General Salgar to Mr. Seward
The undersigned, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the United States of Colombia at Washington, moved by convictions of the importance of an interoceanic ship canal across the isthmus of Darien, and especially that portion of it known as the isthmus of Panama, to the best interests of the world, and especially, to this continent, has the honor to offer the following proposals to the Secretary of State of the United States, subject to the approval of his own government.
1st. The United States of Colombia willingly accedes to the exploration and survey of any portion of the aforesaid territory by the United States of America, in order to determine the best topography for such canal.
2d. Colombia will zealously co-operate for this end, and will give to any expedition as aforesaid all the authorization, aid, and comfort within its power to facilitate its object.
3d. The Colombian government, having in view the obstacles opposed to the task through hostile Indians, grants the United States the privilege to unite with the expedition a force sufficient for its protection therefrom, conceding thereto the privileges which an army has when marching by permission through a friendly State, and the right of self-defence, it being understood that said force shall not exceed 150 men, rank and file, unless actual forcible resistance by hostile Indians or others shall render an increase necessary, and this not to exceed 500 men more. This force is not to remain in the country longer than the said survey may require, nor be employed for any other object whatever.
4th. The United States of Colombia will supply the expedition with all the maps, charts, surveys, reports, plans, or information whatsoever in its possession which the engineers may deem calculated to facilitate their labors, and which may be consonant with existing obligations of Colombia.
5th. It is understood that the expenses of this exploration, except as otherwise stipulated, shall be borne exclusively by the United States.
6th. In consideration of the premises the United States of Colombia grants to any organized company of citizens of the United States of America, or its agents or assigns, the right of priority or preference to construct and use an interoceanic ship canal within and across the aforesaid territory, with all the necessary lands and collateral privileges to render the same effective, as may be hereafter agreed upon as satisfactory to the United States of Colombia and the company aforesaid, so that if by virtue of said survey said work, is to be undertaken upon the same terms, any company as aforesaid shall have the preference over any other company whatsoever. It being understood that if, after the expiration of the three years assigneo for the completion of the survey, as prescribed in the next article, the said survey has not been made, or if it does not favor the undertaking, or if another survey be on such account deemed necessary and executed by direction of the Colombian government, then, and in any one of such cases, this privilege of priority, or preference, in favor of citizens of the United States of America shall terminate.
7th. The exploration aforesaid is to be commenced within a year, and to be finished within three years from the date of the confirmation hereof by the two governments.
8th. It is agreed that the engineers in charge of the survey shall make the same identical reports upon the progress and result of their labors to the government of Colombia as they shall make to the government of the United States of America, accompanying them with the same illustrations, maps, charts, drawings, &c.[Page 595]
9th. Upon receiving a reply to this memorandum, the undersigned will promptly submit the subject to the consideration of his government, that confirmatory action may be taken thereon by the present Colombian congress, thus expediting the enterprise.