« PreviousContinue »
States of Colombia might be a party, the passage of armed vessels of a hostile nation through the canal of Panama would be no more admissible than would the passage of the armed forces of a hostile nation over the railway lines joining the Atlantic and Pacific shores of the United States or of Colombia. And the United States of America will insist upon her right to take all needful precautions against the possibility of the isthmus transit being in any event used offensively against her interests upon the land or upon the sea.
The two republics between which the guarantee of neutrality and possession exists have analogous conditions with respect to their territorial extension. Both have a long line of coast on either ocean to pro tect as well as to improve. The possessions of the United States upon the Pacific coast are imperial in extent and of extraordinary growth. Even at their present stage of development they would supply the larger part of the traffic which would seek the advantages of the canal. The States of California and Oregon, and the Territory of Washington, larger in area than England and France, produce for export more than a ton of wheat for each inhabitant, and the entire freights demanding water transportation eastward, already enormous, are augmenting each year with an accelerating ratio. While the population and products of the Pacific slope are thus increasing upon a vast scale, the railway system connecting the Gulf of Mexico with the interior and with the Great Lakes is being rapidly extended, thus affording additional facilities for enlarging the commerce that must seek the coast-line to the Pacific, of which the projected canal at Panama will form a part, and be as truly a channel of communication between the Eastern and far Western States as our own transcontinental railways. It is the perception of this domestic function of the long-sought water-way between the two seas that border the republic which has caused the project to be regarded as of vital importance by this government. The history of the enterprise is marked from the outset by the numerous expeditions which have, from time to time, been sent out by the United States at large expense to explore the various routes, and thus facilitate the work when the time should be ripe and the vast capital be forthcoming for the undertaking.
If the proposed canal were a channel of communication near to the countries of the Old World, and employed wholly, or almost wholly, by their commerce, it might very properly be urged that the influence of the European powers should be commensurate with their interests. With the exercise of such influence the United States could find no fault, especially if assured of equal participation in the peaceable enjoyment of the commercial facilities so afforded. The case, however, is here reversed, and an agreement between the European states to jointly guarantee the neutrality and in effect control the political character of a highway of commerce, remote from them and near to us, forming substantially a part of our coast-line and promising to become the chief means of transportation between our Atlantic and Pacific States, would be viewed by this government with the gravest concern.
The policy of the United States is one of peace and friendly intercourse with every government and people. This disposition is frankly avowed, and is, moreover, abundantly shown in the fact that our armaments by land and sea are kept within such limits as to afford no ground for distrust or suspicion of menace to other nations. The guarantee entered into by this government in 1846 was manifestly in the interest of peace, and the necessity imposed by circumstances upon the United States of America to watch over a highway between its two coasts was so imperative that the resultant guarantee was the simplest justice to the chief interests concerned. Any attempt to supersede that guaran
tee by an agreement between European powers, which maintain vast armies and patrol the sea with immense fleets, and whose interest in the canal and its operations can never be so vital and supreme as ours, would partake of the nature of an alliance against the United States, and would be regarded by this government as an indication of unfriendly feeling. It would be but an inadequate response to the good-will we bear them and to our cheerful and constant recognition of their own rights of domestic policy, as well as those resulting from proximity or springing from neighborly interest.
The great European powers have repeatedly united in agreements such as guarantees of neutrality touching the political condition of states like Luxembourg, Belgium, Switzerland, and parts of the Orient,' where the localities were adjacent or where the interests involved concerned them nearly and deeply. Recognizing these facts, the United States has never offered to take part in such agreements or to make any agreements supplementary to them.
While thus observing the strictest neutrality with respect to complications abroad, it is the long-settled conviction of this government that any extension to our shores of the political system by which the great powers have controlled and determined events in Europe would be attended with danger to the peace and welfare of this nation.
While the Government of the United States has no intention of initiating any discussion upon this subject, it is proper that you should be prepared, in case of concerted action or conference or exchange of opinions thereon between the great powers of Europe, to communicate to the government to which you are accredited the views of the President as frankly and as fully as they are herein set forth. And at suitable times in your personal and friendly intercourse with your colleagues of the diplomatic body at London, you may find it proper to give discreet expression to the policy and motives of your government in the premises.
