Brisbane, from the above Islands has put us in possession of news, from the Emigrant settlement established at East Falkland Island, Port Luis, Berkeley Sound, under direction of Mr Luis Vernet. We rejoice to hear that it is in a prosperous condition; about 20 000 head of horned cattle are on the Island; poultry and pigs in abundance, and all sort of wild fowl, rabbits, Exc.; potatoes, cabbages and other vegetables thrive extremely well; wild horses abound, but the breed is small. Horses have however been imported from Patagonia; wood is scarse, but this want, as regards firing, is amply compensated by the great quantity of peat found on the Island. The Emigrants at present on the Island amount to about 70 persons. A circular has been published by the Governor, (Mr Vernet,) with the decree of the Government of Buenos Ayres, of the 10th of June, 1829.”
The ‘Circular’ includes a warning from Luis Vernet; “The undersigned, Governor of the Falkland Islands, Terra del Fuego and adjacencies, doth hereby, in compliance passed by the Government of Buenos Ayres on the 10th June, 1829, to watch over the execution of the laws respecting the Fisheries … inform you; that the transgression of these laws will not as heretofore, remain unnoticed. The undersigned flatters himself that this timely notice which he gives to all Masters of vessels engaged in the Fisheries on any part of the coasts under his jurisdiction, will induce them to desist since a repetition will expose them to become a lawful prize to any vessel of war belonging to the Republic, or to any vessel which the undersigned may think proper to arm in use of his authority, for executing the laws of the Republic.
The undersigned further warns persons against the practice of shooting cattle on East Falkland Island, the same being private property, and however innocent the act may be in those that are not aware of this circumstance, it becomes of course highly criminal in those who wilfully persist in such acts, and renders the liable to the rigour of the laws in similar cases. … ”
On reading the article, Woodbine Parish summons Matthew Brisbane to the British Legation.
Parish reminds him of the British protest and warns Brisbane not to interfere with British ships; “.. I thought it right to send for this person, and to acquaint him with the protest I had been instructed to enter here against the decree of the Buenos Ayres Government of June 1829, and I desired him as he was about to return immediately to the Falklands…. Mr Brisbane promised me he would take care that my caution should be attended to (and) that the truth was the notice was more intended to draw vessels to Soledad for supplies, than to hinder their coming there, which in fact they had no means whatever at their disposal to present. I thought it better to take this course than to make any further official representation to the Government upon this subject, being satisfied that neither Mr Vernet or Brisbane require orders from the authorities at Buenos Ayres to attend to my advice and caution.”
November, Henry John Temple, Viscount Palmerston, becomes Foreign Secretary in London.
A British expedition to find new sealing grounds in the Antarctic arrives at the Falkland Islands. John Biscoe is in command of Tula and Lively. Biscoe notes in his journal that Vernet is selling his “ .. lean and badly killed bullocks ..” at £10 each.
November 20th, Woodbine Parish informs London that he has warned Brisbane to stay away from British vessels, and comments; “Since my protest in November last the Minister has taken no further notice of this subject, … Mr Vernet’s expectations continue to be realised, and that he has found both the climate and soil as good as he could desire. He has confined himself to Soledad, the old Spanish settlement where the remains of the buildings originally erected by Mr de Bougainville in the year 1764 still exist.”
With this letter, Parish includes a copy of Vernet’s Circular together with documents he has found from, “the old archives of the Government of His Catholic Majesty;” including documents referring to the removal of the lead plate from Port Egmont and its subsequent retrieval by General Beresford.
November 24th, Harriet arrives back in the Falkland Islands. Luis Vernet warns Davison not to take seals from any part of his jurisdiction which includes the Falklands and the coasts of Patagonia.
“ .. in the year 1829, I found the Harriet loaded with Seal skins which had been taken in that jurisdiction. I generously permitted her to depart with her Cargo, warning her that in case of the recurrence of the offence, both Vessel and Cargo would be confiscated; and, to make the notification more complete, as she returned again in 1830, I delivered the Captain a Circular containing the same general warning.” [Vernet 1832]
1831– January, Buenos Aires, Entre Rios and Santa Fe become the Argentine Confederation.
Superior, arrives off Port Louis and is also provided with Vernet’s sealing regulations.
February 10th, dealing with a complaint made in the USA’s House of Representatives regarding the 1829 Decree and Vernet’s Circular, Secretary Van Burren writes to John Forbes in Buenos Aires; ” .. 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 which are calculated in the remotest degree to impose any restraints whatever upon the enterprise of our citizens, engaged in the fisheries in question, or to impair their undoubted right to the freest use of them. The Government of Buenos Ayres can certainly deduce no good title to these Islands, to which those fisheries are appurtenant, from any fact connected with their history, in reference to the first discovery, occupancy, or exclusive possession of them by subjects of Spain.”
February 26th, the Superior resumed sealing around the western islands of the archipelago, as does Harriet.
May 7th, the American sealer, Breakwater, puts in at Port Louis to effect repairs. Its captain is given a copy of the local sealing regulations. After completing the repairs, the Breakwater sails on to the san carlos, White Rock and Port Howard areas to hunt seals.
June 14th, John Forbes dies in post; without completing his instructions from Secretary Van Burren.
US Consul, George Slacum, takes over the care of US interests whist awaiting a replacement for Forbes.
July 15th, Elbe, chartered by Luis Vernet, arrives in the Falklands with Joaquin Acuña, a Brazilian, and Mateo Gonzalez from Uruguay, together with their wives.
July 30th, Vernet orders the seizure of the Harriet, and the imprisonment of its Captain, Gilbert Davison, and crew, on a charge of illegal sealing; “.. met and surrounded by several Englishmen, armed with Muskets and Pistols and headed by an officer by the name of Brisbane, who told the Declarant that he had been sent by Mr. Vernet to fetch him to Port Louis, where the said Vernet resided, and in consequence of said Vernet’s having been informed that Declarant had been sealing on the Falkland Islands, Staten Land and Islands in the Pacific near Cape Horn; …” [Davison 1831]
August 15th, Brisbane completes an inventory of the Harriet’s cargo which Capt. Davison signs – “That the Articles taken out at this time were as follows – Seven Barrels of flour, Eleven dº of Pork, two dº of Beans, four dº of molasses, three dº of Bread, Seven hogsheads of Bread four kegs of Powder, four bags of Shot, fifty four Seal Skins, Seventy eight hair dº all the boards belonging to the Schooner, Say seven hundred and fifty feet, some Oars, and all the boat timbers, keels, Stems .and Sterns, that belonged to the Schooner- That said Articles were conveyed into a Store belonging to the said Vernet, and sold out by retail by him at the following prices, to wit, Pork twenty five Cents per lb., Molasses, at Seventy five Cents per quart, Bread twenty five Cents per lb.”
August 17th, Capt. Don Carew anchors near Port Louis and goes ashore with four others from the ship. On their arrival at the settlement they are detained. Matthew Brisbane then seizes the Breakwater;“.. I saw the boat returning and I went below into the forecastle and said to them that were there the Capt. is coming. In A few minutes the boat came along side and then one of our men came down and in a low tone almost a whisper he said there is some strangers come on board but not the captain and they have guns. Tom Canada says let us make a rush for them and throw them Overboard. No says I, keep still, we have no arms and they have and if we undertake that we will some of us get hurt. So we kept quiet and went on deck and found they had possession of the vessel. Their leader was an English man Capt Brisbane and his men was Spaniards and Portuguese and English and I saw one American … “ [Lamb 1896]
All but two of the Breakwater’s crew – first mate Oliver York and seaman Tom Canada, who remain to protect the crew’s private property – are put on an isolated island for the night. York and Canada overpower the sentry and lock the three other guards in the forecastle where they were sleeping. Once back on board, the crew release Brisbane’s men and sail away.
August 19th, Capt. Stephen Congar and the Superior are also taken and accused of ‘illegal hunting’; “.. those 3 vessels continued the same traffic, and were consequently detained, together with every thing belonging to them, to be arraigned before the competent Tribunal; which voluntary violation has been confessed and admitted by the Captains of the Harriet and Superior, ..” [Vernet 1832]
“ .. about Nine hundred Fur Skins were taken out of the Superior by said Vernet and brought on shore .” [Davison 1831]
Capt. Carew, his four companions, together with five seamen from Superior, are taken aboard Elbe for the journey to Rio de Janeiro.
September 8th, a contract is signed by Captains Davison and Congar whereby one of them will be allowed to go sealing on the west coast of South America, on Vernet’s behalf, whilst the other ship, and its Captain, go to Buenos Aires to be tried for the offences that are alleged.
Vernet selects the Superior and Capt. Congar to go sealing.
“ … he suffered one of these two to depart, leaving a cargo of seal-skins as a deposit. The other was still detained, out of which he took stores of all kinds, and sold them by auction, and was about to sail in her to Buenos Ayres, for the purpose of attending the trial as to her and her companion’s condemnation.”
In October, Henry Fox, finally arrives in Buenos Aires, as the new Minister Plenipotentiary.
October 22nd, the Thomas Lawrie, commanded by William Langdon, arrives at Berkley Sound.
October 23rd, one of Langdon’s passengers writes; “Having landed, I immediately paid a visit to the governor, Don Vernet, who received me with much cordiality. … Having, at his request, sent an invitation to Captain Langdon and his family to come and remain on shore, they accordingly arrived about sunset. A lively conversation passed at dinner; the party consisting of Don Vernet and his lady, Captain Langdon and his family, a Captain Brisbane, and two American gentlemen belonging to a sealing schooner detained at the island by Don Vernet; in the evening we had music and dancing. Don Vernet’s domestic establishment consisted of about fifteen slaves, bought by him from the Buenos Ayrean government, on the condition of learning them some useful employment, and having their services for a certain number of years, after which, by the provisions of the Slave Trade Act, they were free. They seemed generally to be from fifteen to twenty years of age, and appeared quite contented and happy.
The number of persons altogether on the island consisted of about one hundred, including twenty-five gauchos and five charruas, Indians. There are a few Dutch families, the women of which milk the cows, and make the butter. Two or three Englishmen, a German family, and the remainder made up of Spaniards and Portuguese, pretending to follow some trade, but doing little or nothing. The gauchos are chiefly Spaniards: their captain or “the Chief of the Gauchos” is a Frenchman. .. One gauchos was worth fifteen hundred dollars, and an Irishman who had been a gaucho, and had come to the island in Don Vernet’s debt, had not only paid it off, but had been enabled to give him seven hundred and fifty dollars for a building which he had converted into a store. … His exports consist at present of cattle hides, for which he has an establishment, and for salting, about sixty miles to the southward, where are large bulls of that size, that he informed me the skins alone had weighed eighty pounds, and so heavy that the gauchos cannot drive them across the marshes to the north side. …”
October 27th, the New York Evening Post reports Breakwater’s arrival at Stonington on the 24th.
