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He only retained a general impression of many conferences with one of my predecessors, Mr. Buchanan, on the subject and arguments presented by him, which he intimated were tedious enough and not altogether calculated to forward a settlement; these had been terminated by an arrangement made at Washington.

He would look the whole thing over at the same time that I might be doing so too, after which he should be in a condition to consider the subject more maturely.

I closed by observing that this was precisely the extent to which I had intended to go to-day. I did not understand that there was any necessity of hurry in the matter. I had referred to the topic as one which might call for his lordship's consideration at some future moment, and to that end I thought it would be expedient as a preliminary step to bring it to his attention now.

I have, &c.,


In 1873, Mr. Fish instructed General Schenck:

No. 375.]

SIR: You are aware that a main object of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, so called, of the 19th of April, 1850, was to provide against obstruction by either party to a shipcanal to the Pacific through Nicaragua. A work of that kind was then deemed specially necessary and desirable for us, as California had recently been acquired, the only practicable way to which was across the Isthmus of Panama, or around Cape Horn. For some time previously to the date of that instrument, and especially during the considerable period when the United States were without a diplomatic representative in Central America, it seemed to be the policy of the British Government to avail itself of what was called its protectorate of the King of Mosquitos to wrest from Nicaragua that part of its territory claimed on behalf of that Indian chief, including, of course, the mouths of the San Juan River, by the way of which it was supposed the proposed ship-canal must pass. The Clayton-Bulwer treaty effectually checked this pretension. It, also, in terms, forbade either party to occupy or fortify in any part of Central America. The British Government, probably actuated by an apprehension that this stipulation might be construed against their claims at Belize, Honduras, instructed Sir H. L. Bulwer to make the declaration of 29th of June, 1850, when the ratifications were to be exchanged, to the effect that they did not understand the engagements of the convention to apply to Belize and its dependencies. In a note to Sir Henry of the 4th of July, 1850, Mr. Clayton acknowledged that it was not the purpose of the convention to apply to Belize and its dependencies.

A similar acknowledgment is contained in a memorandum of the 5th of July, 1850, signed by Mr. Clayton, which says that he at the same time declined to affirm or deny the British title in their settlement or its alleged dependencies. Among the latter what are called the Bay Islands were claimed to belong. The British Government, however, having converted them into a separate colony, this and the continuance of its protectorate, so called, over the Mosquito Indians, were regarded as virtually such breaches of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty as to call for the remonstrances which Mr. Buchanan, and subsequently Mr. Dallas, were instructed to address, and which they did address, to that Government. The answer of that Government was in substance that the Clayton-Bulwer treaty was merely designed to provide for the future, and was not intended to affect any rights or claims which Great Britain may have had in Central America at the time of its conclusion. This pretension was effectually answered by Mr. Buchanan in his reply to Lord Clarendon's memorandum on the subject, which you will find on the file or record of your legation. Ultimately, on the 17th of October, 1856, what is called the Dallas-Clarendon treaty was signed at London. The object of this instrument was to compose the differences between the two Governments, especially in regard to the Bay Islands and the Mosquito protectorate. When the treaty reached here it must have been obvious to the Executive, that if it accomplished either of those purposes, this was in an incomplete and unacceptable way. Still the treaty was laid before the Senate, which body, though it did not absolutely reject it, appended to it so many and such important amendments that they were not accepted by the British Government, and the whole business proved abortive.

The British Government then sought negotiations with Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras, separately, to attain the principal objects which it hoped to compass by means of the Dallas-Clarendon treaty, if it had gone into effect as it was signed.

The purposes of that Government were in the main accomplished. On the 28th of January, 1860, a treaty between Great Britain and Nicaragua was signed at Managua. Though this instrument restored to that Republic the nominal sovereignty over that part of its territory which had previously been claimed as belonging to the kingdom of the Mosquitos, it assigned boundaries to the Mosquito Reservation probably beyond the limits which any member of that tribe had ever seen, even when in chase of wild

Washington, April 26, 1873.

animals. Worst of all, however, it confirmed the grants of land previously made in Mosquito territory. The similar stipulation on this subject in the Dallas-Clarendon treaty was perhaps the most objectionable of any, as it violated the cardinal rule of all European colonists in America, including Great Britain herself, that the aborigines had no title to the soil which they could confer upon individuals.

