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Mr. Marcy, Sec. of State, to Mr. Ingersoll, June 9, 1853, MS. Inst. Gr.
Brit. XVI. 210.
2, 1853, H. Ex. Doc. 1, 34 Cong. 1 sess. 42; same to same, Sept. 12, 1853,
id. 49; Dec. 1, 1853, id. 50. * The political condition of what is called the Mosquito Kingdom has for
several years past been a matter of discussion between the United States and Great Britain. This Government has uniformly held that the Mosquito Indians are a savage tribe, and that though they have rights as the occupants of the country where they are, they have no sovereign or political authority there, and no capacity to transfer to individuals an absolute and permanent title to the lands in their possession, and that the right of eminent domain-which only can be the source of such
title--is in certain of the Central American States. “If the emigrants (persons purposing to settle in the Mosquito territory]
should be formed into companies, commanded by officers, and furnished with arms, such organization would assume the character of a military expedition, and being hardly consistent with professions of peaceful objects, would devolve upon this Government the duty of inquiring whether it be not a violation of our neutrality act." (Mr. Marcy, Sec.
of State, to Mr. Kinney, Feb. 4, 1855, 43 MS. Dom. Let. 362.) Mr. Cushing, as Attorney General, in 1853, advised that, although the pre
tension of a protectorate over the Mosquito Indians was inadmissible, yet neither party to the Clayton-Bulwer treaty had by that instrument renounced the right to afford protection in Central America in proper
(8 Op. 436.) See Dallas' Letters from London, I. 11; T. J. Lawrence's Essays on Int.
Law, 89 et seq.; Lawrence's Wheaton (1863), 71.
“ The British Government deny that it has yielded anything by that (1850) treaty in regard to its protectorate of the Mosquito Indians. It, however, professes a willingness, as I understand, to withdraw that protectorate if the Government of Nicaragua can be induced to treat the Mosquitos fairly and allow them some compensation for the territory now claimed by them, for the relinquishment of their occupancy, and for the peaceable surrender of it to Nicaragua. Admitting these Indians to be what the United States and Nicaragua regard them, a savage tribe, having only possessory rights to the country they occupy, and not the sovereignty of it, they cannot fairly be required to yield up their actual possessions without some compensation. Might not this most troublesome element in this Central American question be removed by Nicaragua in a way just in itself, and entirely compatible with her national honor ? Let her arrange this matter as we arrange those of the same character with the Indian tribes inhabiting portions of our own territory.”
Mr. Marcy, Sec. of State, to Mr. Borland, min. to Cent. Am., June 17, 1853,
MS. Inst. Am. St. XV. 177.
“The United States Government, in its correspondence with the British Government, has denied the pretensions set up for the people at San Juan de Nicaragua (or Greytown) to any political organization or power derived in any way or form from the Mosquitos."
Ibid. “The protectorate which Great Britain has assumed over the Mosquito Indians is a most palpable infringement of her treaties with Spain, to which reference has just been made; and the authority she is there exercising, under pretense of this protectorate, is in derogation of the sovereign rights of several of the Central American States, and contrary to the manifest spirit and intention of the treaty of April 19, 1850, with the United States.
“Though, ostensibly, the direct object of the Clayton and Bulwer treaty was to guarantee the free and common use of the contemplated ship-canal across the Isthmus of Darien, and to secure such use to all nations by mutual treaty stipulations to that effect, there were other and highly important objects sought to be accomplished by that convention. The stipulation regarded most of all, by the United States, is that for discontinuing the use of her assumed protectorate of the Mosquito Indians, and with it the removal of all pretext whatever for interfering with the territorial arrangements which the Central American States may wish to make among themselves. It was the intention, as it is obviously the import, of the treaty of April 19, 1850, to place Great Britain under an obligation to cease her interpositions in the affairs of Central America, and to confine herself to the enjoyment of her limited rights in the Belize. She has, by this treaty of 1850, obligated herself not to occupy or colonize any part of Central America, or to exercise any dominion therein. Notwithstanding these stipulations, she still asserts the right to hold possession of, and to exercise control over large districts of that country and important islands in the Bay of Honduras, the unquestionable appendages of the Central American States. This jurisdiction is not less mischievous in its effects, nor less objectionable to us, because it is covertly exercised (partly, at least) in the name of a miserable tribe of Indians, who have, in reality, no political organization, no actual government, not even the semblance of one, except that which is created by British authority and upheld by British power.”
