The Dallas-Clarendon Treaty

    Source citation
    “The Dallas-Clarendon Treaty,” New York Daily Times, 6 February 1857, p. 4.
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    New York Times
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    The Dallas-Clarendon Treaty
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    Meghan Allen
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    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.
    The Dallas-Clarendon Treaty.

    The Central American Treaty has been discussed by the Senate and rejected. The reference back to the Committee upon Foreign Affairs amounts to that result. The President is left without the power of ratification. Negotiations must be reopened; and as we enter upon them with augmented claims, and a repudiation of rights which the British Government has all along insisted upon, the prospect of accommodation is more remote than ever.

    Unfortunately, the nature of the considerations which have led to this unexpected decision are shrouded by the obscurity of an executive session. From the reported strength of the vote in favor of reference namely: thirty-three to eight, we are disposed to believe that some of the facts and arguments essential to a popular understanding of the question have not been permitted to escape, or that a new scheme of politics has been adopted by that portion of the Democratic Party which is more closely identified with the incoming Administration. Certainly, since the treaty, the text of which has appeared in the DAILY TIMES, was reported unanimously from the Committee, and submitted to the Senate, a great change has been going on in the views of that body; a change painfully suggesting a waning conservatism, and augmenting tendencies to filibusterism, among the majority. In the various objections rumored as fatal to the treaty, there is enough of consistency to corroborate this view. One such objection is that the British protectorate over the Mosquito vagabonds remains unaffected, nothing in the instrument requiring its absolute abandonment. If not, surely language is not intended to express ideas. The provisions in regard to the Indians may be stated thus:

    1. The boundary of their territory, which has hitherto been as fugitive as the tides, is accurately determined; and that far within limits it has been customary to ascribe to them.

    2. They are declared to be an independent people, invested completely with the functions of self-government; and at liberty to incorporate themselves on the footing of equal citizenship with the Republic of Nicaragua.

    3. They are to receive some reasonable annuity, to be determined by Commissioners, from the free city of Greytown as an equivalent for releasing their prescriptive sovereignty over the soil where it stands.

    4. There are to be Commissioners appointed to pronounce upon the validity of all grants of land alleged to have been made by the Indians, whether within or without the new boundaries.

    5. They are to be protected by Nicaragua from unfair bargains for their lands, and from the sale of intoxicating liquors.

    There is obviously nothing in any of these stipulations inconsistent with the system we employ with regard to the Indians within our own Territories. The British Government, in fact, distinctly assumed our own scheme of Indian treatment as the basis of adjustment. It has made no reservation of any sort of sovereignty or protectorate. It deprives itself of any right again to interfere, except in conjunction with the Government of the United States. The absolute independence of the Mosquitos is guaranteed. Our own internal legislation affords the precedent for an annuity as the equivalent for Territorial rights forcibly sequestered. Nicaragua is assigned the only power to exert a quasi-protectorate; and that is to be purely beneficial to the savages. Should the latter be disposed to incorporate themselves with that Republic—a step they are certainly not likely to take in the present state of affairs—they are permitted to do so. Surely if we grant the right of Great Britain to interfere at all with the subject-matter of negotiation, (and that, if we assert any claim whatever for ourselves, we much concede a fortiori to her,) we must admit that the interference could not easily have been more humane or equitable. Prussia claimed protectoral rights over Neufchatel. In the course of the difficulty had she employed the language of this treaty in admitting the entire independence of that principality and its indefeasible right to join the Swiss Confederacy, could we have doubted the sincerity or validity of the quit-claim?

    Another of the flying objections to the treaty applies to the article declaratory of the Convention of August last between Her Majesty and Honduras, in relation to the Bay Islands. This Convention is regarded with peculiar disfavor, because it anticipated the pretensions of this Government to interfere in Central American affairs; and, as its opponents contend, was hastened, so as to preclude the possibility of Slavery obtaining a footing among the islands. Upon what ground, however, we are to decline the indorsement of a treaty effecting a result which one year ago we pretended to have most at heart, merely because we are not parties to it, we are at a loss to see. Great Britain resigned to Honduras rights with which Honduras alone had anything to do, rights only by violent construction affecting the neutrality of Isthmus transit; and we might as well cavil because she should next give Jamaica to Spain, or Balize to Guatemala, as object to this surrender. Are we prepared to inaugurate the doctrine, that no European power is to treat with an American State without this Government being a party?

    The remaining provisions of this treaty are eminently wise and salutary. They settle equitably vexatious boundary difficulties, which have existed since the termination of Spanish rule; neutralize the Transit Route by placing it under the join control of three States, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and the free city of San Juan; and warrant the future peace of Central American, domestic revolution excepted, by the pledge of two competent powers. What disadvantages constitute a fair set-off to these beneficent results, we are at a loss to conceive. Certainly the two we have named do not.
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