October 29th, in answer to an inquiry regarding Vernet’s warning notice, an un-named US Secretary of State responds; “Measures were taken by my predecessor to ascertain on what foundation the claim of jurisdiction to these islands rested; but the sickness and death of Mr. Forbes, our charge d’affaires at Buenos Ayres, had for a time interrupted the investigation. Our right of fishery, however, in those seas, is one that the government considers indisputable, and it will be given in charge to the minister about to be sent there, to make representations against and demand satisfaction for all interruptions of the exercise of that right.”
October 31st, following Capt. Carew’s arrival in Brazil, the USS Lexington, under the command of Captain Silas Duncan, is instructed by Master-Commander Benjamin Cooper to sail from Rio de Janeiro to Montevideo.
The Stonington Phoenix carries an article entitled “Shameful Outrage,” while its editorial suggests that the US Government establish a settlement on the Falklands to ensure a friendly port for American ships.
November 1st, before he sails, Langdon purchases 10 square miles of land from Luis Vernet.
“Don Vernet has divided the island into eleven sections: one he has colonized, and another he has sold to Lieutenant Langdon, to whom he has given a deed of grant, authorizing him to let other portions of the land to persons willing to emigrate to the country. This tract consists of about ten square miles, of six hundred and forty English acres each, as his property for ever, with a proviso that he, or some person appointed by him, shall settle on it within a given time. He has also empowered Lieutenant Langdon to distribute, gratis, among ten families willing to emigrate, certain portions of the land. The above deed sets forth the condition under which emigrants will be received, and also Don Vemet’s ideas on the subject of colonization.”
Luis Vernet issues a commission as the Port Louis branch pilot to William Horton Smyley as well as for; “ ..other ports, bays and waters under my jurisdiction.”
On November 7th, Vernet leaves the Islands aboard the Harriet; accompanied by his family and household – and Capt. Davison.
“.. the only vessel at the Island (the schooner Harriet) was, after a detention of three or four months, taken by Vernet to Buenos Ayres to suit his own purpose, and to transport his family and most of his effects.” [Manning 1932]
Matthew Brisbane remains in charge of the settlement, authorized by Vernet to act as his private agent and to look after his remaining property.
“Such was the state of Vernet’s settlement a few months before the Lexington’s visit; and there was then every reason for the settlers to anticipate success, as they, poor deluded people, never dreamed of having no business there without having obtained the permission of the British Government. They thought, naturally enough, that the Buenos Ayrean Government could not have sold the islands to Mr. Vernet, unless the state of La Plata had a right to them; they believed that the purchase-money had been paid;but they were not aware that the British Government had protested formally against the pretended claim of Buenos Ayres, so quiet was that fact kept by the Argentine Government, although the solemn protest was made by Mr. Parish, the British consul-general, in November 1829.” (Fitzroy 1839)
November 11th, Captain Robert Fitzroy, now in command of the Beagle, receives his orders with regard to the surveying voyage that he is about to undertake. These include an instruction to survey the Falklands; “ .. as they are the frequent resort of whalers, and as it is of immense consequence to a vessel that has lost her masts, anchors, or a large part of her crew, to have a precise knowledge of the port to which she is obliged to fly, it would well deserve some sacrifice of time to have the most advantageous harbours and their approaches well laid down, and connected by a general sketch or running survey. Clear directions for recognizing and entering these ports should accompany these plans; and as most contradictory statements have been made of the refreshments to be obtained at the east and west great islands, an authentic report on that subject by the Commander will be of real utility.“
November 20th, the Harriet arrives in Buenos Aires. Twelve crew members are listed – with Davison recorded as ‘Captain’. Davison and 5 others are immediately ‘discharged’ from the roster – Swinbank, Brasier, Previn, Robinson, Silvera.
Davison eludes his guards and goes to the home of the American Consul, George Slacum.
November 21st, the US Consul writes to the Foreign Ministry demanding an explanation; ” The Undersigned is at a loss to conceive upon what possible ground a bona-fide American Vessel, while engaged in a lawful trade, should be captured by an officer of a friendly Government and with which the United States are happily on terms of the most perfectly good understanding and amity. And he cannot bring himself to believe that the Government of Buenos Ayres will sanction an Act, which, under its present aspect must be viewed as one calculated materially to disturb them.”
November 23rd, Slacum also informs the American Minister at Rio de Janiero, and Washington enclosing a staement recounting events supplied by Gilbert Davison.
November 26th, following an equivocal response from Minister Tomas Manuel de Anchorena, Consul Slacum formally protests that the reply could not be viewed; “… in any other light than as a virtual avowal on the part of this Government of the right of Mr. Lewis Vernet to capture and detain American vessels engaged in the fisheries at the Falkland Islands, and the islands and coasts about Cape Horn. It, therefore, only remains .. to deny, in toto, any such right, as having been, or being now vested in the Government of Buenos Ayres, or in any person or persons acting under its authority; and to add his most urgent remonstrance against all measures which may have been adopted … including the Decree issued on the 10th June 1829, asserting a claim to the before-mentioned islands and Coasts and the fisheries appurtenant thereto…”
November 29th, the Lexington arrives at the Rio de la Plata. Capt. Duncan obtains a copy of Davison’s affidavit from Slacum, and is informed that; “.. several American vessels had been Captured at Falkland Islands by one Lewis Vernet, styling himself Governor and proprietor and assuming to be acting under the authority of the government of Buenos Ayres…”
On the same day, US Secretary of the Navy, Levi Woodbury orders Commander George W. Rodgers to sail for Brazil in the USS Enterprise where he is take command of the Brazil Squadron. He is also instructed to make; “ .. a visit to the Falkland Islands, and the fishing grounds in their neighborhood, for the protection of American citizens engaged in the fisheries and in lawful commerce in that quarter. … Should they be molested in their usual pursuits, and trade, you will afford them complete protection.”
December 1st, Commander Duncan informs Consul Slacum; “ I consider it to be my duty to proceed thither with the force under my Command for the protection of the Citizens and Commerce of the United States, engaged in the Fisheries in question, … I also learn that in consequence of these Captures, Seven Americans have been abandoned upon the Island of Staten land without the means of subsistence, …”
December 3rd, Minister Anchorena replies to Slacum’s Protest, questioning his authority and adding; “.. it is an indubitable fact that the Government of the United States possesses no right to the afore-mentioned Islands or Coasts, nor to the fisheries thereon, whilst that vested in this Republic is unquestionable ..”
In response, Consul Slacum informs the Foreign Minister that Captain Duncan intends to sail to the Islands to protect American interests. Slacum persuades Duncan to delay his departure until the 9th.
On December 6th, in the USA, President Jackson makes reference to the dispute in his annual State of the Union address; ” … I should have placed Buenos Ayres in the list of South American powers in respect to which nothing of importance affecting us was to be communicated but for occurrences which have lately taken place at the Falkland Islands, in which the name of that Republic has been used to cover with a show of authority acts injurious to our commerce and to the property and liberty of our fellow citizens. In the course of the present year one of our vessels, engaged in the pursuit of a trade which we have always enjoyed without molestation, has been captured by a band acting, as they pretend, under the authority of the Government of Buenos Ayres. I have therefore given orders for the dispatch of an armed vessel to join our squadron in those seas and aid in affording all lawful protection to our trade which shall be necessary, and shall without delay send a minister to inquire into the nature of the circumstances and also of the claim, if any, that is set up by that Government to those islands. In the mean time, I submit the case to the consideration of Congress, to the end that they may clothe the Executive with such authority and means as they may deem necessary for providing a force adequate to the complete protection of our fellow citizens fishing and trading in those seas…”.
December 7th, Silas Duncan demands that Vernet, “… having been guilty of piracy and robbery, be delivered up to The United States to be tried or that he be arrested, and punished by the Laws of Buenos Ayres.”
Capt. Davison joins Duncan’s crew; “.. I have now on board the Lexington, as a Pilot, the Master of the prize schooner Harriet who can identify the individuals by whom he has been plundered, and I shall not only disarm these miscreants but remove them from the Island, as the only effectual mode of preventing a recurrence of such outrages. “ (Duncan 1831)
December 9th, George Slacum writes to Edward Livingston in Washington; “Doubtless our Government are well aware that the Government of Buenos Ayres has no legitimate right to the Islands and Coasts in question, and it would be presumption in me to offer any elucidation of the matter. I will however remark that I have been informed by the British Consul General that England has never abandoned or given up her right to them, and that at the time of the publication in this place of the Circular letter &c of Vernet he made a proper Communication upon the subject to this Government, hence, the observation of Vernet in the supplement that “he could not take English Vessels with the same propriety he could American. ..… within a few hours Captain Duncan will proceed to the Falkland Islands to protect our Commerce and Citizens, by depriving these adventurers of the means of annoying them, the leader of whom Mr. Lewis Vernet is a German, and not long since a bankrupt, but now boasts of having made One hundred thousand Dollars by the Capture and pillage of American Property. He received his Authority under the Decree 10th June 1829. during the few months of the Revolutionary Government of General Lavalle Rodriguez …”
At midday the Lexington weighs anchor and sails for the Falkland Islands.
During the afternoon, Minister Anchorena complains that Consul Slacum should not; “ … interpose himself before the Government of this Province in a private contentious affair, in which there are parties who can exercise their rights, either by themselves or through their Agents … the Government not recognising in him any right to interfere in affairs of this nature.”
Anchorena also makes a threat; “ … if the Commander of the Lexington, or any other person … should commit any act, or take any steps tending to set at naught the right which this Republic possesses to the Malvinas, and other Islands and Coasts adjacent to Cape Horn … the Government of this province … will use every means which it may deem expedient to assert its rights and cause them to be respected; ..”
December 13th, after much delay, Minister Fox finally presents his credentials to General Rosas together with those of the Secretary of the British Legation, and charge d’affairs, Philip Gore – who is to replace Parish.
