« AnteriorContinuar »
List of documents accompanying the report of the Secretary of State to
the President, of the 28th of February, 1851.
Mr. Squier to Mr. Clayton, extracts, with accompaniments, Oct. 25, 1819. The same to the same, do
Nov. 2, 1249. The same to the same,
Nov. 8, 1849. The same to the same, extract,
Nov. 9, 1819. The same to the same, extracts,
Dec. 13, 1849. The same to the same, do
Jan. 5, 1850. The same to the same, extract,
Mar. 22, 1850. The same to the same, extracts,
Mar. 30, 1850. The same to the same, do
May 7, 1850. The same to the same, extract,
June 23, 1850. Mr. Savage to Mr. Clayton, do
July 22, 1850. The same to Mr. Webster, do
Sept. 21, 1850. Mr. Clayton to Mr. Squier, do
Nov. 20, 1849. The same to the same,
May 7, 1850. Mr. Gomez to Mr. Webster, do
Jan. 31, 1851. Mr. Webster to Mr. Gomez, do
Feb. 7, 1851. Mr. Squier to Mr. Clayton.
LEGATION OF THE U. S. IN CENTRAL AMERICA,
Leon de Nicaragua, October 25, 1819. Sir: I lose no time in informing the department that the island of Tigre, in the Gulf of Fonseca, was seized by a British force under the orders of Commodore Paynter, of her Britannic Majesty's steamer "Gorgon," (acting by direction of her Britannic Majesty's chargé d'affaires, Mr. Chatfield,) on the 16th instant. The facts were officially communicated to me on the 23d instant, by the government of this republic, and I append a translated copy of the documents (A)---embracing, Ist, a letter from the secretary of war of this State; 2d, the statment of the commander of the Tigre; 3d, the letter of the captain of the “Gorgon,” announcing officially his seizure of the island; and 4th, the reply of the commandant. These will sufficiently explain the circunstances and pretexts of the seizure, which fully confirm all that I have cominunicated to the department in my previous despatches.
Some circumstances preceding the seizure are worth relating. On the 13th instant a war-steamer (since ascertained to have been the “Gorgon”) arrived off the port of Realejo, and it is understood was boarded by the British vice consul, who had been waiting there for some days. Without entering, she bore off for the Gulf of Fonseca. The vice consul must have informed Mr. Chatfield of the contents of my circular, as it is not likely he could have received it before leaving Guatemala. The result is before us.
In addition to the seizure of the Tigre, the port of “La Union,” in the truly republican State of San Salvador, is blockaded, as are also (I understand) the ports of Omoa and Truxillo, on the Gulf of Honduras. The blockade of the Union at this time is a great evil, as it will break up the great annual fair of San Miguel, which takes place in November, at which time the planters dispose of their crops and merchants purchase their goods.
The specific debt referred to by the British commander, I learn from the Honduras commissioner, is only about $30,000, claimed by British subjects. British subjects grow rich (as well as British consul generals and other agents) in manufacturing claims against these governments, duly enforced by blockades and other forcible means.
I have had an opportunity of looking into some of these claims, and I challenge the world to produce transactions more fraudulent.
Under all these circumstances, with a knowledge of these facts, and convinced that the United States, both from principle and policy, cannot allow the island of Tigre to fall into the hands of any great maritime power, I immediately, upon the reception of the official information herewith communicated, despatched my private secretary to the Gulf of Fonseca, with the following letter for her Britannic Majesty's chargé d'affaires, with duplicates in the event of his absence, for the commander of her Britannic Majesty's forces there, (B.) He was directed to present the letter, to receive the acknowledgment of its reception, and any other written reply, and return with all practicable despatch, stopping at the Tigre and obtaining what information is possible there, particularly concerning the measures adopted by Mr. Chatfield subsequent to the seizure.
I have also directed (in addition to one already sent to the department) two letters to the commander of the American squadron in the Pacific, (C 1 and 2,) and a private letter to the governor of California, requesting him to forward these letters, in case of the commander's absence, to his direction. They will go by the American schooner “Roe,” now loading in the port of Realejo for San Francisco. I shall also endeavor to transmit copies to Panama to be forwarded from there.
I am satisfied, from an examination of the policy which has been steadily pursued here by Great Britain for the last fifteen years, that it has been her intention to possess herself of all Central America. The measures which she has until lately adopted have been secret, and no one of them particularly calculated to excite alarm, or even to attract public attention. But since our acquisitions in California, and the direction of American enterprise to these regions and the Pacific coast, she has been more active and decided. She holds the important district of Belize without a semblance of authority; and under the shallow disguise of “protecting" a little sambo savage on the Musquito shore, she has assumed actual sovereignty over nearly 800 miles of the Atlantic coast; and if her pretensions are successful, will possess herself of half of Central America at one swoop! She now precipitately seizes the Tigre, and if allowed to hold it will be able to command not only the best harbor on the coast and the States of Central America, but the entire Pacific coast from Panama to San Diego!
