Page images

That our position as the mandatary of civilization has been by 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 AustriaHungary.

“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 disenterested 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 selfgovernment 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 independ

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 hy, 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.

“The principle thus asserted by Mr. Adams was afterwards sustained by an international commission in respect to the precise stipulation to which he referred; and a similar position was taken by the United States with regard to the binding obligation upon the independent state of Texas of commercial stipulations embodied in prior treaties between the United States and Mexico when Texas formed


a part of the latter country. But in the present case it is unnecessary to go so far. Even if it be admitted that prior treaties of a political and commercial complexion generally do not bind a new state formed by separation, it is undeniable that stipulations having a local application to the territory embraced in the new state continue in force and are binding upon the new sovereign. Thus it is on all hands conceded that treaties relating to boundaries and to rights of navigation continue in force without regard to changes in government or in sovereignty. This principle obviously applies to that part of the treaty of 1846 which relates to the Isthmus of Panama.

“In conclusion let me repeat that the questión actually before this Government is not that of the recognition of Panama as an independent republic. That is already an accomplished fact. The question, and the only question, is whether or not we shall build an Isthmian canal.

"I transmit herewith copies of the latest notes from the minister of the Republic of Panama to this Government, and of certain notes which have passed between the special envoy of the Republic of Colombia and this Government.

President Roosevelt, special message to Congress, Jan. 4, 1904, For. Rel. 1903

260-278. For the constitution of the Republic of Panama, see For. Rel. 1904, 562. "The Government and people of Colombia consider themselves Hay-Reyes Cor- aggrieved by that of the United States in that they

respondence ; are convinced that the course followed by its adminisGeneral Reyes' Note of Dec. 23, tration, in relation to the events that have developed

and recently been accomplished at Panama, have worked deep injury to their interests.

“If the matter were one of little importance, even though right were wholly on its side, my Government would not hesitate in yielding some of its advantages out of regard for the friendly relations which have happily existed without interruption between the two countries. But as the facts that have taken place affect not only valuable and valued interests, but also the independence and sovereignty of Colombia, my Government deems it its duty to remind that of the United States of the stipulation contained in section 5 of article 35 of the treaty of 1846, in force between the two countries, which reads word for word as follows:

“If, unfortunately, any of the articles contained in this treaty should be violated or infringed in any way whatever, it is expressly stipulated that neither of the two contracting parties shall ordain or authorize any acts of reprisal, nor shall declare war against the other in complaints of injuries or damages, until the said party considering itself offended shall have laid before the other a statement of such injuries or damages, verified by competent proofs, demanding justice and satisfaction, and the same shall have been denied, in violation of the laws and of international right.


“On formulating the statement of injuries and damages,' referred to in the quoted abstract, there is nothing as natural or just as to recall to mind that in the treaty concluded on the 22d of January of this year between your excellency and the chargé d'affaires of Colombia, Señor Doctor Tomás llerran, there appears the following stipulation:

“The convention when signed by the contracting parties shall be ratified in conformity with the laws of the respective countries, etc.

"This condition, which rests at once on a correct conception of the doctrine accepted in such matters by nearly all the constitutional countries in the world, could not be foregone by Mr. Herran, since under our constitution and laws it is for the Congress to approve or disapprove the treaties signed by the Government, so that the said treaties are not valid unless the requirement has been observed, and as it likewise happens that under the law of nations covenants entered into with any authority that may not be competent are null, it is evident that no Colombian representative in the absence of a preexisting law conferring such authority could have signed the said convention without the above-quoted reservation. Furthermore, this formality was at the outset admitted by the American Govern-. ment in the course of the negotiations that preceded the Hay-Herran convention, as shown in artieles 25, 26, and 28 of the ‘Draft of convention' submitted by the American Administration and dated November 28, 1902. Article 25 says, textually, that the convention will be exchanged after approval by the legislative bodies of both countries.'

"The Hay-llerran convention did not take in Washington a course different from that it took at Bogotá. The parliamentary debate that took place in the Senate was so full and earnest that it was not approved until the following extraordinary sessions. And if it had been rejected the disapproval would have involved no grievance for Colombia, for if the mere entering upon negotiations for a convention implied the obligatory approval of the legislative body it would be superfluous to submit it to its decision. Among the precedents of international usage that could be mentioned in this respect there may be cited the case that occurred between the same United States of America and Her Britannic Majesty, when, after the signing of the treaty intended to abrogate the convention known as the ClaytonBulwer treaty, England, as I understand it, declined to accept the amendment introduced by the Senate, and her refusal delaved for some time the approval and ratification of the treaty.

* It follows that the Congress of Colombia, which is vested, according to our laws, with the faculty or power to approve or disapprove the treaties concluded by the Government, exercised a perfect right when it disapproved the Hay-llerran convention. This course did

not disqualify the Government for the conclusion of another treaty with the Government of your excellency; and it indeed resolved to make a proposition to that effect, and Mr. Herran, whom our minister for foreign afľairs intrusted with that duty by cable, had the honor of bringing this purpose to your excellency's knowledge. Neither did that course imply any slight toward the Government of the United States, and, on the contrary, the Senate, observant of the existing friendly relations, relied on the sentiments of American fraternity, by which it is animated, for the introduction in the new agreement that was to be made of stipulations more consonant with the notion of sovereignty entertained by the people of Colombia.

"It is proper to observe that under our constitution the Congress is the principal guardian, defender, and interpreter of our laws. And it can not be denied by any one, I take it, that the Hay-Herran convention provides for the execution of public works on a vast scale and for the occupancy in perpetuity of a portion of the territory of Colombia, the occupant being not a juridical person whose acts were to be governed by the civil law and the Colombian code, but rather a sovereign political entity, all of which would have given occasion for frequent conflicts, since there would have been a coexistence in Panama of two public powers, the one national, the other foreign.

“Hence the carnest efforts evinced by the Senate in ascertaining whether the American Government would agree to accept certain amendments tending especially to avoid as far as practicable any restriction in the treaty of the jurisdiction of the nation within its own territory. There is abundant evidence of the efforts of the Senate in that direction, and I firmly believe that it would have approved the convention with amendments that would probably have been acceptable to the United States had not the American minister at Bogotá repeatedly declared in the most positive manner that his Government would reject any amendment that might be offered.

** In a note dated April 24 last he made the following statement to the minister of foreign relations:

“With reference to the interview I had with your excellency at which were discussed the negotiations for the annulment of the present concessions of the Panama Canal and railroad companies and other matters I have the honor to inform your excellency that I have received instructions from my Government in that respect.

“I am directed to inform your excelleney, if the point should be raised, that everything. relative to this matter is included in the convention recently signed between Colombia and the United States on the 22d of January last, and that, furthermore, any modification would be violative of the Spooner Act, and therefore inadmissible.

“The memorandum handed by the same minister to the minister of foreign relations on the 13th of June of this year reads as follows:

« PreviousContinue »