to Mr. Phelps.
Washington, November 23, 1888.
Sir: On the fifteenth ultimo Dr. Horacio Guzman, the minister of Nicaragua at this capital, in pursuance of instructions received from his Government, left at this Department a copy of a note addressed by-Mr. J. P. H. Gastrell, the British minister in Central America, to the minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of Nicaragua, a copy of which I inclose herewith.
In this note Mr. Gastrell complains that the Government of Nicaragua has established a post-office at Bltiefields, thus intervening in the domestic affairs of the reservation; that “troops and a police force have been stationed, and forts, arsenals, and military posts have been established, or are about to be established, by Nicaragua” within the Mosquito Reservation, and that the Nicaraguan commissioner residing in the reservation sustains these acts. He states that, in the opinion of Her Majesty’s Government, the erection of forts, arsenals, or military posts, the establishment of post-offices by Nicaragua, or the exercise of military or police authority within the territory of the reservation can not be reconciled with the spirit of the treaty of Managua of 1860, as interpreted by the award of the Emperor of Austria. And he refers to certain questions touching the precise boundary of the reservation, as to which some dispute still exists.
Touching the inquiry in regard to the demarkation of the boundaries of the reservation, I have no observations to offer. The matter is one in which the Government of the United States feels at least an equal interest with that of Great Britain, inasmuch as a number of our citizens are now engaged in business within the reservation and by far the larger part of the foreign commerce of that region is at present carried on between the ports of Bluefields and New Orleans.
But with respect to the other subjects mentioned by Mr. Gastrell the case is different. The subjects involved are, as you know, of deep interest to the people of the United States, and have heretofore been the subject of prolonged and voluminous correspondence between this Government and that of Great Britain. It is not needful to recapitulate at this time the whole of the earnest and protracted discussion in which the questions relating to the Mosquito territory constitute an important part; but it will be conducive to a clear understanding of the President’s views in regard to the particular points suggested by Mr. Gastrell’s note if a statement of these views be prefaced with a brief historical review of the acts and declarations of the several powers concerned.
The Mosquito coast was a name bestowed in the last century upon a tract of country of considerable but imperfectly defined extent, stretching along the shores of the Caribbean Sea to the southward and westward of Cape Gracias à Dios, and was inhabited by a sparse population of wholly uncivilized Indians, between whom and the inhabitants of the British colony of Jamaica some relations are said to have early existed. The meaning and character of these relations have been the subject of elaborate and careful consideration in correspondence between my predecessors and the ministers of the United States in England and Central America, especially in a dispatch from Mr. Abbott Lawrence to Mr. Clayton, of April 19, 1850, and in numerous other documents [Page 760]long since given to the world by the Governments both of the United States and of Great Britain. It is enough for nay present purpose to point out that this Government has at all times maintained that the title to the whole of the Mosquito coast was, in the last century, vested in the Crown of Spain; that the native inhabitants were never more than a mere savage tribe, having at best only possessory rights in the region they occupied; that the sovereignty of Spain was distinctly recognized by Great Britain in the treaties concluded with the Spanish Government in 1783 and 1786; and that the rights of Spain became vested in her revolting colonies when they secured their independence.
These views were not accepted by the British Government, which insisted upon regarding the Mosquito Indians as an independent nation, entitled to full recognition as such. The chief of the tribe was described in the British correspondence as the Mosquito King, and Great Britain was designated as his protecting ally. Acting upon this view of the case, two British frigates, on January 1, 1848, took forcible possession of the town of San Juan del Norte—subsequently known as Greytown—which had a peculiar importance to the people of the United States as being situated at the Atlantic mouth of the projected Nicaragua inter-oceanic canal. For upward of twelve years the protectorate of Great Britain thus established continued.
These pretensions on the part of Great Britain excited marked interest and opposition in the United States, and, together with other circumstances, became the cause of the negotiation of the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty of April 19, 1850. By the terms of that instrument, as you will remember, the Governments of the United States and Great Britain agree that they will never occupy, or fortify, or colonize, or assume, or exercise any dominion over Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mosquito coast, or any part of Central America: nor will either make use of any protection which either affords or may afford, or any alliance which either has or may have to or with any state or people, for the purpose of * * * occupying, fortifying, or colonizing Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mosquito coast, or any part of Central America, or of assuming or exercising dominion over the same.”
