Page images

fectly known in Europe and in the United States, and there is an ever-recurring confusion of names, as is apt to happen in such cases. The name Central America, employed in the convention, has a double sense, a geographical one and a political one, and these are widely different. America is divided, geographically, into North America, South America, and Central America. Central America, geographically, is Middle America, viz: that part of this great continent which lies between and connects North America and South America together. The name is applied in this sense in the description quoted by the Senator from Ohio, and so geographical Central America does include not only Honduras and the British coast, with the five Central American States, but also the departments of Darien and Panama, and Paraguay, in New Granada, and the whole or parts of six of the states of. the United States of Mexico.

Other geographers apply the name still more broadly, and embrace all the regions extending from latitude 7 deg. north to latitude 26 deg. north.

Mr. CHASE. If the senator will allow me, I will state that I read from a work of authority. That English work describes Central America as lying between two parallels of latitude. It did not assert that all the region between those two parallels belonged to Central America, but named specifically those districts or territories which constituted the country so designated. And I said that we had a right to believe, when the treaty was before us, that the term "Central America," used as it is used, included all over which either of the contracting parties claimed, or might claim, any jurisdiction. Of course I did not assert, or mean to assert, that Great Britain intended simply to exclude herself from that portion of country over which she had no jurisdiction, and I am sure the Senator from New York does not mean to represent me as making such a statement.

Mr. SEWARD. I will read from the printed speech of the honorable Senator from Ohio, to show the use he made of the authority which he quoted. The Senate will then judge whether he has corrected me or himself. That Senator said:

"Now, for the purpose of showing what the British authorities at that time conceived to be included within the limits of Central America, I wish to read an extract from a work which I have before me. It is Johnson's Gazetteer, published in London in 1851, a work of very high authority. Its description of Central America is in these


"Central America is the long and comparatively narrow region between latitude

7 deg. and 22 deg. north, and longitude 78 deg. and 94 deg. west, connecting the continents of North and South America, and comprising, besides the Central American Confederation, Yucatan, parts of Mexico and New Granada, Poyais, the Mosquito coast, and

British Honduras.'

"That is the description which an eminent British authority furnishes to us of Central America. That is the description which we had a right to believe was intended by this treaty when it was presented to the Senate."

This is geographical Central America. But it is laid down on other maps, and described by other geographers, as extending from the 7th to the 26th parallel of north latitude. That would embrace not only the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, but also the capital. of Mexico, the states of Coahuila and Tamaulipas, and even a part of Texas, in our own republic.

On the other hand, the name of Central America has a political sense, and means five states on the isthmus lying between New Granada on the south, and Mexico on the north, which, under the names of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, confederated themselves when they became independent of Spain, and established a republic called the federal republic of Central America. In the convulsions of that region, that union has been dissolved; but the name acquired by it still hangs around those states, and they, and they alone, are the states described, politically, in books, geographies, and otherwise, as the states of Central America.

Now, did the negotiators use the name of Central America in its geographical sense, or did they use it in its political sense? Certainly in its political sense.

For, 1st. If they used it in its geographical sense, then it may as well be insisted that the convention embraces all between 7 deg. and 26 deg. of north latitude, as that it embraces all between 7 deg. and 22 deg. of north latitude, and this would be to make it embrace a part of the United States, which would be absurd.

2d. The geographical Central America, whether broad or narrow, embraces the regions which contain the three celebrated passes from ocean to ocean, viz: Panama, Nicaragua, and Tehuantepec; and if that be the sense in which the name Central America is used in the convention, then the stipulations are already made between the two nations for the construction and maintenance of canals or railway passages across all these routes. But the convention, on the contrary, expressly confines its care to the Nicaragua route, and postpones to a future day the making of

VOL. 1-25.

stipulations in regard to the two other routes of Panama and Tehuantepec.

3d. The term "Central American States," in the sixth article, is equivalent to and illustrates the meaning of the term Central America in the first article.

4th. The convention, in describing the territory which is to be made neutral, names two of the Central American states in the vicinity of the canal, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, and then adds, or any part of Central America-thus clearly implying that it was political Central America that was intended.

It was, then, not geographical, but political Central America that was included in the convention, and so the honorable sena tors must have understood it when they approved it, unless we suppose them to have been so indifferently informed that their opinions were of no value, which is not to be supposed for a mo


5th. I shall endeavor to convince those honorable senators that their memories are still further at fault, and that, when they approved the convention, they did not understand it to include British Honduras or the Belize, as its dependencies, which are the


Like"Central America," the name Honduras also has a geographical sense and a political sense. Geographical Honduras is all Honduras from the borders of Guatemala to the Caribbean Sea, and includes Spanish Honduras and British Honduras—just as the name Virginia long stood for the whole Atlantic border from Carolina to Canada; but political Honduras is the ancient province or intendency of Spanish Honduras, as it was when it separated from Spain, and became the state of Honduras, and entered that federal republic of Central America; and as it came out of that federal republic on its dissolution, and as it has remained hitherto, and is now the state of Honduras; and that state, in every book or geography, and on every map, in every atlas, is divided and separated from British Honduras just as plainly and as broadly as Kentucky is divided from Virginia, or Alabama from Georgia, while British Honduras is in every such book and atlas marked and designated with the island before mentioned as a British colony; sometimes by the name of British Honduras, and sometimes by the name of the Belize.

