Page images

occupy the Isthmus of Panama, which proceeding was opposed by an unavailing protest of the governor of Panama, and Mr. Herran therefore invoked the interposition of this Government in accordance with the treaty obligations above set forth.

Simultaneously with the reception of this note of Mr. Herran's, substantially the same information which it gave was received from our consul residing at Panama, and the President therefore instructed our naval commander at that port to take care to protect and guarantee at all hazards, and at whatever cost, the safety of the railroad transit across the Isthmus of Panama. Mr. Herran now insists that, owing to the character of the population on the Isthmus and the revolutionary condition of that region, the security of the transit across the Isthmus cannot be adequately insured by the presence and activity of a mere naval force, and that the Granadian Confederation is entitled, therefore, to the special aid of a land force to be sent from the United States, and suggests that it should be made to consist of three hundred cavalry.

This Government has no interest in the matter different from that of other maritime powers. It is willing to interpose its aid in execution of its treaty and for the benefit of all nations. But if it should do so it would incur some hazard of becoming involved in the revolutionary strife which is going on in that country. It would also incur danger of misapprehension of its objects by other maritime powers if it should act without previous consultation with them. The revolutionary disturbances existing in that quarter are doubtlessly as well known and understood by the Governments of Great Britain and France as they are by this Government, and they are probably also well informed of the proceedings of Mosquera, which has moved Mr. Herran's application to the President. He desires an understanding with these two Governments upon the subject, and you are therefore instructed to submit the matter to Earl Russell, as Mr. Dayton will likewise be instructed to confer with Mr. Thouvenel,

The points to be remembered are:

First. Whether any proceeding in the matter shall be adopted by the United States with the assent and acquiescence of the British and French Governments.

Secondly. What should be the force and extent of the aid to be rendered to the Granadian Confederation.

Thirdly. Whether these Governments will unite with the United States in guaranteeing the safety of the transit and the authority of the Granadian Confederation, or either of these objects, and the form and manner in which the parties shall carry out such agreement.

I hardly need say that this Government is not less anxious to avoid any such independent or hasty action in the matter as would seem to indicate a desire for exclusive or especial advantages in New Granada than the British Government can be that we shall abstain from such a course.

I am, &c., &c.,


The same, mutatis mutandis, to Mr. Dayton at Paris, No. 180.

Mr. Adams responded as follows: No. 201.]

London, August 1, 1862.

SIR: Yesterday I had a conference with Lord Russell at the foreign office, in the course of which I went over the various subjects whereupon I had received instructions in your late dispatches. I propose to review them in the order in which they came up.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Lastly I read to his lordship the dispatch No. 296, relating to the claim of Mr. Herran for the fulfillment of the guarantee to New Granada to protect the transit on the Isthmus of Panama. I observed that it must be obvious that the Government of the United States could not desire just at this time to enlarge the field of operation for its forces; hence that its performance of this obligation would necessarily depend only upon a full conviction of its imperative character. On that point it would be glad to consult with other powers most interested in the transit which it was the object to preserve. His lordship seemed already well informed of the facts in the case. He said that he did not yet perceive the contingency to have occurred which called for interposition. It was true that General Mosquera was in occupation of the territory in resistance to the Granadian Government. Such things were happening all the time in South America. But there had been no attempt, so far as he knew, to obstruct the free transit across the Isthmus, nor did he understand that any disposition had been shown to do


Until there should be some manifestation of the sort, any demonstration might have the appearance of interposing to effect a different purpose. His lordship added that on the happening of an actual derangement of the communication the British Government would readily co-operate with the United States in the measures that might be thought necessary to make good the privileges secured by the guarantee.

I believe this closed all the topics to which it had been made my duty especially to call his lordship's attention. I then took my leave of him, probably for the season, as he spoke of his departure from town next week, and mentioned that the under secretary would in his absence attend to the transaction of any business that I might have occasion to propose.

