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VOL. 111. No. 8. ■ JANUARY, 1900





I32.J5- I3TJ-I5XjE;-Z- rTTRJL-^rXS, I=H. DD.





Harvey H. Hollister,

J. H. Champlin,
P. B. LooMis,
J. L. Snyder,

Henry C. Adams,





Charles H. Cooley, - . . . -


D. M. Ferry, ......

Edward Cahill, - - -

S. G. HiGGINS, - - -

Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids.

Ann Arbor.
Ann Arbor.




Sec. 1. Any pernon may become a member of this Association on the
nomination cf a member and the approval of the Executive Committee.

Sec. 2. The roigular membership fee shall be $2.00* payable on or before
the annual meeting of each year; but by the payment of $:?5.(K) at any one
time a member may become a life member of the Association, and tbcre-
aft«r shall be exempt from all regular membership fees.

The annual membership fee for colle£:e students shall be Jl.OO.

for further information address,

HENRY C. ADAMS, Skcretaky,

University of Michigan, Ana Arbor.

* B.*g;nning with 188i;.

i Longrhiae i4'ffsr 86

^ B O R^






^''y Of ,

L ongitude West 3









XTS,JL. 13-u-zdxjE-z- Tia.a.'^is, m. m.

|D0.«* 4







Half a century has elapsed since the conclusion of
the Clayton-Bulwer treaty. Throughout that period it
has been denounced, both in and out of Congress, as
contrary to the time-honored policy of the United States,
and a gross betrayal of American interests. So intense
has been the feeling against that instrument that its ab-
rogation has often been urged, and is now eagerly de-
manded by a considerable portion of the American people.
Moreover, it has been the subject of prolonged discussion
between the Governments of Great Britain and the
United States. On more than one occasion the conflict-
ing constructions placed upon it have jeopardised the
peace of the two countries. Nor is it improbable that
its provisionswill again lead to discussion and perhaps
misunderstanding between them. Yet notwithstanding
these facts the treaty of 1850 has thus far received little
attention from historians.

The present work is the result of an attempt to trace
the history of this hitherto neglected subject. The greater
part of it was prepared as a dissertation for the degree
of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan.

I desire to express my thanks to Professor Andrew
McLaughlin of that Institution, who has placed me under
very great obligation for many valuable suggestions con-
cerning the preparation of this work and also for assist-
ance in procuring material.


Salt Lake City, Utah, December, 1899.




Introduction: — Purpose of the work, 1. Topics treated,
1, 2. Bat Islands: — Discovered in 1502, 2. Bone of con-
tention between England and Spain, 3. Subject of contro-
versy between England and Central American Republic, 4.
Becomes a British Colony, 5. Belize: — Original!}' a rendez-
vous for pirates, 6. Becomes a, woodmen's settlement, 7.
Spanish attempts to dislodge the English wo'jd-cu iters, 8.
Status under the treaties of 1763 and 1783, 9. Spanish
sovereignty recognized in 1786, 10. Spaniards try to dis-
lodge the English in 1798, 11. Effect upon the British
title, 11, 13. England acknowledges Spain's right of
sovereignty in, 12. British encroachments after the iqde
pendence of Central America, 14. British claim set up, 15.
Colonial government established in 1862, 16. Mosquito
Coast: — Discovered and occupied in behalf of Spain, 17.
Spanish attempt to colonize, 17. Mosquito enmity for the
Spaniard, 18. Spanish neglect of, 18. Validity of Spain's
title to, 20. Relations of freebooter with the Mosquitos and
the English of Jamaica, 21. Mosquitos placed under British
protection, 22. Spanish remonstrance, 22. Smuggling and
the slave trade, 22, 28. Mosquitos cede their territory to
England, 24. English occupy the Coast, 24. War with
•Spain; provisions of treat}^ of peace violated by England, 2o.
Seven Yaar's War, 26. English establish government over
the Coast; renewal of war, 27. England fails to abandon
Coast, 28. Treaty of 1786, 29. Attempt to censure British
Government, 29. English influence dominant on the Coast,
30. Central American conditions favorable to British inter-
vention, 31-35. British Superintendent assumes control of
Mosquito in 1840, 36. Disputes with Central American
states, 37. Nicaragua appeals to the world, 38. Interest of
the United States in the controversy, 39. Mutual jealousy


of the United States and Great Britain respecting inter-
oceanic communication, 40. Britisli claims in beiaalf of
Mosquito, 41. Mosquito protectorate proclaimed, 42, 43.
Nicaragua appeals to the United States, 43. Seizure of San
Juan, 44. War with Nicaragua, 45. Nicaragua negotiates
for San Juan, 46. Extent of British pretentions in 1848, 47.
Retrospect, 48-50.



