The British Government … Lima, attempting to intervene with the Viceroy over the detention and looting ofthe British merchant vessels, Justinian, Will,Mary Ann andHydra, by Spanish ships. Pezuela was unsympathetic and made it clear that they had been arrested not only under normal blockading rules but under theold Law ofthe Indies, which prohibited any form of trade by foreigners with the Spanish Empire.
Bowles was further dismayed to be told that the blockade applied not only to merchant vessels but to warships as well, thus excluding his squadron from the haven of the Chilean ports.2 This placed him inadilemma since his orders stressed the need to maintain good relations with the Spanish authorities. Fortunately, the problem was solved by the Americans.
In the United States too, opinion on events inSouth America was divided. The public were vociferous in support of their fellow republicans in the region and there was considerable backing inCongress led by Henry Clay, Speaker of the House of Representatives. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams was less sure. He naturally favoured the establishment ofsister republics inthe region, but seriously doubted that the South Americans had the political maturity to operatea democracy. There was also the factthat theUnited States was doing very well by trading with both sides in the dispute.