to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
Bogota, May 12, 1884. (Received June 28.)
Sir: You are aware that the concession by the Government of Colombia to the Panama Canal Company includes large grants of land, not only along the line and at the termini of the canal itself, but also 500,000 hectares (or, say, about 800,000 acres) at such other places on or near the Isthmus as the company may select; and the Department has been already advised that the Colombian Executive, acting under authority conferred by law 28, of May 18, 1878, formally ceded to the company, in December last, the lands stipulated for in the concession referred to. A board of commissioners appointed and sent out by the company in Paris is now understood to be engaged in locating and surveying these lands; and the company, it seems, no longer conceals a purpose to people them with French colonists, under the auspices of the French Government.
I learn that among the lands likely to be selected by this commission, is the uninhabited island of Coiba, on the outskirts of the Bay of Panama.
This island contains an area of about 140 square miles, and is said to be well supplied with fresh water and forest timber. It has, I believe, a very snug little harbor on the seaward side. A glance at the map will show its importance as a maritime station. It commands the approaches to the bay from the South Pacific. * * *
I infer, as well from certain intimations by the company’s representative in this city as from the reports made to this legation by Mr. Consul A damson, that the commission will endeavor to select a large tract of land near the port of David, in the district of Chiriqui, and that, in addition to its probable selections on the opposite or Atlantic side, it has in view a small uninhabited island or headland on the same coast.
These facts in themselves considered may not be deemed very important; but when considered in connection with the circumstances attending the Paris congress of May, 1879, and the subsequently developed foreign policy of the French Government, they are probably not without significance.
I have, &c.,