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imminent risk of submitting these peculiar privileges to the Senate, where there was great danger of their being accepted. Nicaragua has at last consented! Her appeals to the United States for mediation or protection against British aggression being unheeded—her letters to our government remaining unanswered—their receipt not even acknowledged-her hopes of a closer relation to this Union blasted—the Monroe doctrine abandoned—the Mosquito kingdom, under the British protectorate, rapidly absorbing her territory, she sinks in despair, and yields herself to the European partnership which was about to be established over all Central America by the Clayton and Bulwer treaty !
Now, sir, I repeat that these two treaties—the one negotiated by Mr. Hise and the other by Mr. Squier, the first conceding peculiar privileges and exclusive and perpetual rights to the United States, the second admitting of a partnership in these privileges with European powers, Mr. Clayton suppressed the first, and sent the second to the Senate for ratification, and immediately opened negotiations with the British minister, which resulted in what is known as the Clayton and Bulwer treaty. In stating my objections to this treaty, I shall not become a party to the protracted controversy respecting its true meaning and construction, which has engaged so much of the attention of this session. I leave that in the hands of those who conducted the negotiation and procured its ratification. That is their own quarrel, with which I have no disposition to interfere. Establish which construction you please—that contended for by the secretary of state who signed it, or the one insisted upon by the venerable senator from Michigan, and those who acted in concert with him in ratifying it-neither obviates any one of my objections.
In the first place, I was unwilling to enter into treaty stipulations with Great Britain or any other European power in respect to the American continent, by the terms of which we should pledge the faith of this republic not to do in all coming time that which in the progress of events our interests, duty, and even safety may compel us to do. I have already said, and now repeat, that every article, clause, and provision of that treaty is predicated upon a virtual negation and repudiation of the Monroe declaration in relation to European colonization on this continent. The article inviting any power on earth with which England and the United States are on terms of friendly intercourse to enter into similar stipulations, and which pledges the good offices of each, when requested by the other, to aid in the new negotiations with the other Central American states, and which pledges the good offices of all the nations entering into the " alliance" to settle disputes between the states and governments of Central America, not only recognizes the right of European powers to interfere with the affairs of the American continent, but invites the exercise of such right, and makes it obligatory to do so in certain cases. It establishes, in terms, an alliance between the contracting parties, and invites all other nations to become parties
to it. I was opposed also to the clause which stipulates that neither Great Britain nor the United States will ever occupy, colonize, or exercise dominion over any portion of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mosquito Coast, or any part of Central America. I did not desire then, nor do I now, to annex any portion of that country to this Union. I do not know that the time will ever come in my day when I would be willing to do so. Yet I was unwilling to give the pledge that neither we nor our successors ever would. This is an age of rapid movements and great changes. How long is it since those who made this treaty would have told us that the time would never come when we would want California or any portion of the Pacific coast? California being a state of the Union, who is authorized to say that the time will not arrive when our interests and safety may require us to possess some portion of Central America, which lies half
way between our Atlantic and Pacific possessions, and embraces the great water lines of commerce between the two oceans? I think it the wiser and safer policy to hold the control of our own action, and leave those who are to come after us untrammeled and free to do whatever they may deem their duty, when the time shall arrive. They will have a better right to determine for themselves when the necessity for action may arise, than we have now to prescribe the line of duty for them. I was equally opposed to that other clause in the same article, which stipulates that neither party will ever fortify any portion of Central America, or any place commanding the entrance to the canal, or in the vicinity thereof. It is not reciprocal, for the reason that it leaves the island of Jamaica, a British colony, strongly fortified, the nearest military and naval station to the line of the canal. It is, therefore, equivalent to a stipulation that the United States shall never have or maintain any fortification in the vicinity of, or commanding the line of navigation and commerce through said canal, while England may keep and maintain those she now has.
I was not satisfied with the clause in relation to the British protectorate over the Mosquito Coast. It is equivocal in terms, and no man can say with certainty whether the true construction excludes the protectorate from the continent or recognizes its rightful existence, and imposes restraints upon its use and exercise. Equivocal terms in treaties are easily understood where the stipulations are between a strong power on the one hand and a feeble one on the other. The stronger enforces its own construction, and the weaker has no alternative but reluctant acquiescence. In this case neither party may be willing to recognize the potential right of the other to prescribe and enforce a construction of the equivocal terms which shall enable it to appropriate to itself all the advantages in question. It would seem that our own government have not ventured to insist upon a rigid enforcement of the provisions of the treaty in relation to the British protectorate over the Mosquito Coast, in the sense in which it was explained and understood when submitted to the Senate for ratification. Has the British protectorate disappeared from Central America ? I am not referring to the matters in controversy between certain senators who supported the treaty and Mr. Clayton, in respect to the Balize settlement. I allude to the Mosquito Coast, which, by name and in terms, is expressly made subject to the provisions of the treaty. Has the British protectorate disappeared from that part of Central America ? Have the British authorities retired from the port of San Juan, and thereby recognized the right of American citizens and vessels to arrive and depart free of hinderance and molestation ? Is it not well known that the protectorate is continued and maintained with increased vigor and boldness? Is not the British consul at San Juan now actively engaged in disposing of the soil, conveying town lots and lands, and exercising the highest functions of sovereignty under the pretext of protecting the rights of the Mosquito king? These things are being done openly and without disguise, and are well known to the world. Can any senator inform me whether this government has taken the slightest notice of these transactions ? Has our government entered its protest against these infractions of the treaty, or demanded a specific compliance with our understanding of its terms? How long are we to wait for Great Britain to abandon her occupancy and withdraw her machinery of government ? Nearly three years have elapsed since we were boastingly told that by the provisions of the Clayton and Bulwer treaty Great Britain was expelled from Central America. Shall we wait patiently until our silence shall be construed into acquiescence in her right to remain and maintain her possessions ?
