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property over the territory through which the said canal shall pass between the states or governments of Central America, and such differences should in any way impede or obstruct the execution of the said canal, the governments of the United States and Great Britain will use their good offices to settle such differences in the manner best suited to promote the interests of the said canal, and to strengthen the bonds of friendship and alliance which exist between the contracting parties.


It being desirable that no time should be unnecessarily lost in commencing and constructing the said canal, the governments of the United States and Great Britain determine to give their support and encouragement to such persons or company as may first offer to commence the same, with the necessary capital, the consent of the local authorities, and on such principles as accord with the spirit and intention of this convention; and if any persons or company should already have, with any state through which the proposed ship-canal may pass, a contract for the construction of such a canal as that specified in this convention, to the stipulations of which contract neither of the contracting parties in this convention have any just cause to object, and the said persons or company shall, moreover, have made preparations, and expended time, money, and trouble, on the faith of such contract, it is hereby agreed that such persons or company shall have a priority of claim, over every other person, persons, or company, to the protection of the governments of the United States and Great Britain, and be allowed a year from the date of the exchange of the ratifications of this convention for concluding their arrangements, and presenting evidence of sufficient capital subscribed to accomplish the contemplated undertaking ; it being understood that if, at the expiration of the aforesaid period, such persons or company be not able to commence and carry out the proposed enterprise, then the governments of the United States and Great Britain shall be free to afford their protection to any other persons or company that shall be prepared to commence and proceed with the construction of the canal in question.


The governments of the United States and Great Britain having not only desired, in entering into this convention, to accomplish a particular object, but also to establish a general principle, they hereby agree to extend their protection, by treaty stipulations, to any other practicable communications, whether by canal or railway, across the isthmus which connects North and South America, and especially to the inter-oceanic communications, should the same prove to be practicable, whether by canal or railway, which are

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no proposed to be established by the way of Tehuantepec or Panama. In granting, however, their joint protection to any such canals or railways as are by this article specified, it is always understood by the United States and Great Britain that the parties constructing or owning the same shall impose no other charges or conditions of traffic thereupon than the aforesaid governments shall approve of as just and equitable; and that the same canals or railways being open to the citizens and subjects of the United Sates and Great Britain on equal terms shall also be open on like terms to the citizens and subjects of every other State which is willing to grant thereto such protection as the United States and Great Britain engage to afford.


The ratifications of this convention shall be exchanged at Washington within six months from this day, or sooner if possible.

In faith whereof, we, the respective plenipotentiaries, have signed this convention, and have hereunto affixed our seals.

Done at Washington the nineteenth of April, Anno Domini one thousand eight hundred and fifty.

[L. 8.]

And whereas the said convention has been duly ratified on both parts, and the respective ratifications of the same were exchanged at Washington on the 4th instant, by John M. Clayton, Secretary of State of the United States, and the Right Honourable Sir Henry Lytton Bulwer, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of her Britannic Majesty, on the part of their respective governments:

Now, therefore, be it known, that I, ZACHARY TAYLOR, President of the United States of America, have caused the said convention to be made public, to the end that the same, and every clause and article thereof, may be observed and fulfilled with good faith by the United States and the citizens thereof.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

[L. S.]

Done at the City of Washington, this fifth day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty, and of the independence of the United States the seventy-fifth.

By the President :

J. M. CLAYTON, Secretary of State.


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In proceeding to the exchange of the ratifications of the convention, signed at Washington on the 19th of April, 1850, between her Britannic Majesty and the United States of America, relative to the establishment of a communication by ship-canal between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the undersigned, her Britannic Majesty's plenipotentiary, has received her Majesty's instructions to declare that her Majesty does not understand the engagements of that convention to apply to her Majesty's settlement at Honduras, or to its dependencies. Her Majesty's ratification of the said convention is exchanged under the explicit declaration above mentioned. Done at Washington, the 29th day of June, 1850.




Washington, July 5, 1850.

The within declaration of Sir H. L. Bulwer was received by me on the 29th day of June, 1850. In reply, I wrote him my note of the 4th of July, acknowledging that I understood British Honduras was not embraced in the treaty of the 19th day of April last; but, at the same time, carefully declining to affirm or deny the British title in their settlement or its alleged dependencies. After signing my note last night, I delivered it to Sir Henry, and we immediately proceeded, without any further or other action, to exchange the ratifications of said treaty. The consent of the Senate to the declaration was not required, and the treaty was ratified as it stood when it was made.


