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Mr. Bayard, in a despatch transmitting this to our minister to England, says that our Government has heretofore acted upon the assumption that the boundary controversy between Great Britain and Venezuela was one based on historical facts, which without difficulty could be determined according to evidence, but that the British pretension now stated gives rise to grave disquietude, and creates the apprehension that their territorial claim does not follow historical traditions or evidence, but is apparently indefinite. He refers to the British Colonial Office list of previous years, and calls attention to the wide detour to the westward in the boundaries of British Guiana between the years 1877 and 1887, as shown in that record. He suggests that our minister “express anew to Lord Salisbury the great gratification it would afford our Government to see the Venezuelan dispute amicably and honorably settled by arbitration or otherwise,” and adds: “If indeed it should appear that there is no fixed 244 limit to the British boundary claim, our good disposition to aid in a settlement might not only be defeated, but be obliged to give place to a feeling of grave concern.”

It was about this time that the Venezuelan minister, in a note expressing his appreciation of our efforts to bring about a settlement of the dispute, made the following statement:

    Disastrous and fatal consequences would ensue for the independence of South America if, under the pretext of a question of boundaries, Great Britain should succeed in consummating the usurpation of a third part of our territory, and therewith a river so important as the Orinoco. Under the pretext of a mere question of boundaries which began on the banks of the Essequibo, we now find ourselves on the verge of losing regions lying more than five degrees away from that river.

On May 1, 1890, Mr. Blaine, Mr. Bayard’s successor as Secretary of State, instructed Mr. Robert T. Lincoln, our minister to England, “to use his good offices with Lord Salisbury to bring about the resumption of diplomatic intercourse between Great Britain and Venezuela as a preliminary step toward the settlement of the boundary dispute by arbitration.” He also requested him “to propose to Lord Salisbury, with a view to an accommodation, that an informal conference be had in Washington or in 245 London of representatives of the three powers.” The secretary added: “In such conference the position of the United States is one solely of impartial friendship toward both litigants.”

In response to this instruction Mr. Lincoln had an interview with Lord Salisbury. On this occasion his Lordship said that her Majesty’s Government had not for some time been keen in attempts to settle the dispute, in view of their feeling of uncertainty as to the stability of the present Venezuelan Government and the frequency of revolutions in that quarter; but that he would take pleasure in considering our suggestion after consulting the Colonial Office, to which it would first have to be referred. Mr. Lincoln, in giving his impressions derived from the interview, says that “while Lord Salisbury did not intimate what would probably be the nature of his reply, there was certainly nothing unfavorable in his manner of receiving the suggestion”; and he follows this with these significant words: “If the matter had been entirely new and dissociated with its previous history, I should have felt from his tone that the idea of arbitration in some form, to put an end to the boundary dispute, was quite agreeable to him.” 246

On the 26th of May, 1890, Lord Salisbury addressed a note to Mr. Lincoln, in which his Lordship stated that her Majesty’s Government was at that moment in communication with the Venezuelan minister in Paris, who had been authorized to express the desire of his Government for the renewal of diplomatic relations, and to discuss the conditions on which it might be effected; that the terms on which her Majesty’s Government considered that a settlement of the question in issue between the two countries might be made, had been communicated to Venezuela’s representative; that his reply was still awaited, and that the British Government “would wish to have the opportunity of examining that reply, and ascertaining what prospect it would afford of an adjustment of existing differences, before considering the expediency of having recourse to the good offices of a third party.”

No mention was made, in this communication, nor at any time thereafter, so far as I can discover, of Mr. Blaine’s proposal of a conference among representatives of the three nations interested in an adjustment.

Lord Salisbury, in a despatch to the English representative at Washington, dated November 11, 1891, stated that our minister to 247 England had, in conversation with him, renewed, on the part of our Government, the expression of a hope that the Government of Great Britain would refer the boundary dispute to arbitration; that his Lordship had expressed his willingness to submit to arbitration all the questions which seemed to his government to be fairly capable of being treated as questions of controversy; that the principal obstacle was the rupture of diplomatic relations caused by Venezuela’s act; and that before the Government of Great Britain could renew negotiations they must be satisfied that those relations were about to be resumed with a prospect of their continuance.

While our Government was endeavoring to influence Great Britain in the direction of fair and just arbitration, and receiving for our pains only barren assurances and procrastinating excuses, the appeals of Venezuela for help, stimulated by allegations of constantly increasing English pretensions, were incessantly ringing in our ears.

