Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 5, 1881
General Santo Domingo to Mr. Evarts.
New York , February 18, 1881.
Sir: The undersigned, minister of Colombia, has the honor to inform his excellency the Secretary of State that yesterday he and the Hon. William Henry Trescot, as the representative of his excellency, signed the protocol of this same date, in which are embraced the most important points relating to the guarantee of the sovereignty of Colombia in the Isthmus of Panama and the neutrality of the interoceanic passage [via] to be opened there, according to the treaty of 1846 existing between this and that republic.
Having little time at his disposal, as the undersigned is on the point of starting for Colombia, he limits himself to giving this notice to his excellency, adding at the same time the expression of his sincere desire that the bases agreed upon may soon acquire the form of a complete treaty, which will doubtless be the case before long.
The undersigned takes leave of his excellency renewing the assurances of his high consideration and esteem.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The government has ordered the following documents to be published, relating to negotiations referring to the neutrality of the Panama Canal, and the guarantee of the dominion and sovereign rights of Colombia in that territory:
project of protocol *—evarts-arosemena.
At a meeting for this purpose between the undersigned, William M. Evarts, [Page 377] Secretary of State of United States of America, and Dr. Justo Arosemena, minister resident of the United States of Colombia at Washington, taking into consideration that in view of the possibility of the present or future opening of a canal between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, across the Isthmus of Panama, which canal will affect the interests of the United States in a notable manner, and whereas the first paragraph of article 35 of the treaty existing between both nations, dated December 12, 1846, contains important stipulations, not well defined, but which, with a clear understanding, will provide for all necessities which for both countries will arise from or be augmented by the opening of said canal, the undersigned, being fully empowered by their respective governments, have agreed upon the following declarations:
- (a) Whereas the first paragraph of the
thirty-fifth article of the treaty of December 12, 1846,
concedes to the Government of the United States, as well as to
their citizens, the free right of way by whatever means of
communication which exist, or which may be constructed in future, it permits virtually the
transit through said canal—
- For all vessels of war of the United States at all times, whether the United States find themselves engaged in war or not.
- For the troops of their Army or Navy which they may find necessary to transport from one coast of the United States to the other; provided that the troops pass disarmed through the waters of the canal, which are an integral part of Colombian territory.
- For munitions of war for the service of the vessels and troops.
- (b) From this concession, to which the paragraph refers, is excepted the case, barely possible, but not probable, and which God grant will never take place, of a war between the United States of Colombia and between the United States of America, in which eventuality, and while the same continues, the latter power shall not be permitted (free) to transport through the canal its vessels, troops, and munitions of war.
- (a) Concerning the neutrality of and sovereignty of Colombia over the territory called the Isthmus of Panama, guaranteed by the United States of America, according to the paragraph and article cited from the treaty of 1864, it is understood that said territory is the same as is now embraced by the State of Panama in the Colombian Union, and that the neutrality and sovereignty guaranteed applies to the whole extent of said territory.
- (b) The guarantee of neutrality consists in that the United States of America will prevent, by all adequate means, including that of making themselves belligerents as allies of the United States of Colombia, that said territory be made the theater of hostilities by any foreign power; or if it shall have taken place, the same not having been opportunely prevented, the United States of America will come to the defense while said hostilities continue, and compel the responsible (respective) power to make due reparation.
- (c) The guarantee of sovereignty consists in that the United States of America will prevent, by all necessary means, including the use of force, that the territory referred to be made the object of conquest or usurpation, or of invidious steps tending to separate it from the Colombian Union by any foreign power or unauthorized private expeditions.
- In order to enable the United States of America to comply with the duties which they have under the treaty and to which the foregoing paragraph refers, they will employ, with all prudence, the indispensable measures while the emergency exists for which they are necessary. For this purpose and for their security, they will receive from the United States of Colombia all the facilities which they may have in their power, [Page 378] including the temporary occupation of the territory which may be threatened or invaded, and the right to fortify, also temporary, the places which may require it, both parties interested proceeding always in good faith and entirely in accord.
- (a) As soon as the above declarations shall have been definitely approved by the governments which the undersigned represent, they shall be held as an explanation of the article of the treaty of 1846 to which they refer, and they shall continue as a part thereof during the existence of the treaty, according to the third paragraph of the same article.
