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The relations of the United States to the Isthmus require "that the passage across the Isthmus should be secure from danger of interruption. For this purpose, as well as for the ends of justice, exemplary punishment should be promptly inflicted upon the transgressors, and the responsibility of the Government of New Granada for the misconduct of its people should be recognized."
Mr. Marcy, Sec. of State, to Mr. Bowlin, May 3, 1856; June 4, 1856; Dec. 3, 1856. MSS. Inst., Colombia.
Lieut. Michler's report of July 14, 1857, of survey for an interoceanic canal, is given in Senate Ex. Doc. 9, 36th Cong., 2d scss.
"The general policy of the United States concerning Central America is familiar to you. We desire to see the isthmian routes opened and free for the commerce and intercourse of the world, and we desire to see the States of that region well governed and flourishing and free from the control of all foreign powers. The position we have taken we shall adhere to, that this country will not consent to the resubjugation of those States, or to the assumption and maintenance of any European authority over them.
"The United States have acted with entire good faith in this whole matter. They have done all they could do to prevent the departure of illegal military expeditions with a view to establish themselves in that region, and at this time measures are in progress to prevent the organization and departure of another, which is said to be in preparation. Should the avowed intention of the French and British Governments be carried out and their forces be landed in Nicaragua, the measure would be sure to excite a strong feeling in this country, and would greatly embarrass the efforts of the Government to bring to a satisfactory close these Central American difficulties which have been so long pending."
Mr. Cass, Sec. of State, to Mr. Mason, Nov. 25, 1858. MSS. Inst., France.
The report of Admiral Davis, July 11, 1866, on interoceanic canal and railway
As to Isthmus canal routes, see Mr. Fish, Sec. of State, to Mr. Washburne, Nov. 13, 1876. MSS. Inst., France.
The interest of the United States in the opening of a ship-canal on the Isthmus is peculiarly great. "Our Pacific coast is so situate that, with our railroad connections, time (in case of war) would always be allowed to prepare for its defense. But with a canal through the Isthmus the same advantage would be given to a hostile fleet which would be given to friendly commerce; its line of operations and the line in which warlike demonstrations could be made, could be enormously shortened. All the
CHAP. XII.] TRANSIT OVER BY INTERNATIONAL LAW.
treaties of neutrality in the world would fail to be a safeguard in a time of great conflict."
Mr. Evarts, Sec. of State, to Mr. Dichman, Apr. 19, 1880. MSS. Inst., Colombia.
"This Government cannot consider itself excluded, by any arrangement between other powers or individuals to which it is not a party, from a direct interest, and if necessary a positive supervision and interposition in the execution of any project which, by completing an interoceanic connection through the Isthmus, would materially affect its commercial interests, change the territorial relations of its own sovereignty, and impose upon it the necessity of a foreign policy, which, whether in its feature of warlike preparation or entangling alliance, has been hitherto sedulously avoided."
Ibid. For other portions of this instruction, see supra, § 145.
"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 negotiations to promote and establish 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 exercise 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 pros. perity 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."
President Hayes, message of March 8, 1880.
"The interest of the United States in a practical transit for ships across the strip of land separating the Atlantic from the Pacific has been repeatedly manifested during the last half century. My immedi ate predecessor caused to be negotiated with Nicaragua a treaty for the construction, by and at the sole cost of the United States, of a canal through Nicaraguan territory, and laid it before the Senate. Pending the action of that body thereon, I withdrew the treaty for re-examination. Attentive consideration of its provisions leads me to withhold it from resubmission to the Senate.
"Maintaining, as I do, the tenets of a line of precedents from Washington's day, which proscribe entangling alliances with foreign states, I do not favor a policy of acquisition of new and distant territory, or the incorporation of remote interests with our own.
"The laws of progress are vital and organic, and we must be con scious of that irresistible tide of commercial expansion which, as the concomitant of our active civilization, day by day is being urged onward by those increasing facilities of production, transportation, and communication to which steam and electricity have given birth; but our duty in the present instructs us to address ourselves mainly to the development of the vast resources of the great era committed to our charge and to the cultivation of the arts of peace within our own borders, though jealously alert in preventing the American hemisphere from being involved in the political problems and complications of distant Governments. Therefore I am unable to recommend propositions involving paramount privileges of ownership or right outside of our own territory, when coupled with absolute and unlimited engagements to defend the territorial integrity of the state where such interests lie. While the general project of connecting the two oceans by means of a canal is to be encouraged, I am of opinion that any scheme to that end to be considered with favor should be free from the features alluded to "The Tehuantepec route is declared, by engineers of the highest repute and by competent scientists, to afford an entirely practicable trapsit for vessels and cargoes, by means of a ship-railway, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The obvious advantages of such a route, if feasible over others more remote from the axial lines of traffic between Europe and the Pacific, and particularly between the valley of the Mississippi
and the western coast of North and South America, are deserving of consideration.
"Whatever highway may be constructed across the barrier dividing the two greatest maritime areas of the world must be for the world's benefit, a trust for mankind, to be removed from the chance of domination by any single power, nor become a point of invitation for hostilities or a prize for warlike ambition. An engagement combining the construction, ownership, and operation of such work by this Government, with an offensive and defensive alliance for its protection, with the foreign state whose responsibilities and rights we would share, is, in my judgment, inconsistent with such dedication to universal and neutral use, and would, moreover, entail measures for its realization beyond the scope of our national polity or present means.
"The lapse of years has abundantly confirmed the wisdom and foresight of those earlier administrations which, long before the conditions of maritime intercourse were changed and enlarged by the progress of the age, proclaimed the vital need of interoceanic transit across the American Isthmus and consecrated it in advance to the common use of mankind by their positive declarations and through the formal obligation of treaties. Toward such realization the efforts of my administration will be applied, ever bearing in mind the principles on which it. must rest, and which were declared in no uncertain tones by Mr. Cass, who, while Secretary of State, in 1858, announced that 'What the United States want in Central America, next to the happiness of its people, is the security and neutrality of the interoceanic routes which lead through it.'
"The construction of three transcontinental lines of railway all in successful operation, wholly within our territory, and uniting the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, has been accompanied by results of a most interesting and impressive nature, and has created new conditions, not in the routes of commerce only, but in political geography, which powerfully affect our relations toward, and necessarily increase our interests in any trans-isthmian route which may be opened and employed for the ends of peace and traffic, or, in other contingencies, for uses inimical to both.
"Transportation is a factor in the cost of commodities scarcely second to that of their production, and weighs as heavily upon the consumer. Our experience already has proven the great importance of having the competition between land carriage and water carriage fully developed, each acting as a protection to the public against the tendencies to monopoly which are inherent in the consolidation of wealth and power in the hands of vast corporations.
"These suggestions may serve to emphasize what I have already said on the score of the necessity of a neutralization of any interoceanic transit; and this can only be accomplished by making the uses of the
route open to all nations and subject to the ambitions and warlike
"The drawings and report of a recent survey of the Nicaragua Canal
President Cleveland, First Annual Message, 1885. See supra, § 72.
A report from Mr. Forsyth, Sec. of State, of Mar. 12, 1838, as to a ship-canal
The following list of Congressional documents is taken from the Department
Testimony taken before the select committee in regard to the selection of a
Monroe doctrine. Report of Committee on Foreign Affairs, Feb. 14, 1881.
Resolution, Apr. 27, 1881. Senate Mis. Doc. 18, special sess.
Senate resolution as to action of the Government for protection of United
The avowal of Colombia to terminate the treaty of 1846 with the United