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place the discussion from the claims of Nicaragua and Mosquito, on which it is unlikely that the two Governments of Great Britain and the United States should agree, and bring it to the consideration of the canal, on which it is almost certain that their views will be identical.
Having conversed with several persons of importance, and of different parties on this subject, and with Mr. Clayton himself, I am disposed to think that the best means of doing this is by a convention between Great Britain and the United States, having for its object to facilitate the construction of the desired passage between the Atlantic and the Pacific, upon such terms as, without entering upon the question of the rival claims of Nicaragua and the Mosquitos, would confer upon American commerce all it can desire to obtain in a manner corresponding with the dignity and honor of Great Britain, and the disinterestedness of her protectorate over the Mosquito territory.
H. L. BULWER.
Viscount PALMERSTON, G. C. B.
20.-Sir H. Bulwer to Lord Palmerston.
WASHINGTON, February 3, 1850.
(Received February 18.)
I should hardly have acted, however, in any formal manner on this consideration alone, but having heard of the very serious illness of Mr. Lawrence, and been informed by Mr. Clayton that if this gentleman recover he will not be able to transact public business for a considerable time, I deemed that I stood in one of those positions in which it is necessary for a public agent to take upon himself a certain degree of responsibility for the sake of the public service; and, consequently, when Mr. Clayton, after informing me of Mr. Lawrence's severe indisposition, and explaining to me the very critical position in which he himself stood, added that he must either deliver up the whole subject to popular discussion and determination, or come to some immediate settlement upon it, I entered with him into a full consideration of the affair, and finally agreed to submit to your lordship's sanction the inclosed project of convention.
In order to make clear the spirit and intention with which the said project is drawn up, I feel it necessary to enter with your lordship into some statement of my own views with respect to the questions out of which it arises, some statement of the causes which have raised these questions into importance, and some explanation of the nature of the solution which I have given to such questions.
It seemed then to me that Her Majesty's Government, after asserting, first by argument, and finally by force, the rights of the King of Mosquito over a particular territory, and driving therefrom the agents of the feeble Government of Nicaragua, could not, at the demand of another power of greater strength, restore to the Nicaraguans that territory from which they had been ejected.
Nevertheless, I was aware that the course which Her Majesty's Government pursued in this case was with a view to the general interests of commerce as well as to those of justice; and that so far from wishing to make the protectorate which Her Majesty exercises over the Mosquito territory, or that territory itself, subservient to the views of any small, selfish, or grasping policy, it would be your lordship's desire to make
both the one and the other useful, in the widest sense of the term, to the common advantage of mankind and the universal purposes of traffic and civilization.
Such being my conviction and knowledge on the one side, I was equally certain, on the other, that the interests of the United States were only incidentally involved in the question between Nicaragua and the Mosquitos, and mainly referred to another subject, which, though connected with the disputes which have arisen as to the extent of the Nicaraguan territory, admit of a separate adjustment.
The construction of any rail or water communication across that portion of Central America which separates, by a comparatively small distance of land, the two oceans of the Atlantic and Pacific would always have been of great interest to the United States; but since the possession of California and Oregon this interest has indefinitely increased, so that that which was once a question of convenience is now almost a matter of necessity. Thus the various routes by which a railway or canal could open a way between the two seas have, latterly, been under the constant attention of this government; and amongst the most feasible and important of the schemes indicated has been one of a canal, from the port of Realejo, through the Lakes of Nicaragua, to the mouth of the river San Juan.
Now, the state of Nicaragua made to an American company formed for the construction of such a canal, the grant, accompanied by various favors and privileges, of all such portion of the territory claimed by it, as the said company required; and, in the two treaties to which I have already referred, namely, those of Mr. Hise and Mr. Squier, the object of the American agents has evidently been to strengthen the contract which the above-mentioned company had made.
It was, however, impossible for the contemplated scheme to be executed under any grant from the state of Nicaragua as long as the mouth of the San Juan River was in the hands of another people or kingdom, protected by Great Britain; and, moreover, it was generally supposed that the Government of Great Britain had placed the Mosquitos in possession of Greytown, expressly in order to get hold of this entrance to the canal passage for itself, and, at all events, to prevent its falling into the possession or being subservient to the views of any other power.
On these grounds has arisen all the excitement here touching the British protectorate of Mosquito, and in this manner the United States has become interested in the dispute between the Nicaraguans and ourselves.
It is indeed most certainly true that if the American company, baving the grant of which I have spoken from Nicaragua, had been disposed to carry it out in its original terms, and that if the United States Government had been prepared to accept the exact terms of the treaties made with Nicaragua by their agents it would have been impossible for Great Britain to favor an undertaking which expressly established a monopoly of trade for American citizens through the most important passage (if such a canal as that contemplated can be executed) that the commerce of the world can enjoy; and I cannot consider it unfortunate for the general interest that Her Majesty's Government should have been in a position to make its consent necessary to a work of such universal importance.