House OF THE GOVERNMENT,
Leon de Nicurugua, October 23, 1919. To his Excellency E. Geo. Squier:
The supreme government of this republic, penetrated fully with the high and fraternal sentiments of the powerful republic of the United States of North America (which your excellency so dignifiedly represents) in favor of the other republics of America, and especially of the States of the centre, has considered it a duty to communicate to you anthentic copies of the advices this day received, of the military occupation of the island of the Tigre, on the 16th instant, by the naval forces of her Britannic Majesty, and by order of her consul general and chargé d'affaires near the government of Guatemala, Mr. Chatfield.
It is unnecessary to recommend this matter to your notice, after the Marked evidences which have been given to Nicaragua of your enlightened and determined adhesion to the principles of continental freedom. The undersigned has the honor, &c.
COMMAND OF THE FREE PORT OF AMAPALA,
Island of Tigre, Honduras, October 16, 1849. To the General-in-Chief:
Sir: at a quarter before two o'clock this day, I observed at the en trance of this harbor five long boats filled with arnied peop e, each boot carrying a cannon, with corresponding ammunition. The people in the boats were dressed in uniform and armed; their number, as far as we could make out, about 80, together with a boat in which were two officers and a citizen.
Observing this, I immediately mustered my little picket of soldiers, hoisted the flag of Honduras and that of the republic, and ordered my men to present arms, but not to attempt resistance, as it was obviously hopeless against the superior force which was approaching. Under these circumstances I allowed the officers to land, when I observed that the flag in their boat was English; and seeing the colors of a civilized nation, 1 presented myself to the officers, demanding the cause of this display of force, and this hostile attitude. An interpreter then presented himself, and handed me a letter, which I subjoin. Having informed myself of its contents, I said to them, that, considering the disparity of forces, it was impossible for me to resist their proceedings, but that I protested, upon be. half of my government and of Central America, against this violence. In the mean time the boats turned their cannon against the town and the troops landed under their cover, with musket to shoulder and cartridge in hand. The interpreter then requested me, by order of the commander of the invading forces, to lower the colors of the republic, so that the English flag might be raised; to which I answered that I would in no wise be party to any such act, and that nothing but my weakness prevented me from driving him away by force of arms. T'he conımander then ordered his troops to advance, and directed an officer to lower our flag and hoist the English colors. This was done, under a British nation al salute and a discharge of musketry, and with many cheers for Queen Victoria. While these last named proceedings were transpiring, I was engaged in drawing up a protest, which the commander had expressed his willingness to sign; but when it was finished and presented to him, he refused 10 fulfil his promise! The original protest I herewith send to you.
This done, Mr. Chatfield, her Britannic Majesty's consul general (who was the citizen which I had perceived among the officers, and whom I did not recognise until this moment,) presented himself, and asked me various questions respecting the topography and productions of the island, to which I replied with all sincerity.
This conversation ended, the commander directed himself again to me, and said, that if the colors of Honduras were again hoisted on the island he should return and sustain the English flag by force.
As I had nothing to say, I made no reply; whereupon the British flag was taken back to the boats; and the commander, in passing, observed that I must understand that the island now belonged to England. He then embarked his forces, and retired about 3 o'clock p. m.
This event has greatly alarmed the town, and I have to make great
exertions to preserve order; and though I have a very small force, you may rest assured that until I receive your instructions, all things shall remain as they are.
I omitted to say that the vessel alluded to is a war steamer, and will remain some time in the gulf. I have also to add that the British com. mander said that the harbor should remain open and free, and that it was not his intention to disturb the merchants.
I am, sir, &c.,
P. S.-I have deemed it proper to send a copy of this letter, and the other documents, to the supreme governments of San Salvador and Nicaragua, because the matter involved is a national one.
ON BOARD H. B. M. STEAMER GORGON,
October 16, 1849. To the Conimander of the island of Tigre:
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that, in consequence of communications received from the chargé d'affaires of her Britannic Majesty in Central America, manifesting the impossibility of obtaining by pacific means the arrangement of the just claims of Great Britain against the government of Honduras, I have judged it my duty to establish jurisdiction over the island of Tigre, on behalf and in the name of her Britannic Majesty Queen Victoria; and, in consequence, have this day taken possession of the said island, elevating in it the national flag of England, under a national salute, &c., reserving to the government of her Majesty the adoption of final (ulteriores) measures in this particular.
Meantime her Majesty's vessels-of-war stationed in the Pacific ocean will from time to time visit this island, and maintain in it British rights.
Notice of this proceeding has already been sent to the government of Honduras; and I expect that you will give me an acknowledgment of the receipt of this communication, stating also that you were present at the act of dispossession, executed by me this day in the name of my sovereign.
No change is necessary to be made in the management of the island, which will remain under its present regulations until the will of her Majesty is known. I have the honor to be, &c.,
T. A. PAYNTER.
To the Commander of H. B. M. war-steamer " Gorgon:"
Sir: I have had the honor this day to receive your communication, dated on board your vessel, in which you manifest to me that the claims