Into the irritating controversies to which this treaty gave rise I do not desire to re-enter, but it is enough to point out that the continuance of the protectorate of Great Britain over the Mosquito territory was regarded throughout by the United States as being in conflict with the provisions of that agreement.
The arrangements to be entered into upon the cessation of this Mosquito protectorate were, however, the cause of considerable embarrassment to the British Government, as was frankly pointed out in two instructions addressed by Lord John Russell to Mr. Crampton, under date of January 19, 1853, from which I quote the following passages:
It is evident that since Great Britain first assumed the protection and defense of the Mosquito Indians the position of all parties has changed.
- First. Spain, instead of exercising absolute sovereignty over Central America and prohibiting all commerce on the coasts under her sway, has entirely lost her dominion over the continent from Cape Horn to Florida.
- Second. The Mosquito Indians, instead of governing their own tribe according to their own customs, furnish a name and a title to Europeans and Americans, who carry on trade at Greytown and along the coast of Mosquito according to the usages of civilized nations.
- Third. Great Britain, instead of having an interest in the defense of the Mosquito Indians for the sake of rescuing part of the territory of Central America from Spanish control, and obtaining an outlet for her commerce, has no other interest in Mosquito than that which is derived from an honorable regard for her old connection with the Indian nation of Mosquito.
Her Majesty’s Government has for several years endeavored to suit its engagements to the altered circumstances of the case.
The committee of government of Greytown are, in fact, the real power which exercises authority in that part of Central America. To Her Majesty’s Government it-would be a matter of indifference whether that authority was exercised in the name of the King of Mosquito or in the name of Greytown itself; but it is desirable that what is apparent should be made to conform, as far as possible, to what is real. What is apparent is, that the King of Mosquito exercises sovereignty over Greytown; what is real is, that he has no authority whatever, but that a committee of Europeans and Americans carry on the government at that port.
It is the object of Her Majesty’s Government to make Mosquito a reality instead of a fiction, which it has hitherto been; and provided we save our honor and credit in our treatment of the King of that country, whose title and power are, in truth, little more than nominal, it is a matter of comparative indifference to us how this object is carried out, whether by constituting Greytown as the head and pivot of the new territorial establishment which we desire to see formed, or by any other liberal and practical arrangement which may be thought preferable, on discussing the matter with the United States.
Her Majesty’s Government consider that so large and fertile a country as the extensive region denominated the Mosquito territory, a region extending from the River Roman on the north to the River San Juan de Nicaragua on the south, and whose western boundary is also of vast, though undefined extent, ought no longer to be allowed to lie waste, with thirty or forty thousand wandering Indians forming its only native population, and a few hundred foreigners of various races located, for the purposes of commerce, at different points along its extended line of sea-coast. Neither would it consist with our notions of expediency that such States as Nicaragua, Honduras, or even Costa Rica, should obtain possession of the Mosquito territory.
The plans of settlement thus suggested by Lord John Russell were not approved by the United States, and prolonged but fruitless negotiations were undertaken in the hope of arriving at an arrangment with respect not only to the Mosquito coast, but also to the British claims over certain islands off the coast of Honduras. Ultimately the Government of Great Britain sent Sir William Gore Ouseley as its representative to Central America, with the purpose of concluding separate agreements with the several countries interested. This mission was carried on and brought: to a successful conclusion by Mr. Wyke.
It is interesting to observe that the plan adopted in regard to the mode of dealing with the Mosquito Indians seems to have been first suggested by General Cass in a conversation with Lord Napier, which is related as follows by the latter in a dispatch to Lord Clarendon of March 12, 1857:
General Cass then passed some reflections on the Clayton-Bulwer treaty; he had voted for it, and in doing so he believed that it abrogated all intervention on the part of England in the Central American territory. The British Government had put a different construction on the treaty, and he regretted the vote he had given in its favor. He did not, however, pretend that the British Government should now unconditionally abandon the Mosquitos, with whom they had relations of an ancient date; it was just and consistent with the practice of the United States that those Indians should be secured in the separate possession of lands, the sale of which should be prohibited, and in the enjoyment of rights and franchises, though in a condition of dependency and protection. The British Government had already removed one impediment to the execution of the Bulwer-Clayton treaty by the cession of their claims on Ruatan. Two difficulties now remained—the frontier of Belize and the delimitation and settlement of the Mosquito tribe. If the frontier could be defined, and if the Mosquitos could be placed in the enjoyment of their territory by treaty between Great Britain and Nicaragua, in which the concessions and guaranties of the latter in favor of the Indians should be associated with the recognition of the sovereignty of Nicaragua—so I understood the general—then the Bulwer-Clayton treaty might be a permanent and satisfactory settlement between the contracting parties. The United States desired nothing else than an absolute and entire neutrality and independence of the Central American region, free from the exercise of any exclusive influence or ascendancy whatever.