December 14th, Woodbine Parish sends his last communication; “Mr Fox will doubtfully inform your Lordship fully of the circumstances attending the late seisure of three North American Sealers by the Chief of the Buenos Ayrean settlement at Port Soledad in the Falkland Islands, and of the formal Protest which has been presented in consequence by the Consul of the United States here against these Acts, and against any pretensions set up by the Government of Buenos Ayres to appropriate to their own exclusive use the fisheries on those coasts. It appears that English as well as American vessels have been sealing in the same places, but the warning which I sent to Mr Vernet (as stated to your Lordship in my dispatch No.34 of last year) has saved them from similar consequences:- It is however no small aggravation in the eyes of the North Americans, that they should have been suffered to continue to do those Acts with impunity, which have led to the seisure of North American vessels, and to the ill treatment of their crews.
The United States Corvette “Lexington” has sailed from this river for Port Soledad, and it is reported that the “Warren” Frigate has also put to sea from Rio de Janeiro with the same destination, and avowedly to protect in the most effectual manner North American vessels from any further interruption whatever.
In addition to the general information which I have from time to time forwarded to the Foreign Office relative to these possessions, I now enclose to your Lordship a list of the shipping which has called at Port Soledad from the month of June 1826 up to March last:- Also a paper upon the climate and productions of the Falklands which Mr Vernet has drawn up at my request:- I believe there can be no doubt of the future importance of any settlement which may be planted there, and especially of its great utility to all shipping passing round Cape Horn.”
Minister Fox informs London of events, adding that; “Mr. Slacum is fully aware of the state of His Majesty’s claims to his Sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.”
December 15th, Slacum responds to Anchorena’s rejection of his authority to protest, ” … This Protest is rejected by His Excellency the Minister, and if the Undersigned is not charged with having transcended the line of his duty, he is counselled to confine himself within it. But what are the facts that called for a Protest? Have not 3 American Vessels, while engaged in a lawful Trade been captured, and their Cargoes forcibly and illegally taken out of them, and immediately appropriated to the use of the Captors; have not their Officers and Crews, American Citizens, been violently arrested and imprisoned … and has not this been done without any previous official notice having been given that (Buenos Aires) had set up claims of sovereignty and exclusive jurisdiction to the Islands and Fisheries in question?”
December 20th, Consul Slacum writes to Washington; “ You will perceive, Sir, that this Government did not reply to the just and amicable propositions made by Captain Duncan, of the Lexington, until several hours after his departure; although he remained at anchor ’till 12 O’clock, meridian, of the 9th, and sailed from immediately in front of the Government House. The reply, however, of the Minister for Foreign Affairs could not have altered the intentions of the Commander of the Lexington, had he received it; as it not only does not accede to his propositions, but denies him the right to have made them. … According to the decision of this Government, neither the Commander of a U. S. vessel of War nor the Consul of the United States will be heard in defence of the most aggravated attack upon the privileges of their nation and the interests of its citizens. So that, such case, a foreign Government may act with impunity and without irresponsibility.
I have had a conversation with the British Minister Mr. Fox, and Mr. Parish, the Consul General, and have seen and read the formal Protest made by the latter, acting as Charge d’ Affaires, upon instructions sent out by his Government, at the time of the Decree of 10th July 1829. In that Protest, which was drawn up in London, England asserts her ancient, but dormant, right to the Falkland Islands, which were abandoned by her in 1774, leaving at the time, says the Protest, all the usual emblems of Sovereignty. No answer was given to the Protest by this Government except an acknowledgment of the receipt of it.
The Government of this Province has not the means to establish or to regulate any sort of authority over them there is not, nor has there been, as far as I can learn, any military establishment belonging to this Province on the Islands; and Mr. Vernet, who, I am informed, has received a sort of grant of them for a term of years, is nothing more than a private adventurer, associated with others here, principally foreigners (and among whom I suspect one or more Americans) for the purpose of monopolising the seal fisheries ; and it is worthy of remark, that in the correspondence with me he is only once styled “Commandant of the Falkland Islands.”
I have never seen any decree of this Government giving him that title. ”
“ .. the Decrees, in virtue of which Vernet pretended to act, had emanated from an intrusive and illegal authority, and had never been acknowledged by the constitutional powers of the State, but had, on the contrary, been annulled long before the aggressions forming the subject of the complaint had been committed; ..” (Greenhow 1842)
December 27th, HMS Beagle sails from Plymouth on her voyage to South America. Charles Darwin has been invited along by Capt. Fitzroy as the ship’s naturalist.
December 28th, USS Lexington arrives in Berkeley Sound.
In Paris, a French naval officer presents a proposal to the Ministry of Marine and Colonies for the re-occupation of Port Louis. (Caillet-Bois 6th ed. 1982)
1832– January 1st, after sitting out bad weather, Duncan moves to Port Louis; “ .. and came to anchor at 11.30am. Just prior to anchoring, he sent a landing party of two officers and fifteen men, (presumably Marines), ashore in the commandeered schooner to confer with the authorities, and, at 11.45, another party, well armed, in two boats, to augment the first..”
‘Capitaz’ Jean Simon, and his gauchos, flee into the countryside while Duncan ‘arrests’ seven of Vernet’s employees – Matthew Brisbane, Sylvester Nunes, Jacinto Correa, Juan Braceido, Domingo Pacheco, Manuel Gonzales and Dionisia Henedia.
“.. Upon my arrival in Berkeley Sound East Falkland, I investigated the matters in question and finding them to be of the most inquisitous and illegal character, I determined to break up and disperse this band of pirates, many of whom had been sent from the prisons of Buenos Ayres and Monte Video, and were thus let lose to prey upon a peaceable and industrious part of our community under the direction of Louis Vernet and Mathew Brisbane…”
January 3rd, Francis Baylies is appointed American chargé d’affaires to Buenos Aires, and ordered to depart on the Peacock, from Boston. His instructions from Edward Livingston leave little room for manoeuvre.
January 10th, a French sealer, Nouvelle Betzy, is wrecked at the Falkland Islands.
January 11th, Secretary Livingston requests US Ambassador Van Ness to make inquires with the Spanish Court; “Some difficulties having arisen between us and the Government of Buenos Aires, it becomes important to know precisely the extent of that Government, when under the dominion of Spain, particularly whether it comprehended Patagonia, Terra del Fuego, and the adjacent islands, including the Falkland Islands. It is supposed that when Spain agreed to restore the establishment at Port Egmont, on the West Falkland, to the English, in the year 1770, there was a secret convention, or some understanding that it should be relinquished again to Spain. You are requested to get all the information that you can on this subject, and transmit it, with copies of all the documents you can procure concerning it, to this Department.”
A French sealer, Magellan, visits the Falkland Islands.
January 20th, William Langdon writes to Under-Secretary of State R.W. Hay at the Colonial Office seeking official recognition of the grants of land that he has previously purchased from Luis Vernet. Speaking of East Falkland he says; “ … … from a conversation I had with Mr. Vernet upon the subject, I am authorised in saying no objection would be made to the occupation of it by the British Government, provided private property would not be interfered with ..”
“Once again Vernet had committed an imprudence that cannot go unnoticed…” (Caillet-Bois 6th ed. 1982)
January 22nd, before the Lexington leaves Port Louis the settlement’s storehouse is opened and the seal skins found there placed onto the American vessel. Capt. Davison is also allowed to retrieve his property; “ .. capt. Duncan had told Davison to go into the store-house and take away any thing he thought was his property – he accordingly took a few oars, a boat keel, some loose pieces of boat, 3 bags of shot, some powder, a little sheet lead, a whale boat and oars, and muskets; neither the boat nor muskets belonged to him. Davison posted on the door of Mr. Vernet’s dwelling-house, a proclamation in writing, signed by captain Duncan, declaring the capture of the vessels to be piracy, &c. announcing at the same time the freedom of fishery. During the stay of the Lexington, the Buenos Ayreans, who had fled into the interior, returned, and capt. Duncan gave their head man a document, stating that he was a peaceable person, &c. Captain Duncan and Davison, it is stated, spread a variety of reports, in order to alarm the settlers, such as, that they would never be safe from the resentment of the American whalers – that Mr. Vernet would not again return to the islands, that the Government of Buenos Ayres disapproved of the capture of vessels, &c. &c. and capt. Duncan offered a free passage to those who wished to leave the colony – the consequence was that all the female residents, as well as Mr. Vernet’s slaves and various individuals went on board the Lexington….” [Niles’s Weekley Register May 12 1832]
Apart from his prisoners, Duncan takes some 40 other people from the settlement; including 15 of Vernet’s indentured slaves taken aboard by Henry Metcalf.
“ .. But in taking this step I have consulted their own wishes, and they have embarked on board the Lexington by general consent; they say they have been deceived by Vernet and others, who have kept many of them upon the Island contrary to their inclinations and appeared greatly Rejoiced at the opportunity thus presented of Removing with their families from a desolate Region where the climate is always cold and cheerless and the soil extremely unproductive. These individuals some of whom have families, come from Buenos Ayres and Monte Video, also, and are principally Germans; they appear to be industrious and well disposed persons…”
Commander Duncan transfers Capt. Davison to a schooner found being outfitted as Vernet’s fisheries protection vessel, which he names Dash, and orders Davison to sail to Staten Land in order to relieve the men left there.
“After the departure of the Lexington, we returned to our houses from the interior, but were in continual alarm at the appearance of every vessel, fearing a new attack, and not having the means to distinguish friend from foe.”
“However unjustifiably Mr. Vernet may, in fact, have behaved towards vessels belonging to the United States of North America, it must be remembered that he had a commission from the Buenos Ayrean Government, empowering him to act as civil and military governor of the Falklands; that he believed the Buenos Ayrean authority valid; and had no doubt in his own mind that he was doing right. Mr. Vernet, therefore, was no robber—no pirate—… However wrong Vernet’s actions may have been, he was responsible to his Government for them; and those who acted under his order, he having a legal commission, certainly did not deserve to be seized as pirates, put into irons, and so carried to the Plata! Neither was it just (setting mercy quite aside) to destroy the infant colony, break open or tear down doors and windows, search houses, drawers, and chests, trample over gardens, break through fences, and ill-use the helpless, unarmed settlers to such a degree, that for many months afterwards whenever a man-of-war was seen approaching, the frightened inhabitants at once fled to the interior, not knowing how they might be treated. Poor Brisbane … was taken, with others, in irons to Monte Video,…” (Fitzroy 1839)
US Consul Slacum travels to Montevideo to meet up with the Lexington.