N. B.—The rights of no Central American State have been compromised by the treaty, or by any part of the negotiations.

Mr. Clayton to Sir H. L. Bulwer.


Washington, July 4, 1850.

SIR, I have received the declaration you were instructed by your government to make to me respecting Honduras and its dependencies, a copy of which is hereto subjoined.

The language of the first article of the convention concluded on the 19th day of April last, between the United States and Great Britain, describing

the country not to be occupied, &c., by either of the parties, was, as you know, twice approved by your government; and it was neither understood by them nor by either of us (the negotiators) to include the British settlement in Honduras (commonly called British Honduras, as distinct from the State of Honduras), nor the small islands in the neighbourhood of that settlement, which may be known as its dependencies. To this settlement and these islands the treaty we negotiated was not intended by either of us to apply. The title to them it is now, and has been my intention throughout the whole negotiation, to leave, as the treaty leaves it, without denying, affirming, or in any way meddling with the same, just as it stood previously. The chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, the Hon. William R. King, informs me that "the Senate perfectly understood that the treaty did not include British Honduras." It was understood to apply to, and does include, all the Central American States of Guatemala, Honduras, San Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, with their just limits and proper dependencies. The difficulty that now arises seems to spring from the use, in our convention, of the term "Central America," which we adopted because Viscount Palmerston had assented to it, and used it as the proper term, we naturally supposing that on this account it would be satisfactory to your government; but if your government now intend to delay the exchange of ratifications until we shall have fixed the precise limits of Central America, we must defer further action until we have further information on both sides, to which at present we have no means of resort, and which it is certain we could not obtain before the term fixed for exchanging the ratifications would expire. It is not to be imagined that such is the object of your government; for not only would this course delay, but absolutely defeat the convention.

Of course, no alteration could be made in the convention, as it now stands, without referring the same to the Senate; and I do not understand you as having authority to propose any alteration. But on some future occasion, a conventional article, clearly stating what are the limits of Central America, might become advisable.

There is another matter still more important, which the stipulations of the convention direct that we shall settle, but which you have no instructions now to determine; and I desire you to invite the attention of your government to it" the distance from the two ends of the canal" within which "vessels of the United States or Great Britain, traversing the said canal, shall, in case of war between the contracting parties, be exempted from blockade, detention, or capture, by either of the belligerents." The subject is one of deep interest; and I shall be happy to receive the views of your government in regard to it as soon it may be convenient for them to decide upon it.


I renew to you, sir, the assurances of the distinguished consideration with

which I have the honour to be your obedient servant,


To the Right Honourable Sir HENRY L. BULWER, &c., &c., &c.


When the negotiations commenced which resulted in the conclusion of the Clayton and Bulwer conventiou of the 19th of April, 1850, the British government were in possession of the whole extensive coast of Central America, sweeping round from the Rio Hondo to the port and harbour of San Juan de Nicaragua, except that portion of it between the Sarstoon and Cape Honduras, together with the adjacent Honduras island of Ruatan.

The government of the United States seriously contested the claim of Great Britain to any of these possessions, with the single exception of that part of the Belize settlement lying between the Rio Hondo and the Sibun, the usufruct which, for a special purpose and with a careful reservation of his sovereign rights over it, had been granted by the King of Spain to the British under the convention of 1786.

The progress of events had rendered Central America an object of special interest to all the commercial nations of the world on account of the railroads and canals then proposed to be constructed through the isthmus, for the purpose of uniting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Great Britain and the United States both having large and valuable possessions on the shores of the Pacific, and an extensive trade with the countries beyond, it was natural that the one should desire to prevent the other from being placed in a position to exercise exclusive control, in peace or in war, over any of the grand thoroughfares between the two oceans.

This was a main feature of the policy which dictated the Clayton and Bulwer convention. To place the two nations on an exact equality, and thus to remove all causes of mutual jealousy, each of them agreed, by this convention, never to occupy, fortify, or exercise dominion over, any portion of Central America. Both parties adopted this self-denying ordinance for the purpose of terminating serious misunderstandings then existing between them, which might have endangered their friendly relations.

Whether the United States acted wisely or not in relinquishing their right as an independent nation to acquire territory in a region on their own continent which may become necessary for the security of their communication with their important and valuable possessions on the Pacific, is another and a different question. But they have concluded the convention; their faith is pledged; and, under such circumstances, they never look behind the record.

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