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United States. But, like the principle from wbich it is deduced, the rule is subject to exceptions; and there are in my opinion clear and imperative reasons why a departure from it was justified and even required in the present instance. These reasons embrace, first, our treaty rights; second, our national interests and safety; and, third, the interests of collective civilization.
I have already adverted to the treaty of 1846, by the thirty-fifth article of which the United States secured the right to a free and open transit across the Isthmus of Panama, and to that end agreed to guarantee to New Granada her rights of sovereignty and property over that territory. This article is sometimes discussed as if the latter guarantee constituted its sole object and bound the United States to protect the sovereignty of New Granada against domestic revolution. Nothing, however, could be more erroneous than this supposition. That our wise and patriotic ancestors, with all their dread of entangling alliances, would have entered into a treaty with New Granada solely or even primarily for the purpose of enabling that remnant of the original Republic of Colombia, then resolved into the States of New Granada, Venezuela, and Ecuador, to continue from Bogotá to rule over the Isthmus of Panama, is a conception that would in itself be incredible, even if the contrary did not clearly appear. It is true that since the treaty was made the United States has again and again been obliged forcibly to intervene for the preservation of order and the maintenance of an open transit, and that this intervention has usually operated to the advantage of the titular Government of Colombia, but it is equally true that the United States in intervening, with or without Colombia's consent, for the protection of the transit, has disclaimed any duty to defend the Colombian Goyernment against domestic insurrection or against the erection of an independent government on the Isthmus of Panama. The attacks against which the United States engaged to protect New Granadian sovereignty were those of foreign powers; but this engagement was only a means to the accomplishment of a yet more important end. The great design of the article was to assure the dedication of the Isthmus to the purposes of free and unobstructed interoceanic transit, the consummation of which would be found in an interoceanic canal. To the accomplishment of this object the Government of the United States had for years directed its diplomacy. It occupied a place in the instructions to our delegates to the Panama Congress during the Administration of John Quincy Adams. It formed the subject of a resolution of the Senate in 1835, and of the House of Representatives in 1839. In 1846 its importance had become still more apparent by reason of the Mexican war. If the treaty of 1846 did not in terms bind New Granada to grant reasonable concessions for the construction of means of interoceanic communication, it was only because it was not imagined that such concessions would ever be withheld. As it was expressly agreed that the United States, in consideration of its onerous guarantee of new Granadian sovereignty, should possess the right of free and open transit on any modes of communication that might be constructed, the obvious intent of the treaty rendered it unnecessary, if not superfluous, in terms to stipulate that permission for the construction of such modes of communication should not be denied.
FR 1903— 18
Long before the conclusion of the Hay-Herran treaty the course of events had shown that a canal to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans must be built by the United States or not at all. Experience had demonstrated that private enterprise was utterly inadequate for the purpose; and a fixed policy, declared by the United States on many memorable occasions, and supported by the practically unanimous voice of American opinion, had rendered it morally impossible that the work should be undertaken by European powers, either singly or in combination. Such were the universally recognized conditions on which the legislation of the Congress was based, and on which the late negotiations with Colombia were begun and concluded. Nevertheless, when the well-considered agreement was rejected by Colombia and the revolution on the Isthmus ensued, one of Colombia's first acts was to invoke the intervention of the United States; nor does her invitation appear to have been confined to this Government alone. By a telegram from Mr. Beaupré, our minister at Bogotá, of the 7th of November last, we were informed that General Reyes would soon leave Panama invested with fuil powers; that he had telegraphed the President of Mexico to ask the Government of the United States and all countries represented at the Pan-American Conference "to aid Colombia to preserve her integrity," and that he had requested that the Government of the United States should meanwhile
preserve the neutrality and transit of the Isthmus" and should not recognize the new govern
In another telegram from Mr. Beaupré, which was sent later in the day, this Government was asked whether it would take action “to maintain Colombian right and sovereignty on the Isthmus in accordance with article 35 [of] the treaty of 1846" in case the Colombian Government should be "entirely unable to suppress the secession movement there.” Here was a direct solicitation to the United States to intervene for the purpose of suppressing, contrary to the treaty of 1846 as this Government has uniformly construed it, a new revolt against Colombia's authority brought about by her own refusal to permit the fulfillment of the great design for which that treaty was made. It was under these circumstances that the United States, instead of using its forces to destroy those who sought to make the engagements of the treaty a reality, recognized them as the proper custodians of the sovereignty of the Isthmus.