- (b) And whereas said declarations refer to the understanding (tenor) of an article of the treaty which may have an actual application, it is understood that they shall control, in order to decide any questions which may arise from the same, independently of the opening of an interoceanic canal.
In faith whereof, &c.
part referring to the instructions
forwarded to the minister of colombia in washington.
With regard to the interoceanic canal across the Isthmus of Panama, which seems to present some chance of being realized, you will naturally do whatever may be in your power to persuade the United States Government that the existing treaty between Colombia and the United States gives to the latter power all the influence that need be desired over the enterprise, besides which the said treaty may be amplified in any sense the United States might consider convenient, by affirming the Monroe doctrine, to which the United States of Colombia adheres without the slightest reservation. Your predecessor, Dr. Arosemena, drew up the project of a protocol extending that article of the treaty which refers to the transit across the Isthmus of Panama and duly forwarded it to the Secretary of State, but this functionary failed to take the matter into consideration, probably because the circumstances were unfavorable On account of the electioneering excitement. While the negotiation progresses, you may hint, directly in the same sense he did, employing therein all the prudence which distinguishes your character, and in case your insinuation should be well received, you may proceed to modify the treaty, adopting as a guide the before-mentioned project of protocol, which ought to be in the archives of the Colombian legation.
Protocol of the 17th of February—Trescot-Santo Domingo Vila, vide page 374, ante.
note of the negotiating minister upon the former protocol.
Colombian Legation in
In Commission—Bogotá, April 22, 1881.
Mr. Secretary of Foreign Affairs: Having been authorized by [Page 379] the citizen President of the Republic to present myself in this capital to render an account of the mission confided to me to the United States of America, I have the pleasure to hand to the department of foreign affairs a detailed report comprehending the course and termination of the negotiations in question, thus complying with the instructions communicated to me dated November 1, 1880.
For the purpose of making the narrative more simple and in order, I will treat each one of the points indicated in the instructions separately, taking them in the order therein established.
(B.) The first point of the instructions says as follows:
It being of the highest importance that Colombia should maintain the most cordial relations with the United States, you will not omit, during your mission, any means to attain this object, provided they be legitimate and honorable. You are aware that certain complications may arise with the neighboring republics, in which case it is necessary that we should possess in the United States, if not an ally, at least a decided friend to interpose his influence and weight in America, in order to avoid conflicts which might eventually terminate in fratricidal war, like that which for the last year past has been desolating three republics of the Pacific, and which we ought to endeavor to avoid by every means consistent with the national honor.
From the correspondence which has passed between the legation and the American Government, it will be seen that the relations between the two countries have been maintained upon the best footing, notwithstanding the situation certainly at times disturbed, which the publications of the official press created for me for a short period with respect to the enterprise of the Interoceanic Canal of Panama, and the manifest tendencies of the United States Government to, in my opinion, exercise a galling superintendence over all the interoceanic routes, derogatory to the sovereignty of Colombia. Nevertheless, by means of my official correspondence, as well as private conferences with the Hon. Mr. Evarts, Secretary of State, I have endeavored, and, in fact, have obtained, in my opinion, a plan to conciliate the defense of the rights and sovereignty of Colombia with the good understanding recommended, calculated to promote rather than retard a convenient solution of the important negotiations to which the instructions refer.
The points 2, 3, 4, and 5 apply to the convention made in this city with the representative of the Government of Chili, respecting the conservation of peace between the two republics; to the circular communicated in consequence by the Government of Colombia to the republican governments of South America, inviting them to send representatives to Panama in the month of September next, to form part of that convention and observe the method observed for the discussion and adoption of the bases for a complete code of international law for South America.
At first upon reading the convention made with the representative of the Government of Chili about arbitrations, I observed that this document was wanting in the approbation of both countries, and communicated the fact to you in my note of the 18th November ultimo, No. 12, wherein I notified the government of my intention to limit myself, for the moment, to sounding the President of the United States, Mr. Hayes, at the same time disclosing to him my opinion that perhaps it might be as well to reform the convention so as to have two or three chiefs of friendly nations instead of one only, from amongst whom, in case of necessity, an umpire might be selected.
