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CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS,
PRINTED BY DIRECTION OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE U. STATES
CORNELIUS WENDELL, PRINTER.
I THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, April 1, 1856.
Resolved, That there be printed for the use of the members of the House of Representa-
tives of the thirty-fourth Congress, ten thousand copies of the documents and corre-
spondence between the government of Great Britain and the United States in relation to
Central American affairs, communicated to the present Congress by the President u. the
United States with his annual message: said documents and correspondence to include
the correspondence in relation to an arbitration of said question between the two govern-
ments; the correspondence in regard to recruiting for the British army within the United
States, together with the documents and evidence relating to that subject communicated
to the Senate on the 28th of February, 1856; and the confession of Henry Hertz, made
after conviction, to the district court of the United States at Philadelphia, on the llth
day of October, A. D. 1855, and the several papers referred to in that confession.
And be itfurther resolved, That ten thousand copies of the map of Central America, pre-
pared under the direction of the Coast Survey office, be printed to accompany said work.
WILLIAM CULLOM, Clerk.
By JOHN N. BARCLAY, Aistant Clerk.
GREAT BRITAIN AND THE UNITED STATES,
IN RELATION TO
CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS,
TO THE FIRST SESSION OF THE THIRTY-FOURTH CONGRESS BY THE PRESIDENT
OF THE UNITED STATES WITH HIS ANNUAL MESSAGE.
GREAT BRITAIN AND THE UNITED STATES,
IN RELATION TO
CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
Mr. Marcy to Mr. Buchanan.
[No. 2.] DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, July 2, 1853.
S : *
Great Britain, for a long period, has had possession of a district of
country on the shores of the Bay of Honduras, called "the Belize."
The right she has to hold it is derived from a grant by Spain; and
this right is limited to a single purpose, with an express prohibition
against using it for any other. A possession so restricted as to its
use could never be considered a British colony. /While she confines
herself to the boundaries specified in the treaties with Spain, in 1783
and 1786, and uses the district or country described only for the pur-
poses stipulated therein, we have no right to complain that she is
infringing our policy; but when she extends her occupancy by en-
croachments far beyond the prescribed bounds, and changes its tenure
by exercising over it civil authority, a very different character is given
to this settlement; it then becomes a new colony on this continent.
Since the acquisition of California, Great Britain has manifested a
more matured design to change this Spanish license to cut dye-wood
and mahogany at the Belize into a British dominion. /The object ofi
such change cannot be misunderstood, nor will it be disregarded by
this government. The character of the British settlement at the
Belize is explicitly shown by an authority which will not be contro-
verted or questioned by the government of Great Britain. This au-
thority is no other than the Parliament of the United Kingdom. In
two acts-one passed in 1817, and the other in 1819--it is admitted
that the Belize is not within the British dominions. In these acts
provision is made for the punishment of crimes committed at Belize,
which otherwise could not be punished by any existing law, because
6 CETBfAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
Belize, as expressly alleged, was not a British dominion. In 1826,
Great Britain renewed, in her treaty with Mexico, the special grant
made to her by Spain in the treaties of 1783 and 1786, to enter into
and occupy the Belize upon the same terms and with the same restric-
tions as those imposed upon her by Spain. The United States, while
they concede that Great Britain has rights in the Belize, positively
deny that the Belize is a British province, or any part of the British
dominions; and in maintaining the policy referred to, they are bound
to resist any attempt to convert it into a British colony.
The protectorate which Great Britain has assumed over the Mos-
quito Indians is a most palpable infringement of her treaties with
Spain, to which reference has just been made; and the authority she
is there exercising, under pretence of this protectorate, is in deroga-
tion of the sovereign rights of several of the Central American States,
and contrary to the manifest spirit and intention of the treaty of April
19, 1850, with the United States.
Though, ostensibly, the direct object of the Clayton and Bulwer
treaty was to guaranty the free and common use of the contemplated
ship-canal across the Isthmus of Darien, and to secure such use to all
nations by mutual treaty stipulations to that effect, there were other
and highly important objects sought to be accomplished by that con-
vention. The stipulation regarded most of all, by the United States,
is that for discontinuing the use of her assumed protectorate of the
Mosquito Indians, and with it the removal of all pretext whatever for
interfering with the territorial arrangements which the Central Amer-
ican States may wish to make among themselves. /It was the intention;-
as it is obviously the import, of the treaty of April 19, 1850, to place
Great Britain under an obligation to cease her interpositions in the
affairs of Central America, and to confine herself to the enjoyment of
her limited rights in the Belize., She has, by this treaty of 1850,
obligated herself not to occupy or colonize any part of Central Amer-
ica, or to exercise any dominion therein. Notwithstanding these
stipulations, she still asserts the right to hold possession of, and to
exercise control over, large districts of that country and important
islands in the Bay of Honduras, the unquestionable appendages of the
Central American States. This jurisdiction is not less mischievous in
its effects, nor less objectionable to us, because it is covertly exercised
(partly, at least) in the name of a miserable tribe of Indians, who
have, in reality, no political organization, no actual government, not
even the semblance of one, except that which is created by British
authority and upheld by British power.
This anomalous state of things is exceedingly annoying to the
States of Central America, and but little less so to the United States;
for through the Bay of Honduras and across some of these States lies
one ofthe most desirable roifes-- our liossessions i -rthe Pacific.
SThis interference,iit-will-blerecollected, did no ?laissuTe inrked
character until after our acquisition of California.
Great Britain should be frankly assured that the policy to which I
have alluded, and to which the United States mean to adhere, is
exclusively political. As relates to commerce, this government
neither aims at nor desires any advantage, in our intercourse with
*)';*.- >* >-C -lcCT^ i-<-
-1 *^ -^A^ ^ ^
OCETAL AMEtCAN APFAlS. 7
the nations on this continent, which it would not willingly see
extended to the whole world.
The object which it is hoped you may be able to accomplish is to
induce Great Britain to withdraw from all control over the territories
and islands of Central America, and, if possible, over the Belize also,
and to abstain from intermeddling with the political affairs of the
governments and people in that region of the world. This object is
the more earnestly desired by the United States, as it is apparent
that the tendency of events in that quarter is to give a foothold to
British power there, in contravention of the policy which this govern-
ment is resolved to sustain.
With your ample knowledge of the facts, it is believed that it will
be easy for you to satisfy the government of Great Britain that it has
no right to intervene in the political affairs of Central America,
founded upon any dominion she can fairly claim in any part thereof,
and that no obligation of duty or interest is imposed upon her to
become a volunteer in the matter.
It is true she has some rights, as I have before stated, in the
Belize; but when restricted to proper limits, no part of it is in
Central America. These rights are, however, very few, as will be
perceived by the second and third articles of the treaty between her
and Spain, dated the 14th of July, 1786. The second article defines
the extent of the district upon which British subjects may enter for
the purposes specified in the third article, which contains an express
admission that the Belize then belonged to the crown of Spain; and
in it Great Britain stipulates in no ambiguous terms that her subjects,
who have the right to enter it to cut dye-wood and niahogany, shall
not use this limited right as a pretext for establishing in that coun-
try any plantation of sugar, coffee, cacao, or other kind of articles, or
any kind of fabric or manufacture, by means of mills or machinery,
whatsoever," with the exception of saw-mills for cutting the wood
which they have permission to take from that district of country.
To enter into the country upon such conditions, for the single purpose
granted, the British right cannot be well questioned; but this right
is understood to be now of very little value, and, possibly, as a
matter of interest and good policy, Great Britain may be willing to
renounce it entirely; but her pretensions beyond this right cannot be
regarded in any other light than as encroachments which ought to
be abandoned. To show that her privilege is thus circumscribed,
nothing more is necessary than to read the first article of the treaty
to which I have alluded. Though a labored attempt has been made
to pervert it, the language is too precise and explicit to give plausi-
bility to such an effort.
That article stipulates (I quote the language of the treaty) that
"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 hereinafter de-
scribed as what ought to be the frontier or the extent of country
granted by his Catholic Majesty to the English for the uses specified
in the 3d article of the present convention, and in addition to the
CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
country already granted to them (the Belize) in virtue of the stipula-
tions agreed upon by the commissioners of the two crowns in 1783."
After reading the treaties with Spain of 1783 and 1786, in which
Great Britain renounces, in terms the most explicit and comprehensive
in the English language, all right to any territorial possessions in any
part of Central America, all sovereign rights in behalf of the Mos-
quitos, and all claim to a protectorate over that horde of savages, it
would seem to be useless to go beyond those treaties for facts to ex-
plode the pretensions she now asserts for herself in regard to this pro-
tectorate. Clear as both of these treaties are against such pretensions,
it is nevertheless true that one of her Britannic Majesty's late prin-
cipal secretaries of state for foreign affairs, Lord Palmerston, has
endeavored to pervert, and by construction to render them meaning-
less, in the same manner that her present secretary attempts to render
ineffective the treaty with the United States of the 19th of April,
1850. The boldness of the attempt with respect to the treaty of 1786,
and its ill success, is shown by a proceeding in relation thereto in the
British Parliament within one year after it was concluded.
The record of this proceeding is not found in the more general re-
pository of parliamentary debates, Hansard's Collection," and it
could not have been in the recollection of Lord Palmerston when he
wrote his famous letter upon this treaty and that of 1783, addressed
to Seinor Castillon, in 1849. As this proceeding shows the ground-
lessness of the claim then, as now, set up to this protectorate, and all
other British claims in Central America, I deem it proper to present
herein a succinct account of it.
On the 26th of March, 1787, a motion was made in the House of
Peers by Lord Rawdon, that the terms of the convention of July
14th, 1786, do not meet the favorable opinion of this House." On this
motion a long debate ensued between Lords Rawdon, Carlisle, Stor-
mont, Hawke, and Porchester, in support of the motion, and the Duke
of Manchester, who negotiated the treaty of 1783, the Marquis of Car-
marthen, secretary for foreign affairs, who negotiated the convention
of 1786, and the Lord Chancellor, the celebrated Thurlow.
Lord Rawdon, on introducing his motion, stated "that the Mos-
quito shore, given up to Spain by the treaty of 1786, had been for more
than a century in the possession of Great Britain; that it consisted of
a territory of between four and five hundred miles in length, and was
nearly of the depth of one hundred miles inland from the sea; that
there were on it various settlements, and that the residents, at the
time of its cession, consisted of near one thousand five hundred British
subjects, including whites, male and female, persons of mixed color,
and their slaves ; that a regular form of government had been estab-
lished on it many years since, consisting of a council, &c.; that it
was a settlement of great value and importance to this country, and
that our claim to it was as good as our claim to the island of Jamaica."
In support of these assertions, his lordship produced various docu-
ments from the governor and assembly of the island of Jamaica and
other corroborating papers. In exchange for this valuable settlement,
he said, the British ministers had contented themselves with accepting
a narrow slip of territory of between eleven and twelve miles in ex-
CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS. 9
tent only. Lord Rawdon then proceeded to ceisure the ministers,
especially for the fourteenth article of the convention, by which the
King of Spain promises not to exercise any. act of severity against the
Mosquitos inhabiting in part the countries which are to be evacuated
on account of the connexions which may have subsisted between the
said Indians and the English, which his lordship declared to be a
most degrading humiliation of Great Britain."
The Earl of Carlisle, in the same manner, spoke of the Mosquito
shore as a settlement that had been in the undisturbed possession of
Great Britain for more than a century. He considered the ministers
especially censurable "for having hung up the humiliation of Great
Britain in every court in Europe, in an article so degrading to the
national honor as the 14th article of the convention, because there
could be no secret reason for such a mortifying sacrifice of the spirit
of the country." Lord Stormont, likewise, particularly enlarged on
the 14th article as an unnecessary degradation of the country ; and
he said "the Mosquito Indians had proved themselves faithful allies,
and had invariably adhered to the interests of Great Britain." He
contended that "they were an independent people, and that we had
no right whatever to deliver them over to the Spanish yoke."
On the part of the ministry, the Duke of Manchester and the Mar-
quis of Carmarthen said very little more than in support of their own
personal agency in the treaty of 1783, and the convention of 1786;
the defence being left to the lord chancellor, the champion of the
administration, who left the woolsack, and in a most masterly manner
answered the various arguments that had been urged in support of the
He began with declaring that he had expected to have heard the
question spoken to with that degree of explicitness and candor that
belonged to it. He had looked for more accuracy of description, in
point of geographical character, than had been attempted. The Mos-
quito shore had been talked of as a tract of country extending between
four and five hundred miles, without the smallest mention of the
swamps and morasses with which it was interspersed, nor any allow-
ance for the parts of it that were actually impossible to -be either cul-
tivated or inhabited. With regard to settlements, it would be
imagined, by those who were strangers to the fact, that there had
been a regular government, a regular council, and established laws
peculiar to the territory ; when the fact was, there neither had existed
one nor the other." His lordship went into the history of the settle-
ment, tracing it down from the year 1650 to the year 1777, mention-
ing Lord Godolphin's treaty, and all its circumstances, and deducing
arguments from each fact he mentioned, to prove that the Mosquito
shore never had been fairly deemed to be a British settlement; but
that a detachment of soldiers had been landed from the island of Ja-
maica, who had erected fortifications, which had been afterwards
abandoned by order of the government at home. He instanced the
transactions on the subject of the peace of Paris, in 1763, when Gov-
ernor Lyttleton governed Jamaica, and enlarged upon them to show
that this country, by the peace of Paris, had renounced whatever
ftNThAL &MERICAMN AFLrAIA
claim she might before that period have fancied she had a right tcf
maintain; and had given a fresh proof of her having done so, in the
year 1777, when Lord George Germaine, the secretary of the Ameri-
can department, sent out Mr. Lawrie to the Mosquito shore to see that
the stipulations of that treaty between this country and Spain were
carried fully into execution. His lordship enlarged very much on
these particulars ; and after enforcing and applying them to the argu-
ments that had been urged in defence of the motion, proceeded to
notice what Lord Carlisle had said on the delicacy of questions of that
sort, declaring that he had been happy to hear the matter so judi-
ciously observed upon. His lordship said he should have been ex-
tremely glad if the whole grounds of the transactions could, with
prudence and propriety, have been gone into; but as that could not
be done, he must meet the matter as he found it. With regard to
the degradation of the country that the 14th article was pretended to
hold out, he denied the fact. The Mosquitos were not our allies, they
were not a people we were bound by treaty to protect, nor were there
anything like the number of British subjects there that had been
stated; the number having been, according to the last report from
thence, only 120 men, and 16 women. The fact was, we had pro-
cured (by contract, if the noble lord pleased) a stipulation that the
king of Spain would not punish those British subjects, and the Mos-
quitos, who had possessed themselves improperly of the rights belong-
ing to the Spanish crown, and, in consequence of such irregular pos-
session, had persisted for a course of time, but with frequent interrup-
tion, in the enjoyment of those rights. His lordship repelled the
argument that the settlement was a regular and legal settlement with
some sort of indignation ; and, so far from agreeing, as had been con-
tended, that we had uniformly remained in the quiet and unques-
tionable possession of our claim to the territory, he called upon the
noble Viscount Stormont to declare, as a man of honor, whether he
did not know the contrary."
The purport of Lord Stormont's answer is not given. Lord Raw-
don, however, defended his motion, and produced some documents by
General Dalling, when governor of Jamaica, to prove that a superin-
tendent had been sent over to the settlement on the Mosquito shore,
at that time, with a view to form a government.
The lord chancellor replied that he was aware of the application
for a charter; but he wished the noble lord had mentioned the answer
that was given to that application when it was made. His lordship
said the having sent a superintendent over with a view to the estab-
lishment of a regular council, &c., did not, by any means, provethat
the government at home had countenanced the scheme. He referred
the noble lard to what had been before stated relative to the conduct
of Governor Lyttleton, in 1763, and of Lord George Germaine, in
1777, as an ample proof that, let what would have been the state of
the Mosquito shore, or the opinion of this country, in 1744 or 1748,
the idea of settling there had been changed completely since, and the
fortifications recently abandoned and withdrawn." After some fur-
ther debate, (the particulars of which are not given,) the question was
CENTRAL AMMEICAN APFFIAS.
taken and decided against Lord Rawdon's motion to condemn the
convention by a vote of fifty-three to seventeen.*
Nothing could be more fatal-not the treaty of 1786 itself-to the
pretensions set up by Great Britain for herself and the Mosquito In-
dians, than this debate and the vote on the motion ,to censure the
treaty of 1786. The lords who supported the motion of censure on
the administration, for having made the treaty, assert, it is true, that
Great Britain and her ally, the Mosquitos, had rights before the
treaty of 1786, but admit that these rights were given up by that
treaty. This position destroys the pretensions of Great Britain, both
for herself and the Mosquitos, of having rights there after that treaty.
On the other hand, Lord Thurlow, in his defence of the administra-
tion, denied all claims on the part of the Mosquito Indians, as well
as on the part of Great Britain, except what was given by the clause
relative to the Belize. His position, which was concurred in by nearly
the whole house of lords, is therefore equally fatal to these preten-.
sions of the British government. In one view or the other, the vote
of the whole house of lords is an acknowledgment that Great Britain,
after 1786, had no rights whatever in Central America, or in that
vicinity, except the limited usufruct to a small tract of country-the
Belize-not claimed as a part of Central America, and that the Mos-
quito Indians had no sovereign rights to any territory whatever.
The acts of Parliament show that Great Britain had no dominion
there-not even in the Belize; and by four treaties, three with
Spain and one with the United States, (that of the 19th of April,
1850,) she has precluded herself from interposing in the affairs of
Central America. I therefore trust you will encounter but little diffi-
culty in inducing her to abandon unfounded pretensions, and to re-
spect these solemn treaty stipulations.
The whole Central American question, so far as Great Britain has
seen fit to connect herself with it, is entirely confided to your man-
agement, under such instructions as you may from time to time desire,
or such as the President may consider himself called upon to furnish,
in the progress of the discussions which may arise thereon.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. L. MARCY.
JAMBS BUCHANAN, Esq., &c., &c., &c.
Mr. Alarcy to Mr. Buchanan
[No. 11.] DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, September 12, 1853.
Sm: Your two despatches, No. 3, (July 27,) and No. 4, (August
24,) have been received. I herewith transmit to you the President's
full power to conclude a treaty with Great Britain in regard to the
Central American questions. A copy of the despatch of her Majesty's
oThis debate is found more at large in Parliamentary Register, 1787, voL 22.
CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
principal secretary of state for foreign affairs to Mr. Crampton, con-
taining the overtures, &c., dated January 19, 1853, was for-
warded to you from this department on the 30th of July last. I do
not find any other document on file in the State Department contain-
ing overtures, &c., on the Central American questions; but it is
probable that in the conferences between my predecessors and the
British minister, in relation to the Mosquito protectorate and the
affairs of San Juan, (Greytown,) overtures may have been suggested
The general views of the President in regard to Central American
affairs were presented in the first instructions with which you were
furnished. The President did not deem it necessary to be more
explicit as to the points of difference which might arise until he was
fully possessed of the views of her Majesty's government. The main
object to be accomplished is to induce the British government to with-
draw from all interference in the political affairs of the Central Amer-
ican states and the adjacent islands.
It is quite evident, judging by communications received from her
Majesty's government, particularly in regard to the difficulties at San
Juan de Nicaragua, that a difference of opinion between it and the
United States exists as to the construction and effect of the Clayton
and Bulwer treaty; but how wide that difference is, and on what par-
ticular points it is raised, have not yet been very clearly disclosed,
This difference will be, as the President presumes, fully known when
these matters shall be brought by you under the consideration of the
Your intimate knowledge of the subject in all its bearings, and of
the general views of the President which are embodied in your in-
htructions, will enable you to. cover the whole American ground in
opening the negotiation. How much will be conceded and how
much contested by Great Britain remains to be seen. Until points of
difference are discussed, and the views opposed to those here enter-
tained are fully considered, the President does not deem it advisable
to fix on ultimata. These, if desired in a more advanced state of the
negotiation, will be furnished.
In relation to the Belize I believe your instructions are sufficiently
explicit. To the territorial extent, and for the limited uses, described
in her treaty of 1786 with Spain, Great Britain has a right to con-
tinue in possession of that country. Though the United States cannot
claim as a matter of right that she shall altogether withdraw from
Belize, it is a very important object to prevail on her to give up that
territory, now regarded as of very little value. This government is
not aware that Great Britain claims to have full sovereignty over it;
but, if she does, the United States would contest that claim, and
regard the assertion of it as an infringement of the Monroe doctrine-
a doctrine which it is the policy of the President to maintain.
I believe Great Britain has never defined the character of her claim
to possess what is called the colony of the Bay Islands." It does
not appear to be one of her organized colonies. She has not, in
explicit language, claimed sovereignty over it, though her acts have
indicated such a purpose. Whatever may have been her rights or
CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
pretension to rights over this colony, they were all given up, accord-
ing to the view here taken of the subject, by the Clayton and Bulwer
- The President cannot conceive that Great Britain can have any
plausible grounds for excepting this possession from the operation of
that treaty, and he is quite sure she can allege none to which he could
concede; yet he thinks it the wiser course to give her an opportunity
to explain her views thereon before presenting a solemn and formal
protest against her further occupancy of that colony. The President
expects that you will treat this subject in such a manner as to leave
no doubt on the minds of her Majesty's ministers that the abandon-
ment of that colony will be insisted on by the United States.
It is presumed that the only part of that colony to which England
will be disposed to attach much value, or have any inducement to re-
tain, is the island of Ruatan. From an intimation made to me, it
may be that she will take the position that this island does not belong
to any of the Central American States, but is to be regarded in the
same condition as one of the West India islands. By reference to the
treaties between Great Britain and Spain, you will find this island
clearly recognized as a Spanish possession, and a part of the old vice-
royalty of Guatemala.
Should an attempt be made to distinguish between this island afnd
the States of Central America, upon the ground above suggested, it is
probable that more full information than we now have in regard to
that subject may be obtained from, or through, Mr. Molina, the diplo-
matic representative near this government from Costa Rica and
Guatemala. /On receiving an intimation from you that further in-
formation thereon may be necessary, every effort will be here made to
procure and forward it to you.
A dopy of the convention of the 8th of February last will be for-
warded to you.
With this will be sent a copy of the Congressional Globe, if it can
be procured, containing the debates of the last session of Congress,
and the called session of the Senate.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. L. MARCY.
JAMEs BUCHANAN, Esq., &c., &c., &c.
Mr. Marcy to Mr. Buchanan.
[No. 21.] DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, December 1, 1853.
Snm: Your despatch (No. 16) of the 12th ultimo came to hand yes-
terday, and was laid before the President. He approves entirely of
the suggestion made by you to Lord Clarendon to place the Mosquito
Indians in the same relation to Nicaragua that our own Indians sus-
tain to the United'States, since it is in strict accordance with the views
of this government on that subject, as will be seen from the following
14 CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
extract from the Department's instructions to Mr. Borland, under date
of the 17th of June last:
Admitting these Indians to be what the United States and Nicar-
agua regard them-a savage tribe, having only possessory rights to
the country they occupy, and not the sovereignty of it-they cannot
fairly be required to yield up their actual possessions without some
compensation. Might not this most troublesome element in this Cen-
tral American question be removed by Nicaragua, in a way just in itself,
and entirely compatible with her national honor ? Let her arrange
this matterFas we arrange those of the same character with the Indian
tribes inhabiting portions of our own territory. I think it would be
proper for you to urge upon Nicaragua this view of the subject. An
inconsiderable annuity secured to the Mosquitos for their right of occu-
pancy to the country in their possession given up to Nicaragua, would,
I believe, cause the British government to abandon their protectorate
over them; assurance of this is given to the United States. Such a
course would not, in my opinion, be an acknowledgment directly or by
implication of the rightful interference by the government of Great
Britain in the Mosquito question."
The sequel of the agreement between Messrs. Webster and Cramp-
ton, about which inquiry is made by you, was an instruction to Mr.
Kerr, the charge d'affaires of the United States to Nicaragua, direct-
ing him to present the agreement to the Nicaraguan government for
its assent thereto. He complied with the instruction, but the applica-
tion was rejected. Mr. Walsh was also sent to the republic of Costa
Rica, as a special agent of this government, with instructions to pre-
sent the agreement to the consideration of the government of that re-
public. This he did, and it was accepted by the Costa Rican govern-
The Department has no spare copy of the document containing the
letter of Lord Palmerston to Mr. Castellon, asked for by you; but if
you will turn to the tenth volume of Executive Documents, 1st session
31st Congress, page 304, the letter referred to may there be found.
As it regards your inquiry about the number of the Mosquito In-
dians, I am unable to ascertain, with any degree of certainty, what
that number is.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. L. MARCY.
JAMES BUCHANAN, Esq., &c., &c., &c.
Mr. Buchanan to Mr. Marcy.
[No. 19.] LEGATON OF THE UnITED STATE,
London, January 5, 1854.
Sm: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your despatches
Nos. 20, 21, 22, and 23, of 19th November, and 1st, 3d, and 16thDe-
1mENTAL AxERICAN AWAIrS. 15
I have not deemed it advisable to press the Central American nego-
tiation since my last interview with Lord Clarendon in November. The
causes for this delay have been the unsettled condition of the British
cabinet in consequence of the resignation of Lord Palmerston, and his
subsequent withdrawal of that resignation, the state of the Russo-
Turkish question, to which the ministry have been devoting themselves
fruitlessly,as it is now believed, to the task of preventing a war between
Great Britain and Russia, and the desire which I felt to receive your
instructions in regard to the suggestion which I had made to Lord
Clarendon, that the Mosquito Indians might be placed in the same rela-
tion to Nicaragua that our own Indians sustain to the United States.
Your satisfactory despatch (No. 21) has removed all doubts on this
I have reason to believe that my omission to press the Central Amer-
ican questions at the present most important crisis between Great
Britain and Russia has been properly appreciated by Lord Clarendon.
On Monday last, however, I addressed his lordship a note, request-
ing an interview, to which I have received his answer, appointing to-
morrow (Friday,) at half-past three o'clock, for our meeting-too late
for the next steamer. Indeed, I had reason to expect that ere this he
would himself have taken the initiative, and have invited me to an
interview. .* *
I am, sir, &c.,
Hon. W. L. MaRoC, &c., &c., .c., Washington.
Mr. Buchanan to Mr. Marcy.
[No. 20.] LEGATION OF THE TESTED STATES,
London, January 10, 18&4.
Sm: I had a long interview on Friday last with Lord Clarendon at
the Foreign Office. We had much desultory and pleasant conversation
on various topics ; but in my report I shall confine myself to the sub-
stance of what passed between us in relation to the pending questions
between the two governments.
After our conversation had ended on the fishery and reciprocity
questions, he informed me that he had presented my suggestion to
the cabinet, that Nicaragua should treat the Mosquitos within her
limits as Great Britain and the United States treated their own In-
dians, under similar circumstances; and they thought, as he had done,
that it was highly reasonable. I told him I was glad to learn this,
and was happy to inform him I could now state, from advices received
by the last steamer, that you were of the same opinion.
