Marquis of Salisbury to Mr. Edwardes.*

No. 42.]

Sir: On the 4th December last the United States minister at this court transmitted to me a copy of a dispatch which he had received from the Secretary of State respecting the Mosquito reservation.

In that dispatch, of which a copy is inclosed herein, Mr. Bayard draws attention to a note addressed by my directions to the Nicaraguan minister for foreign affairs on the 10th September last, by Mr. Gastrell, Her Majesty’s minister accredited to the Republics of Central America.

Owing to a complaint made to Her Majesty’s Government by the chief of the Mosquito reserve in regard to certain proceedings on the part of Nicaraguan authorities which he deemed to be inconsistent with the provisions of the Treaty of Managua of 1860, I had instructed Mr. Gastrell to make a friendly remonstrance to the Government of Nicaragua and to draw their attention to the wording of the treaty, and to the interpretation given to it by the award of the Emperor of Austria.

For your information, I inclose a copy of my instructions to Mr. Gastrell.

Mr. Bayard prefaces his remarks on the matter to which he particularly desires to call attention by a brief historical review of the circumstances which led to the conclusion of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, and of the convention between Great Britain and Nicaragua of 1860 $ but he observes that the latter 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.

I am therefore not called upon here to discuss any question other than the respective rights and duties of Great Britain and Nicaragua under the convention referred to.

As Mr. Bayard observes, “differences arose between the Governments of Great Britain and Nicaragua in relation to the free port of Grey town, the payment of the annuity to the 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,” whose decision was announced in July, 1881.

Mr. Bayard, however, states that the United States Government, not being a party to this agreement of arbitration, “is not bound by the award of the arbitrator, nor committed in any way to an admission of [Page 469] the right of Great Britain to interfere in disputes between the Republic of Nicaragua and the Indians living within her borders.” And he entirely dissents from the view as to Great Britain’s rights of intervention expressed in the opinion or report on which the award is based.

Mr. Bayard contends that “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,” and he states that “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.”

I may remark that the award of the Emperor was given more than seven years ago, and no objection has, till now, been made to it by the United States Government.

If the object contemplated by Her Majesty’s Government had been an unconditional withdrawal of the protectorate of Great Britain, no convention would have been required or made; but Nicaragua entered into a distinct treaty arrangement with this country to secure certain rights and privileges to the Mosquito Indians as soon as the British protectorate should be withdrawn; and in the event, which has arisen, of the Mosquito Indians complaining that their rights are infringed by Nicaragua, by whom is remonstrance to be made to Nicaragua unless by Great Britain, with whom she has concluded the convention in question ?

Mr. Bayard quotes as analogous to the present issue the treaty between the United States and France, Spain, and Russia for the cession, respectively to the United States of Louisiana, Florida, and Alaska, and he states that although difficulties have at times arisen between the Federal Government and the inhabitants of Louisiana and Florida, neither France nor Spain ever pretended that the treaty stipulations gave them a right to take part in the settlement of such disputes, and that were the Indians of Alaska to protest against alleged discriminations between the laws governing that Territory and the other Territories of the United States, the Emperor of Russia would not be authorized by the treaty of 1867 to demand a different treatment of those Indians. Mr. Bayard does not, however, say whether such intervention was, as in the present case, invoked by the inhabitants concerned, or whether the differences to which he refers were of a kind provided for in the treaties which he mentions.

Certain advantages were by the convention of 1860 secured to the Indians of the Mosquito Reserve, and Her Majesty’s Government felt themselves in duty bound to bring to the notice of the Nicaraguan Government the cases specified in Mr. Gastrell’s note. Mr. Bayard is, however, under a misapprehension as to the extent of the intervention exercised by Her Majesty’s Government. They do not claim “to intervene in every dispute between the Mosquito Indians and their sovereign,” but only within the limits of the report annexed to the Emperor of Austria’s award quoted by Mr. Bayard.

They have no desire to “assert a protectorate” in substance or in form, or anything in the nature of a protectorate, and it would give them the greatest possible satisfaction if the Nicaraguan Government and the Indians would come to an amicable arrangement, under Article IV of the convention, and thus relieve this country from any further responsibility in regard to their affairs.

I have, to request that you will read this dispatch to the Secretary of State, and leave a copy of it with him, and you may inform him that [Page 470] I have recently received from the Nicaraguan minister at this court, a note giving explanations in reply to the representations made in Mr. Gastrell’s note of the 10th September last.

I have, etc.,

  1. Handed to Mr. Blaine by Mr. Edwardes, March 28, 1889.
  2. Not transmitted to the Department.