No. 520.
Mr. Birney to Mr. Blaine.

No. 187.]

Sir: I have the honor to state, that soon after receiving your No. 177,* bearing date June 24, 1881, in which you set forth the policy of the Government of the United States in view of the possibility that negotiations might be initiated to obtain the consensus of the great powers of Europe to approve a joint guaranty of the neutrality of the interoceanic canal now projected across the Isthmus of Panama, I had an interview with his excellency Baron van Lynden van Sandenburg, the minister of foreign affairs.

That he might be thoroughly advised as to the position of the United States, I first requested him to read the greater portion of your dispatch, as well as an extract from the inaugural address of the President, alluding to the same subject. During conversation, I learned from the minister that the Government of the Netherlands has not yet been approached from any quarter with suggestion of such a guaranty as referred to above.

He assured me that should there be any proposal of the kind, the Government of the Netherlands would not be unmindful of the interests of the United States, and would not be disposed to be a party to any arrangement which could in any degree be prejudicial to that good will and harmony heretofore characterizing the relations of the two governments.

Although your dispatch intimated no necessity of speedy action, yet in view of my prospective absence for two months I thought it judicious now to learn thus much.

I am, &c.,

  1. See Mr. Blaine’s instructions to Mr. Lowell, No. 187 of June 24, page 537.