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Although a painful experience shows us the precise limits in international affairs of even our flattering hopes, the truth is that nothing could be more significant as a favorable presage of a possible reparation for Colombia by the United States, than the presentation of bases for a general treaty by Secretary of State Bryan to the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Senate. Those bases are as follows:
The parties hereto agree that all questions of whatever character and nature in dispute between them shall, when diplomatic efforts fail, be submitted for investigation and report to an international commission (the composition to be agreed upon); and the contracting parties agree not to declare war or begin hostilities until such investigation is made and report submitted.
The investigation shall be conducted as a matter of course upon the initiative of the commission, without the formality of a request from either party; the report shall be submitted within (time to be agreed upon) from the date of the submission of the dispute, but the parties hereto reserve the right to act independently on the subject matter in dispute after the report is submitted.'
Undoubtedly these bases comprise an important beginning in favor of international justice, and their acceptance, which apparently will be general, will become an effective guaranty for the weak nations. If, as indicated in the above-mentioned bases, the questions relating to the separation of Panama between Colombia and the United States had been submitted to investigation and report by an international committee, we should have had the way paved to a considerable extent for the reparation which we seek, because this investigation has been and continues to be implicitly demanded by Colombia in soliciting an international arbitration.
I must also mention, as significant proof of the sentiment of notable North American citizens, the resolutions introduced in the Senate and in the House of Representatives of the United States, relating to the pending questions between Colombia and the latter nation which propositions render their authors, Senator Hitchcock and Representative Rainey (you already know of the action taken by the latter some time ago) worthy of our gratitude. The proposition of Senator Hitchcock, unanimously approved by the American Senate on the 16th [15th] of April last, reads as follows:
[Text of Senate Resolution.] 2
The resolution presented by Representative Rainey on April 23rd to the House, and which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, is as follows:
[Text of House Resolution.] 2
On the 3rd of May of this year our Plenipotentiary at Washington, Mr. Julio Betancourt, presented to the Department of State the note 3 which you will find in the Annex to this Memorial. By means of this carefully considered and deliberately written document, as you will see, our just demand for arbitration was again laid before the new administration of the United States.
This is the "Peace Plan of the President " as submitted on April 24, 1913, by the Secretary of State to the diplomatic representatives at Washington; see Circulars, p. 8 of this volume.
2 Not printed.
See ante, p. 309 et seq.
File No. 721.000/5, p. 262.
The Government of the United States has appointed as Minister Plenipotentiary to Colombia in the place of Mr. James T. Du Bois, Mr. Thaddeus A. Thomson, a distinguished member of the American Democratic party. It is to be presumed that the new American Plenipotentiary will come provided with full powers and instructions to treat here the pending questions and to find a solution which, in any case, the Government will require to be decorous and appropriate.
The resolutions approved by the Departmental Assemblies in their last sessions, growing out of the refusal given by the Government to the Du Bois propositions, and other similar expressions of approval show that the national sentiment was truly interpreted in making that rejection. Now, in the expectation of new proposals, I can say to you that the Government is convinced of the necessity of reaching an early, friendly and decorous solution of the questions existing between Colombia and the United States. I may, however, also quote the words of my predecessor, Doctor José M. González Valencia, in his memorial of last year, as follows:
If the occasion should arise, the Government is determined to proceed in this question in harmony with the genuine national sentiment and in accord with the Legislative Chambers, whose assistance is indispensable for the satisfactory settlement of a negotiation of this nature.
File No. 711.21/191.
The Secretary of State to the American Minister.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, September 29, 1913. The Department has received your form of offer and substitutes the following by direction of the President. You will submit it immediately to the Colombian Government.