After delivering the above-mentioned note, I held several conferences upon the subject with Mr. Evarts, who always manifested the best disposition on the part of his government to accept the honorable office of umpire, excepting only the case when the nature of its relations with [Page 380] any of the countries interested might not permit it to decide with the necessary impartiality due to a careful study of the point or points in dispute. At the same time he expressed the interest which his government would take in persuading the representatives of the South American republics to meet in Panama those of our republic. Of all these matters I gave due notice to the government in various official communications.
The sixth point says:
The Government of the United States being bound by a treaty still in force to maintain the neutrality of the State of Panama, and guarantee the integrity of the same, you will endeavor to find out what the Secretary of State understands by the term neutrality, and how far the said guarantee may be made to extend. This point might become of importance in case the Republic of Chili should claim indemnification from Colombia for the transport of arms across the Isthmus of Panama. This traffic, with but few exceptions, has been carried on by the agents of the Panama Railroad and other American citizens, the fact being that all the arms conveyed across the isthmus were for the use of the belligerents of the Pacific, besides being manufactured and sold by citizens of the United States.
The protocol of the 17th February ultimo will show how I complied with this clause of the instructions. Bearing in mind the complaints of Chili on account of the transport of arms across the Isthmus of Panama, it appeared to me that I ought to leave this point untouched, inasmuch as it would have placed us in an awkward situation with respect to the American Government, as the asking for such an avowal might be interpreted disadvantageously for us, if made precisely at a moment when our relations with the Government of Chili, either with or without reason, were not on the best footing.
It was consequently natural to await the discussion which had already been provoked relating to the opening of the canal, in order to examine that article of the instructions to which I am about to refer.
The seventh or last of the instructions given to me by the government is to the following effect:
(For this, vide II, page 378, ante.)
In the examination of this clause, which is the basis of the protocol of the 17th February, already submitted to the consideration of the citizen President of the Republic, I will endeavor to explain in detail all the circumstances that have occurred and the notes which have been exchanged in relation thereto, in order that the government may form a correct idea of what the United States hope to obtain from the legation in my charge, and what the latter got in turn from the cabinet of Washington. The project of the protocol drawn up by my predecessor, the illustrious Señor Don Justo Arosemena, which, according to the clause copied, ought to serve me as a guide for initiating the amplification of the treaty of 1846, still in force between the two countries, says as follows:
(Vide page 376, ante.)
After studying carefully the spirit of the preceding document, I solicited private interviews with the Secretary of State, for the purpose of discussing a plan convenient for both nations for extending the treaty of 1846, and after two or three conferences we agreed upon presenting in character of confidential, the bases we judged to be suitable for the desired amplification.
Upon the day appointed I went to the Department of State, and placed [Page 381] in the hands of Mr. Evarts the annexed project of treaty, the bases of which, with certain additions favorable to Colombia, are identical with those of the project of the Hon. Sr. Arosemena. I ought here to confess that without a full confidence in my own inspirations in regard to the fulfillment of my duty, it would have sufficed to determine me to accept the opinions of Dr. Arosemena the respect which I have always entertained for his competency and honor. The project says as follows:
(Vide page 361, ante.)
Two days afterwards Mr. Evarts submitted to my examination the “counter project,” the true translation of which I copy, and to which, Mr. Secretary, I desire most particularly to direct your attention.
(Vide page 364, ante.)
From article 1 of the foregoing “counter project” the fact maybe inferred that the American Government has at last determined to disclose its pretension to revise the concession made by Colombia in favor of Mr. Lucien N. B. Wyse, or any other enterprise having for its object the opening of an interoceanic canal through Colombian territory. This pretension I could not allow without humiliating the sovereignty of the nation I represented. For the purpose, therefore, of convincing the American Government that it was out of the question to hope that Colombia would consent to such an act of abdication, I addressed to him a note dated the 10th of February, of which I annex a copy.
General Santo Domingo to Mr. Evarts.
Legation of Colombia at
Willard’s Hotel, Washington, February 10, 1881.
