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Full text of "Nicaragua and the interoceanic canal"

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BENARD 
NICARAGUA 

AND THE 

INTEROCEANIC 
CANAL 



BANCROFT 



University of California Berkeley 



CANAt, 



BMILIO BEIM 'A.RD, 



jj : )iA>.?J.Sl>'-U?y'iSD*>JI.NlotEK PLENit'OtKNTiiBV OF 

^f.^i.mviMUj'irpuc I.M-/TKE UJOTED STATT:-: '" 







1874, 



=-- 



CONSIDERATIONS 

KESI'ECTISO 




THE NICARAGUA SHIP CANA 



The discovery of the now world, ami the project of cut 
ting a canal through it to facilitate coin mimifat ion be- 
tween the Atlantic and Pacific v>ee:ms, arc eoetaneous. 
But tlie elaboration of those doe.ds which mark an epoch 
is slow. Great events often need centuries to be executed, 
arnl tlie previous discussions to whieh they from time lo 
time give rise, are only the forerunners of their future re- 
alization. 

While the various countries of America, were still colo- 
nies, the canal was n<>(. forgotten, it is true, although no 
adequate efforts were made to secure its construction. 
The commerce, of those days did not. demand such an aux- 
iliary. 'When, however, the entire .continent began to 
share that liberty which was first secured and proclaimed 
by the United States; when it found itself tlie arbiter of 
its own destinies, every section that possessed an isthmus 
became enthusiastic for the const ruction of the great, work, 
thinking that the time for its accomplishment had arrived. 

Such was the feeling in Central America, :lnd espeeiallv 
in Nicaragua, when that country became a sovereign na- 
tion, for Nicaragua, thinks that the canal will be the 
most speedy and ellicacious means to promote her prosper- 
ity, and that its construction is only a question of time. 

Kntertaimng this conviction, the Xicaraguan Govern- 
ment has always received proposals fur the construct. ion of 
the work with enthusiasm. It may he confident 1 v as- 
serted that so great joy never prevailed in that Republic,. 



_- 



I 
2 \ 

MS \vliou the CsiHfonlia gold mi no* wore discovered, be- 
cause it wji.-; thought th;:t, by reason <>f (ho impetus which 
would thus ho. given to emigration and I,, tlic commerce 
of all lint ions, tin; longed-for moment \vus at hand. 

Over-hash-, resulf ing-from the. eon viol ion above referred 
to, has,:it various times, boon a 'snmvi'of disappointment 
to the Republic, negotiations having hoon entered into 
with parties who were powerless to fulfill their engage- 
ment. Those disappoint nients, liowovor, have not dis- 
couraged her ; she has remained unshaken in lier belief 
that the interest of the world at large will one day cause 
the powerful hand to he uplifted, which is to open com- 
munication between the two oceans. 

The Uniied States, that enterprising nation, which has j 
the gift of accomplishing what it designs, and which has 
the genius and the power to thrust aside all obstacles that 
stand in the way of great things, have doubtless inspired 
the men who control their destinies, and who will, beyond 
a doubt, satisfy their noble aspirations. 

This Government has sent various exploring expedi- 
tions to examine the routes by which the work was con- 
sidered practicable. This shows the lively interest with 
which this matter is ivg.-irdcd at the present time, and 
furnishes evidence that, it will hereafter receive the con- 
sideration that it deserves. 

In view of the many facts now in pos.ses.sion of the pub- 
lic, which it is unnecessary to repeat here, the expeditions 
which have visiled Nicaragua are satisfied that they have 
found the route marked out by nature. 

If Nicaragua would be gratiiiod to see the canal con- 
structed through the territory of any nation on this conti- 
nent, inasmuch as they arc all her sisters, and the bene- 
fits accruing from such a work would be enjoyed more or 
less by all, her gratification would of course be greater 
should the territory selected be her own. 

The engineers who have- examined the Nicaragua!) isth- 

%^ O 

inns have seen that there are no serious obstacles in the 



way of the enterprise, and although their observations 
were confined to the line of the canal, they nevertheless 
gained a clear idea of the elements of wealth in which 
that favored region abounds; still, A short description will 
not he superfluous, for the benefit of those who have not 
visited the country, and of those who may have become 
or who may desire to become directly interested in the 
matter. 