This rule has repeatedly been confirmed by judicial decisions, and especially by the Supreme Court of the United States. It is supposed to be superfluous to add that it is understood the grantees of the Mosquito chief, respecting whose interests the British Government was so solicitous, were the subjects of the latter.

It is supposed that the expedition of Walker to Nicaragua made such an unfavorable impression on public opinion there, in respect to this country, as to prepare the way for the treaty with Great Britain. A rumor was curient in that quarter, and was by many believed to be true, that Walker was an agent of this Government, which, it was supposed, had covertly sent him thither to obtain control of the country. This, however, was so far from the truth that everything within its power was done by this Government towards preventing the departure of Walker.

Besides the treaty with Nicaragua, just adverted to, there was a treaty between Great Britain and Honduras, signed on the 28th November, 1859, the main object of which was the restitution to the latter of the Bay Islands, which had for some time before been converted into a British colony.

This treaty also contained stipulations in regard to Mosquito Indians in Honduras territory similar to that in the treaty with Nicaragua.

On the 30th of April, 1859, a treaty between Great Britain and Guatemala was also signed, by which the boundaries of the British settlement at Belize, so-called, were extended to the Sarstoon River. This instrument contained provisions for the appointment of commissioners to mark the boundaries, and for the construction of a road from Guatemala to the fittest place on the Atlantic coast near Belize. By a supplementary convention between the parties, of the 5th of August, 1863, Great Britain agreed, upon certain conditions, to contribute fifty thousand pounds sterling towards the construction of the road referred to.

From the note of the 4th of December last, addressed to this Department by M. Dardon, the minister of Guatemala here, a copy of which is inclosed, it appears that when the joint commission for running the boundary line reached the Sarstoon River the British commissioner, finding that his countrymen were trespassing beyond that limit, refused to proceed, and the stipulation on the subject, if not virtually canceled, has, at least, been suspended.

The supplementary convention not having been ratified by Guatemala in season, it is stated that the British Government has notified that of Guatemala that it would regard the stipulation on the subject of the road contained in the treaty of 1859 as at an end.

Other important information on these subjects is contained in the letter and its accompaniments of Mr. Henry Savage, to this Department of the 16th of October last, a copy of which is inclosed. He is a native of this country and at one time was consul at Guatemala.

He has frequently, in the absence of a diplomatic agent of the United States in that quarter, furnished this Department with valuable information in regard to Central American affairs.

Mr. Dardon says that his Government also regards its treaty of 1859 with Great Britsin at an end, and requests on its behalf the co-operation and support of this Government toward preventing further encroachments by British subjects on the territory of Guatemala. It is believed that if such encroachments are authorized or countenanced by that Government it will be tantamount to a breach of its engagement not to occupy any part of Central America. Before, however, officially mentioning the subject to Earl Granville, it would be advisable to ascertain the correctness of the representation of Mr. Dardon, as to the cause of the discontinuance of the demarkation of the boundary.

If the statement of that gentleman should prove to be correct, you will then formally remonstrate against any trespass by British subjects, with the connivance of their Government, upon the territory of Guatemala, as an infringement of the ClaytonBulwer treaty, which will be very unacceptable in this country.

I am, &c.,


In 1867 a treaty was executed and ratified between the United States and Nicaragua, the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th articles of which relate to an interoceanic canal, and copies of the same are hereto attached (inclosure 10).

Negotiations with Nicaragua upon this subject were again opened be-· tween Mr. Fish and Señor Cardenas, in 1877, the correspondence in ref4909 CONG


erence to which was forwarded with a confidential circular by the Secretary of State to the United States ministers abroad, and they are submitted herewith (inclosure No. 11).