Mr. Marcy, Sec. of State, to Mr. Buchanan, min. to England, July 2, 1853,
H. Ex. Doc. 1, 34 Cong. 1 sess. 42.
“So far as I am aware, this Government has never had occasion to take the question of the proprietorship of those [the Mosquito) islands into consideration. I cannot say, beforehand, what would be the opinion of the Department on the subject, as we make it a rule to express no opinion upon a hypothetical case.
“It is obvious, however, from the names of the islands, that they were discovered by the Spaniards. Though this, unaccompanied by actual occupancy, may not have imparted to Spain any right of ownership to the exclusion of the citizens or subjects of other countries, yet, as the islands lie within a short distance of the Mosquito coast, it is quite probable that, if they had, for any purpose, been visited by persons not owing allegiance to Spain, she might have endeavored to prevent this. It is more certain that she would have endeavored to prevent any other nation from occupying them for military or naval purposes. The rights of sovereignty possessed by Spain in Central America extended, as we claim, over the territory actually conquered or obtained by contract from the aborigines, as well as over that the Indian title to which had not been extinguished. The British Government contends that the Indian title to the Mosquito coast has never been extinguished; and partly on that ground asserts the right to protect the inhabitants of that coast. It is not unlikely that that Government might also contend that the islands to which you refer belong by right of proximity to the Mosquito shore and, therefore, that its right of protection extends to them also.”
Mr. Marcy, Sec. of State, to Messrs. Thompson and Oudeshuys, Dec, 27,
1853, 42 MS. Dom. Let. 124.
“In relation to the Clayton and Bulwer treaty, about which so much is said in your dispatches, I have only to remark that this Government considers it a subsisting contract, and feels bound to observe its stipulations so far as by fair construction they impose obligations
“If Great Britain has failed, or shall fail, on her part to fulfill the obligations she has therein assumed, or if she attempts to evade them by a misconstruction of that instrument, the discussions that may arise on these subjects must necessarily take place between the parties to it. The views taken of that treaty by the United States, and your course in relation to it, pointed out in your first instructions, will be observed until you receive notice of their modification. In these instructions you were furnished with the views of one of the contracting parties (Great Britain), but at the same time you were informed that the United States did not concur in them. In the negotiations at London, in regard to the affairs of Central America, the meaning of that instrument will come directly under discussion. So far as respects your mission, you will regard it as meaning what the American negotiator intended when he entered into it, and what the Senate must have understood it to mean when it was ratified, viz, that by it Great Britain came under engagements to the United States to recede from her asserted protectorate of the Mosquito Indians, and to cease to exercise dominion or control in any part of Central America. If she had any colonial possessions therein at the date of the treaty, she was bound to abandon them, and equally bound to abstain from colonial acquisitions in that region. In your official intercourse with the States of Central America, you will present this construction of the treaty as the one given to it by your Government.
“It is believed that Great Britain has a qualified right over a tract of country called the Belize, from which she is not ousted by this treaty, because no part of that tract, when restricted to its proper limits, is within the boundaries of Central America.”
Mr. Marcy, Sec. of State, to Mr. Borland, Dec. 30, 1853, Correspondence in
relation to the Proposed Interoceanic Canal (Washington, 1885), 247.
“It would be a vain labor to trace the history of the connection of
Great Britain with the Mosquito shore and other porBuchanan - Claren- tions of Central America, previous to her treaties with don negotiations;
Spain of 1783 and 1786. This connection doubtless Buchanan's state
originated from her desire to break down the monopoly ment of Jan. 6, 1854.
of trade which Spain so jealously enforced with her
American colonies, and to introduce into them British manufactures. The attempts of Great Britain to accomplish this object were pertinaciously resisted by Spain, and became the source of continual difficulties between the two nations. After a long period of strife these were happily terminated by the treaties of 1783 and 1786, in as clear and explicit language as ever was employed on any similar occasion; and the history of the time rendered the meaning of this language, if possible, still more clear and explicit.
