Page images

by way of the River San Juan de Nicaragua or both of the lakes of Nicaragua or Managua to any port or place on the Pacific Ocean."

As this treaty has been the subject of protracted controversy in the past and is likely to be the subject of serious discussion in the future it is important that the entire text should be given, as follows:

"ARTICLE I. Neither government will ever obtain or maintain for itself any exclusive control over the said ship canal; nor erect nor maintain any fortifications 'or occupy or fortify or colonize or assume or exercise any dominion over Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mosquito Coast, or any part of Central America; nor make use of any protection which either affords or may afford, or any alliance which either has or may have to or with any state or people,' for any of the above purposes, nor use any alliance or influence that either may possess with any state or government through whose territory the canal may pass for the purpose of acquiring for the citizens or subjects of the one any rights of commerce or navigation, 'which shall not be offered on the same terms to the citizens or subjects of the other.'

"ARTICLE II. Vessels of both countries, in case of war between them, shall, while traversing the canal, or at such a distance from the two ends thereof as may hereafter be established, be exempted from blockade, detention, or capture.

"ARTICLE III. Those constructing the canal under the authority of the local governments are to be protected in person and property.

"ARTICLE IV. The contracting parties will use their influence with local governments to facilitate the construction of the canal; and also their good offices to procure the establishment of two free ports.


When completed, the contracting parties

guarantee the protection and neutrality of the canal; which may be withdrawn by either party upon six months' notice to the other, if the regulations concerning traffic ' are contrary to the spirit and intention of this convention.'

"ARTICLE VI. The contracting parties engage to invite friendly states 'to enter into stipulations with them similar to those which they have entered into with each other'; also to enter into treaty stipulations with the Central American states 'for the purpose of more effectually carrying out the great design of this convention'; and also to use their good offices to settle differences between the states of Central America 'as to right or property over the territory through which the said canal shall pass.'

"ARTICLE VII. The contracting parties agree to give their support to such reliable persons or company as may first offer to commence the construction of the canal; priority of claim to protection to belong to any person or company having made preparations therefor.

"ARTICLE VIII. Both governments 'agree to extend their protection, by treaty stipulations, to any other practicable communications, whether by canal or railway across the isthmus,' and especially to those 'which are now proposed to be established by the way of Tehuantepec or Panama.' Both governments shall approve of the charges or conditions of traffic. Equal privileges shall be granted 'to the citizens and subjects of every state which is willing to grant thereto such protection as the United States and Great Britain engage to afford.'"'

It was only a few months after the ratification of this treaty that a claim of the British government to Honduras and its occupation of the Bay Islands, caused another serious controversy with the United States which was settled by a supplementary treaty negotiated by Mr. Dallas and Lord Clarendon.

[merged small][ocr errors]

This was ratified by the Senate of the United States with some amendments to which the British government would not agree, and the discussion was continued until 1859, when Great Britain signed treaties with Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua in which were renounced the claims she had made to Central American territory. With this the government of the United States expressed satisfaction.

Controversies over the Island of Cuba.

The fertile island of Cuba has also caused the Monroe doctrine to be invoked.) Early in the century, when Louisiana was ceded to the United States by France, and Florida by Spain, Cuba was regarded as an equally natural and necessary acquisition, but Spain declined to part with so valuable a colony. In 1825 the French government made overtures for the purchase of Cuba and Puerto Rico which caused Mr. Clay, then secretary of state, to send a very positive dispatch to Mr. Brown, the American minister at Paris, in which he said : "With the hope of guarding beforehand against any possible difficulties on that subject that may arise, you will now add that we could not consent to the occupation of those islands by any other European power than Spain under any contingency whatever."

Mr. Clay was assured that the French government had no desire to acquire the Spanish possessions in America, but this did not allay apprehensions, and their possible occupation by France, Germany, or England was a familiar topic of discussion for a quarter of a century. In 1848 President Polk directed our minister at Madrid to negotiate for the purchase of Cuba and Puerto Rico by the United States, but the secretary of foreign affairs replied that "sooner than see the islands transferred to any other power they would prefer them to be sunk in the ocean.'

[ocr errors]

The history of Cuba is the recital of a series of political dis

turbances, and the revolutions which have continually agitated and impoverished the people by requiring them to sustain a large standing army, have frequently been organized by Cuban conspirators, who have found a temporary asylum in the United States. Although our government has consistently endeavored to prevent these disturbances, they have been a constant source of irritation. In 1852 when Mr. Fillmore was President and Mr. Webster secretary of state, it was proposed that the United States should enter into a treaty with England and France, disclaiming forever any intention to obtain possession of Cuba, and pledge themselves to assist Spain in sustaining her authority over the island.

The governments of Great Britain and France asserted their adherence to the principle enunciated by Mr. Clay in 1825 against the occupation of the island by any other power than Spain, and argued that if the United States would enter into a perpetual obligation to sustain the Spanish authority, that government would be relieved of great expense in maintaining an army in Cuba, and could thus more easily meet her engagements with her French and English creditors. But the United States declined to enter into the treaty on the broad ground that the oldest tradition of this government was an aversion to political alliances with European powers, and in 1854 President Pierce instructed Mr. Soule, Mr. Buchanan, and Mr. Mason, our ministers to Madrid, London, and Paris, to renew negotiations for the purchase of Cuba. They met at Ostend and drew up a form of agreement, which was, however, never formally presented to Spain, for at the meeting of the Spanish Cortes not many weeks after, the subject was alluded to, and the Spanish prime minister, in reply to an inquiry, declared that "to part with Cuba would be to part with the national honor." As this sentiment was approved by a vote of the Chamber of Deputies, it was considered im

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

politic to submit a proposition that was certain of rejection. In 1859 the subject was revived in the Congress of the United States by Senator Slidell of Louisiana, who introduced a bill appropriating $30,000,000 for the purchase of Cuba. An animated discussion followed, but the bill was not acted upon.

There have been several similar propositions since introduced in Congress, and our ministers to Spain have frequently, under instructions, approached the Spanish government on the subject, but without success.

The Maximilian Episode in Mexico.

The most vigorous application of the Monroe doctrine in recent years was when the French government attempted to establish and maintain a monarchy in Mexico. In 1861 Benito Juarez, having become President of Mexico, instituted a series of reforms which were directed chiefly against the Roman Catholic Church. They were intended to destroy the influence of the priesthood, which was alleged to be against the progress and development of the country and the education of the people. All the religious orders were expelled, the parish schools were closed, and the property of the church, valued at over $300,000,000, was confiscated for the benefit of the government. Since the independence of the republic was achieved there had been a constant warfare between the clerical or conservative party with monarchical tendencies, on the one hand, and the liberal, or progressive party on the other, which resulted in a series of most disastrous and bloody revolutions, and such frequent changes of government that there were thirty-six rulers in Mexico within a term of thirtythree years. Juarez was the first President of the republic who was permitted to retain the office to the end of the term for which he was elected.

The governments of Great Britain, Spain, and France presented to the Juarez administration large claims for damages

« PreviousContinue »