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November 25, 1868, Mr. Caleb Cushing was sent to Bogota to aid Mr. Sullivan in his negotiations. On January 14, 1869, however, Mr. Sullivan succeeded in concluding a convention with the plenipotentiaries of Colombia. The question of the neutralization of the canalin time of war had formed an obstacle to the progress of the negotiations. As signed, Article IX. of the convention provided: “The United States of America shall have the right to use the canal for the passage of troops, munitions and vessels of war, in time of peace. The entrance to the canal shall be rigorously closed to the troops of nations which are at war with another or others, including their vessels and munitions of war.”
In a note to the Colombian minister at Washington, January 18, 1869, written without knowledge that a convention had been signed, Mr. Seward expressed the “very deliberate conviction " (1) that “henceforth neither any foreign government nor the capitalists of any foreign nation, except the Government and capitalists of the United States, will ever undertake in good faith to build a canal across the Isthmus of Darien;” (2) that “the neutrality most desirable for Colombia is to be found in a combination of the power, authority and influence of the United States of America and the power, authority and influence of the United States of Colombia to protect the canal and make it productive of the largest commercial benefit to all nations;" and (3) that“ not only would the United States be unwilling to enter into an entangling alliance with other foreign nations for the construction and maintenance of a passage through the Isthmus, but also that the idea that other commercial powers could and would consent to enter into a combination with the United States of America for that purpose is impracticable and visionary." Under the convention, the United States was to construct the canal. Mr. Seward, Sec. of State, to Mr. Sullivan, min. to Colombia, March 2, 1868,
MS. Inst. Colombia, XVI. 263; Mr. Seward, Sec. of State, to Peter
1869, MS. Notes to Colombia, VI. 240.
Senate the convention signed Jan. 14, 1869, see Correspondence in rela
tion to the Proposed Interoceanic Canal (Washington, 1885), 36. With reference to various canal routes, see the “Problem of Interoceanic
Communication by Way of the American Isthmus," by Lieut. John T.
Sullivan, U. S. N.: Washington, 1883. January 26, 1870, another convention between the United States
and Colombia was signed at Bogotá, looking to the Convention of 1870.
construction of the canal by the former Government. By Art. XI. of this treaty the United States was to guarantee that "the canal, its dependencies and appurtenances, shall be free and
exempt from all hostile acts on the part of any other nation or foreign power.” The article further provided: “Both of the parties contracting in this treaty reserve to themselves the right of passing their ships of war, troops, and munitions of war through the canal at all times, free of all charge, impost, or duty; but the said canal shall be closed against the flag of all nations which may be at war with either of the contracting parties. No troops shall be allowed to pass through the canal with arms in their hands, except those of the United States of Colombia moving under constitutional authority, and those vessels of war of nations at peace with both contracting parties. With the exceptions herein named, the canal shall be open for the use of all nations and every kind of lawful business without distinction."
By Article XXV., however, the contracting parties mutually agreed “to use all possible efforts to obtain from other nations a guarantee in favor of the stipulations of iminunity and neutrality mentioned in Article XI., and also in favor of the sovereignty of the United States of Colombia over the territory of the Isthmus of Panama and that of Darien.” The United States also recognized and renewed the stipulations of Art. XXXV. of the treaty of 1846; and the article (XXV.) concludes: “Those nations which, by treaties entered into with the present contracting parties, shall unite in the guarantee of the neutrality of the canal and of sovereignty over the territory, as hereinbefore expressed and given by the United States of America, shall be relieved from tonnage and other imposts upon their ships of war either in full or to such extent as may be stipulated in such treaties.”
The Colombian government opposed Art. XI. on the ground that it would practically make Colombia a party to any war in which the United States should become involved. The Colombian Senate modified the treaty so that the canal should remain free during the continuance of hostilities to the vessels of war, troops, and munitions of war of the belligerents; but no act of hostility was to be committed within the canal or its dependencies or within a certain distance of it, though it was to remain closed to the vessels of war which should not have joined in the guarantee. For the full text of the convention, see the message of President Grant,
transmitting it to the Senate, March 31, 1870, Conf. Exec. Q, 41 Cong. 2 sess.; reprinted in Correspondence in relation to the Proposed Inter
oceanic Canal (Washington, 1885), 40. Certain correspondence, preceding and following the signature of the con
vention, was communicated by President Grant to the Senate, December 6, 1870, and was printed in Conf. Doc., Exec. E, 41 Cong. 3 sess.; reprinted in Correspondence in relation to the Proposed Interoceanic
Canal (Washington, 1885), 48–86. The Department of State, replying to a request of the Colombian minister
for a statement of the objections entertained by the Senate of the United States to the convention, expressed its regret that it was not in its power to comply with the request. (Mr. J. C. B. Davis, Act. Sec. of State, to Mr. Perez, June 9, 1871, MS. Notes to Colombia, VI. 277.)