He then asked, in what manner shall we carry this into effect? and
intimated that the appointment of commissioners by the two govern-
ments for-this pnrpise might be the best mode of proceeding. I folid'
him I was not then prepared to express an opinion on the subject, but
would take it into consideration. The proportion of territory to be
Occupied by the MosYgitos until their title was extinguished bNicaT-
agua, ought to depend very much upon their number. Lord John
I Russell had stated this to be thirty or forty thousand, whilst from my
information, which was, however, vague, it did not exceed as many
hundreds. He replied, that Mr. Green, the British consul and agent
iat Bluefields, was row in London, and had mentioned to him that my
estimate of their number was probably correct in regard to the Mosqm-
tos north of the-San Juan, though there might be a thousand more;
Ibut that the Mosquitos south of the San Juan were so numerous as to
render Lord John's estimate of the whole not excessive. I told him
I had never heard that any portion of this tribe resided in Costa Rica,
and I thought there must be some mistake in the statement of Mr.
Green. He then asked what we should do with the grants of land
which had been made to individuals by the king of the Mosquitos ; and
I answered that under the law of all European nations since the dib-
covery of America, as well as by the uniform practice both of Great
Britain and the United States, such grants made by Indians were ab-
solutely void. Ialso stated to him, somewhat in detail, the decision
on this point made by the Supreme Court of the United States in the
case of Johnsqn vs. McIntosh, (8 Wheaton, 513,) to which he appeared
to listen with marked attention.
After this we had a discursive and rambling conversation, embracing
the Ruatan and Belize questions, the Clayton and Bulwer treaty,
and several other matters which I do not propose to detail. In the
Course of it he stated distinctly that this treaty was, in their opinion,
I entirely p etive in its operation, and did not require them to aban-
Sdon any oftheir possessions in Central America. At this I expressed
my astonishment, and we discussed the point in an earnest but good-
In regard to Ruatan, he said he had the papers in a box before him
td prove their title to that island ; but it would consume too much
time to read them, and therefore he had thought of submitting his
views to me respecting it in writing. This suggestion pleased me
much, as I desired to present to his lordship a memorandum which I
had prepared, embracing our whole case in Central America. told
him, therefore, I should be much gratified to receive his views in
writing; and at the same time informed him, that without changing
our mode of personal conference, I desired also to deliver him a writ-
ten memorandum to which he might at all times refer, containing a
statement of the case on the part of my government. With this he
expressed himself to be much pleased. I am sorry that I shall not be
able to furnish you a copy of this memorandum by the present steamer.
SOne incident may be worth particular mention. In the course of
I; the conversation, he said the Bay Islands were but of little value; but
if British honor required their retention they could never be surren-
Sdired. I made some playful remark in reference to the idea of British
honor being involved in so small an affair. He then became quite
earnest on the point bf honoi, which might, he observed, be as much
CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS. 17
involved in subjects of little as of great value. To this I assented,
but said, that when the construction of a treaty was really doubtful,
which I did not admit upon the present occasion, and when the
friendly relations between two great countries were at stake, there
could in such a case be no point of honor involved in the one yielding
to the other what was admitted to be of but little value. He replied
that in this view of the case I might be correct.
In regard to Belize, there was not the least appearance of yielding
on the part of his lordship. He repudiated the idea with some
warmth that any person should suppose they had surrendered this
settlement under the Clayton and Bulwer treaty.
The time has therefore arrived when it becomes indispensable that
I should receive the President's instructions on this point. In form-
ing his opinion, it may be worthy of consideration, that the British
have been in the actual possession of Belize, under treaty, for more
than seventy years; that no period was fixed when they should with-
draw from this possession; that Spain declared war against Great
Britain on the llth October, 1796; that an attack was made from
Yucatan on Belize in 1798, which was repelled by the British set-
tlers; and that for nearly a quarter of a century it has been under a
regular colonial government, without attracting the notice of the
In any event, I shall do my whole duty in first urging their with-
drawal from the whole colony; and if that should not prove success-
ful, then from the portion of it south of the Sibun. But what am I
to do in case I shall be unsuccessful in both or either of these particu-
lars ? I shall await your answer with considerable anxiety.
When I pointed out to Lord Clarendon on Bailey's map, which lay
before him, the extent of the encroachments which British settlers had
made beyond the treaty limits, his only answer was, in a tone of pleas-
antry, that we ought not to complain of encroachments, and instanced
our acquisitiDnof -Texas. I then took occasion to give him informa-
tion on this subject, Tfr which he thanked me, and said that he had
never understood it before.
Returning again to the Mosquitos, am I to consent that they shall
continue in the occupation of the territory assigned to them by the
agreement between Messrs. Webster and Crampton, of April 30, 1852,
until their title shall be extinguished by Nicaragua ? Whether this
assignment be unreasonable or not would depend much upon their
number. You can doubtless ascertain at Washington whether any
considerable number of the tribe inhabit the country south of the San
Juan, as stated by Mr. Green.
In regard to the Mosquitos, the question of the greatest difficulty
would seem to be, in what manner can Great Britain and the United
States interfere, as suggested by Lord Clarendon, to prevent Nicaragua
from depriving these Indians of their right of occupancy without a fair
equivalent. It would seem that this could be best accomplished by a
treaty with Nicaragua. The whole detail presents embarrassments
CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
which will be annoying without the consent of Nicaragua, and yet I
am persuaded the British government care little or nothing for this
consent. They have evidenitly formed a very unfavorable opinion of
That State, and greatly prefer Costa Rica. /It would appear, from
what his lordship informed me, Mr. [arcoleta had told Mr. Crampton
that Costa Rica is jealous of the influence of Nicaragua with the United
You would naturally desire to know something of his majesty the
present king of the Mosquitos. I had, on a former occasion, stated
to Lord Clarendon that he was drunken and worthless. At this in-
terview his lordship informed me I was mistaken; that the present
king was a decent and well-behaved youth of between twenty-two and
twenty-three, who resided in Mr. Green's family, though he believed
his late majesty, to whom I had doubtless referred, was a bad fellow.
Yours, very respectfully,
Hon. Wm. L. MARcY,
Secretary of State.
Statement for the Earl of Clarendon.
When the negotiations commenced, which resulted in the conclu-
sion of the Clayton and Bulwer convention of April 19, 1850, the
British government were in possession of the whole extensive coast of
Central America, sweeping round from the Rio Hondo to the port and
harbor of San Juan de Nicaragua, except that portion [of] it between
the Sarstoon and Cape Honduras, together with the adjacent Hondu-
ras island of Ruatan.
The government of the United States seriously contested the claim
of Great Britain to any of these possessions, with the single exception
of that part of the Belize settlement lying between the Rio Hondo and
the Sebun, the usufruct of which, for a special purpose, and with a
careful reservation of his sovereign rights over it, had been granted
by the king of Spain to the British under the convention of 1786.
The progress of events had rendered Central America an object of
special interest to all the commercial nations of the world, on account
of the railroads and canals then proposed to be constructed through
the isthmus, for the purpose of uniting the Atlantic and Pacific
Great Britain and the United States, both having large and valua-
ble possessions on the shores of the Pacific and an extensive trade with
the countries beyond, it was natural that the one should desire to pre-
vent the other from being placed in a position to exercise exclusive
control, in peace or in war, over any of the grand thoroughfares be-
tween the two oceans. This was a main feature of a policy which
dictated the Clayton and Bulwer convention. To place the two na-
tions on an exact equality, and thus to remove all causes of mutual
jealousy, each of them agreed by this convention never to occupy,
fortify, or exercise dominion over any portion of Central America.
CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS. 19
Both parties adopted this self-denying ordinance for the purpose of
terminating serious misunderstandings then existing between them,
which might have endangered their friendly relations.
Whether the United States acted wisely or not in relinquishing
their right as an independent nation to acquire territory in a region
on their own continent, which may become necessary for the security
of their communication with their important and valuable possessions
on the Pacific, is another and a different question. But they have
concluded the convention; their faith is pledged; and under such cir-
cumstances they never look behind the record.
The language of the convention is, properly, mutual, though in
regard to the United States it can only restrain them from making
future acquisitions, because it is well known that, in point of fact,
they were not in the occupation of a foot of territory in Central
America. In reference to Great Britain the case is different, and the
language applies not only to the future, but the past; because she was
then in the actual exercise of dominion over a very large portion of
the eastern coast of Central America. Whilst, therefore, the United
States has no occupancy to abandon, under the convention, GreatI
Britain had extensive possessions to restore to the States of Guatemala,
Honduras, and Nicaragua.
And yet the British government, up till the present moment, have
not deemed it proper to take the first step towards the performance of
their obligations under this convention. They are still in the actual
occupancy of nearly the whole coast of Central America, including
the island of Ruatan, in the very same manner that they were before
its conclusion. This delay, on their part, surely cannot proceed from
any obscurity in the language of the convention.
*The first article declares that the governments of the United States
and Great Britain agree that neither will "occupy or fortify or colo-
nize, or assume or exercise any dominion over Nicaragua, Costa Rica,
the Mosquito coast, or any part of Central America." And from
abundant caution, in view of the Mosquito protectorate, the article
proceeds as follows: "Nor will either 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 the purpose of * *
occupying, fortifying, or colonizing Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mos-
quito coast, or any part of Central America, or of assuming or exer-
cising dominion over the same." This rendered into plain English
is, that the parties shall not exercise dominion over any part of Cen-
tral America, either directly or indirectly, either by themselves or in
the name of others.
It has been said that the first article of the convention acknow-
ledged, by implication, the right of Great Britain to the Mosquito
protectorate-a right which the United States have always contested
and resisted ; a right which would continue to Great Britain that en-
tire control over the Nicaragua ship-canal, and the other avenues of
communication between the two oceans, which it was the very object of
the convention to abolish, and to defeat that equality between the
parties in Central America, which it was its special purpose to secure.
CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
Surely the United States could never have been guilty of such a sui-
But admitting, for the sake of argument merely, that the United
States have acknowledged the existence of this protectorate: it would
be difficult, restricted in its use as it has been by the convention, to
conceive for what object of the least importance it could be employed.
It assuredly could not be for the purpose of occupying" the Mos-
quito coast," or of assuming or exercising dominion over the same,"
because this has been expressly prohibited by the convention.
Great Britain has not even retired from the island of Ruatan, in
obedience to the convention. Here no question can possibly arise
from any alleged Mosquito protectorate. This is clearly a Central
American island, belonging to the State of Honduras, and but thirty
miles distant from her port of Truxillo. If the convention plainly
embraces any object whatever, this must be Ruatan. And yet Great
Britain has not only continued to occupy this island, but since the
date of the convention she has actually established a colonial govern-
ment over it. And not over it alone, but, adding thereto five other
neighboring islands on the Central American coast, has converted
them all into the British colony of the Bay islands." Public senti-
ment is quite unanimous, in the United States, that the establishment
of this colony is a palpable violation both of the letter and spirit of
the Clayton and Bulwer convention.
Ruatan is well known to be an island of great value and import-
ance, on account of its excellent harbors, which are rare along that
coast. Indeed, it has been described by a Spanish author "as the
key of the Bay of Honduras, and the focus of the trade of the neigh-
boring countries." Such is its commanding geographical position
that Great Britain, in possession of it, could completely arrest the
trade of the United States in its passage to and from the isthmus.
In vain may the convention have prohibited Great Britain from erect-
ing or maintaining any fortifications commanding the Nicaragua
canal, or in other portions of Central America, if she shall continue
to exercise dominion over the Bay islands."
The United States now only ask that this convention shall be faith-
fully executed by both parties. They wish that every avenue of com-
munication across the isthmus shall be opened, not merely for their
own benefit, but for that of Great Britain and the whole world. In
this respect they would not, if they could, acquire any peculiar ad-
vantages, because these might arouse the jealousy and distrust of other
The rights and duties of the respective parties have been ascertained
and determined by the convention itself; but as the justice of the pre-
vious claim of Great Britain to her possessions in Central America
has been since asserted in high quarters, it may not be improper to
present the views of the government of the United States upon this
It eei scarcely be repeated that the United States have always de-
nied the validity of this claim. They believe that Great Britain has
nrreadered iaehig under the convention which she would not volun-
taily have done, from her own magnanimity and sene of justice, as
CENTRAL AMMEICAN AFAr. 21
soon as the question was brought home to her serious consideration.
It would be a vain labor to trace the history of the connexion of Great
Britain with the Mosquito shore, and other portions of Central
America, previous to her treaties with Spain of 1783 and 1786. This
Sconnexion doubtless originated from her desire to break down the
monopoly of trade which Spain so jealously enforced with her American
colonies, and to introduce into them British manufactures. The
attempts of Great Britain to accomplish this object were pertinaciously
resisted by Spain, and became the source of continual difficulties
between the two nations. After a long period of strife, these were
happily terminated by the treaties of 1783 and 1786, in as clear and
explicit language as was ever employed on any similar occasion; and
the history of the time renders the meaning of this language, if
possible, still more clear and explicit.
The sixth article of the treaty of peace of September 3, 1783, was
very distasteful to the king and cabinet of Great Britain. This
abundantly appears from Lord John Russell's "Memorials and
Corresndence of Charles James Fox." The British government,
failing n their eorts to have s article deferred for six months,
finally yielded a most reluctant consent to its insertion in the treaty.
Why this reluctant consent? Because the 6th article stipulates
that, with the exception of the territory between the river Wallis or
Belize, and the Rio Hondo, within which permission was granted to
British subjects to cut logwood, all the English who may be dis-
persed in any other parts, whether on the Spanish continent, (' Continent
Espagnd,') or in any of the islands whatsoever, dependent on the
aforesaid Spanish continent, and for whatever reason it might be,
without exception, shall retire within the district which has been
above described, in the space of eighteen months, to be computed from
the exchange of ratifications." And the treaty further expressly pro-
vides, th ththe permission granted to cut logwood "shall not be
considered as derogating in any wise from his (Catholic majesty's)
rights of sovereignty" over this logwood district; and it stipulates,
moreover, that if any fortifications should actually have been here-
tofore erected, within the limits marked out, his Britannic majesty
shall cause them all to be demolished, and he will order his subjects not
to build any new ones."
But notwithstanding these provisions, in the opinion of Mr. Fox,
it was still in the power of the British government to put our [their]
own interpretation upon the words 'Continent Espagnol,' and to de-
termine upon prudential considerations whether the Mosquito shore
comes under the description or not."
Hence the necessity for negotiations which should determine pre-
cisely and expressly the territory embraced by the treaty of 1783.
These produced the convention of the 14th July, 1786, and its very
first article removed every doubt on the subject. This declares that
"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 new limits pre-
scribed by the convention, within which British subjects were to be
22 CENTRAL AMEBICAN AFAIES.
permitted to cut not only logwood but mahogany. and all other wood;
and even this district is "indisputably acknowledged to belong of
right to the crown of Spain."
Thus what was meant by the Continent Espagnol," in the treaty
of 1783, is defined beyond all doubt by the convention of 1786, and
the sovereignty of the Spanish king over the Mosquito shore, as well
as over every other portion of the Spanish continent and the islands
adjacent, is expressly recognized.
It was just that Great Britain should interfere to protect the Mos-
quito Indians against the punishment to which they had exposed
themselves as her allies from their legitimate and acknowledged sove-
reign. The 14th article of the convention, therefore, provides that
his Catholic majesty, prompted solely by motives of humanity, prom-
ises to the king of England that he will not exercise any act of
severity against the Mosquitos inhabiting in part the countries which
are to be evacuated by virtue of the present convention, on account of
the connexions which may have subsisted between the said Indians
and the English ; and his Britannic majesty, on his part, will strictly
prohibit all his subjects from furnishing arms or warlike stores to the
Indians in general situated upon the frontiers of the Spanish posses-
British honor required that these treaties with Spain should be
faithfully observed, and from the contemporaneous history no doubt
exists but that this was done; that the orders required by the 15th
article of the convention were issued by the British government, and
that they were strictly carried into execution.
In this connexion a reference to the significant proceedings in the
House of Lords on March 26, 1787, ought not to be omitted. On that
day a motion was made by Lord Rawdon, That the terms of the
convention of July 14, 1786, do not meet the favorable opinion of this
House." The motion was discussed at considerable length and with
great ability. The task of defending the ministry on this occasion
was undertaken by Lord Chancellor Thurlow, and was most triumph-
antly performed. He abundantly justified the ministry for having
surrendered the Mosquito shore to Spain, and proved that the Mos-
quitos were not our allies; they were not a people we were bound by
treaty to protect." "His lordship repelled the argument, that the
settlement was a regular and legal settlement, with some sort of in-
dignation ; and so far from agreeing, as had been contended, that we
had uniformly remained in the quiet and unquestionablepossession of
our claim to the territory, he called upon the noble Viscount Stormont
to declare, as a man of honor, whether he did not know the contrary."
Lord Rawdon's motion to condemn the convention was rejected by a
vote of 53 to 17.
It is worthy of special remark, that all sides of the House, whether
approving or disapproving the convention, proceeded upon the express
admission that it required Great Britain, employing its own language,
to evacuate the country of the Mosquitos." On this question the
House of Lords were unanimous.
At what period, then, did Great Britain renew her claims to the
country of the Mosquitos, as well as the continent in general and the
CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS. AS
islands adjacent, without exception ?" It certainly was not in 1801,
when under the treaty of Amiens she acquired the island of Trinidad
from Spain, without any mention whatever of future acquisitions in
America. It certainly was not in 1809, when she entered into a
treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive, with Spain, to resist the
Emperor Napoleon in his attempts to conquer the Spanish monarchy.
It certainly was not in 1814, when the commercial treaties which had
previously existed between the two powers, including, it is presumed,
those of 1783 and 1786, were revived.
On all these occasions there was no mention whatever of any claims
of Great Britain to the Mosquito protectorate, or to any of the Spanish
American territories which she had abandoned.
It was not in 1817 and 1819, when acts of the British parliament
(57 and 59 Geo. IlI) distinctly acknowledged that the British settle-
ment at Belize was "not within the territory and dominion of his
majesty," but was merely a settlement for certain purposes in the
possession and under the protection of his majesty;" thus evincing,
with a determined purpose to observe, with the most scrupulous good
faith, the treaties of 1783 and 1786 with Spain.
In the very sensible book of Captain Bonnycastle, of the corps of
British royal engineers, on Spanish America, published at London
in 1818, he gives no intimation whatever that Great Britain had
revived her claim to the Mosquito protectorate. On the contrary, he
describes the Mosquito shore as a tract of country which lies along
part of the northern and eastern shore of Honduras," which had
"been claimed by the British." He adds, "the English held this
country for eighty years, and abandoned it in 1787 and 1788."
Thus matters continued until a considerable period after 1821, in
which year the Spanish provinces composing the captain-generalship
of Guatemala asserted and maintained their independence of Spain.
It would be a work of supererogation to attempt to prove, at this
period of the world's history, that these provinces, having by a suc-
cessful revolution become independent states, succeeded within their
respective limits to all the territorial rights of Spain. This will
surely not be denied by the British government, which took so noble
and prominent a part in securing the independence of all the Spanish
Indeed, Great Britain has recorded her adhesion to this principle
of international law, in her treaty of the 26th December, 1826, with
Mexico, then recently a revolted Spanish colony. By this treaty, so i
far from claiming any right beyond the usufruct, which had been con-
ceded to her under the convention with Spain of 1786, she recognizes
its continued existence and binding effect as between herself and Mex-
ico, by obtaining and accepting from the government of the latter a
stipulation that British subjects shall not be disturbed or molested
in the peaceable possession and exercise of whatever rights, privileges,.
and immunities they have at any time enjoyed within the limits de-
scribed and laid down" by that convention. Whether the former
Spanish sovereignty over Belize, subject to the British usufruct, re-
verted of right to Mexico or to Guatemala may be seriously ques-
CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIBM
tioned; but, in either case, this recognition by Great Britain is
And here it may be appropriate to observe, that Great Britain still
continues in possession, not only of the district between the Rio
Hondo and the Sibun, within which the king of Spain, under the
convention of 1786, had granted her a license to cut mahogany and.
other woods, but the British settlers have extended this possession'
south to the river Sarstoon, one degree and a half of latitude beyond
"the limits described and laid down" by the convention. It is pre-
sumed that the encroachments of these settlers south of the Sibun
have been made without the authority or sanction of the British
crown, and that no difficulty will exist in their removal.
Yet, in view of all these antecedents, the island of Ruatan, belong*
ing to the State of Honduras, and within sight of its shores, was cap-
tured in 1841 by Colonel McDonald, then her Britannic majesty's su-
perintendent at Belize, and the flag of Honduras was hauled down
and that of Great Britain was hoisted in its place. This small State,
incapable of making any effectual resistance, was compelled to submit,
and the island has ever since been under British control. What
makes this event more remarkable is, thatit is believed a similar act
of violence had been committed on Ruatan by the superintendent of
Belize in 1835; but, on complaint by the federal government of the
/ Central American States, then still in existence, the act was formally
disavowed by the British government, and the island was restored to
Sthe authorities of the republic.
No question can exist but that Ruatan was one of the "islands ad-
jacent" to the American continent, which had been restored by Great
Britain to Spain under the treaties of 1783 and 1786. Indeed, the
most approved British gazetteers and geographers, up till the present
date, have borne testimony to this fact, apparently without informal
tion from that hitherto but little known portion of the world, that the
island had again been seized by her majesty'ssuperintendent at Belize,
and was now a possession claimed by Great Britain.
When Great Britain determined to resume her dominion over the
Mosquito shore, in the name of a protectorate, is not known with any
degree of certainty in the United States. The first information on
the subject, in the Department of State at Washington, was contained
in a despatch of the 20th January, 1842, from William S. Murphy,
esq., special agent of the American government to Guatemala, in
which he states that in a conversation with Colonel McDonald at Be-
lize, the latter had informed him he had discovered and sent docu-
ments to England, which caused the British government to revive
their claim to the Mosquito territory.
According to Bonnycastle, the Mosquito shore lies along part of
the northern and eastern shore of Honduras," and, by the map which
accompanies his work, extends no further south than the mouth of
the river Segovia, in about 120 north latitude. This respectable au-
thor certainly never could have imagined that it extended south of
San Juan de Nicaragua, because he describes this as the principal
seaport of Nicaragua on the Caribbean sea; says there are "three
portages" between the lake and the mouth of the river, and "these*
CENTRAL AMERICAN dAFFAIR
carrying-places are defended, and at one of themis the fort, San Juan,
(called also the castle of Nuestra Sefora,) on a rock, and very strong;
it has thirty-six guns mounted, with a small battery, whose platform
is level with the water; and the whole is enclosed on the land side by
a ditch and rampart. Its garrison is generally kept up at a hundred
infantry, sixteen artillerymen, with about sixty of the militia, and
is provided with batteanx, which row guard every night up and down
Thus it appears that the Spaniards were justly sensible of the im-
portance of defending this outlet from the lake of Nicaragua to the
ocean, because, s Captain Bonnycastle observes: "This port (San
Juan) is looked upon as the key of the Americas; and with the pos-
session of it and Realejo on the other side of the lake, the Spanish
colonies might be paralyzed, by the enemy being then master of the
ports of both oceans." He might have added, that nearly sixty years
ago, on the 26th February, 1796, the port of San Juan de Nicaragua
was established as a port of entry of the second class by the king of
Captain Bonnycastle, as well as the Spaniards, would have been
greatly surprised had they been informed that this port was a part of
the dominions of his majesty the king of the Mosquitos, and that the
cities and cultivated territories of Nicaragua surrounding the lakes
Nicaragua and Managua had no outlet to the Caribbean sea, ex-
cept by his gracious permission. It was therefore with profound sur-
prise and regret the government and people of the United States
learned that a British force, on the 1st of January, 1848, had expelled
the State of Nicaragua from San Juan, had hauled down the Nicara-
guan flag, and had raised the Mosquito flag in its place. The ancient
name of the town, San Juan de Nicaragua, which had identified it in
all former time as belonging to Nicaragua, was on this occasion
changed, and thereafter it became Greytown.
These proceedings gave birth to serious apprehensions throughout
the United States, that Great Britain intended to monopolize for her-
self the control over the different routes between the Atlantic and
the Pacific, which, since the acquisition of California, had become of
vital importance to the United States. Underthisimpression, it was
impossible that the American government could any longer remain
silent and acquiescing spectators of what was passing in Central
Mr. Monroe, one of our wisest and most discreet Presidents, an-
nounced in a public message to Congress, in December, 1823, that
"the American continents, by the free and independent condition
which they have assumed and maintained, are henceforth not to be
considered subjects for future colonization by any European powers."
This declaration has since been known throughout the world as the
" Monroe doctrine," and has received the public and official sanction
of subsequent Presidents, as well as of a very large majority of the
Whilst this doctrine will be maintained, whenever in the opinion of
Congress the peace and safety of the United States shall render this
necessary, yet, to have acted upon it in Central America might have
26 CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
brought us into collision with Great Britain-an event always to be
deprecated, and, if possible, avoided.'
We can do each other the most good and the most harm of any two
Nations in the world; and therefore it is our strong mutual interest,
as it ought to be our strong mutual desire, to remain the best friends.
To settle these dangerous questions, both parties wisely resorted to
friendly negotiations, which resulted in the convention of April, 1850.
May this prove to be instrumental in finally adjusting all questions of
difficulty between the parties in Central America, and in perpetuating
their peace and friendship !
Surely, the Mosquito Indians ought not to prove an obstacle to so
happy a consummation. Even if these savages had never been actually
subdued by Spain, this would give them no title to rank as an inde-
pendent state, without violating the principle and the practice of every
European nation, without exception, which has acquired territory on
the continent of America. They all mutually recognized the right of
discovery, as well as the title of the discoverer, to a large extent of in-
terior territory, though at the moment occupied by fierce and hostile
tribes of Indians.
On this principle the wars, the negotiations, the cessions, and the
jurisprudence of these nations were founded. The ultimate dominion
and absolute title belonged to themselves, although several of them,
and especially Great Britain, conceded to the Indians a right of mere
occupancy, which, however, could only be extinguished by the authority
of the nation within whose dominions these Indians were found. All
sales or transfers of territory made by them to third parties were de-
clared to be absolutely void; and this was a merciful rule even for the
Indians themselves, because it prevented them from being defrauded
by dishonest individuals.
No nation has ever acted more steadily upon these principles than
Great Britain, and she has solemnly recognized them in her treaties
with the King of Spain of 1783 and 1786, by admitting his sovereignty
over the Mosquitos.
Shall the Mosquito tribe of Indians constitute an exception from this
hitherto universal rule ? Is there anything in their character or in
their civilization which would enable them to perform the duties and
sustain the responsibilities of a sovereign State in the family of nations ?