I. 

The healthful ness of the Xicaraguan coast, on either 
ocean, could not be greater than it is ; it is exceptional, 
because the coasts of tropical countries on this continent 
are for the most part sickly. At Sun Juan del Xoiie, 
"Capo Gracias, Corinto and San Juan del Sur, families, 
both native and foreisrn, have been living for manv vears, 

r> ^r> . . 

and have never found it necessary to emigrate on account 
of diseases prevailing in those places. When the journey 
to California was made via Nicaragua, hundreds of thou- 
sands of persons crossed that isthmus, and, notwithstand- 
ing the delays rendered necessary by a defective transit, 
the health of travelers was never known to suller from 
epidemics. This statement will he vouched for by the va- 
rious exploring expeditions which this Government .has 
recently sent to Nicaragua. The many persons composing 
the same have had a good opportunity to appreciate, dur- 
ing the performance of the long anil painful tasks allotted 
to them, the incomparable salubrity of that delightful cli- 
nuite, which is cooled and purified by a constant breeze. 
Along the river San Juan this salubrity is to be won- 
dered at, when we consider that its banks are covered 
with the most luxuriant vegetation. Hundreds of A/</mw, 
or rubber-hunters, penetrate those dense thickets, beinr 
engaged the whole year round in extracting that gum, 
the trade in which, such is its abundance, keeps many 
persons, both natives and foreigners, at San Juan del iS'orte, 



there being not a few, who, willi this one article, havo 
amassed cotiKiclcniblc fortunes. Those intrepid developers 
of the country's wealth, whose life is passed in ihc midst 
of privations :uid hardships, enjoy the most, perfect health. 
I( would he superfluous to speak of the interior of tho 
'Country, where the elimafe is the most, delightful that can 
ho de*iivd. Americans and Mnropeans who live there ran 
best testify to the truth of this statement. However tittle 
knowledge one may have oi that region, the excellence 
and variety of its climate will ho readily perceived, the 
northeast wind blowing there during the entire year, and 
the country extending from the fertile plains of the .Pacific 
to the elevated table-lands which overlook the Atlantic 
on the north. 

II. 

The Central American States, like almost the whole of 
'America, are very mountainous, and the various moun- 
tain-chains and their branches intersect each other in 
every direction. .Nicaragua, alone is there an exception 
in this respect. .Four of its departments, llivas, Granada, 
Leon and Ghhmwlcga, the principal ones as regards the 
development of tl.eir agriculture, commerce and manufac- 
tures, are level, especially the one first named, which com- 
prises the isthmus proper, and which has always been 
considered as the most suitable locality for the cunal. 

The Andes range of mountains, so lofty throughout its 
whole extent, is broken in Nicaragua, as if Nature had de- 
signed to remove this great obstacle, leaving the rest of 
the work only to be accomplished by the skill and labor 
of man. 



III. 



The materials which would be required for the construe" 
tion of the work are found in inexhaustible quantities in 



5 

the departments referred to. The white and brown lime 
found in the numerous pit* which they eon t it in j is of so 
excellent a Duality that 'mortar made IVoia it is not infe- 
rior to Roman cement. Coaiiuandcr Edward I 1 . Lull, TJ. 
S. X., and Mr. Aniceto 0. Menoeal, civil engineer, both 
distinguished explorers of that isllmms, were surprised at 
the solidity of sundry very old i<l ilices built with this 
material, and have brought specimens of it to this coun- 
try {'or the purpose of submitting them to scientific exam- 
inations. 

Immense quarries, containing stone in every variety, 
ure found in the immediate vicinity of the proposed line 
of the canal. Moreover, that none of the requisites for 
mason-work may be wanting, clay of a superior quality, 
suitable for the manufacture of bri^k, abounds in the same 
locality. 

The abundance of timber which would be. available for 
the enterprise, from San Juan del Xorte to 1'rilo, or any 
Other. point on the .Pacilie, which ini^ht be selected as one 
of the. termini of the canal, is still more |rotUMu* v tthl 
not. only is limber found suitable for the conslruelion of 
building*, vessels, or other preparatory works \, hieh 
miu'ht be required, but r.lso of a quality which is remark- 
able on account, of its durability when placed under 
P round or under water. 

