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which that state may hereafter be engaged for the protection of tha territory.
To the whole of this treaty, as well as to the "absurd stipulation which he had just read, Mr. Clayton said that it was scarcely necessary to remark that he was entirely opposed. His views and wishes with respect to the construction of a canal across the isthmus by way of Nicaragua were, he observed, known to me, and had been, as I was aware, communicated by his direction to Her Majesty's Government; these would, he trusted have convinced your lordship that the Government of the United States have no views of exclusive advantage to themselves in this matter. He felt most anxious that the signature of the present treaty by Mr. Hise should not produce a contrary impression in any quarter; and with this view he proceeded to read to me a portion of the instructions which have been given to Mr. Squier, who has been lately sent as United States chargé d'affaires to Nicaragua. By these Mr. Squier is directed not only not to negotiate any treaty with that government on the subject of a passage across the isthmus, but not to give his support or countenance to any contract entered into by private citizens of the United States with Nicaragua on that subject, of an exclusive nature, or such as might bring the United States into collision with any other power.
The signature of the present treaty has, Mr. Clayton remarked, placed the Government of the United States in a most embarrassing situation. You know, he said, that the government have no majority in the Senate; you know that the treaty will be called for by Congress; the substance of it, indeed, has already found its way into the newspapers; you are aware of the opinion which, whether right or wrong, is generally entertained in this country of the claim of the Mosquito chief to any part of the territory claimed by Nicaragua; and you can form an idea of eagerness with which the party opposed to the government will avail themselves of the opportunity of either forcing us into collision with Great Britain on this subject, or of making it appear that we have abandoned, through pusillanimity, great and splendid advantages fairly secured to the country by treaty. It will require great caution on both sides, said Mr. Clayton, to prevent the two governments being brought into collision on account of this intrinsically worthless country.
Mr. Clayton concluded by saying that he would immediately send for Mr. Abbott Lawrence, who is now at Boston preparing for his departure for England on the 26th instant, and that he would put him into full possession of the views of the United States Government with regard to this subject. He begged me in the meantime to communicate the substance of what he had said to me to your lordship.
I have, &c.,
Viscount PALMERSTON, G. C. B.
JOHN F. CRAMPTON.
16.-Mr. Crampton to Lord Palmerston.
WASHINGTON, October 1, 1849. (Received October 13.)
Mr. Clayton, nevertheless, yesterday took an opportunity of entering upon the subject with me, with greater earnestness and at greater
length than on any previous occasion; and I am the more anxious to report accurately to your lordship the substance of his remarks, from the circumstance that the President, who happened to come into Mr. Clayton's room upon other business, on being informed of the subject on which we were engaged, waived all ceremony and joined in our conversation with great frankness, and every appearance of a wish to make proof of the most friendly feelings towards Her Majesty's Government, by evincing a disposition to deal with entire openness with regard to the affair in question.
The junction of the two oceans by a canal, Mr. Clayton observed, was an object so important to the whole of the commercial world, that it was matter for surprise that an attempt had not long since been made to effect it. The increase of population on the western coast of this continent had, however, now rendered it certain that such an attempt would ere long be made. The Government of the United States are strongly in favor of such an undertaking; but they are as earnestly opposed to its execution being made a subject for jealousy, by an attempt on the part of any one nation to monopolize to itself either the credit due to such an enterprise, or the advantages to be derived from it when effected. It should, in their view, be rather made a bond of peace and good understanding, by being brought about by a combined effort, and for the general benefit of mankind.
That great applause in certain quarters, and a certain sort of popu larity, might be gained by the government of either of the countries by an attempt to effect this work upon a principle of exclusive advantage, Mr. Clayton observed, there could be no doubt. But the United States Executive disclaimed any such wish, but desired, on the other hand, not to be driven to adopt any measure for obtaining such exclusive advantage. Such popularity or applause would, in their opinion, be dearly bought by the jealousies and misunderstandings between nations which would be the inevitable result; and this it was the study of the United States Government to avert.
