NICARAGUA CANAL. A proposed ship canal across the territory of Nicaragua. by way of Lake Nicaragua. connecting the Atlantic and Oceans, The question of inb.roeeanic column:tie:Ilion across Central America first be gan to oeenpy the attention of the United States shortly after the establishment of the inde pendence of the Spanish American republics. It formed one of the proposed subjects of discussion at the Panama Congress of 1826, Henry Clay, then Secretary of State, instructing the Com missioners from the United States to investi gate "the practicability and the probable expense of the undertaking on the routes which offer the greatest facilities." In March, 183,5, the Senate instrueted the President to open negotiations with the governments of Central America and New Granada with a view to affording protection to any individuals or companies that should un dertake to construct a canal connecting the Atlantic and Paeifie oceans, and for insuring the free and equal navigation of the canal by all nations. During the administrations of Presi dents Jackson and Van Buren commissioners for the purpose were successively appointed, one of whom reported in favor of the Nicaragua route. The interest of the United States in the project was increased by the establishment of a British protectorate over the Mosquito Coast (q.v.) and the acquisition of California and the subsequent discovery of gold there. In 1849 the Government of Nicaragua granted to a company, of which Cornelius Vanderbilt was the chief member, the right to construct a ship canal across the territory of that State. This concession lapsed in 1850 on account of the non-fulfillment of the conditions. In the same
year in which the Vanderbilt concession was granted, Mr. Hise, the charge d'affaires of the United States in Nicaragua, concluded, without authority from his Government, a treaty with Nicaragua, by which the United States received a grant of perpetual and exclusive right of way for the construction of a canal across the Isth mus, and with full jurisdiction over the same, in spite of the British claim to the Mosquito Coast. In return the United States agreed to guarantee the integrity of Nicaragua. and forever protect her in the exercise of all her sovereign rights. The treaty did not meet with the approval of President Taylor, and accord ingly was not submitted to the Senate, although it was held for a time as a means of influencing the action of Great Britain in the negotiations then in progress for settlement of the contro versy in regard to the Mosquito protectorate.
It was now general ly believed that the Nicaragua route was the most feasible for the construction of a ship canal, but the claim of Great Britain to the territory around the mouth of the San Juan River, the proposed eastern terminus, was an obstacle to the United States. It was felt to be too serious an undertaking to dislodge her from this position, and it was there fore resolved to negotiate with a view to securing her coiipe•ation in guaranteeing the neutrality of the proposed canal. This was accomplished by the so-called Clayton-Bulw•er Treaty (q.v.) of 1850. (For the abrogation of this treaty in 1901. see HAY-PAI?NCEFOTE TREATY and PANAMA