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edged to belong of right to the Crown of Spain, no settlements of that kind, or the population which would follow. could be allowed. The English shall be permitted to transport and convey all such wood and other produce of the place, in the natural and uncultivated state, down the rivers to the sea, but without ever going beyond the limits which are prescribed to them by the stipulations above granted, and without thereby taking an opportunity of ascending the said rivers beyond those bounds into the countries belonging to Spain,
* The English shall be permitted to occupy the small island known by the name of Cassina, St. Georges Key, or Cayo Casina, in consideration of the circumstance of that part of the coasts opposite to the said island being looked upon a3 sub ect to dangerous disorders; but this permission is only to be made use of for purposes of real utility; and as great abuses, no less contrary to the intentions of the British Government than to the essential interests of Spain, might arise from this permission, it is here stipulated, as an indispensable condition, that no fortification, or work of defence whatever, shall at any time be erected there, nor any body of troops posted, nor any pieces of artillery kept there.
All the restrictions specified in the last treaty of 1783, for the entire preservation of the right of the Spanish sovereignty over the country, in which is granted to the English only the privileges of making use of the wood of different kinds, the fruits and other produce in their natural state, are here confirmed; and the same restrictions shall also be observed with respect to the new grant. In consevuence, the inhabitants of those countries shall employ themselves simply in the cutting and transporting the said wood, and in the gathering and transporting of the fruits without meditating any more extensive settlements, or the formation of any system of government, either military or civil, further than such regulations as their Britannic and Catholic Majesties may hereafter judge proper to establish for maintaining peace and good order amongst their respective subjects.
As it is generally allowed that the woods and forests are preserved, and even multiply, by regular and methodical cuttings, the English shall observe this maxim as far as possible; but if, notwithstanding all their precautions, it should so happen, in course of time, that they were in want of dyeing wood or mahogany, with which the Spanish possessions might be provided, the Spanish Government shall make no difficulty to furnish a supply to the English at a fair and reasonable price.
Their Britannic and Catholic Majesties, in order to remove every kind of doubt with regard to the true construction of the present convention, think it necessary to declare that the conditions of the said convention ought to be observed, according to their sincere intention, to insure and improve the harmony and good understanding which so happily subsist at present between their said majesties.
In this view His Britannic Majesty engages to give the most positive orders for the evacuation of the countries above mentioned by all his subjects, of whatever denomination; but, if contrary to such declaration, there should still remain any person so daring as to presume, by retiring into the interior country, to endeavor to obstruct the entire evacuation already agreed upon, His Britannic Majesty, so far from affording them the least succor, or even protection, will disavow them in the most solemn manner, as he will equally do those who may hereafter attempt to settle upon the territory belonging to the Spanish dominion.
In view of these stringent stipulations thus solemnly contracted and reaffirmed on the part of the British Government, the committee are clear in their opinion that the English settlements on the Belize have no political character whatsoever. The sovereignty and dominion of Spain over the whole territory was preserved unimpaired by these concessions. Nothing was yielded but what publicists term the “useful domain," and that only for certain restricted and limited purposes. Such were the relations between the two powers of Spain and Enyland when the provinces composing the old Kingdom of Guatemala established their independence; and it remains to inquire whether, and to what extent, this special occupancy on the part of England was altered or otherwise affected in its character by this change of government.
It is held as an undoubted principle that when one political community separates itself from another by successful revolt, assumes the form and declares itself to the world as a separate and independent power or State, and so maintains itself, that such power or State thereby becomes a sovereign within its lawful or prescribed limits; and, by the established usage of nations, such preexistent sovereignty is to be recognized by other nations as a common duty whenever the new power shall have exhibited satisfactory proof that it is in fact independent and is capable of so sustaining itself. At the time when the people of Guatemala declared their independence the King of Spain was the depositary of the sovereign power over the entire proyince, embracing these English settlements, and by the act of separation the people of Guatemala became necessarily invested with the whole sovereignty thus pertaining to the monarch. The revolution, in fact, did nothing more than to transfer the sovereignty, and it would follow that the sovereign power thus transferred came to the people unimpaired.
Thus, whatever rights England may have held in subordination to the old sovereignty of the monarch would now be held in like subordination to the new sovereignty of the people. The mere change of government effected by the revolution clearly could not enlarge existing rights of foreigners within the country revolutionized. It may much more be questioned whether it did not impair or abrogate them.
But the committee deem it unnecessary to pursue this inquiry. All they seek to establish is that by the revolution the Republic of Guatemala was remitted, over its whole territory, to the same sovereignty which anterior thereto was acknowledged in Spain, and, of consequence, that sovereignty, or the “high domain," over so much of the territory of Guatemala as under former treaties was in the occupancy of British subjects now resides in the people or the Republic of Guatemala, as theretofore it was acknowledged by England to reside in the monarch of Spain. The committee find the same view as to the transfer of sovereignty over the territory occupied by the British settlements at Belize taken by the late able Secretary of State, Mr. Webster, in 1841.
