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Mr. Riotte to Mr. Seward. No. 33.)
LBGATION of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Costa Rica, San José, May 15, 1862. Sir: I have the honor of laying before you enclosed copy and translation of note of the government of Costa Rica (No. 13) of this date, in which it expresses a willingness to ask from its congress, now in session, authority to set aside on one of the coasts of the republic a tract of land for the settlement of free negroes, and to enter into such arrangements with the government of the United States as will best secure that end.
Since my arrival in the country, and especially since I was informed by trustworthy, unbiased persons of the perfect salubrity of the coast regions and their great fertility, I had, while conversing with members of the government and other influential persons on the civil war in the States and its probable reaction upon slavery, several times directed their attention to the usefulness and practicability of negro colonization on those extensive coasts. ceived that the idca startled them at first I did not press it upon them, knowing well that prejudices of caste are not likely to be overcome by reasoning and and arguing.
Yet I occasionally reverted to the subject, and laid before them all information on the behavior of freed slaves contained in northern and English papers, and I soon perceived that their mind was undergoing a change, as the result of which the secretary of state yesterday communicated to me that I would receive a note like the one enclosed.
Though I have bestowed upon the subject the most careful consideration, and I hope not without some result, still at present I do not feel warranted to make any propositions to the department, as it will entirely depend on the general views taken by my government and the basis it will adopt. But I feel assured that I have studied the subject so thoroughly that I shall be able soon to reach a satisfactory understanding with this government, whenever my government will favor me with its views. I have the honor to be, sir, yours, most obediently,
C. N. RIOTTE. Hon. William H. SEWARD,
Secretary of State.
Mr. Iglesias to Mr. Riotte.
NATIONAL Palace, San José, May 15, 1862 Sir: My government, informed of the legislative act authorizing the President of the United States to expend a certain sum to assist the colonization and settling of emancipated slaves who might wish to emigrate to other countries, and desirous of taking advantage of the congress of this republic being in session to ask for authority to set aside a part of the territory of our coasts for the foundation of a colony, and to enter into all arrangements pertaining to the project, the undersigned wishes, therefore, to know what may be the disposition of the government of the United States in this matter, in order to adopt or
omit the above stated step, and I to this end address you, with the request to
FRANCISCO M. IGLESIAS.
C. N. RIOTTE.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Riotte.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, June 4, 1862. 1 Your despatch of the 15th of May, (No. 33,) has been received, and also a copy of a note which has been addressed to you by the minister of foreign affairs of the republic of Costa Rica.
In that paper the minister alludes to a project which is under consideration in that republic, by which its government should set aside a part of the national domain upon the sea-coast for the foundation of a colony, to consist of free negroes who should emigrate from the United States, and occupy the territory | under arrangements to be made between the two republics. The subject has been submitted to the President.
The free negroes of the United States enjoy the right of remaining within the federal Union, and the right of emigrating from it whithersoever to them may seem best. The government of the United States exercises no power or influence in determining their choice. Congress has made a small appropriation to enable the President to assist such as may choose to colonize in any foreign country. That appropriation will be expended under the direction of the President, in accordance with the views of Congress.
Several states have expressed, more or less directly, a desire to avail themselves of the benefit of the migration of persons of that class, and have made known to this government their readiness to offer inducements to them more or less liberal. The government has decided to allow these inducements to be submitted to the persons invited to emigrate in the presence of some official agent, who will be instructed to guard the free colored population against possible imposition or misappropriation. Such persons of that class as may intelligently accept the invitation of any foreign state will, of course, find no obstacles interposed to their emigration, and the government will, at the same time, endeavor to take care that the inducements offered shall be realized. If Costa Rica should decide to submit a project to the United States of the character indicated by the minister in his note, all facilities for bringing it to the notice of the parties concerned will be afforded, as has been done in other cases. I am, sir, your obedient servant,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD. CHARLES N. RioTTE, Esq., &c. &c., dr.
'Mr. Riotte to Mr. Seward.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Costa Rica, San José, September 14, 1862. Sir : The speech which, on the 14th of last month, the President of the United States made to a committee of colored people, as reported in the latest papers, and particularly that part of it which points to Central America as his
choice for the settlement of colored freemen, and describes the particular spot to be “a lighway from the Atlantic or the Caribbean sea to the Pacific ocean, to possess on both sides harbors among the finest in the world, rich coal mines,” &c., &c., has created a deep sensation, and is the theme of general comment here. I don't myself think the prevailing opinion far from the mark when it considers this spot to be the Isthmus of Chiriqui, between the laguna of that name, commonly called “ Boca del Toro," on the Atlantic, and the “Golfo Dulce," on the Pacific side. And, indeed, I look upon this sclection as an admirable one from all I can gather from trustworthy persons on the general character and topography of that country, though I must here emphatically warn you not to believe in either the maps or the reports of a certain expedition which, some years ago, were laid before Congress, with an offer of selling the Chiriqui coal mines (the samples of which had come from Pennsylvania) to the United States for the moderate sum of $500,000. From information received while at Washington and here, I am firmly convinced that the maps and reports mentioned are entirely worthless.
