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Britannic Majesty." It is further understood that when the commissioners met to mark the boundary in accordance with the agreement, it was found that the subjects of Great Britain had occupied so much more of Guatemala than was supposed that the commissioner on the part of Her Majesty's Government refused to proceed, and this large area of land has since remained practically in the possession of Great Britain.
The United States have never given their assent to this conversion of the British "settlement" in Central America under Spanish-American sovereignty into a British "possession" with British sovereignty. There is a vast difference between a settlement subject to the sovereignty of the Central-American republic and a colony controlled by Great Britain.
Under the treaty of 1850, while it is binding, the United States have not the right to exercise dominion over or to colonize one foot of territory in Central America. Great Britain is under the same rigid restriction. And if Great Britain has violated and continues to violate that provision, the treaty is, of course, voidable at the pleasure of the United States.
Again, it is well known that the parties to the Clayton Bulwer treaty anticipated that a canal by the Nicaragua route was to be at once commenced. Under the assumption of a protectorate of Mosquito, British authority was at that time in actual and visible occupation of one end of the Nicaragua route, whether with or without title is not now material, and it was intended by this treaty to dispossess Great Britain of this occupation. This object was accomplished in 1859 and 1860 by treaties between Great Britain, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, referred to in Lord Granville's dispatch of January 14, 1882. It was to this adjustment, which was one of the prime objects of the treaty, and not to the colonization of British Honduras that Mr. Buchanan in his message of December 3, 1860, alludes as "an amicable and honorable adjustment of dangerous questions arising from the Clayton-Bulwer treaty."
When the Clayton-Bulwer treaty was concluded it was contemplated that the Nicaragua Canal, to which the treaty principally had relation, would be at once commenced and finished with all possible speed by American and British capital under the impulse of the joint protectorate. This appears not only from the context of the treaty, but also from the history of the negotiations which led to the treaty, and the relations which then existed between this government and the Central American states.
On December 12, 1846, New Grenada, by a treaty of commerce, in consideration of certain guarantees, made the United States valuable grants relating to the Panama route, to which your attention will be directed when we consider the rights of this Republic in relation to the Panama route.
The discovery of gold in California soon made it important to find some rapid way of reaching it. Notwithstanding the progress of the Panama Railroad scheme, public feeling was running strongly in favor of a ship-canal large enough to accomodate ocean steamships. Influenced by this strong feeling the minister of the United States in Nicaragua, without instructions, negotiated a treaty with that republic, which conferred upon certain citizens of the United States the valuable right to construct a ship-canal from San Juan on the Atlantic coast to the Pacific. Nicaragua claimed sovereignty over the whole of the line of the proposed canal, while Great Britain, as I have shown, claimed sovereignity over a portion of it occupied by the Mosquito Indians.
At the time of the concession by Nicaragua it would have been impossible to procure in the United States the capital necessary for the construction of a ship-canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Hence it was that, when Mr. Clayton learned of the concession, he at once informed Mr. Crampton, the British minister, saying that the United States did not propose to avail themselves exclusively of these privileges, but wished a canal constructed, and that the claim of Great Britain on behalf of the Mosquito Indians, which the United States could not admit, stood in the way. The Government of the United States, Mr. Clayton said, was persuaded that
These considerations, if fairly laid before Her Majesty's Government, would induce Her Majesty's Government to make such an arrangement with regard to the Mosquito Indians as would prevent its being an obstacle to the design in question.
President Taylor was present at the interview, and "cordially concurred." Mr. Crampton reported the conversation to Lord Palmerston the 1st October, and on the 15th of the same month transmitted to him a copy of the concession by Nicaragua to the American company. The 22d November Mr. Abbott Lawrence officially informed Lord Palmerston that an American company, aided by the subscription of a large amount of British capital, had begun to construct the Panama Railroad, and had completed the contracts for iron for it. He transmitted to Lord Palmerston a copy of the guaranty in the treaty of 1846 with New S. Ex. 194- -2
Grenada, and invited Great Britain to join in the guaranty. In the same note he acquainted Her Majesty's Government with the concession from Nicaragua to the American canal company, and said that the conflicting claims as to Mosquito threw an obstacle in the way of the work, and invited a conversation on the subject. It seems that several conversations were had, since on the 14th of the following December Mr. Lawrence addressed a formal note to Lord Palmerston, in which, after referring to them and again setting forth the concessions for the Panama Railroad and the Nicaragua Canal, and stating that the United States had "disclaimed all intention to settle, annex, colonize, or fortify the territory of Central America, which declaration had been met by a similar disclaimer on the part of Great Britain," and also that Her Majesty's Government "had intimated their willingness to join with the United States in their guaranty of neutrality," he asked in substance, 1st. Whether Great Britain would enter into a treaty with Nicaragua. similar to that negotiated by the United States? 2d. Whether Great Britain would enter into a treaty with New Grenada guaranteeing the neutrality of the railway then under construction. 3d. Whether the obstruction of the Mosquito protectorate would be removed? This note was never answered formally in London, but negotiations were transferred to Washington.
Meantime, and in the autumn of 1849, Sir Henry Bulwer had succeeded Mr. Crampton in Washington, and, soon after his arrival, commenced negotiations with Mr. Clayton for a treaty for the protection of a canal.