Bonnycastle says of them that they "were formerly a very powerful
and numerous race of people, but the ravages of rum and the small-
pox have diminished their numbers very much." He represents them,
on the authority of British settlers, -ning "to have no other re-
ligion than the adoration of evil spi. '
The same author also states that "the warriors of this tribe are
accounted at fifteen hundred." This possibly may have been correct
in 1818, when the book was published, but at present serious doubts
are entertained whether they reach much more than half that number,
The truth is, they are now a debased race, and are degraded even
below the common Indian standard. They have acquired the worst
vices of civilization from their.intercourse with the basest class of the
whites, without any of its redeeming virtues. The Mosquitos have
been thus represented by a writer of authority who has recently enjoyed
CENTRAL AMERICAN A~ABS. 27
the best opportunities for personal observation. That they are totally
incapable of maintaining an independent civilized government is be-
yond all question. Then, in regard to their so-called king, Lord Pal-
merston, in speaking of him to Mr. Rives, in September, 1851, says:
They had what was called a king, who, by the bye," he added in a
tone of pleasantry, "was as much a king as I or you." And Lord John
Russell, in his despatch to Mr. Crampton of the 19th January, 1853,
denominates the Mosquito government as "a fiction," and speaks of
the king as a person "whose title and power are, in truth, little better
The moment Great Britain shall withdraw from Bluefields, where
she now exercises exclusive dominion over the Musquito shore, the
former relations of the Mosquitos to Nicaragua and Honduras, as the
successors of Spain, will naturally be restored. When this event shall
occur, it is to be hoped that these States, in their conduct towards the
Mosquitos and the other Indian tribes within their territories, will fol-
low the example of Great Britain and the United States. Whilst
neither of these has ever acknowledged, or permitted any other nation
to acknowledge, any Indian tribe within their limits as an independent
people, they have both recognized the qualified right of such tribes to
occupy the soil, and, as the advance of the white settlements rendered
this necessary, have acquired their title by a fair purchase.
Certainly it cannot be desired that this extensive and valuable Cen-
tral American coast, on the highway of nations between the Atlantic
and the Pacific, should be appropriated to the .use of three or four
thousand wandering Indians as an independent state, who would use
it for no other purpose than that of hunting and fishing and savage
warfare. If such an event were possible, the coast would become a
retreat for pirates and outlaws of every nation, from whence to infest
and disturb the commerce of the world in its transit across the isthmus.
And but little better would be its condition should a new independent
state be established on the Mosquito shore. Besides, in either event,
the Central American states would deeply feel the injustice which had
been done them in depriving them of a portion of their territories.
They would never cease in attempts to recover their rights, and thus
strife and contention would be perpetuated in that quarter of the world
where it is so much the interest, both of Great Britain and the United
States, that all territorial questions shall be speedily, satisfactorily,
and finally adjusted.
LonnoN, January 6, 1854"1,
Mr. Buchanan to Mr. Alarcy.
[Ko. 31.] LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
London, May 5, 1854.
Si: Late on Tuesday evening last, I received the long promised
and long delayed statement of Lord Clarendon on the Central Ameri-
25 CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFPAIS.
can questions, dated on the 2d instant, a copy of which I have now the
honor to transmit. Accompanying this statement, I also received a
private note from his lordship, apologizing "for the further delay
that has taken place, owing to the Easter holidays, and the necessity
of consulting some of my [his] colleagues who were out of town."
Yours, very respectfully,
Hon. W. L. MARCY,
Mr. Lawrence to Lord Palmerston.
UNTrED STATS LEGATION,
November 8, 1849.
MY DEAR LoRD: As I told you in our conversation this morning, I
have been instructed by the President to inquire whether the British
government intends to occupy or colonize Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the
Mosquito coast,(so called,) or any part of Central America. I have
also been instructed to inquire whether the British government will
unite with the United States in guaranteeing the neutrality of a ship-
canal, railway, or other communication, to be open to the world and
common to all nations. May I beg the favor of an answer to these
inquiries, and to express the wish that I may receive it before two
o'clock to-morrow, so as to send it out by this week's packet ?
I am aware that Nicaragua is in dispute with Costa Rica, on the one
hand, about her boundary, and with the Mosquitos, on the other,
about their sovereignty. I have no purpose now to enter upon those
questions. I only desire to know the views of her majesty's govern-
ment on the questions I have proposed. At the same time I cannot
but think that Great Britain and the United States can heal these
breaches by kind offices, and that the Indians can be provided for in a
manner satisfactory to Nicaragua and Great Britain, and far better
for them than the equivocal position they now occupy.
I need not assure your lordship that the United States have no ul-
terior purposes in view. They frankly disclaim all intention of ob-
taining territory in Central America, and I have no doubt would be
willing to mutually agree with Great Britain neither to settle, annex,
colonize, nor fortify that country.
I am, &c.,
Viscoiun PALMEMSTON, &c.
OWYTRAL AVI!CEAN AFFAIRS.
Lord Palmerston toMr. Lawrence.
FoREoa OrFrcE, November 13, 1849.
My DRn SIn: I have received your letter of the 8th, written in
accordance with what passed in our conversation in the morning of
that day, and I hasten to reply to your inquiries.
With regard to the first part f your inquiry, I beg to say that her
majesty's government do not intend to occupy or colonize Nicaragua,
Costa Rica, the Mosquito coast, or any part of Central America.
With regard to Mosquito, however, a close political connexion has
existed between the crown of Great Britain and the State and terri-
tory of Mosquito for a period of about two centuries, but the British
government does not claim dominion in Mosquito.
With regard to the second part of your inquiry, I beg to say that
her majesty's government will feel great pleasure in combining and
co-operating with the government of the United States, for the pur-
pose of assisting the operations of any company which may be formed
with a view to establish a commercial communication, by canal or
railway, between the Atlantic and Pacific, across the isthmus which
divides the northern and southern portion of the American continent,
both by obtaining local security for the works while in progress, and
when completed and in use, and by placing such communication,
through the means of political arrangements, beyond the reach of
molestation, disturbance, or obstruction by reason of international
disputes which may at any time unfortunately arise, upon the condi-
tion, moreover, that such communication should at all times be open
and accessible for the commerce of all nations, upon equal terms for
all. Her majesty's government would feel that the union of two
great powers for the accomplishment of an object of such general
utility, and tending so much to assist the diffusion of civilization and
to strengthen the foundations of international peace, would be as
honorable to the powers concerned in such an arrangement as the
result would be advantageous to the commercial interests of the world
With regard to the port of Greytown, at the mouth of the river St.
John, her majesty's government would fully undertake to obtain the
consent of Mosquito to such arrangements as would render that port
entirely applicable, and on the principles above mentioned, to the pur-
poses of such a sea-to-sea communication.
You advert in your letter to the differences which have arisen be-
tween the republics of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, in regard to boun-
daries and to some other matters, and you suggest that the joint influ-
ence of Great Britain and the United States should be employed to
heal, by their good offices, the breaches which have interrupted the
friendly relations of those two contiguous States. Her majesty's gov-
ernment would, upon every account, be glad to join with the United
States in effecting such a reconciliation, and the more so because the
cordial co-operation of both of those republics would be essential for the
satisfactory completion of the contemplated undertaking.
I have only further to say that her majesty's government have re-
30 CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
ceived with great satisfaction your assurance that the United States
have no ulterior purposes in vier in regard to these matters; that
they frankly disclaim all intention of obtaining territory in Central
America, and that you have no doubt that they would be willing to
enter into a mutual agreement with Great Britain, neither to settle,
annex, colonize, nor fortify that country; and I can with equal frank-
ness assure you, that into such a mutual agreement her majesty's
government would be equally ready to enter.
I am, &c., &c.
AnBOTT LAWRENCE, Esq., &c., &c., dc.
Mr. Marcy to Mr. Buchanan.
[No. 42.] DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, June 12, 1854.
SIR: The perusal of Lord Clarendon's reply to your statement in
regard to Central American affairs does not encourage hopes of a
speedy adjustment of them. *
I still indulge the hope, that by the array of facts and arguments
bearing on the questions in difference in regard to Central American
affairs, the government of Great Britain will be induced to abandon
the main positions assumed by Lord Clarendon in his statement of tlhe
This government can never yield to the pretension that the treaty
of the 19th of April, 1850, was only prospective in its operation, and
that Great Britain retained the right to hold on to all she then had
or now claims to have had in Central America. It was certainly our
expectation that she came under obligations to the United States, by
that instrument, to withdraw from interference in Central American
affairs, and this expectation is sustained by the language of the treaty.
There is room for a fair difference of opinion as to the position she
should in future occupy in regard to Belize or British Honduras./ It
was not the object of the President, as you will perceive by your
general instructions, to direct you to insist that by the Clayton
and Bulwer treaty she was bound to abandon the possession of the
Belize. She had a right to occupy for a specific purpose a small
district of country on the shore of the Bay of Honduras, but had
no sovereignty over it. The character of this right, and the extent
of territory to which it applied, are both clearly defined in her treaty
with Spain of 1786. If this territory could be fairly considered within
the limits of Central America, then the British possession of it was
affected by the treaty, and this government might consequently claim
the abandonment of the British occupation and dominion over it.
The assertion of the claim upon Great Britain to abandon Belize as a
CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS. 31.
territory included in the treaty is embarrassed by two considerations:
first, by the notes which passed between the negotiators of the treaty
at the time of exchanging ratifications; and, second, by the doubt'
as to its geographical position being within the limits of Central
Discovering on the part of the British government a disposition to
escape from what are here regarded as the obvious stipulations of the
treaty, the President would have you avoid embarrassing the negotia-
tion by urging so questionable a matter as a right derived from the
treaty for the surrender of Belize. He does not, therefore, instruct you
to insist upon applying the stipulations of the treaty to that territory;
but you will resist the British pretension to extend it to any part of
Central America, or beyond the limits fixed to it in the Spanish treaty
of 1786. You will also resist the British pretension to regard that
territory as one of her colonies. She acquired no sovereign right in
Belize under her treaties with Spain. Her treaty with Mexico, in
1826, only continued the limited right she had from Spain, and the
very fact of treating with Mexico for the continuation of her usufruct
of Belize was a clear acknowledgment that the sovereignty over it
was in Mexico at that time.
While you will abstain from claiming the surrender of the posses-
sion of Belize under the Clayton and Bulwer treaty, you will resist
the pretension of Great Britain to regard it as a colonial possession
with sovereign rights, or to extend it beyond the limits designated in
the original grant-the Spanish treaties of 1783 and 1786.
In a commercial point of view, the possession of Belize can now be of
very little value to Great Britain ; and, politically considered, it must
be an incumbrance, unless she has undisclosed objects in view. Her
persistence in claiming a right to it would indicate on her part a policy
of3r dining in her hands the means iofannoying this county, and of
interrupting its intercourse with its possessions on thBieacific. If it
is her sincere desire to maintain peaceful relations wTtTi t ie TJ niii d
States, she would be ready for the accomplishment of such an import-
ant object to retire from so useless a possession.
An attempt on the part of Great Britain to extend Belize so as to
include any part of Central America will be repudiating an express
stipulation of the treaty of the 19th of April, 1850.
I cannot believe that the British government intends to hold the
position that the Bay islands are an appendage to Belize. Should
this be so, and she pertinaciously maintains it, there will be very little
hope left for the success of your negotiation in regard to Central
America. You have command of facts enough to drive her from this
position, unless there is a determination to hold it against the clearest
evidence and the strongest arguments.
Ruatan can only be desirable to Great Britain as a naval and mili-
tary station, and for that purpose only as it would give her great i
facility in affecting injuriously our interests. / Should she refuse to
acknowledge it as a part of the State of Honduras, and retain posses-
sion of it for herself, the United States would clearly understand her x
object. A predetermination to interfere with our affairs thus mani- i
U CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
fested will render the continuance of our amicable relations with her
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. L. MARCY.
JAMES BUCHANAN, Esq., &c., &c., &c.
Mr. Buchanan to Mr. Marcy.
[No. 39.] LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
London, July 25, 1854.
SI : I have the honor to transmit to you a copy of my "remarks
in reply to Lord Clarendon's statement of May 2, 1854," the original
having been sent to his lordship on the 22d instant.
I regret their length, but I found it impossible, such were the num-
ber of topics introduced in the British statement, to render them shorter.
I trust they may meet the approbation of the President and yourself.
Yours, very respectfully,
Hon. WM. L. MARCY,
Secretary of State.
Mr. Buchanan to Mr. Marcy.
[No. 61.] LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
London, February 16, 1855.
*uR: Since the ministerial crisis all public business has been sus-
pended in this country, except such as relates to the existing war
with Russia. From a conversation which I casually had with Lord
Aberdeen on the day before the vote against his ministry in the House
of Commons, I was confirmed in the belief that the Central American
questions would have been settled had he remained in power a few
Yours, very respectfully,
Hon. WM. L. MARcY,
Secretary of State.
Mr. Marcy to Mr. Buchanan.
[No. 104.] DEPARTMENT O STATE,
Waehington, August 6, 1855.
SIn: The President is anxious to have the questions which have
been raised on the treaty between the United States and Great Britain
OBNTRAL AMBICAN AFFAIS. 33
of the 19th of April, 1850, settled, if possible, or, at least, brought
to a distinct issue, before you retire from your mission., The nego-
tiation cannot be committed to any one who so well understands the
subject in all its bearings as you do, or who can so ably sustain and
carry out the views of the United States.
The President has been unwilling to manifest impatience at the
delay which has attended this negotiation while her Majesty's gov-
ernment was engrossed by the war with Russia, but he deems it to
be but reasonable that it should now be urged to a conclusion. It is
important that the United States should know the positions Great
Britain is determined to maintain relative to the Central American
I need not express to you the surprise the President felt on learn-
ing the views of her Majesty's government, as presented to you in
Lord Clarendon's statement of the 2d of May, 1854, in regard to
'Ruatan and the other islands constituting what may now be looked
Supon as the British colony of the Bay islands. These views are con-
;sidered by this government as not only contrary to the spirit, but
directly at variance with the clear language of the convention of
After the very cogent argument contained in your able reply to
that statement, the President is unwilling to believe that the po-
sitions, rather indicated than maintained, by Lord Clarendon, rela-
tive to Ruatan, will be adhered to. If a stipulation, so explicit in
terms and so clearly applicable to the Bay islands, is to be nullified
by interpretation, every other provision in that instrument, so far as
it imposes obligations upon Great Britain, may, in the same way, and
with equal plausibility, be defeated.
Should Great Britain refuse to withdraw from Ruatan and the other
islands on the coast of the State of Honduras, her determination,
in that respect, could not but be regarded by the President as a non-
compliance with the stipulations of the treaty of 1850. The fact that
these islands are a part of Central America is so unquestionable, and
the stipulations of the convention are so directly applicable to them,
that there seems to be no room for raising a question of interpretation..
After what was said to you by Lord Aberdeen, when at the head-of
the British government, it is to be hoped that the British pretension
to hold Ruatan will be abandoned. If Great Britain still persists in
holding these islands and in maintaining a colony there, her determi-
nation to that effect should be distinctly announced, so that this gov-
ernment may no longer be left in doubt as to her intentions. On this
point you are instructed to ask of her Majesty's government an explicit
The main inducement which this government had, as you have well '
i observed, for entering -into this treaty, was to prevent Great Britain
from acquiring or exercising dominion in Central America; but this
object is entirely defeated by the interpretation which the British gov-
ernment proposes to give to that instrument. While the United
States are excluded from occupying, colonizing, or exercising any
dominion over any part of Central America, it cannot be admitted
that the same restriction is not imposed on Great Britain.
A ITAL ANICANM AEMAN W
You are, therefore, directed to declare explicitly to her Majesty's
government, that the President, after a full consideration of what is
alleged in Lord Clarendon's statement of the 2d of May, 1854, cannot
entertain a doubt but that Great Britain is solemnly bound by the first
article of the convention of 1850 not to occupy, or fortify, or colonize,
or assume or exercise any dominion over Buatan, or any of the islands
on the coast of the State of Honduras, known or described as the Bay
islands, and that he expects she will, in fulfilment of the stipulations
of that treaty, abandon the possession she now holds of this part of
It would be superfluous to enlarge upon the views.you have taken
of the British protectorate over the Mosquito Indians. The ground-
lessness of the'British pretensions to exercise control or dominion in
Central American affairs, under the shadow of this protectorate, is so
clearly demonstrated in your remarks, in reply to Lord Clarendon's
statement, as to supersede further discussion on the subject. What
effect these remarks have produced on the British government is ndt
yet known. If they have received the consideration due to them, I
am sure they will open the way to the peaceful adjustment of these
embarrassing Central American questions.
It is not strange that Lord Clarendon should manifest some reluc-
tance to have the foundation of the British protectorate over the Mos-
quitos explored; but the rights claimed under it seem necessarily to
have called for the examination which you have given to the subject.
The result of that examination shows that the Mosquito kingdom, as
a political state, is, in any view of it, what Lord Palmerston acknow-
ledged it to be-a mere fiction. Upon this admitted fiction, Great
Britain now attempts to establish a substantial sovereign power over
an extensive region in Central America, and, when required by the
United States to withdraw from the exercise of this power, in compli-
ance with the stipulations of the convention of 1850, she endeavors to
escape from her obligation to do so, by designating the dominion she
exercises as a protectorate.
SA protectorate necessarily implies the actual existence of a sovereign
Authority, in the protected power ; but where there is, in fact, no such
Authority, there can e no protectorate. The Mosquitos ar a conve-
Snience to sustain British pretensions, but cannot be regarded as a
sovereign state.. Lord Palmerston, as was evinced by his remark to
Mr. eives, took this view of the political condition of the Mosquitos;
and it is so obviously correct, that the British government should not
e surprised if the United States consider the subject in the same
It was the confident belief of the United States that this fiction of
a Mosquito kingdom had been disposed of by the convention, but very
much to their surprise it is now resorted to as the basis of aBritish
dominion over an extensive region of Central America. '
Admitting that the convention did not require the absoluterenun-
ciation of the Mosquito protectorate, it imposed, as is admitted, re-
strictions upon it. After the conclusion of that treaty, it could not be
used for the purpose of occupying, fortifying, or colonizing, any part
SISt*sl AsmmaS AwAIS.
of Central America, or for the purpose of assuming or exercising do-
minion over the same.
Great Britain will not, I think, contend that it has been thus prac-
tically restricted since the ratification of the convention of 1850.
There is no visible power, civil or military, in the Mosquito territory,
but that which is exercised by British subjects. -
It is understood, and, indeed; asserted by the British government,
that the protectorate is only used for the security of the rights of the
Mosquito Indians, and that it is ready to abstain from further inter-
ference in that country whenever these rights can be in a proper man-
ner guarantied to those Indians.
This is a question .between the State of Nicaragua and thoseIndians,
with which neither Great Britain nor the United States has any busi-
ness to interfere, except in friendly conference with Nicaragua.
Were this the only difficulty in carrying out the convention of 1850,
asit is understood by the United States, I should entertain but little
doubt that a satisfactory adjustment might be made of the Central
American questions. I apprehend, however, that there will be more
difficulty in inducing Great Britain to comply with the stipulations of
the treaty by surrendering the territory encroached on by her subjects,
between the Sibun and Sarstoon rivers. Her claim to hold possession
of this part of Central America is as groundless as her pretensions to
the Bay islands.
It is difficult to conceive how the argument whichyou have submit-
ted to her Majesty's government against this claim can be refuted.
Great Britain cannot hold this territory without assuming or exercis-
ing dominion over a part of Central America; and this she has, in
the most explicit manner, and in the strongest terms, covenanted not
f she can succeed in her attempt to convert her license to cut log-
wood at the Belize, within the limits specified by her treaties with
Spain of 1783 and 1786, into a sovereign right over that territory,
and extend it so as to cover the region between the Sibun and Sarstoon,
she will in that way entirely destroy the mutuality of the convention
of 1850. It was the manifest intention of that instrument to exclude
both of the contracting parties from holding, as well as from acquir-
ing, territorial possessions in Central America. This intention was
not clothed in ambiguous language, but was set forth in explicit terms.
The United States have bound themselves not to acquire any such pos-
sessions, and Great Britain has stipulated not to assume or exercise
any dominion over any part of Central America. This covenant is
in noise restricted by the explanatory note of the negotiators of the
4th of July, 1850.
The United States have a right to insist, and do insist, that the pos-
session of the British government at the Belize shall be restricted to
the limits and objects specified in the Spanish grant, and that all be-
yond those limits,falling within Central America, shall berelinquished.
You are instructed by the President to urge upon her Britannicu, a-
jesty's government this view, and to claim a compliance with it as de-
Snanded by the stipulations of the convention of 1850.
36 CENTrAL AMmIAN. AWAS.
The British government having been furnished with the views
entertained by the President in regard to the obligations imposed-by
that convention, he expects it will be equally explicit on its part.
He does not doubt that the interest of the two countries, and the
mutual desire to maintain existing amicable relations, will alike
inspire each party with a conciliatory spirit, which will enable them
to overcome all obstacles to a satisfactory adjustment.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. L. MARCY.
JAMES BUCHnuAN, Esq., &c., &c., &c.
Mr. Buchanan to Mr. Marcy.
[No. 89.] LEGATnoN OP TH UNrIED STATS,
London, September 11, 1855.
Sm: I have the honor of transmitting to you the copy of a note
which I this day addressed to Lord Clarendon on the Central Ameri-
can questions, in obedience to your instructions of the 6th ultimo,
(No. 104.) I shall, of course, be anxious to learn whether it has
received the President's approbation. It has been prepared with much
care, my purpose having been to employ conciliatory language, so far
as this might be done consistently with the President's instructions
and the attainment of the objects which he had in view.
Yours, very respectfully, JAMES BUHANA.
Hon. WmLLm L. MARCY,
Secretary of State.
Mr. Buchanan to Lord Clarendon.
LEGATION o THE UmTIED SATES,
London, September 11, 1855.
The undersigned, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary
of the United States, has been instructed by the President again to
call the attention of the Earl of Clarendon, her Majesty's principal
secretary of state for foreign affairs, to the Central American ques-
tions pending between the two governments, under the convention of
tl&V9th April, 1850.
le President has directed the undersigned, before retiring from
mission, to request from the British government a statement of
the positions which it has determined to maintain in regard to the
Bay islands, the territory between the Sil and the Saratoon, as
well as the Belize settlement, and to the Miito protectorate. The
long delay in asking for this informational proceeded from.the
President's reluctance to manifest any impatience on this important
subject whilst the attention of her Majesty's government was engross-
ed by the war with Russia. But as more than a year has already
elapsed since the termination of the discussion on these questions, and
li*rAaL AUOmN ANi3aY &M
as the first session of a new Congress is rapidly approaching, the
President does not feel that he would be justified in any longer delay.
Whilst it is far from the purpose of the undersigned to reopen the
general discussion, he has been instructed to communicate to the
Earlof Clarendon the conclusions at which the President has arrived
upon the whole case.
After having carefully reviewed and reconsidered all the questions
involved, with the light cast upon them by the Earl of Clarendon's
statement of the 2d May, .1854, the President has expressed his un-
willingness to believe that the positions, which he conceives to be
rather indicated therein than finally adopted, will be adhered to by
the British government.
It was, in his opinion, the manifest intention of the convention to
exclude both the contracting parties from holding or occupying, as
well as from acquiring territorial possessions in Central America; and
that this intention is not clothed in ambiguous language, but is set
forth in explicit terms. The United States have bound themselves
not to acquire any such possessions, and Great Britain has stipulated
not to assume or exercise any dominion over any part of Central
America." Indeed, without such a reciprocal engagement, no mutu-
ality whatever would have existed between the covenants of the con-
tracting parties. /Whilst the United States are excluded from occ-
pying, colonizing, or exercising dominion over any part of Central
America, it cannot be admitted that the same restriction, imposed in"
the-very same language, is not equally applicable to Great Britain.
The President, therefore, confidently believes that Great Britain
is bound by the first article of the convention of 1850 to withdraw
from the possession she now holds of Ruatan and the other Central
American islands on the coast of the State of Honduras, as well as
from the territory in Central America between the Sibun and the
Sarstoon, which has been encroached upon by her Majesty's subjects.
He is also of opinion that the possession of the British government at
the Belize should be restricted to the limits and objects specified in
the treaties between Great Britain and Spain of 1783 and 1786.
In regard to the alleged protectorate over the so-called Mosquito
kingdom, the President has instructed the undersigned to say it was
his confident belief that this protectorate had been finally disposed of
by the convention. It is therefore much to his regret that he finds it
is still continued as the basis of British dominion over an extensive
region in Central America.
Even although Great Britain admits that the convention has im-
posed restrictions on the protectorate claimed, yet she still continues
to exercise the same dominion over the Mosquito coast which she had
done before its date. Indeed, at the present moment, no visible
power, civil or military, exists in the Mosquito territory, except that
which is exercised by British subjects, notwithstanding the convention
expressly prohibited both parties from using any protection which
either may afford to any state or people, for the purpose of occupying,
fottifying; or colonizing, the Mosquito coast, or any part of Central
America, or for the purpose of assuming or exercising dominion orer
38 CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
The declaration of the British government, that this protectorate is
only employed for the security of the rights of the Mosquito Indians,
and that it is ready to abstain from further interference in that coun-
try whenever these rights can, in a proper manner, be guarantied to
them, cannot be recognized by the United States as having any found-
ation in the convention. The President considers this to be a ques-
tion between Nicaragua and the Indians within its territory, with
which neither Great Britain nor the United States has any right to
interfere, except in friendly conference with the authorities of that
Having thus distinctly presented to the British government the
views of the government of the United States in regard to the obli-
gations imposed by the convention of 1850, the President feels assured
that the Earl of Clarendon will, with characteristic frankness, be
equally explicit in presenting the views of the British government in
regard to these obligations.
In conclusion, the undersigned is instructed to state that the Presi-
dent does not doubt that the interest of the two countries, and their
mutual desire to maintain existing friendly relations, will alike inspire
i each party with a conciliatory spirit, and enable them to overcome all
obstacles to a satisfactory adjustment of the Central American ques-
The undersigned has the honor to renew to the Earl of Clarendon
the assurance of his distinguished consideration.
Right Hon. the EARL OF CLARENDON, c., &c., &c.
Mr. Buchanan to Mr. Marcy.
[No. 95.] LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
London, October 4, 1855.
Sm: I have now the honor of transmitting to you a copy of1he
note of Lord Clarendon of the 28th, received by me on *lW'29th
ultimo, in answer to my note of the 11th ultimo, on4' 'C ntral
American questions, as well as a copy of my reply da on the
4th instant. Lord Clarendon's note is of such a characterize might
have been anticipated after the conversation between his lordsTip
and myself on the 5th April last, reported in my despatch (No.
66) of the 7th of that month. This note has been received so much
sooner than I had anticipated, that if I were now in possession of
my letter of recall, I might return home on the 6th of October,
as I had originally determined. It is impossible, however, that
I should leave before this letter shall arrive, and it is certainly
proper, under all the circumstances, that I should- remain here no
longer than may be necessary. If, therefore, it shall not have been
CMNTRAL AMBOAN APRAIBS. 39
forwarded before the arrival of this despatch, I trust it may be sent
by the next succeeding steamer.
Yours, very respectfully,
Hon. WIu.ax L. MARCy,
Secretary of State.
FOREmIN OFFICE, September 28, 1855.
The undersigned, her Majesty's principal secretary of state for
foreign affairs, has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the note
which Mr. Buchanan, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipoten-
tiary of the United States, addressed to him on the 11th instant,
stating that he had been directed by the President, before retiring
from his mission, to request from the British government a statement
of the positions which it has determined to maintain, in regard to the
Bay islands, to the territory between the Sibun and the Sarstoon, as
well as the Belize settlement, and to the Mosquito protectorate, and
setting forth the conclusions at which the President has arrived upon
the whole case-namely, that it was the intention of the convention of
the 19th of April, 1850, to exclude both the contracting parties from
holding or occupying, as well as from acquiring, territorial possessions
in Central America; and that, consequently, Great Britain is bound
to withdraw from the possession she now holds of Ruatan and other
Central American islands on the coast of the State of Honduras, as
well as from the territory in Central America between the Sibun and
the Sarstoon ; that the possession of the British government at Belize
should be restricted to the limits and objects specified in the treaties
between Great Britain and Spain of 1783 and 1786 ; and that the pro-
tectorate of the so-called Mosquito kingdom was finally disposed of by
The undersigned observes with satisfaction that, while thus express-
ing the opinion of the President of the United States on the several
points thus enumerated, Mr. Buchanan announces that it is far from
his purpose to re-open the general discussion upon them. Her
Majesty's government had, indeed, refrained from pursuing that dis-
cussion by replying to Mr. Buchanan's note of the 22d of July, 1854,
because it appeared to them that the continuation of the correspond-
ence was not likely to lead to any satisfactory conclusion; and, as
her Majesty's government are still of that opinion, the undersigned
will confine his answer to Mr. Buchanan's present note within the*
same limits as those which Mr. Buchanan has prescribed to himself.