February 2nd, en-route back to England, Woodbine parish arrives in Montevideo in time to see the Lexington come to anchor outside the twon. He asks Captain Graham of HMS Rattlesnake, to make inquiries; “He found nearly all the colonists on board; eight of them as prisoners, the rest of their own accord having requested to be conveyed to Monte Video upon the capture of their companions. The prisoners are the parties who were most active in the detention of the North American Vessels by Mr Vernet’s orders; the principal person is Brisbane the Englishman whom I have before had occasion to mention in my Dispatches upon the subject of these Islands. … and the Commander tells Graham that he intends to send them to the United States for trial as pirates; this charge I apprehend, cannot be maintained, acting as they appear to have done under an authority from the Government of Buenos Ayres. I have taken upon myself to write a letter in favor of Mr Brisbane to Mr Slacum the North American Consul (who happens to be here on a visit from Buenos Ayres) and to say to him that he is a person who has always conducted himself very properly as far as I know, and that I trust his previous good character will avail him as far as possible in his present circumstances…”
On February 3rd, writes to US Navy Secretary, Levi Woodbury – ” … I arrived here yesterday from the Falklands Islands and have now the honor to enclose duplicates of my communication to the Department of the 2nd Dec. 1831 – in Relation to the Capture of some of our fishing Vessels at and about those Islands. – In conformity to my intentions I proceeded to Berkeley Sounds, East Falklands, in order to ascertain the facts in connexion with these proceedings and for the purpose of af–fording the proper protection to our Citizens and Commerce,and particularly to protect the American Fisheries in the Southern Ocean. – …
I have now on board as prisoners seven individuals who are charged with illegally capturing and plundering the Schooner Harriet,… These men will be detained on board the Lexington until some orders shall have been given with Respect to them from the Navy Department or the Senior officer of the Brazil Station. I found some guns lying near to the beach which I suppose wer intended to have been put on board the Schooner as these men have declared it to be their intention to fit out a vessel for the purpose of putting a stop to the American Whale and Sealing Fisheries in these Seas. The guns have been rendered useless for any hostile purposes. I also found a small Schooner on the coast of East Falkland, navigated by a part of the Crew of the American Schooner Belville, wreck’d on the coast of Patagonia. These men had built this Small Vessel or Shallop of 20 or 30 Tons after the loss of their vessel and were seized and made prisoners by Vernet and his associates and compelled to enter into their Service. I supplied them with Such Articles as they were in want of, and after repairing and fitting out their vessel, directed them to relieve their companions who had been left fishing about the rocks and small Islands and then proceed to the Coast of Brazil or the U. States as they would not be allowed to navigate the high Seas without the necessary documents from some Competent Authority…. I intend leaving this place for Rio de Janeiro in about a week …”
February 8th, a letter from Luis Vernet is published La Gazeta Mercantil outlining his view of events.
The newspaper’s editorial calls the Lexington’s action a; “ .. cowardly attack on a defenceless and unsuspecting establishment,” and an, “ .. outrageous breach of international law.”
February 11th, the British Packet & Argentine News also publishes an account.
Commander Duncan informs Consul Slacum that he is prepared to release the prisoners from Port Louis on an assurance that they had acted under the authority of the Government of Buenos Aires.
February 14th, Manuel Garcia, the new Minister of Foreign Relations, withdraws Consul Slacum’s Exequatur, “ … the Government, – considering the aberration of ideas and irregularity of language in his Official Notes, relative to the occurrences with the American Fishing Vessels on the Coasts of the Malvinas, belonging to and in possession of this Republic, and the prejudices his conduct has given rise to … has judged it expedient … to suspend all official intercourse with Mr. Slacum, who can appoint any Person properly qualified to substitute him in his Consular functions; ..”
An official response to Duncan’s action is published –
The Delegate Government of the Province to the People’
” The official details collected by the Government, have confirmed the truth of the scandalous acts, stated to have been committed in the Malvinas. The Commander of the United States’ ship Lexington, has invaded, in a time of the most profound peace, that, our infant Colony; destroyed with rancorous fury the public property, and carried off the effects legally deposited there at the disposal of our Magistrates. The Colonists being unexpectedly assaulted under a Friendly Flag, some of them fled to the interior of the island; and others violently torn from their homes, or deluded by deceitful artifices, have been brought away and cast clandestinely upon the shores of the Oriental State which now extends to them a generous hospitality; while others, natives and fellow Countrymen of ours, are conducted as Prisoners to the United States, for the ostensible purpose of being tried there. The unanimous burst of indignation which this outrage has produced in you, is fully justified; and the same feeling will doubtless be evinced by men of honor in every part of the World, when they hear of this transaction
But, Citizens, it is as impossible that the Government of Washington should approve of such aggressions, as that your Government should tolerate them in silence. The former, acting up to the principles of moderation and justice which characterize it, will doubtless give satisfaction correspondent to the dignity of the two Republics. In the mean time, be assured that, whatever may be the issue of these unpleasant occurrences, your Government will maintain the inviolability of the Persons and Property of North American Citizens, with the same firmness as it will support its own rights, and in no case will stain itself with an ignoble reprisal of innocent men, who are under the safeguard of the national honor.”
Juan Ramon Balcarce Manuel J. Garci
On the same day, Edward Livingston sends further instructions to Francis Baylies regarding the approach that he should adopt on his arrival at Buenos Aires, in light of the action taken by Silas Duncan; ”… you are to justify it not only on the general grounds in your instructions, but on the further facts disclosed in the protest of the Captain of the Harriet, which show the lawless, and indeed piratical, proceedings of Vernet and his band…”
La Gaceta Mercantil reports that notices have been sent to the other provinces to the effect that the Lexington had; “.. invaded on the 31st December last, the port of La Soledad, went on shore with armed men, destroyed the artillery, burned the powder; disposed of the public and private property, and keeps under arrest on board said corvette, the director of the fisheries of the colony, and in irons six citizens of the Republic.”
February 15th, Minister Fox brings London up-to-date; “.. Mr. Vernet, … declares … that he had authority from the Buenos Ayrean Government, as their officer, for all the acts committed by himself and his agents.. “
Consul Slacum notifies the Foreign Minister of Duncan’s offer to release his prisoners; adding that the Lexington is due to sail for Rio de Janeiro on the 16th.
Minister Manuel Garcia immediately responds; “ The Undersigned, Minister of Foreign Relations, … begs to state that Mr. Vernet was appointed Military and Political Commandant of the Malvinas, in virtue of the Decree of the 10th of June, 1829, published on the 13th of the same month; consequently the said Vernet, and the individuals serving under him, can only be amenable to their own Authorities.”
However, the USS Lexington has already sailed.
February 16th, in a note to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Slacum declines to appoint a successor; “ The Undersigned will not allow himself to make any observations upon the novelty of this procedure, but will only say that he has not received instructions from his own Government to cease his Consular functions here, ..”
February 20th, Slacum advises Secretary Livingston of the withdrawal of his exequatur; “ What may be the ground of complaint on the part of this Government against me, I am at a loss to conceive. My official correspondence speaks for itself; and by that I am willing to be judged. Nor can I imagine any thing else on which this pretended complaint is to be founded… You will perceive, Sir, that every measure has been resorted to by this Government to inflame the minds of the people; and the ridiculous and false statements in the accompanying Gazettes will give you proof of the assertion… Mr. Fox, the English Minister, opposes the preposterous claim of this people, and his opinion is, that his Government will insist upon the entire breaking up of Vernet’s establishment and throwing the fisheries open, as heretofore, to all nations. You will understand, Sir, that no English vessel has been captured or molested. And why? They durst not do it. And at the moment of seizing upon our vessels, they knew they stood upon disputed territory, and for which they had not the title deeds. Sir, this Vernet has remained in those Islands upon sufferance; and he had been ordered by the British Consul here not to interfere with English vessels. I will conclude, Sir, by assuring you that if this signal is passed over without immediate and ample satisfaction, we may bid adieu to all security for our Citizens and commerce.”
February 21st, El Lucero calls for a forceful reaction from the Government in Buenos Aires, and La Gazeta Mercantil reports the withdrawal of Consul Slacum’s Exequatur, and that; “Slacum refused to appoint a successor and to deposit the U.S. naval papers with the Harbour Master’s Office of the Port, which stored all the navigation documents of vessels from countries that did not have a Consul in Buenos Aires.” (Giudici 2011)
February 25th, Slacum writes that; “ … the measure of insult and indignity offered by this Government to my own is now complete; the Consulate of the United States no longer exists.”
In London, the Colonial Office, in considering Langdon’s request that his title to the land purchased from Vernet be recognised, notes that the purchase date of October 1831 was a considerable time after the British protest of 1829; “.. and as it appeared that no notice had been taken by that Government of the protest and that the act exercised by Vernet was derogatory to His Majesty’s rights, they suggested that Lord Palmerston should direct His Majesty’s Charge d’Affaires at Buenos Aires to demand the immediate revocation of any commission or authority which might have been granted by the Republic to M. Vernet to exercise the powers of Government in the Falkland Islands; ..” (Bernhardt 1911)
February 29th, Secretary Hay tells William Langdon that his title to land on East Falkland cannot be sanctioned; “His Majesty’s Govt. neither recognises the official character of Don Louis Vernet, nor the right of the Government of Buenos Ayres to exercise, or to delegate to any person to exercise, the powers of Government, or any authority whatsoever in the Falkland Islands …”
In March the Harriet remains in Buenos Aires harbour under the guns of a schooner of war.
In the Falklands, Dash returns to Berkeley sound having rescued the French crew of the Nouveau Betsy, but not having found those men abandoned at Staten island when the American ships were seized. Exquisite, a British schooner and Antarctic, an American, also anchor long enough to replenish their supplies from the cattle, sheep and hogs they find – despite the entreaties of the remaining settlers.
March 5th, Silas Duncan requests permission to return to the USA to settle the affairs of his late father.
March 15th, Commodore Rodgers arrives at Rio de Janeiro.
March 16th, Rear-Admiral Baker reports on the Lexington’s attack to the Admiralty. In the report, he also warns that US ships can regularly be found near the Falklands archipelago and that he believes that the French still have hopes of re-occupying the islands.
