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on the Island of Ruatan from 1821 to 1839, but all that was positively
Pap. 268; H. Ex. Doc. 1, 34 Cong. 1 sess. 90.)
Clarendon, see 46 Brit. & For. State Pap. 272; H. Ex. Doc. 1, 34 Cong.
1 sess. 93. For an additional article signed at London, Aug. 27, 1856, to the treaty of
amity and commerce between Great Britain and Honduras, see Correspondence in relation to the Proposed Interoceanic Canal (Washington,
1885), 252. “Whilst it is greatly to the interest, as I am convinced it is the sincere desire, of the Governments and people of the two countries to be on terms of intimate friendship with each other, it has been our misfortune almost always to have had some irritating, if not dangerous, outstanding question with Great Britain.
“Since the origin of the Government we have been employed in negotiating treaties with that power, and afterwards in discussing their true intent and meaning. In this respect the convention of April 19, 1850, commonly called the Clayton and Bulwer treaty, has been the most unfortunate of all, because the two Governments place directly opposite and contradictory constructions upon its first and most important article. Whilst in the United States we believed that this treaty would place both powers upon an exact equality by the stipulation that neither will ever 'occupy, or fortify, or colonize, or assume, or exercise any dominion' over any part of Central America, it is contended by the British Government that the true construction of this language has left them in the rightful possession of all that portion of Central America which was in their occupancy at the date of the treaty; in fact, that the treaty is a virtual recognition on the part of the United States of the right of Great Britain, either as owner or protector, to the whole extensive coast of Central America, sweeping round from the Rio Hondo to the port and harbor of San Juan de Nicaragua, together with the adjacent Bay Islands, except the comparatively small portion of this between the Sarstoon and Cape Honduras. According to their construction, the treaty does no more than simply prohibit them from extending their possessions in Central America beyond the present limits. It is not too much to assert that if in the United States the treaty had been considered susceptible of such a construction it never would have been negotiated under the authority of the President, nor would it have received the approbation of the Senate. The universal convictiun in the United States was that when our Government consented to violate its traditional and time-honored policy and to stipulate with a foreign government never to occupy or
acquire territory in the Central American portion of our own continent, the consideration for this sacrifice was that Great Britain should, in this respect at least, be placed in the same position with ourselves. Whilst we have no right to doubt the sincerity of the British Government in their construction of the treaty, it is at the same time my deliberate conviction that this construction is in opposition both to its letter and its spirit.
“Under the late Administration negotiations were instituted between the two Governments for the purpose, if possible, of removing these difficulties, and a treaty having this laudable object in view was signed at London on the 17th October, 1856, and was submitted by the President to the Senate on the following 10th of December. Whether this treaty, either in its original or amended form, would have accomplished the object intended without giving birth to new and embarrassing complications between the two Governments, may perhaps be well questioned. Certain it is, however, it was rendered much less objectionable by the different amendments made to it by the Senate.
The treaty as amended was ratified by me on the 12th March, 1857, and was transmitted to London for ratification by the British Government. That Government expressed its willingness to concur in all the amendments made by the Senate with the single exception of the clause relating to Ruatan and the other islands in the Bay of Honduras. The article in the original treaty as submitted to the Senate, after reciting that these islands and their inhabitants having been, by a convention bearing date the 27th day of August, 1856, between Her Britannic Majesty and the Republic of Honduras, constituted and declared a free territory under the sovereignty of the said Republic of Honduras,' stipulated that the two contracting parties do hereby mutually engage to recognize and respect in all future time the independence and rights of the said free territory as a part of the Republic of Honduras.'
“Upon an examination of this convention between Great Britain and Honduras of the 27th August, 1856, it was found that whilst declaring the Bay Islands to be a free territory under the sovereignty of the Republic of Honduras' it deprived that Republic of rights without which its sovereignty over them could scarcely be said to exist. It divided them from the remainder of Honduras and gave to their inhabitants a separate government of their own, with legislative, executive, and judicial officers, elected by themselves. It deprived the Government of Honduras of the taxing power in every form and exempted the people of the islands from the performance of military duty except for their own exclusive defense. It also prohibited that Republic from erecting fortifications upon them for their protection, thus leaving them open to invasion from any quarter; and, finally, it provided that slavery shall not at any time hereafter be permitted to exist therein.'
“Had Honduras ratified this convention, she would have ratified the establishment of a state substantially independent within her own limits, and a state at all times subject to British influence and control. Moreover, had the United States ratified the treaty with Great Britain in its original form, we should have been bound to recognize and respect in all future time' these stipulations to the prejudice of Honduras. Being in direct opposition to the spirit and meaning of the Clayton and Bulwer treaty as understood in the United States, the Senate rejected the entire clause, and substituted in its stead a simple recognition of the sovereign right of Honduras to these islands in the following language: The two contracting parties do hereby mutually engage to recognize and respect the islands of Ruatan, Bonaco, Utila, Barbaretta, Helena, and Morat, situate in the Bay of Honduras and off the coast of the Republic of Honduras, as under the sovereignty and as part of the said Republic of Honduras.'
Great Britain rejected this amendment, assigning as the only reason that the ratifications of the convention of the 27th August, 1856, between her and Honduras had not been 'exchanged, owing to the hesitation of that Government.' Had this been done, it is stated that 'Her Majesty's Government would have had little difficulty in agreeing to the modification proposed by the Senate, which then would have had in effect the same signification as the original wording.' Whether this would have been the effect, whether the mere circumstance of the exchange of the ratifications of the British convention with Honduras prior in point of time to the ratification of our treaty with Great Britain would ‘in effect' have had the same signification. as the original wording,' and thus have nullified the amendment of the Senate, may well be doubted. It is, perhaps, fortunate that the question has never arisen.
