File No. 817.812/130.

Minister Jefferson to the Secretary of State. 4

No. 155.]

Sir: Referring to my telegram of March 1, and to the Department’s reply of March 5, I have the honor to report that the proposed trip [Page 1115] took place on the 16th to the 18th of this month. The party consisted of the President of Nicaragua and Dr. J. Andrés Urtecho, his Minister of War and Navy, together with myself and Mr. Wicker, the Secretary of the Legation, and Captain P. M. Rixey and Dr. Bobbitt of the Legation Guard. * * *

The President seemed delighted with the experience, and I may add that this was not only his first visit to that region but also was the first time he had left Managua for over four years; that is, ever since he became President; and I am of the opinion that the pleasure and success of this trip and the expression of confidence and friendly feeling toward the United States of the President in thus accepting the courtesy of the American naval officers, to say nothing of the importance of a personal acquaintance by the President with the geographical location and strategical position of the bay in question, will prove of greatest benefit to the future relations between the United States and this Republic.

Although the subject has been often reported upon and with great detail to other Departments of the Government, I have also the honor to express my opinion as to the extreme advisability at this present time of the Department’s making definite arrangements with the three Republics fronting upon this Bay of Fonseca with a view to establishing a United States naval base there and particularly toward precluding any other nations from securing a similar foothold in this important region.

Fonseca Bay occupies a deep indentation some thirty miles broad by eighteen deep in the otherwise almost unbroken Pacific coast line of Central America. The entrance is marked by the two volcanos of Conchagua in El Salvador and Coseguina in Nicaragua, about 18 miles apart, with the island of Meanguera, belonging to El Salvador, almost midway between. The three Republics of Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador all border upon this bay, Nicaragua being to the southeast, Honduras to the east, and El Salvador to the north and northwest. The islands in the bay are divided among these Republics respectively. To the northeast of the island of Meanguera, and also controlling the bay and its entrance, is Tigre Island, belonging to Honduras, with an elevation of 2,500 feet as compared with that of 1,200 feet for Meanguera. This latter is composed of a number of shattered volcanic craters, and is uninhabited. Tigre Island is a perfect volcanic cone, on the northern side of which is the town of Amapala, the principal port of Honduras, guarded by a fort.

I have [etc.]

Benjamin L. Jefferson.
  1. Receipt acknowledged April 19, 1915.