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Isthmus by the re-establishment of the constituted government there being thus accomplished, the forces of the United States were withdrawn.”
President Cleveland, annual message, Dec. 8, 1885. (For. Rel. 1885, p. IV.)
MS. Notes to Colombia, VII. 52.
manifest, the situation of American interests on the Isthmus of Panama has at times excited concern, and invited friendly action looking to the performance of the engagements of the two nations concerning the territory embraced in the interoceanic transit. With the subsidence of the Isthmian disturbances, and the erection of the State of Panama into a federal district under the direct government of the constitutional administration at Bogotá, a new order of things has been inaugurated which, although as yet somewhat experimental and affording scope for arbitrary exercise of power by the delegates of the national authority, promises much improvement." (President Cleveland, annual message, Dec. 6, 1886. (For. Rel. 1886, p. IV.)
“The Secretary of State, to whom has been referred the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 16th instant, requesting information as to what action has been taken by the Department of State to protect the interests of American citizens whose property was destroyed by fire caused by insurgents at Aspinwall, United States of Colombia, in 1885,' has the honor to say that negotiations were commenced in October last and are now pending between the United States and Colombia for the purpose of establishing an international cominission to whom may be referred for adjustment, according to the rules of international law and the treaties existing between the two countries, the claims of citizens of the United States against the Government of Colombia growing out of the incident referred to in the resolution of the House of Representatives.
“It is understood to be the duty of the Government of Colombia, under the thirty-fifth article of the treaty between the United States and New Granada of the 12th of December, 1846, to keep the transit across the Isthmus of Panama upon any modes of communication that now exist, or that may hereafter be constructed, 'open and free to the Government and citizens of the United States, and for the transportation of any articles of produce, manufactures, or merchandise, of lawful commerce, belonging to the citizens of the United States.' This duty was expressly acknowledged by the Government of New Granada in the claims convention with the United States of the 10th of September, 1857, in which it was agreed that there should be referred to a commission 'all claims on the part of corporations, companies, or individuals, citizens of the United States, upon the Government of New Granada, which shall have been presented prior to the 1st day of September, 1859, either to the Department of State at Washington, or to the minister of the United States at Bogota, and especially those for damages which were caused by the riot at Panama on the 15th of April, 1856, for which the said Government of New Granada acknowledges its liability, arising out of its privilege and obligation to preserve peace and good order along the transit route.'
“This convention was afterwards extended by a convention between the United States and the United States of Colombia, concluded on February 10, 1864, in order that certain claims might be disposed of which the commission under the former convention had failed to decide during the time therein allowed them.
“Un several occasions the Government of the United States, at the instance and always with the assent of Colombia, has, in times of civil tumult, sent its armed forces to the Isthmus of Panama to preserve American citizens and property along the transit from injuries which the Government of Colombia might at the time be unable to prevent. But, in taking such steps, this Government has always recognized the sovereignty and obligation of Colombia in the premises, and has never acknowledged, but, on the contrary, has expressly disclaimed, the duty of protecting the transit against domestic disturbance.
“The correspondence which this Department has had with the Government of Colombia respecting the pending convention it is not deemed compatible with the public interest to communicate to Congress in the present state of negotiations."
Mr. Bayard, Sec. of State, Report, Feb. 19, 1887, House Ex. Doc. 183, 49
Cong. 2 sess.; S. Doc. 264, 57 Cong. 1 sess. 119.
States resulting from the destruction of their property on the Isthmus
MS. Dom. Let. 12; S. Doc. 264, 57 Cong. 1 sess. 9.) It was stated that a claim of the Panama Railroad Company for payment
by the United States of losses occasioned by the destruction of some of its property by the burning of Colon by insurgents in March 1885 would “ receive due consideration " should the company see fit ever seriously and actually to present it.” (Mr. Bayard, Sec. of State, to Mr. Barlow,
April 29, 1885, 155 MS. Dom. Let. 235; S. Doc. 264, 57 Cong. 1 sess. 15.) In another letter to counsel for the Railroad Company, the Department
said: “Obligation does not exist . . . upon the Government of the United States to maintain peace, order and security to the lives and property of such of its citizens as have seen fit to place themselves under the jurisdiction of the United States of Colombia, and to this end to maintain a naval force in those waters." (Mr. Bayard, Sec. of State,
to Mr. Barlow, Nov. 6, 1886, 162 MS. Dom. Let. 99.) The company afterwards filed with the Department of State a claim against
Colombia, for the losses in question. The Colombian Government insisted on the filing of all such claims at Bogotá, to be dealt with by the Colombian tribunals. The Department of State notified the Colombian Government that the Government of the United States, in view of
the treaties between the two Governments, and of the informal agree-
106; S. Dọc. 264, 57 Cong. 1 sess. 164.)
164 MS. Dom. Let. 116; S. Doc. 264, 57 Cong. 1 sess. 128.) For the decree of the Colombian Government, Aug. 19, 1885, in relation to
claims growing out of the insurrection, see For. Rel. 1885, 281. With reference to the claim of M. Pascal, a citizen of France, for losses by
the burning of Colon, the Department of State remarked that “the
Cong. 1 sess. 79.)
1890, For. Rel. 1890, 269; Mr. Adee, Second Assist. Sec. of State, to Mr.
“If for any reason Colombia fails to keep transit open and free, as that Government is bound by treaty of 1846 to do, United States are authorized by same treaty to afford protection."
