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a canal. I do not deem it necessary to call them specially to your attention. They have the same general character, and do not seem to have ever had any real vitality. But I think it proper to send herewith (inclosure No.5,) the last concession, namely, that to Lieutenant Wyse, made March 28, 1878, and with the consent of the Colombian Government transferred to Mr. de Lesseps, a distinguished citizen of France, and universally known as the projector and founder of the Suez Canal. No treaty relations in reference to an interoceanic canal through the territory of Nicaragua were established by the Government of the United States prior to the execution of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty.
The attention of this Government seems for a long period to have been given chiefly to such connection by way of the Isthmus of Panama. But as the engineering difficulties of that plan attracted its consideration, and the acquisition of territory on the Pacific coast gave more and more practical interest to the completion of some such connection, the importance of the route through Nicaragua seemed to impose upon the Government the necessity of some direct arrangement. The great difficulty in the way was, that, owing to circumstances which are too well known to need recapitulation, the Government of Great Britain had assumed a protectorate over that part of the coasts of Nicaragua and Costa Rica in which lay the Atlantic terminus of any possible connection through those countries, and have given practical effect to its claim of protectorate by the occupation of the port of St. Juan.
Mr. Clayton opened negotiations with the British Government for the purpose of adjusting these differences. The object of the negotiations thus initiated cannot be better set forth than in the language of Mr. Rives, who, under the instructions of Mr. Clayton, submitted the views of the Government of the United States to Lord Palmerston.
Mr. Rives to Mr. Calyton.
LONDON, September 25, 1849. SIR: Yesterday I called upon Lord Palmerston, at his house in Carlton Gardens, for the purpose of holding the interview with him which had been previously arranged. He gave me a very cordial reception, and took occasion to say that he had come up to London from the residence of Viscount Melbourne in the country, where he had been passing some days, solely for the sake of seeing and conversing with me. After some conversation of a general nature, I stated to him that there being a sort of interregnum at present in the usual diplomatic relations of the two countries, owing to the departure of Mr. Bancroft and the postponement for a few weeks of Mr. Lawrence's arrival, you had instructed me, while on my way to Paris, to call upon his Lordship and converse with him on a matter which was more than ordinarily urgent and critical; that it was quite unnecessary, I persuaded myself, to assure his Lordship that the President was anxious to preserve the most cordial good understanding with her Britannic Majesty's Government; that in proportion as that desire was sincerely felt, it was seen with no little concern that there was one question which unless great prudence and caution were observed on both sides might involve the two Governments unwittingly in collision; that shortly before I left the United States a letter from the British consul at New York had been published, asserting in very positive and unqualified terms an exclusive claim for the Mosquito Indians to the ownership and sovereign jurisdiction of the mouth and lower part of the river San Juan de Nicaragua; that the United States had no disposition to intermeddle in any pragmatical spirit, or with views in the slightest degree unfriendly to Great Britain, with that question, but they were necessarily parties to it in their own right; that citizens of the United States had entered into a contract with the State of Nicaragua to open, on certain conditions, a communication between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans by the river San Juan and the Nicaragua Lake; that the Government of the United States, after the most careful investigation of the subject, had come undoubtingly to the conclusion that upon both legal and historical grounds the State of Nicaragua was the true territorial sovereign of the River San Juan as well as of the Nicaragua Lake, and that it was, therefore, bound to give its countenance and support, by all proper and reasonable means, to rights lawfully derived by their citizens under a grant from that sovereign; that the United States, moreover, as one of the prin
cipal commercial powers of the world, and the one nearest to the scene of the proposed communication, and holding, besides, a large domain on the western coast of America, had a special and deep national interest in the free and unobstructed use, in common with other powers, of any channel of intercourse which might be opened from the one sea to the other, and that, moved by a proper regard for that interest, it had probably already concluded, or would soon do so, a treaty with Nicaragua for securing a transit for its commerce and public stores by the route in question, on terms open alike to all other nations. I then proceeded to observe to Lord Palmerston that the Government of the United States was particularly desirous that there should be no misconception of its objects and motives in this matter by her Britannic Majesty's Government, and that it was of the highest importance that both Governments should be made acquainted frankly with the views and intentions of each other; that it had sometimes happened in military operations that detachments of the same army had