In answer, therefore, to the questions put by Mr. Buchanan, the
undersigned has the honor to state to him, thatcher Majesty's govern-1
ment adhere to the opinion which they have uniformly held, that the
convention of April 19, 1850, was merely prospective in its operation,
and did not in any way interfere with the state of things existing at
the time of its conclusion. If it had been intended to do so, there
40 CaNTiL Molnawx AaZeS.
can be no question but that, in conformity with what the undersigned
believes to be the universal rule in regard to instruments of this
nature, it would have contained, in specific terms, a renunciation, on
the part of Great Britain, of the possessions and rights which, up to
the conclusion of the convention, she had claimed to maintain, and
such renunciation would not have been left as a mere matter of in-
Neither can her Majesty's government subscribe to the position
that, if the convention did not bear the meaning attached to it by the
United States, it would have imposed upon the government of the
United States a self-denying obligation which was not equally con-
tracted by Great Britain, and that such a state of things could not
have been in the intention of the contracting parties; because, if the
convention did bear the meaning attached to it by the United States,
it would then have imposed upon Great Britain the obligation to re-
nounce possessions and rights without any equivalent renunciation on
the part of the United States. If the government of the United
States can complain, in the one case, of the convention as presenting
a unilateral character unfavorable to the United States, with much
greater reason might the government of Great Britain, in the other
case, if the assumption of the United States were to be acted upon in
the construction of the convention, complain of it as prejudicial to
nBut looking to the object which the contracting parties had in view
at the conclusion of the convention-namely, the security of the pro-
posed ship-canal-the British government consider that the design of
the contracting parties was not to disturb any state of things then
existing, but to guard against the future creation of a state of things
which might by possibility interfere with the security of the proposed
canal. That such was the true design of the convention, is obvious
from the provision in the sixth article, by which the contracting par-
ties engaged to invite every State to enter into stipulations with them
similar to those contained in the convention. But if the position of
the United States government were sound, and the convention was
intended to interfere with the state of things existing at the time of
its conclusion, and to impose upon Great Britain to withdraw from
portions of territory occupied by it, a similar obligation would be con-
tracted by other states acceding to the convention, and the govern-
ments of the Central American States would, by the mere act of acces-
sion, sign away their rights to the territories in which they are
The British government share the conviction of the Presidentof the
United States, that the interest of the two countries, and their mufWutW
desire to maintain existing friendly relations, wil4 alike inspire edai
party with a conciliatory spirit, and enable them to overcome all ob
stacles to a satisfactory adjustment of Central American questions.
The British government see no reason why it should be otherwise.
The British government neither have the wish to extend the limits of
their possessions or the sphere of their influence in that quarter, nor
would any British interest be promoted by doing so; but the British
government are not prepared to contract either the one or the other,
Ci AL AUOBICAN AWAI3. 4
in pursuance of the interpretation of a convention, to which interpre-
tation they cannot subscribe.
The undersigned requests Mr. Buchanan to accept the assurance of
his highest consideration.
Hon. JAMs BUCHnMAN, &c., &c., &c.
LEGATION OF TH UmmD STATES,
October 4, 1855.
The undersigned, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary
of the United States, has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the
note of the Earl of Clarendon, her Majesty's principal secretary of
state for foreign affairs, dated on the 28th ultimo, in reply to the note
of the undersigned of the 11th ultimo, in reference to the Central
American questions between the two governments; and he will not
fail to transmit a copy of the same, by the next steamer, to the Sec-
retary of State at Washington.
Whilst far from intending to renew the general discussion of these
questions, which has already been exhausted, the undersigned, in
passing, would make a single observation in regard to the Earl of
Clarendon's remark, that if the convention of the 19th April, 1850,
had intended that Great Britain should withdraw from her possessions
in Central America, "it would have contained, in specific terms, a
renunciation" to that effect; and such renunciation would not have
been left as a mere matter of inference."
Now, it appears to the undersigned that an engagement by a party
not "to occupy," "or exercise any dominion" over territory of which
; that party is in actual possession at the date of the engagement, is
equivalent in all respects to an agreement to withdraw from such ter-
ritory. Under these circumstances, this is not a mere matter of in-
ference;" because the one proposition is necessarily and inseparably
involved in the other, and they are merely alternative modes of ex-
pressing the same idea. In such a case, to withdraw is not to occupy;
and not to occupy is necessarily to withdraw.
The undersigned needs no apology for briefly adverting to another
argument of the Earl of Clarendon, because it has now for the first
time been advanced. He states, that if the position of the United
States government were sound, and the convention was intended to
Interfere with the state of things existing at the time of its conclu-
sion, and to impose upon Great Britain to withdraw from portions of
territory occupied by it, a similar obligation would be contracted by
other states, acceding to the convention, [under the 6th article,] and
the governments of the Central American States would, by the mere
act of accession, sign away their rights to the territories in which they
Confining himself strictly to this single view of the subject, the
undersigned would observe, that notwithstanding the general terms
employed by the convention, an examination of its provisions, and
especially of the sixth article itself, will prove it never intended that
42 O- MTRAL AE AN AwFFAI
the Central American States should become joint parties to this treaty
with the United States, Great Britain, and other governments, exte-
rior to Central America. These States are the subjects on which the
guarantees of the convention were to act, and the exclusion of all
other powers from the occupancy of Central America, with a view to
the security not only of this canal, but all other canals or railroads
across the isthmus, was one of the main objects to be accomplished by
The Earl of Clarendon has himself indicated how absurd it would
be for the Central American governments to become joint parties to
this convention, according to the American construction. It would,
however, be none the less absurd according to the British construction;
because, then, no Central American State could accede to the treaty
without confining itself forever within its existing boundaries, and
agreeing not to add to its territory and extend its occupation under
any possible circumstances which might arise in the future.
Besides, were it possible for Nicaragua, for example, to become a
party to this joint convention, she would then take upon herself the
extraordinary obligation to use her own influence with herself, under
the 4th article, to induce herself to facilitate the construction of the
canal, and to use her good offices to procure from herself the estab-
lishment of two free ports, one at each end of the canal," both these
ports being within her own limits. Consequences almost equally ex-
traordinary would result from other portions of the convention.
~ But although the contracting parties could not have intended that
the Central American States should become joint parties to the conven-
tion, yet they foresaw that it would be necessary to obtain stipulations
from one or more of them, individually, providing for the security of
the proposed canal, adapted to their anomalous condition, and without
interfering in any manner with their territorial possessions./Accord-
-i-gly, in the sixth article, and in the clause next following that com-
mented upon by the Earl of Clarendon, the convention provides as
follows: "And the contracting parties likewise agree that each shall
enter into treaty stipulations with such of the Central American States
as they may deem advisable, for the purpose of more effectually carry-
ing out the great design of this convention, namely, that of construct-
ing and maintaining the said canal as a ship communication between
the two oceans, for the benefit of mankind, on equal terms to all, and
Sof protecting the same," &c., &c.
In order to arrive at the conclusion that the Central American
States are embraced in the general language of the first clause of the
sixth article, it would be necessary to overlook this second clause en-
tirely, or at least to regard it as unnecessary and without meaning.
The undersigned has the honor to renew to the Earl of Clarendon
the assurance of his distinguished consideration.
Right Hon. the EARL oF COLABNDON, &c- &c., &c.
OWI'K&L LYfllCAR AftAIRs
Statement for Mr. Buchanan.
FOEIGN OmFCE, May 2, 1854.
The substance of the case submitted to her Majesty's government
by Mr. Buchanan may be briefly stated as follows:
1. That Great Britain, prior to April, 1850, was "in possession of
the whole coast of Central America, from the Rio Hondo to the port
and harbor of San Juan de Nicaragua, except that portion of it be-
tween the Sarstoon and Cape Honduras, together with the adjacent
Honduras island of Ruatan."
2. That the government of the United States does not understand
under what title Great Britain, having abandoned the greater part of
these possessions in 1786, resumed them subsequently; nor does it
know precisely at what period the protectorate of Great Britain over
Mosquito was re-established, the first intimation which the United
States government had received on the subject being from an Ameri-
can agent in 1842 ; and that, moreover, Captain Bonnycastle and other
authorities had never represented the Mosquito shore as extending as
far as the river and town of San Juan de Nicaragua, which latter the
Spaniards had considered a place of much importance and the key to
3. That it appears to the United States government that Spain, in
virtue of the treaty of 1786, had a right to object to Great Britain
establishing herself on the Mosquito coast, or assuming the protectorate
of Mosquito; and that Great Britain had, by her treaty with Mexico,
recognized that the former colonies of Spain stood in the same position
with respect to other states as old Spain herself, and inherited the ad-
vantages of the ancient treaties of the mother country; that the United
States government had always contested the claim of Great Britain to
all the possessions held by her in Central America, with the exception
of that portion of the settlement of Belize which is situated between
the Rio Hondo and the Sibun; that it had always resisted the right of
Great Britain to establish a protectorate over the Mosquitos, and that
it had learned with great surprise and regret that the British forces
had, in 1848, expelled the Nicaraguan authorities, which held the port
and town of San Juan de Nicaragua, in virtue of the old Spanish rights,
and had then hoisted thereupon the flag of the Mosquitos.
4. That Mr. Monroe, when President of the United States, had, in
1823, announced in a public message to Congress that the American
continents were not, henceforth, to be considered subject to coloniza-
tion by European powers.
5. That no claim on the part of Great Britain to act in the name
or under the authority of the Mosquito Indians could be well founded,
inasmuch as that race, even if never conquered by Spain, were
savages, who, according to the practice and principles of all European
nations which had ever acquired territory on the continent of America,
had no title to rank as independent states in the territory they occu-
pied, but had a claim to mere occupancy thereon, such territory being
the dominion of the discoverer of it, or even of the discoverer of terri-
tory on the same continent, though far distant from it, by whom, alone,
CENTRAL AXMEICAN AFAIRS.
this claim to mere occupancy on the part of the Indians was to be
extinguished by purchase, as the advances of the white settlements
rendered it necessary.
And, finally, that Great Britain, having declared by treaty, in 1850,
that she would neither colonize, fortify, occupy, nor assume dominion
over Mosquito or Central America, was thereby, at all events, bound to
withdraw her protection from the people and territory of the Mos-
quitos, and moreover to deliver up Ruatan, which was an island
belonging to Honduras, a Central American State, but which, never-
theless, had recently been colonized and occupied by Great Britain.
Such are the main points brought forward by Mr. Buchanan in the
statement which he has delivered to her Majesty's government.
If, in speaking of.the possessions held by Great Britain previous to
1850 on the coast of Central America, (the settlement of Belize ex-
cepted,) Mr. Buchanan means that his expressions should apply to
that district which is called the Mosquito country, it is proper that her
Majesty's government should at once state that her Majesty has never
held any possession whatsoever in the Mosquito country. But al-
though Great Britain held no possessions in the-Mosquito country, she
undoubtedly exercised a great and extensive influence over it, as the
protecting ally of the Mosquito king; that king or chief having occa-
sionally been even crowned at Jamaica, under the auspices of the
The United States government will, it is apprehended, scarcely ex-
pect that Great Britain should enter into any explanations or defence
of her conduct with respect to acts committed by her nearly forty
years ago, in a matter in which no right or possession of the United
States was involved.
The government of the United States would, it is conceived, be much
and justly surprised if the government of Great Britain were now to
question the propriety of any of its own long past acts by which no terri-
torial right of Great Britain had been affected, nor would the Ameri-
can people consider any justification or explanation of such acts to
foreign states consistent with the dignity and independent position of
the United States. The government of the United States, therefore,
will not be surprised if the government of Great Britain abstains, on
this occasion, from entering into anything which might appear an
Explanation or defence of its conduct with regard to its long established
protectorate of the Mosquitos.
With respect to any right or any interference of the government of
old Spain, on the subject of the Mosquito protectorate, it must be ob-
served, that since the peace of 1815, that government has never raised
any question with respect to this protectorate; and as for Great Britain
having by her treaty with Mexico recognized, as a principle, that the
engagements between herself and Spain were necessarily transferred
to every fraction of the Spanish monarchy which now exists, or may
exist, on a distinct and independent basis, her Majesty's government
must entirely deny this assumption. Great Britain, in her treaty with
Mexico, simply stipulated that British subjects should not be worse
off under Mexico independent- than under Mexico when a Spanish
province. It was natural, in recognizing the independence of Mexico,
CaSAL AIMnOAN APTAMIS. 45
that Great Britain should make such a stipulation; but the fact of her
doing so rather proves that she thought a special stipulation necessary,
and that she did not conceive that she would have enjoyed, under any
general principle, the privilege she bargained for; and this stipulation,
as indeed the treaty itself, is a proof that Mexico was not considered
as inheriting the obligations or rights of Spain.
But admitting that it may, in some cases, be expedient, although
Snot obligatory, to recognize the rights and obligations of old Spain as
vested in the new Spanish American States; and allowing that, in con-
formity with that policy, Great Britain might have thought proper to
receive, concerning Mosquito, the remonstrances of those neighboring
republics which have successively risen in America on the ruins of
the Spanish empire; even then, it may be observed, that no remon-
strance was made by any of such republics for many years after the
protectorate of Great Britain over Mosquito had been a fact well known
to them; and moreover, that when such remonstrances were made,
they'were made with similar pretensions, not by one only, but by
several of those governments, insomuch that if the Mosquito Indians
were at this moment withdrawn altogether from the portion of Ameri-
ca which they now inhabit, and if it were permitted to the States of
Spanish origin to inherit each respectively the claims of their parent
State, it would still be a question on which of the claimants the terri-
tory thus left unoccupied would of right devolve; whilst it is certain
that such withdrawal, without previous arrangements, would lead to
contests alike disadvantageous to the real interests of the several
States, and to the general prosperity of Central America herself.
Thus much with reference to the conduct and position of Spain and
the Central American States with regard to the British protectorate
in Mosquito; but with respect to the conduct and position of the
United States relative thereto, Mr. Buchanan is mistaken in thinking
that the United States government has always contested and resisted
the position assumed by Great Britain on the Mosquito coast.
| It may be true that the United States were not informed of the
position of Great Britain in respect to Mosquito until 1842, but they
were then informed of it; and yet there is no trace of their having
alluded to this question in their communications with her Majesty's
government up to the end of 1849. Nay, in 1850, when the Presi-
dent of the United States presented to Congress various papers relative
to the affairs of Central America, it will be seen that, on introducing
these affairs to the attention of Congress, the President's Secretary
of State for foreign affairs expressly says that the government of
Nicaragua, in November, 1847, solicited the aid of the United States
government to prevent an anticipated attack on San Juan, by the
British forces acting on behalf of the Mosquito king, but received
no answer; that the president of Nicaragua addressed the President
of the United States at the same time, and received no answer; that
in April, 1848, the United States consul at Nicaragua, at the request
of the minister of foreign affairs of that republic, stated the occupa-
tion of San Juan by a.British force, but was not answered; that on
the 5th November, 1848, M. Castillon, proceeding to London from
Nicaragua, and then to Washington, addressed a letter to the United
40 CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
States Secretary of State, soliciting his intervention with regard to
the claims of Great Britain in right of the Mosquito king, and re-
ceived no answer; that on the 12th of January, 1849, Mr. Bancroft,
then representative of the United States to the court of St. James, re-
ferring to Mr. Castillon's arrival in London, and the subject of his
mission to settle the affairs of San Juan de Nicaragua with the Brit-
ish government, said, I think it proper to state to you my opinion,
that Lord Palmerston will not recede. I have, of course, taken no
part;" and that again, in March, Mr. Bancroft wrote that Mr. Castil-
ion would be anxious to seek advice from the United States, but that
he had always made answer to him that he was not authorized to
It would thus seem, on the authority of the United States govern-
ment itself, that up to the end of 1849 the United States government
had made no remark or remonstrance to Great Britain on the subject
of her protectorate of Mosquito; and that even with respect to the
capture of San Juan de Nicaragua (now called Greytown) the 1Uited
States minister in London was not authorized to take any steps con-
cerning it, nor even to afford to the commissioner fromNicaragua the
benefit of his counsels and good offices thereupon; and it is but right
to observe that the United States government pursued by this course
towards her Majesty's government that friendly and considerate policy
which her Majesty's government always wishes to pursue and has
pursued towards the United States government when that govern-
ment has had differences with other powers. With regard to the
grounds on which her Majesty's government made the capture of San
Juan de Nicaragua in 1848, the desire of her Majesty's government
to avoid all subjects of controversy, in which it is not absolutely neces-
sary to enter, restrains it from here adverting to the documents which
stated the reasons on which her Majesty's government came to the
resolution it at that time adopted; and, indeed, as those documents
were laid before parliament and communicated officially to the United
States government, it would be superfluous now to recapitulate their
With regard to the doctrine laid down by Mr. President Monroe, in
1823, concerning the future colonization of the American continent by
European states, as an international axiom which ought to regulate
the conduct of European states, it can only be viewed as the dictum
of the distinguished personage who delivered it; but her Majesty's
government cannot admit that doctrine as an international axiom
which ought to regulate the conduct of European states. The doc-
trine with regard to the incapacity of the Indians to exercise the
rights of sovereign powers must also remain a doctrine on which each
State which has to deal with such Indians must be free to exercise its
own policy and to follow the dictates of its own conscience. It is cer-
tainly true that Great Britain, Spain, and the United States were all
at one time in the habit of treating the Indian races in the manner
which Mr. Buchanan describes; but this past practice, though general,
cannot be taken as an invariable guide for any future policy/ The
period has not yet passed beyond the memory of man at which Great
Britain and the United States, now so nobly distinguished in sup-
(3rrALE AMETCAN AFFAMS. 47
pressing the slave-trade, practised and encouraged that trade and
deemed it legitimate.
The project of a free republic, composed chiefly of negroes from the
United States, and originally established under the enlightened and
humane patronage of the United-States, would have been deemed fifty
years ago an absurd and impossible chimera; yet Liberia exists, and
now flourishes as an independent state.
Already Great Britain, in her own dealings with Indians, has recog-
nised their rulers as independent chiefs; whilst in her treaties with
foreign powers she has spoken of their tribes as nations, and stipula-
ted for the restoration of their possessions. Thus, on all the above-
mentioned topics her Majesty's government, without seeking to im-
pose any opinions on the United States government, claims a right to
hold its own opinions ; nor indeed does it appear necessary, although,
doubtless, it would be desirable, that her Majesty's government and the
United States government should be perfectly agreed with respect to
.them. The one remaining subject to be discussed is, however, of a
very different character. It relates to a question in which Great Brit-
ain and the United States are both directly concerned, and in regard
to which it is a matter both of honor and interest that they should
avoid all misunderstanding or disagreement. This subject is the
rightful interpretation of a treaty engagement to which Great Britain
and the United States are parties.
Mr. Buchanan lays it down as a fact, that Great Britain held the
sovereignty of the Mosquito coast prior to 1850; and he then states
that Great Britain still continues to hold this sovereignty, although
the treaty of 1850 prohibits her from so doing. But Mr. Buchanan
confounds the two conditions of a sovereignty and of a protectorate,
and under this error treats the agreement "not to colonize, nor occupy,
nor fortify, nor assume nor exercise dominion over," as including an
agreement not to protect.
With respect to sovereignty, Great Britain never claimed, and does
not now claim, or hold any sovereignty in or over Mosquito; but with
respect to the protectorate which Great Britain has long exercised over
Mosquito, her Majesty's government asserts that the treaty of 1850 did
not, and was not meant to, annihilate such protectorate, but simply to
confine its powers and limit its influence.
Now the spirit of a treaty must always be inferred from the circum-
stances under which it takes place, and the true construction of a
treaty must be deduced from the literal meaning of the words em-
ployed in its framing. The circumstances under which the treaty of
1850 took place were the following:
Up to March, 1849, i. e. one whole year after the capture of San
Juan de Nicaragua by the British forces, the United States govern-
ment made no observation, as has already been stated, to the British
government, having any allusion to this act. But in November, 1849,
Mr. Lawrence, then just arrived in England as the representative of
the United States government, addressed a note to Lord Palmerston,
not asking any question as to the British protectorate of Mosquito,
but requesting to know whether her Majesty's government would join
with the United States in guarantying the neutrality of a ship-canal,
4OI BLA AmNmArN A&Mg.
railway, or other communication between the two'-cea"f' ..
to the world, and common to all nations ; and whether.
government intended to occupy or colonize Nicaragua, Costs
Mosquito coast, (so called,) or any part of Central AmeieRa...:-T
note Lord Palmerston replied by stating that her Majesty's gV-
ment had no intention to occupy or colonize Nicaragua or Cos.
the Mosquito coast, nor any part of Central America; and that.her
Majesty's government would feel greatpleasure in combining andue-
operating with the government of the United States for the.parmeae
of assisting the operations of a company which might be formed with
a view to establish a general communication, by canal or railroad,
across the isthmus separating the northern and southern 'portions
of the American continent, both by offering security for the works
while in progress and when completed and in use, and by placing
such communication, through the means of political arrangements,
beyond the reach of molestation, disturbance, or obstacle, by reason
of international disputes which may at any time unfortunately arise,
upon the conditions, moreover, that such communications should at
all times be open and accessible for the commerce of all nations, and
on equal terms for all. These notes, copies of which are hereunt
annexed, are of great importance, inasmuch as they laid the founda-
tion for the subsequent convention of Washington, whilst they ex-
plain the nature of the feelings entertained at that time by the United
States government and by the government of her Majesty. I t.wa
/clear that the United States government, which had regarded the af-
fairs of Central America not long befot h comparative indiffer-
Aence, hahad its attention lately calle to this p o e wold by
itsa tn o m and theft -which
jtha.Tei on wa~i contain-circomstances which rendered of
vast importance some safe and rapid means of communication between
the possessions of the United States on the Pacific and thepossessionse
of the United States on the Atlantic. A project of a canal commu-
nication, moreover, through the State and Lake of Nicaragua and
the river San Juan was then in contemplation, and Nicaragua. had
granted to a company of Americans whatever rights it possessed over
the proposed line of traffic.
Great Britain, however, by having placed a people under her pro-
tection in possession of the port and town of San Juan de Nicaragua,
might exert her influence either to prevent this canal being formed,
or, if she allowed it to be formed, might aim, through h~qprotector-
ate, at acquiring over such canal peculiar rights or absolute control.
The government of the United States was, therefore, justly anxious
to. know whether the British government would favor or impede the
construction of a canal by the river San Juaa .nd whether it would
attempt to establish a predominant and permanent power over-this
canal, by coloniing, fortifying, occupying, or taking absolute-p-
session of the country trough which it passed.
The mere protectorate of reat Britain, stripped of t ttbut
which affected the construcionandh e e freedom of the proposed anal,
was of small consequence to the United States, bat, conneted wit
those attributes, it was a matter of great importaee.
G NTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS. 4V
On the other hand, her Majesty's government, which had just ex-
pelled the Nicaraguans from Greytown (or San Juan de Nicaragua)
and the country adjacent, and had formally discussed and finally re-
jected the claims of the Nicaraguan government to these contested pos-
sessions, could not with honor or credit retire, at the mere interposi-
tion of the United States, from the position it had assumed, or aban-
don the long-established British protectorate over the Mosquitos, and
allow the authorities of Nicaragua to re-occupy the ground from
which they had so recently been driven. But Great Britain could
clearly engage herself to the United States to do all that was required
respecting the construction and protection of any canal communica-
tion, to be enjoyed on equal terms by all nations; and she could also
limit the powers of her protectorate over Mosquito, so as to remove
all suspicion or possibility of her using it in any manner that would
place such canal communication under her exclusive authority and do-
Thus, when the drawing up of a treaty afterwards took place, the
object of the British negotiator, and, it must be presumed, that of both
negotiators, necessarily was to draw up such a convention as, without
conceding any specific point on which one party could not in honor
yield, would make such concessions on all other points as the other
party desired ; and if the convention in question be referred to, it will
be seen that it is drawn up carefully, in such a manner as to make it
a matter of indifference, so far as the canal is concerned, as to whether
the port and town of San Juan are under the modified protectorate of
Great Britain or under the government of Nicaragua. Moreover, in
drawing up this treaty, both Mr. Clayton and Sir H. L. Bulwer, re-
ferred to the notes which had passed between Lord Palmerston and
Mr.Lawrence, and even made use of the precise terms which had been,
then employed ; from which it must of necessity be inferred that they
meant to transfer to their convention, with the words which they bor-
rowed, the meaning which had previously been attached to those-
words in the documents from which they extracted them; and a ref-
erence to such documents will at once show that Mr. Lawrence, while
he asked her Majesty's government whether it meant to occupy, for-
tify, colonize, or assume or exercise dominion over Mosquito, did not
allude to the protectorate of Great Britain over that country, and that
Lord Palmerston, in declaring that her Majesty's government did not
intend to do any of these things, expressly left the question concern-
ing the political relations between Great Britain and the Mosquitos
untouched. So much for the spirit which presided over the conven-
tion of 1850.
With regard to the literal meaning, this treaty declares in words
that the two parties will not occupy nor fortify, nor colonize, nor as-
sume nor exercise any dominion over Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mos-
quito coast, nor any part of Central America ;" and that neither party
will make use of any protection which either affords or may afford,
or any alliance which either has or may have" with any state or
people, forthepurposeof occupying, fortifying, or colonizing Nicaragua,
Costa Rica, the Mosquito coast, or any part of Central America, or of
assuming or exercising dominion over the same.
OU CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
Mr. Buchanan says, with regard to that portion of the foregoing sen-
tence which restricts the use which Great Britain or the United States
might make of any protection which either might afford to any state
or people, it has been said that this article of the convention acknow-
ledges by implication the protectorate of Great Britain over Mosquito.
Now her Majesty's government does not pretend that in this article
the United States acknowledges the aforesaid protectorate of Great
Britain in Mosquito; it was never the intention of her Majesty's gov-
ernment, or that of the British negotiator, to obtain indirectly that
which was not asked for openly; but it is evident that this article clearly
acknowledges the possibility of Great Britain or the United States
affording protection to Mosquito, or any Central American State,
and that.the intention of the parties was not to prohibit or abolish,
but to limit and restrict such protectorate. But supposing all men-
tion of protection in the treaty had been omitted, and that the ques-
tion at issue merely rested on the words colonize, fortify, occupy,
and assume or exercise dominion over," is there any 'one of these
terms which excludes the right of protection, although each of them
limits its capability ? / Defending or protecting is a temporary act of
friendship; occupying, colonizing, fortifying, or acquiring sovereignty,
are acts which have a permanent result.