“It was rumoured, at this time, that the American Government actually contemplated taking possession of the Falklands, on their own account, for the purpose of establishing there a naval depot to protect their fisheries and promote their trade with the South American Republics; ..” (Whitington 1840)
March 22nd, Lord Palmerston writes to Minister Fox in Buenos Aires; “… that notwithstanding the formal Protest made in 1829 by the British Charge d’Affairs at Buenos Ayres in the name of His Majesty by which His Majesty’s Right of Sovereignty to the Falkland Islands was distinctly made known and declared to the Government of Buenos Ayres, and notwithstanding that the Government of Buenos Ayres has not, in reply, attempted to deny that Right, nor alleged any claim of Right on its own part, yet nevertheless that Government has made a grant of these Islands to Mr. Lewis Vernet, thereby assuming the exercise of a Right which does not belong to it, and infringing upon, and violating the just Right of His Majesty. The grounds upon which H.M. Rights of Sovereignty rest, have been already sufficiently set forth in Mr. Parish’s Protest of November 19. 1820, and it is not necessary for you on this occasion to repeat them, but you are now instructed, with reference to that Protest, to demand from the Government of Buenos Ayres, the formal and immediate Revocation of any Authority or Commission which it may have granted to Mr. L. Vernet, or to any other persons, to exercise any Powers of Government in the Falkland Islands.”
March 25th, mindful of the allegations being made in Buenos Aires regarding his conduct, Silas Duncan requests an official inquiry to review his conduct at Port Louis.
During April, Livingston’s despatch to Van Ness arrives in Madrid; “ .. which will be duly attended to.“
[It has been suggested that the result of this inquiry supported the subsequent British position. cf. The Struggle for the Falklands by W. M. Reisman 1983. Other than determining that Van Ness consulted a ‘Spanish historian‘ however, I am unable to discover any answer given to the US inquiry. Coincidentally, Van Ness’ Secretary had been the novelist, Washington Irving, who was also an amateur historian; highly regarded by the Spanish for his work on Moorish Spain. Intriguingly Irving mentions Fort Egmont in Astoria, published in 1835. Irving is not believed to be the historian consulted by Van Ness however. Caillet-Bois 6th ed. 1982 p.369 refers to just such an inquiry from the USA and says that the Spanish historian consulted was named, Navarrete. Caillet-Bois asserts that while this historian confirmed that the Falklands had been dependent upon Buenos Aires, he; “ … as regards the secret 1770 (sic) agreement, confessed to not knowing of any document regarding it.”]
April 3rd, Livingston also sends further instructions to Baylies; “It is proper you should, as soon as possible, know that the President has signified to Captain Duncan that he entirely approves of his conduct … You will, therefore, justify the acts of Captain Duncan to the Buenos Ayrean Government: … “
April 4th, Secretary Woodbury writes to Duncan declining to hold an inquiry; “Under the circumstances detailed in your letter, the President of the United States approves the course which you pursued, and is much gratified at the promptness, firmness and the efficiency of your measures.”
April 15th, the USS Warren, with the schooner USS Enterprize, arrive at the Rio de la Plata with the prisoners taken bu Duncan from Port Louis.
“The arrival of the sloop-of-war Warren, and the schooner Enterprize, in the harbor of Buenos Ayres, in the middle of April, produced a sensation in this city, and was the prevailing topic of conversation. Some irritation prevailed on account of the summary arrest of the persons acting under Vernet; and as the Falkland Islands had been virtually abandoned for many years, it was not known what tone the Government of the United States might assume, in relation to the subject of the difficulties. … the discussion soon assumed an amicable form …”
Britain’s ambassador in Washington reports that the Americans are in no mood to permit an interruption of their fishing rights in the south Atlantic. Meanwhile, the British Consul in Montevideo informs London that he believes that the Americans are likely to question the ownership of the Falklands; ha also talks of rumours that merchants in the USA are attempting to buy out Vernet’s partners.
April 24th, Commodore Rogers, an able diplomat, returns Brisbane and the other the captives to Buenos Aires.
“… the Government of Buenos Ayres has officially declared that the establishment at the Falkland Islands was under its special protection, and that the individual in charge of it acted upon its special authority, therefore this Government is responsible for the improper conduct of its agents. The undersigned considers that after this declaration, the persons arrested by Captain Duncan are no longer responsible, … He will therefore set them at liberty, and will put them on shore at Buenos Ayres, at the disposal of this government, as soon as he is informed to whom he is to deliver them. The undersigned on adopting this measure, proceeds without instruction from his government, but believes it will be perfectly in accordance with the sentiments which animate it towards the government of Buenos Ayres, and hopes that the minister will consider this act as a proof of his desire to maintain a good understanding between both nations. It is not the wish or intention of the undersigned to discuss the question pending between the two governments; this he leaves to the agent duly authorized to treat upon that and all other matter of negociation, and whom it is to be expected will shortly arrive at Buenos Ayres. In the mean time, the undersigned would extremely regret that any event in the Falkland Islands should render it necessary to send a force to those seas, in order to protect the commerce of the United States…”
Foreign Minister Vicente Lopez responds; “ … This Government, penetrated with the justness of its cause, ardently desires the speedy coming of the agent, whose approaching arrival is announced by the Commander, … ”
April 25th, the prisoners are released into the custody of the Adjutant of the Port of Buenos Aires. Once ashore, declarations are taken from both Brisbane and Dickson regarding the circumstances of their arrest and detention.
April 28th, the British Packet reports; “Nothing can be more pleasing than the good understanding which exists between the Government and the Commodore of the American Squadron on this station. On Tuesday Captain Cooper, of the sloop-of-war Warren, came on shore with despatches from Commodore Rodgers, and on Wednesday the Adjutant of the Port, D. Pedro Jimens, went on board the Warren, in the Government felluca, to receive the liberated prisoners, … and at 12 o’clock on the same day the Warren fired a salute of 21 guns, with the flag of the Republic at the fore, which compliment was immediately returned from the Fort, by an equal number of guns. … Commodore Rodgers came on shore on Thursday, and was presented to the Governor.”
In May, Tula and Lively arrive at Berkeley Sound, as does the Susannah Ann.
May 7th, Rear-Admiral Baker’s report on the Lexington’s action is discussed at a meeting of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. The meeting minutes; “Send copy to the Foreign Office and express their Lordship’s anxiety to know whether the parties now in possession are under any existing treaties with Spain lawfully entitled to the Falkland Islands.”
May 11th, the 10th Legislature of the Province of Buenos Aires opens its session and receives a message from General Rosas; “ .. Although the Government has endeavored to maintain a good understanding with the governments of friendly states, an unfortunate event has occurred at the Isla de la Soledad, in the Malvinas, which excited the indignation of the government and of the inhabitants of this Republic. The Commander of the US ship of war, Lexington, violating the most sacred principles of the rights of nations, and in the midst of the most profound peace, destroyed our establishment by force of arms. Although the Government has sustained, and is still resolved to sustain, with firmness, its rights, being convinced that that of Washington is incapable of approving so scandalous an act, …”
May 15th, the hospital ship Strathfieldsay, with naval and military invalids aboard, puts in at the Falklands en-route from Van Diemans Land to Britain.
May 16th, Baylies writes from Rio de Janeiro; “ I have dined out almost every day with the merchants – one day with Mr. Brown, our Charge and one day with Mr. Aston, the British Charge. At the Englishman’s we had the whole diplomatic corps, the French, Austrian, Spanish, etc. In the dispute with Buenos Aires they profess to be on our side and seem to view the dispute between BA and the US as involving the rights of all maritime nations… The news from Buenos Ayres is unfavourable, the people since the affair of Cap. Duncan at the Falkland Islands are in a state of high excitement. And if they were like any other people and would abide their declarations we should have war – but they bluster too much..”
May 18th, Francis Baylies writes again to Secretary Livingston; My course is a plain one and Capt. Duncan has saved me, as I apprehend, some trouble. Without departing from the most rigid rule of national courtesy I shall not abandon one tittle of our maritime right. I understand from Mr. Aston, the British Charge here that the claim of Great Britain to the Falkland Islands has never been abandoned, and that it has been formally asserted recently.”
May 31st, Minister Fox informs London of Slacum’s suspension and the imminent arrival of the new American charge d’affaires. He adds; “ .. Mr. Vernet’s Government and Colony at the Falkland Islands has in fact ceased to exist… “
Fox responds regarding Lord Palmerston’s instructions to seek the immediate revocation of Vernet’s commission from the Buenos Airean Government; “He pointed out, however, that the proceedings of the United States in the Falkland Islands, .. had greatly altered the state of the question, and considered that it would be more prudent to delay carrying out his instructions until he should be able to observe what course the negotiations might take between the Government of Buenos Ayres and that of the United States. He observed that M. Vernet’s Government and Colony had in fact ceased to exist, and that there was not the least chance that either he or anyone belonging to him would ever return thither. He believed that a demand addressed at that moment to the Buenos Ayrean Government to renounce their pretensions to the Falkland Islands would be laid hold of by them as a means of shielding themselves from the claims of the Americans, and might thus possibly have the effect of engaging His Majesty’s Government in a premature and unnecessary discussion with the Government of the United States on the question of the fisheries.”
June 5th, chargé d’affaires Francis Baylies, finally arrives in Buenos Aires.
June 6th, Luis Vernet submits a proposal to the Government for the “re-population” of Soledad which, in its first stages would only require the sending to Port Louis of an officer; “ .. of known loyalty, accompanied by a few soldiers and some artillery pieces and weapons for field hands, these also to be under the orders of the officer, .. .” He calls for; “ .. twenty gunners and their families, many other women, a clergyman, a doctor, a gunsmith and his four dependent employees.”
Vernet’s plan suggest that the “re-population” takes place during the austral summer, after the vessel which had taken the garrison out had returned with a situation report. He also calls for the repopulating of Soledad to be “more complete,” thereby ensuring the, “mastery of the Republic in those latitudes.” (Caillet-Bois 6th ed. 1982)
June 12th, Baylies announces his arrival to the Foreign Minister, Don Vicente Lopez, who promptly resigns.
On the same day, the British Ambassador in Washington presents Secretary Livingston with a copy of the 1829 Protest Note submitted to Buenos Aires by Woodbine Parish.
June 15th, Baylies’ accreditation, following presentation of his credentials to acting-Foreign Minister Manuel Vicente de Maza is announced in the official Gazette.
June 18th,the Minister of War and Marine, General Balcarse, attends upon Minister Baylies at his lodgings and expresses his Government’s desire to maintain friendly relations with the USA.
June 20th, Baylies sends a long letter to Minister de Maza accusing Vernet, inter alia, of interfering in the pursuit of lawful commerce by American citizens; unlawful arrest and detention; the seizure and sale of private property without lawful process; forcing American citizens into slavery under a forcibly imposed contract and the abandonment of seamen on a desolate island.