gotten engaged with each other, in the dark, in bloody strife, and so in civil and political affairs, nations, as well as individuals, in ignorance of each other's real views, and under the influence of a natural but unfounded distrust, were often committed in serious opposition to each other, when a frank and unreserved communication, in the first instance, of their respective objects would have brought them to co-operate heartily in the pursuit of a common end; that the United States sought no exclusive privilege or preferential right of any kind in regard to the proposed communication, and their sincere wish, if it should be found practicable, was to see it dedicated to the common use of all nations on the most liberal terms, and a footing of perfect equality for all, securing it beforehand, by proper stipulations, against unreasonable and oppressive exactions for the use of it, either from the States through whose territories it should pass, or the individuals or companies who might be authorized to construct it; that the United States would not, if they could, obtain any exclusive right or privilege in a great highway, which naturally belonged to all mankind, for they well knew that the possession of any such privilege would expose them to inevitable jealousies and probable controversies which would make it infinitely more costly than advantageous; that while they aimed at no exclusive privilege for themselves they could never consent to see so important a communication fall under the exclusive control of any other great commercial power; that we were far from imputing to Her Britannic Majesty's Government any views of that kind, but Mosquito possession at the mouth of the San Juan could be considered in no other light than British possession, and his lordship would readily comprehend that such a state of things, so long as it was continued, must necessarily give rise to dissatisfaction and distrust on the part of other commercial powers. Would it not, then, be wise, I said to Lord Palmerston, that Great Britain and the United States should come to a frank and manly understanding with each other and unite their influence for the accomplishment of an object of the highest importance to both of them as well as the rest of the world, instead of hazarding the final loss of so great an object by jarring and divided councils.
If, however, the British Government shall reject these overtures on our part, and shall refuse to co-operate with us in the generous and philanthropic scheme of rendering the interoceanic communication by the way of the port and river San Juan, free to all nations upon the same terms, we shall deem ourselves justified in protecting our interests independently of her aid, and despite her opposition or hostility.
With a view to this alternative, we have a treaty with the State of Nicaragua, a copy of which has been sent to you, and the stipulations of which you should unreservedly impart to Lord Palmerston."
You will inform him, however, that this treaty was concluded without a power or instructions from this Government; that the President had no knowledge of its existence or of the intention to form it until it was presented to him by Mr. Hise, our late chargé d'affaires to Guatemala, about the first of September last; and that consequently we are not bound to ratify it, and will take no step for that purpose if we can, by arrangements with the British Government, place our interest upon a just and satisfactory foundation. But if our efforts for this end should be abortive the President will not hesitate to submit this or some other treaty which may be concluded by the present chargé d'affaires to Guatemala to the Senate of the United States for their advice and consent, with a view to its ratification, and if that enlightened body should approve
it, he also will give it his hearty sanction, and will exert all his constitutional power to execute its provisions in good faith, a determination in which he may confidently count upon the good will of the people of the United States.
I am, &c.,
JOHN M. CLAYTON.
The treaty with Nicaragua, negotiated by Mr. Hise and referred to in the above correspondence, will be found in inclosure No. 6.
The negotiation thus opened in London was superseded by the execu tion in Washington of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, which will be found herewith (inclosure No. 7).
Immediately after the conclusion of this treaty, and for the purpose of securing promptly the execution of its provisions, Mr. Webster and Sir John Crampton agreed upon a draft of treaty to be executed by Nicaragua and Costa Rica with each other, by which all questions of limits between them should be adjusted, and such other provisions adopted as would allow the prompt application of the principles of the ClaytonBulwer treaty to the construction of the canal. That agreement you will find herewith (inclosure No. 8).
Mr. Webster to Mr. Lawrence.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
SIR: Your dispatches to No. 176, inclusive, have been received. On the 30th ultimo, as you may have been informed through another channel, Mr. Crampton and myself agreed upon and signed a proposition to Costa Rica and Nicaragua for the adjustment of their disputes upon the subject of boundary and also for the adjustment of the controversy between Great Britain and Nicaragua in regard to the territory claimed by the Mosquito Indians. If this proposition should be accepted by those republics, a quadripartite treaty will probably be entered into by them, Great Britain, and the United States. A principal impediment to the commencement or successful progress of the ship-canal through Nicaragua will then have been removed.