In a letter addressed by him to William S. Murphy, esq., special and confidential agent of the United States to Central America, dated 6th August of that year, they find the following:
In 1835 the Government of Central America asked for the mediation of this Gov. ernment with that of Great Britian, with the view to restrain the British settlers at Belize, in Honduras, from trespassing upon territory beyond the confines allotted to them by the treaties between Great Britain and Spain in regard to that settlement; Central America, so far as its territory was embraced by the limits men. tioned in those covenants, having of course succeeded to all the rights of Spain.
The Confederation of Central America was dissolved in 1839, and thenceforth each of the five States composing it became a separate and independent power, and are so held and treated by the United States and, it is believed, by all European powers. Even Spain has contracted treaties with two of them; that is to say, with Nicaragua and with Costa Rica; the others, as the committee are informed, not having yet sent ministers to that power.
The committee so far have conducted the inquiry upon the assumption that these British settlements on the Belize lie altogether within the territory of the Republic of Guatemala. They are, however, aware that this assumption may not pass unquestioned. In the treaty between Great Britain and Mexico, signed at London December 26, 1826, it would seem, from expressions contained in the fourteenth article, that it was considered between those two powers these settlements might be in whole or in part within the limits of Mexico, in the State or province of Yucatan. And by some of the European geographers (not Spanish) they are spoken of as in Yucatan. From the best sources of information, however, open to the committee, they have formed a decided opinion that the boundaries allotted to these settlements by the treaties of 1783 and 1786, before referred to, lie within the Republic of Guatemala.
In the year 1822, one year after Guatemala had declared its independence, that State, together with Salvador and Honduras, were overpowered by Iturbide, then Emperor of Mexico, and annexed to the Mexican Empire. But this connection was a short one, for Iturbide, then declining in power, was unable to maintain the conquest; and in the following year the three States named succeeded in shaking off the Mexican yoke, and entered into preliminary arrangements with the southern Republics of Nicaragua and Costa Rica for a confederacy, which was completed and proclaimed in 1824. The province of Chiapa alone, which had formerly pertained to Guatemala, adhered to Mexico and remained a part of the Empire, as it is now of the Mexican Confederation. What pretensions Mexico may have set up (if any) affecting the boundaries of Guatemala so as to embrace the settlements at Belize, in consequence of this short and violent connection, the committee are not aware; but certain it is they were never acceded to by Guatemala.
It is well known that the actual boundaries between most of these Spanish provinces have never been definitively settled, yet they may be proximately ascertained by reference to mountains and rivers or to actual occupancy.
The Rio Hondo is, by treaty with Spain, the northern limit assigned to the English settlers; that river, it is claimed by Guatemala, lies wholly within its territory. In a work entitled "A Descriptive, Historical, and Geographical Account of the Dominions of Spain in the Western Hemisphere,” by R. H. Bonnycastle, captain in the corps of royal engineers, published in London in 1818, Vera Paz, which is the northern and western province of Guatemala, is bounded as follows: “On the north by the provinces of Chiapa and Yucatan; on the east by Honduras and the Bay or Gulf of Honduras; on the south by Guatemala (an interior department so named), and on the west by the Saine and Chiapa" (Vol. I, pp. 165, 166); and on the map which accompanies the volume, although on too small a scale to distinctly mark the boundaries, the river Wallis, or Belize, would appear marked in the province of Vera Paz. Again, in an atlas published in Guatemala, entitled "An Atlas of Guatemala, in eight maps; prepared and engraved in Guatemala by order of the chief of the State, C. D’Mariano Galves,” in 1832, the northern and western boundary of Guatemala, although called “lindero indefinido” (line undefined), is thrown north of the Rio Hondo, which river, both on the map of the Republic of Guatemala and on that of the Department of Vera Paz contained in the atlas, is altogether within the limits of Vera Paz. This atlas has been published in a work entitled “IIistorical Sketch of the Revolutions of Central America from 1811 to 1814," by Alejandro Marure, professor of history and geography in the Academy of Sciences of the State of Guatemala, etc., in 1837, by whom it was compiled. And the committee are informed that on the official map of Yucatan subscribed by Señor Negra, as commissioner of that province, published in 1848, the southern boundary of that State is established on the parallel of 18° north latitude: If this be so, then, according to the atlas of Señor Marure, the rivers Belize and Jupon, or Sipon (the latter of which is the southern limit of the British settlements), as well as part of the Rio Hondo, are within the province of Vera Paz.