Sir: The undersigned, minister of Colombia, has read and examined, with all the interest which the subject demands, the bases confidentially handed to him by his excellency the Secretary of State during their interview of yesterday for the discussion of the proposed amplification of the treaty of 1845, which is now in force between Colombia and the United States of America, which bases were proposed after his excellency read the draft which was likewise confidentially placed in his hands by the undersigned minister previously to his recent departure for New York.
As frankness and sincerity in its foreign relations are the unvarying guides of the government which he represents, the undersigned minister deems it likewise his duty to be governed by them; he will therefore proceed to state his opinions without reservation of any kind.
When the undersigned minister confidentially handed a statement of the views of the Government of Colombia, in the form of a draft of a treaty, to his excellency the Secretary of State, he referred solely, as is shown by the contents of said draft, to the manner in which the United States of America, as allies of Colombia, were to contribute to the fulfillment of the engagements contracted by said treaty; he did not even imagine that the enlightened American Government proposed to discuss the right of Colombia, as an independent and sovereign nation, to conclude conventions of the nature of that which she has concluded with Mr. Lucien N. B. Wyse for the construction of an interoceanic canal through her own territory.
Although the “whereases” of the draft presented to him are based [Page 382] upon the very obligations contracted by the Government of the United States of America in article 35 of the aforesaid treaty of 1846, that is to say, upon obligations designed to guarantee the sovereignty of Colombia over the Isthmus of Panama, article 1 of the draft prepared by his excellency the Secretary of State is, in the opinion of the undersigned, in direct derogation of the very sovereignty which it is proposed to guarantee, when it proposes to Colombia to agree that before granting a privilge similar to that which it has granted it needs to secure the consent and approval of a foreign power. Still more is this the case when, as in this instance, that proposition refers to a privilege already granted after all the formalities required by the institutions and laws of Colombia have been complied with, which having been done, the faith of the nation is solemnly pledged.
The undersigned minister has already had occasion to inform his excellency the Secretary of State that the Government of Colombia adheres, without reserve, to the Monroe doctrine; it does not think, however, that that doctrine can be enforced in the present case without disregarding the fraternal idea which constitutes its essence.
If his excellency thinks, therefore, that the idea contained in article 1 of the draft which he has been pleased to submit to the consideration of the undersigned is an indispensable preliminary on the part of the American Government to the discussion of the amplification of the treaty of 1846, which is now in force between Colombia and the United States of America, the undersigned minister is sorry to inform his excellency that without fresh instructions from his government he cannot accept that idea as a basis of discussion; and that as he is about to return to his country, his government may, when informed of the opinions of the enlightened government of which his excellency forms a part, give the proper authorization to its representative at this capital.
The undersigned minister desires this note to be considered as possessing the same confidential character as the interviews which he has had in relation to this matter, and he avails himself of this occasion to reiterate to his excellency the assurance of his high esteem and personal consideration.
R. STO. DOMINGO VILA.
The precise terms of my refusal to admit a discussion upon such bases undoubtedly decided the Secretary of State to propose that we should set aside the discussion of article 1, to which my former note referred, if, in my opinion and in accordance with terms of my note, the proposition should attack the sovereignty. At the same time he manifested his wish to discuss the articles following the counter-projects already mentioned.
In a confidential interview I endeavored in the first place to show clearly the contradictory tendencies of the project of the treaty presented by me and those of the counter-project which in his turn the Secretary of State had submitted to my consideration.
The following were my observations:
tendencies of the project presented by the colombian minister.
- To admit that the excavation of a canal across the Isthmus of Panama might seriously augment the obligations contracted by the United States of America, in accordance with article 35 of the treaty of 1846, still in force between the two nations, and to manifest the willingness of Colombia to facilitate the fulfillment of the said obligations.
- To determine the limits of the territory embraced by the guarantee of sovereignty, and the neutrality of the interoceanic route.
- To define the facts and cases which might oblige the United States of America to join with Colombia to defend the territory guaranteed.