Considering that the United States and Great Britain have jointly agreed to protect such a canal, and in consequence of their possessions on the coast of the Pacific and of other obvious causes, have a similar interest in its success, it seems desirable that the capital required for its construction should be advanced by the citizens and subjects of both countries. If, however, English capitalists should not be disposed to invest their funds in the enterprise, the means for its construction can easily be obtained in this country, whenever our citizens shall be satisfied of its practicability and that it would yield a regular and fair profit. Convinced of the great importance of the work, the Government of the United States would always be disposed to aid in the prosecution thereof to the full extent of its constitutional power. It is not likely, however, that the canal company will need any such assistance from this Govern
I am, &c., &c.,
Mr. Kerr, at that time minister resident in Central America, and Mr. Walsh were appointed by the United States, and Consul-General Wyke by Great Britain, as special commissioners to submit this treaty to the States of Costa Rica and Nicaragua for adoption. The negotiations failed, owing to the unwillingness of the latter power, and so much importance did this Government attach to their joint action on this subject, that Mr. Everett, as Secretary of State, instructed Mr. Kerr, 30th December, 1852:
You will also make known to the Nicaraguan minister that the President cannot consent to renew the discussions with his Government on the subject of interoceanic communication by the Nicaraguan route without a satisfactory explanation of the grounds on which, the Government of Nicaragua peremptorily rejected the propositions which in conjunction with Her Britannic Majesty's minister, the Government of the United States agreed upon for the purpose of removing the obstacles which had existed.
The failure to settle the questions by this negotiation left open points. of difference between the United States and Great Britain which appear in the discussions and negotiations from that date to 1860, but which do not need particular review, for within that period Great Britain, with the knowledge of the Government of the United States, and as was recognized by General Cass, Secretary of State, and President Buchanan, with due regard to the expressed wishes of our Government, negotiated with Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala three separate treaties, the conclusion of which was thus notified to the Government of the United States by Lord John Russell, H. B. M.'s secretary of state for foreign affairs, August 4, 1860, through Lord Lyons:
In my dispatch of the 16th Angust last I instructed your lordship to communicate to General Čass a copy of the treaty which Her Majesty's Government had concluded with the Republic of Guatemala, for defining the boundary between that State and the settlement of Belize, and you were directed to state to General Cass frankly and without reserve the earnest desire felt by Her Majesty's Government that the controverted questions arising out of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty should be settled, and to explain to him the nature of the instructions with which Sir Charles Wyke had been furnished with that object.
I have now to instruct your lordship to communicate to General Cass the inclosed copies of treaties which have been concluded by Her Majesty with the Republics of Honduras and Nicaragua.
These treaties, as you will perceive, provide for the relinquishment of the protectorate of the Mosquito Indians and for the cession of the Bay Islands to Honduras, and thus, it may be hoped, finally set at rest the questions respecting the interpretation of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty which have been the subject of so much controversy between this country and the United States.
At the time of these negotiations General Cass had signed a treaty with the minister of Nicaragua known as the Cass-Yrisarri treaty. This treaty was never ratified, but will be found in inclosure 9, together with such correspondence as is necessary to show how far this treaty and these negotiations accorded in their purpose.
In 1866 the following correspondence took place between Mr. Seward and Mr. Adams:
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
SIR: Toward the close of Mr. Polk's administration the British Government, disturbed perhaps by the recent acquisition of territory by the United States on the Pacific, showed what we thought to be a disposition to contend with the Governments of the Central American States with the ultimate object, as was supposed, of acquiring dominion there, and also a control of any ship-canal which might be made between the two oceans by the way of the San Juan River and Lake Nicaragua. British subjects had long before that time lent those Governments money, the interest on which was in arrears, chiefly in consequence of the strife between the States which ensued upon their separation and as a confederacy.
War measures were determined upon to recover this interest; among others, the seizure of the island of Tiger, belonging to Honduras, in the Bay of Fonseca, was made by a British naval force in October, 1849. This seizure was protested against by Mr. Squier, the United States chargé d'affaires in Nicaragua, and a disavowal of the proceedings by the British Government was required by Mr. Clayton in an instruction to Mr. Abbott Lawrence, at London, of the 29th of December, 1849.
Insomuch as one route (by some supposed the best route) for the ship-canal from the lake to the Pacific lay along the Estero Real, which empties into the Bay of Fonseca, near Tiger Island, Mr. Squier deemed himself warranted in incorporating in a general commercial treaty with Honduras, which he signed on the 28th of September, 1849, provisions for acquiring land for naval stations on that island or on the continent in its vicinity. By what is called a protocol of the same date, Honduras ceded Tiger Island to the United States, pending the ratification or rejection of the general treaty, provided that the time should exceed eighteen months.