[blocks in formation]


SIR: I have to-day called the attention of Mr. Thouvenel to your dispatch No. 180, in reference to the application of New Granada for assistance in the preservation of the neutrality of the Isthmus and the sovereignty of that country. Somewhat to my suprise, I found that your dispatch had not been submitted by the minister ad interim to Mr. Thouvenel on his return, and that, in point of fact, he had not yet seen it. informed me, however, that the same question substantially had been presented to him through Mr. Mercier, and that a written reply had been forwarded some days since, which doubtless has been or will be promptly communicated to you. Mr. Thouvenel, however, seemed to think your communication was rather in the nature of a conference as to what you should under the circumstances do, than as indicating any fixed determination to act in the premises. He says that in the view he took he did not see that it was necessary that you should under the treaty do anything at all. That the neutrality of the Isthmus was not in question and the railroad had not been disturbed. He said that whether one party or the other had control of the Government of New Granada did not affect the question. That France had not recognized Mosquera or his Government because there was an opposition in arms against him, or, in other words, there was a civil war between opposing parties. That if the railroad were about to be interrupted or destroyed he would not think it improper for the United States to interfere, but if matters remained now as they were a month since, when his advices were received, he thought it uncalled for at this time by any treaty stipulation. He referred, too, to the somewhat anomalous position of Mr. Herran, who made the call for interference, and who, he seemed to think, did not represent the Government actually in power. He further said that a few days since the British ambassador had applied to them to know what view the French Government took of this matter, and he had sent him by way of reply a copy of his late note to Mr. Mercier. That they had not as yet heard what action the British Government had taken upon the question.

The above is the substance of our conversation. I should have asked from Mr. Thouvenel (as I had from Mr. Rouher) a written a reply, but for the fact stated that he had already written to Mr. Mercier. If you have occasion to communicate to the Government of New Granada the view taken by France, a copy of this note, if asked for, will doubtless be supplied by Mr. Mercier.

I am, &c.,


In 1864 the Government of the United States was called upon to interfere, if the necessity should arise, to prevent the importation of troops and munitions of war by Spain across the Isthmus of Panama for the purpose of carrying on war against Peru. And although fortunately the necessity did not arise, the Attorney-General, to whom the case was referred for an opinion, held that under the guarantee of the treaty such interference would be obligatory. (Opinions Attorney-General vol. xi, p. 69.)

In 1865 the question arose as to the obligation of the United States to comply with the requisition of the President of the United States of Colombia (New Granada) for a force to protect the Isthmus of Panama from invasion by a body of insurgents of that country. In this case the Government of the United States held, under the opinion of the AttorneyGeneral, and so communicated to its representative at Bogota, that the guarantee of New Granada in the sovereignty and property over the territory was only as against other and foreign Governments, and did not authorize the United States to take sides with one or the other party in the intestine troubles of that nation. (Opinions Attorney-General, vol. xi, pp. 392-3.)

Four years after the signature of this treaty and two years after its ratification the United States and Great Britain, April 19, 1850, executed the treaty which is generally known as the Clayton-Bulwer treaty.

The necessity for this treaty having arisen from the complication of the interests of Great Britain and the United States in Central America, its special provisions were confined to the adjustment of such questions in that region as seemed to threaten the amicable relations of these two powers, and provided that neither Great Britain nor the United States would ever obtain or maintain for itself any exclusive control over a ship-canal through the territory of Central America, erect or maintain any fortification commanding the same or in the vicinity thereof, occupy, fortify, colonize, or assume or exercise any dominion over Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mosquito coast, or any part of Central America, nor make use of any alliance, connection, or 'influence with any of these States to obtain any unequal advantages in regard to commerce or navigation through such canal.

These stipulations, it will be observed, were confined to Central America, and were finally carried out by negotiations with the states of Central America themselves. These negotiations were sometimes under the joint recommendation of the United States and Great Britain, sometimes separate with Great Britain, but, as I shall have occasion to show hereafter in some detail, were known in their progress to the United States, and, with some differences of opinion, frankly and amicably discussed between the two governments, were considered as generally satisfactory.