It has never been held that neutral territories or kingdoms, over
which other kingdoms are prohibited by treaty from acquiring domin-
ion- which other kingdoms cannot colonize, occupy, nor fortify-may
not be defended by such kingdoms at the desire and request of the
neutral states, although it would doubtless be necessary for any na-
tion undertaking such defence to declare formally and promise clearly
that it would not turn this transitory and allowable act into one of a
continuous nature, which engagements had prohibited.
No one will maintain that the bar to colonization or fortifying is a
bar to all protection; no one will assert that to afford protection to a
state, and establish dominion over it are necessarily the same thing;
no one will contend that to send a naval or military force for the pur-
pose of expelling an enemy from the territory of an ally, or of punish-
ing his antagonist, is to hold or occupy the territory of that ally or of
Were this the sense of the word, as inserted in the treaty of 1850,
as that word is equally applied to all Central America as well as to
Mosquito, it would have a far wider signification than her Majesty's
government contemplated, or than the United States government
would in all probability admit; for in such a case neither Great Britain
nor the United States could, in any circumstance, employ force, naval
or military, against any Central American State, however great or
just the provocation they might receive. *
The citizens of the United States, for instance, might, on their way
from California to Washington, be arrested and confined, on any sus-
picion or pretext, and the demands of the United States for their release
refused. But is it to be argued that, under such circumstances, the
United States could not send an armed force into Nicaragua to compel
the release of the citizens from California, and chastise those who had
unjustly incarcerated them? The United States government, however,
CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS. 51
would be bound to state the object it had in view in sending a force into
Nicaragua'; it would be bound to declare that it did not mean to colo-
nize, fortify, occupy, or establish its sovereignty over Nicaragua; and by
adhering to this pledge its treaty obligations would be fulfilled. But
surely this dispute, as to the nature and meaning of protection, is one
that should not have arisen with respect to the treaty of 1850. The
very object and nature of that treaty ought to manifest that protec-
tion is not'equivalent to occupation or sovereignty, and that it does
not of necessity imply the acquisition of any exclusive advantages to
the parties protecting, or give those parties exclusive control over that
which is protected.
Great Britain and the United States, by the said treaty, bind them-
selves to protect certain canals or railways, which may be formed
through various independent States. Great Britain and the United
States do not, by this protection, acquire any right of sovereignty or
occupation over such canals or railways, whilst they carefully exclude
themselves from having any exclusive control over them, and from
deriving from them any exclusive privileges.
It is surely unnecessary further to discuss the construction of the
treaty with reference to the protection of Mosquito. That her Majes-
ty's government merely expresses now that view of the treaty
which it entertained, and which it had understood that the govern-
ment of the United States entertained, when the treaty was concluded,
is evident from the fact that, within little more than a month after
the treaty of 1850 had been ratified, her Majesty's minister at Wash-
inigton entered into further negotiations with the government of the
United States relative to the position of Mosquito, interpreting the
treaty as her Majesty's government now interprets it. That there
was nothing extraordinary, unnatural, or unfair, in the interpre-
tation thus given to the treaty by her Majesty's government, is
equally evident from the fact that such interpretation was at once
accepted by the Secretary of State, (Mr. Webster,) than whom no
statesman at that time living, whether in Europe or America, was
more fitted to comprehend the spirit or analyse the wording of any
international obligation ; and that her Majesty's government was not
at that time, and is not now, animated by any such object as that of
obtaining any peculiar influence or control over the river San Juan, or
the canal that may be formed from its waters, is likewise demon-
strated by the circumstance, worth noting, that the object which
Great Britain had in view in pursuing these further negotiations
with the United States, was that of withdrawing her protection from
I the very town called Greytown, or San Juan de Nicaragua, and the
adjoining territory, and of placing the same in the hands of some
Central American State, on conditions in nowise beneficial to herself,
or only beneficial in so far as such conditions tended to maintain a
state of peace and tranquillity in that part of the world to which they
related, and to preserve the Mosquitos in a territory bordering that
which was to be ceded in an inoffensive state of neutrality and security.
Indeed, when her Majesty's minister, in a conversation which took
place about the end of July, 1851, on this subject, agreed, on the
part of the British government, to assign Greytown to Nicaragua,
52 CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
upon her coming to a fair settlement with Costa Rica as to some of
the points of contention between them, and upon her agreeing to
leave the Mosquito people unmolested within certain portions of
the territory which they now occupy, and over which the Spanish
dominion never, otherwise than nominally, extended, Mr. Webster,
whilst observing that the United States had no direct interest in any
question concerning Nicaragua and Mosquito, except as respected the
construction of a canal and its free navigation, and that, consequently,
he did not wish to take an active part in any negotiations extending
beyond these limits, added, addressing himself to the Nicaraguan
minister, who was present, that he considered the offer made by the
British minister was one which the Nicaraguan government might
consider as a fair basis for an arrangement ; and her Majesty's govern-
ment then entertained the hope and belief that by the friendly under-
standing subsisting between Great Britain and the United States, and
the joint efforts of both, such a settlement would be speedily con-
cluded between all the parties interested as would enable her Majesty's
government to release itself from the duty of protecting or defending
Greytown, in which, for the time being, a self-elected body, in a
great measure composed f Unie tes citizens, was carrying on the
government in he name of the king of Mosquito.
The preceding observations comprise all that her Majesty's govern-
ment has now to say with regard to that portion of Mr. Buchanan's
statement, to which they have been intended to reply.
But although the connexion of Great Britain with Mosquito formed
one of the subjects of Mr. Buchanan's communication, another sub-
ject, not less important, is the actual condition of British Honduras,
Ruatan, and the Bay islands.
It was never in the contemplation of her Majesty's government, nor
in that of the government of the United States, that the treaty of
1850 should interfere in any way with her Majesty's settlement at
Belize or its dependencies.
It was not necessary that this should have been particularly stated, in-
asmuch as it is generally considered that the term Central America,"
a term of modern invention, could only appropriately apply to those
states at one time united under the name of the Central American
republic," and now existing as five separate republics; but in order
that there should be no possible misconception at any future period
relative to this point, the two negotiators, at the time of ratifying the
treaty, exchanged declarations to the effect that neither of the gov-
ernments they represented had meant in such treaty to comprehend
the settlement and dependencies in question.
Mr. Clayton's declaration to her Majesty's government on this sub-
ject was ample and satisfactory, as the following extract from his note
of July 4, 1850, will show:
The language of the first article of the convention concluded on
the 19th day of April last, between the United States and Great
Britain, describing the country not to be occupied, &c., by either of
the parties, was, as you know, twice approved by the government, and
it was neither understood by them, nor by either of us, (the negotia-
tors,) to include the British settlement in Honduras, (commonly called
CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS. 53
British Honduras,) as distinct from the State of Honduras, nor the
small islands in the neighborhood of that settlement, which may be
known as its dependencies.
"To this settlement and to these islands the treaty we negotiated
was not intended by either of us to apply. The title to them, it is
now and has been my intention, throughout the whole negotiation, to
leave as the treaty leaves it, without denying or affirming, or in any
way meddling with the same, just as it stood previously.
The chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate,
the Hon. W. R. King, informs me that the Senate perfectly under-
stood that the treaty did not include British Honduras." Such having
been the mutual understanding as to the exception of the settlement
of Belize and its dependencies from the operation of the treaty, the
only question relative to this settlement and its dependencies, in
reference to the treaty, that can now arise, is, as to what is the settle-
ment of Belize and its dependencies? or, in. other words, as to what is
British Honduras and its dependencies? Her Majesty's government
certainly understood that the settlement of Belize, as here alluded to,
is the settlement of Belize as established in 1850; and it is the more
warranted in this conclusion from the fact that the United States
had, in 1847, sent a consul to this settlement, which consul had re-
ceived his exequatur from the British government-a circuinstance
which constitutes a recognition by the United States government of
the settlement of British Honduras under her Majesty as it then
Her Majesty's government at once states this, because it perceives
that Mr. Buchanan restricts the said settlement within the boundaries
to which it was confined by the treaty of 1786; whilst her iMajesty's
government not only has to repeat that the treaties with old Spain
cannot be held, as a matter of course, to be binding with respect to all
the various detached portions of the old Spanish American monarchy,
but it has also to observe that the treaty of 1786 was put an end to i
by a subsequent state of war between Great Britain and Spain; that
during that war the boundaries of the British settlement in question
were enlarged, and that when peace was re-established between Great
Britain and Spain, no treaty of a political nature, or relating to terri-
torial limits, revived those treaties between Great Britain and Spain
which had previously existed.
Her Majesty's government, in stating this fact, declares distinctly,
at the same time, that it has no projects of political ambition or
aggrandizement with respect to the settlement referred to ; and that it
will be its object to come to-some prompt, fair, and amicable arrange-
ment with the States in the vicinity of British Honduras for regu-
lating the limits which should be given to it, and which shall not
henceforth be extended beyond the boundaries now assigned to them.
As to Ruatan and the adjoining islands, all that can be debatable
as to them is, whether they are island dependencies of Belize, or
attached to some Central American State. Now it cannot be disputed,
that whenever Ruatan has beeh permanently occupied, either in re-
mote or recent times, by anything more than a military guard or flag-
staff, the occupation has been by British subjects.
54 CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
It is true that the republic of Central America declared that it had
had a flag flying in that island from 1821 to 1839; but this fact
merely rested on that republic's declaration, and all that is positively
known is, that when the British government were aware that a foreign
flag was flying at Ruatan, a British ship-of-war was sent to haul it
down, and since that time no attempt has been made to re-establish
it; but, on the contrary, when on two or three occasions complaints
have been brought by the citizens of Central American States against
the settlers in Ruatan, to the commandant at Truxillo, the command-
ant has referred them to Belize, telling them that the island was
It is, moreover, a fact, that Ruatan has been, of late years, without
any instigation on the part of her Majesty's government, spontane-
ously occupied by British subjects, and that the superintendent of
Belize has been in the habit of visiting the island, appointing the
magistrates in it, and generally managing its affairs. In going back
to ancient times, it is also well known that in 1742 the English were
formally settled at Ruatan, and that in the Atlas of the West Indian
islands, published by Jeffries, the king's geographer, in 1796, Rattan,
or Ruatan, is colored as a British possession; and although this island
and that of Bonacea have doubtless been at various times left unoccu-
pied, and at others claimed or held by other powers, it is certain that
in 1838, 1839, and 1840, Great Britain not only asserted her right to
the same, but declared her intention to maintain that right by force.
These circumstances, without entering further into the subject, will
at least prove that the pretensions of Great Britain to consider Buatan
and Bonacea dependencies of Belize is of long standing, and existed
certainly at the period of the treaty of 1850. Indeed, Mr. Buchanan,
in his statement, observes that Ruatan was occupied in 1850 by Great
But if Ruatan was at that time known to be occupied by Great
Britain as a settlement of Belize, and the United States government,
notwithstanding, considered it to have been a portion of Central Amer-
ica, and thereby comprehended in the treaty, which Belize and its de-
pendencies were not, the United States government would, beyond
doubt, have openly stated that it did not consider Ruatan included
in the term "'island dependencies;" and Great Britain was there-
fore justified, since no such exception was made, in deeming that her
claim to Ruatan as a part of the Belize settlement was not about to be
Her Majesty's government deems that it has, by the foregoing
observations, furnished an adequate reply to the statement of Mr.
Buchanan, and proved that the obligations of the treaty have in no
respect been infringed. But having performed this duty, her Majes-
ty's government desires to say that it would be far more to its satis-
faction to arrange, on fair terms, any differences of opinion with the
government of the United States, than to prolong discussion and ar-
gument respecting such differences.
It has also no difficulty in adding, that although it did not, by the
treaty of 1850, abandon the right of Great Britain to protect the Mos-
quitos, yet it did intend to reduce and limit the exercise of that right;
ANTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS. 55
the practical difference between Great Britain and the United States
with regard to the only mutually important portion of Mosquito,.
namely, that portion to which the construction and condition of the
canal, which formed the origin and basis of the treaty of 1850, applies,
is very small indeed. That difference does not turn upon the point
whether Great Britain should retain her protection over the port and
town of San Juan and the northern bank of that river, but upon the
conditions on which that protection should be withdrawn.
In short, the practical question at issue, relative to Greytown and
that part of the Mosquito country bordering upon the river San Juan,
is not whether Great Britain should, directly or indirectly, exercise
dominion over the same, but whether Nicaragua, or some other equally
independent State, should obtain possession thereof in a manner con-
sonant with the honorable obligations of Great Britain, the peace of
the Central American continent, and the safety from persecution of
the Mosquito Indians; or, on the other hand, whether Nicaragua
should be put in possession of that territory in a manner almost cer-
tain to produce hostilities between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, and to
lead to the persecution and destruction of the Mosquito people; an al-
ternative to which Great Britain could not consent, and which the
government of the United States could have no motive in requiring.
It is true that, in that more remote portion of the Mosquito territory
where the chief or king of the Mosquitos himself resides, a British
consul or agent also resides, and this resident may oftentimes be called
upon to give his opinion or advice to the Mosquito government, as is
usual when weak governments are in alliance with strong ones, more
especially when those strong ones have agreed to protect the weak
ones from external aggression, and may, therefore, reasonalr expect
to have such influence over their policy as may prevent tFem from
giving just pretext for invasion.
It is true, also, that Englishmen may thus be in the councils of
the king of Mosquito, acting as his ministers; but Englishmen and
Americans both hold the same position in the Sandwich islands, the
government of which is carried on by foreigners, but is nevertheless
(and the race is Indian) considered and treated as independent. To
alter this state of things might at the present moment be impossible;
but her Majesty's government would be ready and willing to enter into
such engagements as should prevent Great Britain from receiving any
privileges or advantages from the Mosquito government not granted
to other States.
Her Majesty's government can hardly anticipate any difficulty at
this time with the United States respecting the continental establish-
ment of Honduras, the limits of which, in 1850, were so well known
and can be so easily ascertained, and which will not be extended; but
having shown that its pretensions to the islands of Ruatan and Bonacea
are of no recent date, and that they were unquestioned by the United
States government in 1850, her Majesty's government cannot admit
that an alteration in the internal form of government of these islands
is a violation of the treaty, or affords a just cause of remonstrance to
the United States.
CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFA1RJ
There are at all times two modes of dealing with matters of busi-
ness between nations, the one calculated to excite mutual irritation,
the other to mitigate it; the one tending to prolong and increase
differences, the other to diminish and remove them.
The latter is the mode which her Majesty's government earnestly
desired in the present instance to adopt and to see adopted, for it can
hardly be necessary to say that there is no government with which
the people and government of Great Britain more sincerely desire td
live in intimate and friendly relations than that of the United States.
It is in accordance with the spirit which her Majesty's government
thus distinctly avows, that her Majesty's government proposes to that
of the United States.
That the two governments of Great Britain and the United States
should at once endeavor to come to some friendly understanding as to
the government which should be definitively formed at Greytown, in
order to admit of the Mosquito authority being withdrawn therefrom;
and as to the engagements which such government should enter into
with regard to the claims of Costa Rica and*the future non-molesta-
tion of the Mosquitos; and that the two governments should endeavor,
in the same manner, to come to some friendly understanding as to
the mode by which protection may be most effectually afforded to the
* It is the desire of her Majesty's government not only to maintain
the convention of 1850 intact, but to consolidate and strengthen it, by
strengthening and consolidating the friendly relations which it was
calculated to cement and perpetuate. Her Majesty's government
regrets that any misunderstanding should have arisen with respect to
its term but it entertains the firm belief that, by the explanations it
has now given, and the proposals it makes, that misunderstanding
will be completely removed.
Remarks in reply to Lord Clarendon's statement of May 2, 1854.
UNrIED STATES LEGATION,
London, July 22, 1854.
It would not seem necessary to extend these remarks by.pointing
out what might be deemed inaccuracies in Lord Clarendon's intro-
ductory resume of the points in Mr. Buchanan's statement of January
6, 1854, nor of the order in which these points have been presented.
It is sufficient to observe that the sixth and last point of this resume,
embracing the true construction of the convention of April 19, 1850,
and which was the first discussed in Mr. Buchanan's statement, being
by far the most important, it is entitled to precedence.
The American government cordially reciprocates the desire expressed
by that of Great Britain, "to live on intimate terms and friendly rela-
tions with the United States. Strong bonds of interest and affinity
ought to unite the two nations in perpetual peace and friendship.
CENTAL AMERICAN AFFAmg. 57
Mr. Buchanan therefore deplores the unhappy misunderstanding which
exists between them, in regard to the construction of a convention,
which it was believed on the part of the American governmer t would
terminate all their pre-existing difficulties in Central America. How
unfortunate would it be if this convention, instead of settling, should
only complicate these difficulties.
In replying to the British statement, whilst it has become his duty
to maintain the proposition that Great Britain has failed to carry into
effect the provisions of the convention-a subject in its nature intrin-
sically delicate-he will endeavor to perform the task in a manner con-
sistent with the exalted respect which he entertains for Great Britain.
The rights and the duties of the parties must be regulated by the
first article of the convention of April 19, 1850, and these observa-
tions shall, therefore, be primarily directed to the ascertainment of
its true meaning. The following is a copy of its text: The govern-
ments of the United States and Great Britain 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 fortify, or colonize, or assume
or exercise any dominion over Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mosquito
coast, or any part of Central America; nor will either 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 the
purpose ot erecting or maintaining any such fortifications, or of occu-
pying, fortifying, or colonizing Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mosquito
coast, or any part of Central America, or of assuming or exercising
dominion over the same; nor will the United States or Great Britain
take advantage of any intimacy, or use any alliance, connexion, or
infuence that either may possess, with any state or government
through whose territory the said canal may pass, for the purpose of
acquiring or holding, directly or indirectly, for the citizens or subjects
of the one, any rights or advantages in regard to commerce or navi-
gation through the said canal, which shall not be offered on the same
terms to the citizens or subjects of the other."
In the course of these remarks, it is proposed to maintain that this
article requires Great Britain to withdraw from the possession of
Ruatan and the other Bay islands, the Mosquito coast and the terri-
tory between the Sibun and the Sarstoon. The Belize settlement will
demand a separate consideration.
What, then, is the fair construction of the article? It embraces
two objects : 1. It declares that neither of the parties shall ever ac-
quire any exclusive control over the ship-canal to be constructed be-
tween the Atlantic and the Pacific by the route of the river San Juan
de Nicaragua, and that neither of them shall ever erect or maintain
any fortifications commanding the same or in the vicinity thereof.
In regard to this stipulation, no disagreement is known to exist be-
tween the parties. But the article proceeds further in its mutually
self-denying policy, and in the second place declares that neither o
the parties will "occupy or fortify, or colonize, or assume, or exercise
58 CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
any dominion over Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mosquito coast, oi any
part of Central America."
We now reach the true point. Does this language require that
Great Britain shall withdraw from her existing possessions in Central
America, including "the Mosquito coast ?" The language peculiarly
applicable to this coast will find a more appropriate place in a subse-
quent portion of these remarks.
If any individual enters into a solemn and explicit agreement that
he will not "occupy" any given tract of country then actually occu-
pied by him, can any proposition be clearer, than that he is bound by
his agreement to withdraw from such occupancy? Were this not the
case, these words would have no meaning, and the agreement would
become a mere nullity. Nay, more; in its effect it would amount to a
confirmation of the party in the possession of that very territory
which he had bound himself not to occupy, and would practically be
equivalent to an agreement that he should remain in possession-a
contradiction in terms. It is difficult to comment on language which
appears so plain, or to offer arguments to prove that the meaning of
words is not directly opposite to their well-known signification.
And yet the British government consider that the convention inter-
feres with none of their existing possessions in Central America ; that
it is entirely prospective in its nature, and merely prohibits them from
making new acquisitions. If this be the case,'then it amounts to a
recognition of their rights, on the part'of the American government,
to all the possessions which they already hold, whilst the United
States have bound themselves by the very same instrument never,
under any circumstances, to acquire the possession of a foot of terri-
tory in Central America. The mutuality of the convention would
thus be entirely destroyed; and whilst Great Britain may continue to
hold nearly the whole eastern coast of Central America, the UnitSd
States have abandoned the right for all future time to acquire any
territory, or to receive into the American Union any of the States in
that portion of their own continent. Y1ia"elf-imposed prohibition
was thegreat objtec t-the tre the United States at the tnie
of its conclusion, and was powerfully urged by so-fe eBest men
in the country. Had it Then been imagine~'htk whils ti prohibited
the United States from acquiring territory, under any possible circum-
stances, in a portion of America through which their thoroughfares
to California and Oregon must pass, the convention, at the same time,
permitted Great Britain to remain in the occupancy of all her existing
possessions in that region,/r. Buchan in expresses the confident con-
viction that there would rot have been a single vote in the American
Senate in favor of its ratification /In every discussion, it was taken
f-or granted that the convention required Great Britain to withdraw
from these possessions,and thus place the parties upon an exact equality
in Central America. Upon this construction of the convention there
was quite as great an unanimity of opinion as existed in the House of
Lords, that the convention with Spain of 1786 required Great Britain
to withdraw from the Mosquito protectorate.
There is the strongest reason to believe that the same construction
was placed upon the convention, by the government of Great Britain,
CENTRAL AMEBCAN AFFAM& S 5L
at the time of its conclusion. If this were not the case, why their I
strenuous efforts, before the ratifications were exchanged, to have the |l
British settlement of Belize specially excepted from its operation ? I
Upon the opposite construction of the convention, it ought to have
been their desire to place that settlement under its protection, and
thus secure Great Britain in its occupancy.
The conduct of the government of Great Britain, on this occasion,
can be satisfactorily accounted for only upon the principle that, per-
ceiving the language of the convention to be sufficiently explicit and
comprehensive to embrace Belize, they must have made these efforts
to prevent the necessity of their withdrawal from that settlement.
And as no attempt was made to except any other of their possessions
from its operation, the rule that expression unius eat exclusio alterius
applies to the case, and amounts to an admission that they were bound
to withdraw from all their other Central American possessions.
If this be the true construction of the convention, as well as its
manifest spirit, then let us apply it to the object it was intended to
embrace. And first of Ruatan-thus, for the present, disembarrass-
ing ourselves from the Mosquito protectorate.
It is not denied by the British statement, that Ruatan is clearly
a Central American island." and but thirty miles distant from the
[Honduras] port of Truxillo." Indeed, it was impossible that this
could be denied. Why, then, is this island not embraced by the con-
vention? The only reason given for it is the allegation that Ruatan
and the adjacent islands were dependencies of Belize, and were pro-
tected from the operation of the convention by Mr. Clayton's declara-
tion of the 4th July, 1850. Now admitting, for the sake of argument,
that this declaration is binding on the United States; to what does it
amount? Its language is very explicit. The convention was not un-
derstood by either of the negotiators, says Mr. Clayton, to include
the British settlement in Honduras, (commonly called British Hondu-
ras, as distinct from the State of Honduras,) nor to the small islands
in the neighborhood of that settlement which may be known as its depend-
"The small islands in the neighborhood of that settlement"-
What are they ? These are undoubtedly Cayo Casina and the clus-
ter of small islands" on the coast, at the distance of three leagues
from the river Sibon," particularly specified in the British convention
with Spain of 1786. Indeed, the same construction would seem clearly
to have been placed upon this convention by the British minister at.
Washington, in his letter to Mr. Clayton of the 7th of January, 1854,
a copy of which is doubtless in the possession of Lord Clarendon. / It
would be a strained construction of Mr. Clayton's carefully guarded
language to make his small islands in the neighborhood" embrace
the comparatively large and very important island of Ruatan, with
its excellent harbors, not in the neighborhood, but hundreds of miles
distant; an island represented "as the key of the Bay of Honduras
and the focus of the trade of the neighboring countries,' which is
considerably larger, according to Captain Henderson, than many of
the West India islands in cultivation; and in its soil and natural
advantages not inferior to any of them. This would be to make the
WU CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
dependency far more valuable than the principal, and to engraft an
absolute sovereignty upon a mere usufruct. And here it may be
proper to observe, that the quotation island dependencies" in the
British statement, if intended to be made from any part of Mr. Clay-
ton's declaration, is an incorrect quotation. His language is not
" island dependencies," but small islands in the neighborhood of
Belize." This island is, then, clearly a Central American island in
the neighborhood, not of Belize, but of the State of Honduras; and
in the language of Mr. Clayton's statement, so much relied upon, is
one of the proper dependencies of that State, and is therefore em-
braced by the treaty. Indeed, it would be little short of an absurdity
for Mr. Clayton to have excepted, as it is contended he ought to have
done, from his declaration, including only the small islands in the
neighborhood of Belize, the distant, large, and valuable island of
Ruatan. And yet it is alleged, from his omission to do this, that
Great Britain was justified in deeming that her claim to Ruatan as
a part of the Balize settlement was not about to be disputed."
The British statement seems to attach considerable importance to
the fact, but why it is difficult to conceive, that Mr. Buchanan in
his statement observes that Ruatan was occupied in 1850 by Great
Britain." It was for th'e very reason that not only Ruatan, but
nearly the whole eastern coast of Central America, were occupied by
Great Britain, that the government of the United States were so anx-
ious to conclude a convention requiring her to withdraw from this
occupation. It was for this reason that the United States, as an ample
consideration for this withdrawal, bound themselves never to occupy
any portion of Central America. But for this agreement withdraw,
the UnitedStates in self-defence, w~ol_ ave een compelled-to
accept cessions of ter-iory i- Central Americaa because.without sich
terito Great tain would halii1e ftin a position absolutely
to command not nl~T e projeted canatbyTTlTake l ik caraguaiut
all other canals and railroadTs wicinmay be C i~tructed through any
part of the isthmu..--The convention was, therefore, not confined to
this single route, but extended its protection "to any other practica-
ble communications, whether by canal or railway, across the isthmus
which connects North and South America." Both parties were to
stand aloof, and neither of them was to occupy territory in the vicinity
of any of these routes; much less an island, which, from its position
and excellent harbors, would enable a strong naval power in posses-
sion of it to close any canals or railroads which might be constructed
across the isthmus.
Now, whether Great Britain was in the occupation of Ruatan at the
date of the convention by a good or by a bad title, cannot make the
least difference in regard to the construction of that instrument. The
case might have been different had the question arisen between her
and the State of Honduras. The question between the United States
and Great Britain, however, is not as to the validity of her title, but,
no matter what it may have been, whether she has not agreed to
abandon her occupation under this title. Not what was the state of
things before, but what she agreed it should become after the conclu-
sion of the convention. Still, out of deference to the British state-
CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS. 61
ment, which contends that the British title was good to this island at
the conclusion of the convention, it is but proper to examine the rea-
sons on which this claim was founded.
Ancient possession is invoked to sustain this claim, and it is said
that it is well known that [in] 1742 the English were formally set-
tled at Ruatan ;" but, in reply, it may be stated that this possession
was speedily abandoned. We are informed by Bees's Cyclopaadia,
published in London in 1819, that "the English in the year 1742
formed a settlement here [in Ruatan] for the purpose of carrying on
the logwood trade, but it was soon abandoned.
