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canal was to pass, who were most concerned as to the new order of things, and which the Colombian authorities now recognize as being so good that they are willing to promise its unconditional ratification if only we will desert those who have shown themselves our friends and restore to those who have shown themselves unfriendly the power to undo what they did. I pass by the question as to what assurance we have that they would now keep their pledge and not again refuse to ratify the treaty if they had the power; for, of course, I will not for one moment discuss the possibility of the United States committing an act of such baseness as to abandon the new Republic of Panama.
Third. Finally, the Congress definitely settled where the canal was to be built. It was provided that a treaty should be made for building the canal across the Isthmus of Panama; and if, after reasonable time, it proved impossible to secure such treaty, that then we should go to Nicaragua. The treaty has been made; for it needs no argument to show that the intent of the Congress was to insure a canal across Panama, and that whether the republic granting the title was called New Granada, Colombia, or Panama mattered not one whit. As events turned out, the question of “reasonable time” did not enter into the matter at all. Although, as the months went by, it became increasingly improbable that the Colombian Congress would ratify the treaty or take steps which would be equivalent thereto, yet all chance for such action on their part did not vanish until the Congress closed at the end of October; and within three days thereafter the revolution in Panama had broken out. Panama became an independent State, and the control of the territory necessary for building the canal then became obtainable. The condition under which alone we could have gone to Nicaragua thereby became impossible of fulfillment. If the pending treaty with Panama should not be ratified by the Senate, this would not alter the fact that we could not go to Nicaragua. The Congress has decided the route, and there is no alternative under existing legislation.
When in August it began to appear probable that the Colombian Legislature would not ratify the treaty it became incumbent upon me to consider well what the situation was and to be ready to advise the Congress as to what were the various alternatives of action open to us. There were several possibilities. One was that Colombia would at the last moment see the unwisdom of her position. That there might be nothing omitted, Secretary Hay, through the minister at Bogotá, repeatedly warned Colombia that grave consequences might follow from her rejection of the treaty. Although it was a constantly diminishing chance, yet the possibility of ratification did not wholly pass away until the close of the session of the Colombian Congress.
A second alternative was that by the close of the session on the last day of October, without the ratification of the treaty by Colombia and without any steps taken by Panama, the American Congress on assembling early in November would be confronted with a situation in which there had been a failure to come to terms as to building the canal along the Panama route, and yet there had not been a lapse of a reasonable time--using the word reasonable in any proper sense--such as would justify the Administration going to the Nicaragua route. This situation seemed on the whole the most likely, and as a matter of fact I had made the original draft of my message to the Congress with a view to its existence.
It was the opinion of eminent international jurists that in view of the fact that the great design of our guaranty under the treaty of 1816 was to dedicate the Isthmus to the purposes of interoceanic transit, and above all to secure the construction of an interoceanic canal, Colombia could not under existing conditions refuse to enter into a proper arrangement with the United States to that end without violating the spirit and substantially repudiating the obligations of a treaty the full benefits of which she had enjoyed for over fifty years. My intention was to consult the Congress as to whether under such circumstances it would not be proper to announce that the canal was to be dug forthwith; that we would give the terms that we had offered and no others; and that if such terms were not agreed to we would enter into an arrangement with Panama direct, or take what other steps were needful in order to begin the enterprise.
A third possibility was that the people of the Isthmus, who had formerly constituted an independent state, and who until recently were united to Colombia only by a loose tie of federal relationship, might take the protection of their own vital interests into their own hands, reassert their former rights, declare their independence upon just grounds, and establish a government competent and willing to do its share in this great work for civilization. This third possibility is what actually occurred. Everyone knew that it was a possibility, but it was not until toward the end of October that it appeared to be an imminent probability. Although the Administration, of course, had special means of knowledge, no such means were necessary in order to appreciate the possibility, and toward the end the likelihood, of such a revolutionary outbreak and of its success. It was a matter of common notoriety. Quotations from the daily papers could be indefinitely multiplied to show this state of affairs; a very few will suffice, From Costa Rica on August 31 a special was sent to the Washington Post, running as follows:
San José, Costa Rica, August 31. Travelers from Panama report the Isthmus alive with fires of a new revolution. It is inspired, it is believed, by men who, in Panama and Colon, have systematically engendered the pro-American feeling to secure the building of the Isthmian canal by the United States.
The Indians have risen, and the late followers of Gen. Benjamin Herrera are mustering in the mountain villages preparatory to joining in an organized revolt, caused by the rejection of the canal treaty.
Hundreds of stacks of arms, confiscated by the Colombian Government at the close of the late revolution, have reappeared from some mysterious source, and thousands of rifles that look suspiciously like the Mausers the United States captured in Cuba are issuing to the gathering forces from central points of distribution. With the arms goes ammunition, fresh from factories, showing the movement is not spasmodic, but is carefully planned.
