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United States Government, who up to this date had always declared that they had no views of exclusive advantage to themselves.
The Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate in a Report dated April 16 of the same year discussed the treaty at some length, and recommended its abrogation with a view to facilitating this new canal policy. The Report severely condemned Mr. Clayton for having made the treaty, and spoke of it as 'a singular and ill-omened treaty,' and went on to say that 'fortunately, however, for this country the Clayton-Bulwer treaty had scarcely gone into operation before its fundamental provisions were violated by Great Britain. The alleged violation was as follows: in November 1850 an American steamer Prometheus was fired upon by Her Majesty's Ship Express, owing to her refusal to pay certain port dues and in order, as the Report puts it, 'to enforce a British claim of dominion over that part of Nicaragua.' On the facts of the case becoming known to Her Majesty's Government, Lord Granville at once addressed a note to the United States Minister in London, in which he said, 'Her Majesty's Government have no hesitation in offering an ample apology for what they consider to have been an infraction of treaty engagements,' and added that 'it would be unworthy of the Government of a great nation to hesitate about making due reparation when the acts of their subordinate authorities have been such as not to admit of justification.' Mr. Lawrence in his reply stated that he doubted not that the apology offered would be received by the Government of the United States in the same spirit which had dictated it on the part of Her Majesty's Government.' It is hardly fair, therefore, to allude to this incident as a violation of the treaty, since it was the unauthorised action of a subordinate, which, on becoming known, was at once repudiated by Her Majesty's Government.
The Report next refers to the establishment of the Colony of the Bay Islands as the most conspicuous of all infringements. For reasons already given the establishment of a colony on the Bay Islands was not considered by Great Britain in 1856 to be an infringement of the treaty; but, for the sake of argument, admitting that it was, it could hardly be justly brought up against Great Britain in 1880 as such, because, in order to meet the views held by the United States on the question in 1859, Great Britain negotiated a treaty with the Republic of Honduras whereby the islands were ceded to Honduras, and President Buchanan referring to them in his Message to Congress said 'the discordant constructions of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty . . . have resulted in a final settlement entirely satisfactory to this Government.' Surely it is incorrect therefore to say that the treaty was violated by Great Britain in either of these two instances quoted in the Report; but with a strange inconsistency, at the very time the Foreign Affairs Committee were recalling instances to prove that the British Government had on
many occasions violated the treaty, the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution recommending the Secretary of the Navy to take such steps as may be necessary to secure adequate coaling stations and harbours for the use of the naval forces of the United States at proper points on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Central America and of the American isthmus.' Coal was in fact actually landed under orders from the Navy Department at Boca del Toro, in the Chiriqui Lagoon, and also at Golfito, and the two places were taken formal possession of by the commanders of the Atlantic and Pacific Squadrons in the name of the United States-a direct violation of the stipulation in the first article of the treaty, that neither Great Britain nor the United States would ever 'erect or maintain any fortifications commanding the same or in the vicinity thereof, or occupy, or fortify, or colonise, or assume, or exercise any dominion over Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mosquito Coast, or any part of Central America.'
On the Report being laid before the Senate, Congress passed a joint resolution approving President Hayes's Canal policy, and requesting the President 'to take immediate steps for the formal and final abrogation of the Convention of April 19, 1850.'
Great Britain was not at once directly informed of this change of policy, but a circular note, of a tentative nature, was addressed by the United States Secretary of State, Mr. Blaine, to all the European Governments, in which he stated that the United States would regard any joint guarantee by the Powers of Europe of the proposed Panama Canal as an uncalled-for intrusion,' and that the United States considered the neutrality of the proposed route was sufficiently guaranteed by the thirty-fifth article of the treaty between the United States of America and the United States of Colombia, ratified on the 10th of June, 1848, in which the United States guaranteed 'positively and efficaciously' the perfect neutrality of the isthmus and any interoceanic communications that might be constructed.
To this circular Lord Granville replied very shortly on the 10th of November, 1881:
I would wish merely to point out to you that the position of Great Britain and the United States with reference to the canal, irrespective of the magnitude of the commercial relations of the former Power with countries to and from which, if completed, it will form the highway, is determined by the engagements entered into by them respectively in the Convention which was signed at Washington on the 19th of April, 1850, commonly known as the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, and Her Majesty's Government rely with confidence upon the observance of all the engagements of that treaty.
On receipt of Lord Granville's curt reply to his circular, Mr. Blaine wrote a despatch to the United States Minister in London, in which he attempted to prove by quotations from the very voluminous correspondence which took place between 1856 and 1860, that Great
Britain had at different times proposed the modification, the reference to arbitration, and the abrogation of the treaty.
As my space is limited, I shall be unable to deal with Mr. Blaine's arguments in any detail. It will, I think, be sufficient to point out again that Great Britain only proposed to refer the disputed clauses in the treaty to arbitration and not the intention of the contracting parties with regard to the construction of the canal, as contained in the general principle laid down in Article VIII.
In support of his statement that Great Britain had at one time proposed the abrogation of the treaty, Mr. Blaine quoted an extract from a despatch of Lord Napier to Lord Malmesbury. As will be seen, Mr. Blaine only quotes part of the passage, and puts a very different interpretation upon it from which it was intended to bear.
