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Granada,' concluded at Bogota on the 12th December, last, by Benjamin A. Bidlack, chargé d'affaires of the United States, on their part, and by Manuel Maria Mallarino, secretary of state and foreign relations, on the part of that Republic.
“It will be perceived, by the 35th article of this treaty, that New Granada proposes to guarantee to the Government and citizens of the United States the right of passage across the Isthmus of Panama over the natural roads and over any canal or railroad which may be constructed to unite the two seas, on condition that the United States shall make a similar guarantee to New Granada of the neutrality of this portion of her territory and her sovereignty over the same.
“The reasons which caused the insertion of this important stipulation in the treaty will be fully made known to the Senate by the accompanying documents. From these it will appear that our chargé d'affaires acted, in this particular, upon his own responsibility and without instructions. Under such circumstances it became my duty to decide whether I would submit the treaty to the Senate; and after mature consideration, I have determined to adopt this course.
“The importance of this concession to the commercial and political interests of the United States cannot easily be overrated. The route by the Isthmus of Panama is the shortest between the two oceans, and from the information herewith communicated, it would seem to be the most practicable for a railroad or canal.
“The vast advantages to our commerce which would result from such a communication, not only with the west coast of America, but with Asia and the islands of the Pacific, are too obvious to require any detail. Such a passage would relieve us from a long and dangerous navigation of more than nine thousand miles around Cape Horn, and render our communication with our own possessions on the northwest coast of America comparatively easy and speedy.
“The communication across the Isthmus has attracted the attention of the Government of the United States ever since the independence of the South American Republics. On the 3d of March, 1835, a resolution passed the Senate in the following words: [Here follows the resolution, as given supra.]
“No person can be more deeply sensible than myself of the danger of entangling alliances with any foreign nation. That we should avoid such alliances, has become a maxim of our policy consecrated by the most venerated names which adorn our history and sanctioned by the unanimous voice of the American people. Our own experience has taught us the wisdom of this maxim in the only instance, that of the guarantee to France of her American possessions, in which we have ever entered into such an alliance. If, therefore, the very peculiar circumstances of the present case do not greatly impair if not altogether destroy the force of this objection, then we ought not to enter into the stipulation, whatever may be its advantages.
general considerations which have induced me to transmit the treaty to the Senate for their advice may be summed up in the following particulars:
“1. The treaty does not propose to guarantee a territory to a foreign nation in which the United States will have no common interest with that nation. On the contrary, we are more deeply and directly interested in the subject of this guarantee than New Granada herself or any other country.
"2. The guarantee does not extend to the territories of New Granada generally, but is confined to the single province of the Isthmus of Panama, where we shall acquire by the treaty a common and co-extensive right of passage with herself.
“3. It will constitute no alliance for any political object, but for a purely commercial purpose, in which all the navigating nations of the world have a common interest.
“4. In entering into the mutual guarantees proposed by the 35th article of the treaty, neither the Government of New Granada nor that of the United States has any narrow or exclusive views. The ultimate object, as presented by the Senate of the United States in their resolution [of March 3, 1835] to which I have already referred, is to secure to all nations the free and equal right of passage over the Isthmus. If the United States, as the chief of the American nations, should first become a party to this guarantee, it can not be doubted, indeed it is confidently expected by the Government of New Granada, that similar guarantees will be given to that Republic by Great Britain and France. Should the proposition thus tendered be rejected, we may deprive the United States of the just influence which its acceptance might secure to them, and confer the glory and benefits of being the first among the nations in concluding such an arrangement upon the Government either of Great Britain or France. That either of these Governments would embrace the offer can not be doubted; because there does not appear to be any other effectual means of securing to all nations the advantages of this important passage but the guarantee of great commercial powers that the Isthmus shall be neutral territory. The interests of the world at stake are so important that the security of this passage between the two oceans can not be suffered to depend upon the wars and revolutions which may arise among different nations.
“Besides, such a guarantee is almost indispensable to the construction of a railroad or canal across the territory. Neither sovereign states nor individuals would expend their capital in the construction of these expensive works without some such security for their investments.
“The guarantee of the sovereignty of New Granada over the Isthmus is a natural consequence of the guarantee of its neutrality, and there does not seem to be any other practicable mode of securing the neutrality of this territory. New Granada would not consent to yield up this province in order that it might become a neutral state, and if she should, it is not sufficiently populous or wealthy to establish and maintain an independent sovereignty. But a civil government must exist there in order to protect the works which shall be constructed. New Granada is a power which will not excite the jealousy of any nation. If Great Britain, France, or the United States held the sovereignty over the Isthmus other nations might apprehend that in case of war the Government would close up the passage against the enemy; but no such fears can ever be entertained in regard to New Granada.
“This treaty removes the heavy discriminating duties against us in the ports of New Granada which have nearly destroyed our commerce and navigation with that Republic, and which we have been in vain endeavoring to abolish for the last twenty years.
“It may be proper also to call the attention of the Senate to the 25th article of the treaty, which prohibits privateering in case of war between the two Republics; and also to the additional article which nationalizes all vessels of the parties which shall be provided by the respective Governments with a patent issued according to its laws,' and in this particular goes further than any of our former treaties.”
President Polk, message to the Senate, Feb. 10, 1847, Executive Journal,
(2) SUBSEQUENT ACTS AND INTERPRETATIONS.