Mr. Gresham, Sec. of State, to Gen. Newton, tel., Feb. 1, 1895, 200 MS.
Dom. Let. 449.
In March, 1895, Captain Cromwell, of the U.S. S. Atlanta, with the assent of the local authorities, landed a force at Bocas del Toro for the protection of American property. November 24, 1901, Captain Perry, of the U. S. S. Iowa, in con
formity with telegraphic instructions from WashRevolution of 1901-2.
ington, landed forces at Panama, interference with the line of railway by the Liberals having taken place.
At a conference held on board the U. S. S. Marietta at Colon, November 28, 1901, the local commanders of the Government and Liberal forces being present, it was agreed that the city of Colon should on the following day be turned over to the charge of the naval officers of the United States, Great Britain, and France then present, by whom it should in turn be handed over to the Government commander, the object being to avoid the useless effusion of blood. About this time much fighting took place along the line of the railway, and for a few days armed guards from the United States men-of-war were put on board the trains, the use of which was denied both to the Government and the Liberal forces.
On January 20, 1902, Captain Mead, of the U. S. S. Philadelphia, wrote to the Liberal general, Herrera, on board the Almirante Padilla, which was then entering the harbor of Panama, that no firing from his vessel must endanger in any way foreign shipping in the port, and that there must be no bombardment.
January 27, 1902, Captain Reisinger, of the U. S. S. Philadelphia, reported that the Government was then using the railroad freely and constantly for the transportation of troops and ammunition, and had adopted forcible measures for the purpose of preventing the Liberals from using it or from entering Colon and Panama, thus interrupting the transit and placing the passengers in danger. Against this action the consul-general of the United States at Panama protested. Captain Reisinger subsequently reported that, after February 4, the Government had sent a guard of about fifty men in a passenger coach next to the locomotive on each train leaving Colon or Panama, this coach being separated from the regular passenger coaches by baggage and express cars.
September 19, 1902, Commander McLean, of the U. S. S. Cincinnati, addressed an identical note to the commanders of the Government and revolutionary forces, in which he stated that the United States naval forces were guarding the railway trains and the line of transit across the Isthmus from sea to sea, and that no persons whatever would be allowed to obstruct, embarrass, or in any manner interfere with the trains or the transit route. He added that no armed men, except forces of the United States, would be allowed to come upon or use the line.
September 20,1902, the civil war still continuing, Mr. Moody, Secretary of the Navy, cabled to Commander McLean, of the U.S. S. Cincinnati, that the United States guaranteed the perfect neutrality of the Isthmus, and that free transit from sea to sea should not be interrupted or embarrassed; that Colombia guaranteed that the right of way or transit across the Isthmus should be open and free to the Government and citizens of the United States and their property; that any transportation of troops which might contravene these stipulations should not be sanctioned, nor should any use of the road be permitted “which might convert the line of transit” into a “theater of hostility;" that the transportation of Government troops in such a manner as not to endanger the transit or provoke hostilities might not be objectionable, but that the Department must rely on his judgment to decide such questions, as the conditions might change from day to day.
It appears that the immediate occasion of Commander McLean's placing American guards on board the railway trains was that, after the surrender of Agua Dulce, the Colombian Government withdrew the guards which it had itself been maintaining, and established guards outside the cities of Colon and of Panama, who stopped the trains before entering those places for the purpose of arresting any members of the Liberal party who might be found on board. Besides, in order to insure the stopping of trains, obstructions were placed upon the tracks. Under these circumstances Commander McLean landed detachments and put guards on each train. He gave permission, however, for the transportation of a number of Government troops, unarmed, their arms being carried in a baggage car on another train; but he advised the authorities that this should not be taken as a precedent, and that each case would be decided on its merits when presented.
October 2,1902, Rear-Admiral Casey, who had arrived at Panama on the U. S. S. Wisconsin, observed, on a trip across the Isthmus, from ninety to a hundred Government soldiers, some of whom were ill, quartered in a car promiscuously with men, women, and children, so that the stench coming from the car was unbearable. For sanitary reasons, therefore, among others, he issued an order in which he stated that while the trains were running under the protection of the United States he must “decline the transportation of any combatant or any ammunition and arms over the road which might cause an interruption of traffic or convert the line of transit into a theater of hostility.” The governor of Panama protested against any restriction of the Government's use of the road as an invasion of its sovereign and treaty rights; on the other hand, the commander of the revolutionary forces protested against the transportation of any Government troops or munitions of war, and virtually threatened the interruption of the transit if such transportation should be allowed. Now and then, however, the transportation of particular military officers of the Government was permitted, as well as the occasional dispatch of arms and ammunition; and at the end of October, 1902, the Government was permitted to transport troops on special separate trains, not under American guard, at hours other than those of the regular trains. At this time Government reinforcements had arrived on the Isthmus, so that it seemed probable that the Government would be able to maintain its supremacy along the line of the road and insure an uninterrupted transit. About the middle of November, 1902, it appearing that the Colombian Government was then able to maintain free transit and fulfill its treaty obligations on the Isthmus, Admiral Casey issued orders for the withdrawal of all American guards from the railway trains. Peace between the Government and the revolutionary forces was concluded on the 21st of November in the cabin of the admiral's flagship.
S. Dọc. 143, 58 Cong. 2 sess. 162, 14, 202, 203, 210, 212-214,229, 231 233; S. Dọc.
10, 58 Cong. special sess. 45, 46, 49, 50, 52, 54–55, 70, 79.