- To determine the facilities which Colombia might be disposed to afford to the United States to enable it to comply with the obligations it has undertaken, and, amongst others, that of the two governments mutually designating the places which require permanent or provisional fortifications. Those also that may be suitable for coal depots for the use of vessels of both nations. The occupation of any territory which may be menaced or invaded, so long as the emergency lasts, and the free transit of the canal by the American naval forces.
tendencies of the counter-project presented by the secretary of state.
- Article 1 will completely annul the sovereignty of Colombia.
- Article 2 tends to modify article 6 of the convention Salgar-Wyse.
- Article 3 is based upon the idea of fortifying and occupying permanently the canal and its appurtenances by forces of the United States of America.
- Articles 4 and 5 point to a modification of article 5 of the convention Salgar-Wyse.
From the above comparison it may be clearly deduced that articles 2, 4, and 5 of the Secretary of State’s project are affected with the same inconvenience as article 1, the discussion of which was set aside, because the undersigned did not feel himself authorized even to accept it as a basis of discussion.
With regard to article 3 of the Secretary of State’s project, the undersigned takes the liberty of observing that if the fortification of the territory in question must be executed before the occurrence of the danger against which it may be desired to guard, he fails to see that the permanent occupation of the territory guaranteed by United States troops should be indispensable, because in case of necessity Colombia would maintain a sufficient armed force on the isthmus to defend the canal against a sudden attack, thereby giving time to the United States to come to her succor.
Being again urged by the Secretary of State to continue the discussion upon the basis of this counter project, which I had already definitively rejected, I wrote to him on the 11th February the following note:
General Santo Domingo to Mr. Evarts.
Legation of Colombia at
Washington, February 11, 1881.
Sir: Although the time which is at the disposal of the undersigned minister in this capital is very short, he hastens to reply to the note of the Department of State bearing date of yesterday and referring to his of the same day.
The undersigned is sorry not to have succeeded in conveying to his excellency’s mind the idea which he had in view when he dictated it, viz, that inasmuch as the draft which was submitted to his consideration is based upon its first article, and as the undersigned minister interprets it as not being in harmony with the sovereignty of the country [Page 384] which he represents, he has thought that, without fresh instructions from his government, he cannot continue the discussion touching so important and grave a matter, since the Government of Colombia could not foresee, when it gave him his instructions for his present mission, the possibility that, when the amplification of the treaty of 1846 should be considered, with a view to specifying the manner and providing the means for the fulfillment of the obligations contracted by the American Government in connection with the guarantee of the sovereignty of Colombia over the Isthmus of Panama, it should be sought, even remotely, to jeopardize, or even to call into question, its national sovereignty, as, in the opinion of the undersigned, it would be jeopardized if he were to accept as a basis of the discussion of a treaty anything similar to what is contained in article 1 of the draft prepared by his excellency, to which the undersigned now has reference.
Being without instructions, therefore, for this unforeseen case, and being obliged to return to Colombia with as little delay as possible, the undersigned will take occasion to inform his government, in person, of the views and wishes of the executive branch of the American Government, in relation to the treaty of 1846, which is now in force between Colombia and the United States of America, and to transmit it via the Isthmus of Panama.
In case, moreover, the American Government shall not think proper to authorize its minister at Bogotá to continue the negotiations there, the undersigned will, ere long, return to Washington; or, if not, another agent of the government of Colombia will soon be accredited; and the undersigned hopes that, when the discussion of this important question shall be reopened, the mutually advantageous result will be attained which is desired by both governments, and which the undersigned most sincerely regrets not to have been able, thus far, to bring about.
The undersigned will, nevertheless, be glad to visit the Department of State this afternoon at three o’clock, if his excellency the Secretary of State has no previous engagement, and he will be still more glad, on taking his leave for the time being, once more to hear the assurances of the fraternal feelings entertained by the great American nation towards its sisters on this continent.
The undersigned reiterates to his excellency the Secretary of State the assurances of his respect and consideration.
R. STO. DOMINGO VILA.
Having accepted the interview solicited at the end of the foregoing dispatch, I was again requested by the Secretary to delay my return to New York, with the hope, as he expressed it, that we might be able to arrive at an arrangement acceptable to both parties; but as the Secretary refused to fix the terms of the proposed arrangement, I informed him of my determination to go to New York with the intention of sailing in the steamer of the 18th instant.