In answer to the map published by Jeffries in 1796, cited by Lord
Clarendon, it may be observed that there is another copy of the very
same map in the British Museum, published in the same year, on
which Ruatan is not colored as a British possession. At the date of
this map, more than a half a century ago, the geography of that por-
tion of America was comparatively but little known. For this reason,
the map published at London in 1851, "by James Wyld, geographer
-to the Queen," "of the West India and Bahama islands, with the
adjacent coasts of Yucatan, Honduras, Caraccas," &c., also to be
found in the British Museum, is of much higher authority, and upon
its face Ruatan and the other Bay islands are assigned to Honduras.
The same view is presented by the same author on a former map of
the West India and Bahama islands," &c., published in 1849, and
now in possession of the legation.
It may also be confidently asserted as a well-known historical fact,
that if the English were in the occupation of Ruatan at the date of
the treaty with Spain of 1786, they abandoned it immediately there-
after in obedience to that treaty. Brook's General Gazetteer, pub-
lished in London in 1853, distinctly states this fact. It says, this
beautiful island, partially covered with wood, was once in possession
of the English, who fortified its excellent harbor, but abandoned it
when they withdrew from the Mosquito shore." And Johnson, in his
Dictionary of Geography, published in London in 1851 and 1852,
describes it as an island off the north coast of Central America, "for-
merly belonging to the English."
"Near its southern extremity is a good harbor, with batteries
erected by the English during their former occupation."
At what period, then, after the convention of 1786, did this island
cease to be Spanish and become English ? It is admitted by Captain
Henderson, an officer of the British army, in his account of the British
settlement of Honduras, an authority which will not be disputed, that
it was still a Spanish island in 1804. The next we hear of it is that
it was in the possession of Honduras, as the successor of Spain, in
1830, whilst the confederation of the Central American States still
continued to exist; and was in that year (not in 18S5, as in the
former statement) captured from that State by the British forces, but
was soon afterwards restored. The following extract fiim Crowe's
"Gospel in Centra America," an able and interesting work, pre-
pared after personal observation, and published in London in 1850,
gives a correct account of the transaction. The author says, 1830:
"The only notable breach upon peace and good order was the seizure
CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
of the island of Ruatan, in the bay of Honduras, by the authorities
of the neighboring British settlement. But upon complaint by the
federal government, the act of the superintendent of Belize was theo-
retically disallowed by his government, though it has since been prac- .
tically repeated in precisely the same quarter and under the sanction
of the same power." There is other evidence of a similar character
in possession of Mr. Buchanan; but as it proceeds from 'American
sources, it is deemed best to let the facts, especially as they have not *
been contradicted by the British statement, rest upon the authority of
a British author of highly respectable character. The author then
proceeds to speak in indignant terms of its second capture and annex-
ation in 1841, denouncing it as an inglorious revolution."
Lord Clarendon, in his statement, admits that this island and that
of Bonacea have doubtless been at various times left unoccupied,
and at others claimed or held by other powers ;" but says, it is cer-
tain that in 1838, 1839, and 1840, [it ought to have been in 1841,1
Great Britain not only asserted her right to the same, but declared
her intention to maintain that right by force."
That is, in substance, that Great Britain captured this island from
Honduras in 1841, and expelled the troops of that State from it, and
now maintains that this capture gives her title. It is impossible that
Great Britain can claim this island by the right of conquest, bereae
the capture was made in a time of profound peace. She cannot ceh-
vert the very act of which Honduras complains as a wrong and'an
outrage, into the foundation of British title. Of the manner in which
the seizure of Ruatan was made by the superintendent of 'Belize,,in
1841, Mr. Crowe speaks in the following language:
As he expected, Colonel McDonald found only a few inhabitants,
under care of a sergeant, and a small detachment of soldiers belonging
to the State of Honduras. These being incapable of resistance, he
proceeded to haul down the flag of the republic, and to hoist that of
Great Britain in its stead. No sooner, however, had he re-embarked,
than he had the mortification of seeing the Union Jack replaced by
the blue and white stripes of Honduras. He subsequently returned
and completed the inglorious revolution, by taking such precautions
and making such threats as he thought necessary."
The British statement contests the principle, that the Central
American provinces, having by a successful revolution become inde-
pendent States, succeeded, within their respective limits, to all the
territorial rights of Spain.
As the statement presents no reason for denying this principle, it is
not deemed necessary to assign reasons in its support in addition to
those of the former American statement. The principle cannot, it is
conceived, be successfully controverted. Were any third power per-
mitted to interpose and seize that portion of territory, which the
emancipated colony could not defend, all powers might exercise the
same right* and thus the utmost confusion and injustice would follow.
If Great Britain could seize Ruatan, France niht have taken pos-
session of another portion of Honduras, and the United States of a
part of San Salvador; and thus a successful revolution, instead of
proving a benefit to those who had asserted and maintained their
Em AL AMRICAN AFFAI. 6S
independence, would give rise to general scramble among te nations
for a proportion of the spoil.
But the British statement not only denies that her treaty with
Mexico of the 26th of December, 1826, is a recognition of -the prin-
ciple asserted, but maintains that it proves the contrary.
At the date of this treaty Great Britain was in possession, for special
purpose of the usufruct of Belize, which she had acquired from Spain
under the treaty of 1786. Upon what other principle could she have
solicited and obtained from Mexico an agreement that British subjects
should not be disturbed in the enjoyment of this limited usufruct, un-
less upon the principle.that Mexico had inherited the sovereign rights
of old Spain over the Belize settlement ? Had she then intended to
claim this settlement in absolute sovereignty, she never would have
sought and obtained from Mexico a continuance of her special license.
The idea of anabsolute owner asking a special permission to use his own
property in a particular manner, from a person in whomhe recognizes
no title, would be, to say the least, a novelty, if not an absurdity.
Greatly to her credit and her good faith, however, Great Britain
agreed to hold under Mexico in the very same manner she had held
under old Spain, and thus clearly recognized the rights of Mexico.
How does the British statement answer this argument ? It says
thatthe treaty "simply stipulated that British subjects should not be
worse off under Mexico independent, than under Mexico when a Span-
ish province." And "it was natural, in recognizing the independ-
ence of Mexico, that Great Britain should make such a stipulation."
It was certainly natural that she should do this, but only on the
principle that Mexco might otherwise have asserted her rights as the
successor of old Spain, and at any moment have terminated the Jicense.
The British statement observes, that, since the capture of the island
in 1841, no attempt has been made by Honduras to recapture it; and
that the commandant of Tuxillo, whe n on two or three occasions com-
plaints had been made to him for redress against the settlers of Rua-
tan, had referred them to Belize, telling them that the island was Brit-
ish. But what inference can be drawn fromtfesefacts? Honduras, from
her feebleness, has been compelled to submit, and to resort to the only
remedy which the weak have against the powerful. Complaints and
protestations against the act, which she has never ceased to make,
have been her only resource. How ridiculous it would have been for
her to have attempted to recapture this island from Great Britain I
And the commandant of Truxillo would, as a matter of course, refer
complaints against the settlers in Ruatan to Great Britain for
redress-the power in possession, and the only power in existence
which could apply the remedy.
If, therefore, the question dependinghadbeen between Great Britain.
and Honduras, and the point to be decided by an impartial umpire
were, which of the two powers held the best title to the island, there
could be but little doubt, it is conceived, what would be his decision.
But, as before remarked, the question is not between these parties, but
between Great Britain and the United States. Its decision does not
depend upon the validity. or invalidity of the British title, but whether
Great Britain has bond herself by treaty with the United States not
04 CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
to occupy, or fortify, or colonize, or assume or exercise any dominion
over" 1 itan. Under these circumstances, it was not the duty of the
United States, as is alleged, at the conclusion of the convention of
1850, to have formally contested the title of Great Britain to this
island. Such a course could only have produced useless irritation. It
was sufficient for them to know that Great Britain, being in the occu-
pation of it, no matter by what title, had agreed to withkaw from
But her Majesty's government cannot admit that an alteration in
the internal form of government of these islands is a violation of the
treaty, or affords a just cause of remonstrance to the United States."
What are the facts of the case? When the treaty was concluded,
Great Britain was simply in the occupation of Ruatan, under the cap-
ture made by Colonel McDonald. She had established no regular
form of government over its few inhabitants, who, to say the least,
were of a very heterogeneous character. She had then taken but the
first step, and this in the face of the remonstrances of Honduras, to-
wards the appropriation of the island. No trouble could have been
anticipated by the United States in regard to this island. No doubt
could have been entertained but that Great Britain would promptly
withdraw from it after the conclusion of the treaty. Her relation
towards Ruatan at this time was merely that of a simple occupant.
From this occupancy it was easy to retire, and the island would then
have naturally reverted to Honduras. Instead, however, of taking
one step backward,.the government of Great Britain has since taken
a stride forward, and has proceeded to establish a regular colonial gov-
ernment over it. But this is not all. They have .ot confined them-
selves to Ruatan alone, but have embraced within their colony five
other Central American islands off the coast of the State of Honduras.
One of these, Bonacea, says Bonnycastle, is an island about sixty
miles in circumference, and is supposed to be the first island which
Columbus discovered on his fourth voyage. It was not known, how-
ever, in the United States that the British government had ever made
claim to any of these five* Central American islands previous to the
proclamation announcing their colonization. Indeed, the British state-
ment nowhere asserts that any of them had ever been occupied at any
period by Great Britain before their incorporation with Ruatan and
the establishment in 1851 of the colony of the Bay islands."
In this manner has the feeble State of Honduras been deprived of
every valuable island along her coast, and this is now completely com-
manded by the impending power of Great Britain.
The government of the United States view the establishment of the
colony of the Bay islands" in a still more unfavorable light thap
.they do the omission on the part of the British government to carry
the provisions of the treaty into effect. They feel this to be the com-
mission of a positive act in "palpable violation both of the letter
and spirit of the Clayton and Bulwer convention."
2. The Mosquito Protectorate.
It does not seem necessary to add arguments to those of the former
American statement for the purpose of proving that the Mosquito pro-
cO~rMif A gSCAEB AmarS. 65
tectorate has been abolished by the convention. This point has no-
where been directly met throughout the British statement, by argu-
ments drawn from the body of the treaty itself. These remarks shall,
therefore, be confined to the topics presented in the British statement.
In this discussion, as in the case of the Bay islands, it ought ever
to be borne in mind that it is the true construction of the convention
which is mainly to be ascertained and enforced, and not the historical
circumstances and events which either preceded or followed its conclu-
The admission is noticed with satisfaction, that the United States
had not, under the convention, acknowledged the existence of the
British protectorate in Mosquito. This relieves the argument from
much embarrassment, and the American negotiator from the imputation
of having done an act which would have been condemned by his
It is also repeatedly admitted, that although the British government
(to employ its own language) did not, by the treaty of 1850, abandon
the right of Great Britain to protect the Mosquitos, yet it did intend I
to reduce and limit that right." Had the statement proceeded one
step further, and specified in what manner and to what extent the
British government intended to reduce and limit this right, the con-
troversy on this point might then, for all practical purposes, have
been settled. Why? Because Lord Clarendon must have resorted
to the convention itself for the limitations imposed on the protectorate;
and this would have informed him that it shall never be used for the
purpose of occupying" "the Mosquito coast," "or of assuming or
exercising dominion over the same." Let Great Britain no longer
employ it for these purposes ; let her cease to occupy this coast and
exercise dominion over it, and although not all the convention re-
quires, yet for every essential object this would prove sufficient.
The British statement, strangely enough, first proceeds to discuss
at considerable length, what it terms "the spirit" of the treaty,
which, it says, "must always be inferred from the circumstances under
which it takes place;" and afterwards, in a very few lines, disposes of
the great question of the true construction of its language. This en-
tirely reverses the natural order of things. Vattel informs us, in his
chapter on The Interpretation of Treaties," that the first general
maxim of interpretation is, that it is not allowable to interpret what
has no need of interpretation. When a deed is worded in clear and
precise terms, when its meaning is evident and leads to no absurd con-
clusion, there can be no reason for refusing to admit the meaning
which such deed naturally presents. To go elsewhere in search of
conjectures in order to restrict or extend it, is but an attempt to elude
it. If this dangerous method be once admitted, there will be no deed
which it will not render useless."
It was, therefore, incumbent upon the British statement first to
prove that the language of the convention is obscure, (a most difficult
task,) before it could properly resort to extraneous circumstances to
explain its meaning. Nevertheless, following the order of the state-
ment, a reply shall first be given to the circumstances adduced,
CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
But, as preliminary to these, the statement branches off into a decla-
ration that Mr. Buchanan confounds.the two conditions of a sover-
eignty and a protectorate, and under this error treats the agreement
' not to colonize, nor occupy, nor assume, nor exercise dominion over,'
as including an agreement not to protect." Now admitting, for the
sake of argument, that these words do not include "an agreement not
to protect;" they do at least limit this protection, so that it cannotbe
employed for the purpose of occupying or exercising dominion over
the Mosquito coast. Let this be granted, and the United States need
ask but little more.
No foundation, however, is to be found in Mr. Buchanan's state-
ment for the criticism, that he had confounded two things so distinct
in their nature as a sovereignty and a protectorate." Indeed, he
does not even use the word "sovereignty" in connexion with this
topic, throughout his whole statement. On the contrary, he has
carefully confined himself to the language of the convention itself,
and employed only the words "occupy" "or assume or exercise
The American government have never treated the protectorate
claimed by Great Britain as one which could be recognized by public
law. They well knew, from the savage and degraded character of
the Mosquito Indians, that no treaty of protection could exist between
her Britannic Majesty and the king of the Mosquitos, such as is
recognized among civilized nations. Under such a treaty, the pro-
tected power reserves to itself the. right of administering its own
government-a right which it was impossible for the Mosquitos to ex-
This nominal protectorate must, therefore, from the nature of
things, be an absolute submission of these Indians to the British
government, which, in fact, it has ever been. For these reasons, the
American statement has everywhere treated Great Britain as in pos-
session of the Mosquito coast, and in the exercise of dominion over
Sit, in the same manner as though she were its undisputed owner; and
has contended that she is bound by the treaty to withdraw from this
possession and the exercise of this dominion. This is the substance.
All the rest is mere form. In this point of view, it is wholly imma-
terial whether the relations of the Mosquito Indians towards Great
Britain be called a protectorate, a submission, or by any other name.
The great object of the convention, as understood by the government
of the United States, is, that she should cease to occupy the Mosquito
coast, no matter by what name, or under what claim it is retained.
The leading-indeed, it may almost be said the only-circumstance
adduced to illustrate "the spirit" of the convention, and to bear upon
its construction, is a correspondence which took place at London, in
November, 1849, between Mr. Lawrence and Lord Palmerston. It is
thus sought to convert this preliminary correspondence, which oc-
curred .months before the convention was concluded, between different
individuals, into the means of changing and limiting the meaning of
the language afterwards employed by the actual negotiators. By
such means, all agreements between private parties, and all treaties
between sovereign States, might be annulled. When the final agree-
OENTRAL AIRIOAN A1PAYR&
ment is once concluded, the preliminaries become useless. Like the
scaffolding of a building, they are cast aside after the edifice has been
But even if such a process were legitimate, there is nothing in this
correspondence which, so far from weakening, does not fortify the
construction placed upon the convention by the government of the
United States. Mr. Lawrence first asks Lord Palmerston, as the
primary object, whether the British government intends to occupy
or colonize Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mosquito coast, or any part of
Central America?" and then inquires "whether the British govern-
ment will unite with the United States in guarantying the neutrality
of a ship-canal, railway, or other communication, to be opened to the
world and common to all nations ?" In.reply, Lord Palmerston says,
"that her Majesty's government do not intend to occupy or colonize
Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mosquito coast, or any part of Central
America;" and he also gave an equally satisfactory answer to the
second inquiry of Mr. Lawrence.
Now, what inference does the British statement draw from this
language? It is, that as the correspondence, which is alleged to have
been before the negotiators, does not refer to the Mosquito protectorate
by name, therefore they must have intended that this should remain
untouched by the treaty. But no inference can prevail against a
positive fact. If the correspondence be silent in regard to the protec-
torate, not so the convention. This expressly embraces it, and de-
clares, "nor will either (of the.parties) 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 the purpose (of erect-
ing or maintaining any such fortifications or) of occupying, fortifying,
or colonizing Nicaragua, Costa Bica,,the Mosquito coast, or any part
of Central America, or of assuming or exercising dominion over the
But even if the convention had not contained this express stipula-
tion in regard to the Mosquito protectorate, and had simply provided
for carrying into effect the intention expressed by Mr. Lawrence and
Lord Palmerston, that neither of the parties should occupy or colo-
nize" "the Mosquito coast," this would, it is conceived, have been
abundantly sufficient to bind Great Britain to withdraw from its occu-
pation. In point of fact, it resulted from abundant caution alone that
the clause just quoted from the convention was superadded, prohibit-
ing Great Britain, whether under the name of a "protection" or
"alliance," from "occupying" "the Mosquito coast," "or of assum-
ing or exercising dominion over the same."
In reference to the literal meaning of the convention," which is
certainly the main point, the British statement occupies but a few
lines, and avoids any direct discussion of the language which it em-
ploys. Indeed, the construction for which the government of the
united States contends is substantially admitted. The statement,
after quoting the provisions of the article, and asserting that it
"clearly acknowledges the possibility of Great Britain or the United
States affording protection to Mosquito, or any Central American
State," concedes that whilst it was not the intention of the parties to
05 CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
prohibit or abolish, it was their intention "to limit and restrict such
protectorate." Let there be no dispute about words on so grave a
question. How did the convention limit and restrict this protectorate?
It does this, as before observed, by prohibiting both parties from using
" any protection which either affords" for the purpose of occupying
or exercising dominion over the Mosquito coast.
Throughout that portion of the argument arising out of the corres-
pondence between Mr. Lawrence and Lord Palmerston, and indeed in
other parts of it, the British statement has treated the joint protection
of the two governments to the Nicaragua canal as though this were
the principal and almost the only feature of the convention. Such
expressions as these are employed: The mere protectorate of Great
Britain, stripped of those attributes which affected the construction
and the freedom of the proposed canal, was of small consequence to
the United States." It is again treated as a matter of indifference,
so far as the canal is concerned, as to whether the port and town of
San Juan are under the modified protectorate of Great Britain or tn-
der the government of Nicaragua." And again: The practical dif-
ference between Great Britain and the United States, with regard to
the only mutually important portion of Mosquito-namely, that por-
tion to which the construction and condition of the canal, which formed
the origin and basis of the treaty of 1850, applies-is very small in-
deed," &c., &c.
These are but very partial and limited expositions of the motives
which gave birth to the convention. It consecrated a policy far more
extended and liberal. The convention was not confined to a single
route, but embraced all the routes, whether for railroads or canals,
throughout Central America. To employ its own language, it agreed
to extend the protection of the two governments, "by treaty stipula-
tions, to any other practicable communications, whether by canal or
railway, across the isthmus which connects North and South America,
and especially to the inter-oceanic communications, should the same
prove to be practicable, whether by canal or railway, whish are now
proposed to be established by the way of Tehuantepec or Panama."
Over all such routes, Great Britain and the United States have bound
themselves to cast the wegis of their protection, not for their own exclu-
sive benefit, but for that of all the commercial nations of the earth. It
was to avoid all jealousies between themselves, as well as thosewhich
might arise against either or both on the part of other nations, that
they agreed, not merely that neither of them would erect fortifications
on the single route of the San Juan, or in its neighborhood, but also,
that neither would directly, or by virtue of any protectorate or affi-
ance, occupy, or fortify, or colonize, or assume or exercise any do-
minion over Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mosquito coast, or any part
of Central America." Without this latter provision the former would
have been vain. The prohibition of occupation was, therefore, co-
extensive with the whole territory over which such canals or railroads
Viewing the treaty in the light of its own extended and literal pro-
visions, it was a matter of some surprise that the British statement
should have confined itself merely to a proposition for the two govern-
CENTRAL AMERICAN ANmAIBS.
ments to enter into some arrangement whereby Great Britain may
withdraw her protectorate from the port and harbor of Greytown and
the northern bank of the San Juan, thus leaving the residue of the
Mosquito coast in its present condition.
The government of the United States can become a party to no such
arrangement. It stands upon the treaty which it has already con-
cluded, firmly believing that, under this, Great Britain should, more
than four years ago, have ceased to occupy or exercise dominion over
the whole and every part of the Mosquito coast. It cannot, therefore,
now enter into any new stipulation confined to the port of Greytown
and the northern bank of the San Juan. Such an agreement could
only lead to fresh complications; and besides, would be a tacit ad-
mission, which the United States cannot-make, that the convention of
1850 did not embrace the entire Mosquito coast, as well as every other
portion of Central America. All that the government of the United
States deem it proper to do under existing circumstances, is to persist
in their efforts to induce Great Britain to withdraw from the entire
coast. This object once accomplished, the treaty will then have its
full and beneficent effect. The two powers can then proceed in har-
mony to procure from the proper Central American States the estab-
lishment of two free ports, one at each end of the canal, and success-
fully to interpose their good offices to settle all existing disputes con-
cerning boundaries between these States. It is manifest, however,
that nothing of this kind can be accomplished-there can be no set-
tlement of Central American affairs-whilst Great Britain shall persist
in expressing a determination to remain in possession, under the name
of a protectorate, of the whole coast of Nicaragua on the Caribbean sea.
The Earl of Clarendon has been already informed that the govern-
ment of the United States, from motives of humanity, are willing to
unite with Great Britain in inducing the State of Nicaragua to assign
a suitable portion of her territory for the occupation of the miserable
remnant of the Mosquito tribe. This, however, upon the principle
always recognized by Great Britain and the United States, in the
treatment of their own Indians, that the ultimate dominion and ab-
solute sovereignty belong to Nicaragua; the Mosquitos having a
right of mere occupancy, to be extinguished only by the State of
How unfortunate is the condition of Nicaragua I Her title to all
the territory embraced within the limits of the ancient province of
that name is perfect. This she has acquired, not only by a successful
revolution, but she holds it under a solemn treaty with Spain. This
treaty, concluded at Madrid on the 25th of July, 1850, recognizes her
sovereignty and independence, as well as her right over the American
territory situated between the Atlantic and Pacific seas," and from
sea to sea," with its adjacent islands, known before under the de-
nomination of province of Nicaragua, now republic of the same name."
And yet her eastern coast is covered in its whole extent by the Mos-
quito protectorate, and she is deprived of every outlet to the Carib-
bean sea. Her port of San Juan has been seized by British troops,
and that of Bluefields is the residence of the king of the Mosquitos,
and the seat of the British dominion.
CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
An effort has been made to assimilate the case of the British pro-
tectorate over the Mosquitos to that of Englishmen and Americans
acting as ministers to the king of the Sandwich islands. But there
is no parallel between the cases. The inhabitants of the Sandwich
islands are not degraded savages, but a Christian people; and the
government of their king has been recognized by the principal powers
of the earth. He possesses the right to select foreigners for his
ministers, as other sovereigns have frequently done ; but these, in the
exercise of their functions, are totally independent of their own
It is alleged that a British consul or agent resides in Mosquito, who
"may oftentimes be called upon to give his opinion or advice to the
Mosquito government." But it is notorious-and from the degraded
character of the Indians it cannot be otherwise-that the Mosquito
government is exclusively the British government, exercised through
the agency of this consul. It is through him that the British govern-
ment, in the name of this mere shadow of a king, captures the sea-
ports of his neighbors by the employment of British forces alone, and
exercises dominion over the entire so-called Mosquito coast. We have
the nothingness of the Mosquito government and the king graphi-
cally delineated by two eminent British statesmen of the present cabi-
net. Truly this government is but a "fiction," whilst that of Great
Britain is the substantial reality.
The British statement, after defining the general distinction be-
tween sovereignty and "defence or protection," presents the con-
sequences which might arise if an agreement not to occupy or exer-
cise dominion over" should prohibit either party from the perform-
ance of certain enumerated acts, either for or against the Central
American States. As these remarks are merely hypothetical, and do
not seem to have any direct bearing upon the great question pending
between the parties, it is deemed unnecessary to prolong this state-
ment by a reply to them seriatim. They may be well or ill-founded;
but it is inconceivable in what manner they bear upon the simple
question under the treaty, which is, shall Great Britain continue to
occupy or exercise dominion over the Mosquito coast? not what acts
she may perform, without a violation of the convention, after she shall
have withdrawn from this occupation and the exercise of this dominion.
Opinions are referred to, said to have been expressed by Mr. Web-
ster, concerning the convention; but this is to be expounded accord-
ing to its own text, and not by the mere incidental dicta of any man,
no matter how eminent.
And here all has been said which either directly or remotely touches
the merits of the Mosquito question; but as several other topics have
been introduced, it would be improper to pass them over in silence.
The statement declares, in reference to the Mosquito protectorate,
that Great Britain will not enter into any explanation or defence of
her conduct with respect to acts committed by her nearly forty years
ago." Be it so. Such an explanation is not solicited by the United
States. Still it is but just to observe that the British government
first set the example of discussing their ancient right to the Mosquito
protectorate; and this is the only reason given in the former Ameri-
CENTBmAL AnM ICA AFFAIRS. 71
can statement for presenting the views of the government of the
United States on the subject."
It is highly satisfactory, however, to observe that the British state-
ment, instead of relying upon acts of the English on the Mosquito
coast for centuries, limits these within a period of less than forty
years anterior to the present date. It is possible that the former
American statement may have done some good in effecting this change,
by causing Lord Clarendon to re-examine the treaties of 1783 and
1786, and to refer to the history of the time, in which additional
proof has been found, not now necessary to be presented, in confirma-
tion of the construction placed upon these treaties by the American
It would still have been interesting, as an historical fact, to learn at
what time, nearly forty years ago," under what circumstances, and
upon what terms, Great Britain again entered upon Mosquito, after
having acknowledged the sovereignty of Spain over it in 1783 and
1786, and surrendered it to that power.
The British statement proceeds to allege that, since the peace of
1815, old Spain had never raised any question with the British gov-
ernment respecting the Mosquito protectorate. This is doubtless the
case, because old Spain, from the intimate relations of friendship
which had existed between the two governments since their treaty of
alliance in 1809, could not have suspected that Great Britain was
renewing her connexion with the Mosquitos ; and soon after "the acts
committed by her nearly forty years ago," the Spanish American rev-
olutionary war commenced, which would naturally prevent the Span-
ish government from bestowing its attention on a matter so compara-
The statement then denies that, by the British treaty with Mexico
of 1826, Great Britain had recognized the right of the Central Ameri-
can States, having achieved their independence, to the territories
respectively included within their boundaries, as these had formerly
existed under old Spain. As this point has been discussed in a former
portion of the present statement, it is not now necessary to add any-
thing to what has already been said.
But, again, argues the British statement, even supposing that these
States did inherit the right of old Spain, they made no remonstrance
"for many years after the protectorate of Great Britain over Mosquito
had been a fact well known to them."
Surely the British government does not mean to contend that the
omission of these feeble States, agitated in the first place by a revolu-,
tionary war, and afterwards by domestic dissensions, to make such'
remonstrances, would confer upon Great Britain the right to deprive
them of their territory ? Besides, if it were necessary to go into the
question, it might be proved that not many, but only a few years had
elapsed before these States did remonstrate against the encroachments
of Great Britain.
The statement next asserts, that although the government of the
United States, in 1842, knew of the existence of the British protector-
ate, yet they did not complain of it until 1849. And from this what
is to be inferred ? The United States had no right, under any treaty
72 CENTRAL AMMEICN AApIS.
with Great Britain, to interfere in this question until April, 1850.
