Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

Hemisphere. It is noteworthy that Brazil, invited while under an imperial form of government, shared as a Republic in the deliberations and results of the Conference. The recommendations of this Conference were all transmitted to Congress at the last session.

The International Marine Conference, which sat at Washington last winter, reached a very gratifying result. The regulations suggested have been brought to the attention of all the governments represented, and their general adoption is confidently expected. The legislation of Congress at the last session is in conformity with the propositions of the Conference, and the proclamation therein provided for will be issued when the other powers have given notice of their adhesion.

The conference of Brussels, to devise means for suppressing the slave trade in Africa, afforded an opportunity for a new expression of the interest the American people feel in that great work. It soon became evident that the measure proposed would tax the resources of the Congo Basin beyond the revenues available under the general act of Berlin of 1884. The United States, not being a party to that act, could not share in its revision, but by a separate act the independent State of the Congo was freed from the restrictions upon a customs revenue. The demoralizing and destructive traffic in ardent spirits among the tribes also claimed the earnest attention of the conference, and the delegates of the United States were foremost in advocating measures for its repression. An accord was reached, the influence of which will be very helpful and extend over a wide region. As soon as these measures shall receive the sanction of the Netherlands, for a time withheld, the general acts will be submitted for ratification by the Senate. Meanwhile negotiations have been opened for a new and complete treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation between the United States and the independent State of the Congo.

Toward the end of the past year the only independent monarchical government on the Western Continent, that of Brazil, ceased to exist and was succeeded by a Republic. Diplomatic relations were at once established with the new government, but it was not completely recognized until an opportunity had been afforded to ascertain that it had popular approval and support. When the course of events had yielded assurance of this fact, no time was lost in extending to the new government a full and cordial welcome into the family

of American Commonwealths. It is confidently believed that the good relations of the two countries will be preserved, and that the future will witness an increased intimacy of intercourse and an expansion of their mutual commerce.

The peace of Central America has again been disturbed through a revolutionary change in Salvador, which was not recognized by other States, and hostilities broke out between Salvador and Guatemala, threatening to involve all Central America in conflict and to undo the progress which had been made toward a union of their interests. The efforts of this Government were promptly and zealously exerted to compose their differences, and through the active efforts of the representative of the United States a provisional treaty of peace was signed August 26, whereby the right of the Republic of Salvador to choose its own rulers was recognized. General Ezeta, the chief of the Provisional Government, has since been confirmed in the Presidency by the Assembly, and diplomatic recognition duly followed.

The killing of General Barrundia on board the Pacific mail steamer Acapulco, while anchored in transit in the port of San José de Guatemala, demanded careful inquiry. Having failed in a revolutionary attempt to invade Guatemala from Mexican territory, General Barrundia took passage at Acapulco for Panama. The consent of the representatives of the United States was sought to effect his seizure, first at Champerico, where the steamer touched, and afterwards at San José. The captain of the steamer refused to give up his passenger without a written order from the United States minister; the latter furnished the desired letter, stipulating, as the condition of his action, that General Barrundia's life should be spared and that he should be tried only for offenses growing out of his insurrectionary movements. This letter was produced to the captain of the Acapulco by the military commander at San José, as his warrant to take the passenger from the steamer. General Barrundia resisted capture and was killed. It being evident that the minister, Mr. Mizner, had exceeded the bounds of his authority in intervening, in compliance with the demands of the Guatemalan authorities, to authorize and effect, in violation of precedent, the seizure on a vessel of the United States of a passenger in transit charged with political offenses, in order that he might be tried for such offenses under what was described as martial law, I was constrained to disavow Mr. Mizner's act and recall him from his post.

The Nicaragua Canal project, under the control of our citizens, is making most encouraging progress, all the preliminary conditions and initial operations having been accomplished within the prescribed time.

During the past year negotiations have been renewed for the settlement of the claims of American citizens against the Government of Chili, principally growing out of the late war with Peru. The reports from our minister at Santiago warrant the expectation of an early and satisfactory adjustment.

Our relations with China, which have for several years occupied so important a place in our diplomatic history, have called for careful consideration and have been the subject of much correspondence.

The communications of the Chinese Minister have brought into view the whole subject of our conventional relations with his country; and at the same time this Government, through its legation at Peking, has sought to arrange various matters and complaints touching the interests and protection of our citizens in China.

In pursuance of the concurrent resolution of October 1, 1890, I have proposed to the Governments of Mexico and Great Britain to consider a conventional regulation of the passage of Chinese laborers across our southern and northern frontiers.