Baylies also accuses the Government in Buenos Aires of deliberately singling out the United States, and of choosing a time when there was no senior US diplomat available in the city to deal with the matter, and of singling out the United States for attack; “ .. a project was in contemplation involving the destruction of one of the most important and valuable national interests of the United States – the whale fishery – for he (Vernet) declared to Captain Davison, that it was his determination to capture all American ships, as well as those engaged in catching seals, upon the arrival of an armed schooner, for which he had contracted … … another declaration of the governor, from which an inference is fairly to be deduced, that the citizens of the United States were to be selected as the special victims of his power, while the vessels and seamen of other nations were to be unmolested, inasmuch as when he was told that the crew of the Adeona, a British vessel, had taken many seals on the islands, and even some on the Volunteer Rocks, at the mouth of the sound on which his establishment was placed, his reply was, “that he could not take an English vessel with the same propriety that he could an American.”
On June 25th, Dr. de Maza acknowledges the protest and requires Luis Vernet to make a report of his actions; informing Baylies of the action that he has initiated.
June 26th, unimpressed, Baylies responds; “… His excellency has also been pleased to inform the Undersigned that explanations would be asked of Don Luis Vernet; the Undersigned will take the liberty to say, that as to the substantive matter of the complaint no further explanations are necessary, inasmuch as Don Luis Vernet has admitted, in the public newspapers of this city, under his own signature, that he has captured American Vessels, which admissions cannot be unknown … the Government of the United States not only deny any right in the said Vernet to capture, or detain, the property or the Persons of their Citizens engaged in Fishing at the Falkland Islands, Tierra del Fuego, Cape Horn, or any of the adjacent Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, but also any right or authority in the Government of Buenos Aires so to do.”
June 30th, Baylies informs Washington; “You will doubtless perceive the object of the provisional Minister of foreign affairs in his reply to my communication of the 20th which is to evade the main question, and to place me in the attitude of an accuser of Louis Vernet and so form an issue between him and the United States, and to shun the direct issue already formed between our country and Buenos Ayres.”
In July, the Samuel Enderby & Sons sealing ships Tula, commanded by John Biscoe, and Lively, commanded by George Avery, arrive off the Falklands. Lively is wrecked. Exquisite, a sealer out of London, and the US schooner, Transport, are also at the Falklands; as is Unicorn commanded by Capt. Couzins, out of Montevideo.
July 4th, Henry Fox introduces himself to charge d’affaires Baylies, adding; “… I consider it to be my duty, as His Brittanick Majesty’s Representative in this Republick, and in order that no prejudice may be done to the rights of my Sovereign, to acquaint you, officially, with His Brittanick Majesty’s Rights of Sovereignty over the Falkland Islands; and with the steps which were taken at the proper time, by his Majesty’s Government, to assert these rights and prevent them from being infringed upon. ..”
July 6th, La Gazeta Mercantil reports on an article in an American newspaper, the Courier & Enquirer of New York, which argues that America has rights based on the archipelago’s sovereignty being shared between Britain and Spain. La Gazeta Mercantil is indignant, asserting that such is, ‘unthinkable, insolent and absurd’.
Its editorial goes on to claim that 17 American vessels were warned away from the Islands in 1793 and that Britain has no rights due to the 1790 Nootka Sound agreement.
July 10th, Baylies impatiently writes again to the Foreign Minister complaining; “ … that he has received no answer… “ Referring to the events of 1771, he adds; “The act of dispossession was disavowed by Spain, and the territory was restored by Solemn convention. She, however, reserved her prior rights. The reservation was a nullity; inasmuch as she had no claim, either by prior discovery, prior possession, prior occupation, or even the shadow of a name. The restoration of Port Egmont, and the disavowal of the act by which she was temporarily dispossessed, after discussion, negotiation, and solemn agreement, gave to the title of Great Britain more stability and strength; for it was a virtual acknowledgment, on the part of Spain, of its validity. Great Britain might then have occupied and settled all the islands, and fortified every harbor, without giving to Spain any just cause of umbrage. With her rights again acknowledged, the emblems of sovereignty again reared, and possession resumed by a military and naval force, Great Britain voluntarily abandoned these distant Dominions, taking every possible precaution, when she did so, to give evidence to the World, that, though she abandoned, she did not relinquish them. .. the lapse of time cannot prevent her from resuming possession, if her own maxim of Law be well founded – nullum tempus occurrit regi – and, that she persists in her claim, is evident …
But, if it be hypothetically admitted that the full and entire right of sovereignty was possessed by Spain – has Spain renounced it? Has Spain ever, by any acknowledgment whatever, yielded the rights which she once possessed? Has Spain, as yet, relinquished by any formal Act or acknowledgment any part of her claim to supreme dominion over these islands? If the rights of Spain are dormant they are not extinct; …”
Responding, the Foreign Ministry urges patience.
On the same day, an editorial in La Gazeta Mercantil claims that the United States Government had recognised the independence of the United Provinces and that the recognition had been accompanied by a map clearly showing the Falklands as part of Argentine territory. (Giudici 2011)
At the Rio Station, Rear-Admiral Baker issues orders for French ships of war to be watched in case they attempt to use the American-Argentine dispute as an excuse to re-establish themselves on the archipelago. (Gough 1992)
July 24th, Baylies, authorised to negotiate a commercial treaty if he thinks it appropriate, writes to Secretary Livingston opposing the idea; “ … for we should abide by it, and they would consider the violation of a treaty no greater offence than a lie told by schoolboy. With the Bey of Tripoli or the Emperor of Morocco we might for a time maintain unviolated the provisions of a Treaty but with these people if a temporary advantage could be gained they would violate a treaty on the day of its ratification.”
He adds a post script; “ It has been currently reported for a fortnight that the Sarandi, a small vessel of war mounting 6 or 8 Guns was fitting in order to take out the United States Gen Guido as minister: This morning the report has assumed a new shape and it is now confidently said that she is to proceed to the Falklands for the purpose of resuming possession and capturing American vessels.”
July 25th, Baylies writes to his brother-in-law, General Wool, Inspector-General of the US Army; “Be assured that this office of mine has been no sinecure. I have but little expectation, and never had much, of bringing my negotiations to a favorable issue. There is such a total destruction of all sense of public justice – such childishness – and infirmity of purpose amongst these people that even the Brazilian minister told me this day that the people and Government were no better than Barbarians! However, the interests of the United States have not suffered in my hands as you will see, …. It is consonant neither to the interests or the dignity of the United States to be trifled with, and these people entertain a notion that the character and temper of the people and the government of the US are so eminently pacific that they will submit to everything short of direct insults to preserve peace. They have already had one lesson and ere long they will have another. …
There is here neither law or liberty – no sense of national honour or national justice or national dignity – a kind of schoolboy government with all the mischief and non of the ingenuity of schoolboys. A Republic with a dictator – a nation with a population of 140,000 – pretending to own colonies at the distance of 1000 miles with one vessel of war mounting 6 Guns and four merchant schooners – a burlesque upon everything that is connected with national greatness or national dignity. ..”
August 4th, the Colonial Office are informed that the Admiralty intend to send a ship to visit Port Egmont.
August 6th, Francis Baylies again demands more than an acknowledgment, to his letter of June 20th.
August 7th, the Admiralty send a draft of its orders to the British Foreign Office for approval.
August 8th, in a response to Baylies’ complaints, the Foreign Ministry in Buenos Aires writes reviewing the exchange of letters between itself and Consul George Slacum; “ Mr. Slacum instead of allowing this matter to rest which involved questions for the discussion of which a mere Consul is never considered competent, persisted not only in denying entirely the right of the Republic to detain American vessels for fishing on the shores of the Falkland Islands … but also in protesting against all the means of enforcement which had been adopted as well as against the Decree of June 10th itself (1829) by which those Islands and territories were declared the property of the Republic which claimed jurisdiction over them and appointed persons to exercise its Authority. … It is now many years since a colony was settled by the direction of the Argentine Government at the Falklands during the residence here of an American Charge d’Affaires. The Decree naming Don Lewis Vernet to be Military and civil Governor of the Colony and setting forth the powers with which he was invested was published in the Journals of this Capital without any objection on the part of Mr. Forbes nor has any citizen of the United States ever ventured to cast a doubt upon the rights of this Republic to dispose of those territories according to its own pleasure; this right has been acknowledged undoubtedly by the Government of Washington itself. ..
..Upon what grounds did Mr. Slacum question the right of Buenos Ayres? Does he not know that the Falkland Islands .. were comprehended within the territory laid out by the Kings of Spain as the former Vice Royalty of La Plate which the wishes and the valour of its citizens have since erected into an Independent Republic? Does Mr Slacum contest the right of Spain to that which was discovered, conquered, held and peopled by its subjects or consider that such rights have not passed to this Republic as fairly as those of Great Britain in North America have passed to the United States? Does he deny the right of Spain to those Islands ? Is he ignorant that although colonies have been founded there by the English and French they have been always withdrawn at the instance of Spain and that the trade to and fishing on them, though often the subjects of controversy, have always been claimed and successfully too by Spain which exerted itself to the utmost in the defence of its right of sovereignty. “
On the same day, and in an attempt to go over Baylies’ ‘head’, the Argentine Foreign Minister writes to Edward Livingston in Washington about the affair.
August 9th, unimpressed by de Maza’s attack on Slacum, or his version of history, Baylies writes to Livingston suggesting that the USA should declare war on Buenos Aires.
August 10th, Luis Vernet submits his Report to the Foreign Ministry; dealing with the charges levelled by the American chargé d’affaires in considerable detail. Within the Report, Vernet considers the issue of America’s claim that she inherited rights of fishing from her time as a British colony; “.. it is a political absurdity to pretend that a colony which emancipates itself, inherits the other territories which the metropolis may possess. If that singular doctrine were to be found in the code of nations, the Low Countries, for example, on their independence being acknowledged, in 1648, would have succeeded to Spain in her rights to America; and in the same manner, the United States would have appropriated to themselves the British possessions in the East-Indies. Inheritance, indeed! the United States did not inherit the rights of England in Newfoundland, notwithstanding its contiguity; and are they to inherit those which she may have to the Malvinas, at the southern extremity of the continent, and in the opposite hemisphere.”