In further connection with the relations of the United States and the Central American States in reference to interoceanic communication, it is only necessary to ask your attention to the XIV article of the treaty of 1864, between the United States and Honduras (inclosure 12).

I would also call your attention to a correspondence which has not been incorporated in the foregoing summary, because it was not part of those negotiations, the current history of which I have briefly stated. Its importance, however, as an indication of the general views of the Governments of the United States and Great Britain upon the subject of interoceanic connection entitles it to consideration (inclosure 13).

It will be observed from the whole tenor of the correspondence of this Government with the Central American States, and with the United States of Colombia, on the subject of interoceanic transit by railroad or caual, that the United States has constantly and earnestly desired to stimulate and assist these States in the opening of such routes of commerce through their respective territories. The treaties that have been made with these States, as well as those more vigorous and efficient ones which have been attempted but have failed of consummation, have all shown a fixed policy of this Government to corroborate the inadequate resources of these States by the security to capital and to commerce which the effective guaranty of the power and faith of this country, in support of these routes, was calculated to give.

The purpose of this Government that the benefits of the routes to be opened should be shared upon equal terms and with equal security by the commerce of the world has been equally evident and uniform. Its own relations to the enterprises projected have never been pressed beyond the measure of control commensurate with the responsibilities and burdens which the recognized exigencies of the situation required it to assume.

The paramount interest of the United States in these projects of interoceanic communication across the American Isthmus has seemed quite as indisputable to the European powers as to the States of this continent. The course of their action and correspondence, so far as they have treated the subject, exhibits a clear appreciation of the public and general motives which had marked, and might be trusted to continue to mark, any dealing by this Government with these great interests of commerce and civilization in the Western hemisphere. cordingly they have shown no disposition to take part in any political arrangements of this American question, except in accord with the United States, and upon an evident desire of this Government that they should do so.


Hitherto no movement of private capital, either at home or in the European markets, has shown any tendency to embrace the opportunities which the diplomatic efforts of this Government had opened to interoceanic traffic, except in the instance of the Panama Railroad Company, a domestic corporation, which, under the shelter of our treaty with Colombia, has established and maintained, with the greatest advantages to commerce, its route for freight and travel across the Isthmus of Panama. The ownership of this route by a domestic corporation, the moderate capital invested in it, and its character and structure as a railroad, have imposed no very onerous responsibilities upon this Government in the observance of its stipulated obligations under the treaty with Colombia. The instances in which our intervention has been asked, and those in

which it has been given, in connection with the Panama Railroad traffic, in pursuance of this treaty, have been brought to notice in the preceding narrative.

The recent contract or concession made by the Government of Colombia with an association of foreign projectors, the text of which is herewith annexed (inclosure No. 5), brings to attention some considerations of more or less practical importance, according as we may estimate the feasibility of the project and the financial prospects of the projectors. It does, however, present an occasion for a deliberate indication by the Government of the United States of its relations to enterprises of this nature, both in its position as an American power, and under its specific treaty rights and obligations towards the United States of Colombia.

In the mere aspect of a contribution of capital, in the motive of profit to the investors, on the one part, and of a proprietary administration by Colombia of the transit through its territory as a source of legitimate revenue and local prosperity, the proposed canal might seem to fall within the ordinary conditions of pecuniary enterprise and internal development, which the general interests of commerce favor, and which it. has been the policy of this Government to stimulate and assist.

But this view of the subject is quite too narrow and too superficial. It overlooks the direct relations of the other American nations to the contemplated change in the route of water-borne commerce, and the indirect but equally weighty considerations by which the relations of the American nations to the great powers of Europe will be modified by this change. It does not penetrate the formal character of the contract as between private capital and local administration, and appreciate its real and far-reaching operation upon the commercial and political interests of the American continent.

The United States, therefore, as the great commercial and political power of America, becomes, necessarily, a principal party to any project which shall exhibit such solidity and proportions as to distinguish it from the unsubstantial and illusory schemes which have from time to time proposed to solve the problem of interoceanic transit. The question involved presents itself distinctly to this Governmentas a territorial one, in the administration of which, as such, it must exercise a potential control.

