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chargé d'affaires acted, in this particular, upon his own responsibility, and without instructions. Under such circumstances, it became my duty to decide whether I would submit the treaty to the Senate; and, after mature consideration,
mit determined to adopt this course.
The importance of this concession to the commercial and political interests of the United States cannot easily be overrated. The , route by the isthmus of Panama is the shortest between the two oceans; and, from the information herewith communicated, it would seem to be the most practicable for a railroad or canal.
The vast advantages to our commerce which would result from such a communication, not only with the west coast of America, but with Asia and the islands of the Pacific, are too obvious to require any detail. Such a passage would relieve us from a long and dangerous navigation of more than nine thousand miles around Cape Horn, and render our communication with our own possessione on the northwest coast of America comparatively easy and speedy.
The communication across the isthmus has attracted the attention of the government of the United States ever since the independence of the South American republics. On the third of March, eighteen hundred and thirty-five, a resolution passed the Senate in the following words:
“Resolved, That the President of the United States be respect. fully requested to consider the expediency of opening negotiations
th the governments of Central America and New Granada, for the purpose of effectually protecting, by suitable treaty stipulations with them, such individuals or companies as may undertake to open a communication between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, by the construction of a ship canal across the isthmus which connects North and South America; and of securing forever, by such stipu. : lations, the free and equal right of navigating such canal to all sudhi nations, 'on the payment of such reasonable tolls as may be established, to compensate the capitalists who may engage in such undertaking and complete the work." 21,1
No petson can be more deeply sensible than myself of the danger of entangling alliances with any foreign nation. That we should avoid such alliances has become a maxim of our policy, consecrated by the most venerated names which adorn our history, and sanetioned by the unanimous voice of the American people. Our own experience has taught us the wisdom of this maxim in' the only instance--that of the guaranty to France of her American possessions-in which we have ever entered into such an alliance. If, therefore, the very peculiar circumstances of the present case do not greatly impair, if not altogether destroy, the force of this objection, then we ought not to enter into the stipulation, whatever may be its advantages. The general considerations which haye induced me to transmit the treaty to the Senate, for their advice, may be summed up in the following particulars: * Linen
1. The treaty does not propose to guaranty a territory to as foreign nation in which the United States will have no common interest with that nation. On the contrary, we are more deeply and, directly interested in the subject of this guaranty than New Granada herself, or any other country,
2. The guaranty does not extend to the territories of New Granada generally, but is confined to the single province of the isthmus of Panama, where we shall acquire by the treaty a common and coextensive right of passage with herself.
3. It will constitute no alliance for any political object, but for a purely commercial purpose, in which all the navigating nations of the world have
interest. 4. In entering into the mutual guaranties proposed by the thirty
common fifth article of the treaty, neither the government of New Granada nor that of the United States has any narrow or exclusive views. The ultimate object, as presented by the Senate of the United States in their resolution to which I have already referred, is to secure to all nations the free and equal right of passage over the isthmus. If the United States, as the chief of the American nations, should first become a party to this guaranty, it cannot be doubted-indeed, it is confidently expected by the government of New Granada–that similar guaranties will be given to that republic by Great Britain and France. Should the proposition thus tendered be rejected, we may deprive the United States of the just influence which its acceptance might secure to them, and confer the glory and benefits of being first among the nations in concluding such an arrangement upon the government either of Great Britain or France. That either of these governments would embrace the offer, cannot well be doubted; because there does not appear to be any other effectual means of securing to all nations the advantages of this important passage, but the guaranty of great commercial powers that the isthmus shall be neutral territory. The interests of the world at stake are so important, that the security of this passage between the two oceans cannot be suffered to depend upon the wars and revolutions which may arise among different nations.
Besides, such a guaranty is almost indispensable to the construction of a railroad or canal across the territory. Neither sovereign States nor individuals would expend their capital in the construction of these expensive works, without some such security for their investments.
The guaranty of the sovereignty of New Granada over the isthmus is a natural consequence of the guaranty of its neutrality, and there does not seem to be any other practicable mode of securing the neutrality of this territory. New Granada would not consent to yield up this province in order that it might become a neutral State; and if she should, it is not sufficiently populous or wealthy to establish and maintain an independent sovereignty. But a civil government must exist there, in order to protect the works which shall be constructed. New Granada is a power which will not excite the jealousy of any nation. If Great Britain, France, or the
United States held'the sovereignty over the isthmus, other nations might apprehend that, in case of war, the government would close up the passage against the enemy; but no such fears can ever be entertained in regard to New Granada.