This recognition was, in the second place, further justified by the highest considerations of our national interests and safety. In all the range of our international relations, I do not hesitate to affirm that there is nothing of greater or more pressing importance than the construction of an interoceanic canal. Long acknowledged to be essential to our commercial development, it has become, as the result of the recent extension of our territorial dominion, more than ever essential to our national self-defense. In transmitting to the Senate the treaty of 1846, President Polk pointed out as the principal reason for its ratification that the passage of the Isthmus, which it was designed to secure, “would relieve us from a long and dangerous navigation of more than 9,000 miles around Cape Horn, and render our communication with our own possessions on the northwest coast of America comparatively easy and speedy.” The events of the past five years have given to this consideration an importance immeasurably greater than it possessed in 1846. In the light of our present situation, the establishment of easy and speedy communication by
sea between the Atlantic and the Pacific presents itself not simply as something to be desired, but as an object to be positively and promptly attained. Reasons of convenience have been superseded by reasons of vital necessity, which do not admit of indefinite delays.
To such delays the rejection by Colombia of the Hay-Ilerran treaty directly exposed us. As proof of this fact I need only refer to the programme outlined in the report of the majority of the Panama (anal committee, read in the Colombian Senate on the 14th of October last. In this report, which recommended that the discussion of a law to authorize the Government to enter upon new negotiations should be indefinitely postponed, it is proposed that the consideration of the subject should be deferred till October 31, 1904, when the next Colombian Congress should have met in ordinary session. By that time, as the report goes on to say, the extension of time granted to the New Panama Canal Company by treaty in 1893 would have expired, and the new Congress would be in a position to take up the question whether the company had not, in spite of further extensions that had been granted by legislative acts, forfeited all its property and rights. "When that time arrives," the report significantly declares, “the Republic, without any impediment, will be able to contract, and will be in more clear, more definite, and more advantageous possession, both legally and materially." The naked meaning of this report is that Colombia proposed to wait until, by the enforcement of a forfeiture repugnant to the ideas of justice which obtain in every civilized nation, the property and rights of the New Panama Canal Company could be confiscated.
Such is the scheme to which it was proposed that the United States should be invited to become a party. The construction of the canal was to be relegated to the indefinite future, while Colombia was, by reason of her own delay, to be placed in the “more advantageous" position of claiming not merely the compensation to be paid by the United States for the privilege of completing the canal, but also the forty millions authorized by the act of 1902 to be paid for the property of the New Panama Canal Company. That the attempt to carry out this scheme would have brought Colombia into conflict with the Government of France can not be doubted; nor could the United States have counted upon immunity from the consequences of the attempt, even apart from the indefinite delays to which the construction of the canal was to be subjected. On the first appearance of danger to Colombia, this Government would have been summoned to interpose, in order to give effect to the guarantees of the treaty of 1816; and all this in support of a plan which, while characterized in its first stage by the wanton disregard of our own highest interests, was fitly to end in further injury to the citizens of a friendly nation, whose enormous losses in their generous efforts to pierce the Isthmus have become a matter of history.
In the third place, I confidently maintain that the recognition of the Republic of Panama was an act justitied by the interests of collective civilization. If ever a Government could be said to have received a mandate from civilization to effect an object the accomplishment of which was demanded in the interest of mankind, the United States holds that position with regard to the interoceanic canal. Since our purpose to build the canal was definitely announced, there have come from all quarters assurances of approval and encouragement, in which even Colombia herself at one time participated; and to general assurances were added specific acts and declarations. In order that no obstacle might stand in our way, Great Britain renounced important rights under the Clayton-Bulwer treaty and agreed to its abrogation, receiving in return nothing but our honorable pledge to build the canal and protect it as an open highway. It was in view of this pledge, and of the proposed enactment by the Congress of the United States of legislation to give it immediate effect, that the second PanAmerican Conference, at the City of Mexico, on January 22, 1902, adopted the following resolution:
The Republica assembled at the International Conference of Mexico applaud the purpose of the United States Government to construct an interoceanic canal, and acknowledge that tbis work will not only be worthy of the greatness of the American people, but also in the highest sense a work of civilization, and to the greatest degree beneficial to the development of commerce between the American States and the other countries of the world.