These stipulations were entered into by Mr. Squier without instructions from the Department, and when the treaty and additional articles were received, he was reproved for them. They were never laid before the Senate. It is not to be doubted, however, that they occasioned uneasiness to the British Government, and in a great degree led to the Clayton-Bulwer treaty of the 19th of April, 1850.
The preamble of that treaty states that its object was to fix the views and intentions of the parties in regard to the ship-canal.
The first article of the treaty, still referring to the ship-canal, stipulates that neither party will erect fortifications commanding the same, or in the vicinity thereof, or occupy or fortify or colonize or assume or exercise dominion in any part of Central America.
It seems obvious that the renunciation by the parties to this instrument of a right to acquire dominion in Central America was intended to prevent either of them from obtaining control over the proposed ship-canal. At the time the treaty was concluded, there was every prospect that that work would not only soon be begun, but that it would be carried to a successful conclusion. For reasons, however, which it is not necessary to specify, it never was even commenced, and at present there does not appear to be a likelihood of its being undertaken. It may be a question, therefore, supposing that the canal should never be begun, whether the renunciatory clauses of the treaty are to have perpetual operation.
Technically speaking this question might be decided in the negative. Still, so long as it should reinain a question, it would not comport with good faith for either party to do anything which might be deemed contrary to even the spirit of the treaty. It is becoming more and more certain every day that not only naval warfare in the future, but also all navigation of war vessels in time of peace must be by steam. This necessity will occasion little or no inconvenience to the principal maritime powers of Europe, and especially to Great Britain, as those powers have possessions in various parts of the globe where they can have stores of coal and provisions for the use of their vessels. We are differently situated. We have no possession beyond the limits of the United States. Foreign colonization has never been favored by statesmen in this country either on general grounds, or as in harmony with our pecular condition. There is no change or likely to be any in this respect. It is indispensable for us, however, to have coaling stations under our own flag for naval observation and police, and for defensive war as well as for the protection of our widely spread commerce when we are at peace ourselves. This want, even for our commercial marine, is nowhere more sensibly felt than on the track between Panama and San Francisco. The question then occurs what points beyond our jurisdiction would be most eligible for this purpose.
Whatever opinion might be entertained in regard to any other sites, there would be no question that Tiger Island would be exceedingly desirable for that purpose.
Under these circumstances, you will sound Lord Clarendon as to the disposition of his Government to favor us in acquiring coaling stations in Central America, notwithstanding the stipulation contained in the Clayton-Bulwer treaty. In doing this, however, you will use general terms only, and will by no means allow it to be supposed that we particularly covet Tiger Island. You will execute this instruction at such time and in such way as to you may seem best, and inform the Department of the result so that the United States minister to Honduras may be directed to proceed accordingly. It is supposed that you may probably be able to introduce the subject to the Earl of Clarendon's attention by suggesting that a negotiation with a view to the special end mentioned might be made an element in a general negotiation for settlement of the northwest-boundary question and of the conflicting claims of the two countries which have arisen during the late rebellion in the United States.
I am, sir, &c.,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
Mr. Adams to Mr. Seward.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, June 2, 1866. (Rec'd 13th June.)
SIR: Towards the close of the conversation I had with Lord Clarendon on the 29th of last month, I seized an opening to say something on the subject to which you directed my attention in your dispatch No. 1745, of the 25th of April. I did so rather in a casual way, as if it were a matter which had been floating in your mind for some time back in consequence of the inconvenience to which our naval steamers had been put during the war for the want of stations at which to place depots of coal for their use. I alluded rather vaguely to the coast of Central America as among the places in which this want had been most felt, and to the possibility that the terms of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty might interpose difficulties in the way of securing the most convenient point that we might desire. Whilst I did not feel myself altogether prepared to enter into specific questions just then, I desired to throw out the subject for his consideration as one to which I might perhaps presently be directed to return with more definite propositions. His lordship replied by asking some questions as to the precise points contemplated, which I avoided answering on the ground, which is true, that I have not yet been able to refresh my recollection of the terms of the treaty, and by his remarking that the same thing was true as it respected himself.