James Buchanan to Lord Clarendon, September 9, 1857

    Source citation
    Buchanan, James, to Lord Clarendon, Washington D.C., 9 September 1857. As printed in The Works of James Buchanan, Comprising His Speeches, State Papers, and Private Correspondence, ed. John Bassett Moore. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co, 1908, p. ###.
    Recipient (to)
    Lord Clarendon
    Date Certainty
    Patrick Sheahan
    Transcription date
    The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print.  Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    Private. WASHINGTON CITY 9 September 1857.

    I have long been in your debt a letter. I should have written ere this, but for some time have been in weekly expectation of learning that the difficulties between the two Countries in Central America, had been adjusted. I confess that I felt a warm desire to announce this fact in my first message to Congress as the harbinger of perpetual peace & friendship between the two nations. But I must do the best I can without it. That unfortunate Clayton & Bulwer Treaty must be put out of the way. What else should be done with a Treaty on which directly opposite constructions have been placed by the two nations? What I have often told you is literal truth, that I do not believe it would have received a single vote in the Senate had it even been seriously suspected that the construction you place upon it was correct. It will be a bone of contention & a root of bitterness between the two Governments as long as it exists.

    I have been very much gratified at the tone of public sentiment in this Country on the East Indian Insurrection. It was quite spontaneous everywhere. We heartily wish you success in putting down this most cruel & barbarous insurrection, & entertain not a doubt but that your power, energy, & resources as a nation will speedily accomplish this object. Whilist in England I often had but little else to do than examine & reflect upon British questions, & I formed my own conclusions as to your policy in India. I think it might be improved; but your system is so ancient, so complicated, & so many vested rights are involved that I consider it would be presumption in me even to make suggestions.

    I have seen but little of Lord Napier. He has, however, made himself quite popular in this country, -- more so, I think, than any preceding British minister, not even excepting, Crampton. Shortly after I came into the White House, Miss Lane lost an unmarried brother to whom she was devotedly attached & I was sick until the season for gaiety in Washington was over. These are the reasons why I have seen so little of the members of the Diplomatic Corps; but these reasons no longer exist.

    I think you ought to keep your protégés in Central America in better order. I wish I could induce you to believe that the interest of the U. S. in that region is the very same with your own. Your special favorite Costa Rica is now endeavoring to convert her patriotic assistance to her sister State against the filibusters into a war of conquest, & she modestly claims the right to sell the transit route to the highest bidder. To this I shall not submit. She has got hold of the greatest scamps as purchasers; but they have not been able to pay the first installment. The truth is that these States on the Isthmus expect to make large profit by the transit of the persons & property of the world across their territory, & they are not scrupulous as to the means they may employ. G. B. & and the U. S. whilst treating them justly & even liberally, ought to let them know that this transit shall be kept open & shall never again be interrupted by their miserable wars & jealousies; & that they shall not exact any thing but what is reasonable from the commerce of the world for the right to cross their country. I see from the papers that passengers on the Honduras Rail Road will each have to pay a capitation tax to the Govt. of one dollar for the privilege of riding across the country, in addition to what they may have to pay for their transportation. If the Clayton & Bulwer Treaty had never existed, the British & American Governments, acting in concert, would long ere this have settled these questions for their own benefit & that of the world.

    Wishing you all manner of prosperity, I remain, very respectfully
    Your friend,
    James Buchanan.

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