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The distinction between the "high" and the “useful” domain is fully recognized by all the publicists. It is said by Vattel (chap. 7, sec. 83) that “the useful domain, or the domain confined to rights that may belong to any individual in the state, may be separate from the sovereignty, and nothing prevents the possibility of its belonging to a nation in places that are not under her jurisdiction. Thus miny sovereigns have fiefs and other possessions in the territories of another prince. In these cases they possess them in the manner of private individuals."
Neither can Great Britain claim that her rights in these “settlements" have been enlarged or her dominion improved by what the writers term “usucaption” or “prescription.” Acquisitions of the latter character are founded on a presumed abandonment or desertion of a former sovereign, and by great lapse of time may be ripened into full or "high domain. But they are in their very nature of a character adversary to any other claim; they take their origin in a negation of title existing elsewhere. In the case in question the possession of Great Britain is directly referred to a full acknowledgment of domain or sovereignty in another power. The character of this possession has never been altered or enlarged, either by contract or adversary pretension, and it thence necessarily results that, after whatever lapse of time, it is still to be held to its original subordinate condition.
The committee next proceeded, as instructed by the resolution of the Senate, to inquire whether any measures, and if any what, should be taken by the Senate in relation to the declaration annexed to the ratification on the part of Great Britain of the treaty concluded between that country and the United States April 19, 1850, and to the letter of the Secretary of State to the British minister on the exchange of ratifications."
By the treaty referred to it is stipulated by both the contracting parties that neither of them shall “occupy, or fortify, or colonize, or assume, or exercise any dominion over Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mosquito coast, or any part of Central America." Under the restrictions as they are above expressed, and without anything elsewhere in the treaty to explain, qualify, or alter them, the treaty was ratified by the Senate.
On the 29th of June in the same year the British minister at Washington, as preliminary to the exchange of ratifications, delivered officially to the Secretary of State the “declaration” referred to in the resolution of the Senate, in which it is set forth that he has received Her Majesty's instructions to declare that Iler Majesty does not understand the engagements of that convention to apply to Her Majesty's settlement at Honduras or to its dependencies. Her Majesty's ratification of said convention is exchanged under the explicit declaration above mentioned.
And on the 4th July following the Secretary of State addressed an official note to the British minister at Washington, acknowledging the receipt of this declaration, in which he says:
The language of the first article of the convention concluded on the 19th day of April last between the United States and Great Britain, describing the country not to be occupied, etc., by either of the parties, was, as you know, twice approved by your Government, and it was neither understood by them nor by either of usthe negotiators-to include the British settlement in Honduras-commonly called British Honduras, as distinct from the State of Honduras-nor the small islands in the neighborhood of that settlement which may be known as its dependencies. To this settlement and these islands the treaty we negotiated was not intended by either of us to apply. The title to them it is now and has been my intention throughout the whole negotiation to leave as the treaty leaves it, withont denying, affirming, or in any way meddling with the same, just as it stood previously. The chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, the Hon. William R. King, info is me that “the Senate perfectly understood that the treaty did not include British Honduras.” It was understood to apply to, and does include, all the Central American States of Guatemala, Honduras, San Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, with their just limits and proper dependencies. The difficulty that now arises seems to spring from the use in our convention of the term “Central America,” which we ado because Viscount Palmerston had assented to it and used it as the proper term, we naturally supposing that on this account it would be satisfactory to your Government. But if your Government now intend to delay the exchange of ratifications until we shall have fixed the precise limits of Central America, we must defer further action until we have further information on both sides, to which at present we have no means of resort, and which it is certain we could not obtain before the term fixed for exchanging the ratifications would expire. It is not to be imagined that such is the object of your Government; for not only would this course delay, but absolutely defeat the convention.
Of course no alteration could be made in the convention, as it now stands, without referring the same to the Senate, and I do not understand you as having authority to propose any alteration. But on some future occasion a conventional article, clearly stating what are the limits of Central America, might become advisable.