“The British Government, immediately after rejecting the treaty as amended, proposed to enter into a new treaty with the United States, similar in all respects to the treaty which they had just refused to ratify, if the United States would consent to add to the Senate's clear and unqualified recognition of the sovereignty of Honduras over the Bay Islands the following conditional stipulation: Whenever and so soon as the Republic of Honduras shall have concluded and ratified a treaty with Great Britain by which Great Britain shall have ceded and the Republic of Honduras shall have accepted the said islands, subject to the provisions and conditions contained in such treaty.'
“This proposition was, of course, rejected. After the Senate had refused to recognize the British convention with Honduras of the 27th August, 185ti, with full knowledge of its contents, it was impossible for me, necessarily ignorant of the provisions and conditions which might be contained in a future convention between the same parties, to sanction them in advance.
“The fact is that when two nations like Great Britain and the United States, mutually desirous, as they are, and I trust ever may be, of maintaining the most friendly relations with each other, have unfortunately concluded a treaty which they understand in senses directly opposite, the wisest course is to abrogate such a treaty by mutual consent and to commence anew. Had this been done promptly, all difficulties in Central America would most probably ere this have been adjusted to the satisfaction of both parties. The time spent in discussing the meaning of the Clayton and Bulwer treaty would have been devoted to this praiseworthy purpose, and the task would have been the more easily accomplished because the interest of the two countries in Central America is identical, being confined to securing safe transits over all the routes across the Isthmus."
President Buchanan, annual message, Dec. 8, 1857. (Richardson's Mes
sages and Papers, V. 441.) For the text of the convention between Great Britain and Honduras, signed
Aug. 27, 1856, as above stated, see Blue Book, Cor. respecting Cent.
Am. 1856–1860 (presented to Parliament, 1860), 6.
same Blue Book, p. 24.
in relation to the Proposed Interoceanic Canal (Washington, 1885), 109.
(3) MOSQUITO PROTECTORATE.
$ 354. “Under the assumed title of protector of the kingdom of the
Mosquitos-a miserable, degraded, and insignificant Mr. Buchanan's in
tribe of Indians—she doubtless intends to acquire an structions to Mr.
absolute dominion over this vast extent of sea-coast. Hise.
With what little reason she advances this pretension appears from the convention between Great Britain and Spain, signed at London on the 14th day of July, 1786. By its first article, ‘His Britannic Majesty's subjects, and the other colonists who have hitherto enjoyed the protection of England, shall evacuate the country of the Mosquitos, as well as the continent in general and the islands adjacent, without exception, situated beyond the line hereafter described as what ought to be the frontier of the extent of the territory granted by Ilis Catholic Majesty to the English for the uses specified in the third article of the present convention, and in addition to the country already granted to them in virtue of the stipulations agreed upon by the commissioners of the two crowns in 1783,"?
Mr. Buchanan, Sec. of State, to Mr. Hise, June 3, 1848, 1 Curtis' Buchanan,
622. For the text of the London convention of July 14, 1786, see Correspondence
in relation to the Proposed Interoceanic Canal (Washington, 1885), 171,
Great Britain and Spain, signed Sept. 3, 1783.
“The President has read with great concern those parts of your
despatches which speak of your intercourse with Mr. Action of Mr.
Castellon, the representative of Nicaragua at London. Clayton.
The Department has taken into serious consideration the question respecting the Mosquito shore, and intends giving Mr. Squier, the newly appointed chargé d'affaires to Guatemala, full instructions upon the subject. Instructions in regard to it will likewise be sent to you, probably by the next steamer. Meanwhile you are authorized to assure Mr. Castellon that the President has determined to accede to the request of the Government of Nicaragua, by interposing his good offices for the purpose of endeavoring to induce the British Government to desist from its pretensions to that territory. You will also advise him to continue firm in asserting the rights of his Government, and not to do any act which might either weaken or alienate those rights."
Mr. Clayton, Sec. of State, to Mr. Bancroft, min. to England, April 30, 1849,
MS. Inst. Great Britain, XV. 385.
“This application has led to an inquiry by the Department into the claim set up by the British Government, nominally in behalf of His Mosquito Majesty, and the conclusion arrived at is that it has no reasonable foundation. Under this conviction, the President can never allow such pretension to stand in the way of any rights or interests which this Government or citizens of the United States now possess, or may hereafter acquire, having relation to the Mosquito shore, and especially to the port and river of San Juan de Nicaragua. He is decided in the opinion that that part of the American continent having been discovered by Spain and occupied by her so far as she deemed compatible with her interests, of right belonged to her; that the alleged independence of the Mosquito Indians, though tolerated by Spain, did not extinguish her right of dominion over the region claimed in their behalf, any more than similar independence of other Indian tribes did or may now impair the sovereignty of other nations, including Great Britain herself, over many tracts of the same continent; that the rights of Spain to that region have been repeatedly acknowledged by Great Britain in solemn public treaties with that power; that all those territorial rights in her former American possessions descended to the states which were formed out of those possessions, and must be regarded as still appertaining to them in every case where they may not have been voluntarily relinquished or canceled by conquest followed by adverse possession."
Mr. Clayton, Sec. of State, to Mr. Bancroft, min. to England, May 2, 1849,
MS. Inst. Gr. Brit. XV. 386.
“It is understood that New Granada sets up a claim to the Mosquito shore, based upon the transfer of the military jurisdiction there to the authorities at Carthagena and Bogotá, pursuant to the royal order of