But the fact, to which I would respectfully call the attention of your department, is that the major part of what on maps, and also on Colton's Atlas of 1861, is called the territory of Chiriqui, state of Panama, republic of New Granada, is in dispute between that republic and Costa Rica. The merits of the question are slightly mentioned in Fel. Molina's “Bosquejo de la Republica de Costa Rica,” pp. 59, 112. Without a previous arrangement with the two republics, it would be extremely dangerous to settle in Chiriqui ; and I feel obliged to dissuade you from such plan, though I do believe that the two republics could, under the mediation of the United States, be prevailed upon to settle the vexed question on equitable terms.
The speech of President Lincoln, and, more yet, a recent conversation you had with Mr. L. Molina on emigration to this country (an account of which I have been shown) have so strongly urged the question of emigration upon the public mind, that congress, in its sessions of 11th and 12th instant, took the matter in hand, much to the satisfaction of the government, which hitherto, with its liberal propositions in that line, inet with very little favor. I hope you will not find it presumptuous if I assume to dissuade my government from spending, directly or indirectly, one cent for the purchase of lands for negro colonies. Land in abundance, and of the choicest quality, will be forthcoming, gratuitously offered by private persons, communities, associations, and states; while, in purchasing, the government would most surely be swindled, and the poor negroes robbed or perched upon miasmatic or miserably poor locations. The best use that can be made of the money at the disposal of the President is, paying of passage, furnishing of provisions ample for half a year, and, if then anything is left, aiding in the construction of harbor and other improvements. I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
C. N. RIOTTE. Hon. William H. SEWARD,
Secretary of State.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Riotle.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, October 6, 1862. Sır: Your despatch of September 14th, No. 47, has been received. The apprehensions of attempts to colonize Americans of African descent in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, without the consent of their government, will doubtlessly be removed by the notes which I have addressed to Mr. Molina, copies of which are herewith transmitted for your information. You are authorized to give to the government of Costa Rica the same explanations which are presented in these notes. I am, sir, your obedient servant,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD. P. S.-I enclose also a copy of my letter to the Secretary of the Interior, on the subject of colonization.
W. H. S. CHARLES N. RIOTTE, Esq., fr., fr., &c., Costa Rica.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Riotte.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, October 9, 1862. Sir: I transmit, for your information, a copy of an instruction of the 30th September, upon the subject of the contemplated colonization of persons of African extraction, addressed by this department to several of the diplomatic agents of the United States accredited to governments of Europe, who have possessions within the tropics. I am, sir, your obedient servant,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD. CHARLES N. RIOTTE, Esq., $c., fr., &c., Costa Rica.
UNITED STATES LEGATION IN HONDURAS,
Comayaqua, August 26, 1862. SIR:
Although I have not yet received any despatches whatever from the United States, yet judging, from what I read in the papers, that it might become desirable for the government to know at least the views of this government in relation to the colonization of free blacks from the United States in Honduras, I had a conversation with the president upon that subject.
“ This government is anxious for an immigration of industrious whites,” he said, especially of German emigrants, who have, by their establishment in Costa Rica, done so much to develop the resources and add to the wealth of that country; and we will do everything in our power to induce such an immigration; but an immigration of enfranchised slaves from the United States is not at all desirable. We have had a great deal of trouble on our northern coast, and especially in the bay islands, from the free negro population, which has come there from Jamaica and from Belize, who do not obey the orders of the government, and engage in contraband trade constantly."
I replied to him that the only population on the northern coast which I had seen, that had any industry, or activity, or enterprise, were those known as •Caribs,” but who, in fact, are of African descent, being the descendants of those negroes who were cast away in a slaver on that coast, some sixty years ago, and of those aborigines of St. Vincent's, transferred by the English from that island, about that period. To this the president said that it might be true, but such was not the emigration they desired or could permit, while they would gladly receive a European immigration, or one from the north, as they here call the United States, notwithstanding the prejudices against all immigrants since Walker's raid into Nicaragua.
This is undoubtedly the feeling of the country; and I noticed a few weeks since in one of the numbers of the Gazette a paragraph headed “Attention Central Americans,” in which the people of this country were warned against the projects, said to be entertained in the United States, of colonizing the emancipated blacks of the District of Columbia in Central Ainerica. This I have since found, and annex, marked C.
In this connexion, also, I would call the attention of the department to the fact that Mr. John P. Heiss, formerly residing in Washington, as the editor of the Union newspaper there, but now carrying on a manufactory of some sort at Chinandega, near Leon, in Nicaragua, addressed a letter to the president of the republic on the 9th June last, and which was published in the "Boletin de Nicaragua” of the 21st June, warning the president that it was the intention of the present government of the United States to send the slaves, when emancipated, into Central America, and advising the governments of these republics to refuse them admission. A copy of this letter of Heiss's, to which I suppose the American minister resident in Nicaragua has called the atteution of the department,