Character of Central Americans, 51. Political parties,
52. British intrigues, 53. Enforcement of British claims,
53-56. Relations of the United States to Central America
previous to 1848, 57. Change of attitude on the part of the
United States, 58. Treaty with Nicaragua relating to canal,
59, 60. Attitude of the Taylor administration, 61. Clay-
ton's instructions to the American Charge d'Affairs, 62-64.
Existing conditions in Central America, 65. Contract of
American Canal Company, 66. New canal treaty, 66, 67.
British and American rivalry respecting Tigre Island, 67-59.
Revival of American interest in Central America, 70, 71.
Mutual jealousy of the United States and Great Britain
regarding Central America, 71, 72. Great Britain fears
example of the United States, 75. British and American
rivalry for the possession of Oregon, 74, 75. Attitude of the
United States, Great Britain and France toward California,

75, 76. Purpose of England and France regarding Texas,

76, 77. Southern feeling toward Great Britain, 77. British
and American suspicions confirmed by Mexican War, 78.
American view of British action subsequent to the war, 79-
81. Commercial rivalry of Great Britain and the United
States, 52. Americans regard the ship-canal as essential to
the integrity and welfare of the Union, 82, 83. Complicated
and critical condition of foreign and domestic affairs, 84-88.
Policy of the Taylor Administration, 88, 89.



Clayton directs the opening of negotiations, 90. Purpose
of the United States, 91. Difficulties of the case, 93.
American Minister's interview with Palmerston, 93. Investi-
gation of the Central American controversies, 93. Negotia-
tions committed to Mr. Rives, 94. Rives investigates the
case, 95. Interview with Palmerston, 96. Anxiety of the


Administration concerning the recent treat}' with Central
America, 98. Clayton's interview with the British Minister,
98. Desire for British co-operation in the construction of
the canal, 99. Second interview with the British Minister,
100. Squler treaty discussed, 101. Clayton's instructions
to Abbott Lawrence, 102. Policj' of the Taylor Administra-
tion, 104. Interview between Lawrence and Palmerston,
106-111 Sir Henry Bulwer instructed to carry on negotia-
tions at Washington, 111. Existing conditions, 112. Bul-
wer's displacement policy, 113 Project agreed upon, 114.
Bulwer's explanation, 115. American opposition, 117.
Changes made in the treaty, 119. Principal provisions of
the treaty, 121. British declaration, 122. American
counter-declaration, 123. Ratifications exchanged, 125.
The treaty a compromise, 126.



Conditions unfavorable to execution, 128. No treaty
adequate for a satisfactory adjustment of the difficulties,
130. Reasons for accepting the treaty, 131. Negotiations
for supplementing treaty, 133. Conditions at Greytown,
134. Prometheus Affair, 135. Confiicting views of the two
governments respecting the treaty, 135. Negotiations re-
newed, 137. United States anc' Great Britain unite in sup-
porting the authorities at Greytown, 138. Webster-Crampton
project, 138. Rejecied by Nicaragua, 139. Change of
Government at Greytown, 140. Bay Islands made a British
Colony, 141. Senate resolution respecting, 141. Report of
Senate Committee on, 142. Senate debate, 142-148. Speech
of Mr. Doui^las, 145. Attitude of Whigs, 146. Clayton's
defense, 147-149. Everett's view, 149. Position of political
parties, 150. Lord Russsell's letter, 152. Elfects of the
Senate debate, 153. Conditions in Central America, 154.
Attitude of New Administration. 153. Conditions in Central
America, 154. Attitude of New Administration, 155.
Trouble at Greytown, 156. British view of the matter,
156 15S. Plan of the United States Government for settling
question, 160-1. Examination of (a) Belize question, (b) case
of the Bay Islands 166-171, (c) Mosquito question, 173-175,
Critical relations of England and the United States, 175.


