No. 268.
Mr. Bayard to Mr. Maury.

No. 12.]

Sir: The French Canal Company avows its control of the land line of telegraph operated in connection with the Panama Railroad Company, and asserts its determination to retain the monopoly alleged to have been derived from the railway concession. The railroad company gives notice, for its part, that “theirs is a private wire, and they pass messages between Panama and Colon “by courtesy.”

The mere fact that the international communications of two continents, over an intricate net-work of cables, is dependent for an important connecting link upon the “courtesy” of a corporation and the use of a line of wire alleged to be “private,” and constructed as an accessory to a railway, is a matter of concern to the governments which are constrained to use such limited and unstable means of official intercommunication.

The guaranties of the treaty of 1846 are necessarily general and somewhat vague, especially as to matters not distinctly foreseen when it was framed. It may not be practicable or even expedient to seek to define its provisions, for the progress of invention and development of material forces would soon demand a re-adjustment of its terms. But it is very evident, without resorting to elaborate argument, that if telegraphic facilities are among the means of interoceanic communication covered by the treaty, they must be open and public and their free and neutral use fully secured. The announcement that the railroad and canal companies’ telegraph line from Colon to Panama is a private wire, and that the use of it by the Governments of the United States and Colombia and by the commercial public is permissive only, is, if true, abundant demonstration that no trans-isthmian telegraphic communication now exists such as was contemplated and falls under the necessary guaranties of the treaty of 1846. That instrument guaranties to us “equal, tranquil, and constant use” of whatever means of transit are provided for “correspondence,” and the telegraph is assuredly the most important and useful of all such means.

I am, etc.,

T. F. Bayard.