[A copy of this Report can be found on the ‘Resources’ page]
“The writer …, in his haste to attack the United States of America for an assertion made by one of their journalists, to the effect that the United States inherited from Great Britain a claim to fish around the Falklands, must have overlooked the simple fact, that his arguments were even more applicable to Buenos Ayres than they were to the United States of North America.” (Fitzroy 1839)
August 14th, Vernet’s Report is sent to Baylies, accompanied by a letter from the Foreign Minister; “ Mr. Luis Vernet, Political and Military Commandant of the Malvinas Islands, having rendered the Report that the Government required from him (an authorized Copy whereof is hereby transmitted,) relative to certain charges and complaints … All irregularity, injustice, insult and violence have therefore been on the part of Messrs. Slacum and Duncan but the more especially on that of the latter, for having carried to the last extremity his grossness and ferocity, destroying with unspeakable inhumanity and perfidy the Colony of Malvina Islands. …
In the presence of such evident and scandalous aggressions, which do not admit of doubt or denial, it becomes the duty of the Government of this Province, acting for itself and as charged with the Foreign Affairs of the Republic, to demand, before all things, from the Government of the United States of America the most prompt and ample satisfaction for such outrages, and full redress and reparation to the Argentine Republic, to Commandant Vernet, and to the Colonists under his jurisdiction in the malvina Islands, for all the damages and losses of whatever nature they may be, which they have suffered and are suffering in consequence of the aggressions committed by Captain Duncan … The Undersigned has likewise received orders to state to the Chargé d’affaires of the United States of America, that, until this Government shall have obtained its demands, it will not enter into the discussion of any of the other points comprised in the before-mentioned Notes of his Honor, inasmuch as this would be equivalent to passing over the acts of Captain Duncan… ”
Capt. Hamilton of the David, lying off Montevideo, reports to Admiral Baker in Rio de Janeiro that the Americans are intending to station a schooner-of-war off the Falkland islands.
August 18th, Francis Baylies, sends a short note to the Foreign Ministry; “ The Undersigned has the honour to acknowledge the receipt of the Note of His Excellency the Provisional Minister of Foreign Affairs, dated the 14th instant. A Communication addressed to his Excellency which accompanied the Note, appearing to be a Memorial of Lewis Vernet, is returned. Having no authority to stipulate that reparation shall be made to Lewis Vernet or to the Argentine Republic, for the acts of the Commander of the Lexington at the Falkland Islands; and being expressly directed by his own Government to justify those acts, – the Undersigned must yield to that alternative which His Excellency has made imperative; and, as his continuance here would be useless to his Country, he asks Passports for himself and his family. …”
Foreign Minister de Maza is taken by surprise, both by the return of Vernet’s ‘Report’ and by the sudden request for passports. He asks for a meeting.
August 22nd, in the New York Evening Post; “ I am afraid this vexed Falkland Island question is going to become serious. Mr. Baylies and the Government are at direct issue, and he has asked his passports. The Government has asked a personal interview, which will take place to-day, and then we shall know whether we are to go to war or not.”
“Mr Baylies had demanded his passport, but the Governor had requested a personal interview, … It was said that matters had proceeded so far that Admiral Brown had applied to Government for two schooners, to attack the United States’ sloop of war Lexington, lying in the river. The matter seems really to have assumed a very serious aspect.”
August 27th, Francis Baylies and de Maza meet at Government House. Minister de Maza tries to convince Baylies that he should send for further instructions from his Government before making a decision to depart, but Baylies declines and restates his wish for his passport.
August 30th, with the approval of King William IV, the Admiralty are informed by Lord Palmerston that; ” .. one of His Majesty’s ships be ordered to proceed to Port Egmont .. for the purpose of exercising the right of sovereignty there …“
August 31st, orders are issued to Rear-Admiral Baker at Rio de Janeiro; “Whereas Viscount Palmerston one of H.M. Principle Secretaries of State has signified to us the Kings Pleasure, that one of H.M. ships should be ordered to proceed to Port Egmont in the Falkland Islands for the purpose of exercising His rights of sovereignty there and of acting at the said islands as in a possession belonging to the Crown of Great Britain; you are hereby required and directed accordingly to dispatch one of the ships of your Squadron forthwith to Port Egmont, with instructions to the Commander for carrying into effect His Majesty’s intentions as above mentioned. And you are further to cause the Falkland Islands to be visited annually by one of the ships on the South American Station for the purpose of keeping up and maintaining the Sovereign Rights of His Majesty over the islands.”
News circulates in Buenos Aires that the warship Sarandi is readying for a journey to Port Louis. Vernet, who has not been informed officially that his plan for the re-population of the archipelago has been accepted, arranges an interview with Minister Anchorena. Vernet is not warmly received. (Caillet-Bois 6th ed. 1982)
September 3rd, the American chargé d’affaires’ receives his passports.
September 6th, Francis Baylies appoints George Washington Slacum as Secretary to the American Mission.
Luis Vernet resigns as ‘Civil and Military Commandant of Puerto Luis’ and declines to return to Port Louis.
[This is noted as a part of his submission to the British Government for compensation in 1852. Vernet stated that he declined to return because of Britain’s claim “at this time.” It is tempting to conclude that Vernet had information regarding the imminent return of the British to the archipelago, although other authors believe that Vernet feared an American attempt to capture him. The official reason given for his non-return was “illness.” Caillet-Bois 6th ed. 1982 (p.348 fn.12) puts Vernet’s resignation as occurring on March 15th, 1833, and being accepted on April 2nd. This fails to recognise Mestivier’s appointment as the Military and Political Commander in 1832 however.]
September 10th, Governor Rosas issues a new Decree;
“The Political and Military Comandant of the Falkland Islands and their adjacencies in the Atlantic Ocean, Don Luis Vernet, being now in this Capital, and not being able yet to return, the Government of Buenos Ayres has resolved and decrees:
Article 1. In the interim, Brevet Sergeant Major, Jose Francisco Mestivier, of the Artillery, is appointed Civil and Military Commandant of the Falkland Islands and adjacencies in the Atlantic Ocean.
Article 2 Let it be communicated through the Department of War and Marine, charged with carrying into effect and publishing this Decree; and by the same Department let the instructions agreed upon be given to Sergeant Major Jose Francisco Mestivier. “
September 14th, Lieutenant-Colonel José María Pinedo, commanding Sarandi, receives his instructions, signed by Juan Ramón Balcarce, Minister of War. These instructions include; “3. .. you will bring together the Sarandi’s officers and will give possession of the facility, the island of Soledad and other (land) adjacent to Cape Horn to the garrison commander under the flag of the Republic and a 21-gun salute… “
Pinedo is also reminded of his duty to defend the nation’s honour – “never surrendering to superior forces without glory in a gallant resistance,” in the “unlikely event” of an attack by a foreign force.
” .. to treat with the utmost circumspection foreign warships, never insulting them, but in the case of being being violently attacked … defend .. never surrendering to superior forces without covering himself with glory in his gallant resistance … shall not be competent to carry out orders to withdraw from the Falkland Islands.” (Bardini 2010)
September 18th, Rosas lays all the papers covering discussions with the USA before its Legislature.
September 23rd, a garrison of soldiers under the command of a new ‘Governor’, Sgt. Major Juan Esteban Mestivier, sets sail from Buenos Aires in the Sarandi, captained by Lieutenant-Colonel José María Pinedo.
Also on board are Luis Vernet’s employees and managers, William Dickson, acting as Vernet’s agent, Ventura Pasos, Henry Metcalf, Antonio Vehingar, William Drake and Charles Brazier.
September 26th, Francis Baylies leaves Buenos Aires. “ … He went there; stayed there not 3 months – just long enough to embroil his country in a senseless and wicked quarrel with the Government; and, without waiting for orders from his Government, demanded his passports and came home. Nothing but the imbecility of that South American abortion of a state saved him from indelible disgrace and this country from humiliation in that concern ..” ( Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, IX, 446-447)
Baylies writes to Secretary of State Livingston from the US ship, Warren; “ … The decree investing Don Jose Francisco Mestivier, a Frenchman, with Government of the Falkland Islands was, as I believe, intended a parting salute to me. The Government had not the sagacity to perceive that the decree was not only inoperative as to the United States but was a direct denial of the British claim of sovereignty.
I had a long conversation with Mr. Fox, the British Minister and informed him distinctly that nothing was claimed by the United States in the Magellanick region, but the right of free fishery, and that right would always be claimed as well against Great Britain as Buenos Ayres, .. and I took the liberty of asking him whether Great Britain, after giving notice to the United States of her rights to the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, and formally asserting her claim to them as part of His Brittanick Majesty’s dominions, could, under such circumstances, justify herself for permitting a horde of pirates to habour there … He assured me that he was preparing and should present a remonstrance in strong terms against the second occupation of these Islands by these intruders, which doubtless has been, or will be done.
But the armed vessel called the Sarandi sailed on the 23rd, it is said for the Falklands with arms, ammunition and soldiers, apparently with the design of taking formal and military possession. This measure will compel Great-Britain to act decisively. If she now renounces her sovereign rights she will do what she never yet has done she cannot yield a right of a character so high and so well founded as hers, to this petty nation to be used for the purposes of piracy. I am inclined to think that the services of Captain Duncan will not be required in the second subversion of Vernet’s establishment.
Under all these circumstances there is but one course left for the United States. They will certainly be justified by the whole world if they now make their power known in the chastisement of this insolent Government which elated by the accidental capture of two British armies on their soil, and their success in the war with Brazil, affect to hold the United States in contempt. They must be compelled to respect our rights there is no alternative.”
On September 28th, Henry Fox formally protests; ” The Undersigned, His Britannick Majesty’s Minister Plenipotentiary, has observed, a decree lately published by the Government of Buenos Ayres, bearing date September 10 by which a Civil and Military Commandant, ad interim, is appointed over certain Stations in the Atlantic Sea, including the Falkland Islands.
His Excellency Senor Don Manuel Vicente Maza, Minister charged with the Department of Foreign Relations is aware that, as soon as the Decree of the 10th June 1829, issued by the Revolutionary Authorities at that period in possession of the Province of Buenos Ayres, and containing certain provisions for the Government of the Falkland Islands, had been made known to His Britannick Majesty’s Government, an official Protest against any assumption of right of sovereignty over those Islands, on the part of the Argentine Republick, was, in pursuance of the express orders of his Court, presented to the Government of Buenos Ayres, by the Charge d’Affaires of His Britannick Majesty. At the time when the events that had occurred at the Falkland Islands during the last year, became known at Buenos Ayres, the Undersigned refrained from making any observation upon those events, out of a sincere and friendly desire not in any way to embarrass the Government of the Republic, in the discussions in which it seemed likely to be engaged with the United States of America.