The Government forces in Panama and Colon, numbering less than 1,500 men, are reported to be a little more than friendly to the revolutionary spirit. They have been ill paid since the revolution closed and their only hope of prompt payment is another war.
General Huertes, commander of the forces, who is ostensibly loyal to the Bogotá Government, is said to be secretly friendly to the proposed revolution. At least, all his personal friends are open in denunciation of the Bogotá Government and the failure of the Colombian Congress to ratify the canal treaty.
The consensus of opinion gathered from late arrivals from the Isthmus is that the revolution is coming, and that it will succeed.
A special dispatch to the Washington Post, under date of New York, September 1, runs as follows:
B. G. Duque, editor and proprietor of the Panama Star and Herald, a resident of the Isthmus during the past twenty-seven years, who arrived to-day in New York, declared that if the canal treaty fell through a revolution would be likely to follow.
“There is a very strong feeling in Panama," said Mr. Duque, “that Colombia, in negotiating the sale of a canal concession in Panama, is looking for profits that might just as well go to Panama herself.
"The Colombian Government only the other day suppressed a newspaper that dared to speak of independence for Panama. A while ago there was a secret plan afoot to cut loose from Colombia and seek the protection of the United States."
In the New York Herald of September 10 the following statement appeared:
Representatives of strong interests on the Isthmus of Panama who make their headquarters in this city are considering a plan of action to be undertaken in cooperation with men of similar views in Panama and Colon to bring about a revolution and form an independent government in Panama opposed to that in Bogotá.
There is much indignation on the Isthmus on account of the failure of the canal treaty, which is ascribed to the authorities at Bogotá. This opinion is believed to be shared by a majority of the isthmians of all shades of political belief, and they think it is to their best interest for a new republic to be formed on the Isthmus, which may negotiate directly with the United States a new treaty which will permit the digging of the Panama Canal under favorable conditions.
In the New York Times, under date of September 13, there appeared from Bogotá the following statement:
A proposal made by Señor Perez y Sotos to ask the Executive to appoint an antisecessionist governor in Panama has been approved by the Senate. Speakers in the Senate said that Señor Obaldía, who was recently appointed governor of Panama, and who is favorable to a canal treaty, was a menace to the national integrity. Senator Marroquín protested against the action of the Senate.
President Marroquín succeeded later in calming the Congressmen. It appears that he was able to give them satisfactory reasons for Governor Obaldía's appointment. He appears to realize the imminent peril of the Isthmus of Panama declaring its independence.
Señor Deroux, representative for a Panama constituency, recently delivered a sensational speech in the House. Among other things he said:
“In Panama the bishops, governors, magistrates, military chiefs, and their subordinates have been and are foreign to the department. It seems that the Government, with surprising tenacity, wishes to exclude the Isthmus from all participation in public affairs. As regards international dangers in the Isthmus, all I can say is that if these dangers exist they are due to the conduct of the National Government, which is in the direction of reaction.
"If the Colombian Government will not take action with a view to preventing disaster, the responsibility will rest with it alone.”
In the New York Herald of October 26 it was reported that a revolutionary expedition of about 70 men had actually landed on the Isthmus. In the Washington Post of October 29 it was reported from Panama that in view of the impending trouble on the Isthmus the Bogotá Government had gathered troops in sufficient numbers to at once put down an attempt at secession. In the New York Herald of October 30 it was announced from Panama that Bogotá was hurrying troops to the Isthmus to put down the projected revolt. In the New York Herald of November 2 it was announced that in Bogotá the Congress had endorsed the energetic measures taken to meet the situation on the Isthmus and that 6,000 men were about to be sent thither.
Quotations like the above could be multiplied indefinitely. Suffice it to say that it was notorious that revolutionary trouble of a serious nature was impending upon the Isthmus. But it was not necessary to rely exclusively upon such general means of information. On October
15 Commander Hubbard, of the Navy, notified the Navy Department that, though things were quiet on the Isthmus, a revolution had broken out in the State of Cauca. On October 16, at the request of Lieutenant-General Young, I saw Capt. C. B. Humphrey and Lieut. Gray. son Mallet-Prevost Murphy, who had just returned from a four months' tour through the northern portions of Venezuela and Colombia. They stopped in Panama on their return in the latter part of September. At the time they were sent down there had been no thought of their going to Panama, and their visit to the Isthmus was but an unpremeditated incident of their return journey; nor had they been spoken to by anyone at Washington regarding the possibility of a revolt. Until they landed at Colon they had no knowledge that a revolution was impending, save what they had gained from the newspapers. What they saw in Panama so impressed them that they reported thereon to Lieutenant-General Young, according to his memorandumthat while on the Isthmus they became satisfied beyond question that, owing largely to the dissatisfaction because of the failure of Colombia to ratify the Hay-Herran treaty, a revolutionary party was in course of organization, having for its object the separation of the State of Panama from Colombia, the leader being Dr. Richard Arango, a former governor of Panama; that when they were on the Isthmus, arms and ammunition were being smuggled into the city of Colon in piano boxes, mer.. chandise crates, etc., the small arms received being principally the Gras French rifle, the Remington, and the Mauser; that nearly every citizen in Panama had some sort of rifle or gun in his possession, with ammunition therefor; that in the city of Panama there had been organized a fire brigade which was really intended for a revolutionary military organization; that there were representatives of the revolutionary organization at all important points on the Isthmus; that in Panama, Colon, and the other principal places of the Isthmus police forces had been organized which were in reality revolutionary forces; that the people on the Isthmus seemed to be unanimous in their sentiment against the Bogotá Government, and their disgust over the failure of that Government to ratify the treaty providing for the construction of the canal, and that a revolution might be expected immediately upon the adjournment of the Colombian Congress without ratification of the treaty.