I know, indeed, that Spain to the last insisted that Great Britain

had only a partial and limited right of occupancy. I know that the state of Guatemala set up the pretensions of Spain, and still insists upon them. I do not say that they are not just. I shall be glad if they prove so; but I know also that Great Britain equally claims to own British Honduras by absolute right, and that although she has two or three times been occasionally dispossessed in the varying fortunes of war, she has so claimed it since 1667, and has held it undisturbed since 1783, the period of our own acknowledged national independence. The Belize is a British town of two thousand five hundred people, and with its adjacent territory has been a colony near two hundred years, governed by British authority, and occupied by a British garrison. It is ecclesiastically connected with the British diocese of Jamaica, and from 1847 to 1850 the United States maintained a consul there, who, with their consent, received his exequatur from the Court of St. James. In short, practically, the Belize is as much a British town, and British Honduras as much a British colony, to the knowledge of the whole world, as Quebec and Canada.

Now, who supposes that Great Britain intended to renounce that town, post, and colony, under the vague and equivocal term of "any part of Central America?" No one! Who supposes that the United States stipulated for such a renunciation in terms so vague and uncertain? No one! It is not so that Britain resigns or the United States take dominion. The terms, "any part of Central America," then, did not include British Honduras, and so the honorable senators must have understood, if they knew the political condition of British Honduras as I have described it. That condition was known here; for on the 10th of May, 1849, a senator stated in debate here, that four companies of British troops had marched from the Belize into Yucatan, and that this was the act of the colonial authorities of Great Britain at the Belize; and he who made that statement was no other than the honorable Senator from Michigan, [Mr. CASS.]

6th. But, waiving for argument's sake all the points thus far made, I shall next show that the senators were not ignorant of the construction officially given by Mr. Clayton to the convention until the 6th of January, instant, when they proclaimed it as a disclosure then obtained through the President's communication.

The ratification was made on the 4th of July, 1850. On the

14th of that month the President transmitted to Congress a communication, which contained these words:

"A copy of the treaty concluded between Great Britain and the United States in regard to Central America is herewith submitted. Its engagements apply to all the five states which formerly composed the republic of Central America and their dependencies, of which the island of Tigre was a part. It does not recognize, affirm, or deny, the title of the British settlement at Belize, which is by the coast more than five hundred miles from the proposed canal at Nicaragua. The question of the British title to this district of country, commonly called British Honduras, and the small islands adjacent to it, claimed as its dependencies, stands precisely as it stood before the treaty. No act of the late President's administration has in any manner committed this government to the British title in that territory, or any part of it."

This paper gave to the senators, just two years, five months, and twenty-two days ago, the same information which surprises, shocks, and alarms them now.

But, Mr. President, even this communication was only a reiteration of the same information before given; for on the 8th day of July, 1850, the following official exposition appeared in the National Intelligencer, together with the convention then just officially promulgated:

"The leading object of the treaty appears to be the establishment of a ship canal across the isthmus which connects North with South America, under the protectorate not only of Great Britain and the United States, but of all other nations which desire the right of passage through it from ocean to ocean on the same equal terms.

"In reference to political advantages connected with that treaty, it may be remarked that all the states of Central America, comprehending the immense extent of country from the Belize, commonly called the bay of Honduras, down to the northern boundary of New Granada, is made neutral territory. No government entering into this treaty can occupy, colonize, fortify, or assume or exercise any dominion over any part of the Mosquito coast, or any part of Central America, from the boundaries of the bay of Honduras and Mexico on the north, to those of New Granada on the south. The British title to the Belize the treaty does not in any manner recognize; nor does it deny it, OR MEDDLE WITH IT. That settlement remains, in that particular, AS IT STOOD PREVIOUSLY TO

[merged small][ocr errors]

Senators who accuse secretaries of stupidity, or suppression and fraud, cannot be allowed to plead ignorance of official expositions in the official journals.

Sixthly, and last, I shall attempt to convince the senators that they, and the Senate, did understand that the convention did not include British Honduras when they approved it.

Mr. King, of Alabama, was Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, and the proper medium of communication between the Senate and the Secretary of State. The Senator from Michigan tells us that Mr. King has stated to him that, "after the quasi ratification came from England, on the 29th of June, he had an interview with Mr. Clayton, who desired to know whether the treaty ought to be sent back to the Senate for its action, on that

« PreviousContinue »