But even if they had been directly interested in the territory, as
Nicaragua was, is there any statute of limitations among nations,
which, after six years of unlawful possession, deprives the true owner
of his territorial rights ?
Had the United States interfered in this question before the conclu-
sion of the convention of 1850, this could only have been done under
the Monroe doctrine; and then they would have been informed, as
they have already been in the British statement, that this doctrine
" can only be viewed as the dictum of the distinguished personage
who delivered it; but her Majesty's government cannot admit that
doctrine as an international axiom which ought to regulate the con-
duct of European states."
But it must not be inferred from what has been said, that without
this convention the government of the United States would not have
eventually interfered, in obedience to the Monroe doctrine, to prevent,
if possible, any portion of Central America from being permanently
occupied or colonized by Great Britain.
Neither is Lord Clarendon correct in supposing that this doctrine is
but the mere dictum" of its distinguished author. True, it has
never been formally sanctioned by Congress; but when first an-
nounced, more than thirty years ago, it was hailed with enthusiastic
approbation by the American people; and since that period, different
Presidents of the United States have repeated it in their messages to
Congress, and always with unmistakable indications of public appro-
If the occasion required, Mr. Buchanan would cheerfully undertake
the task of justifying the wisdom and sound policy of the Monroe
doctrine, in reference to the nations of Europe, as well as to those on
the American continent.
The British statement proceeds to enumerate several instances, com-
mencing in November, 1847, extracted from the report of Mr. Clayton
to the President, in July, 1850, in which no answers were returned by
the government of the United States to appeals made by or on behalf
of the State of Nicaragua for our interference to arrest the progress
of British encroachments in Central America.
Surely the war then pending between the United States and Mexico
was sufficient to account for this temporary omission, without attribut-
ing it to any indifference to the proceedings of Great Britain against
But even before this war was finally terminated by a treaty of peace,
and after thecapture of San Juan by the British forces, President Polk in
April, 1848, gave a public pledge to the world, in strongterms, of his
adherence to the Monroe doctrine, as he had already done in two pre-
vious messages. Besides. in December, 1847, he asked an appropria-
tion from Congress to enable him to send a minister to Guatemala;
and this minister was accordingly despatched, with instructions which
have been published, having distinctly in view the adoption of meas-
ures necessary to give effect to this doctrine in Central America.
The British statement, while admitting that, under the former prin-
ciples and practice of European nations in regard to their treatment of
CENTRAL AxMBIaAN AFFAmIS. 73
the Indian races, the Mosquitos would have no right to rank as an inde-
pendent state, yet indicates that Great Britain has changed her con-
duct in this respect. As examples of great changes in other respects
which have occurred in modern times, and as an excuse or justification
for her own change, the British statement cites the suppression of the
African slave-trade, and the establishment of the republic of Liberia.
Neither of these would seem to be very wonderful. They both occur-
red in the natural progress of events, from the advance of civilization
and the efforts of wise and benevolent men.. But the British govern-
ment will have performed a miracle if they can convert the debased
and degraded race of Mosquito Indians, such as they have been de-
scribed without contradiction in the American statement, into citizens
or subjects of a really independent and sovereign nation.
The British statement also declines to furnish "the grounds on
which her Majesty's government made the capture of San Juan de
Nicaragua," and it is therefore scarcely necessary to pursue this
branch of the subject. If it were, it would be easy to add proofs to
those contained in the former American statement, that this was
never a Mosquito port, in any sense, but always, together with the
river San Juan, rightfully belonged to Spain, and afterwards to
Nicaragua. Reference might be made to the report of Sir William
Wise, the commander of the British ship-of-war Sophie, who visited
the coast in 1820, and also to that of Mr. Orlando Roberts, who was
carried as a prisoner up the San Juan in 1821. The latter describes
the fort to which Captain Bonnycastle had referred, as then still
mounting twelve large pieces of cannon, and containing accommoda-i
tions for one hundred men. The two chapters of Crowe's Central.
America, entitled British Encroachments," might also be cited. Of
these the author presents a striking history, from the time of the nu-
merous and formidable but unsuccessful expedition of Great Britain
against Spain in 1780, for the purpose of wresting from that power
the port and river of San Juan, until they were finally captured from
Nicaragua, in 1848, and then first became a part of the Mosquito pro-
3. Territory between the Sibun and the Sarstoon.
The next portion of Central America which demands attention is
the territory between the rivers Sibun and Sarstoon. Over this terri-
tory the British settlers from Belize have been encroaching for several
years; but this, it was believed, without the authority or sanction of
the British government. It now appears that Great Britain claims
the territory, and declines to withdraw from its occupation, in obedi-
ence to the convention.
In regard to it the question need not be discussed, whether the con-
vention embraces the entire isthmus, geographically known as Central
America, or is confined to the five States which formerly composed the
republic of that name. In either sense, the country between the Si-
bun and the Sarstoon is included within Central America. This ter--
ritory is a part of the province of Vera Paz, all of which constitutes
an integral portion of the State of Guatemala., At the date of the
74 CENTRAL AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
treaty of 1786, and until the Spanish dominion terminated, the terri-
tory south of the Sibun was included within the ancient kingdom of
Guatemala, of which, with the exception of Chiapas, the confederated
republic was composed. This, as a geographical fact, it is presumed
will not be denied.
The British statement contends that Mr. Clayton's declaration of
the 4th July, 1850, not only embraces the settlement of Belize proper,
under the treaty with Spain, but covers the territory south of it, be-
tween the Sibun and the Sarstoon.
The language employed by Mr. Clayton is, "the British settle-
ment in Honduras." Now, while such a settlement exists under the
treaty of 1786, to which this language is precisely applicable, it would
be a most strained construction to extend its application beyond the
treaty limits, and make it protect the encroachments of British settlers
over a larger territory than that included within the settlement itself.
Besides, Mr. Clayton states, in a subsequent part of the same docu-
ment, that the convention of 1850 was understood to apply to, and
does include, all the Central American States of Guatemala, Hondu-
ras, San Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, with their just limits
and proper dependencies."
Then, under this declaration, itself, the territory in question being
within the just limits" of the State of Guatemala, is expressly em-
braced by the convention.
Lord Clarendon considers himself "more warranted" in concluding
that Mr. Clayton's statement applies to this territory, from the fact
that the United States had, in 1847, sent a consul to this settlement,
which consul had received his exequatur from the British government-
a circumstance (says his lordship) which constitutes a recognition,
by the United States government, of the settlement of British Hon-
duras under her Majesty, as it then existed."
Now, it would be easy to prove that a consul is never sent to a
whole settlement, or to an entire nation, but only to a single port, for
the purpose of superintending the commerce at that port; and, there-
fore, that no inference could be drawn from the fact that the United
States had sent a consul to the port of Belize, within the treaty limits,
in favor of the claim of Great Britain to a country far beyond these
limits. But this would not be sufficient for the occasion. Mr. Buch-
anan emphatically denies the proposition that the appointment of a
consul to Belize was any, even the slightest, recognition of the right
of Great Britain to this very port.
A consul is an officer appointed to reside in a foreign country for
the purpose of facilitating, extending, and protecting the trade of his
nation with that country. Such officers follow foreign trade, where-
ever it may go, and afford protection to it, no matter whether the
ports to which they are sent be in the possession of the rightful owner
or a usurper. The appointment of a consul recognizes nothing more
than the defacto possession of the port by the power from which his
exequatur is received. Such an appointment does not, in the slightest
degree, interfere with the question of the right [dejure] of this power
to be in possession. This has ever been, and this must ever be, the
law and practice of modern commercial nations. If it were otherwise,
CENTRAL AEMICAN AFms. 75
then, before the appointment of a consul, the government of a nation
must first carefully inquire whether the party in possession be the
rightful owner of the port; and if they determine against its right,
then their commerce with it must either cease altogether or remain
without consular protection. This would be a novel doctrine to main-
tain in the present age of commercial progress.
The law and practice of nations have for a long period been clear
on this point; because consuls are mere commercial and not political
agents. At the present time, even the appointment of a public min-
ister is wisely considered as a recognition of nothing more than the
defacto possession of the power to which he is accredited.
The British statement claims the territory between the Sibun and
the Sarstoon by right of conquest, and.observes that the treaty of
1786 was put an end to by a subsequent state of war" with Spain,
and that during that war the boundaries of the British settlement
in question were enlarged," and that the subsequent treaty of peace
not having revived the treaties of 1783 and 1786, Great Britain is en-
titled to retain this territory.
It may be observed that the statement does not mention at what
period the boundaries of the British settlement were enlarged. If this
took place, as it is believed it did, after the date of the treaty of alli-
ance between Great Britain and Spain in 1809, which terminated the
war, then this argument falls to the ground. If before 1809, Great
Britain, when concluding this treaty, ought to have informed Spain
that she intended to convert the encroachments of the settlers in Be-
lize on Spanish territory into an absolute right. That she did not
then intend to pursue such a course towards an ally in distress, is
clear from her subsequent conduct.
In 1814 Great Britain revived all her pre-existing commercial trea-
ties with Spain ; and what is the privilege granted to her by the treaty
of 1786, of cutting mahogany, logwood, and other dye-woods on Span-
ish territory, thus enabling her to extend British commerce in these
articles, but a commercial privilege?
So far from the treaty of 1786 being put an end to" by the war,
its continued existence in 1817 and 1819 was recognized by acts of
the British parliament; these declare, in so many words, that Belize
was "not within the territory and dominion of his Majesty," but
was merely a settlement for certain purposes, in the possession and
under the protection of his Majesty."
For the nature of this settlement," and a knowledge of "these
certain purposes," we can refer nowhere except to the treaties of
1783 and 1786.
In addition to these acts of parliament, it is proper here to repeat,
that, so late as 1826, Great Britain has, by her treaty with Mexico,
acknowledged the continued existence and binding force of the treaty
But no matter what may be the nature of the British claim to the
country between the Sibun and the Sarstoon, the observation already
made in reference to the Bay islands and the Mosquito coast must be
reiterated; that the great question does not turn upon the validity of
this claim previous to the convention of 1850, but upon the facts that
76 CENTRAL AMERICAN AWAIRS.
Great Britain has bound herself by this convention not to occupy any
part of Central America, nor to exercise dominion over it; and that
the territory in question is within Central America, even under the
most limited construction of these words., In regard to Belize proper,
confined within its legitimate boundaries, under the treaties of 1783
and 1786, and limited to the usufruct specified in these treaties, it is
necessary to say but a few words. The government of the United
States will not for the present insist upon the withdrawal of Great
Britain from this settlement, provided all the other questions between
the two governments concerning Central America can be amicably
adjusted. It has been influenced to pursue this course partly by the
declaration of Mr. Clayton on the 4th of July, 1850, but mainly in
consequence of the extension of the license granted by. Mexico to
Great Britain under the treaty of 1826, which that republic has yet
taken no steps to terminate.
It is, however, distinctly to be understood, that the government of
the United States acknowledge no claim of Great Britain within
Belize, except the temporary liberty of making use of the wood of
the different kinds, the fruits and other produce in their natural
state," fully recognizing that the former "Spanish sovereignty over
the country" now belongs either to Guatemala or Mexico.
In conclusion, the government of the United States most cordially
and earnestly unite in the desire expressed by "her Majesty's govern-
ment, not only to maintain the convention of 1850 intact, but to con-
solidate and strengthen it by strengthening and consolidating the
friendly relations which it was calculated to cement and perpetuate."
Under these mutual feelings, it is deeply to be regretted that the two
governments entertain opinions so widely different in regard to its
true effect and meaning.
Convention between the United States of America and her Britannic
Majesty,for facilitating and protecting the construction of a ship-canal
between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and for other purposes.
Concluded April 19, 1850; ratified by the United States May 23,
1850; exchanged July 4, 1850; andproclaimed by the United States
July 5, 1850.
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
Whereas a convention between the United States of America and
her Britannic Majesty, for facilitating and protecting the construction
of a ship-canal between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and for other
purposes, was concluded and signed at Washington on the 19th day
of April last, which convention is, word for word, as follows:
CENTRAL AMElICA AFAItS. 77
Convention between the United States of America and her Britannic
The United States of America and her Britannic Majesty, being
desirous of consolidating the relations of amity which so happily sub-
sist 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 power on John M. Clayton, Secretary of State of the
United States; and her Britannic Majesty on the Right Honorable
Sir Henry Lytton Bulwer, a member of her Majesty's most Honorable
Privy Council, Knight Commander of the Most Honorable Order of
the Bath, and 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
The governments of the United States and Great Britain hereby
declare, that neither the one nor the other will ever obtain or main-
tain 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 fortify, or colonize,
or assume or exercise any dominion ove..icaragua, Costa Rica, the
Mosquitocoast, or ayBpart of CentraLAmerica; nor wilT ether make
use of any protection wlihTeflher affords or may afford, or any alli-
ance which either has or may have to or with any State or people, for
the purpose of erecting or maintaining any such fortifications, or of
occupying, fortifying, or colonizing Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mos-
quito coast, or any part of Central America, or of assuming ortker-
cising dominion over the same; nor w-ilthe United States or Great
Britain take advantage of any intimacy, or use any alliance, connex-
ion or influence that either may possess with any State or government
through whose territory the said canal may pass, for the purpose of
acquiring or holding, directly or indirectly, for the citizens or sub-
jacts of the one, any rights or advantages in regard to commerce or
navigation through the said canal, which shall not be offered on the
same terms to the citizens or subjects of the other.
Vessels of the United States or Great Britain traversing the said
canal shall, in case of war between the contracting parties, be
exempted from blockade, detention, or capture by either of the belli-
gerents; and this provision shall extend to such a distance from the
78 CEo TBmAL AMEB N AFFAis.
two ends of the said canal as may hereafter be found expedient to
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 the said canal to its completion, by the govern-
ments of the United States and Great Britain from unjust detention,
confiscation, seizure, or any violence whatsoever.
The contracting parties will use whatever influence they respect-
ively exercise with any State, States, or governments, 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 appli-
cable thereto, in order to induce such States or governments to faoili-
tate the construction of the said canal by every means in their power.
And furthermore, the United States and Great Britain agree to use
their good offices, wherever or however it may be most expedient, in
order to procure the establishment of two free ports, one at each end
of the said canal.
The contracting parties further engage, that when the said canal
shall have been completed, they will protect it from interruption,
seizure, or unjust confiscation, and that they will guaranty the neu-
trality thereof, so that the said canal may forever be open and free,
and the capital invested therein secure. Nevertheless, the govern-
ments of the United States and Great Britain, in according their pro-
tection to the construction of the said canal, and guarantying its neu-
trality and security when completed, always understand that this
protection and guaranty are granted conditionally, and may be with-
drawn by both governments, or either government, if both govern-
ments, or either government, should deem that the persons or company
undertaking or managing the same, adopt or establish such regula-
tions concerning the traffic thereupon as are contrary to the spirit and
intention of this convention, either by making unfair discrimination
in favor of the commerce of one of the contracting parties over the
commerce of the other, or by imposing oppressive exactions or unrea-
sonable tolls upon passengers, vessels, goods, wares, merchandise, or
other articles. Neither party, however, shall withdraw the aforesaid
protection and guaranty without first giving six months' notice to the
cMTBAL AKmRICAN AFFAIRS. 79
The contracting parties in this convention engage to invite every
State with which 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 all other States may share in the
honor and advantage of having contributed to a work of such general
interest and importance as the canal herein contemplated. And the
contracting parties likewise agree that each shall enter into treaty
stipulations with such of the Central American States 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 said canal as a ship communication between the two
oceans for the benefit of manki d, on equal terms to all, and of pro-
tecting the same; and they also agree, that the good offices of either
shall be employed, when requested by the other, in aiding and assist-
ing the negotiation of such treaty stipulations; and should any differ-
ences arise as to right or property over the territory through which
the said canal shall pass between the States or governments of Central
America, and such differences should in any way impede or obstruct
the execution of the said canal, the governments of the United States
and Great Britain will use their good offices to settle such differences
in the manner best suited to promote the interests of the said canal,
and to strengthen the bonds of friendship and alliance which exist
between the contending parties.
It being desirable that no time should be unnecessarily lost in com-
mencing and constructing the said canal, 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 com-
mence the same, with the necessary capital, the consent of the local
authorities, and on such principles as accord with the spirit and inten-
tion of this convention; and if any persons or company should
already have, with any State through which the proposed ship-canal
may pass, a contract for the construction of such a canal as that speci-
fied in this convention, to the stipulations of which contract neither
of the contracting parties in this convention have any just cause to ob-
ject, and the said persons or company shall, moreover, have made
preparations, and expended time, money, and trouble, on the faith of
such contract, it is hereby agreed that sush persons or company shall
have a priority of claim, over every other person, persons or company,
to the protection of the governments of the United States and Great
Britain, and be allowed a year from the date of the exchange of the
ratifications of this convention for concluding their arrangements, and
presenting evidence of sufficient capital subscribed to accomplish the
contemplated undertaking; it being understood that if, at the expira-
tion of the aforesaid period, such persons or company be not able to com-
mence and carry out the proposed enterprise, then the governments of
cEN fAL AMERICAN AFPPAIS.
the United States and Great Britain shall be free to afford their pro-
tection to any other persons. or company that shall be prepared to
commence and proceed with the construction of the canal in question.
The governments of the United States and Great Britain having
not only desired, in entering into this convention, to accomplish a par-
ticular object, but also to establish a general principle, they hereby
agree to extend their protection, by treaty stipulations, to any other
practicable communications, whether by canal or railway, across the
Isthmus which connects North and South America, and especially to
the inter-oceanic communications, should the same prove to be practi-
cable, whether by canal or railway, which are now proposed to be
established by the way of Tehuantepec or Panama. In granting,
however, their joint protection to any such canals or railways as are
by this article specified, it is always understood by the United States
and Great Britain that the parties constructing or owning the same
shall impose no other charges or conditions of traffic thereupon than
the aforesaid governments shall approve of as just and equitable; and
that the same canals or railways, being open to the citizens and sub-
jects of the United States and Great Britain on equal terms, shall
also be open on like terms to the citizens and subjects of every other
State which is willing to grant thereto such protection as the United
States and Great Britain engage to afford.
The ratifications of this convention shall be exchanged at Wash-
ington within six months from this day, or sooner if possible.
In faith whereof, we, the respective plenipotentiaries, have signed
this convention, and have hereunto affixed our seals.
Done at Washington, the nineteenth day of April, anno Domini
one thousand eight hundred and fifty.
JOHN M. CLAYTON. [L. s.]
HENRY LYTTON BULWER. [I. s.]
And whereas the said convention has been duly ratified: on both
parts, and the respective ratifications of the same wereiiechanged at
Washington, on the fourth instant, by John M. Clayton, Secretary of
State of the United States, and the Bight Honorable Sir Henry Lytton
Bulwer, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of her
Britannic Majesty, on the part of their respective governments:
Now, therrefore, be it known, that I, ZACHArY TAmR, President of
the United States of America, have caused the said convention to be
made public, to the end that the same, and every clause and: article
thereof, may be observed and fulfilled with good faith by the United
States and the citizens thereof.
[. s] In witness wherreof I have hereunto set my hand, and ca
St "oIf the seal of the United States to be affixed.
CENTRAL AE IOAN A&TAIRS.
Done at the city of Washington, this fifth day of July, in the'year
of our Lord one thousand eight -hundred and fifty, and of the inde-
pendence of the United States the seventy-fifth.
By the President:
S J. M. CLAYTro, Secretary of State.
S .- ..
In proceeding to the exchange of the ratifications of the convention
signed at Washington on the 19th of April, 1850, between her Britan-
nic Majesty and the United States of America, relative to the estab-
lishment of a communication by shi-canal between the Atlantic and
Pacific oceans, the undersigned, her Britannic Majesty's plenipoten-
tiary, has received her Majesty's instructfbns to declare that her Ma-
jesty does not understand the engagements of that convention to-apply
to her Majesty's settlement at Honduras, or to its dependencies. Her
Majesty's ratification of the said convention is exchanged under the
explicit declaration above mentioned.
Done at Washington the 29th day of June, 1850.
H. L. BULWER.
S DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, July 5, 1850.
The within declaration of Sir H. L. Bulwer was received by me -on
the 29th day of June, 1850. In reply, I wrote him my note of the
4th of July, acknowledging that I understood British Honduras was
not embraced in the treaty of the 19th day of April last; but at the
same time carefully decline to affirm or deny the British title in
their settlement or its alleged dependencies. After signing my note
last night, I delivered it'to Sir Henry, and we immediately proceeded,
without any further or other action, to exchange the ratifications of
said treaty. The consent of the Senate to the declaration was not
required, and the treaty was ratified as it stood when it was made.
S JOHN M. CLAYTON.
N. B.-The rights of no Central American State have been compro-
mised by'the treaty or by any part of the negotiations.
r :" *': -.*
CENTRAL AMERICAN AFPAlp s. 83
by either of the belligerents." The subject is one of deep interest,
and I shall be happy to receive the views of your government in re-
gard to it, as soon as it may be convenient for them to decide upon it.
I renew to you, sir, the assurances of the distinguished considera-
tion with which I have the honor to be your obedient servant,
JOHN M. CLAYTON.
To the Right Hon. Sir HRN r L. BULWE, d., &c., do.
IN REELATION TO
THE CLAYTON AND BULWER CONVENTION,
TO TBE SENATE BYTHE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AT THE FIRST
SESSION OF THE THIRTY-FOURTH CONGRESS.
C0fSiSP ON DEICE
1n1 RATION TO
CENTRAL AMERICAN. AFFAIRS,
S THE CONVENTION OF WASHINGTON
APRIL 19, 1850.
To the Senate of the united States:
I transmit a report from the Secretary of State in answer to the
resolution of the Senate of the 17th ultimo, requesting transcripts of
certain correspondence and other papers touching the republics of
Nicaragua and Costa Rica, the Mosquito Indians, and the convention
between the United States and Great Britain of April 19, 1850.
FRANKLIN PIEBOC .
WAS owGTO, February 14, 1856.
DEPABIMMlI O 8TAtE,
Washington, FePlnary 14, 1856.
The Secretary of State, to whom was referred the resolution of the
Senate of the 17th ultimo, requesting the President, if compatible.
with the public interest, to commnimcate to the Senate copies of any
correspondence which took place between Daniel Webster, Secretary
of State, and the British minister and the minister from Costa Rica,
in respect to a project which was submitted to Nicaragua, Costa Rica,
and the Mosquito Indians, and a copy of such jroet with the instruc-
tions given to Mr. Walsh, the special agent deputed by the United
States to present that prqet to the States of Nicaragua and Costa
Rica, as also of such other correspondence as may have passed between
him and the said Secretary of State on the subject; as also copies of
the- correspondence with Mr. Kerr, charge d'affaires of the United
States in Nicaragua, in reference thereto, together with any cor-
0ENraLrz b-j~0~an aWLa:
respondence with the government of Nicaragua or its minister iii
respect to the same projet; and also copies of any letters not hereto-
fpre communicated, which may have been addressed to this govern-
ment by the minister of Nicaragua or the minister of Great Britain,
in reference to the construction and purport of the convention between
the United States and Great Britain, signed April 19, 1850, and pro-
claimed July 5, 1850, and of the replies made to them, it any, has
the honor to lay before the President the papers mentioned in the sub-
W. L. MABOCY.
To the PRESIDENT. *
List of papers accompanying the report of the secretary of State to the
President of the 14th February, 1856.
Mr. Clayton to the Supreme Director of Nicaragua, extract, June 17,
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua to the Secretary of State
of the United States, (translation,) extract, September 10, 1850.
Same to the same, (translation,) enclosures, September 28, 1850.6
Same to the same, (translation,) enclosures, November 13, 1850. -
Mr. Marcoleta to Mr. Webster, (translation,) February 24, 1851. I
Same to the same, (translation,) February 26, 1851.
Mr. Molina to Mr. Webster, March 28, 1851.
Mr. Webster to Mr. Molina, March 31, 1851.
Mr. Marcoleta to Mr. Webster, (translation,) enclosures, May 7, 18511'
Mr. Molina to the same, enclosures, May 8, 1851.
Same to the same, May 8, 1851.
Mr. Marcoleta to Mr. Webster, (translation,) enclosure, June 3, 1851.
Mr. Webster to Mr. Kerr, June 6, 1851.
Same to the same, June 6, 1851.
'Mr. Webster to Mr. Molina, June 10, 1851.
Mr. Molina to Mr. Webster, enclosure, June 21, 1851.
Mr. Marcoleta to Mr. Webster, (translation,) October 30,1851.
Mr. Webster to Mr. Marcoleta, November 11, 1851.
Same to Mr. Kerr, November 20, 1851.
Mr. MoJina to Mr. Webster. November 20, 1851.
Mr. Webster to Mr. Molina, November 25, 1851. '.
Mr. Marcoleta to Mr. Webster, (translation,) r 5, 1851.
Same to the same, (translation,) enclosure, h 5, 1852.
Mr. Molina to Mr. Webster, April 6, 1852.
Mr. Webster to Mr. Molina, April 8, 1852.
Mr. Molina to Mr. Webster, April 9, 1852.
Mr. Webster to Mr. Molina, April 15, 1852.
Mr. Molina to Mr. Webster, pril 19, 1852.
Mr. Marcoleta to the same, (translation,) enclosure, April 21, 185.
Mr. Webster to Mr. Walsh, extract, April 29, 1852. .
Bases of a convention for the settlement of differences betweewa-ica-
ragua and Costa RBie, proposed by .the United States and QGrt
Britain, April 30, 1852.
Mr. Wabster to Mr. -Kerr, April 30, 1852.
Mr. Marcoleta to Mr. Webster, (translation,) May 2, 1852.
Mr. Htaterrto Mr..Kerr, May 4, 1852.
SwA e t Walsh, May 4, 1852.
Mr. Huntr to Mr. Molina, May 5, 1852.
lMr, Molina to-Mr. Hunter, May 8, 1852.
Mr. Hunter to Mr Kerr, May 13, 1852.
Mr. xnter to Mr. Molina, May 19, 1852.
Mr. Walsh to Mr. Webster, May 28, 1852.
Saue to the same, June 11, 1852.
Same to the same, enclosures, June 25, 1852.
Mr. Kerr to Mr. Webster, extracts and enclosures, July 28, 1852.
Same to the same, extracts and enclosures, July 30, 1852.
Mr. Molina to Mr. Hunter, August 6, 1852.
Mr. Webster to Mr. Molina, August 12, 1852.
Mr. Walsh to Mr. Webster, August 15, 1852.
Mr. Kerr to Mr. Webster, extract and enclosures, September 2, 1852.
Mr. Marooleta to Mr. Conrad, (translation,) October 16, 1852.
Mr. Kerr to Mr. Webster, extract, October 27, 1852.
Mr. Conrad to Mr. Marcoleta, October 28, 1852.
Mr. Ilarcoleta to Mr. Conrad, (translation,) November 2, 1852.
Mr: Molina to Mrq Everett, November 11, 1852.
Mr. Molina'sproject, November 17, 1852.
Mr. Walsh to Mr. Everett, extracts, November 19, 1852.
Mr.,Kerr to twe Secretary of State, extract, January 13, 1853.
Ma Molina to Mr. Marcy, September 26, 1853.
*Mr. Marcy to Mr. Molina, October 14, 1853.