Tlie eni;'iin,'errf of the expe<lil ions which have explored 
the isthmus, were frequently struck with astonishment at 
the lavish bounty with which nature had provided, alonu; 
the entire route examined by them, all the materials that 
would be required. 

The prodigality of Nature, however, did not end there. 
She also designed to facilitate the conveyance of these 
materials, and formed that wonderful chain of lakes, 
which extends from north to south throughout the rent re 
of almost the entire Republic, thus creating a natural and 
permanent means of communication, which leaves not hiujj; 
to be desired. She also formed the plains which lie be- 



6 

t \vocn the lakes and the Pacific, and which arc now inter- 
sected by wagon-road* in every direction. 

IV.* "> 

While Kicanigna $as, in abundance, the materials rc- 
quitvd lor the work, slic also has a population which un- 
derstands its meaning; wbieli desires it, and wbieli will 
give it a derisive impulse by furnishing its quota of me- 
chanics, an<l of intelligent, docile laborers, wbo are inured 
to every kind of toil. The wages of such persons, wbieli 
jiroso high in other countries on aeeonntof tbo beavy eost 
of living, are in Nicaragua one dollar per diem for the 
class first mentioned, aaad lifry cents for the latter. The 
population of the Republic beiu^ tbreebundred thousand, 
it could easily furnish from three to Jive thousand men 
for the work in <[iicst.icw, without prejudice to its agricul- 
ture and other branches of industry. The Nicaragua!! la- 
borer, moreover, must be considered as the most perfect 
model of what is required for work of this kind ; having 
a thorough knowledge of the country, through h'm fond- 
ness forjl raveling, not 3)cing affected by the heat of the 
tropics, accustomed to.labor, unmindful of the inclemency 
of the weather, frugal in his 'mode of life, of n cheerful 
disposition, and faithful lo his employer, be seems to pos- 
sess every condition mvdcd in order to render his assis- 
tance valuable in the laighest decree. 

Xot only Nicaragua, however, will furnish men to aid 
in tlio accomplishment of the great project. Her sisters 
and neighbors, the Republics of Central America, eon tain- 
ing a population of t\v<o millions, will lend their powerful 
aid. It may be said Ojiit the laboring class of Guatemala, 
Salvador, Honduras, amd Costa Rica is as well adapted to 
perform the labor which this ivork "will require, and to 
support the hardships incident thereto, as is that ot'Xica- 
ragua. Besides, the deling which prevails among the 
people of those countries, and the friendly disposition of 



7 

their governments, are a guarantee of their hearty co-op- 
eration. The inhabitants of all those count ries justly con- 
sider the Nicaragua canal as a national work, and as the 
most effective step which can be taken, in the way of 
peaceful -measures, towards the establishment of a Central 
American Union. The o(Heiul communications which 
have recently been addressed to Nicaragua by those Gov- 
ernments, and which will be found at the end of this 
pamphlet, furnish reliable evidence of these generous sen- 
timents. 

.V 

Now that I have spoken, although very briefly, of 
the favorable conditions presented by that portion of the 
Republic which extends along the 1'aeilic, and of the pe- 
culiar facilities which it oilers for agriculture, it will not 
be out of pi nee to make Borne rel-rence to the almost 
untouched wealth of the broad sl.rip of land which bor- 
ders on the Atlantic on the east. 

The .Departments of Segovia, Matagalpa,, Chontalcs, 
and the Mosquito territory, which are situated in that 
region, could not have been more mimiliccntly endowed 
by nature. Favored, as they are, by the variety of cli- 
mate resulting from the elevation of their mountains and 
the depth of their valleys, watered by innumerable, rivers 
and streams, motive power and wealth of soil present 
themselves there at every step to the industry of man. 
Medicinal and fragrant plants, such as sarsuparilla, gin- 
ger, and vanilla, are everywhere met with; vast forests 
are found, consisting of logwood, mo ran- wood, mahogany, 
ebony and various other kinds of wood used in dyeing 
and line cabinet-work; gums and balsams, such as co- 
paiva, caoutchouc, balsnmum nigrum and gutta percha 
abound. The richest .deposits of gold, silver, quicksilver, 
copper, and other minerals are found at t lie very surface 
of the earth. 