Without mentioning a number of these appeals, and passing over a period of more than two years, I shall next refer to a representation made by the Venezuelan minister at Washington on March 31, 1894, to Mr. Gresham, who 248 was then our Secretary of State. In this communication the course of the controversy and the alleged unauthorized acts of England from the beginning to that date were rehearsed with circumstantial particularity. The conduct of Great Britain in refusing arbitration was again reprobated, and pointed reference was made to a principle which had been asserted by the United States, “that the nations of the American continent, after having acquired the liberty and independence which they enjoy and maintain, were not subject to colonization by any European power.” The minister further declared that “Venezuela has been ready to adhere to the conciliatory counsel of the United States that a conference, consisting of its own Representative and those of the two parties, should meet at Washington or London for the purpose of preparing an honorable re?stablishment of harmony between the litigants,” and that “Great Britain has disregarded the equitable proposition of the United States.”

On July 13, 1894, Mr. Gresham sent a despatch to Mr. Bayard, formerly Secretary of State, but then ambassador to England, inclosing the communication of the Venezuelan minister, calling particular attention to its contents, and at the same time briefly discussing the boundary dispute. In this despatch Mr. Gresham said: 249

    The recourse to arbitration first proposed in 1881, having been supported by your predecessors, was in turn advocated by you, in a spirit of friendly regard for the two nations involved. In the meantime successive advances of British settlers in the region admittedly in dispute were followed by similar advances of British Colonial administration, contesting and supplanting Venezuelan claims to exercise authority therein.

He adds: “Toward the end of 1887, the British territorial claim, which had, as it would seem, been silently increased by some twenty-three thousand square miles between 1885 and 1886, took another comprehensive sweep westward to embrace” a certain rich mining district. “Since then,” the secretary further states, “repeated efforts have been made by Venezuela as a directly interested party, and by the United States as the impartial friend of both countries, to bring about a resumption of diplomatic relations, which had been suspended in consequence of the dispute now under consideration.”

This despatch concludes as follows:

    The President is inspired by a desire for a peaceable and honorable adjustment of the existing difficulties between an American state and a powerful transatlantic nation, and would be glad to see the re?stablishment of such diplomatic relations between them as would promote that end. I can discover but 250 two equitable solutions to the present controversy. One is the arbitral determination of the rights of the disputants as the respective successors to the historical rights of Holland and Spain over the region in question. The other is to create a new boundary-line in accordance with the dictates of mutual expediency and consideration. The two Governments having so far been unable to agree on a conventional line, the consistent and conspicuous advocacy by the United States and England of the principle of arbitration, and their recourse thereto in settlement of important questions arising between them, makes such a mode of adjustment especially appropriate in the present instance; and this Government will gladly do what it can to further a determination in that sense.

In another despatch to Mr. Bayard, dated December 1, 1894, Mr. Gresham says:

    I cannot believe Her Majesty’s Government will maintain that the validity of their claim to territory long in dispute between the two countries shall be conceded as a condition precedent to the arbitration of the question whether Venezuela is entitled to other territory, which until a recent period was never in doubt. Our interest in the question has repeatedly been shown by our friendly efforts to further a settlement alike honorable to both countries, and the President is pleased to know that Venezuela will soon renew her efforts to bring about such an adjustment.

Two days afterward, on December 3, 1894, the President’s annual message was sent to the 251 Congress, containing the following reference to the controversy:

    The boundary of British Guiana still remains in dispute between Great Britain and Venezuela. Believing that its early settlement on some just basis alike honorable to both parties is in the line of our established policy to remove from this hemisphere all causes of difference with powers beyond the sea, I shall renew the efforts heretofore made to bring about a restoration of diplomatic relations between the disputants and to induce a reference to arbitration—a resort which Great Britain so conspicuously favors in principle and respects in practice, and which is earnestly sought by her weaker adversary.

On the twenty-second day of February, 1895, a joint resolution was passed by the Congress, earnestly recommending to both parties in interest the President’s suggestion “that Great Britain and Venezuela refer their dispute as to boundaries to friendly arbitration.”

A despatch dated February 23, 1895, from Great Britain’s Foreign Office to the English ambassador at Washington, stated that on the twenty-fifth day of January, 1895, our ambassador, Mr. Bayard, had, in an official interview, referred to the boundary controversy, and said “that his Government would gladly lend their good offices to bring about a settlement by means of an arbitration.” The despatch further 252 stated that Mr. Bayard had thereupon been informed that her Majesty’s Government had expressed their willingness to submit the question, within certain limits, to arbitration, but could not agree to the more extensive reference on which the Venezuelan Government insisted; that Mr. Bayard called again on the twentieth day of February, when a memorandum was read to him concerning the situation and a map shown him of the territory in dispute; that at the same time he was informed that the Venezuelans had recently made an aggression upon the territory of English occupation, and, according to report, ill-treated some of the col............
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