File No. 817.812/179

The Secretary of State to the Minister of Nicaragua

No. 19

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 6th instant, in which, pursuant to instructions from your Government, you inform me that the Executive of Nicaragua has on that day called a special session of the Congress of that country with the object of considering, among other things, the Canal Treaty between your Government and that of the United States.

In reply to your request as to the interpretation by the Government of the United States of the provisions of this treaty, permit me to inform you that President Taft, when submitting the Canal Convention between the United States and Nicaragua of 1913 to the United States Senate for its action, spoke of the Convention as giving to the United States “the exclusive option in perpetuity to construct an interoceanic canal by the Nicaraguan route”; and, later, Secretary Bryan alluded to that Convention as an option.9 While the Convention of 1914 differs somewhat from that of 1913, as is to be observed by an inspection of the language employed in the two conventions respectively, still it is not definitive in certain respects and possess the feature of an option in that it leaves to future consultations by the two Governments the settlement of the details of the terms upon which the canal shall be constructed.

In this relation I desire to call your attention to a proviso in the resolution of ratification adopted by the United States Senate on February 15, 1916, as follows:

Provided, That whereas Costa Rica, Salvador, and Honduras have protested against the ratification of said convention in the fear or belief that said convention might in some respect impair existing rights of said States, therefore it is declared by the Senate that in advising and consenting to the ratification of the said convention as amended such advice and consent are given with the understanding, to be expressed as a part of the instrument of ratification, that nothing in said convention is intended to affect any existing right of any of the said named States.

This amendment, it would seem, should set at rest all complaint upon the part of the Government of Costa Rica that they had not been consulted before the conclusion of the convention.

Accept [etc.]

Robert Lansing