On January 28, 1860, a convention, sometimes known as the Zeledon-Wyke treaty, was signed at Managua by the representatives of Great [Page 762]Britain and Nicaragua. By the terms of this treaty Her Britannic Majesty, subject to the conditions and engagements specified therein, agreed to recognize as belonging to and under the sovereignty of the Republic of Nicaragua, the country theretofore occupied or claimed by the Mosquito Indians within the frontier of that Republic. The British protectorate was to cease three months after the exchange of ratifications, in order to enable Her Majesty’s Government to give the necessary instructions for carrying out the stipulations of the treaty. A district, now commonly known as the Mosquito Reservation, was to be assigned to the Indians, within which they were to enjoy certain rights of local autonomy. The Republic of Nicaragua was to pay to the Indians $5,000 a year for ten years. The port of Greytown, which was not included in the Mosquito Reservation, was to be constituted a free port. And certain grants of land, if made bona fide, in the name and by the authority of the Mosquito Indians, since January 1, 1848, lying outside the reservation, were to be confirmed.
Articles II, III, and VI of this treaty may be quoted in full as follows:
- Art. 2. A district within the territory of the Republic of Nicaragua shall be assigned to> the Mosquito Indians; which district shall remain, as above stipulated, under the sovereignty of the Republic of Nicaragua. Such district shall be comprised in a line which shall begin at the mouth of the River Rama, in the Caribbean Sea; thence it shall run up the mid-course of that river to its source, and from such source proceed in a line due west to the meridian of 84° 15’ longitude west from Greenwich; thence due north up the said meridian until it strikes the River Hueso, and down the mid-course of that river to its mouth in the sea, as laid down in Baily’s map, at about latitude from 14° to 15° north and longitude 83° west from the meridian of Greenwich; and thence southerly along the shore of the Caribbean Sea to the mouth of the River Rama, the point of commencement. But the district thus assigned to the Mosquito Indians may not be ceded by them to any foreign person or state, but shall be and remain under the sovereignty of the Republic of Nicaragua.
- Art. 3. The Mosquito Indians, within the district designated in the preceding article, shall enjoy the right of governing, according to their own customs and according to any regulations which may from time to time be adopted by them, not inconsistent with the sovereign rights of the Republic of Nicaragua, themselves and all persons residing within such district. Subject to the above-mentioned reserve, the Republic of Nicaragua agrees to respect and not to interfere with such customs and regulations so established or to be established within the said district.
- Art. 6. Her Britannic Majesty engages to use her good offices with the chief of the Mosquito Indians, so that he shall accept the stipulations which are contained in this convention.
The conclusion of this arrangement was officially communicated to the Government of the United States, which, regarding it as a final withdrawal of British influence from the Mosquito country, expressed its satisfaction at a settlement that appeared to put an end to the disputes to which the Clayton Bulwer treaty had given rise.
The treaty of Managua was at least as favorable to Great Britain as that Government had any right to expect. As pointed out by Mr. Fish in his instructions to General Schenck of April 26, 1873, this instrument “assigned boundaries to the Mosquito Reservation probably beyond the limits which any member of that tribe had ever seen, even when in chase of wild animals. Worst of all, however, it confirmed the grants of land previously made in the Mosquito territory. The similar stipulation on this subject in the Dallas Clarendon treaty was, perhaps, the most objectionable of any, as it violated the cardinal rule of all European colonists in America, including Great Britain herself, that the aborigines had no title to the soil which they could confer upon individuals.”
The Government of the United States had not, however, anticipated that under cover of this treaty the Government of Great Britain would [Page 763]continue to attempt any interference with the affairs of the Mosquito Indians. It is superfluous to say that if it had been supposed by the United States that the treaty of Managua was understood by the Government of Great Britain to give that country a right of influence, direction, or control over the destinies of the Mosquito territory as against the State of Nicaragua, that convention, far from being hailed by this Government as a solution and termination of disputes concerning the British protectorate over the Mosquito Indians, would have been regarded as a serious obstacle to any such settlement. Under Article VI of the treaty of Managua, Her Britannic Majesty was bound to use her good offices with the chief of the Mosquito Indians, so that he should accept the stipulations of that convention; and it might have been naturally assumed that upon such acceptance by the Mosquito chief, Her Majesty’s right to further interference was at an end.