On the 22d day of August last Sir Edmund Monson, the arbitrator selected under the treaty of December 6, 1888, rendered an award to the effect that no compensation was due from the Danish Government to the United States on account of what is commonly known as the Carlos Butterfield claim.

Our relations with the French Republic continue to be cordial. Our representative at that court has very diligently urged the removal of the restrictions imposed upon our meat products, and it is believed that substantial progress has been made towards a just

settlement.

The Samoan treaty, signed last year at Berlin by the representatives of the United States, Germany, and Great Britain, after due ratification and exchange has begun to produce salutary effects. The formation of the government agreed upon will soon replace the disorder of the past by a stable administration, alike just to the natives and equitable to the three powers most concerned in trade and intercourse with the Samoan Islands. The chief justice has

been chosen by the King of Sweden and Norway, on the invitation of the three powers, and will soon be installed. The land commission and the municipal council are in process of organization. A rational and evenly distributed scheme of taxation, both municipal and upon imports, is in operation. Malietoa is respected as King.

The new treaty of extradition with Great Britain, after due ratification, was proclaimed on the 25th of last March. Its beneficial working is already apparent.

The difference between the two Governments touching the furseal question in the Behring Sea is not yet adjusted, as will be seen by the correspondence which will soon be laid before Congress. The offer to submit the question to arbitration, as proposed by Her Majesty's Government, has not been accepted, for the reason that the form of submission proposed is not thought to be calculated to assure a conclusion satisfactory to either party. It is sincerely hoped that before the opening of another sealing season some arrangement may be effected which will assure to the United States a property right, derived from Russia, which was not disregarded by any nation for more than eighty years preceding the outbreak of the existing trouble.

In the tariff act a wrong was done to the Kingdom of Hawaii which I am bound to presume was wholly unintentional. Duties were levied on certain commodities which are included in the reciprocity treaty now existing between the United States and the Kingdom of Hawaii, without indicating the necessary exception in favor of that kingdom. I hope Congress will repair what might otherwise seem to be a breach of faith on the part of this Govern

ment.

An award in favor of the United States in the matter of the claim of Mr. Van Bokkelen against Hayti was rendered on the 4th of December, 1888, but owing to disorders then and afterwards prevailing in Hayti the terms of payment were not observed. A new agreement as to the time of payment has been approved and is now in force. Other just claims of citizens of the United States for redress of wrongs suffered during the late political conflict in Hayti will, it is hoped, speedily yield to friendly treatment.

Propositions for the amendment of the treaty of extradition between the United States and Italy are now under consideration.

[ocr errors]

You will be asked to provide the means of accepting the invitation of the Italian Government to take part in an approaching conference to consider the adoption of a universal prime meridian from which to reckon longitude and time. As this proposal follows in the track of the reform sought to be initiated by the Meridian Conference of Washington, held on the invitation of this Government, the United States should manifest a friendly interest in the Italian proposal.

In this connection I may refer with approval to the suggestion of my predecessors, that standing provision be made for accepting, whenever deemed advisable, the frequent invitations of foreign governments to share in conferences looking to the advancement of international reforms in regard to science, sanitation, commercial laws and procedure, and other matters affecting the intercourse and progress of modern communities.

In the summer of 1889 an incident occurred which for some time threatened to interrupt the cordiality of our relations with the Government of Portugal. That Government seized the Delagoa Bay Railway, which was constructed under a concession granted to an American citizen, and at the same time annulled the charter. The concessionary, who had embarked his fortune in the enterprise, having exhausted other means of redress, was compelled to invoke the protection of his Government. Our representations, made coincidently with those of the British Government, whose subjects were also largely interested, happily resulted in the recognition by Portugal of the propriety of submitting the claim for indemnity, growing out of its action, to arbitration. This plan of settlement having been agreed upon, the interested powers readily concurred in the proposal to submit the case to the judgment of three eminent jurists, to be designated by the President of the Swiss Republic, who, upon the joint invitation of the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, and Portugal, has selected persons well qualified for the task before them.

The revision of our treaty relations with the Empire of Japan has continued to be the subject of consideration and of correspondence. The questions involved are both grave and delicate; and, while it will be my duty to see that the interests of the United States are not by any changes exposed to undue discrimination, I sincerely hope that such revision as will satisfy the legitimate expectations of the Japanese Government, and maintain the present and long existing friendly relations between Japan and the United States, will be effected.

« ÎnapoiContinuați »