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tepec, and had introduced into Congress a bill providing for the charter of his company. The antagonism between the two interests delayed both bills so that they were not acted upon, but in March, 1887, the new Nicaragua company sent Mr. Menocal to Nicaragua to obtain a new concession in their behalf, which was ratified by the Nicaraguan government in April of that year. At the meeting of Congress in December, a bill for the incorporation of the Maritime Canal Company of Nicaragua was introduced, and reported to both Houses with. a favorable recommendation. Final action was reached in February, 1889, and the bill, approved by the President, became a law. A construction party consisting of forty-seven engineers and their assistants was immediately sent to Nicaragua and work was begun.
The government of Costa Rica having claimed riparian rights along the San Juan River was also induced to grant a concession similar to that already secured from Nicaragua, and the work began under most favorable conditions. The harbor at Greytown, which had long been useless, was improved by the erection of a breakwater and pier, and a railway was constructed some distance up the San Juan River for the use of the canal company, which is now actively engaged upon the enterprise.
PROPOSED ANNEXATION OF SANTO DOMINGO AND ST. THOMAS. THE REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA.
ONE of the most interesting episodes in our diplomacy and an event that caused a serious political commotion, was the proposition made during the first year of the administration of President Grant, to annex the island of Santo Domingo to the United States. Being the cradle of American history, the scene of the first civilized settlement in the new world, and for half a century the center of affairs on this side of the Atlantic, there has always been a sentimental interest attaching to Santo Domingo that has not been felt in any other part of our continent. Then, too, the dramatic and furious fight that was made there for emancipation, the successful issue of the struggle, and the foundation of a republic of black men, for black men, and by black men, have made the soil of the picturesque island holy ground to the lovers of human freedom.
"Soon after my inauguration as President," said General Grant in his message forwarded to Congress in 1871, "I was waited upon by an agent of President Baez with a proposition to annex the republic of Santo Domingo to the United States. This gentleman represented the capacity of the island, the desire of the people, and their character and habits, about as they have been described by the commissioners whose
.report accompanies this message. He stated further that, being weak in numbers and poor in purse, they were not capable of developing their great resources, that the people had no incentive to industry on account of lack of protection for their accumulations; and that, if not accepted by the United States-with institutions which they loved above those of any other nation-they would be compelled to seek protection elsewhere. To these statements I made no reply, and gave no indication of what I thought of the proposition. In the course of time I was waited upon by a second gentleman from Santo Domingo, who made the same representations, and who was received in like manner.
"In view of the facts which had been laid before me, and with an earnest desire to maintain the Monroe doctrine, I believed that I would be derelict in my duty if I did not take measures to ascertain the exact wish of the government and inhabitants of the republic of Santo Domingo in regard to annexation, and communicate the information to the people of the United States. Under the attending circumstances I felt that if I turned a deaf ear to this appeal I might, in the future, be justly charged with a flagrant neglect of the public interests and an utter disregard of the welfare of a downtrodden race praying for the blessings of a free and strong government, and for protection in the enjoyment of the fruits of their own industry."
In the July following, General Grant sent General Babcock, his private secretary, to Santo Domingo upon a secret mission. He bore a letter of instructions from Secretary Fish to ascertain the facts about the condition of the government, its standing with the people, the financial condition, resources and industries of the island, and particularly the public sentiment with reference to the annexation proposition. His report to the President was confidential, and has never been
made public, but it must have been favorable, for within a very short time after his return Secretary Fish negotiated a treaty with an agent of the Dominican government by which that portion of the island under its con
trol and jurisdiction-not including the western shore which constitutes the republic of Hayti - was annexed to the United
States. The area of
this territory was
28,000 square miles,
equal in size to Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island combined.
There was also a separate treaty negotiated, which granted to the United States the perpetual lease of the peninsula and Bay of Samana, at the eastern end of the island, as a supply station for the use of our navy in the West Indies.
In his message to the Senate, transmitting this treaty, General Grant expressed the opinion that the island, if properly cultivated, would yield to the United States all the sugar, coffee, tobacco, and other tropical products that would be required to supply the needs of our people, and would cut off at least a hundred million dollars' worth of our imports annually. He expressed great interest, too, in the benefits which annexation would confer upon the people of Santo Domingo, who for years had been plundered by thieves and adventurers.
But to the surprise of General Grant, when the annexation treaty was submitted to the United States Senate, it was rejected by a tie vote, 28 to 28, although a two-thirds vote was
required for its ratification. There was great excitement in political circles, for some of the most famous and influential leaders of the Republican party, including Senator Sumner, were determined in their opposition to the treaty. It was charged that there were large private interests involved, and that the treaty was intended to protect and enrich a few citizens of the United States who had acquired large plantations in Santo Domingo, and to enable them to import sugar, tobacco, and other products into this country without the payment of duty. It was also charged that the people of the island had been intimidated to obtain their consent to annexation, that the government officials had been bribed, and that all forms of corruption had been used in securing the treaty.
Although the treaty was rejected by the Senate, President Grant was not discouraged. In his annual message six months later he called attention to the subject again, giving new and powerful arguments in favor of the acquisition of the republic. "I firmly believe," he said, "that the moment it is known that the United States has entirely abandoned the project of occupying as a part of its own territory the island of Santo Domingo, a free port will be negotiated for by European nations in the Bay of Samana, and a large commercial city will be built up, to which we will be tributary without receiving corresponding benefits." He recommended that a commission be appointed to negotiate a new treaty.
This proposition at once led to a bitter discussion in both Houses of Congress, Mr. Sumner and other Republicans leading the opposition. Senator Morton of Indiana offered a resolution, which was adopted by the Senate, authorizing the President to send to Santo Domingo such a commission as he had proposed, but it was not adopted by the House of Representatives without the addition of an amendment de