This treaty removes the heavy discriminating duties against us in the ports of New Granada, which have nearly destroyed our commerce and navigation with that republic, and which we have been in vain endeavoring to abolish for the last twenty years.
It may be proper, also, to call the attention of the Senate to the twenty-fifth article of the treaty, which prohibits privateering in case of war between the two republics, and also to the additional article which nationalizes all vessels of the parties, which shall be provided by the respective governments with a patent issued according to its laws;" and, in this particular, goes "further than any of our former treaties.”
* JAMES K. POLK. WASHINGTON, - February 10, 1847.
[The documents communicated with this message were not ordered to be printed in legislative session, although the injunction of' secrecy was removed from them.]
Proceedings of the Senate on the treaty with the Menomonee In-"
dians, from which the injunction of seerecy has been removed.'
FRIDAY, JANUARY 19, 1849.
On motion by Mr. Atchison, Ordered, That the injunction of secrecy be removed from the
2 articles of a treaty with the Menomonee Indians, concluded on the 18th October, 1848, together with the message and documents accompanying the same, and the proceedings of the Senate thereon.
ir EM VI: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12, 1848.",... Niente
The following message was received from the President of the United States, by Mr. Walker, his secretary:
To the Senate of the United States:
I transmit herewith, for the consideration and advice of the Senate, with regard to its ratification, a treaty concluded on the eighteenth of October, eighteen hundred and forty-eight, by William Medill, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, on the part of the United States, and the chiefs and headmen of the Menomonee Indians; together with a report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and other papers 'explanatory of the same. 911992160 points
JAMES K. POLK. WASHINGTON, December 12, 1848.
The message was read.
The articles of a treaty, made and concluded at Lake Paw-awhay-kon-nay, in the State of Wisconsin, on the 18th day of October, 1848, between the United States of America, by William Medill, a commissioner duly appointed for that purpose, and the Menomonee. tribe of Indians, by the chiefs, headmen, and warriors of said tribe, were read a first time.
On motion by Mr. Allen, Ordered, That these articles of a treaty, together with the message and accompanying documents, be referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs, and printed in confidence for the use of the Senate.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 19, 1849. Mr. Atchison, from the Committee on Indian Affairs, to whom was referred, the 12th December, the articles of a treaty, made and concluded at Lake Paw-aw-hay-kon nay, in the State of Wisconsin, on the 18th day of October, 1848, between the United States of America, by William Medill, a commissioner duly appointed for that purpose, and the Menomonee tribe of Indians, by the chiefs, headmen, and warriors of said tribe, reported the same without amendment.
On motion by Mr. Atchison, The Senate, as in Committee of the Whole, proceeded to consider the said articles of a treaty; and no amendment being made thereto, they were reported to the Senate.
Mr. Atchison 'submitted the following resolution for consideration :
Resolved, (two-thirds of the Senators present concurring.) That the Senate advise and consent to the ratification of the articles of a treaty, made and concluded at Lake Paw-aw-hay-kon-nay, in the State of Wisconsin, on the 18th day of October, 1848, between the United States of America, by William Medill, a commissioner duly appointed for that purpose, and the Menomonee tribe of Indians, by the chiefs, headmen, and warriors of said tribe.”
The Senate, by unanimous consent, proceeded to consider the said resolution: On the question to agree thereto,
36 It was determined in the affirmative, Mays:
5 Those who voted in the affirmative are,
Messrs. Allen, Atchison, Atherton, Badger, Berrien, Breese, Cameron, Clarke, Clayton, Corwin, Davis, of Massachusetts, Davis, of Mississippi, Dayton, Dickinson, Dodge, of Iowa, Downs, Fitzpatrick, Foote, Greene, Johnson, of Maryland, Johnson, of Louisiana, Johnson, of Georgia, Jones, King, Mason, Metcalfe, Miller, Niles, Phelps, Rusk, Sebastian, Spruance, Sturgeon, Underwood, Upham, Walker.
Those who voted in the negative are,
Ordered, That 'the secretary lay the said resolution before the President of the United States.