Mr. Bayard to Mr. Gresham.

Sir:. * * * On the 15th, when I went to the foreign office, I stated the solicitude of my Government to be fully informed of the particulars of the incident of landing an armed force from a British man-of-war at Bluefields. I found Lord Kimberley (just in office) very willing to tell me all he knew, but in fact with but little to communicate that, to use his own words, “had either precision or reliability.”

My telegram1 is as near the intelligible substance of his statements as possible.

There were no orders given by this Government, and no instructions applied for, prior to the landing, nor could his lordship inform me from whom the application came nor to whom it was made, and they have since endeavored to obtain knowledge of all the facts, and appear to be very disinclined to interference.

The collision (whatever it was) between the Nicaraguans and the Indian residents of the reservation occurred suddenly, and I have a strong impression that had the Kearsarge arrived before the British vessel, an endeavor would have been made by her commander to avert danger and protect the lives and property of American citizens in that remote and unregulated locality.

Lord Kimberly read to me from a telegram—a somewhat obscure report from the British consul at Greytown—that there was a claim asserted by the Nicaraguans that at some time prior (date not given) an agreement by the Indian council of the reservation had been made, while two British vessels were in port, for the incorporation of the reservation into the Nicaraguan territory, and that their action of hauling down the Mosquito flag at Bluefields was in consequence of such an agreement.

All this telegraphic communication is necessarily imperfect and but slightly reliable, and I am promised by Lord Kimberley instant information, as it shall be received hereafter at the foreign office.

In my last telegram I made reference to certain correspondence which is contained in the volumes of our Foreign Relations, as giving the most reliable basis of dealing with events as they are now being disclosed.

The status of the “reservation” of the Mosquito Indians in relation to Nicaragua is anomalous, and is to-day embarrassed by the very regretable action of Nicaragua in consenting without notice or consultation with the United States, to submit in 1879 the question of the degree of her sovereignty over the Indian territory of Mosquito to the umpirage and sole arbitration of the Emperor of Austria-Hungary. Nor do I understand the action of Great Britain, who by her convention of 1850 (the Clayton-Bulwer treaty) with the United States, by [Page 252]which the attitude and relations of both of those high contracting parties in relation to the Central American States and their territories were so carefully considered, so that the two Governments had pledged themselves to a mutual and several abstention from political interference or control in that geographical region; and yet, without consultation or notice to the United States, the award of a foreign government of Europe is sought and accepted, which, as it has been proved more than once, contains results of a most important and influential character upon the very questions which the treaty of 1850 was intended to control.

* See page 250.

For this reason 1 respectfully referred you to an instruction dated November 23, 1888, by the then Secretary of State to Mr. Phelps, then minister at the Court of St. James, which is to be found at page 759 of the Foreign Relations volume for 1888.

By that instruction it will appear that Nicaragua had at once called upon the United States, when the British representative at Nicaragua proposed intervention by his Government in relation to the exercise of certain acts of sovereignty—according to the usual and accepted meaning of that word—by Nicaragua over the territory occupied by the Mosquito Indians, and included in the “reservation” which they were to occupy under and subject to that sovereignty.

The views of the United States Government, as set forth in the instruction referred to, were communicated to the British Government on December 4, 1888, but no reply was made until the month of March following, and when a change of Administration in the United States had, just taken place.

The reply of the Marquis of Salisbury was delivered by the British chargé d’affaires in Washington on the 28th of March, 1889, and there the question was allowed to rest for four years, and not until February, 893, was the correspondence renewed, as I find by the files of this office.

At the date last mentioned, Mr. Foster, then Secretary of State, instructed Mr. Lincoln (my immediate predecessor here), who communicated a copy thereof to Lord Rosebery, then Her Majesty’s secretary of state for foreign affairs, and no reply has yet been made thereto.

May I respectfully suggest that all the correspondence above referred to—the documents containing the treaty of Managua, between Great Britain and Nicaragua, the terms of the reference to and the award of the Emperor of Austria—be printed by the United States, so as to present compendiously the questions involved, in order that they may receive a just, intelligent, amicable, and satisfactory solution.

An interesting and important part of the history of this question is contained in the instruction, dated April 26, 1873, by Mr. Fish, then Secretary of State, to General Schenck, United States minister to Great Britain. That document is on file in this embassy.

I have, etc.,

T. F. Bayard.