That this Government was justified in so assuming, may amply be demonstrated not only by the consideration of the expressed design of the convention, but also by its particular provisions. Among these may be designated as of unequivocal significance, the fourth article of the treaty, by which it is provided that nothing in the treaty shall be construed to prevent the Mosquito Indians at any future time from agreeing to absolute incorporation into the Republic of Nicaragua on the same footing as other citizens of the Republic, and from subjecting themselves to be governed by the general laws and regulations of the Republic, instead of by their customs and regulations. This provision merely emphasizes the fact of the actual, substantial incorporation of the Mosquito Indians into the Republic of Nicaragua, and clearly contemplates the ultimate and absolute extinguishment of their semi-segregated existence.
It appears, however, that differences subsequently arose between the Governments of Great Britain and Nicaragua in relation to the free port of Greytown, the payment of the annuity to Mosquito Indians, and the precise extent of the rights of Nicaragua within the Indian reservation. By an exchange of diplomatic notes between the representatives of Great Britain and Nicaragua, it was agreed that all of these questions should be submitted to the arbitration of the Emperor of Austria; and he in the month of April, 1879, consented to act as arbitrator upon the differences of opinion which had arisen as to the true interpretation of the treaty of Managua of 1860.”
To this agreement of arbitration the Government of the United States was not a party, and it is not bound by the award of the arbitrator, nor committed in any way to an admission of the right of Great Britain to interfere in disputes between the Republic of Nicaragua and the Indians living within her borders.
The decision of the Emperor was announced in July, 1881, and the first six articles of the award, which deal with the rights of Nicaragua within the Mosquito Reservation, are as follows:
- Article 1. The sovereignty of the Republic of Nicaragua, which was recognized by Articles 1 and 2 of the treaty of Managua, of the 28th January, 1860, is not full and unlimited with regard to the territory assigned to the Mosquito Indians, but is limited by the self-government conceded to the Mosquito Indians in Article 3 of this Treaty.
- Art. 2. The Republic of Nicaragua, as a mark of its sovereignty, is entitled to hoist the flag of the Republic throughout the territory assigned to the Mosquito Indians.
- Art. 3. The Republic of Nicaragua is entitled to appoint a commissioner for the protection of its sovereign rights throughout the territory assigned to the Mosquito Indians.
- Art. 4. The Mosquito Indians are also to be allowed to hoist their flag henceforward, [Page 764]but they must at the same time attach to it some emblem of the sovereignty of the Republic of Nicaragua.
- Art. 5 The Republic of Nicaragua is not entitled to grant concessions for the acquisition of natural products in the territory assigned to the Mosquito Indians. That right belongs to the Mosquito Government.
- Art. 6. The Republic of Nicaragua is not entitled to regulate the trade of the Mosquito Indians, or to levy duties on goods imported into or exported from the territory reserved to the Mosquito Indians. That right belongs to the Mosquito Indians.
This award, as it will be perceived, does not by any means go to the lengths to which the British Government now seeks to proceed, under the recent note of Mr. Gastrell to the Nicaraguan authorities. The award declares that the Republic of Nicaragua may hoist its flag throughout the reservation, and may appoint a commissioner for the protection of its sovereign rights; but that it may not grant concessions for the acquisition of natural products within the territory, may not regulate the trade of the Indians, and may not levy import or export dues in the reservation. Beyond this no limitation is declared upon the sovereign rights of Nicaragua, nor is the extent of its sovereignty further defined.
Without entering now into the consideration of the correctness of this award, it may be pointed out that neither in it, nor in Article III of the treaty of Managua, which provided that the Indians were to enjoy the right of governing, according to their own customs, and according to any regulations which may from time to time be adopted by them not inconsistent with the sovereign rights of the Republic of Nicaragua, themselves and all persons residing within such district, is there anything incompatible with the right of Nicaragua to establish post offices, and still more with the right to establish military posts for the common defense. Such a right is an essential incident of paramount sovereignty, and can properly be exercised by no other agency. The award refers to the right of the Republic of Nicaragua as a mark of its sovereignty to hoist the Hag of the Republic throughout the territory assigned to the Mosquito Indians. That such is the case does not appear to admit of doubt. Yet it seems idle to speak of a government having the right to hoist a flag as the emblem of a sovereignty which it is not to be permitted to defend.