The two countries, Mr. Clayton continued, most deeply interested in this work are, there can be no doubt, Great Britain and the United States. Their interest in it, indeed, seemed to him to be identical. Their entire agreement with regard to it was therefore an object of paramount importance.
It was with this feeling, he said, that the United States Government would entirely disapprove of the treaty signed by Mr. Hise with the State of Nicaragua, unless they were driven to adopt it to counteract the exclusive claim of some other country. That treaty both secured exclusive advantage to the United States with regard to the proposed canal which they did not wish, under any circumstances, to possess, and threatened, besides, to bring them into collision with Her Majesty's Government upon the Mosquito question pending between them and the State of Nicaragua.
What the United States Government would now propose, therefore, was this: That the United States should abandon the treaty signed by Mr. Hise; and, instead of ratifying it, should propose, simultaneously with Her Majesty's Government, another treaty to Nicaragua, by which no exclusive advantage should be conferred on any party, and the great object of which should be to guarantee the safety of a company of capitalists, to whom a charter should be granted by Nicaragua on reasonable terms for the execution and maintenance of the work. This company Mr. Clayton would have formed upon no exclusive principle as regards the shareholders, while it should be regulated as regards the
rate of toll to be levied, and on such other points as might appear necessary, by the governments guaranteeing its safety and undisturbed possession. The Government of Nicaragua would of course have no power to levy any other dues than custom duties on articles imported for her own consumption; the transit from ocean to ocean being left free. The sole fact of the existence of such treaties between Great Britain and Nicaragua, and between Nicaragua and the United States, would, in Mr. Clayton's opinion, be quite sufficient to insure the undisturbed execution of the work; but he would propose that every other power which should conclude a similar treaty with Nicaragua, and offer a similar guarantee, should be admitted on equal terms to all the advantages of the canal. It would be by such an arrangement that the character which it ought to possess would be conferred on this great undertaking. These considerations, if fairly laid before Her Majesty's Government, would, the United States Government are persuaded, induce Her Majesty's Government to consent to make such an arrangement with regard to the Mosquito claim as would prevent its being an obstacle to the design in question. The Mosquito claim, if disconnected with the question of a passage across the Isthmus, is not, the United States Government apprehends, one to which any great importance can be attached by Her Majesty's Government; and they cannot perceive that if the object which they think it probable that Her Majesty's Government, in common with themselves, have in view, of preventing an injurious monopoly being established by any one nation in the quarter in question, is obtained, there can be any real difficulty in arranging the question as far as the Mosquito nation is involved in it.
Mr. Clayton then recurred to the embarrassing situation in which the friends of this great enterprise would be placed should Her Majesty's Government continue to oppose the Mosquito claim to the arrangement now proposed. The existence of the treaty signed by Mr. Hise, and the privileges conferred by it on it, by the United States, are, he said, no secrets in this country. The universal feeling would be for its adoption; and a reason for clamoring for its instant ratification would be, that this might defeat what would be represented and believed to be a plan on the part of Great Britain to secure for herself a monopoly of the most eligible passage between the two oceans. The Executive Government of the United States would be without excuse for withholding the treaty from the consideration of the Senate; and it is impossible to doubt, under the influence of the public excitement, which there is already an evident design to rouse with regard to this question, what would be the result. On the other hand, were the administration enabled to submit to Congress an arrangement such as is now proposed, and in which Her Majesty's Government would be in friendly concurrence with the United States Government for this great work, every pretext would be taken away from the most unreasonable, and every chance of future misunderstanding between the two governments avoided. Mr. Clayton considered that this question could never be settled amicably unless both Great Britain and the United States withdrew all claim to the territory of Nicaragua and Costa Rica. If either of the two governments held possession of the country on either side of the canal, it would hold an inadmissible advantage over the other; in a word, said he, let us both abandon all claim to what is called Nicaragua and Costa Rica, and lend the countenance of both governments to the construction of a ship-canal, if it be found to be practicable; if you refuse this offer, we are driven in self-defense to adopt the treaty.