The Government and people of the United States sincerely desire that everything that may have marred or seemed to interrupt the close and long-established friendship between the United States and the Republic of Colombia should be cleared away and forgotten. My Government therefore desires now to set at rest once and for all the differences that have arisen between it and the Government of the Republic of Colombia in connection with the question of the proper reparation for the losses, both moral and material, suffered by the Republic of Colombia by reason of the circumstances accompanying the acquisition of the rights now enjoyed by the United States on the Isthmus of Panama. I am therefore instructed to offer the sum of $20,000,000 in full settlement of all claims and differences now pending between the Government of Colombia and the Government of the United States and between the Government of Colombia and the Government of the Republic of Panama. I hope that this offer will prove acceptable to your excellency's Government, and
I am [etc.]
File No. 711.21/200.
SIR: In reference to your telegraphic instructions dated September 29, I have the honor to enclose herewith copies of the original Spanish
text and English translation of the Minister for Foreign Affairs' note of the 6th instant in acknowledgment of mine dated October 1st, in which, pursuant to your instructions, I made a formal offer of twenty million dollars in full settlement of all our pending differences with Colombia, to include also any claims Colombia might have against the Republic of Panama.
I have reason to know that the terms in which my note was couched, made a most favorable impression upon the President, the Minister, and the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
With the help of the Committee and under the President's direction, the Minister will now proceed to draft a counter-proposition and in order that it may come as near being acceptable as possible to the Government of the United States, Dr. Urrutia will confer with me regarding the respective points to be contained therein.
I understand that the counter-proposition will consist of a note transmitting the essential conditions desired by Colombia in the form of a project for a treaty. This draft treaty will consist of at least four articles embodying the following cardinal points: one, moral reparation; two, preferential privileges in the Canal; three, fixation of boundary line; and four, money indemnification. In discussing these several features it will be my earnest endeavor to keep the Colombian demands within reasonable bounds.
I have [etc.]
THAD. A. THOMSON.
The Colombian Minister for Foreign Affairs to the American Minister.
FOREIGN OFFICE, Bogotá, October 6, 1913.
MR. MINISTER: I have the honor to refer to the courteous note of the first instant, by which your excellency has informed the Government of the Republic that the Government and the people of the United States desire that everything that may have marred or seemed to interrupt the friendship between the two nations should be cleared away and forgotten; that your excellency's Government therefore desires to terminate the differences which have arisen between it and the Republic regarding the reparation for the losses, both moral and material, which Colombia has suffered by reason of the circumstances accompanying the acquisition of the rights which the United States now enjoys on the Isthmus of Panamá; and that your excellency therefore offers in the name of your Government the sum of twenty million dollars in full settlement of all claims and differences pending between our two Governments and between the Government of the Republic and Panamá.
I have received instructions from His Excellency the President of the Republic to inform your excellency, as I have the honor now to do, that the Colombian Government duly appreciates the sentiments and desires of friendship and of justice expressed in your excellency's note.
In order to cooperate on its part in reaching that just and friendly settlement which is desired by your excellency's Government, my Government will proceed to communicate to your excellency, with the promptness and the attention which the matter requires, its ideas regarding the bases of a possible and convenient arrangement. One of these bases is the proper indemnity for damages and losses, which will be opportunely considered in connection with the other stipulations which the Republic deems necessary for the complete solution of the claims and differences to which your excellency refers.
The Colombian Government, in spontaneously concurring with that of the United States in favor of a direct settlement of this matter, hopes that it will prove feasible and effective and that in this way it will not be necessary to con
tinue its efforts looking to the acceptance of other measures proposed by Colombia and which are still pending.
In expressing to your excellency these ideas and intentions of my Government, I have [etc.]
F. J. URRUTIA,
File No. 711.21/199.
The American Minister to Bogota to the Secretary of State.
Bogotá, October 22, 1913, 7 p. m.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs has informally communicated to me the Colombian Government's ideas regarding bases for a settlement, with the request that I transmit them for your consideration and in order that through an exchange of views he may approximate as far as possible Colombia's desires to what the United States is prepared to grant, before he submits formal counter-proposition. The Minister emphasized the fact that they were not to be considered as unalterable conditions to a settlement.