Under the reclamation contained in this declaration on the part of the British Government, and in the reply contained in the note of the Secretary of State, the ratifications were exchanged on the 4th July, 1850, and on the next day a memorandum having reference thereto was filed by the Secretary in his department in the following words:
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, July 5, 1850. The within declaration of Sir H. L. Bulwer was received by me on the 29th day of June, 1850. In reply I wrote him my note of the 4th of July, acknowledging that I understood British Honduras was not embraced in the treaty of the 19th day of April last, but at the same time carefully declining to affirm or deny the British title in their settlement or its alleged dependencies. After signing iny note last night I delivered it to Sir Henry, and we immediately proceeded, without any further or other action, to exchange the ratifications of said treaty. The consent of the Senate to the declaration was not required, and the treaty was ratified as it stood when it was made.
JOHN M. CLAYTON. N. B.-The rights of no Central American State have been compromised by the treaty or by any part of the negotiations.
The terms of this declaration on the part of the British Government are full and explicit, and would seem intended to reserve the territory mentioned from the operation of the treaty; that is to say, if “Her Majesty's settlement at Honduras or its dependencies” did in fact forin “part of Central America,” then the treaty is to be so construed by the declaration as to exclude them from it.
The reply of the Secretary is amplified beyond the simple and precise meaning of the declaration. He says:
To this settlement and these islands (the alleged dependencies) the treaty we negotiated was not intended by either of us to apply.
Although the terms used by the Secretary would seem to be coextensive with those in the “declaration,” yet the meaning he gives them is clearly developed in what immediately follows, by which he strictly confines them to the “title” only. Ile says, in substance, that nothing contained in the treaty was intended in any way to affect
. the title, whatever it might be, of Great Britain to those possessions. It was not to be affirmed or disaflirmed, but was to remain precisely
where the treaty found it. In further development of this meaning the Secretary proceeds:
The difficulty that now arises seems to spring from the use in our convention of the term “Central America,” etc. But if your Government now intends to delay the exchange of ratifications until we shall have fixed the precise limits of Central America we must defer further action until we have further information on both sides, etc.
And again: Of course no alteration could be made in the convention as it stands without referring the same to the Senate; and I do not understand you as having authority to propose any alteration. But on some future occasion a conventional article, clearly stating what are the limits of Central America, might become advisable.
It thus appears to the committee that the British Government required, as a condition to exchange of ratifications, an acknowledg: ment on the part of this Government that none of the “engagements of the convention were to apply to their settlements at Honduras— that is to say, as to “colonizing,” “occupying,” “fortifying,” etc. This was declined by the Secretary of State; but he admitted that nothing in the convention was to be considered as affecting the “title" of Great Britain to her possessions in that quarter, which was simply to remain unprejudiced by the treaty.
The geographic position of these settlements, and whether they are or are not in “ Central America,” is left entirely an open question so far as this letter of the Secretary is concerned. It affirms only that, wherever they be, the treaty is to have no effect upon the "title. And on this head he further explains himself that if the British Government means by its “declaration to require a committal as to the precise limits of Central America, that could only be effected by an alteration of the treaty and a further reference to the Senate; yet, as it might become necessary at a future day for the two Governments to determine these limits, he suggests that it had better be left to a future conventional article."
What occasion was there to determine the limits of Central America but to settle the question whether these British possessions were or were not within them; and thus whether the engagements of the treaty did or did not apply to them; and to do this, the Secretary informed the minister of England, would require an alteration of the treaty and a further reference to the Senate.
In this posture of the question made by the British “declaration,” ratifications were formally exchanged by the British plenipotentiary, constituting a substantial waiver, or a reference to future negotiations of all that was not conceded by the Secretary's note. And the committee therefore conclude that the treaty remains unembarrassed in its operations by anything that intervened between its ratification by the Senate and its consummation by exchange of ratification, except so far as the “title" of Great Britain at the Belize may be concerned. Whether by fair and legitimate construction the text of the treaty would annul or impair this title and, in such case, what weight or efficiency should be ascribed to the concession of the Secretary of State, are questions which, in the opinion of the committee, it will be proper to consider only when they shall arise between the two Governments.
On the whole, the committee therefore report, as their opinion, to the Senate
That the islands of Roatan, Bonacca, Utilla, Barbarat, Helené, and Morat, in and near the Bay of Honduras, constitute part of the territory of the Republic of Honduras, and therefore form a part of “Central America,” and, in consequence, that any occupation or colonization of these islands by Great Britain would be a violation of the treaty of the 19th of April, 1850.