Resox't to direct negotiations, 177. Dallas-Clarendon


Treaty, 177. Senate amendments; British offer concerning,
180. Failure of the treaty, 182. Revival of controversy
respecting claims of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, 182. Cass-
Yrissari treaty, 183. Situation at the close of 1857, 184.
Walker's filibustering expedition and its effects, 185. Eng-
land originates new plan of settlement, 187. Plan favorably
received by the President, 188. Disagreement respecting
Belize and Mosquito protectorate, 188. British fear abroga-
tion of the treaty, 189. Terms of settlement proposed by
Great Britain, 190. President favors abrogation of the
treaty, 190. Conference between Cass and Napier concern-
ing the proposed settlement, 191. Filibustering movements,
183. New difficulties, 195. Belize boundary question settled,
197. Treaty of Managua, (1860), 198. Treaty officially com-
municated to the Government at Washington, 200. Presi-
dent Buchanan declares the settlement entirely satisfactory
to the United States Government, 201. Buchanan probably
unaware of the real scope of the British reservation, 201.



Treaty lost to public view, 203. Change of sentiment as
indicated by the treaties of 1868 and 1870. Interest in an
isthmian waterway revived, 205. New policy adopted by
the United States. 205-207. Reason for the change, 207-211.
Fear of European neutralization, 212. Blaine's letter con-
cerning, 212. Examination of Blaine's position, 214-217.
British reply to Blaine, 317. Modifications of treaty pro-
posed by Blaine, 218. Examination of, 220. Blaine takes
issue with Granville, 222. Granville's letters of Jan. 7 and
9, 1882, 223. British position examined, 225. Frelinghuy-
sen takes part in the discussion, 226-230. Granville's re-
joinder, 230. Consideration of British and American
arguments concerning (a) object of treaty, 232, (b) Mouroe
Doctrine, 234, (c) Belize, 235. Frelinghuyseu concludes a
canal treaty with Nicaragua, 239. Clayton-Bulwer treaty
an obstacle to American monopoly of canal, 240. Maritime
Canal Company organized, 240. Discussion of Bill to amend
Company's charter, 241. Senate Committee report the
Clayton-Bulwer treaty obsolete, 241. Abrogation favored,
242. Bill to amend the Canal Company's charter passes the
Senate, 242. Bill attracts the attention of the British
Government, 242. Clayton-Buhver treaty and the Mosquito


protectorate, 243. British Government denies the right of
Nicaragua to sovereigntj- in the Mosquito Reservation, 244.
Bayard remonstrates, 244. Lord Salisbury's reply, 245
Continuance of British protectorate, 245. Nicaragua op-
poses British pretensions and seeks the assistance of the
United States, 245. British assertions respecting the treaty
of le50, 246. Foster takes exception, 246. Effort of
Nicaragua to secure re-incorporation of the reservation, 247.
British marines landed and provisional government formed,
348. United States refuses to sanction, 249. Nicaragua
secures re-incorporation of the reservation, 250.



Charges against the treaty, 251. Some treaty arrange-
ment a necessity in 1850, 251-255. Purpose of the conven-
tion, 256-258. Difficulty of making a satisfactory treaty,
259-261. Adaptation of the treaty to the end in view, 261-
265. The Convention of 1850 in relation to American policy
concerning (a) interoceanic transits, 265; (b) foreign alli-
ances, 266; (g) the Monroe Doctrine, 268-273. Conflicting
interpretations of the treaty lead to controversies between
the two governments, 274-276. Great Britain acted in con-
travention of the treaty with respect to (a) Greytown, 276-
279; (b) the Mosquito Shore, 280-282; (c) the Bay Islands,
283; (d) Belize, 283-289. American inconsistencies regarding
the treaty, 289-292. Services of the treaty, 392-295. The
treaty still an object of denunciation in the United States,
295. Great Britain favors preservation of the treaty, 296.
Disposition of the treaty dependent upon the proper status
of the canal, 296. Reasons why Americans demand exclusive
control of isthmian canal, 297. Examination of, 298-301.
Advantages and disadvantages of American control, 301-303.
Isthmian canals should be neutralized by international
agreement, 303. American objections to, 304. Exclusive
control not essential to the protection of American interests,
305-307. The Clayton-Bulwer treaty should be preserved,



It is the purpose of this work to give the history of
the Clayton-Bulwcr treaty. But the anomalous conditions
which led to the conclusion of that instrument were the
result of forces that had long been in operation. Thus
the convention of 1850 is an historical product, and, like
every product of that nature, is to be understood only in
the light of the causes which brought it forth. For that
reason it has been deemed advisable to note the character
and trace the operation of the forces which led to the con-
clusion of that instrument. Among the more potent of
these were the desire of the United States for a ship-canal
across the isthmus, the mutual jealousy of England and
the United States, and the pretentions of Great Britain
to dominion in Central America. The last was the out-
growth of British and Spanish rivalry for dominion in Cen-
tral America, while the other two were the results of the
recent territorial acquisitions by the United States and the
rivalry between her and Great Britain for commercial and
political supremancy on this continent. As these in-
fluences and interests were the potent factors in produc-
ing the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, they necessarily determined
the character of that instrument. Hence some know-
ledge of them is essential to an understanding of the con-
vention and its history.

