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Mr. Clay and Mr. Adams were far-sighted statesmen, but unfortunately they struck against the rock of African slavery. One of the questions proposed for discussion in the conference was "The consideration of the means to be adopted for the entire abolition of the African slave trade," to which proposition the committee of the United States Senate of that day replied, "The United States have not certainly the right, and ought never to feel the inclination, to dictate to others who may differ with them upon this subject, nor do the committee see the expediency of insulting other states, with whom we are maintaining relations of perfect amity, by ascending the moral chair, and proclaiming from thence mere abstract principles, of the rectitude of which each nation enjoys the perfect right of deciding for itself." The same committee also alluded to the possibility that the condition of the islands of Cuba and Porto Rico, still the possessions of Spain, and still slaveholding, might be made the subject of discussion and of contemplated action by the Panama congress. "If ever the United States [they said] permit themselves to be associated with these nations in any general congress assembled for the discussion of common plans in any way affecting European interests, they will, by such act, not only deprive themselves of the ability they now possess of rendering useful assistance to the other American states, but also produce other effects prejudicial to their own interests."
Thus the necessity at that day of preserving the great interest of the Southern States in African slavery, and of preventing a change in the character of labor in the islands of Cuba and Porto Rico, lost to the United States the opportunity of giving a permanent direction to the political and commercial connections of the newly enfranchised SpanishAmerican states, and their trade passed into hands unfriendly to the United States, and has remained there ever since.
Events, subsequent to that date, have tended to place us in a position to retrieve our mistakes; among which events may be particularly named the suppression of the rebellion, the manifestation of our undeveloped and unexpected military power, the retirement of the French from Mexico, and the abolition of slavery in the United States.
There is good reason to believe that the latter fact has had an important influence in our favor in Spanish America. It has caused us to be regarded there with more sympathetic as well as more respectful consideration. It has relieved those republics from the fear of filibusterism which had been formerly incited against Central America and Mexico in the interest of slave extension; and it has produced an impression of the stability of our institutions and of our public strength sufficient to dissipate the fears of our friends or the hopes of those who wish us ill.
Thus there exists in the Spanish-American republics confidence toward the United States. On our side they find a feeling of cordial amity and friendship, and a desire to cultivate and develop our common interests on this continent. With some of these states our relations are more intimate than with others, either by reason of closer similarity of constitutional forms, of greater commercial intercourse, of proximity in fact, or of the construction or contemplated construction of lines of transit for our trade and commerce between the Atlantic and the Pacific. With several of them we have peculiar treaty relations. The treaty of 1846 between the United States and New Grenada contains stipulations of guaranty for the neutrality of that part of the Isthmus within the present territory of Colombia, and for the protection of the rights of sovereignty and property therein belonging to Colombia. Similar stip
S. Ex. 194—11
ulations appear in the treaty of 1867 with Nicaragua, and of July, 1864, with Honduras. Those treaties (like the treaty of alliance made with France in 1778 by Dr. Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee) constitute pro tanto a true protective alliance between the United States and each of those republics. Provisions of like effect appear in the treaty of April 19, 1850, between Great Britain and the United States.
65.-Mr. Fish to General Schenck.
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 ship canal 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 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.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
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 ClaytonBulwer 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, a treaty which is called the Dallas-Clarendon treaty was signed at London. The ob
ject 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, it 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 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 current 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, 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. 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 Britain at an end, and requests on its behalf the co-operation and support of this government towards 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 Clayton-Bulwer treaty which will be very unacceptable in this country.
I am, &c.,
66.-Message of President Hayes to Congress, March 8, 1880.
The policy of this country is a canal under American control. The United States cannot consent to the surrender of this control to any European power, or to any combination of European powers. If existing treaties between the United States and other nations, or if the rights of sovereignty or property of other nations stand in the way of this policy-a contingency which is not apprehended-suitable steps should be taken by just and liberal nogotiations to promote and estab lish the American policy on this subject, consistently with the rights of the nations to be affected by it.
The capital invested by corporations or citizens of other countries in such an enterprise must, in a great degree, look for protection to one or more of the great powers of the world. No European power can intervene for such protection, without adopting measures on this continent which the United States would deem wholly inadmissible. If the protection of the United States is relied upon, the United States must ex
ercise such control as will enable this country to protect its national interests and maintain the rights of those whose private capital is embarked in the work.
An interoceanic canal across the American Isthmus will essentially change the geographical relations between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States, and between the United States and the rest of the world. It will be the great ocean thoroughfare between our Atlantic and our Pacific shores, and virtually a part of the coast line of the United States. Our merely commercial interest in it is greater than that of all other countries, while its relations to our power and prosperity as a nation, to our means of defense, our unity, peace, and safety, are matters of paramount concern to the people of the United States. No other great power would, under similar circumstances, fail to assert a rightful control over a work so closely and vitally affecting its interest and welfare.
Without urging further the grounds of my opinion, I repeat, in conclusion, that it is the right and the duty of the United States to assert and maintain such supervision and authority over any interoceanic canal across the isthmus that connects North and South America as will protect our national interests. This I am quite sure will be found not only compatible with, but promotive of, the widest and most permanent advantage to commerce and civilization.
67.-Extract from the report of Mr. Evarts, Secretary of State, accompanying President Hayes's message (No. 66) and the Wyse concession for the Panama Canal, which it inclosed.
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