The extract is from Lord Napier's despatch of the 22nd of March, 1858, and reads as follows: The Earl of Clarendon authorised me to inform General Cass that Her Majesty's Government would not decline the consideration of a proposal for the abrogation of the treaty by mutual consent.' Mr. Blaine, however, omits the very next passage, in which Lord Napier says 'an official character was not given to this communication, because the recent overtures of Her Majesty's Government are still under consideration of the President, and because it seems most natural that the proposal for the repeal of the treaty should emanate from that party to which, we are told, it has been onerous and unacceptable'; he also fails to notice that in a later despatch Lord Napier wrote, 'I am not aware that any diplomatic overture has ever been made here (in Washington) or in London for the dissolution of the compact.'
In spite of the failure of Mr. Blaine's arguments the discussion was reopened by Mr. Frelinghuysen, who succeeded Mr. Blaine as Secretary of State.
Mr. Frelinghuysen contended that the Clayton-Bulwer treaty was voidable at the option of the United States for two distinct
(1) Because the first seven articles of the treaty related to only a particular canal which was then in contemplation, and that, inasmuch as that canal had never been built, the object for which the treaty was concluded had ceased to exist.
(2) Because while by Article I. the two nations expressly stipulated that neither of them would occupy, colonise, or exercise any dominion over any part of Central America, Great Britain at this time has a colony with executive and judicial officers occupying a defined territory nearly equal in area to three of the smaller States of the Union.'
To objection (1) Lord Granville replied that although it was true that the first article of the treaty had reference to a particular canal, yet by the eighth article the two countries declared that they 'not
only desired in entering into the Convention to accomplish a particular object, but also to establish a general principle,' and that 'they hereby agree to extend their protection by treaty stipulations to any other practical communications, whether by canal or railway, across the isthmus which connects North and South America, and especially to the interoceanic communications, should the same prove to be practicable, whether by canal or railway, which are now proposed to be established by the way of Tehuantepec or Panama.'
Mr. Frelinghuysen however refused to admit that the eighth article applied to any canal which might be built across the isthmus, and laid great stress on the phrase 'which are now proposed to be established,' which he said clearly meant the canals then in contemplation and named in the treaty. If this was so, why did the negotiators use the words any other practical communication,' and in alluding to the proposed routes by way of Tehuantepec and Panama, why did they insert the word 'especially' if they had not intended to extend their protection to any interoceanic communication which might at any time be opened between the two oceans?
In support of his second contention, Mr. Frelinghuysen revived the old question of the boundaries of British Honduras, and refused to admit that Great Britain had any right to the boundaries claimed by her, and that further, the United States had never given their consent to the conversion of the British "settlement" in Central America under Spanish-American sovereignty into a British "possession" under British sovereignty.'
No allusion was made by Mr. Frelinghuysen to the approval expressed by President Buchanan of the settlement of the boundaries of British Honduras by the Convention signed with Guatemala in 1859, and moreover Lord Granville was able to convict him of an inconsistency by pointing out that in 1869 the United States Government had formally recognised the legal existence of the colony of British Honduras, for on the 11th of August of that year a postal convention was concluded at Washington, in which it was stated that the Post Offices of the two countries were desirous of establishing and maintaining an exchange of mails between the United States on the one side and the colony of British Honduras on the other.
Shortly before the termination of President Arthur's Administration, Mr. Frelinghuysen attempted to bring matters to a crisis by negotiating a treaty with Nicaragua, whereby the United States assumed a virtual protectorate over that State, and acquired the right of constructing a canal under their own exclusive and, in fact, supreme control.
On Mr. Cleveland coming into office the following year he at once withdrew the treaty from the Senate for further consideration, VOL. XLIX-No. 287
and did not resubmit it to that body. In his first Annual Message to Congress, the 8th of December, 1885, he stated the following reasons in support of his action :
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 domination by any single Power, or become a point of invitation for hostilities, or a prize for warlike ambition. An engagement combining the construction, ownership, and operation of such a work by this Government with an offensive and defensive alliance for its protection with a 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 realisation beyond the scope of our national policy or present means.
There has been no further correspondence between the two Governments of any importance with regard to the treaty from that time until the present moment.
When we bear in mind the fact that in 1849 the United States Government in an official communication to Her Majesty's Government said, 'The United States would not, if they could, obtain any exclusive right or privilege in a great highway which naturally belonged to all mankind,' we see what a complete change has taken place in their policy with regard to the canal. The Clayton-Bulwer treaty, concluded as it was at a time when the United States desired no exclusive privileges, is therefore a great stumbling-block in the of their new policy; there are a great many people in America who think that Great Britain is acting in a very unfriendly manner in not consenting to give up her rights under the treaty, and agree to its entire abrogation. They forget, however, that at the time when the Clayton-Bulwer treaty was concluded, Great Britain had large interests in Central America, and that the United States had practically none, and that these interests have since been given up in order to meet the views of the United States Government; and further, the Convention of February 1900 so modifies the Clayton-Bulwer treaty that the United States are given the right to construct and control a canal while England consents to remain under the prohibitions of Article I. of that treaty. It is only another case, however, of the old story so ably put by a late distinguished British lawyer, who, after several ineffectual attempts to come to some reciprocity agreement with the United States Government, exclaimed, 'Are British rights always to give way to American sentiment?' Nothing could more clearly describe the present situation. Great Britain has rights under the Clayton-Bulwer treaty on the American Isthmus, the United States have a sort of sentimental feeling that nothing ought to be allowed to stand in the way of anything the people want;' in fact, in a recent speech in Congress one of the supporters of the Hepburn Bill alluded to the Clayton-Bulwer treaty as an old treaty,' and said that the United States would not recognise a treaty that stood