With a view to supplying the material for such
knowledge the first two chapters are devoted to an account
of the origin and development of British claims in Central


America, and the relations subsisting between Great
Britain and the United States. To this is added a de-
scription of the condition of affairs in the United States
and Central America at the time the treaty was negoti-
ated. This portion of the work necessarily includes an
historical sketch of all those parts of Central America
where Great Britain then either claimed or exercised
dominion; a consideration of the domestic affairs of
the United States and their effect upon her relations with
foreign powers; an examination of the prevailing condi-
tions in Central America, and the relations of Great
Britain and the United States with that country. Thus
the way is prepared for the history of the treaty proper.
That opens with a chapter devoted to the negotiation of
the convention and is followed by a critical discussion of
the controversies to which it gave rise. The remainder
of the work is given up to an account of the methods of
settlement that were proposed or tried; a sketch of the
treaty's history from 1860 to tlie present time and, finally,
a critical discussion of the more important questions to
wliich tlie Treaty of 1850 has given rise.

The Bay Islands were discovered, in 1502, by Colum-
bus who took formal possession of them in behalf of
Spain.* The Spanish slave hunters soon followed and
swept away the large native population, -f Then, owing

■"States of Central America by E. G. Squior, p. 603. Hist, of Guatemala by
Dou Domiujio Jaurros, p. 318.

Note 1.— Timre seems to bo some reason for believing that these islands
aud tlie adjacent portions of Central America wore vipited by Europeans
some years previous to this voyage of Columbus. See Fiske's Discovery of
America, 11, pp. ^:l-^5.

Note 3.— Mr. E, G. Squier whose works are frequently quoted in these
pag'cs was a writer of distinction on matters relatini; to Central America,
where he spent many years. As U. S. Ohart^re d'Afl'aires he had j^reat facilities
for collecting' material on the history of Central Americn. This material he
used with marked ability, thoujrh there is reason to believe that he was not
entirely impartial refrardinir questions involving the interests of his own
country. Sec H. H.Bancroft's Hiel. of Cent. Am., Ill, pp. 263 & 263. Also
Stout's Nicarag-ua, p. 142. Dublin Kev. XLII, p. 359.

HJaurros' Hist, of Guat., ;>18. Squler's States of Cent, Am. 604. Gospel in
Cent. Am. by Frederic Crowe, p. 184.


to the absence of the precious metals, the Spaniards
turned their attention to more promising fields. In their
neglected and desolate state the islands remained till
near the middle of the seventeenth century, when they
were occupied by the buccaneers, under the leadership of
an Englishman.* The depredations of the freebooters
upon the neighboring coasts, soon became so annoying
that a Spanish expedition was sent against them in 1650.
The pirates were dislodged and the islands again brought
under the control of the Spanish authorities. f

But instead of trying to effect permanent settlements
there the Spaniads removed the natives to the mainland
and left the islands unoccupied. :|: In this condition they
remained till 1742, when they were seized and fortified
by the English, who were then at war with Spain. §
From that time till the close of the eighteenth century,
the Bay Islands were a bone of contention between Eng-
land and Spain; first one power and then the other held
possession of them. At length, in 1796, the Spanish
authorities succeeded in dislodging the English.! Thence
forward till the independence of her Central American
Colonies, the Bay Islands remained in the undisputed
possession of Spain. Yet the Spaniards did nothing to
develope the resources of the territory or render their
title to it more secure. Only a small military guard was
maintained there, as a symbol of authority. 1^ When the
Spanish Colonies became independent, the Bay Islands

*iJaurros' Hist, of Guat. 58. Bancroft's Hist, of Cent. Am. II, p. 647.
Crowe's Gospel iu Cent. Am., p. 184.

tjaurros' Hist, of Guat., p. 321. Bancroft's Hist, of Cent. Am., II, p. 648.
Squier's States of Cent. Am. , p. 615.

