Page images

however, that in regard to the views lately expressed by Her Majesty's Government in the course of recent negotiations, in consideration of the necessity of obtaining a suitable treaty with Nicaragua, and for the purpose of placing themselves in harmony with the course pursued by the United States, Her Majesty's Government might, on this head, accede to an article which would practically restrict their protectorate in Mosquitia, and prevent the importation of any interference on their part with the territory traversed by the river, and, therefore, by the transit route.

Finally, I suggested that Article III of the treaty should simply declare the provisions of the treaty of 1850 to be void and of no effect. I added that the question of future territorial acquisition in Central America would thus be thrown open to the United States; that Her Majesty's Government, on the other hand, would retain the colony of Honduras in the proportions which might be given to it by treaty arrangements with Guatemala, and that the Bay Islands would remain attached to the British Crown. Indeed, I affirmed, still as a personal opinion, but of the most positive character, that in case of the dissolution of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, the Bay Islands would not be relinquished by Her Majesty's Government. I felt bound to make this statement, having observed in some quarters an impression that Her Majesty's Government might be disposed not only to annul the treaty, thus opening a path for the eventual annexation of the isthmus to the Federal Union, but to give up the Bay Islands as well; a notion altogether unfounded in any intimation which has hitherto reached me from the Foreign Office, and which could not be reconciled, in my opinion, to the interests of England.

Lord Napier adds that he was most careful to remark throughout that the opinions he enunciated with reference to the treaty were exclusively his own.

Mr. Blaine gives only a very short extract from Lord Malmesbury's dispatch in reply of the 8th April, 1858. It will be desirable to quote it more at length. Lord Malmesbury says:

Her Majesty's Government, if the initiative is still left to them by the unwillingness of the United States themselves to propose abrogation, desire to retain full liberty as to the manner and form in which any such proposal shall be laid on their behalf before the Cabinet at Washington; but without pronouncing any decided opinion at the present moment, I think it right to point out to your lordship that the effect of such an article as that suggested in your dispatch, as the second, might be to perpetuate an entanglement with the government of the United States, and to place that government in a position to question or control the free action of Her Majesty's Government in everything that relates to Central America. The Clayton-Bulwer treaty has been a source of unceasing embarrassment to this country, and Her Majesty's Government, if they should be so fortunate as to extricate themselves from the difficulties which have resulted from it, will not involve themselves, directly or indirectly, in any similar difficulties for the future.

Her Majesty's Government would have no objection to enter with the United States into a self-denying engagement such as that suggested in your first article, by which both parties should renounce all exclusive advantage in the use of any of the interoceanic routes, and should bind themselves, each to the other, not to interfere with free transit. Such an article would be a suitable substitute for the ClaytonBulwer treaty, for it would secure, as regards the contracting parties, the avowed object of that treaty-the freedom of interoceanic communication.

But beyond this Her Majesty's Government, as at present advised, are not prepared to contract any engagement as a substitute for the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, and from the abrogation of that compact, if it should take place, they will hold themselves as free to act in regard to Central America in the manner most conducive to the advancement of British interests and the fulfillment of British obligations as if the treaty had never been concluded.

Your lordship was, therefore, perfectly right in using decided language such as that reported in your dispatch respecting the Bay Islands; and whenever the subject of the abrogation of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty is mooted in your presence, you will make it perfectly clear to the Government of the United States that to abrogate the treaty is to return to the status quo ante its conclusion in 1850; that Her Majesty's Government have no kind of jealousy respecting American colonization in Central America, which, indeed, it would help to civilize; and that we neither ask nor wish for any exclusive privileges whatever in those regions.

These, then, were the terms upon which Her Majesty's Government were alone prepared, if at all, to consider the abrogation of the ClaytonBulwer treaty. And such an alternative was deprecated by General Cass in a note to Lord Napier of the 6th April, 1858, in which, while

declining the proposal of arbitration on the disputed points of the treaty, he alluded to a personal expression of opinion he had given in favor of an unconditional renunciation of the treaty, and called attention to the serious consequences which might result from its dissolution if no provision were made at the same time for adjusting the questions which led to it. He then concluded with the passage quoted by Mr. Blaine, to the effect that "if the President does not hasten to consider now the alternative of repealing the treaty of 1850 it is because he does not wish prematurely to anticipate the failure of Sir William Ouseley's mission, and is disposed to give a new proof to Her Majesty's Government of his sincere desire to preserve the amicable relations which now happily subsist between the two countries."