The committee, from the information before them, entertain a decided opinion that the British settlements at Belize, as defined by the treaties with Spain, lie within the territory of the Republic of Guatemala, and so equally constitute a part of “Central America.” Should such be the fact, whilst the committee are not prepared to say that the engagements of the treaty of 1850 would require that those settlements shall be abandoned and discontinued on the part of Great Britain, yet this Government would have just cause of complaint against any extension of the limits of these settlements beyond those prescribed by Spain or as further allowed by the republics where they may be found, and that in any manner to enlarge or change the character of those settlements by any mode of jurisdiction would be in violation of said treaty.
And in the event of its being ascertained hereafter that these British settlements on Honduras Bay lie in whole or in part north and west of the proper boundaries of Guatemala, though they would not in such case form any part of Central America, and thus not within the strict engagements of the treaty, yet that any colonies or other permanent establishments there by Great Britain or any European power must necessarily excite the most anxious concern of this Government, and would, if persisted in, lead to consequences of most unpleasant character.
On the resolution of the Senate referred to the committee they report the following:
Resolved (as the opinion of the committee), That the declaration on the part of the British Government, and the reply thereto by the Secretary of State, as preliminary to the exchange of ratifications of the treaty concluded at Washington between the Governments of Great Britain and the United States on the 19th April, 1850, import nothing more than an admission on the part of the two Governments or their functionaries at the time of such exchange that nothing contained in the treaty was to be considered as affecting the title or existing rights of Great Britain to the English settlements in Honduras Bay.
And, consequently, in the opinion of the committee, that no measures are necessary on the part of the Senate to be taken because of such declaration and reply.
February 17, 1853.
On the message of the President in relation to the exchange of ratifications of the general convention with the Republic of San Salvador, Mr. Mason reported as follows:
Whereas the time limited by the resolution of the Senate of the twenty-seventh September, eighteen hundred and fifty, for the exchange of the ratifications of the general convention of peace, amity, commerce, and navigation between the United States and the Republic of San Salvador, concluded at Leon, in Nicaragua, on the second of January, eighteen hundred and fifty, having expired before the said exchange of ratifications could be effected, and the ratifications of the said general convention having been since exchanged, notwithstanding such limitation, but upon the condition that the said general convention is not to be binding upon either of the parties thereto, or to be published by either, until the Senate of the United States shall have duly sanctioned the exchange of ratifications aforesaid: Therefore,
Resolved (two-thirds of the Senators present concurring), That the Senate advise and consent to the said exchange of ratifications of the general convention of peace, amity, commerce, and navigation between the United States and the Republic of San Salvador, concluded at Leon, in Nicaragua, on the second January, eighteen hundred and fifty, and the publication thereof, the limitations contained in the said general convention and in the resolution of the Senate of the twentyseventh September, eighteen hundred and fifty, to the contrary notwithstanding
(Ex. Jour., vol. 9, pp. 32, 144.)
THIRTY-THIRD CONGRESS, SPECIAL SESSION.
March 9, 1853. Mr. Mason made the following report:
The Committee on Foreign Relations, to whom was referred the convention between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Belgium for regulating the right of inheriting and acquiring property, concluded at the city of Washington the 25th day of August, 1852, beg to report it to the Senate with certain amendments, and to recommend that the amendments be agreed to and that the convention be advised and consented to as amended.
The amendments are as follows:
ARTICLE III. It is hereby understood that the stipulations of Article I, inasmuch as they concern immovable property, and that those of Article II shall be applicable in those states only of the Union the legislation of which is not contrary to said stipulations.
Change the numbers of the subsequent articles of the convention to correspond.
THIRTY-THIRD CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION.
January 24, 1854.
Mr. Mason made the following report:
The Committee on Foreign Relations, to whom was referred the treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation between the United States and Paraguay, concluded and signed in the city of Assumption on the 4th day of March, 1853, beg to report the same to the Senate and to recommend its ratification with a supplemental article which, if adopted by Paraguay, shall be in lieu of the fifteenth article of the treaty, as follows:
Article 15. Strike out the following words: “And if a year before the expiration of that term neither the one nor the other contracting party shall announce by an official declaration its intention to put an end to the effect of said treaty, it shall continue for a year longer, so that it in this case (it) shall cease to be binding at the expiration of seven years, counted from the above-mentioned day of the exchange of the ratifications,” and insert the following in lieu thereof: And, further, until the end of twelve months after the Government of the