Embossed seal (“Republica del Ecuador”) stamped into the upper left-hand corner of the letter.—JW.
Guayaquil 8 Nov. 1881
Genl. S. A. Hurlbut
U. S. Minister
In reference to the case of the American actions and my property the “Laura” and which is now pending for settlement in the Legation of the United States in Lima, I am respectfully induced to make the following statement of [the] matter. I have learnt or obtained in relation thereto since my arrival at this Port:
1st. That the Governor of Guayaquil D. José Sanchez Rubio has in the presence of Mr. MacLean late American Consul in Guayaquil acknowledged to have given a letter to allow the vessel (the “Laura”) to be brought into any port in the Republic of Ecuador. And furthermore the Governor has said that another owner has presented himself and for which reason the vessel is now held and will not allow any interference by an outside power in the matter. Inasmuch as I am the legal owner of the schooner Laura to all intents & purposes this statement by the Government has been made to debar me from my rights and throw the whole matter into the courts of Ecuador.
2nd. That a Mr. Cobos who has a plantation on Chatham Island and there employing a number of working men has been the primary instigator of the piratical seizure of the “Laura,” aiding and assisting a party of men with arms and necessaries to carry out his object.
This Cobos is now the owner of two small vessels that were robbed from the small port of Magdalena in Lower California. When these vesssels were taken they were brought to the Galapagos Islands and thence to Guayaquil where they obtained the Ecuadorian flag by the representations and influence of this same Mr. Cobos. One of these vessels is now here. Her name under the American flag was the Sue Greenwood, but now under the Ecuadorian flag she is named the “Angela Cobos.” I have not heard the name of the other vessel robbed, but she is now navigating between Guayaquil and the Galapagos Islands and belongs to this same Mr. Cobos. I have heard that this Mr. Cobos was at Magdalena when these vessels were piratically seized or run away with. At present the Galapagos Islands are considered a nest of pirates, without any legal authority to govern them or check these outrages. The books of the American Consulate will certify to these facts. I have further understood that Mr. Cobos had been indicted and banished from this country for murder some years ago, but [due to] a change in the administration of the Government his return has been overlooked. Mr. Cobos is a particular friend of the Capt. of the port of Esmeraldas and between the two false affidavits have been procured.
You will perceive General that my papers identify my legal ownership of the Laura and which will be made stronger by the statement of Mr. MacLean which shall be provided to the Legation without loss of time.
I would have waited at the Legation in Lima before I left Callao, but inasmuch that I had only time to save my passage by the steamer to Guayaquil where Mr. MacLean was staying for a few days I could not avail myself of getting to Lima to do so.
I have heard that the schooner is well taken care of and in ordinary good order and fit to go to sea so far as the hull is concerned.
I am extremely anxious that some measures should be taken to restore to my possession this vessel as soon as possible for I am now out of employment without any hopes of obtaining it here. If a vessel of war visit here again I hope it will be for the purpose of at once taking the vessel from the custody of the authorities of this country.
I intend to visit Esmeraldas but not to remain any time for fear of being asassinated, a common mode of getting clear of difficulties in this republic.
Soliciting your attention and favorable consideration of this particular case, I have the honor to be with the highest respect,
Your Obed'. ser't,
M. M. Staples
Statement of claim
made to Mr. Hurlbut
U. S. Minister at Lima.
8 Nov. 1881.