These ideas are expressed in the form of a preamble to and four articles of a treaty and are as follows: [The text that follows is the same as that of the inclosure with the Minister's despatch No. 14 of October 23; see below.]
File No. 711.21/201.
The American Minister to the Secretary of State.
AMERICAN LEGATION, Bogotá, October 23, 1913. SIR: I have the honor to enclose herewith the English text of the draft preamble and articles for a treaty embodying the Colombian Government's ideas regarding bases for a settlement, which have been informally communicated to me by Dr. Urrutia in accordance with the statement made in his note of the 6th instant, a copy of which was transmitted to the Department with my despatch No. 10 of the 8th instant.
These ideas comprise the views of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, composed of representatives of all political parties, and may, therefore, be considered as interpreting faithfully every national aspiration.
While the ideas may be deemed to constitute Colombia's maximum desires. I feel convinced that she will accept considerably less.
Dr. Urrutia on several occasions during our conversation laid stress upon the fact that these desires were to be treated as an informal expression of views only and were to serve as a basis for discussion, in the hope that the two Governments might reach some mutually acceptable ground before he presented Colombia's formal counterproposition.
I have used every effort to dissuade Dr. Urrutia from presenting, even informally, in my opinion such exorbitant desires, but he has
earnestly requested me to transmit them and I have thought it best to do so, although, when my views have been requested, I have not hesitated to state frankly that I thought no good purpose could be served in requesting greater preferential privileges in the use of the Canal than those enjoyed by the United States and United States commerce, nor a boundary other than that based upon the New Granadan law of June 9, 1855, nor a greater indemnity than one of 20 million dollars, in consideration of the foregoing concessions.
I sincerely trust that the Department will see its way clear to approve the phraseology of the preamble and of Article I, and especially that it will find it possible to accept the word "regrets," which I am convinced would go far towards rendering any terms acceptable to this Government and the people of Colombia.
I have [etc.]
THAD. A. THOMSON.
Draft Treaty embodying Colombia's proposals.
The Republic of Colombia and the United States of America, desiring to put an end to everything which may impair the good understanding between the two nations; and wishing therefore to adjust the situation created by the political change which took place in Panamá in November 1903 and to regulate as well the rights and interests of both nations relating to the interoceanic canal which the Government of the United States is now constructing across the Isthmus of Panamá; and earnestly desiring to restore the reciprocal relations of their long and close friendship, have resolved for this purpose to conclude a convention and have accordingly appointed as their plenipotentiaries, etc.
The Government of the United States of America, in its own name and in the name of the people of the United States, sincerely regrets and invites the Government and the people of Colombia to forget anything that may have occurred to mar or to interrupt the close and long established friendship existing between the two nations, and likewise desires now to set at rest once and for all the differences which have arisen between it and the Government of the Republic of Colombia in connection with the question of proper reparation for the losses both moral and material suffered by the Republic of Colombia by reason of the circumstances which produced the situation enjoyed by the United States in the Isthmus of Panamá.
On its own part, the Government of the Republic of Colombia, in its own name and in the name of the Colombian people, accepts this declaration, confident that every obstacle to the progress of friendly relations between the two nations will thus disappear.
The United States grants to Colombia the following rights in the matter of transit via the Interoceanic Canal and the Panamá Railway:
1. Once the Canal is opened which is now in course of construction in the Isthmus, Colombia shall have the right in perpetuity to transport at all times by this route both its merchant ships and ships of war as well as its troops and materials for war without paying any duty to the United States, even in the case of an international war between Colombia and another nation.
2. Colombian products, whatever may be their destination, and merchandise destined to Colombian ports of the Atlantic or of the Pacific for consumption in Colombia, which pass through the Canal whether in national or foreign ships, as well as the Colombian mails or mails for Colombia, shall be free from all customs duties, tonnage dues, anchorage, lighthouse, wharf, pilot, quarantine dues, or any other duty or tax of every nature whatsoever, upon passing through the Canal; wherefore, after the respective invoices have been examined by the