You will be careful, in any conversations you may have, not to represent the position of the United States as the development of a new policy or the inauguration of any advanced, aggressive steps to be taken by this government. It is nothing more than the pronounced adherence of the United States to principles long since enunciated by the highest authority of the government, and now, in the judgment of the President, firmly inwoven as an integral and important part of our national policy.
In his address upon taking the oath of office the President distinctly proclaimed the position which the Government of the United States would hold upon this question, and if the European cabinets have failed to observe or give due heed to the declarations then made, it may be well for you on some proper occasion to call the attention of the minister of foreign affairs to the language used by the President.
I am, &c.,
JAMES G. BLAINE. Sent mutatis mutandis to the United States ministers in Europe.
69.-Mr. Hoppin to Mr. Blaine.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, November 11, 1881. (Received November 26.) SIR: Referring to your instructions No. 187, of the 24th of June last, and No. 188, of the 25th of June last, to Mr. Lowell, in relation to the
S. Ex. 194-12
proposed guarantee by European powers of the neutrality of the projected canal across the Isthmus of Panama, I have the honor to acquaint you that Mr. Lowell, agreeably to the suggestion in No. 187, left a copy of that instruction at the foreign office on the 12th of July last. I have to-day received a letter from Lord Granville in reply to that instruction, and I beg to inclose a copy of the same herewith.
I have, &c.,
[Inclosure with No. 218.]
Lord Granville to Mr. Hoppin.
W. J. HOPPIN.
FOREIGN OFFICE, November 10, 1881.
SIR: You are doubtless aware that Mr. Lowell left with this department on the 12th of July last a copy of a dispatch which had been addressed to him by Mr. Blaine on the 24th of June, in which the Secretary of State calls attention to the right and duty which are imposed on the United States Government under the treaty signed in 1846 between the United States of America and the Republic of New Granada, now known as the United States of Colombia, to guarantee the neutrality of the interoceanic canal which is projected across the Isthmus of Panama. Mr. Blaine further points out the special interest which the United States have in the preservation of this neutrality, and in preventing the use of the canal in a manner detrimental to themselves during any war in which the United States or Colombia might be a party.
But the point on which special stress is laid in this dispatch is the objection entertained by the Government of the United States to any concerted action of the European powers for the purpose of guaranteeing the neutrality of the canal or determining the conditions of its use.
I have now the honor to state to you that although some time has elapsed since the views of the United States Government on this question were communicated to Her Majesty's Government, they have not failed in the mean while to bestow upon it all the consideration to which the importance of the subject gives it every claim, and if it has not received an earlier recognition the delay has been mainly caused by the suspense which so long existed as to the termination of the sad tragedy of the 2d of July.
Her Majesty's Government have noted with satisfaction the statement made by Mr. Blaine that there is no intention on the part of the Government of the United States to initiate any discussion upon this subject, and in the same spirit I do not now propose to enter into a detailed argument in reply to Mr. Blaine's observations.
I should wish, therefore, 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.
I have, &c.,
70.-Mr. Blaine to Mr. Lowell.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
SIR: In pursuance of the premises laid down in my circular note of June 24 of this year touching the determination of this government with respect to the guarantee of neutrality for the interoceanic canal at Panama, it becomes my duty to call your attention to the convention of April 19, 1850, between Great Britain and the United States, commonly known as the Clayton-Bulwer treaty.
According to the articles of that convention the high contracting parties, in referring, to an interoceanic canal through Nicaragua, agreed "that
neither the one nor the other will ever obtain or maintain for itself any exclusive control over said ship-canal, and that neither will ever erect or maintain any fortifications commanding the same or in the vicinity thereof." In à concluding paragraph the high contracting parties agreed "to extend their protection by treaty stipulations to any other practical communications, whether by canal or railway, across the Isthmus * * * which are now proposed to be established by way of Tehuantepec or Panama."
This convention was made more than thirty years ago, under exceptional and extraordinary conditions which have long since ceased to exist-conditions which at best were temporary in their nature, and which can never be reproduced.
The remarkable development of the United States on the Pacific coast since that time has created new duties for this government, and devolved new responsibilities upon it, the full and complete discharge of which requires in the judgment of the President some essential modifications in the Clayton-Bulwer treaty. The interests of Her Majesty's Government involved in this question, in so far as they may be properly judged by the observation of a friendly power, are so inconsiderable in comparison with those of the United States that the President hopes a readjustment of the terms of the treaty may be reached in a spirit of amity and concord.