But, lest the silence of the Undersigned should by possibility be considered as implying an abandonment on the part of his Government, of the Rights of His Britannick Majesty, it becomes his duty now again officially to declare to the Government of Buenos Ayres, that the Sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, which compose a part of the Command granted in the Decree above alluded to, is vested in the Crown of Great Britain; and that no act of government or authority can be exercised over those Islands by any other power, without infringing upon the Just Rights of His Britannick Majesty.”
October 1st, in response, Minister de Maya writes back; ” The Supreme Government .. has given to it the due consideration to which it is entitled and will be prepared to reply to the same, whenever it may become expedient to make known the Rights of the Argentine Republic over that Territory.”
Minister Plenipotentiary Fox transfers to a position in Brazil leaving Philip Gore, the Legation Secretary and chargé d’affaires, and Consul Charles Griffiths, as the only British representatives in Buenos Aires.
October 7th, the Sarandi arrives at Puerto Louis.
Vernet’s capataz de los gauchos, Jean Simon, is initially pleased to see the arrival of another ship but when he realises that it is carrying Vernet’s managers; “… looked thoughtful and very upset, (he) said that if it were not for the troops that came (he) would not recognize the person who had been sent by Snr Vernet..” (Pinedo 1832)
October 10th, in a formal ceremony at Port Louis, Lieut. Colonel Pinedo hands over “possession of the command” to Sgt. Major Mestivier with the title of Military and Political Commander, and “designates the territory as an integral part of the Republic.” The flag of the Republic is raised and saluted by 21 cannons.
“And so the Republic reaffirmed its legitimate rights.” (Caillet-Bois 6th ed. 1982)
October 13th, Rear-Admiral Baker writes from Rio de Janeiro to inform London; “.. that the Buenos Ayrean Government have sent a schooner of war with a new Governor, and a number of other persons, to resume Possession of the Falkland Islands, notwithstanding a protest which, it is said, has been made by Mr. Fox against their doing so.”
October 15th, Fox reports his protest to London. Regarding the Americans, he tells Lord Palmerston; “I found that the American Charge d’Affaires and his Government were already fully aware of, and prepared to acknowledge the Sovereign Rights of His Majesty… the North Americans appear to claim, further, for themselves, an original right to freedom of fishery over all the waters adjacent to the Falkland Islands; and moreover to ground this claim (as Co-heirs as it were with Great Britain in America) upon the very fact of right of sovereignty over those islands being vested in the British Crown…”
In November, General Rosas retires from office.
November 21st, at Port Louis, Sgt. Major Mestivier hands over two gauchos, Manuel Ruiz and Mariano Lopez, to Pinedo for removal from the Islands as being ‘undesirable.’ They are immediately ‘pressed‘ into the crew of the Sarandi which sets out to patrol the islands.
November 28th, on board HMS Warspite, Rear-Admiral Thomas Baker issues orders to John James Onslow, commander of HMS Clio.
“The Right Honourable the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, having, in pursuance of His Majesty’s pleasure, signified to me their directions to despatch a ship of the squadron under my orders to Port Egmont, in the Falkland Islands, for the purpose of exercising the rights of sovereignty there, and of acting at the said islands as in a possession belonging to the crown of Great Britain; you are hereby required and directed to put to sea tomorrow morning in his Majesty’s sloop Clio, under your command, and proceed with all expedition to Port Egmont, for the purpose of exercising the rights of sovereignty over the said islands, and of acting thereat as in a possession belonging to the crown of Great Britain accordingly. On your arrival at Port Egmont, you will immediately restore the symbols of his Majesty’s sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, consisting of the blockhouse, flag-staff and flag, formerly erected there by England, if you find such symbols have disappeared or fallen into decay; and you will, with that view, hoist the British union flag on shore, and proceed to repair Fort George if any part of it remains, or to construct a new small fort or block-house on its ancient site, of adequate dimensions, on which, when it is completed, you will erect a permanent flag-staff, and keep the British union flag constantly hoisted.
Should you find at Port Egmont any persons professing to be British subjects, you are to call them publicly before you, and register their names, ages, and occupations, together with the time they may have been residing in the Falkland Islands; and in the event of there being also at that port any foreign persons, occupied in peaceable pursuits, you will explain to them the relation in which they are to continue to hold themselves to the crown of Great Britain, whilst they remain in the British settlement of the Falkland Islands; you will endeavour to ascertain, as near as possible, the numbers and nations of any such foreigners, but you are not to disturb them in their agricultural or other inoffensive employments.
So soon as you shall have accomplished this service at Port Egmont, you will charge the most respectable British subject in the place, if there be one, to preserve the British flag, and to keep it duly hoisted; and should nothing unforeseen have arisen, during your stay, to require your further presence there, you are to set out on your return, to give an account to the Commander-in-Chief, for the information of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, and his majesty’s Government.
Such will be your routine, if you meet with no impediment; but should you find, on your arrival at Port Egmont, any foreign persons in military force, who, affecting to be in possession of that port, may have hoisted a foreign flag, or shall attempt to resist your landing or operations, in obedience to these instructions, you are, in the first place, to acquaint the chief person commanding such force with the object of your mission; request to be informed of the reason of the force under his command being there in a British settlement; and, in terms of civility, require that the flag, if any be hoisted, be immediately struck, and that the force may be quickly withdrawn.
You will then wait his reply, and, should he promptly comply with your request, you will, under due caution, afford every facility in your power for the embarkation and orderly departure of the foreign force in question, with any property to which such force may have a just claim; but if, on the contrary, your request for such flag to be struck, or for such foreign military force being withdrawn, should be refused, and objections of any sort be raised against compliance, you are, providing you deem the force of the sloop under your command adequate to the duty of forcible expulsion, to command, in the name of his Majesty, the said foreign person exercising chief authority, and all foreign military persons whomsoever, to lay down their arms and quit forthwith at their peril, the British possessions.
And if, after this command, any further hesitation or resistance be attempted, you are to compel them to depart; observing that, in the event of your being obliged to have recourse to this painful measure, which you are only to adopt in the last extremity; you are to execute it with all moderation, consistent with its effectual accomplishment.
And you are to admit of no compromise or evasive delay under any pretence whatever, if there be vessels present to convey such military persons away; it being his Majesty’s purpose to keep up and maintain his sovereign rights over these Islands. If, however, there should be no means of conveyance from the Islands for such foreign military persons, they are to be disarmed, and left there until further measures can be taken for their early removal.
Should you, on the other hand, be of opinion, that any such foreign force which you may find at Port Egmont, or in any other port of place in the said islands, are decidedly superior to the force of the Clio, which is scarcely to be expected; and it might therefore be imprudent to attempt to expel them by force of arms, you must then, should your request for their departure be rejected, most solemnly protest in writing, in the name of the King, against such forcible resistance and hostility in the British territories, and warn such chief person in command, and all persons whomsoever, of the lamentable consequences which must inevitably and suddenly follow so gross a violation of the law of nations, and especially of the dignity and sacred rights of Great Britain.
Excepting this protest, you are to enter into no written correspondence whatever with any such military persons holding forcible possession of his Majesty’s dominions; nor to recognise them by any of proceedings in any other view as illegal intruders. And if, after your final protest, the person exercising chief command of such foreign force, should still refuse to resign possession of the place, you are to proceed with all possible despatch to join the Commander-in-Chief for further orders.
But as it is desirable that his Majesty’s minister at Buenos Ayres should be made acquainted as early as possible with the result, whatever it may be, of your visit to the Falkland Islands, you will call in on your return at Monte Video, whence you will forward to that gentleman a concise report of your proceedings; and should you not find the Commander-in-Chief in the river Plate, you will hear intelligence of his position, and resume your exertions to rejoin him without a moment’s delay.
Given on board the Warspite, Rio Janeiro
this 28th Nov. 1832.
T. Baker Rear Admiral and Commander-in-Chief
November 30th, at Port Louis, nine members of the garrison mutiny. Sgt. Major Mestivier is killed.
Sailors from the schooner, Rapid, sailors from a French whaler, Jean Jaques, and some of Vernet’s gauchos manage to capture the mutineers, seven of which are detained on the Rapid.
Luis Vernet’s ‘Report’, is published and sent to the US Government. Baylies comments; “Had I supposed that Vernet was the real Minister of Foreign Affairs at Buenos Ayres I should have read his memorial and replied to it. But if my attendants interpreted aright no such assertion was made to me. Nevertheless as that memorial is now avowed by that Government, and has been communicated to this in a printed book ..”
On December 7th, Lieut. Col. Pinedo orders Capt. Trott of the American schooner, Sun, to leave the Islands; “.. after firing on her and treating her officers and crew with great insolence.”
December 11th, La Gazeta Mercantil carries a story of the sailing from Rio de Janeiro of a corvette, HMS Clio, which is believed to be sailing to the Falklands in order to verify; “.. the occupation of those islands.” The newspaper however expresses its belief that the ship is only going in order to recognise the Argentine colony there so that the British cabinet can be brought up-to-date.
December 15th, in Montevideo, the newspaper El Universal, announces that HMS Clio is en-route to enforce the British claim.
December 20th, Commander John James Onslow in the Clio, arrives off Port Egmont; “I found the ruins of our settlement on Saunders Island.the town stood on the south side of a mountain less than 600′ high. The settlers had extended their gardens to the westward of this mountain, the remains of which are still perceptible…”
On the same day, Minister de Maza writes to Secretary Livingston in an attempt to bring some reconciliation between Argentina and the USA.
December 21st, in Washington, the House of Representatives calls for all correspondence relative to the fall-out with Buenos Aires to be published. President Jackson defers, arguing that negotiations are not yet complete.
December 23rd, at Egmont, Onslow; “ .. repaired what appeared to me to have been Fort George. Whilst in port the Union was hoisted daily at the fort and I left the following inscription … ”
“These Islands have been visited by His Britannic Majesty’s ship Clio, for the purpose of exercising the rights of sovereignty, 23rd December, 1832”
December 29th, on arrival back at Port Louis, Lieut. Col. Pinedo takes command of the and arrests First-Lieut. José Antonio Gomila, accusing him of inaction during the mutiny.
December 30th, Onslow decides to investigate reports of a military force in Berkeley Sound; “During our stay at Port Egmont the boats were employed to examine into Brett’s Harbour, Byron’s Sound, Kepple’s sound and as far westward as Point Bay, 60 miles from our anchorage, to search for inhabitants but found none.
I was therefore led to believe, with reference to that part of your orders which pointed out the probability of a foreign force being in these islands (if any existed), I should find them in Berkeley Sound, to the eastward. … I left a sealed bottle at the fort to acquaint Captain Hope that I had sailed for Berkeley Sound… “