On the 6th of January, 1850, Sir Henry Bulwer wrote to Lord Palmerston, saying:
Your lordship is aware that the main interest of the United States in this matter has arisen from its newly acquired possession in the Pacific, and the project of an American company to form a water communication between the two oceans, passing through the lake of Nicaragua and the River San Juan; this company having obtained from the state of Nicaragua the use of its lakes and territory for this purpose, and the use also of the river San Juan, to which Nicaragua lays claim. * But it so happens
that while it is very difficult, not to say impossible, for Her Majesty's Government to listen to those claims of Nicaragua, our decision with respect to which has been already openly taken, there is no difficulty, I believe, whatsoever in Her Majesty's Government assisting the United States in its general views with respect to that water communication across Central America, which Great Britain must be almost as desirous as the United States to see established. I am disposed to think that the best way of doing this is by a convention between Great Britain and the United States.
* * *
Negotiations conducted on this basis progressed so rapidly that on the 3d February, 1850, Sir Henry Bulwer was able to transmit for Lord Palmerston's criticism the full project of a treaty. Extracts from the
covering dispatch fully explain what the treaty was intended to ac. complish:
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The State of Nicaragua made to an American company, formed for the construction of such a canal, the grant, accompanied by various favors and privileges, of all such portion of the territory claimed by it as the said company require. It was, however, impossible for the contemplated scheme to be executed under any grant from the State of Nicaragua as long as the mouth of the San Juan River was in the hands of another people protected by Great Britain. Both the American company, to which I have alluded, and the American Government, have latterly manifested an earnest desire to have it clearly understood that they will modify all that portion of their original engagement with Nicaragua which secures any advantages to one State. which another may not equally enjoy; and if such be the spirit which is to preside over the vast project under consideration, Great Britain has not only no interest in preventing its success, but every interest in forwarding its completion and providing for its security. * It is with such views that the inclosed convention has been drawn up, its object being to exclude all question of the disputes between Nicaragua and the Mosquitos; but to settle in fact all that it was essential to settle with regard to these disputes as far as the ship communication between the Atlantic and Pacific and the navigation of the river San Juan were concerned.
The project, which was inclosed in this dispatch, was, in the substance of its provisions and in most of its language, identical with the treaty subsequently concluded, with one marked exception. In the project, Article VII stopped with the general provision to give encouragement and support to the first parties offering to commence the work with the necessary capital. In the subsequent negotiations the following words were added to that article, and form part of Article VII of the executed treaty:
And if any persons or company should already have, with any State through which the proposed ship-canal may pass, a contract for the construction of such a canal as that specified in this convention, to the stipulations of which contract neither of the contracting parties in this convention have any just cause to object, and the said persons or company shall, moreover, have made preparations and expended time, money and trouble on the faith of such contract, it is hereby agreed that such persons or company shall have a priority of claim over every other person, persons, or company to the protection of the Governments of the United States and Great Britain, and be allowed a year from the date of the exchange of the ratifications of this convention for concluding their arrangements and presenting evidence of sufficient capital subscribed to accomplish the contemplated undertaking; it being understood that if at the expiration of the aforesaid period such persons or company be not able to commence and carry out the proposed enterprise, then the Governments of the United States and Great Britain shall be free to afford their protection to any other persons or company that shall be prepared to commence and proceed with the construction of the canal in question.
The Clayton-Bulwer treaty was concluded on the 19th of the follow ing April, and I think it will not be denied that the object which President Taylor, Mr. Clayton, Sir Henry Bulwer, and Lord Palmerston had in view in making it was primarily and mainly this: To insure at the earliest possible moment the completion of the particular ship-canal for
which a concession had been made by Nicaragua to citizens of the United States on the 29th August, 1849. All the interviews of which accounts remain, and all the correspondence relate to this particular canal and to no other. As if to make assurance doubly sure, the project of a treaty which Sir Henry Bulwer sent to Lord Palmerston the 3d of February being found doubtful or insufficient in this respect, was so amended between that time and the 19th April as to make it practically certain that that grant would be accepted by both governments as the one covered by the treaty.
It was to this particular canal that were to be applied all the provisions of the first article in the treaty relating to the fortification of the canal, the control over it, and exclusive advantage in it; of the second article, relating to blockade, detention or capture; of the third and fourth articles, relating to protection during construction and to free ports; of the fifth article, in regard to a guaranty of neutrality; of the sixth article, with regard to treaties with other States, and the use of the good offices of the high contracting parties; and of the seventh article, as already noticed; but if under the provisions of the seventh article the claims of the holders of this particular concession should be set aside, then each government reserved to itself the right to determine whether its interests required it to afford protection to the holders of any other concession.
The two governments did, however, subsequently come to a harmonious agreement with regard to the grant by Nicaragua, the one contemplated by the treaty.
The company was organized, and Colonel Childs, who had been chief engineer of the canals of the State of New York, was sent to Nicaragua to make a survey. He arrived there in August, 1850, and in 1852 his report was received, printed, and laid before the Secretary of War by direction of the President, who detailed Colonel Abert and LieutenantColonel Turnbull, of the United States Army, to examine it and give their opinions upon it. They approved the report on the 20th March, 1852.
On the 16th June, in the same year, Mr. Lawrence informed Lord Malmesbury of these facts, and requested Her Majesty's Government to appoint engineers of skill and experience to examine it on the part of that government.
Mr. Lawrence was on the 30th July informed that an officer of the royal engineers and an eminent civil engineer had been appointed for that