The analogy of the relations of the Federal Government of the United States to the several States and to the Indian tribes within its borders seems clear and applicable. To establish post-offices, to raise and support armies, to provide and maintain a navy, to exercise exclusive legislation over all places purchased for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, and dock-yards, and to provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States, are powers expressly vested by our Constitution in the Federal Congress; and it is obvious that wherever there is a central government these powers, or something like these, must be vested in it, whatever degree of autonomy in other respects may be accorded to local administrations.
It is, of course, well known that in some cases dependent autonomous communities have the privilege of exercising some of the rights above mentioned; but this is due usually either to the circumstance of great distance from the central authority, as in the case of the British colonies in Australia, or to special and precise stipulations. In .a case where the inhabitants of a district are simply to enjoy a right of local self-government, “but shall be and remain under the sovereignty of” the power within whose borders their district lies, there can be no room for implication granting to such inhabitants extraordinary privileges which do not properly pertain to the regulation of strictly local affairs.[Page 765]
To the United States, in common with all other-powers, it is important that Nicaraguan sovereignty should exist in fact as well as in name within the Mosquito reservation. With the sovereign alone can we maintain diplomatic relations, and we have a right to look to that sovereign for redress in the event of wrongs being inflicted upon any of our citizens. If the Republic of Nicaragua is to be limited to the mere formal right of hoisting a flag and maintaining a commissioner within the reservation, how can it be called upon to perform any of its international obligations?
Nor is it consistent with the general views and policy of the United States to look with favor upon the establishment of such an imperium in imperio in Central America. General Cass, in a note addressed to Lord Napier on May 29, 1857, in discussing the draught of a proposed treaty relative to the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras, alluded in the following language to certain clauses which, by their express terms, were remarkably similar to the interpretation now sought to be put by the British Government on the treaty of Managua. He wrote:
That provision, whilst declaring the Bay Islands to be “a free territory under the sovereignty of the Republic of Honduras,” deprived that country of rights without which its sovereignty over them could scarcely be said to exist. It separated them from the remainder of Honduras and gave them a government of their own, with their own legislative, executive, and judicial officers, elected by themselves. It deprived the Government of Honduras of the taxing power in every form, and exempted the people of the Bay Islands from the performance of military duty, except for their own defense, and it prohibited the Republic from providing for the protection of these islands by the construction of any fortifications whatsoever, leaving them open to invasion from any quarter. Had Honduras ratified this treaty, she would have ratified the establishment of an “independent” state within her own limits, and a state at all times liable to foreign influence and control.
And these objections Mr. Cass thought were so serious as to make it impossible for the President to sanction such an arrangement.
But even more important than a determination of the precise extent of the Nicaraguan authority within the Mosquito reservation is the general question of the right of Her Britannic Majesty to intervene in disputes between the Republic of Nicaragua and the Indians or other inhabitants of that district.
The question was presented by the Nicaraguan representatives to the Emperor of Austria, but his award is silent upon the point. It is, however, discussed in the opinion or report upon which the award is based, and in the following terms:
In regard, however, to the affairs of the Mosquito Indians, it is true that England, in the treaty of Managua, has acknowledged the sovereignty of Nicaragua and renounced the protectorate, but this still only on condition, set forth in the treaty, of certain political and pecuniary advantages for the Mosquitos (“subject to the conditions and engagements specified in the treaty, Article I”). England has an interest of its own in the fulfillment of these conditions stipulated in favor of those who were formerly under its protection, and therefore also a right of its own to insist upon the fulfillment of those promises as well as of all other clauses of the treaty. The Government of Nicaragua is wrong In calling this an inadmissible “intervention,” inasmuch as pressing for the fulfillment of engagements undertaken by treaty on the , part of a foreign state is not to be classified as intermeddling with the internal affairs of that state, which intermeddling has unquestionably been prohibited under penalty. No less unjustly does the Government of Nicaragua seek to qualify this insistence on treaty claims as a continued exercise of the relinquished protectorate, and on that ground wish to declare England’s interposition inadmissible.
From this view of the case I find myself compelled to dissent. It can not be admitted that Great Britain has a right to intervene in every dispute that may arise between the Mosquito Indians and their sovereign. And if Great Britain can not intervene in every case, how are the cases of admissible intervention to be defined? Certainly the vague language [Page 766]of the treaty of Managua can afford no criterion, for in every case of dispute it may be argued that the rights of self-government on the one hand, or of sovereignty on the other, are invaded.