The negotiation being in this state, and, as one may say, suspended, on the 15th February I received a telegram from Mr. Evarts informing me that he had sent Mr. Trescot, who, as representing the Department of State, was invested with power to continue the negotiation.
The discussion having been resumed in the manner explained, and finding the representative better inclined to recognize the justice of my rejection of the basis which had been proposed, I repeated the substance of my first project, and not having time to draw up a treaty, which might contain and develop them, I agreed to sign the protocol, of which [Page 385] I have given an account, and which, as may be deduced from its context, is confined to making important declarations relating to the treaty, still in force, of the 12th of December, 1846, between Colombia and the United States of America.
After relating the condition of the negotiation, which has resulted in the protocol of the 17th of February of the present year, the original of which I have handed to the secretary of foreign affairs, I will now proceed to show the meaning that, in my opinion, should be attached to the declarations contained in the said protocol.
A mere perusal of the counter project presented by the Hon. Mr. Evarts will show the exact measure of the demands which are meditated against Colombia, and evident intention that exists of upsetting the organization of the company holding the concession made in favor of Mr. Lucien N. B. Wyse, through the humbug of a simulated superintendence by the American Government over all interoceanic communications across the Isthmus of Panama, in accordance with the views already proclaimed by the American press, which have also been advocated even in the chambers of the national representation.
In order to justify its designs the American Government has been compelled to invoke the Monroe doctrine, in spite of its being inapplicable to the case, and to interpret article 35 of the treaty of 1846, &c., as creating a right to interfere in matters which affect the sovereignty of Colombia. This article, so far from conceding to the United States the right claimed, imposes obligations upon that government which Colombia stipulated for as a compensation for the concessions made in the first part of the said article 35 to the United States.
Planting itself in this way upon a forced interpretation of article 35 of the treaty of 1846, before cited, the United States deny the right of Colombia to grant concessions of the kind made in favor of Mr. L. N. B. Wyse, without the previous approbation of the American Government.
It is necessary to study with attention the protocol of the 17th February, in order to discover whether or not the minister of Colombia induced the Cabinet of Washington to desist from such a pretension, and, in consequence, the perfect right of Colombia to make the law authorizing the excavation of a canal through her own territory.
After studying separately each of the points to which the protocol refers, and examining the terms and making the necessary comparison between that document and the treaty of 1846, basis of the aforesaid protocol, it will be admitted that the real object of the Colombian minister was to extract from the American Government two important declarations, calculated to include the recognition, as a fact legally consummated, of the contract Salgar-Wyse, and Colombia’s right to seek from other powers a guarantee similar to that which the United States have bound themselves to make effective.
It will likewise be admitted that these declarations were obtained without any new concession of a definite character on the part of the representative of Colombia, i. e., none that were not contained in the treaty of 1846, and much less any that might be considered not included in the instructions which were delivered to him as a guide, and invested him with authority to sign the documents which it is now proposed to examine.
The first article of the protocol is confined to the recognition of the fact that by article 35 of the treaty of 1846, &c., all interoceanic communication across the Isthmus shall be free equally for the government and citizens of both nations, saving the exception provided for in the protocol, [Page 386] which is not in the treaty, of the case of war between the two nations.
Article 2 declares the consent of the two nations to be necessary for the erection of temporary or permanent works, and the establishment of convenient sites therefor. The same with respect to naval stations, dock-yards, and coal depots.
Besides the above, ulterior conventions will be required to arrange and attend to the maintenance of the aforesaid establishments.
Colombia, therefore, in the before-mentioned declaration has compromised herself to nothing, no time having been fixed for the construction of any defensive work in her territory, nor can any be constructed without her express consent, the occasion for conceding or denying not having occurred. In the mean time it is expressly stipulated in the said article 2 that until the danger provided for in article 35 of the treaty of 1846 shall become apparent no military force, except it belong to the army of Colombia, shall be stationed in the territory of the Isthmus.