Lieutenant-General Young regarded their report as of such importance as to make it advisable that I should personally see these officers. They told me what they had already reported to the Lieutenant-General, adding that on the Isthmus the excitement was seething, and that the Colombian troops were reported to be disaffected. In response to a question of mine they informed me that it was the general belief that the revolution might break out at any moment, and if it did not happen before would doubtless take place immediately after the closing of the Colombian Congress (at the end of October) if the canal treaty were not ratified. They were certain that the revolution would occur, and before leaving the Isthmus had made their own reckoning as to the time, which they had set down as being probably from three to four weeks after their leaving. The reason they set this as the probable inside limit of time was that they reckoned that it would be at least three or four weekssay not until October 20—-before a sufficient quantity of arms and munitions would have been landed.
In view of all these facts I directed the Navy Department to issue instructions such as would insure our having ships within easy reach of the Isthmus in the event of need arising. Orders were given on October 19 to the Boston to proceed to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua; to the Dicie to prepare to sail from League Island, and to the Atlanta to proceed to Guantanamo. On October 30 the Nashville was ordered to proceed to Colon. On November 2, when, the Colombian
Congress having adjourned, it was evident that the outbreak was imminent, and when it was announced that both sides were making ready forces whose meeting would mean bloodshed and disorder, the Colombian troops having been embarked on vessels, the following instructions were sent to the commanders of the Boston, Nashville, and Dixie:
Maintain free and uninterrupted transit. If interruption is threatened by armed force, occupy the line of railroad. Prevent landing of any armed force with hostile intent, either government or insurgent, at any point within 50 miles of Panama. Government force reported approaching the Isthmus in vessels. Prevent their landing if, in your judgment, the landing would precipitate a conflict.
These orders were delivered in pursuance of the policy on which our Government had repeatedly acted. This policy was exhibited in the following orders, given under somewhat similar circumstances last year, and the year before, and the year before that. The first two telegrams are from the Department of State to the consul at Panama:
JULY 25, 1900. You are directed to protest against any act of hostility which may involve or imperil the safe and peaceful transit of persons or property across the Isthmus of Panama. The bombardment of Panama would have this effect, and the United States must insist upon the neutrality of the Isthmus as guaranteed by the treaty.
NOVEMBER 20, 1901. Notify all parties molesting or interfering with free transit across the Isthmus that such interference must cease and that the United States will prevent the interruption of traffic upon the railroad. Consult with captain of the Iowa, who will be instructed to land marines, if necessary, for the protection of the railroad, in accordance with the treaty rights and obligations of the United States. Desirable to avoid bloodshed, if possible. The next three telegrams are from and to the Secretary of the Navy:
SEPTEMBER 12, 1902. RANGER, Panama:
United States guarantees perfect neutrality of Isthmus and that a free transit from sea to sea be not interrupted or embarrassed. * Any transportation of troops which might contravene these provisions of treaty should not be sanctioned by you nor should use of road be permitted which might convert the line of transit into theater of hostility.
Colon, September 20, 1902. SECRETARY OF THE Navy, Washington:
Everything is conceded. The United States guards and guarantees traffic and the line of transit. To-day I permitted the exchange of Colombian troops from Panama to Colon, about 1,000 men each way, the troops without arms in train guarded by American naval force in the same manner as other passengers; arms and ammunition in separate train, guarded also by naval force in the same manner as other freight.
PANAMA, October 3, 1902. SECRETARY OF THE Navy, Washington, D. C.:
Have sent this communication to the American consul at Panama:
** Inform governor while trains running under United States protection I must decline transportation any combatants, ammunition, arms, which might cause interruption traffic or convert line of transit into theater hostilities."
CASEY. On November 3 Commander Hubbard responded to the above-quoted telegram of November 2, 1903, saying that before the telegram had been received 400 Colombian troops from Cartagena had landed at Colon; that there had been no revolution on the Isthmus, but that the