But there was another insuperable objection to the Clayton and Bulwer treaty which increases, enlarges, and extends the force of all the obnoxious
provisions I have pointed out. I allude to the article in which it is provided that
" The government of the United States and Great Britain, having not only desired to accomplish a particular object, BUT ALSO TO ESTABLISH A GENERAL PRINCIPLE, THEY HEREBY AGREE TO EXTEND THEIR PROTECTION, BY TREATY STIPULATIONS, TO ANY OTHER PRACTICABLE COMMUNICATIONS, whether by canal or railway, across the isthmus which connects North and South America, and especially to the interoceanic communications, should the same prove to be practicable, whether by canal or railway, which are now proposed to be established by the way of TEHUANTEPEC OR PANAMA.”
The particular object” which the parties had in view being thus accomplished—the Hise treaty defeated, the exclusive privilege to the United States surrendered and abandoned, and the European partnership established-yet they were not satisfied. They were not content to “accomplish a particular object,” but desired to " ESTABLISH A GENERAL PRINCIPLE!” That which, by the terms of the treaty, was particular and local to the five states of Central America, is, in this article, extended to Mexico on the north, and to New Granada on the south, and declared to be a general principle by which any and all other practicable routes of communication across the isthmus between North and South America are to be governed and protected by the allied powers. New and additional treaty stipulations are to be entered into for this purpose, and the net-work which had been prepared and spread over all Central America is to be extended far enough into Mexico and New Granada to cover all the lines of communication, whether by railway or canal, and especially to include Tehuantepec and Panama. When it is remembered that the treaty in terms establishes an alliance between the United States and Great Britain, and engages to invite all other powers, with which either is on terms of friendly intercourse, to become parties to its provisions, it will be seen that this article seeks to make the principles of the Clayton and Bulwer treaty the law of nations in respect to American affairs. The general principle is established; the right of European powers to intervene in the affairs of American states is recognized; the propriety of the exercise of that right is acknowledged; and the extent to which the allied powers shall carry their protection, and the limits within which they shall confine their operations, are subject to treaty stipulations in the future.
When the American continent shall have passed under the protectorate of the allied powers, and her future made dependent upon treaty stipulations for carrying into effect the object of the alliance, Europe will no longer have cause for serious apprehensions at the rapid growth, expansion, and development of our federal Union. She will then console herself that limits have been set and barriers erected beyond which the territories of this republic can never extend, nor its principles prevail. In confirmation of this view, she will find additional cause for congratulation when she looks into the treaty of peace with Mexico, and there sees the sacred honor of this republic irrevocably pledged that we will never, in all coming time, annex any more Mexican territory in the mode in which Texas was acquired. The fifth article contains the following extraordinary provision :
“The boundary-line established by this article shall be religiously respected by each of the two republics, and no change shall ever be made therein except by the express and free consent of both nations, lawfully given by the general government of each, in conformity with its own Constitution.”
One would naturally suppose that, for all the ordinary purposes of a treaty of peace, the first clause of the paragraph would have been entirely sufficient. It declares that “the boundary-line established by this article shall be religiously respected by each of the two republics.” Why depart from the usual course of proceeding in such cases, and add, that "no change shall ever be
made therein, except by the express and free consent of both nations, LAWFULLY given by the GENERAL government of each, in conformity with its own CONSTITUTION.”
What is the meaning of this peculiar phraseology? The history of Texas furnishes the key by which the hidden meaning can be unlocked. The Sabine was once the boundary between the republics of the United States and Mexico. By the revolt of Texas and the establishment of her independence, and the acknowledgment thereof by the great powers of the world, and her annexation to the United States, the boundary between the two republics was changed” from the Sabine to the Rio Grande without “the express and free consent of both nations, lawfully given by the general government of each, in conformity with its own Constitution." Mexico regarded that change a just cause of war, and accordingly invaded Texas with a view to the recovery of the lost territory. A protracted war ensued, in which thousands of lives were lost, and millions of money expended, when peace is concluded upon the express condition that the treaty should contain an open and frank avowal that the United States has been wrong in the causes of the war, by the pledge of her honor never to repeat the act which led to hostilities.
