America's Foreign Relations - Vol. 2

By Willis Fletcher Johnson | Go to book overview

XXXIV
THE ISTHMIAN CANAL

AMERICA'S embarrassment was France's opportunity. The dispute with Great Britain over the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, and the discredit and odium which were incurred by this country through the Walker episode in Nicaragua, served for a time as a hopeless handicap upon all American schemes for an interoceanic canal across any part of the Central American isthmus. Then was Louis Napoleon's chance. While a prisoner at Ham he had speculated upon the immeasurable possibilities of such a waterway, even offering to renounce forever his pretensions to the French imperial crown if he were released and permitted to go to Nicaragua to essay that enterprise. Following Walker's raids he sent over a shrewd agent, Felix Belly, who represented to the Central American States that the United States was their enemy and that their only safety lay in the protection of the three European powers which had just guaranteed the integrity of Turkey, namely, France, Great Britain, and Sardinia; and persuaded Nicaragua and Costa Rica to settle their differences, and to grant him a canal concession. This was to give him all the privileges which the American Atlantic and Pacific Canal Company had enjoyed, and in addition the right to maintain two French warships in Lake Nicaragua.

This was in May, 1858. The United States government was perplexed with ominous domestic complications, but it could not ignore this menace. Cass, the secretary of state, accordingly informed the French government, through Mason, our minister in Paris, that the United States desired to see the Isthmian routes opened and free for the commerce of the world, and the States of that region well governed, prosperous, and free from the control of all foreign powers; that it could not consent to the assumption of any European authority over those States; and that the landing of any European forces there would have

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America's Foreign Relations - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents of Volume II iii
  • Portraits in Volume II ix
  • Xxi the Civil War--Neutrality 3
  • Xxii the Civil War--Intervention 28
  • Xxiii Some North American Complications 51
  • Xxiv British Relations 75
  • Xxv Dealings with British America 95
  • Xxvi Some Diplomatic Miscellany 116
  • Xxvii Embroilment at Samoa 136
  • Xxviii the Annexation of Hawaii 161
  • Xxix Latin-American Neighbors 185
  • Xxx Dealings with the Far East 211
  • Xxxi the War with Spain 237
  • Xxxii Results of the War 259
  • Xxxiii Later Relations with the Far East 281
  • Xxxiv the Isthmian Canal 306
  • Chapter XXXV Settlements and Unsettlements 327
  • Xxxvi War and Peace 353
  • Appendices 381
  • Index 453
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