Mr. Marcoleta to Mr. Marcy, (translation,) December 5, 1853.
Same to same, (translation,) December 6, 1853.
Mr. Marcy to Mr. Molina, December 17, 1853.
Same to Mr. Borland, extract, December 30, 1853.
Mr. Marcoleta to Mr. Marcy, (translation,) enclosure, January 24,
Mr. Marcy to Mr. Marcoleta, February 21, 1854.
Mr. Clay to tAhe Supreme Director of Nicaragua.
Dpairnrmq or STATr,
Wausingt(no, June 17, 1850.
BSi: I address this not directly to your excellence, because it is
probable that before it shall have reached your capital Mr. Squiek,
the charge d'affaires of the Uited States to Guatemala, will have left
Central America on his return t4the Unitid States.
Immediately, fter M..acrivalt SBelor Eduardo Carcache, the Nica-
raguan charge d''afeaire ina ~is.cptry, I .earnestly entreatedf him
90 aErB&nW AL, bi 6 N -AMLMS .
to procure from his own government the most ample inst roioa t
alter the treaty negotiated with your government by Mr. Squier, in
such way as to him, upop full view of all the facts, should seem eost
conducive-to the interests and prosperity of Nicaragua. Negotiations
affecting the sovereignty of Nicaragua and her highest interest being
in progress between the government of the United States and Great
Britain, during the past year, have terminated in a treaty nowirati-
fed by both parties, of which I send you a-copy, tohe e t
Smay see the disposition of the people of the Unit air
Governmental n regard no only to Nicaragua but all Cena a.
This treaty has been acceded to by Great Britain, attthe instan~ of
the United States, and we are now, in pursuance of its provisions,
making progress in obtaining the accession of all the great maritime
states of Europe to the same treaty. It is not doubted that all the
States of Central America will co-operate with us most heartily in
the great objects we have in view, (and which caused us to enter into
these guaranties,) to facilitate and aid by every means the con-
struction of interoceanic communication across the isthmus which
divides northern from southern America. Under these guaranties
the Central American republics, united in one confederation and
union for their common defence and happiness, will, it is ardently
hoped, assume a rank among the nations of the earth, realizing the
proudest anticipations of those who have made their brilliant destiny
a study. The best wishes of this government towards Central America
were conveyed to Nicaragua by our charge d'affaires at Guatemala.
Proofs of friendship, more solid than any professions, are conveyed
to you in the enclosed treaty. In return for this, we expect the confi-
dence of yours, as well as of every other Central American State.
If that confidence be withheld, all our efforts in behalf of your coun-
jtry will be fruitless. It is impossible for us to communicate with a
minister at Leon. Experience has proved that my communications
to Mr. Squier are addressed to him in vain, so defective are your
mails and means of communication with San Juan de Nicaragua.
AThe President has given him leave of absence at est
iand in a few days he will return to the Uited tes.Seor he
has no instructions except to exchange the ratifications of the treaty
negotiated by your government with Mr. Squier, which is so defective
as to its duration and its grants of exclusive rights to the United
States, not desired by us, that it cannot be ratified precisely as it
stands, unTess we repui ate the treaty with Great Britai. It isain-
dispensable that the two treaties should in all respect qnbrm with
each other, and to this end Sefior. Carcache, or some other suitable
person, should be immediately invested by your government withfll
powers to make a new treaty, or change the o1onue, as I have described.
More than four months have elapsed since Seoir Carcache was fully
informed of this. He states to me that hd has written to you for new
and more ample instructions, and that he has received nothing in
reply. In consequence of this misfortune, the interests of Niaragua
are endangered at this critical period. If ample. powers are.not
speedily given to some person to negotiate in your bhealf, the Se~ate
of the United States, whose ratifiattion is neceary to the treaty
rth your government, m y eren be compelled to drop it. jA itugh
' Offered td negotiate ith SBelor Carcache, with the e'ress t- E-
ldaiRungfhat his government should be bniod by nothing in our treaty
- ih it should not hereafter djpree, yet he utterly refused to com-
mence any negotiation'without instructions.
*;* ,: *. ** * * *
ceptsir, the assurances, c.,
JOHN M. CLAYTONr.
To the IeTmm DmIco rm
Of the &Bate ofNicaragua.
[Extract from Translation.]
The Minister of Foreign Afairs for Nicaragua to the Secretary of State
of the United Stdtes.
DEPARTMBnr oF FonrGN RELAIoNS,
Leon de NicaragfW, September 10, 1850.
S.I: The important despatch received from your excellence, dated
the 17th of last June, is another of those documents bearing incon-
testable evidence of the very noble and fraternal sentiments which
animate the respectable government of the United States in its inter-
course with the government of this State relative to those sacred rights
and vital interests which link the destiny of the latter with the other
sections of the continent.
Your excellence is in possession of .authentic data showing the
ardent desire of this supreme government to establish such mter-
course, and the efforts it has made to cultivate the same for the
mutual benefit of the' two countries; but although it has availed itself
of all the nieans of communication which presented themselves,
yet, owing to the obstacles thrown in the way of all regular corres-
,ipondence by those who have usurped the occupation of the port of San
uan since the first day of anuary, 1848, this intercourse has not
Been so frequent or so punctual as the importance of the matters at
issue required. Now, however, that your excellency has been pleased
to select a safe channel of communication, in addressing the above-
mentioned despatch to this cabinet, the Supreme Director, having well
considered its contents, has agreed to reply to your excellence in the
That having experienced the most unbounded satisfaction, Ind en-
tertaining a profound sense of gratitude for the friendly offices of your
excellence's government relative to the great question which has been
agitatedfwith England, he begs to tender, from this moment, with all
the earnestness of a true American heart, the thanks which are due
for the offices aforesaid, and also for the transmission by your excel-
lency of the treaty concluded in Washington on the 19th of last April,
and for the progress your excellence's government has made in p-
uearing the assent of all the principal maritime powers of Europe to
said try.'" our exellency has good reason to hope for the Eo-
opeitio ohf the Cen'tra'Amnerica' .sates. lo
92 CENoAL AMBuJraN Agp4 .
The accomplishment of this interesting objectwill be greatiyai-
tated by the simultaneous effort now making on the part of the States
of Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua to establish a national union
in Central America, in spite of the opposition offered by Guateuala
and Costa Rica to the realization of such a scheme.
With regard to the State of Nicaragua, which is immediately inter-
ested in the question pending with England, it wishes to make
known from this moment, to the high government of your excellency,
that it does not entertain the smallest doubt of the just and benevolent
intentions both of said government and of the heroic people of the
United States, and that it anticipates from the treaty of the 19th April
all those great results which your excellency has been pleased to prog-
Snosticate in regard to the future sovereignty and aggrandizement of
To the Most Excellent the SEcnarY or FORIGN AnaIns
Of the supreme government of the repuUic of North America.
The Minister of Foreign Afairs of Nicaragua to the Secretary of Stae
of the United States.
DEPARMET OF FoRIFN RE-AI-ONS,
Leon, September 28, 1860.
SI : I have the honor of- transmitting to your excellency copies of
the notes which have been addressed to this department by Mr. Frede-
rick Chatfield, her Britannic Majesty's consul general in Central
America, under the respective dates of August the 15th and the 2d
instant, and of the replies which have been sent to him. by this de-
partment, on the 16th and 23d of the present month.
From these documents your excellency will perceive, that notwith-
standinghe treaty of Washington of last April, the 19th, Mr. Chat-
field persists in maintaining the integrity of the Mosquito nation,
resting his argument upon the recognition which he supposes the
government of the United States to have made of her indep enece,
as well as the fact that the aforesaid treaty was concluded with Great
Britain, adding, by way of strengthening his argument, that the
governmentt of the French republic has already accede'to the same.
Although Nicaragua has not caused the assertion of her right ito
be included in the treaty of the 19th of April, sh has seen, with
very great satisfaction, a vindication of the same therein, a a indlof
explanation and recognition of those rights on the part of the con-
tracting parties; and the supreme director, who saw m- the con~uF's
notes alluded to above a studied evasion, with a view of continuing to
usurp the coast and thhe northern ports ofthe State, has, without a
moment's hesitation, decided upon forwarding those documents toyirt
excellence, for the purpose of subserving the general interest ofo
country and of this State. .
I'tafordns.mpletorent*ito your excellency my protestations
of regard, with which I am your devoted servant,
The Most El ellent the BRanABY OF S FTATE FO FO6B~E APAIBe
Qf the gotemmen t of the. Dled State of North America.
[Tranlation of Translation.]
HB1 BTmrANa MAJs.m 's LEGAmoA N AT GUATMAL&A,
August 16, 1850.
mB: Mr. Vice Consul Foster has informed me of the steps which
he has deemed it his duty to take in consequence of the losses recently
experienced by Messrs. Beschor & Co., of Granada, through acts of
public violence, and for the recovery of a debt contracted some time
since by the government of Nicaragua with the aforesaid Messrs Bes-
chor & Co., for the use of certain small vessels which had been forci-
bly taken possession of by armed men.
SIn replying to Mr..Foster, under the respective dates of the 19th
and 20th of July last, the government of Nicaragua has made use of
some expressions, in regard to the Mosquito coast and the authorities
thereof, which, owing to the desire I entertain, and have constantly
manifested, to see the government of Nicaragua free from the embar-,
rassments by which it is surrounded, in consequence of its not under-
staiding or of concealing from itself its true position in regard to the
Mosquito question, have induced me to offer a few remarks on the
Ido .not wish to make any contnents upon the uncourteous and ill-
tempered expressions which the government of Nicaragua, unthink-
ingly, perhaps, has used, in speaking of the British government and
its agents, in the course of the controversy about the Mosquito question,
as I. am disposed to attribute a great portion of this irritability and
want of courtesy to error and the suggestions of evil counsellors ; but
I cannot forbear recommending to your government, in the most,
friendly spirit, the propriety of viewing a question, the final arrange-
ment of which is demanded by the interests of the country, in a
manner more worthy of statesmen, and of/reating this subject without
any reference to those false relations now existing, and those exagge-
rated offers on the part of persons who are interested in fomenting ill
feelings between Nicaragu&and Great Britain.
Instead of persisting in the maintenance of fancied rights to the
coast of Mosquito, and refusing to listen to reason, Nicaragua would
much more consult her interests by coming to a satisfactory arrange-
ment with England upon this question, as it will not be much longer
of any avail to resist the settlement of it.
The government of Nicaraga cannot be ignorant of the determi'-
nation of her Brnrit nieMajestys government in read to th-
Mosquita question, Vsount Pa iea having declared, in the iet
explicit language, to the harg6 dfafaires of Nicaragua at the Britifh
court, in hifs communication of the 16th of last.-Arily the. i~idL'i
iy of accedinto the pretensions of Nicaragua. i...
With regard to the treaty of Washington of the 19th.of: Aril.
upon which I am told your government Mliesvwita une&eokm ,didde
that treaty. recognizes distinctly, contrary ,to thaeinterpretationlrei-
i dently put upon it by Nicaragua, the existence of the Mosqait-oeast
setting thus aside all rights to the sovereignty of that caintry with
Which Nicaragua imagines herself to be invested.' *i
The true policy for Nicaragua to pursue is to undeceive herself i4
regard to her pretensions to the Mosquito country, and to be me8f
Cautious how she listens to protestations and assurances on the part f
i retended friends. /Nicaragua would do well to come towan under-
standing, without delay, with Great Britain, upon whose relations
depend not only the commerce and welfare of the Ste, but the prob-
ability of any positive measures being adopted for establishingat
interoceanic communication across her territory, since London is the
only place where sufficient capital and spirit of enterprise -can be
found for carrying out a project of such magnitude.
In conclusion, I beg to repeat, what I have frequently before stated,
that her Britannic Majesty's government is actuated by the best
Swishes to serve Nicaragua, and to aid her in acquiring a proper posia
tion in the family of independent nations.
I have the honor, &c.,
FREDERICK CHATFIELD, .I
The MumnTa or FOBREIN RELATIONS
Of the Supreme Government of Nicaraua.
LBON, september 28, 1860.
S Tue copy :
[SEAL.] S SALiNAS.
Lion, September 16, 1850.
The manner in which the British vice-consul, Mr. John Foster, ad-
dressed himself to this government in the name of Mens. Beschor &
Company, taking the existence of a Mosquito kingdom for granted,
called forth the replies of the 19th and 20th of Jnly, to which yeaore-
fer in your note of the 16th of last month, whichlam intructeW&
answer as follows. : ;,.s'i
I must assure you that it was never contemplated bymy igorem
ment to say anything offensive to the dignity of that of her BdAtmie
Majesty, and that the language or sentiments to which allusion.i
made in your note must be understood~ e applying d lelyftat
concerns the vindication of the rightsof iNicaragus addeyfinanistt
feel assured that, if we could he -iased by the amiia is alote
relations that kha existed between British ea dtAshaut a as
Ldi~lsars d A...- j- -- aimilizo .Ai
pre'l" in t,, te a te int ier h a-Bhghaad. has _m I
fM"in-lla h An" at ~B to f indep eene, andrihe freedom 0
oikrr m Mwsrem U, alrwhieh best hops of Nicarage ,
dpeno i;i.i q eayr. agb:e,,, could be .biased by theae pre-existin
ciBmmmmia Gr9eat Britainrand-this mame State weald be united in
biad o9 th most perfectihnrmony. But you will also permit me-to
y, that if these pre-exitingauspicios relations have been neEitraizedv
E mi.maMsewhich are diving us to the painful etremesof hoi-
tilht itWis all owing to an hypothetical expresieonr-- word, and that.
weoal.iq, the kingdom of Moequito. n tht'
My government being free from those pernioieus infuences which
yoaauppose it to be actuated by, and relying- upon the justiceof the,
cause.of Niearagua, even though the Washington tseaty of tSe.19thl
ofilapt Apr were not in existence, is determined to maiinaiit,,
without, however, ceasingto hop that the obstacles which have
engendered the present temporary disagreement between GreatBritain,
and Nicaragua will be.promptly and happily smoothed away.. ."-
. hifavorable disposition on the part of my government will con-
vinc yo uhow much it values the generous sentiments which, you
aasle me, the government of Great Britain entertains towards Nica-a
r pleased, in the meanwhile, to accept the assurances of respect
and esteem with which Iam your obedient servant,
Mr. FBmmEnEc CHnImmD,
Her Britannic Majesty's consul in Central America, and
charge d'afaaires near the governments of Guatemala and
LEON, September 28, 1850.
[bl. 8. SALNAS.
:'' . ndsmaslation of ThRnslaton.]
+. ... + .. .. -. L E H IC AJi ,,
.; t ... ; F,~ nr 2, 1850.
SBm: I have received agammunication from Mr. Vice Consul Foster,
daIdr the 12th of last month, with an.enclosed copy of a note.which
you addressed iim on the 2d of the same month, in your capacityof
manistr ofbfeoignclatiomafor the government of Nicaragna, elative
toasetain onetamdaiee reguMrlioi now inlbore tire Greytown, (Sa-
,um, a -, -. i,-. -J. -. ..P.-. !. ; :S"
.- Aiamuch toebsmsegetted. thA the minister-f Nicaragna should
hisd .jioaus.i tos ajo i nv mat k of he, Britannie Majesty, 'iA
Idoa g'im aaKs m ssigb-biM ie uldrbe morapra
fewir;...i...- A |F~ihd iilM~ir if~ntn~~la~
96 Ocfrt. AImNm AIAmBi
action, to consider calmly the arguments And proofs which hrer4if
addressed by her Majestys government td Don Francisco GaCSloa
and SBeor Marcoleta, the dipIomatic agents of the government ofotbi
State in London, in refusing to acknowledge the right of sovereigt
over the Mosquito territory which Nicaragua alleges to belong tb r.
The government of her Majesty the Queen hah already shown that
it is fully justified in maintaining theindepdence of Mosquito ;"tta
although it has been asserted by Nicaragua that it is only i~tly, d
since the independence of Nicaragua, that Great Britain has thought
of upholding the rights of the Mosquitos, the fact is, that Great
Britain has never ceased to maintain the rights of the king of Iht
coast, and to afford him protection, since the reign of Char e ih'aof
England, two hundred years ago.
As the minister of Nicaragua quotes the 4th article of the conven-
tion concluded between Captain Lock and the government of Nicaragua
on the 7th of March, 1848, it is proper to observe that her Majesty's
government has called the attention of Mr. Marcoleta to the 3d and
4th articles of said convention, complaining of the violation of the
same on the part of Nicaragua. In those articles Nicaragua promises .
solemnly not to disturb the peaceful inhabitants of the port of San
Juan, now called Greytown, and that no custom-house should be
established in the neighborhood of that port; and while the govern-
ment of Nicaragua was proposing to carry into effect a certain nego-
tiation, in conformity with the convention mentioned above, that same
government entered into a contract with various companies composed
of citizens of the United States, not only binding them to build a
custom-house in Greytown, but even offering to make that place a
free port, and to divide a certain portion of the lands adjoining among
citizens of the United States for purposes of colonization.
These proceedings in regard to Greytown and the Mosquito tersi-
tory are by no means in accordance with the obligations which the
government of Nicaragua has contracted with the government of her
With regard to the accusation which the minister of Nicaragua has
brought against the custom-house officers of Greytown, charging
them with "scandalous depredations" upon merchants of Nicaragua,
I must remind the minister of Nicaragua that, by his own confesesi~,
the agent of Mr. Carcache had failed to comply with the regulations
of the port in regard to custom-house duties; and I can assure him
that it is only those persons who seek to evade'the law, that are ex-
posed to the annoyances alluded to by him.
If the government of Nicaragua, consultipthe interests of its own
commerce and revenue, had listened to my overtures, the object of
which was to promote an amicable understand about the pending
questions, no difficulties would now exist. am well aware tha
SNicarag~ has allowed herself to be carried away by false prwmifei
Sand vam hopes of assistance and support against England, relativity
Sthe Mosquito question; but these hopes could no longer have bet
entertained by persons of sound judgment, after the sttlia ard-Qgex
ing of the treaty of Washington, to whichTrance has acededi
treaty is an unquestionable authority upon this agint, and so i~2rfi
AgWW. dIBgA F Aw, s. 'M=
feaoeing the views,4 of $qa1gua, i5,a4. treaty declares that Worth !1
America. recognises the existence of Mosquito,acknowledging it to be j
as perfectly distinct state or country, with respect to Nicaragua, as
Costa Ricwor any other portion of Central America.
.,have thus had the honor of replying to the note which the gov-
ernment of Nicaragua has thought proper to address, through you, to
the.British vice consul, on the.2d of last August; there only remain-
n for me to reiterate, in conclusion, the good wishes and friendly feel-
ings by which I am actuated in endeavoring, in the name of, her
Britannic Majesty's government, to effect an amicable arrangement
with the government of Nicaragua, which may be the means of estab-
lishing the relations of the two countries upon a solid and satisfactory
I have the honor, &c.,
Don SEBASTEU SAUNeAS,
Minister of Foreign Relationsfor the Government of Nicaragua.
LEON, September 28, 1850.
[.. s.] SALINAS.
Leon, September 23, 1850.
Having acquainted the supreme director of this State with the con-
tepts of your note of the 2d instant, in which notice is taken of that
which I'addressed to Mr. Vice Consul Don Juan Foster, on the 2d of
last August, relative to certain custom-house regulations now in force
in the port of San Juan de Nicaragua, that high functionary has di-
rected Aie to say to you in reply: That this government, in claiming
what is due to the State, and in defending the rights of the same, as
it is bound in duty to do, from the territorial usurpations, the in-
juries, and vexations which have been inflicted, and are still being
inflicted upon us by British agents and British subjects, had not, and
*never can have, any intention of infringing upon those considerations
of respect which are due to all governments; and thatolhatever may
be the spirit of the treaty of the 19th of April of tht present year,
between the United Stes and England, it cannot hbe deprived
Nicaragua of her unques unable rights over the territory called Mos-
quito and the port of San Juan,.because the State does not allow the
justice of its cause to depeindupon that conventioneVhich simply W-_
conises the same and no more being satisfied with the fundamental '
principles so frequently asserted in its favor ; which principles, in pro-
portion as they received the support an4 approbation of impartial na-
tions, became obnoxious, to her Britannic Majesty's government a4
its agents, neither of whpm would examine them with that ca4u-
ness of temper which reason. reqpihs, and which Nicaragua w~ld
98 O nTBAL AMEBK3AN AwAmdS.
have wished, out of regard for those friendly relations and good un-
derstanding which she is anxious to cultivate and maintain in her in-
tercourse with the cabinet of St. James. -
With regard to the negotiations which you say you are disposed
to forward, my government shall always be found ready to act with
the utmost deference in the matter, whenever the government of tler
Britannic Majesty shall have recognized the rights of Nicaragua to the
Mosquito territory, and that the port of San Juan, which has been
occupied since the 1st of January, 1848, shall have been vacated.
I have the honor to renew to you my expressions of regard, and to
remain your obedient, humble servant,
Mr. FREDERICK CHATFIELD,
Consul General of her Britannic Majesty
in Central America, and Charge d'Affaires
near the Governments of Guatemala and Costa Rica.
LEON, September 28, 1850.
[L. s.] SALINAS.
The Minister of Foreign Afaire of Nicaragua to the Secretary of State
of the United States.
GovEmmwME r HOSE,
Leon, Noveniber 13, 1850,
On the 10th of September of the present year, a despatch was ad-
dressed to your excellency, by which this government, in reply to
your excellence's communication of the 17th of June, states tha.the
intentions of your government in favor of the independence an sov-
ereignty of Nicaragua, declared in its treaty of the 19th of April last,
concluded with England, have been set at naught by the latter's in-
sisting on the armed protectorate of the unrecognised Mosquito na-
tion and its fictitious 'kin;-seeing that at the date of the. aforesaid
reply there had already been introduced in the port ofan Juan del
Norte an armed force, belonging to the service f- her Britannicd-
Majesty; and there was continued the usurp$tfon of this, the most
precious pta of the territory of this State, and theenost important to
the world for carrying out the great undertaking of'the inter-oceanic
communication, contracted for on the 27th of August, 1849,'with the
Atlantic-Pacific Canal Company of the United States.
But if, up to the date above mentioned, any doubt could have been
entertained as to the views of the English government, it is now evi-
dent that those views are directed towards re-establishing the same
order of things which existed previous to the aforesaid treaty-the
same Mosquito nation, the same savage king, and the same armed pri-
tection of her Britannic Majesty. .'
emlflk daBiari AwmuA 99
-Te commanding officer of the English squadron in the AntilIi
has declared, by order of her Britannic Majesty, through a commU-
nication dated the 14th of September of this same Let, transmitted
by the commander of the forces which arrived at the port aforesaid,
to the British agent residing at Realejo, and by the latter to the gov-
ernmentof Nicaragua, that as a proof that the treaty of the 19th of
April allows the armed protectorate of her Britannic Majesty, in'favor
of the imaginary Mosquito kingdom, to be in existence, he has taken
military possession of the port of San Juan de Nicaragua and its vi-
cinity, for the purpose of securing the supposed territorial rights of
the pretended king, in regard to the inter-oceanic communication;
promising to facilitate the course of the same through the Mosquto
territory, as your excellency will see by the same declaration, of which
I enclose a full and authorized copy, together with the reply given by
this government, an authenticated copy of which is likewise subjoined.
So that the practical interpretation given by the English govern-
ment to the treaty of the l9th of April, so far from respecting the
sovereignty of this country over the port of San Juan del Norte, seeks
to convert that very treaty into a title which England has never pos-
sessed, in order that the savage tribe of Mosquitos may be considered
as a monarchical nation, and as having rights over the northern coast
and the port of San Juan Nicaragua; maintaining the usurpation
of these territories by new outrages, by means of force and violence,
like those which she committed previous to the aforesaid treaty.
In the contract for the inter-oceanic communication entered into by
this government with the aforesaid company of the United States, the
port of San Juan, or any other point on the northern coast, were ex-
pressly'calculated upon as the property and possessions of Nicaragua;
this contract was recognized by Great Britain in the treaty of the 19th of
April, article 7th, and the State shall never betray the rights and
interests of the continent by recognizing a savage tribe as a sovereign
people, with a king and foreign relations.
Nor will the United States recognize this Mosquito nation, nor the
intervention of foreign powers in the international affairs of this con-
tinent. The solemn declarations of that high government, its con-
duct in similar cases, and the course pursued by its minister plenipo-
tentiary the M. Esheteorme per, disavow the pretended sovereignty
of savage tribes, as rreconcilabl with territorial integrity, with the
paramount dominion and with the independence of every nation
which has, at any ifoint of its territory, these small quantities of
This absurdity of forum ng savage states within the territory of civil-
ized states is rendered much more offensive, unjust, and self-evident,
when it is sought to do so by force, and when the great treaty which
secures therights of Nicaragua, and even the whole of Central America,
against the usurpations of the English government, is held for noth-
ing, and is even considered as;a good excuse for pursuing the same
system of barbarous exactions. -
As all the arrangements of this State with the worthy government
of the United States must rest upon the basis of the sovereignty of Nica-
ragua and the integrity of her territory, intended for the enterprise of
100 aiiatX Xibiat Aft1AiS
the inter-oceanic communication, by the contract alluded to, this gov-
ernment has authorized Sr. D. Jose de Marcoleta, in order that, i
his capacity of minister plenipotentiary of Nicaragua near the Uite
States, he may conclude such treaties as may tend to the safety and
prosperity of the two countries, as I informed your excellence inader
date of the 3d of the same month of October.
But as it might happen that Mr. Marcoleta might be prevented by
circumstances from pursuing his journey to that capital, while the
English government, instead of restoring the port of San Juan and the
Mosquito coast to this State, has lately increased the force with which
it took military possession of said.port and its vicinity, so much so
That an English company has concluded with the agent of CostaRiia,
SSr. Felipe Molina, a contract of inter-oceanic communication, by the
i port and river of San Juan de Nicaragua, the government of this State
has determined to address the present despatch to your excellency is
order that, in view of the facts and documents to which it refers, the
government of that respected republic may determine what is proper,
in regard to what concerns the interests of the nation which it so hap-
pily rules, according to the interpretation which the contracting
parties have given to the treaty of the 19th of April; seeing that, at all
events, Nicaragua maintains and sustains her rights to the coast called
Mosquito, to the port of San Juan and its vicinity, and is ready to
enter into arrangements of harmony and good understanding, not
only with the government of the American nation, but also with -all
the governments of the other nations of Europe, and even with
England herself, the integrity of her territory being first recognized;
I having the satisfaction to intimate to your excellency that such ar-
rangements shall be based on principles of philanthropy and common
advantage to the commercial world.
I have the honor to renew to your excellency.my sentiments of re-
gard and respect, and to subscribe myself your excellence's obedient
and humble servant,
The MnTuesT OF FOBEISN RELrAIONS
Of the Supreme Government of North America.
Bsrxsn YIon OaoEnUaL,
eaej'o, ~fer 12, 1850.
Sm: I have the honor to inform you that I hIn received a note
from Captain Robert Smart, of her Britanniocaljesty's ship "Iade-
fatigable," and.formerly in command of theprotective force, dated
Greytown, the 14th of September last, to which point he has been
sent by the commanding officer of her Majesty's naval forces in Jf-
The orders of Captain Smart were that the tenor of his instruction
might be communicated to the government of Nicatageu .