But besides these stipulations, confined to Central America, the 8th article of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty provided:

The Governments of the United States and Great Britain having not only desired in entering into this convention to accomplish a particular object, but also to establish a general principle, they hereby agree to extend their protection, by treaty stipulation, to any other practicable communications, whether by canal or railway, across the isthmus which connects North and South America, and especially to the interoceanic communications which are now proposed to be established by the way of Tehuantepec and Panama.

It is evident from the language of this article that the special stipulations in reference to Central America were not thus made obligatory in relation to Mexico and New Granada, as indeed they could scarcely have been without the diplomatic intervention of those powers themselves.

But the United States undertook by this provision to extend to Great Britain such participation in the general benefits of any interoceanic connection which might be opened in these countries as was afforded by the principles of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty; and these were to be secured by "treaty stipulations," to be made at the proper time and under such conditions as might appear wisest and best when that time should come. This declaration, therefore, of a general principle to be put in practice, could not and did not modify either the rights or obligations which the United States had acquired or assumed by the treaty with New Granada of 1846, and which still exist in all their binding effect. The concession, the building, and the administration of the Panama Railroad are a sufficient illustration of the correctness of this view.

In April, 1856, occurred the riot at Panama, by which the lives of many American citizens were sacrificed and a vast amount of valuable property was destroyed by a mob, which, if not instigated, were certainly not restrained, by the New Granadian authorities.

This atrocious outrage excited universal indignation, and the Government of the United States was forced to consider whether it would not be obliged to assume a position of more direct and vigorous authority on the Isthmus.

In December, 1856, Mr. Marcy, then Secretary of State, sent two special ministers to Bogota with instructions to submit to the consideration of the New Granadian Government the project of a treaty, with the draft of which they were furnished. Those instructions and the project of treaty are herewith submitted to you. (Inclosure No. 1.)

The necessity for this new arrangement, Mr. Marcy explained, sprung from the utter inability or unwillingness of the New Granadian Government to afford the necessary protection to the transit of the Isthmus, and the consequent imposition upon the United States of its obligations of guarantee. He proposed the creation of a belt of territory twenty miles broad, running from the Atlantic to the Pacific on lines equidistant from the line of the Panama road. The sovereignty of New Granada was to be formally admitted, but the government of the territory was to be placed in the hands of two municipalities, one at the Atlantic, the other at the Pacific terminus of the Panama Railroad. The authorities of these municipalities were to be selected by the inhabitants of the territory and charged with the police protection of persons and property. He further proposed that the United States should acquire either the possession or control of certain islands in the harbors at each terminus, where they could make naval stations, keep supplies, and be in condition to enforce effectively the guarantee of the Isthmus. He was careful to disclaim all intention of seeking any commercial advantage over other nations, expressed his willingness to admit them to a participation in the benefits of the treaty, and declared his conviction that the terms of the projected treaty did not conflict with the general and generous principles which the United States had joined Great Britian in declaring.

This treaty was unacceptable to the New Granadian Government. In 1868 another attempt was made by Mr. Seward to negotiate a treaty which should more precisely define and regulate the relations between the United States and New Granada. You will find here with [inclosure No. 2] his instructions covering a draft of projected treaty, and he was so anxious to conclude some satisfactory arrangement that Mr. Caleb Cushing was sent as special agent to join the minister resident at Bogota and endeavor to procure its adoption. You will find herewith [inclosure No. 3] the treaty which was signed, and which appears to be in conformity with his instructions, but for reasons of which I am ignorant it was not ratified by the Senate.

In 1870 another effort was made through Hurlbut to reach the same desirable end, and you will find herewith the treaty which he negotiated and the history of its negotiation [inclosure No. 4]. The treaty was acceptable to the United States, but was so extensively and so seriously modified by the Congress of New Granada, to whom it was in due course submitted for ratification, that it could not be accepted by this Government. These amendments are included in inclosure No. 4.

