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America in order to negotiate with the different republics, and thus do away with the controversies arising out of the convention. Treaties were soon concluded with these states, so that by 1860 the difficulties seemed at an end.
While the controversies created by the ClaytonBulwer treaty were being discussed, not without bitterness on both sides, there occurred an opportunity for the United States to attempt the acquisition of a kind of control over the passage by Panama, in the event of the canal being opened by that route. On account of the damage suffered by certain citizens of the United States in the course of the so-called Panama Riots of 1856, it was intended to secure from New Granada an indemnity by means of a convention. In the draft presented by the American Minister at Bogotá, it was proposed to include a provision in the treaty whereby both parties would be entitled to the right of passage across the Isthmus by any route that might be opened; and the said waterway was to be for the common use of all nations which would agree to regard the passage as neutral. It is to be noticed, however, that the United States were to acquire control over the route; for this purpose they intended to buy the islands in the Pacific which were near the terminus of the canal. Mr. Marcy, in giving instructions to the United States Minister at Bogotá, explained that in the event of his government obtaining "control of the road it would at once take measures to satisfy foreign powers that it would be kept for their common use on fair terms, and they would be asked to become parties with the United States.
for a guarautee of the neutrality of that part of the Isthmus."1
It is evident that this proposal traversed the stipulations contained in the Clayton-Bulwer treaty. It was not necessary, however, that Great Britain should protest, for New Granada soon perceived the extent of the proposal, and, as it amounted to an injury to her sovereignty, flatly declined to give it any serious consideration.
It is thus seen what the policy of the United States had been up to the time of the Civil War. In preventing a European power from holding the key to the transit they had been on the verge of war, and were finally driven to conclude a treaty in which the Monroe Doctrine was consciously disregarded in every line. A few exceptions to the rule of a canal free from any political control are to be found during this period, but they are insignificant and can be easily explained away. The treaty which the enthusiastic Hise concluded with Nicaragua in 1849 had been entered into without instructions from the Department of State, and his acts were finally disavowed. With regard to the proposal of Mr. Marcy, although the ostensible purpose was the protection of the railway from Colon to Panama which had just been opened, and which, unfortunately, immediately suffered some damage by reason of the so-called Panama Riots, it is difficult to think that his object was not much wider. But, at any rate, it proved abortive.
1 Compilation of Documents, vol. ii. pp. 1012 et seq
PROPOSED CONTROL OF THE CANAL BY THE
A MORE important phase of the problem is now reached. The United States no longer follow their original policy of a canal for the benefit of all the world, under equal terms and subject to no political control of any kind. The condition which they have advocated, in order that there should be freedom of transit and safety both for the works of the canal and the persons using it, is that the passage should be regarded as neutral. But in the period with which we are now going to deal the United States have striven hard to obtain a kind of supremacy, a sort of political control over the waterway-in other words, their desires have been to obtain the key to the passage, so that they might be able to allow or refuse passage according as they thought that such permission or refusal would affect their political interests for good or for evil. In their exertions to follow out this course of action they have been hindered by the fetters which the previous policy had imposed upon them. There have consequently followed supreme efforts to tear asunder these bonds. Their diplomacy
in this direction has been as remarkable as it has
And although the arguments used have been more than once fallacious, yet the Department of State has issued documents of great plausibility and sometimes displaying extraordinary skill.
The new line of action came about as part of the broad and aggressive policy of Mr. Seward. The territorial expansion of the United States had already begun. They had won their victory over Mexico, and had exacted from her an important part of her territory. The internal affairs of the country, moreover, had been placed on a sure footing by the consolidation of the Union after the successful termination of the Civil War. The Monroe Doctrine had just acquired great importance by warding off French interference in Mexico. In a word, the administration felt strong at home and respected abroad. If anything was at all necessary to awake a sense of self-importance in the United States, these circumstances proved to be more than enough. To them may be ascribed the birth of this more active and aggressive foreign policy. The United States, as we shall see, claimed to have absolute control over the canal across the Isthmus. It is hardly necessary to point out that the terms of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty were directly opposed to this policy. We shall have, therefore, to notice the endeavours of the Department of State to overcome the difficulties created by the reservations of this "entangling alliance."
The first move in this direction was taken by Mr. Seward himself. The project of a canal by Honduras Mr. Seward hastened to conclude
had been revived.
a treaty with this republic, and he contemplated the
cession to the United States of Tigre Island to serve as a coaling station.1 As this amounted, however, to acquiring control of the Pacific terminus of the canal, he directed Mr. Adams, his Minister at London, to sound Lord Clarendon as to the disposition of the British Government to favour the United States in acquiring coaling stations in Central America, notwithstanding the stipulations contained in the ClaytonBulwer treaty. In spite of the vague manner in which Lord Clarendon gave answer to this overture,3 Mr. Seward saw that he must take a different course, and thus the Dickinson-Ayon treaty (1868) was concluded, in which the old view of a canal free to all and controlled by none is reflected.
But of course this was not what the United States were seeking at the time; they had to be contented with this meagre result on account of the liberal promises that they had been compelled, so to speak, to make to Great Britain in 1850. With extraordinary foresight, therefore, Mr. Seward looked farther down in the Isthmus and thought that he might obtain the desired advantages from Colombia, without directly wounding Great Britain's susceptibilities in Central America. In 1868 he began negotiations with that republic for a canal across the Isthmus of Panama, with the result that a treaty was signed at Bogotá on January 14, 1869. According to it the United States were empowered to construct the canal, having the peaceful enjoyment and control thereof. Colombia agreed not to allow the opening
1 Keasbey, loc. cit. pp. 302 et seq.
2 Compilation of Documents, p. 1183.