But subsequent events make it unnecessary to dwell further upon this part of the discussion, for the question was settled by the practical accomplishment of that which the United States Government regarded as the most satisfactory conclusion.

It is here that the extracts and account of the negotiation given by Mr. Blaine come to an end at a point when the most important episode commences. The continuation of the correspondence shows that on the 30th April, 1859, a treaty was concluded between Great Britain and Guatemala for the settlement of the question of the boundary of Belize; that on the 28th November, 1859, another treaty was concluded between this country and Honduras for the transfer of the Bay Islands to that republic, as well as for the settlement of other questions relating to the Mosquito Indians and the claims of British subjects, including the withdrawal of the British protectorate, and that on the 28th January, 1860, a third treaty was concluded between this country and Nicaragua, also with reference to the Mosquito Indians and the claims of British subjects.

Copies of these three treaties were officially communicated to the United States Government, with the expression of a hope on the part of Her Majesty's Government that they would "finally set at rest the questions respecting the interpretation of the Clayton Bulwer treaty, which had been the subject of so much controversy between this country and the United States."

And in his message to Congress of the 3d December, 1860, President Buchanan says the dangerous questions arising from the ClaytonBulwer treaty "have been amicably and honorably adjusted. The discordant constructions of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty between the two governments, which at different periods of the discussion bore a threatening aspect, have resulted in a final settlement entirely satisfactory to this government."

I have been forced to give the above extracts at considerable length, and I refrain from adding other passages which would tend to illustrate and confirm them. A perusal of them, however, will, I think, suffice to show

1. That the differences which arose between the two governments in regard to the treaty, and which occasioned at one time considerable irritation, but which have long since been happily disposed of, did not relate to the general principles to be observed in regard to the means of interoceanic communication across the isthmus, but had their origin in a stipulation which Mr. Blaine still proposes in great part to maintain. He wishes every part of the treaty in which Great Britain and the United States agree to make no acquisition of territory in Central America to remain in full force, while he desires to cancel those portions of the treaty which forbid the United States fortifying the canal and

holding the political control of it in conjunction with the country in which it is located.

2. That the declarations of the United States Government during the controversy were distinctly at variance with any such proposal as that just stated. They disclaimed any desire to obtain an exclusive or preferential control over the canal. Their sole contention was that Great Britain was bound by the treaty to abandon those positions on the mainland or adjacent islands which in their opinion, were calculated to give her the means of such a control. Nor did they in any way seek to limit the application of the principles laid down in the treaty so as to exclude Colombia nor Mexican territory, as Mr. Blaine now suggests, nor urge that such application would be inconsistent with the convention between the United States and New Granada of 1846. On the contrary, they were ready to give those principles their full extension.

3. That at a time when the British Government had been induced by the long continuance of the controversy to contemplate the abrogation of the treaty, they were only willing to do so on the condition of reverting to the status quo ante its conclusion in 1850; a solution which was at that time possible, though, as the United States Government justly pointed out, it would have been fraught with great danger to the good relations between the two countries, but which is now rendered impossible by the subsequent events.

4. That a better and more conciliatory conclusion, which for twenty years has remained undisputed, was effected by the independent and voluntary action of Great Britain. The points in dispute were practically conceded by this country, and the controversy terminated in a manner which was declared by President Buchanan to be amicable and honorable, resulting in a final settlement entirely satisfactory to the Government of the United States.

You are authorized to read this dispatch to the United States Secretary of State, and to offer him a copy of it if he should desire, in the same manner in which a copy of Mr. Blaine's dispatch was offered to me.

I have, &c.,

The Hon. L. S. S. WEST.


No. 376.]

76.-Mr. Lowell to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

London, June 1, 1882. (Received June 13.)

SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the reception of your instruction No. 368, of the 8th of May last, stating the position of the Government of the United States in relation to questions growing out of the (so-called) Clayton-Bulwer treaty. It arrived on the 27th ultimo, when the members of the government were leaving town for the Whitsuntide holidays. I have had no opportunity of seeing Lord Granville until yesterday, when I had an interview with him, by appointment, at the foreign office. I read the dispatch to him and left a copy of it with him, at his request, agreeably to your directions. I have already informed you of this by cable.

I have, &c.,


« PreviousContinue »