In 1834 the State of Guatemala made a large grant of land to a company, on condition of actual settlement, “ in the neighborhood of the Bay of Honduras," when the British authorities at Belize interposed and forbid the settlement, claiming that the grant was within their boundaries. This collision led the Government of Central America to make it the occasion of a special commission to England to settle and adjust the respective rights of the Republic of Guatemala and of Great Britain in reference to the British settlements in this quarter. This fact was communicated to the Government of the United States by M. Alvarez, secretary for foreign affairs of the Central American Confederation, in a dispatch to the Secretary of State dated December 30, 1834; and the good offices of this Government with the British Court were solicited in the proposed negotiation. In that dispatch the Secretary of State, reminded of the avowed policy of this Government concerning European colonization on the American continents, is referred to the aggressions and encroachments at Belize upon the territory of Central America.” The mission it appears was fruitless. The British Government, claiming that Don Juan Galindo, the minister, was a British subject by birth, refused to accredit him as the minister of Central America.
In one of the letters of this minister, Don Galindo, while in Washington, to the Secretary of State, dated June 3, 1835, he communicates a paper prepared and published in Guatemala by Señor Annitia, a member of the Federal Congress of Central America for the State of Guatemala, in which, reciting that the English settlements “between the Rio Hondo and the Belize are in our territory,” an able and forcible exposition is made of the injury resulting to Central America by the smuggling openly carried on at the Belize in defiance of the revenue laws of the confederation, and a strong remonstrance against the pretension of the authorities there, claiming a right to occupy as they held in 1821 (the date of the revolution), and regardless of the treaty limits with Spain. In the letter of the minister for foreign affairs before referred to, this encroachment is stated at more than 45 leagues.
This question of boundary is one to be eventually adjusted only by the States and governments territorially interested in it. The concern of the United States is only as it may affect stipulations with Great Britain under the treaty of 1850. And independent, therefore, of the authorities above cited, respect for the Republic of Guatemala would require of this Government to recognize the boundaries she has prescribed for herself, at least until they are successfully controverted by those territorially interested. What is now the extent of claim or pretension on the part of Great Britain, either in regard to territory or dominion on the Gulf of Honduras, the committee have been unable satisfactorily to ascertain. In the unsettled condition of the country pending hostilities between Spain and the colonies it is very manifest that, whether with or without the sanction of the British Government, the settlers there pushed their occupancy far beyond the southern limits assigned to them by treaty; and it now appears that a right is asserted to maintain such occupancy as it stood in 1821, when the colonies were dismembered from Spain. These are questions properly belonging to the respective powers who claim on the one hand or contest on the other—that is to say, to Great Britain and Guatemala.
But the question of dominion is of a different character, and is one in the disposition of which this Government can never be indifferent. Whether it shall ultimately be determined that the English settlements on the Honduras are in Mexico or Guatemala, this question remains the same as regards the United States; and, as connected with their inquiry, the committee have considered it incumbent to express an opinion as to the character of the tenure by which those settlements are enjoyed by British subjects.
The anomalous character of these English settlements is well illustrated by the legislation of Great Britain concerning them. In the British statutes, presently referred to, it is clearly admitted by Parliament itself that they are not within the dominions of Great Britain, and it was found necessary to provide by special legislation for the punishment of crimes committed there by British subjects.
In 1817, the fifty-seventh year of the reign of George III, a statute was enacted entitled “An act for the more effectual punishment of murders and manslaughter committed in places not within His Majesty's dominions,” the first section of which recites that,
Whereas grievous murders and manslaughters have been committed at the settlement in the Bay of Honduras, in South America, the same being a settlement for certain purposes in the possession and under the protection of His Majesty, but not within the territory and dominion of His Majesty, by persons residing and being within the said settlement.
And whereas “such crimes and offenses do escape unpunished by reason of the difficulty of bringing to trial the persons guilty thereof. And it enacts “that from and after the passage of this act all murders and manslaughters committed, or that shall be committed, on land, at the said settlement in the Bay of Honduras, by any person or persons residing or being within the said settlement," etc., shall and may be tried and punished in any of His Majesty's islands, plantations, colonies, dominions, forts, or factories under and by virtue of the King's commissions which shall have been or shall hereafter be issued,” etc.
But this act, it seems, could not be carried into effect at the Belize, because it was found that there was no island there in the dominion of His Majesty, nor “plantation, colony, dominion, fort, or factory,” to which the King's commission could be directed; and of consequence it was found necessary, by an amendatory act passed in 1819 (59 George III), to substitute a special tribunal, created thereby, at Belize for trial of such offenses, the same being rendered necessary, as recited in the act, because “of the great delay and difficulty of removing offenders in Honduras for trial in England, or to any of Ilis Majesty's islands, plantations, colonies, forts, or factories, such crimes do oftentimes escape unpunished.”
These statutes clearly show that so late as 1819 the Parliament of England did not claim or recognize the English settlements at Belize as being within the dominion of Great Britain, and, secondly, that England had no established authority there, even of the grade of plantation, fort, or factory.