Among those who signed this resolution on behalf of their respective governments was General Reyes, the delegate of Colombia. Little could it have been foreseen that two years later the Colombian Government, led astray by false allurements of selfish advantage, and forgetful alike of its international obligations and of the duties and responsibilities of sovereignty, would thwart the efforts of the United States to enter upon and complete a work which the nations of America, reechoing the sentiment of the nations of Europe, had pronounced to be not only worthy of the greatness of the American people," but also “in the highest sense a work of civilization.”
That our position as the mandatary of civilization has been hy no means misconceived is shown by the promptitude with which the powers have, one after another, followed our lead in recognizing Panama as an independent State. Our action in recognizing the new Republic has been followed by like recognition on the part of France, Germany, Denmark, Russia, Sweden and Norway, Nicaragua, Peru, China, Cuba, Great Britain, Italy, Costa Rica, Japan, and Austria-Hungary
In view of the manifold considerations of treaty right and obligation, of national interest and safety, and of collective civilization, by which our Government was constrained to act, I am at a loss to comprehend the attitude of those who can discern in the recognition of the Republic of Panama only a general approval of the principle of “revolution” by which a given government is overturned or one portion of a country separated from another. Only the amplest justification can warrant a revolutionary movement of either kind. But there is no fixed rule which can be applied to all such movements. Each case must be judged on its own merits. There have been many revolutionary movements, many movements for the dismemberment of countries, which were evil, tried by any standard. But in my opinion no disinterested and fair-minded observer acquainted with the circumstances can fail to feel that Panama had the amplest justification for separation from Colombia under the conditions existing, and, moreover, that its action was in the highest degree beneficial to the interests of the entire civilized world by securing the immediate opportunity for the building of the interoceanic canal. It would be well for those who are pessimistic as to our action in peacefully recognizing the Republic of Panama, while we lawfully protected the transit from invasion and disturbance, to recall what has been done in Cuba, where we intervened even by force on general grounds of national interest and duty. When we interfered it was freely prophesied that we intended to keep Cuba and administer it for our own interests. The result has demonstrated in singularly conclusive fashion the falsity of these prophesies. Cuba is now an independent Republic. We governed it in its own interests for a few years, till it was able to stand alone, and then started it upon its career of self-government and independence, granting it all necessary aid. We have received from Cuba a grant of two naval stations, so situated that they in no possible way menace the liberty of the island, and yet serve as important defenses for the Cuban people, as well as for our own people, against possible foreign attack. The people of Cuba have been immeasurably benefited by our interference in their behalf, and our own gain has been great. So will it be with Panama. The people of the Isthmus, and as I firmly believe of the adjacent parts of Central and South America, will be greatly benefited by the building of the canal and the guarantee of peace and order along its line; and hand in hand with the benefit to them will go the benefit to us and to mankind. By our prompt and decisive action, not only have our interests and those of the world at large been conserved, but we have forestalled complications which were likely to be fruitful in loss to ourselves, and in bloodshed and suffering to the people of the Isthmus.
Instead of using our forces, as we were invited by Colombia to do, for the twofold purpose of defeating our own rights and interests and the interests of the civilized world, and of compelling the submission of the people of the Isthmus to those whom they regarded as oppressors, we shall, as in duty bound, keep the transit open and prevent its invasion. Meanwhile, the only question now before us is that of the ratification of the treaty. For it is to be remembered that a failure to ratify the treaty will not undo what has been done, will not restore Panama to Colombia, and will not alter our obligation to keep the transit open across the Isthmus and to prevent any outside power from menacing this transit.
It seems to have been assumed in certain quarters that the proposition that the obligations of article 35 of the treaty of 1846 are to be considered as adhering to and following the sovereignty of the Isthmus, so long as that sovereignty is not absorbed by the United States, rests upon some novel theory. No assumption could be further from the fact. It is by no means true that a State in declaring its independence rids itself of all the treaty obligations entered into by the parent government. It is a mere coincidence that this question was once raised in a case involving the obligations of Colombia as an independent State under a treaty which Spain had made with the United States many years before Spanish-American independence. In that case Mr. John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State, in an instruction to Mr. Anderson, our minister to Colombia, of May 27, 1823, said:
By a treaty between the United States and Spain concluded at a time when Colombia was a part of the Spanish dominions * * * the principle that free ships make free goods was expressly recognized and established. It is asserted that by her declaration of independence Colombia has been entirely released from all the obligations by which, as a part of the Spanish nation, she was bound to other nations. This principle is not tenable. To all the engagements of Spain with other nations, affecting their rights and interests, Colombia, so far as she was affected by them, remains bound in honor and in justice. The stipulation now referred to is of that character.