"Article VI. of the treaty of peace of 3d September, 1783, was very distasteful to the King and Cabinet of Great Britain. This abundantly appears from Lord John Russell's ‘Memorials and Correspondence of Charles James Fox.' The British Government, failing in their efforts to have this article deferred for six months, finally yielded a most reluctant consent to its insertion in the treaty.
“Why this reluctant consent? Because Article VI. stipulates that, with the exception of the territory between the river Wallis or Belize and the Rio Hondo, within which permission was granted to British subjects to cut log-wood, 'all the English who may be dispersed in any other parts, whether on the Spanish continent (“continente Espagnol”), or in any of the islands whatsoever dependent on the aforesaid Spanish continent, and for whatever reason it might be, without exception, shall retire within the district above described in the space of eighteen months, to be computed from the exchange of ratifications.'
“And the treaty further expressly provides, that the permission granted to cut logwood ‘shall not be considered as derogating, in any wise, from his [Catholic Majesty's] rights of sovereignty' over this logwood district; and it stipulates, moreover, that if any fortifications should have been actually heretofore erected within the limits marked out, His Britannic Majesty shall cause them all to be demolished, and he will order his subjects not to build any new ones.'
“But, notwithstanding these provisions, in the opinion of Mr. Fox, it was still in the power of the British Government 'to put our [their] own interpretation upon the words "continente Espagnol,” and to determine, upon prudential considerations, whether the Mosquito shore comes under that description or not.'
“Hence the necessity for new negotiations which should determine, precisely and expressly, the territory embraced by the treaty of 1783. These produced the convention of the 14th of July, 1786; and its very first article removed every doubt on the subject. This declared that His Britannic Majesty's subjects, and the other colonists who have hitherto enjoyed the protection of England, shall evacuate the country of the Mosquitos, as well as the continent in general, and the islands adjacent, without exception,' situated beyond the new limits prescribed by the convention within which British subjects were to be permitted to cut, not only logwood but mahogany and all other wood; and even this district is 'indisputably acknowledged to belong of right to the Crown of Spain.'
“Thus, what was meant by the 'continente Espagnol' in the treaty of 1783, is defined, beyond all doubt, by the convention of 1786; and the sovereignty of the Spanish King over the Mosquito shore, as well as over every other portion of the Spanish continent and the islands adjacent, is expressly recognized.
“It was just that Great Britain should interfere to protect the Mosquito Indians against the punishment to which they had exposed themselves as her allies from their legitimate and acknowledged sovereign. Article XIV. of the convention, therefore, provides that ‘His Catholic Majesty, prompted solely by motives of humanity, promises to the King of England that he will not exercise any act of severity against the Mosquitos inhabiting in part the countries which are to be evacuated by virtue of the present convention, on account of the connections which may have subsisted between the said Indians and the English: and His Britannic Majesty, on his part, will strictly prohibit all his subjects from furnishing arms or warlike stores to the Indians in general situated upon the frontiers of the Spanish possessions.'
“British honor required that these treaties with Spain should be faithfully observed; and from the contemporaneous history no doubt exists but that this was done; that the orders required by Article XV. of the convention were issued by the British Government, and that they were strictly carried into execution.
“In this connection a reference to the significant proceedings in the House of Lords on the 26th of March, 1787, ought not to be omitted. On that day a motion was made by Lord Rawdon ‘that the terms of the convention of July 14, 1786, do not meet the favorable opinion of this House. The motion was discussed at considerable length, and with great ability. The task of defending the ministry upon this occasion was undertaken by Lord Chancellor Thurlow, and was most triumphantly performed. He abundantly justified the ministry for having surrendered the Mosquito shore to Spain; and proved that the Mosquitos were not our allies; they were not a people we were bound by