The case is not without analogies. In the treaty with France of April 30, 1803, for the cession of Louisiana it is provided that “the inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be incorporated in the Onion of the United States, and admitted as soon as possible, according to the principles of the Federal Constitution, to the enjoyment of all the rights, advantages, and immunities of citizens of the United States; and in the mean time they shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property, and the religion they profess.” In the treaty with Spain of February 22, 1819, for the cession of Florida, it was stipulated that “the inhabitants of the ceded territories shall be secured in the free exercise of their religion, without any restriction,” and that they should be “admitted to the enjoyment of all the privileges, rights, and immunities of the citizens of the United States.” By the terms of the treaty with Russia of March 30, 1867, for the cession of Alaska, the inhabitants, with the exception of uncivilized native tribes, are to be admitted to citizenship, “and shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property, and religion. The uncivilized tribes will be subject to such laws and regulations as the United States may from time to time adopt in regard to aboriginal tribes of that country.” In all these cases, as will be observed, the ceding Government has received assurances of the treatment to be accorded to the inhabitants of the ceded territory; but in no case in our diplomatic history has any one of these Governments asserted a right to intervene in our domestic affairs. Difficulties have at times arisen between the Federal Government and the inhabitants of Louisiana and Florida, but neither France nor Spain ever pretended that our treaty stipulations gave them a right to take part in the settlement of such disputes. The laws affecting the Territory of Alaska may be, and in some respects now are, unlike those governing the other Territories of the United States. But it must be apparent that were the Indians inhabiting those possessions to protest against alleged discriminations to the Czar of Russia, the treaty of 1867 would not authorize His Imperial Majesty to demand of the United States a different treatment of our Indian wards; and that such interposition, if-made, would certainly not be regarded favorably by this Government.
The ceding government in such cases retains, and can retain, no right of control or supervision over the conduct of the guardian to whom it commits the inhabitants whose allegiance is changed.
And so in the case under consideration. The stipulations of the treaty of Managua relative to the privileges to be accorded to the Mosquito Indians were not for the benefit of Great Britain, and are not enforceable by her. They were solely made for the benefit of those Indians, who were regarded by the express language of the treaty as at liberty to accept or reject its stipulations. Through their chief they did deliberately accept them, and on the withdrawal of British protection placed themselves under the sovereign power of the Republic of Nicaragua, and agreed to accept her public pledges as a sufficient guaranty that the agreements therein contained touching their right of self-government would be carried out in good faith.
The President can not but regard the continued exercise of the claim on the part of Great Britain to interfere on behalf of these Indians as the assertion of a British protectorate in another form; more especially when “this effort is directed to prohibiting Nicaragua from exercising [Page 767]military jurisdiction in the immediate neighborhood of the Atlantic mouth of the projected canal.
The United States can never see with indifference the re establishment of such a protectorate. Not only would the extension of European influence, upon this continent be contrary to the traditional and frequently expressed policy of the United States, but the course of Great Britain in assuming or exercising any dominion over the Mosquito coast, or making use of any protection it may afford or any alliance it may have to or with any people for the purpose of assuming or exercising any dominion over that territory, would be in violation of the express stipulations of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, whose binding force Great Britain has up to the present time so emphatically asserted.
It is not needful in this communication to consider the temporary or perpetual existence of the various provisions of that treaty. My immediate predecessors have with great fullness expressed their views upon that head, and I do not now comment upon them. But it is proper to refer to these conventional engagements of Great Britain, as exhibiting the measure of her admitted obligations.
Whether the interference of the British Government be regarded as a breach of existing treaty engagements, or whether it be looked upon simply as an effort, not prohibited by express agreement, to extend her influence in this continent—in either case the Government of the United States can not look upon such acts without concern. The circumstances of the particular locality render the subject one of peculiar interest and importance to the people of this country, and I should be wanting in my duty to them should I fail to bring the matter directly and frankly, and in a spirit of sincere friendship, to the notice of Her Majesty’s Government.
The history of the former controversies in regard to the same subject should admonish those who are charged with the conduct of the affairs of the two countries to spare no effort to avoid misunderstandings and promote cordial cooperation and good intelligence between them. With this purpose in view, and animated by the strongest desire to escape possible future causes of difference, I address you these instructions.
You will read this dispatch to the Marquis of Salisbury, and, should he desire it, you may furnish him with a copy.
I am, etc.,