Wherever you turn your eye, whether to your own record, to the statutebooks, to the history of this country or of Mexico, or to the diplomatic history of the world, this humiliating and degrading acknowledgment stares you in the face, as a monument of your own creation, to the dishonor of our common country. Well do I remember the determined and protracted efforts of the minority to expunge this odious clause from the treaty before its ratification, and how, on the 4th of March, 1848, we were voted down by forty-two to eleven. The stain which that clause fastened upon the history of our country was not the only objection I urged to its retention in the treaty. It violated a great principle of public policy in relation to this continent. It pledges the faith of this republic that our successors shall not do that which duty to the interests and honor of the country, in the progress of events, may compel them to do. I do not meditate or look with favor upon any aggression upon Mexico. I do not desire, at this time, to annex any portion of her territory to this Union; nor am I prepared to say that the time will ever come, in my day, when I would be willing to sanction such a proposition. But who can say that, amid the general wreck and demoralization in Mexico, a state of things may not arise in which a just regard for our own rights and safety, and for the sake of humanity and civilization, may render it imperative for us to do that which was done in the case of Texas, and thereby change the boundary between the two republics, without the free consent of the general government of Mexico, lawfully given in conformity with her Constitution? Recent events in Sonora, Chihuahua, and Tamaulipas do not establish the wisdom and propriety of that line of policy which ties our hands in advance, and deprives the government of the right, in the future, of doing whatever duty and honor may require, when the necessity for action may arrive.
Mr. President, one of the resolutions under consideration makes a declaration in relation to the island of Cuba, which requires a passing notice. It is in the following words:
“That, while the United States disclaim any designs upon the island of Cuba, inconsistent with the laws of nations and with their duties to Spain, they consider it due to the vast importance of the subject to make known, in this solemn manner, that they should view all efforts on the part of any other power to procure possession, whether peaceably or forcibly, of that island, which, as a naval or military position, must, under circumstances easy to be foreseen, become dangerous to their southern coast, to the Gulf of Mexico, and to the mouth of the Mississippi, as unfriendly acts, directed against them, to be resisted by all the means in their power."
That we would resist any attempt to transfer the island of Cuba to any European power, either with or without the consent of Spain, there is, I trust, no question in the mind of any American, and the fact is as well known to Europe as it is to our own country. That the United States do not meditate any designs upon the island inconsistent with the laws of nations, and with their duties to Spain, has been demonstrated to the world in a manner that forbids the necessity for a disclaimer of unworthy and perfidious purposes on our part. The resolutions convey, beneath this disclaimer, the implication that our character is subject to suspicion upon that point. Shall we let the presumption go abroad that a disclaimer of an act of dishonesty, and perfidy, and infamy has become necessary upon our part ? Sir, is there any thing in the history of our relations with foreign nations, or in respect to Cuba, that should subject our country to such injurious imputations ? When has our government failed to perform its whole duty as a neutral power in respect to Cuba ? The only complaint has been, that in its great anxiety to preserve in good faith its neutral relations, it has permitted treaty stipulations with Spain, providing for the protection of our citizens, to be wantonly and flagrantly violated. No suspicion that this government has been wanting in energy and fidelity in the enforcement of our laws has been entertained in any quarter. It was the excessive energy and severity with which the duty was performed that has provoked the disapprobation of some portion of the American people.
Sir, what right has Great Britain to call upon the United States, as she did in a late application, to enter into a negotiation to guarantee Cuba to Spain? Such a step might have been necessary on the part of England in order to satisfy Spain that she has abandoned the policy which for centuries has marked her colonial history with plunder and rapine. Why does not England first restore to Spain the island of Jamaica, by the seizure and posssesion of which she is enabled to overlook Cuba, while it gives her the command of the entrance of the proposed Nicaragua canal ? Why does she not restore to old Spain Gibraltar, which, from proximity and geographical position, naturally belongs to her, and is essential to her safety? Why does she not restore the colonial possessions which she has stretched all over the world, commanding every important military and naval station, both upon land and water? Why does she not restore them to their original owners, from whom she obtained them by fraud and violence? Why does she not do these things before she calls upon us to enter into stipulations that we will not rob Spain of the island of Cuba ?
The whole system of European colonization rests upon seizure, violence, and fraud. European powers hold nearly all their colonies by the one or the other of these tenures. They can show no other evidence, no other muniment of title. What is there in the history of the United States that requires us to make any such disclaimer? We have never acquired one inch of territory, except by honest purchase and full payment of the consideration. We have never seized any Spanish or other European colony. We have never invaded the rights of other nations. We do not hold in our hand the results of rapine, violence, war, and fraud for centuries, and then prate about honesty, and propose to honest people to enter into guarantees that they will not rob their neighbors. *
I confess I have not formed a very high appreciation of the value of these disclaimers of all intention of committing crimes against our neighbors. I do not think I should deem my house any more secure in the night in consequence of the thief having pledged his honor not to steal my property. If I am surrounded by honest men, there is no necessity for the "friendly assurance;" and if by rogues, it would not relieve my apprehensions or afford much security to my rights. I am unwilling, therefore, to make any disclaimer as to our purposes upon Cuba, or to give any pledge in respect to