Mr. Baker to Mr. Gresham.
Managua, June 5, 1894. (Received July 3.)
Sir: On Sunday, the 3d instant, I received your further cable instructions in regard to the Nicaraguan interoceanic canal, and on Monday morning I made an early call upon Mr. José Madriz, the minister for foreign affairs of this Government. There were present Mr. Román Mayorga Rivas, the subsecretary, and Gen. Daniel Macauley. Mr. Madriz had been out of the city for a week, and Gen. Macauley’s letter addressed to the Government, a copy of which I here inclose, had just been referred to him for report. The minister informed us that he would take up the matter at once, and would very soon make a written report thereon to the President and cabinet.
A few minutes before leaving the legation I received from Capt. J. C. Watson, commander of the U. S. S. San Francisco, then at Colon, a cable message informing me that he had received copies of instructions, sent to me from Washington, dated the 12th and 24th of May, concerning the Argüello case, and that he was ready to assist with all his force. Unfortunately my latest Washington dates by mail were May 1, therefore I was in the dark as to the instructions referred to; but I assumed, for my purpose with this Government on this occasion, that they were something pretty perpendicular, containing a genuine American ring. Remarking upon Capt. Watson’s cable and the supposed tenor of my instructions referred to, I said that it was to be deeply regretted that the recent course of Nicaragua toward Americans and American interests, both in the matter of the canal and in affairs at Bluefields and Rama, was of such a nature as to make a most serious impression at Washington of the apparent unfriendliness of this administration toward the United States, a great Government which is and desires to continue to be a sincere friend to Nicaragua.
You express to me, Mr. Minister, your friendship for the United States, and the President does the same; and then you jump on us with both feet and spit in our faces. Your action in the canal matter has advertised to all the civilized world your own lack of good faith and your indisposition to protect the capital that would come here and develop your naturally splendid country. Nothing is so sensitive as credit; not even capital is so timid, for credit—good faith—must go [Page 463]before capital. This is the rock upon which capital builds. Your notice of the forfeiture of the canal concession, even though it be upon a frivolous ground and one not warranted and not founded in law, not only destroys the credit of the Interoceanic Canal Company, but it is the most ghastly stab under the fifth rib of the credit of your own Government which could be inflicted by the keenest Damascus blade.
Your Government will, I am sure, Mr. Minister, withdraw the offensive notice of forfeiture; but every hour’s delay is dangerous. I feel authorized to say to you that President Cleveland, his Cabinet Ministers, and the Senatorial Committee on Foreign Affairs are all awaiting with deep concern the early and further action of the Nicaraguan Government, in both the canal and the pending troubles at Bluefields. This is evidenced by the presence of two powerful war steamers on your eastern coast. You must admit, Mr. Minister, when you reflect candidly, that the United States has been most forbearing and patient with your Government, and that their action toward you has been in marked contrast with the brusque manner in which some of your other good neighbors have dealt with you. I hope it is not true that you have failed to appreciate this kindly spirit, that you have misconstrued it, and that, therefore, you have ventured to treat us with a measure of contempt which is usually only accorded to an adversary who is sadly lacking in spirit. I am sure you could not have held this view, albeit your actions might be so construed.
Gen. Macauley then presented the case of the canal company to the minister in brief terms, and we withdrew.
I have, etc.,