No. 195.
Mr. Dichman to Mr. Evarts.

No. 232.]

Sir: The Colombian minister at Washington has probably informed you before this of a circular note addressed by his government to the governments of the other Spanish-American republics, based upon article III of the projected treaty between Colombia and Chili, reported in my No. 205, of the 7th of September last, and having for its object a meeting of plenipotentiaries of all the Spanish-American states at Panama in September, 1881, for the purpose of executing with each other an international treaty or convention, similar to the one executed between Colombia and Chili, and thus not only establish the principle of international arbitration for the determination of any differences which may arise between any of the co-signatory states, as a part of the public law of this continent, but also provide for the practical application of this principle by constituting the President of the United States the permanent arbitrator under the proposed treaty.

On the same subject I am in receipt of a note from the Colombian secretary of foreign relations, inclosing a copy of the circular note above mentioned, and requesting me to solicit your good offices with governments of the several Spanish-American republics to the end that they may be induced to accept the invitation of the Colombian Government.

Although this action of the administration of President Nuñez in extending the invitation above mentioned may perhaps be premature, in view of the fact that the treaty between Colombia and Chili upon which it is based has not yet been approved and ratified, I nevertheless beg leave to recommend the solicitation expressed in the accompanying note of the Colombian secretary of foreign relations to your favorable consideration; for I am sure that the laudable object of providing for the more harmonious relations between the republican nations of this continent, and the increased moral influence of the Government of the United States is a matter in which you are deeply interested.

The inclosed correspondence does not disclose the fact that a plenipotentiary from the United States is invited to join in the execution of the proposed treaty or convention. This is probably owing to the reason that the position assigned to the Government of the United States by the proposed treaty is to maintain and exercise a friendly and judicial impartiality in the differences which may arise between the powers of Spanish America.

I would, however, respectfully recommend that if this proposed meeting of plenipotentiaries should take place, the Government of the United States be represented upon the occasion, in order to convey to that body the interest felt in the United States in its proceedings, and to manifest the willingness of the President of the United States to accept the trust which by the proposed treaty it is intended to confer upon him, if such should be his pleasure.

I am, &c.,

[Page 341]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 232.—Translation.]

Señor Santamaria to Mr. Dichman.

Mr. Minister: I have the honor to inclose to your honor the circular which, under date of the 11th instant, I have sent to the republican governments of Spanish America, inviting them to be represented before my government at Panama in the month of September, of the coming year, with the object that all of them may give adhesion to the convention celebrated between Colombia and Chili upon the subject of the preservation of international peace, which I also inclose to your honor.

As the reunion of all the representatives of the republics of this part of the world may, and doubtless will, give an occasion for establishing the principles of international law, which should rule in the future in their relations among each other and with the nations of Europe, and as your honor has demonstrated to me the convenience (apparent from every point of view) of the reunion of a congress for the indicated object, for the cause of democracy and the civilization of these peoples, I beg your honor to have the goodness to interest yourself with the Government of the United States, to the end that it may use its good relations with all the others of America, excepting that of Brazil, to induce them to send their representatives to Panama at the designated time.

The co-operation of the government of your honor will doubtless be of the greatest efficacy in furthering an object so important for all America.

With sentiments of most distinguished consideration, I subscribe myself your honor’s attentive and obedient servant,

[Inclosure 2 in No. 232.—Translation.]

Circular note of Colombia Government.

Mr. Minister: Adjoined your excellency will find an authentic copy of the convention celebrated in Bogotà on the 3d of last September, between the Governments of Colombia and Chili, by virtue of which the two republics bind themselves to settle in perpetuity whatever differences or controversies may arise between them by means of the civilized and humane method of arbitration, and to obtain by treaty from other sister peoples the celebration of similar mutual conventions, with the object of forever banishing international wars from the American continent.

My government, initiator of this measure, considers it of such importance that it has not wished to lose a single moment in making it known to all the other governments of America, in order that they may, as soon as possible, give adhesion to this idea and adopt as an integral and essential part of American international law the principle incorporated in the said convention.

Peace is an especial necessity for Spanish America, and there is a visible anxiety to secure this inestimable boon, and to preserve it from one extremity to the other of our continent. In effect great efforts are being made everywhere to disseminate public instruction among the masses, and to foment commerce and industry, while at the same time the inveterate elements of discord are being energetically attacked. Order will thus establish itself upon solid bases, as the knowledge and practice of republican institutions extend themselves, all of which will be accomplished when intestine wars shall become rarities.

But international dissensions may supervene, especially those arising from questions of boundaries and a strained punctiliousness.

Nations like ours, owners of immense territories, ought not to ruin or dishonor themselves by bloody and disastrous wars on account of portions of uninhabited, and in many cases uninhabitable, regions, which, for the sake of the civilization and humanity of America, might as well belong to one nationality as to another.

Wars of this class are those to be averted, and this will doubtless be accomplished, if all the nations of the continent adhere to the saving principle included in the transcendant compact celebrated between Colombia and Chili.

The President of the republic desiring to assist all sister governments in the adoption of so humane a measure, has resolved to return to Panama in the early part of September [Page 342] of the coming year, and he has ordered me to request your excellency to cause to be appointed a representative of your republic to proceed to said city with sufficient powers to sign the referred-to convention, not only with my government, but with those of the other American republics that may send representatives.

The city of Panama being in easy communication with the capitals of all the American republics, and as it were the center of this continent, is the most appropriate point to reunite the representatives of them all, and it is for this reason that by order of the executive power I extend to the government of your excellency this invitation, which I hope will not be disregarded, as its object is of such importance to America.

With the well established hope to receive at Bogotá a speedy and satisfactory reply from your excellency, I take the advantage of this opportunity to present to your excellency the sentiments of the highest and most distinguished consideration with which I subscribe myself,

Your excellency’s very attentive and obedient servant,


His excellency the Minister of Foreign Relations of the United States of America,