TSquier's States of Cent Am., p. 615. Crowe's Gospel in Cent. Am., pp.
186 & 198. Jaurros' History of Guat. p. 58.

§Lucas' Historical Geograpy of the British Colonies, II, p. 299. Dem. Rev.
XXXI, p. 546. Bancroft's Hist, of Cent. Am., II, 648.

llSquier's States of Cent. Am., p. 618. The British Settlement of Honduras
by Capt. Geo. Henderson, p, 2U4.

H Ibid., p. 204.


passed under the control of the Central American Repub-
lic as a part of the province of Honduras. In 1830 they
were seized by an English force from Belize,* a British
dependency on the Bay of Honduras. This .act, how-
ever, was disavowed by the Government of Great Britain
and the islands restored to the Republic. f But the Eng-
lish authorities at Belize still coveted the islands and only
awaited a suitable opportunity for taking possession of
them again. A pretext for this was not long delayed.
In 1838, a party of liberated slaves from the British
West Indies, settled on Roatan, the most important mem-
ber of the group. Some of the negroes refused to eon-
form to the laws of Honduras and appealed to the Super-
intendent of Belize for assistance in their opposition to
the government of the Republic. :|: In compliance with
this request, the Superintendent took forcible possession
of the island, i^ The British Government soon afterward
assumed all responsibility for this act and refused to re-
store Roatan to the Republic, jl

After this the negroes, from the West Indies, con-
tinued to settle there, till the island was pretty well in-
habited by the blacks. At first they had no government;
but circumstances soon compelled them to establish a
rude one, which answered their purpose for a number of
years.* Meanwhile Honduras repeatedly remonstrated
against this invasion of her territorial rights. But the
English authorities of Belize ignored her protests and
eagerly watched for an opportunity to establish closer

*iI{anfroft's Hist, of Cent. Aui., Ill, p. ;J19-Bote. Crowe's Gospel in Cent.
Am., p. 'ii:i. Sijuier's Notes on Cent. Am., 37.3.

t Crowe's Gospel in Cent. Am., v. 213. Travels in Cent, Am. by R. G.
Dunlap, p. 18U. Sciuitr's States of Cent. Am., p. 619.

t- Ibid., p. 620.

SIbid.. p. 621. Narrative of a Residence; on the Mosquisto Coast by
Thomas Young, p. 147.

II Dem. Rev., XXXI, p. 548. Squier's State? of (!ent. Am., p. 621.

^ Ibid., p. 623.


relations with Koatan. However, it was not till 1849
that they were able to accomplish their purpose. By
that time, some of the inhabitants of the island had be-
come so dissatisfied with their local government that they
requested the Superintendent of Belize, to establish a more
complete and elaborate system there.* His attempt to do
this led to a dispute between the authorities of Belize and
the inhabitants of Roatan. This resulted in the formal
occupation of the islands in August of the following year,
when they were declared to be an appendage of the
British Crown. f These proceedings called forth a vigor-
ous protest in the name of Honduras but no attention
was paid to it.:|: The British continued their occupation
and, on March 17, 1852, by Royal Warrant, Roatan and
the neighboring islands were made the British "Colony
of the Bay Islands. "§ This step was taken more than
two years after the conclusion of the Clayton-Bulwer
treaty, which stipulated that neither Great Britain nor
the United States should ever occupy or colonize any
part of Central America. For that reason the coloniza-
tion of the Bay Islands was looked upon in the United
States as a flagrant violation of that convention. On
the other hand. Great Britain stoutly defended her
action. The result was a spirited controversy between
two governments which will claim attention at a later

More or less closely connected with the Bay Islands
was Balize, a British dependency lying on the border of
Honduras Bay. Originally this dependency was simply

*Dem. Rev., XXXI, p. 549. Squiers States of Cent. Am., p. 623.

tibid., p. 624. Young's Narrative, p. 147. Bancroft's Hist, of Cent. Am.,
Ill, p. 330.

*Ibid., Ill, p. 320. Dem. Rev., XXXI, p. 549.

SHertelet's Commercial and Slave Trade Treaties, X, p. 80(i. British
Accounts and Papers, for 1856, XLIV, No. 111.


a piratical station established during the flourishing
period of freebooting in the West Indies.* Many things
combined to make it a favorite rendezvous of the pirates.
Owing to the unattractive features of the country in the
vicinity the Spaniards had neglected to settle it, and the

Online LibraryIra Dudley TravisThe history of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty → online text (page 1 of 25)