While this attitude of the United States to the political and commercial problem of an interoceanic canal, at whatever point, would seem to attach to their position on the continent, the particular rights and obligations in reference to any transit across the Isthmus of Panama, which grow out of the mutual engagements of the treaty with Colombia, fix more definitely the interest of this Government in any material changes of that Isthmus as the theater of these rights and obligations.

It is manifest that so stupendous a change from the natural configuration of this hemisphere as transforms the Isthmus of Panama from being a barrier between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans into a gateway and thoroughfare between them for the navies and merchant ships of the world, bears directly upon the weight and burden of our guarantees under that treaty. It is equally manifest, and only less important, that the organization and nationality of an immense capital and the administration of a great and growing force of managers and laborers, and the throng of population likely to attend the prosperity of the enter prise, affect essentially the conditions under which the United States may be called upon to perform the engagements of that treaty. The guarantee of the neutrality of the transit and of the sovereignty and

property of Colombia in the Isthmuth are one thing while the Isthmus remains in its natural and unpeopled state, and quite another when it shall have been opened to the interests, the cupidities, and the ambitions of the great commercial nations, and occupied by populations of foreign allegiance and discordant habits.

So obvious are these propositions that it may well be assumed that no contract or negotiations could ever be entered into between private projectors and the Government of Colombia except in contemplation of this position of the United States under the treaty, and of the necessity that both the private interests and the public engagements involved, in reliance upon the power and faith of this Government for their protection, must be conformed to its rightful participation and control in any arrangements that may seriously affect the discharge of its stipulated responsibilities.


List of accompanying papers.

No. 1. Mr. Marcy to Messrs, Morse and Bowlin. No. 28, December 3, 1856, with accompaniments.

No. 2. Mr. Seward to Mr. Sullivan.

No. 3. Convention with Colombia of January 14, 1869, being confidential Ex. Doc. L. L., Sen., 40th Cong., 3d session.

No. 4. Convention with Colombia of January 26, 1870, being confidential Ex. Doc. Q., Sen., 41st Cong., 3d session; and confidential Ex. Doc. E., Sen., 41st Cong., 3d session.

No. 5. Concession from Colombia to Lucien N. B. Wyse, March 20, 1878, with decre of May, 1878, modifying the concession.

No. 6. Convention between the United States and Nicaragua of June 21, 1849. No. 7. Convention between the United States and Great Britain, April 19, 1850. No. 8. Proposed basis of an arrangement for settling Central American affairs, April 30, 1852.

No. 9. Convention between the United States and Nicaragua, November 16, 1857; and
Mr. Cass to Lord Napier, April 6, 1858.
Same to same, November 8, 1858.

Mr. Cass to Mr. Dimitry, September 22, 1859.
Mr. Cass to Mr. Clarke, October 1, 1859.

Same to same, February 18, 1860.

Lord Napier to Earl Malmesbury, April 4, 1859.

Earl Malmesbury to Sir W. G. Ouseley, April 30, 1859.

Lord Lyons to Earl Malmesbury. May 10, 1859.
Same to same, May 30, 1859.

Same to same, May 30, 1859.

Earl Malmesbury to Lord Lyons, June 16, 1859.
Lord Lyons to Earl Malmesbury, July 5, 1859.
Lord J. Russell to Mr. Wyke, August 15, 1859.

No. 10. Articles 14-19 of treaty between the United States and Nicaragua, June 21, 1867.

No. 11. Mr. Fish to United States ministers, February 28, 1877, with correspondence between Mr. Fish and Mr. Cardenas.

No. 12. Article 14 of treaty between the United States and Honduras, July 14, 1864. No. 13. Correspondence between Mr. Cass and Lord Napier as follows:

Lord Napier to Mr. Cass, May 31, 1857.

Same to same, August 24, 1857.

Mr. Cass to Lord Napier, September 10, 1857.

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