But both the American company to which I have alluded and the American Government have latterly manifested an earnest desire to have it clearly understood that they will modify all that portion of their original engagements with Nicaragua which secures any advantages to one state which another may not equally enjoy; and if such be the spirit
which is to preside over the vast project under consideration Great Britain has not only no interest in preventing its success, but every interest in forwarding its completion and providing for its security.
In this view of the case, the protectorate which Her Majesty exercises over the Mosquitos, instead of being prejudicial to the aforesaid enterprise, may be an essential element in its favor, and all that seemed to be required in order to bring Great Britain and the United States to a perfect understanding is, that both should abandon every particular advantage, the one such as might be derived from the protectorate over the Mosquitos, and the other such as might be derived from any contract or treaty with Nicaragua; and to make the fact that they do so clear and palpable, taking as the basis of their thorough good understanding the construction of that canal which offers benefits common to the two, and dropping as a point of controversy those disputes as to the Nicaragua and Mosquito territory, on which it is next to impossible that they should come to any agreement.
It is with such views that the inclosed convention has been drawn up, its object being to exclude all question of the disputes between Nicaragua and the Mosquitos, but to settle, in fact, all that it was essential to settle with regard to those disputes as far as the ship communication between the Atlantic and the Pacific and the navigation of the River San Juan were concerned.
There are indeed stipulations which extend farther than the mere engagement, on our part, to use our best endeavors to obtain the free transit of this river, inasmuch as that we also in the said convention agree, as do the United States, not to occupy or colonize either Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mosquito Coast, or any part of Central America; but in consenting to these provisions, I know that I merely carry out the views and opinions of Her Majesty's Government, which have been already expressed on this subject, though in a less formal manner.
I do not pretend to say that the project of convention thus submitted to your lordship's consideration is such, either in its precise terms, arrangements, or enactments, as I should have myself proposed, or, if there had been more time for alteration and discussion, adopted. But it settles the main question immediately at issue, and also establishes a general basis for a common policy and perfect good understanding between ourselves and the United States in that portion of the world which has latterly been the scene of constant suspicions and angry rivalries on the part of our agents, and is, moreover, the record of great and noble views entertained and expressed by two great and kindred nations on one of the works most likely to commemorate our epoch, and to be of the utmost interest and importance to commerce and civilization.
For these reasons, I confess that I send it to your lordship, with the humble confidence that it will, as a whole, meet with your approval.
At all events, I know that it is an arrangement which Mr. Lawrence could hardly have made in England, and that I myself could not have made here except after much preparation and under favorable circumstances.
I may add that it will probably be attacked with violence by the parties who are for supporting Mr. Monroe's famous doctrine at all hazards, and who contend that Mr. Hise's convention is the only one that this country ought to adopt or sanction; but, on the other hand, I think I can promise that it will be duly esteemed and approved of by the Senate, and carry with it the weighty sanction of all reasonable men.
H. L. BULWER.
Viscount PALMERSTON, G. C. B.
Project of Convention respecting the Isthmus Canal.
The United States of America and Her Britannic Majesty being desirous of consolidating the relations of amity which so happily subsist between them, by setting forth and fixing in a Convention their views and intentions with reference to any means of communication by ship-canal which may be constructed between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, by the way of the River San Juan de Nicaragua, and either or both of the Lakes of Nicaragua or Managua, to any port or place on the Pacific Ocean, the President of The United States has conferred full powers on John M. Clayton, Secretary of State of The United States, and Her Britannic Majesty on the Right Hon. Sir Henry Lytton Bulwer, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Her Britannic Majesty to The United States, for the aforesaid purpose; and the said Plenipotentiaries having exchanged their full powers, which were found to be in proper form, have agreed to the following articles:
ART. I. The Governments of Great Britain and The United States hereby declare that neither the one nor the other will ever obtain or maintain for itself any exclusive control over the said ship-canal, agreeing that neither will ever erect or maintain any fortifications commanding the same, or in the vicinity thereof, or occupy or colonize either Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mosquito Coast, or any part of Central America; nor will Great Britain or The United States assume or exercise any dominion over the same, or take advantage of any intimacy, or use any alliance, connection, or influence that either may possess with any State or people through or by whose territory the said canal may pass, for the purpose of acquiring or holding, directly or indirectly, for the subjects or citizens of the one, any rights or advantages in regard to the commerce or navigation through the said canal, which shall not be offered on the same terms to the subjects or citizens of the other.
II. Vessels of Great Britain or The United States traversing the said canal shall, in case of war between the contracting parties, be exempted from detention or capture by either of the belligerents, and this provision shall extend to such a distance from the 2 ends of the said canal as it may hereafter be found expedient to establish.
III. In order to secure the construction of the said canal, the Contracting Parties engage that if any such canal shall be undertaken upon fair and equitable terms by any parties having the authority of the Local Government or Governments through whose territory the same may pass, then the persons employed in making the said canal, and their property used or to be used for that object, shall be protected, from the commencement of said canal to its completion, by the Governments of The United States and Great Britain from unjust detention, confiscation, seizure, or any violence whatever.