Remembering the fact already proved that the Colombian minister decidedly and energetically refused all discussion upon the basis of conceding to the United States of America the right to modify the contract Salgar-Wyse, it will be comprehended that when he accepted in article 3 the concurrence of the American Government for fixing the tariff only in the case in which Colombia might consider herself justified in intervening in the regulations either dictated or which may be dictated...... by whom? by the company which owns the concession, it is proposed to compel the American Government to recognize this company, whose existing contract with Colombia was the obstacle which prevented it from considering itself at present possessed of the right to interfere with the regulations adopted.
This important recognition was obtained merely at the cost that Colombia should accept the concurrence of the United States for the execution of an act which will not take place, or for the exercise of a right that Colombia will not be able to recover, except in case of the expiration of the existing contract—a contract whose revision is claimed by the American Government.
The fourth article says:
(Vide page 375, ante.)
No great effort of the imagination is required to discover that the intention of the Colombian minister in drafting that part of the article of the protocol just copied was to determine the possibility that by treaty other powers might also take part in guaranteeing the neutrality of the interoceanic route and the sovereignty of Colombia over its own territory, thereby inducing these powers to hasten the celebration of the said treaties with the bait of concessions made to the United States, this up to the present time having been the only nation that had offered her guarantee, and this same constituting the foundation of all the concessions hitherto granted.
It may consequently be deduced from the foregoing that article 4 was designed to secure for Colombia a collective guarantee from all the maritime powers, this being the only one that can satisfy the necessities of universal commerce, besides avoiding the conflicts that an isolated guarantee might maintain pending, like the sword of Damocles, not only over the sovereignty of Colombia, but also over the head of the entire commercial world.
In this manner I have analyzed each of the points contained in the protocol of the 17th of February, 1881, which it has been my fate to [Page 387] sign. In so doing I feel myself honored, in spite of having been informed that voices have been raised in terms of disapprobation both in and outside the Senate, even to the extent of denouncing my conduct as an act of treason towards the republic. Those persons who censure me in this way will not be the only ones whom I have been called upon to forgive. The hour of real danger for this country will be the proper time for branding the true traitors. May my accusers in my presence never have occasion to hang their heads with shame!
The secretary for foreign affairs will permit me to repeat the opinion that from New York I urged upon the Government of Colombia the advantage of promoting actively amongst the maritime nations of the world the idea of a collective guarantee. According to my view, this measure is the only one calculated to secure effectively the rights and sovereignty of Colombia over the Isthmus, at the same time that it will maintain the neutrality of the interoceanic route, a matter in which the principles of universal commerce are interested.
It is to the obtainment of this Collective guarantee that, in my humble opinion, the patriotic efforts of Colombia should be directed with all due caution, talent, tenacity, and constancy through her legations.
If the patriotic interest which I have dedicated to the discharge of the honorable mission that the Government of Colombia confided to me in the United States of America should eventually be recognized, together with my firm intention to adhere strictly to the tenor of the instructions delivered to me, and which served me as a guide during the negotiations of which I have just given a detailed account, I shall consider my labors fully recompensed.
the monroe doctrine.
President Monroe in his message to Congress in 1823, after stating that friendly negotiations were in progress with Russia and England to clearly define the respective rights of these powers on the northeast coasts of America, expressed himself in the following terms:
“During the discussions that have taken place about the arrangement of this business it has been judged a proper occasion to affirm, as a principle of national interest, that the continent of America, in virtue of the liberty and independence that it has conquered, ought to be considered as free from all intention of future colonization on the part of European powers.”*
Bogotá , May 28, 1881.
A communication having been made to the honorable Senate of the Union that the executive power, without declining to appreciate as patriotic and well intentioned the conduct of our minister in Washington, has declared the bases of the protocol of the 17th February to be inacceptable in a general point of view, and in consequence has given to the negotiations the turn corresponding to such ecision.
This resolution ends for the present the important business to which the documents published this day refer.
- This protocol “formed the subject of several conferences at Washington, between Dr. Justo Arosemena (the former Colombian minister), and myself. This draft was proposed by Dr. Arosemena, and not found acceptable by Mr. Evarts, to whom it was submitted informally by me.” (Extract from Mr. Dichman’s No. 272.)↩
- Memorandum.—The above is a Colombian version of the Monroe doctrine, which, of course, does not exactly correspond with the language used by President Monore.↩