A new treaty was proposed by the Colombian legation at Washington, but
the negotiations did not result in an agreement. (Mr. Fish, Sec. of
Aug. 8, 1873, MS. Notes to Colombia, VI. 303, 311, 314.)
tion to construct the canal, Mr. Fish replied that it was not likely that
to Colombia, VI. 314.) The Government of the United States subsequently reserved its decision as
to whether it would send an engineer or any other person to join in a
Notes to Colombia, VI. 327.)
taking part in a conference of maritime powers at Constantinople for
(5) NEGOTIATIONS OF 1881.
Feb. 17, 1881, Mr. W. H. Trescot, representing the United States, and Gen. Santo Domingo Vila, representing Colombia, signed at New York a protocol which purported to set forth the views of the two Governments with reference to the execution of Art. XXXV. of the treaty of 1846. It declared that any interoceanic communication through the Isthmus of Panama, by canal or otherwise, should be as free and open to the Government and citizens of the United States as to the Government and citizens of Colombia, “except in case, which God forbid, of war between the two nations." The two Governments were by common accord to select such points on the isthmus as they might deem proper for military and naval purposes and to provide by convention for the occupation and establishment of such places; and the United States, if occasion should arise for the performance of the guarantee of 1846, was authorized to occupy and hold the threatened territory during the exigency, in cooperation with the Colombian forces. But, in time of peace, and when no exigency existed, only Colombian military forces were to be stationed in the Colombian territory. It was further agreed that, while the use of the canal in time of peace by the war vessels of other powers was not to be considered as a right, the two Governments would declare it open to the innocent use of such vessels, subject to such regulations and restrictions as they might jointly adopt.
Mr. Evarts declared, as Secretary of State, that the agreement on the points embraced in the protocoi met his views and had received the approval of the President.
The Colombian Government, however, declined to approve the protocol, on the ground that it was at variance with the instructions of the Colombian negotiator, and with the means which Colombia deemed “best adapted to prevent any extension of the obligations contracted by both nations by the treaty of 1846" and to avoid the dangers which might arise from the construction of the canal.
For. Rel. 1881, 361-388, where correspondence and documents are given.
guarantor of the neutrality of transit and sovereignty of Colombia over
MS. Inst. Colombia, XVII. 229.)
2. GUARANTEE OF NEUTRALITY AND SOVEREIGNTY.
“The obligations we have assumed [by the guarantee of the neutrality of the Isthmus) give us a right to offer, unasked, such advice to the New Granadian Government, in regard to its relations with other powers, as might tend to avert from that Republic a rupture with any nation which might covet the Isthmus of Panama.”
Mr. Clayton, Sec. of State, to Mr. Foote, min. to New Granada, July 19,
1849, MS. Inst. Colombia, XV. 124.
“Your letter of the 8th instant has been duly received and submitted
to the President, in which you inquire what interpretaAnswer to Peru
tion is placed by the Government of the United States vian inquiry.
upon the thirty-fifth article of the treaty of the 12th of December, 1846, by which they guarantee positively and efficaciously to New Granada the perfect neutrality of the Isthmus of Panama.
“ The general scope and design of this stipulation are of course entirely apparent, and are set forth very distinctly in the article referred to; and your enquiry must therefore be understood to apply to the particular measures proposed to be adopted, on the occurrence of events menacing the neutrality of the Isthmus.
“The treaty being a compact between the United States and New Granada, to which no other government is a party, it might not be strictly proper nor in all respects convenient to enter into explanations with a third power, as to any measures which the United States might think it proper to adopt, if the neutrality of the Isthmus should be menaced. It may, however, be safely presumed that the magnitude of our interests in that quarter would dictate the pursuit of the policy best calculated to promote the desired end.
"But the latter portion of your note appears to contemplate the possibility that New Granada might avail herself of this guaranty of the neutrality of the Isthmus, to make it the seat of hostile preparations against Peru, and in that case the guaranty of neutrality would in effect become a defensive alliance between New Granada and the United States, by which Peru would suffer.
"Sincerely interested in the welfare of each of these powers, and sensible of the evils which would result to them and the inconvenience which would be occasioned to the commerce of the United States by a rupture between them, this government would view such an event with extreme regret, and would be prepared at any moment, and at the request of either party, to interpose their good offices to prevent it.
“I gather from your note of the 8th that the Peruvian government would deem it for their interest that the neutrality of the Isthmus should be respected by all other powers, as well as the United States. If the Peruvian Government thought proper to make a formal suggestion of this kind and a wish to become a party to the agreement, the government of the l'nited States would receive such a suggestion with pleasure, and would communicate it to that of New Granada, with an intimation on our part that it would be agreeable to the United States that Peru should be associated by a proper public art. in the guaranty of the neutrality of the Isthmus.” Mr. Everett, Sec. of State, to Mr. Osma, Peruvian min., Feb. 2, 1853, MS.
Notes to Peruvian Leg. I. 79.