Nov. 1, 1849, Mr. Thomas W. Ludlow, president of the Panama
Railroad Company, requested that Mr. Lawrence, Isthmian neutral
United States minister at London, might be instructed ity;" action of Mr. Clayton.
to cooperate with the minister of New Granada in
that capital in obtaining from the British Government a guaranty of the neutrality of the Isthmus of Panama similar to that contained in Art. XXXV. of the treaty of 1846. Mr. Lawrence was instructed accordingly. It was in his instructions declared to be
of the utmost importance, especially in consideration of the opinions expressed by Lord Palmerston with reference to the Spanish American States who are delinquent debtors of British subjects, that the British Government should guarantee the neutrality of the Isthmus of Panama as amply as this has been done by the United States. For this purpose, it would be preferable that Great Britain and New Granada should themselves enter into treaty stipulations. . . . If, however, you shall ascertain that the British Government would not enter into such a treaty with New Granada, you may then sound Lord Palmerston as to the disposition of his Government to conclude one with the United States for the same purpose.”
Mr. Clayton, Sec. of State, to Mr. Lawrence, min. to England, Dec. 13,
1849, MS. Inst. Gr. Br. XVI. 75. See, also, Mr. Clayton, Sec. of State, to Mr. Foote, min. to Colombia, Dec.
15, 1849, instructing Mr. Foote to urge upon the New Granadian Government to take measures to negotiate with Great Britain. - The guaranty of Great Britain," said Mr. Clayton, “is necessary for the security of the capital to be invested in the railroad, and is of great and obvious importance to the United States." (MS. Inst. Colombia, XV.
133.) With his instructions to Mr. Lawrence, of Dec. 13, 1849, supra, Mr. Clayton
enclosed, with an expression of approval, a copy of a memorandum by
Reminiscences of James A. Hamilton, 393.
ton to Mr. Rives, minister to France, Jan. 26, 1850, with reference to
subject of a railroad across the Isthmus of Panama, H. Report 26, 30
on interoceanic communications, H. Report 145, 30 Cong. 2 sess. See, also, Art. VIII. of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, infra, S S 351-355.
“I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 10th instant, stating that you are the holder of a grant from the Republic of New Granada, for the construction of an interoceanic canal across that Republic between the rivers Atrato and San Juan, and inquiring whether pursuant to the article of the treaty between the United States and Great Britain of the 19th of April, 1850, you can claim protection for the proposed work. In reply I have to inform you that the article referred to provides for future treaty stipulations between the parties with a view to the protection of a canal across the Isthmus of Panama which would, it is presumed, include the route for which you hold the grant referred to. There would be no objection on the part of this Government to enter into such stipulations, and none can be anticipated on the part of the British Government. As respects the Government of New Granada, it is believed that the stipulations in the 35th article of the treaty between the United States and that Republic, of the 12th December, 1846, would afford you ample protection.”
Mr. Webster, Sec. of State, to Mr. Belknap, March 13, 1852, 40 MS. Dom.
“The proposition in your lordship's letter of the 24th ultimo for a
joint convention between the United States, England, Position of Mr.
and France for the purpose of securing the freedom
and neutrality of the transit route over the Isthmus of Panama has been submitted to the President, and I am now instructed to communicate to you his views concerning it.
“The President fully appreciates the importance of that route to the commercial nations of the world, and the great advantage which must result from its entire security both in peace and war, but he does not perceive that any new guarantee is necessary for this purpose on the part of the United States.
‘By the treaty concluded with New Granada on the 12th of December, 1846, to which your lordship has referred, this Government guaranteed for twenty years the neutrality of the Isthmus, and also the rights of sovereignty and property over it of New Granada. A simi
A lar measure on the part of England and France would give additional security to the transit, and would be regarded favorably, therefore, by this Government. But any participation by the United States in such a measure is rendered unnecessary by the arrangement already referred to, and which still remains in full force. It would be inconsistent, moreover, with the established policy of this country to enter into a joint alliance with other powers, as proposed in your lordship's note.
“The President is fully sensible, however, of the deep interest which must be felt by all commercial nations, not only in the Panama transit route, but in the opening of all the various passages across the Isthmus by which union of the two oceans may be practically effected. The progress already effected in these works has opened a new era in the intercourse of the world, and we are yet only at the commencement of their results.
“It is important that they should be kept free from the danger of interruption either by the Governments through whose territories they pass or by the hostile operations of other countries engaged in war.
“While the rights of sovereignty of the local governments must always be respected, other rights also have arisen in the progress of events involving interests of great magnitude to the commercial world, and demanding its careful attention, and, if need be, its efficient protection. In view of these interests, and after having invited capital and enterprise from other countries to aid in the opening of these great highways of nations under pledges of free transit to all desiring it, it cannot be permitted that these Governments should exercise over them an arbitrary and unlimited control, and close them or embarrass them without reference to the wants of commerce or the intercourse of the world. Equally disastrous would it be to leave them at the mercy of every nation, which, in time of war, might find it advantageous, for hostile purposes, to take possession of them and either restrain their use or suspend it altogether.
"The President hopes that by the general consent of the maritime powers all such difficulties may be prevented, and the interoceanic lines, with the harbors of immediate approach to them, may be