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To understand all the involvements of the tolls question, it is necessary to go with some detail into phases of the isthmian diplomacy.

The first official utterance by a North American statesman in favor of a neutralized canal was made in 1826 by Henry Clay, then secretary of state in John Quincy Adams' administration. His views were embodied in instructions to the United States commissioners who were to have attended the first Pan-American conference, called by the South American liberator, Bolivar, to consider, among other matters, the project of constructing a canal. Clay's instructions declared:

"If the work should ever be executed so as to admit of the passage of sea vessels from ocean to ocean, the benefits of it ought not to be exclusively appropriated to any one nation, but should be extended to all parts of the globe upon the payment of (1) a just compensation or reasonable tolls."

The principle enunciated by Clay first was embodied definitely in an important international agreement to which the United States was a party in the Clayton-Bulwer treaty of 1850. This convention was entered into by Great Britain and the United States only when strained relations had resulted in consequence of Great Britain's assumption of a protectorate over the Mosquito These islands lay at the mouth of the San Juan river


(1) Report of International American Conference, Vol. IV, p. 143.

where the Atlantic entrance of a canal built on the Nicaraguan route would have been situated. The Hise convention, negotiated with the Nicaraguan government in 1849 by Elijah Hise, a special commissioner of President Polk, had given the United States exclusive rights to build a canal and secure necessary land, with ports at either end, under the qualified dominion of Nicaragua(1) Although President Taylor, who succeeded Polk, refused to submit this agreement to the senate because he feared complications with Great Britain, the Hise convention nevertheless marked a turning point in the history of the Central American question. J. M. Clayton, Taylor's secretary of state, in 1849 represented to Crampton, the British minister to the United States, that popular feeling in this country was so strong in favor of the Hise convention that the democrats were willing to even to the length of forcing war with Great Britain over the occupation of Mosquitoland. The Hise affair, together with the activities of President Taylor's emissary, E. G. Squier, who without authority negotiated a treaty securing canal rights from Honduras, prompted Great Brit ain to enter into diplomatic negotiations with the United States on the isthmian question. Sir Henry Lytton Bulwer, who was dispatched as a special treaty envoy from Great Britain toward the end of 1849, persuaded Clayton, the United States secretary of state, to agree that the United States and Great Britain treat directly with each other, on matters relating to the canal, instead of indirectly through Nicaragua.

(1) Benjamin Taylor

Story of the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, Nineteenth Century, Vol. XLVII, p. 500.

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