This was the last effort on the part of the United States to negotiate with New Granada on the subject of an interoceanic canal. Congress abolished the mission to that power in 1876, and diplomatic relations were not renewed until the restoration of the mission and the appointment of the present minister in the summer of 1878.

During all this time there have been various concessions by the Colombian Government to parties professing the desire and ability to execute

a canal. I do not deem it necessary to call them specially to your attention. They have the same general character, and do not seem to have ever had any real vitality. But I think it proper to send herewith (inclosure No.5,) the last concession, namely, that to Lieutenant Wyse, made March 28, 1878, and with the consent of the Colombian Government transferred to Mr. de Lesseps, a distinguished citizen of France, and universally known as the projector and founder of the Suez Canal. No treaty relations in reference to an interoceanic canal through the territory of Nicaragua were established by the Government of the United States prior to the execution of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty.

The attention of this Government seems for a long period to have been given chiefly to such connection by way of the Isthmus of Panama. But as the engineering difficulties of that plan attracted its consideration, and the acquisition of territory on the Pacific coast gave more and more practical interest to the completion of some such connection, the importance of the route through Nicaragua seemed to impose upon the Government the necessity of some direct arrangement. The great difficulty in the way was, that, owing to circumstances which are too well known to need recapitulation, the Government of Great Britain had assumed a protectorate over that part of the coasts of Nicaragua and Costa Rica in which lay the Atlantic terminus of any possible connection through those countries, and have given practical effect to its claim of protectorate by the occupation of the port of St. Juan.

Mr. Clayton opened negotiations with the British Government for the purpose of adjusting these differences. The object of the negotiations thus initiated cannot be better set forth than in the language of Mr. Rives, who, under the instructions of Mr. Clayton, submitted the views of the Government of the United States to Lord Palmerston.

Mr. Rives to Mr. Calyton.

No. 3.] LONDON, September 25, 1849. SIR: Yesterday I called upon Lord Palmerston, at his house in Carlton Gardens, for the purpose of holding the interview with him which had been previously arranged. He gave me a very cordial reception, and took occasion to say that he had come up to London from the residence of Viscount Melbourne in the country, where he had been passing some days, solely for the sake of seeing and conversing with me. After some conversation of a general nature, I stated to him that there being a sort of interregnum at present in the usual diplomatic relations of the two countries, owing to the departure of Mr. Bancroft and the postponement for a few weeks of Mr. Lawrence's arrival, you had instructed me, while on my way to Paris, to call upon his Lordship and converse with him on a matter which was more than ordinarily urgent and critical; that it was quite unnecessary, I persuaded myself, to assure his Lordship that the President was anxious to preserve the most cordial good understanding with her Britannic Majesty's Government; that in proportion as that desire was sincerely felt, it was seen with no little concern that there was one question which unless great prudence and caution were observed on both sides might involve the two Governments unwittingly in collision; that shortly before I left the United States a letter from the British consul at New York had been published, asserting in very positive and unqualified terms an exclusive claim for the Mosquito Indians to the ownership and sovereign jurisdiction of the mouth and lower part of the river San Juan de Nicaragua; that the United States had no disposition to intermeddle in any pragmatical spirit, or with views in the slightest degree unfriendly to Great Britain, with that question, but they were necessarily parties to it in their own right; that citizens of the United States had entered into a contract with the State of Nicaragua to open, on certain conditions, a communication between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans by the river San Juan and the Nicaragua Lake; that the Government of the United States, after the most careful investigation of the subject, had come undoubtingly to the conclusion that upon both legal and historical grounds the State of Nicaragua was the true territorial sovereign of the River San Juan as well as of the Nicaragua Lake, and that it was, therefore, bound to give its countenance and support, by all proper and reasonable means, to rights lawfully derived by their citizens under a grant from that sovereign; that the United States, moreover, as one of the prin

« PreviousContinue »