to Mr. Logan
Washington , May 7, 1881.
Sir: Your dispatches in regard to the union of the Central American States have been received. You have hitherto been confidentially instructed as to the opinions of this government on that important subject.
It would have been a matter of great gratification if your dispatches had indicated the prospect of an early consummation such a confederation, or if you had been able to suggest some directly practical method by which the United States could aid in the establishment of a strong and settled union between the independent republics of Central America.
There is nothing which this government more earnestly desires than the prosperity of these states, and our own experience has taught us that nothing will so surely develop and guarantee such prosperity as their association under one common government, combining their great resources, utilizing, in a spirit of broad patriotism, their local power, and placing them before the world in the position of a strong, united, and constitutionally governed nation.
Precluded both by sentiment and interest from the indulgence of any desire for increased territory; anxious to Open to its commerce beneficial interchange with foreign products, and to give to such commercial relations the freest extension; taking a profound interest and a just pride in the system of republican government which its own example has introduced and encouraged on the American continent, the Government of the United States would do all in its power to foster the growth of stable and strong institutions in its sister republics of the south.
You cannot impress too strongly upon the government to which you are accredited or upon the public men with whom you associate the importance which the Government of the United States attaches to such a confederation of the states of Central America as will respond to the wants and wishes of their people.
The population of the Central American states, taken together, is not far from three millions; nearly, if not quite, as great as the population of the thirteen colonies at the time of the revolution against the British Government in 1776. The growth, prosperity, and power of this country, since that period, has been almost entirely due to a union of the States, such as is now warmly commended to Central America. Our popular maxim, that “In union there is strength,” finds its counterpart in the equally manifest truth that, “In division there is weakness.” So long as the Central American States remain divided they will fail to acquire the strength and prestige to which they are entitled.
The rapid improvement and the promise of prosperous development, which is exhibited in the neighboring Republic of Mexico, may well serve as an encouragement. It cannot be long before the relations between the United States and Mexico will become closer and more valuable by the completion of those railroad connections, which so peacefully combine and reconcile the interests of independent countries, and so surely and safely concentrate the intelligence and spirit and power of the people whose territory they enrich. And the statesmen of Central America may feel certain that, with a common representative government, [Page 103] wielding the power and consulting the interests of the separate states, their connection with, the railway system of the continent will be eagerly sought, and they will both give and receive the advantages which always follow the establishment of commercial relations and political sympathy. All internal improvements, including the great project of an interoceanic canal, would receive great stimulus and aid from a firm union of the Central American states and the strong government that would grow from that union.
It would, however, be premature for this government to do more than express this general conviction until it had officially learned, not from one, but from all of the Central American States, that public opinion there was ripe for the execution of such a plan.
I have not deemed it necessary to refer specially to the probability of any attempt on the part of any European power to acquire territory within any of the Central American States, or to interfere by force with the free political action of these republics. This government has no reason to believe that such acquisition or intervention is anywhere contemplated. But should closer and more careful observations induce you to apprehend any such attempts, you will assure the government of those states that upon this subject the policy of the United States is fixed. That policy was long since announced, and has been steadily maintained, and this government has every reason to believe has been generally acquiesced in by the European powers. Should unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances ever bring it into question, the United States will be prepared to repeat and enforce the principle declared by its highest authority, more than a half century ago, that—
With the governments (of the American continents) which have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have on great consideration and on just principles acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing or controlling in any other manner their destiny by an European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.
In the confidential instruction of this department of August 3 last, No. 85, you were authorized to visit the capitals of the several Central American States, with a view of ascertaining and reporting the condition of the public feeling upon the subject of confederation. No formal report has been made by you of such visit.
In a dispatch of the 29th of October last, No. 109, it was also suggested that an effort should be made to induce those States separately to enter into the Postal Union. If in your opinion this latter purpose could now be effected, the opportunity might be thus afforded without attracting undue attention of putting yourself in communication with the friends of the movement for a closer political union between those independent republics, and thus enabling this government to decide whether the project had taken such practical shape as would enable us to give it substantial assistance.
You will understand that great discretion must be exercised in such a proceeding, lest the local prejudices and interests of the separate States should be excited or antagonized, and that any appeal to the support and assistance of this government should not only be direct in its character, but should represent the wishes and purposes of all the States which expect to become members of such a confederation.
While a direct and unfriendly interference by European powers with the sovereign rights or the domestic policy of the Central American States is not anticipated, there is understood to exist on the part of the subjects of those powers a financial interest, which it may become the duty of their governments to protect. As one of the necessary and [Page 104] most important objects of any proposed confederation would be the establishment and maintenance of a stable national credit—indeed, as without such a foundation, there could be no permanent and prosperous union—this government would wish to receive from you the fullest information you can obtain as to the financial condition of those States, the condition of their public debt, the extent to which any foreign government has gone in enforcing the claims of its subjects and the methods by which the Central American States have undertaken the discharge of their obligations.
In short you are requested to give a comprehensive exhibit of the political, social, and financial condition of the Central American States, and to furnish it as promptly as the necessary labor of the investigation will allow.
I am, &c.,
At your discretion you can read this dispatch in full to the ministers of foreign affairs of the different republics of Central America.