The respect due to Her Majesty's Government demands that the objections to the perpetuity of the convention of 1850, as it now exists, should be stated with directness and with entire frankness. And among the most salient and palpable of these is the fact that the operation of the treaty practically concedes to Great Britain the control of whatever canal may be constructed.
The insular position of the home government, with its extended colonial possessions, requires the British Empire to maintain a vast naval establishment, which, in our continental solidity, we do not need, and in time of peace shall never create. If the United States binds itself not to fortify on land, it concedes that Great Britain, in the possible case of a struggle for the control of the canal, shall at the outset have an advantage which would prove decisive, and which could not be reversed except by the expenditure of treasure and force. The presumptive intention of the treaty was to place the two powers on a plane of perfect equality, with respect to the canal, but in practice, as I have indicated, this would prove utterly delusive, and would instead surrender it, if not in form, yet in effect, to the control of Great Britain.
The treaty binds the United States not to use its military force in any precautionary measure, while it leaves the naval power of Great Britain perfectly free and unrestrained; ready at any moment of need to seize both ends of the canal, and render its military occupation on land a matter entirely within the discretion of Her Majesty's Government.
The military power of the United States, as shown by the recent civil war, is without limit, and in any conflict on the American continent altogether irresistible. The Clayton-Bulwer treaty commands this government not to use a single regiment of troops to protect its interests in connection with the interoceanic canal, but to surrender the transit to the guardianship and control of the British navy. If no American soldier is to be quartered on the Isthmus to protect the rights of his country in the interoceanic canal, surely, by the fair logic of neutrality, no war vessel of Great Britain should be permitted to appear in the waters that control either entrance to the canal.
A more comprehensive objection to the treaty is urged by this govern
ment. Its provisions embody a misconception of the relative positions of Great Britain and the United States with respect to the interests of each government in questions pertaining to this continent. The Government of the United States has no occasion to disavow an aggressive disposition. Its entire policy establishes its pacific character, and among its chief aims is to cultivate the most friendly and intimate relations with its neighbors, both independent and colonial. At the same time, this government, with respect to European states, will not consent to perpetuate any treaty that impeaches our right and long-established claim to priority on the American continent.
The United States seeks only to use for the defense of its own interests the same forecast and provision which Her Majesty's Government so emphatically employs in defense of the interests of the British Empire. To guard her Eastern possessions, to secure the most rapid transit for troops and munitions of war, and to prevent any other nation having equal facilities in the same direction, Great Britain holds and fortifies all the strategic points that control the route to India. At Gibraltar, at Malta, at Cyprus, her fortifications give her the mastery of the Mediterranean. She holds a controlling interest in the Suez Canal, and by her fortifications at Aden and on the island of Perim she excludes all other powers from the waters of the Red Sea and renders it a mare clausum. It would, in the judgment of the President, be no more unreasonable for the United States to demand a share in these fortifications, or to demand their absolute neutralization, than for England to make the same demand in perpetuity from the United States with respect to the transit across the American continent. The possessions which Great Britain thus carefully guards in the East are not of more importance to her than is the Pacific slope, with its present development and assured growth, to the Government of the United States.
The States and Territories appurtenant to the Pacific Ocean and dependent upon it for commercial outlet, and hence directly interested in the canal, comprise an area of nearly eight hundred thousand square miles, larger in extent than the German Empire and the four Latin countries of Europe combined.
This vast region is but fairly beginning its prosperous development. Six thousand miles of railway are already constructed within its limits, and it is a moderate calculation to say that within the current decade the number of miles will at least be doubled. In the near future the money value of its surplus for export will be as large as that of British India, and perhaps larger. Nor must it be forgotten that India is but a distant colony of Great Britain, while the region on the Pacific is an integral portion of our national Union, and is of the very form and body of our state. The inhabitants of India are alien from England in race, language, and religion. The citizens of California, Oregon, and Nevada, with the adjacent Territories, are of our own blood and kindred -bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh.
Great Britain appreciates the advantage and perhaps the necessity of maintaining, at the cost of large military and naval establishments, the interior and nearest route to India, while any nation with hostile intent is compelled to take the longer route and travel many thousand additional miles through dangerous seas. It is hardly conceivable that the same great power which considers herself justified in taking these precautions for the safety of a remote colony on another continent should object to the United States adopting similar but far less demonstrative measures for the protection of the distant shores of her own domain, for the drawing together of the extremes of the Union in still closer bonds