In the whole of these observations General Taylor cordially concurred; the attempts, he remarked, which were making and would be made in many quarters to produce a misunderstanding or a collision between the two governments on this matter were, in his opinion, only to be met by perfect frankness and fair dealing; it was his earnest wish, therefore, that the matter should be laid in this spirit before your lordship, and he expressed an anxious wish that the question might be promptly arranged equally to the honor and advantage of both countries. JOHN F. CRAMPTON. Viscount PALMERSTON, G. C. B.
17.-Mr. Crampton to Lord Palmerston.
WASHINGTON, November 4, 1849.-(Received November 19.) MY LORD: I had the honor of forwarding to your lordship, with my dispatch of the 15th ultimo, the copy of a contract between an American company and the Government of Nicaragua for the formation of an interoceanic canal by way of the River St. John and the Lakes of Nicaragua, which contract was drawn up under the supervision of Mr. Squier, in accordance with the provisions of the treaty which he was engaged in negotiating with the Nicaraguan Government; and I stated that Mr. Clayton, although he approved of the general tenor of the contract, thought that some of the articles were objectionable from being of an exclusive character, particularly those which require that all directors of the company and a majority of the shareholders shall be American citizens.
Mr. Clayton now informs me that he has had a conference with the two principal directors of the company in question; and that, as he anticipated, he finds that no objection will be raised on their part so to modify the provisions of the contract as to remove from it anything of an exclusive nature.
These gentlemen, Mr. Clayton remarked, far from wishing to adopt any regulations which might have the effect of deterring British capitalists from embarking in this great undertaking, are most anxious to secure their co-operation; for the American capitalists are sensible that without such co-operation there would be but small prospect of the ultimate success of the enterprise.
I have, &c.,
Viscount PALMERSTON, G. C. B.
JOHN F. CRAMPTON.
18.-Mr. Abbott Lawrence to Lord Palmerston.
UNITED STATES LEGATION, November 8, 1849.-(Received November 8.) MY DEAR LORD: As I told you in our conversation this morning, I have been instructed by the President to inquire whether the British Government intends to occupy or colonize Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mosquito Coast, so called, or any part of Central America. I have also been instructed to inquire whether the British Government will unite with the United States in guaranteeing the neutrality of a ship-canal,
railway, or other communication to be open to the world, and common to all nations. May I beg the favor of an answer to these inquiries, and to express the wish that I may receive it before two o'clock to-morrow, so as to send it out by this week's packet?
I am aware that Nicaragua is in dispute with Costa Rica, on the one hand, about her boundary, and with the Mosquitos, on the other, about their sovereignty. I have no purpose now to enter upon those questions; I only desire to know the views of Her Majesty's Government on the questions I have proposed. At the same time, I cannot but think that Great Britain and the United States can heal these breaches by kind offices; and that the Indians can be provided for in a manner satisfactory to Nicaragua and Great Britain, and far better for them than the equivocal position they now occupy.
I need not assure your lordship that the United States have no ulte. rior purposes in view. They frankly disclaim all intention of obtaining territory in Central America; and I have no doubt would be willing to mutually agree with Great Britain neither to settle, annex, colonize, or fortify that country.
I have, &c.,
Viscount PALMERSTON, G. C. B.
19.-Sir Henry Bulwer to Lord Palmerston.
WASHINGTON, January 6, 1850. (Received January 22.)
Since arriving in this country I have taken some pains to ascertain in what way the questions that have arisen between Her Majesty's Government and that of the United States, with respect to Nicaragua and the kingdom of Mosquito, might be brought to a prompt and satisfactory conclusion. Your lordship is aware that the main interest of the United States in this matter has arisen from its newly acquired possessions 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.
In this manner the Government of the United States became interested in the pretension of the Nicaraguans, and desires to establish the fact that the river San Juan, ceded by the Nicaraguans to an American company for an object of the utmost interest to America, should be placed at the disposal of the state making that concession. This first interest in the claims of Nicaragua, therefore, proceeds from an interest in the construction of the canal to which I have been alluding.
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 Government 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. Our great object, therefore, as it has appeared to me, is to dis