IV. The Contracting Parties will use whatever influence they respectively exercise with any State or States, or with any people possessing, or claiming to possess, any jurisdiction or right over the territory which the said canal shall traverse, or which shall be near the waters applicable thereto, in order to induce such States or people to facilitate its construction by every means in their power. And furthermore, Great Britain and The United States agree to use their good offices wherever or however it may be most expedient, in order to procure the establishment of 2 free ports, one at each end of the said canal.
V. The Contracting Parties further engage that when any such canal shall have been completed, they will protect it from interruption, seizure, or unjust confiscation, and that they will guarantee the neutrality thereof, so that the said canal may forever be open and free, and the capital invested therein secure. Nevertheless, the Governments of The United States and Great Britain, in according their protection to the construction of the canal which this Treaty specifies, and guaranteeing its neutrality and security when completed, always understand that this protection and guarantee are granted conditionally, and may be withdrawn by both Governments or either Government, if both Governments or either Government should deem that the persons or company undertaking or managing the same adopt or establish such regulations concerning the traffic thereupon as are contrary to the spirit and intention of this Convention; either by making unfair discriminations in favour of the commerce of one of the Contracting Parties over the commerce of the other, or by inflicting oppressive exactions and unreasonable tolls upon passengers, ships, or merchandise; neither party, however, shall withdraw the aforesaid protection and guarantee without first giving 6 months' notice to the other.
VI. The Contracting Parties in this Convention engage to invite every nation, state or people, with whom both or either have friendly intercourse, to enter into stipulations with them similar to those which they have entered into with each other, to the end that the whole world may share in the honour and advantage of having contributed to a work of such general interest and importance; and the Contracting Parties ikewise agree that each shall enter into treaty stipulations with such of the Central
American nations, states, or people, as they may deem advisable for the purpose of more effectually carrying out the great design of this Convention; namely, that of constructing and maintaining the proposed ship communication between the 2 oceans for the benefit of mankind, on equal terms to all, and of protecting the same; and they also agree that the good offices of either shall be employed, when requested by the other, in aiding and assisting the negotiation of such treaty stipulations.
VII. It being desirable that no time should be unnecessarily lost in commencing the great undertaking herein contemplated, the Governments of The United States and Great Britain determine to give their support and encouragement to such persons or company as may first offer to commence the same, with the necessary capital, the consent of the local authorities, and on such principles as accord with the spirit and intention of this Convention.
VIII. The Governments of The United States and Great Britain, in entering into the present Convention, have not only desired to accomplish a particular object, but also to establish a general principle; they therefore hereby agree to take under their consideration any project for a canal or railway which may be submitted to them, and which may have for its purpose to connect the Atlantic and Pacific, or to shorten and expedite the transit of persons, ships, or merchandise between the 2 great oceans: and should either of the 2 Governments deem it to be beneficial to the general interests of commerce and civilisation to extend its support, encouragement, or protection to such railway or canal, it will forthwith invite the other of the 2 Governments to be a joint party in affording such protection, support, or encouragement; and will neither request or accept from any persons, company, or state, any advantages or privileges for its own citizens or subjects with respect to such railway or canal which shall not be open for all other Governments to obtain for their citizens or subjects upon the same erms as those which are proposed to or accepted by itself.
21.-Lord Palmerston to Sir Henry Bulwer.
FOREIGN OFFICE, March 8, 1850.
SIR: I have received your dispatch of the 3d ultimo, in which you state the reasons which had induced you to enter with the American Secretary of State into a full consideration of the questions connected with the proposed plan for establishing a communication between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, by a ship-canal, by way of the river San Juan de Nicaragua and the lakes of Nicaragua and Managua; and you inclose the draft of a convention on this subject which has been agreed upon between you and Mr. Clayton, subject to the approval of Her Majesty's Government.
I have to acquaint you that Her Majesty's Government entirely approve of the course which you have pursued in this important affair. You are therefore authorized to sign, on the part of Her Majesty, the convention of which the draft is inclosed in your dispatch above mentioned; and in order to enable you to do so, I transmit to you a full power, which the Queen has been pleased to grant to you under the Great Seal, constituting you her plenipotentiary for this negotiation, or for any other negotiation with the United States that may arise during your mission.
I have also to instruct you to deliver to the American plenipotentiary, at the time of the signature of the convention, a note stating that you have received the express order of your government to declare, with reference to the engagement taken by my letter to Mr. Lawrence, dated the 13th of November last, a copy of which was inclosed in my dispatch to Mr. Crampton of the same date, that the British Government has no intention to make use of the protection which Great Britain affords to the people of Mosquito, for the purpose of doing, under cover of that protection, any of the things the intention to do which is disclaimed in the letter to Mr. Lawrence above referred to.
The exchange of the ratifications of the convention may be fixed to S. Ex. 194- -5