Who does not know that Chontalcs is called the gold 



region? And what shall we say ot'tlie animal kingdom? 
So ninny arc the varieties of whidi it is Com|K>sed, that it 
would lie necessary toivrile many pages in order merely 
to give an idrji of thenu 

In those hejiartments we find, succeeding cadi other 
in admiral)!*! harmony, extensive plains oi natural pas- 
ture, where vast herds of neat cattle and horses, graze; 
fertile table-lands at ;i considerable height above the 
level otM he sen, W'heit* wheat grow* by t.he side of the 
finu'ar-cnnc: and, on the lofty and cold mountain-toiis, 
wild silk and vc:;'(dnblo wax are produced in the imme- 
vlinte vic.inity of l!ie iit:ijestio forests of piich-pine. 

Those regions only need adequate means of .communi- 
cation in order to oiler their incalculable wealth in the 
utmost abundance to the thrones of emigrants who an- 
nually leave their native hind, fleeing from the .sterility 
of a soil which has bcvn impoverished by long and unin- 
terrupted cultivation, v-r: 

Few localities are . so well adapted as those which I 
am now describing, to one of the imperative necessities 
of the canal. This is- referred TO by lion. C. M. Hobcson, 
Secretary of the Xavy, in his report, for IST'J, in the fol- 
lowing remarkable wor<1s: u The route of the. proposed 
canal, besides geographical position, should, if possible, 
be through a locality ijahle of developing local |>opula- 
tion, wealth, trade, ami agrieull me; for the.-e, in them- 
selves, would be a protectorate and guardian of the great 
work, and would provide sufficient supplies, repairs, and 
other necessities to passing navigation, which, in locali- 
ties less favored or more remote, could only be secured at 
great expense and uruler certain conditions." 

VI. 

Nicaragua, as everybody knows, posscsses, among its 
various lakes, two whieli are especially worthy of atten- 
tion, viz: Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua, whose 



9 

ivjitciv; co u I'd not he better than fln'y are for all the ordi- 
nary uses of life. The former, whi<-h is smaller than the 
latter, Hows into it through the Tipifapa river, and both, 
together with that natural canal, occupy an extent of 
nearly two hundred miles in length. Many never failing 
rivers ami streams, which water thr vast side* of tin: great 
basin of those lakes, discharge UUMT waters during the 
entire year, more or less abundantly, into those immense 



The smaller lake, which is highly picturesque, and on 
the shore of which stands the capital of the Republic, ter- 
minates at the north near the Pacific. A strip of hunt, 
eighteen miles in width, separates it from that ocean. 
This circumstance, together with that of its being con- 
nected with the great lake by the- Ti pita pa river, doubt- 
less led the illustrious prisoner of Ham to suggest this 
line as the best for the proposed Nicaragua canal. Xow 
that the question lias been examined and discussed in all 
its bearings, science has demonstrated the superiority of 
tlubt other portion of the isthmus, -which was selected by 
Colonel ChiMs as being the best, route, ami which, in view 
of the additional light which lias Jwen thrown upon it. by 
the recent, expeditions of Commanders 1 fat field and Lull} 
is the one which decidedly deserves the preference. The 
great lake and the Pacific are in such close proximity to 
each other, in this section, that the noise of the waves of 
both is oi'len heard at the same tiisio. The shortest dis- 
tance between them is not greater than ten miles; and 
notwithstanding the curves of the line now proposed, which 
wrmi nates at the port of .Brito, tlie length of said line 
does not exceed sixteen miles. 

jf Lake Managua is, for many reasons, deserving of at- 
tention, Lake Nicaragua is infinitely more so. With a 
length of one hundred and ten, and u breadth of thirty-live 
miles, it cannot properly be called it lake; it is really an 
inland sea. The great body of water which it pours into 
the Atlantic through the San Juan river, and which is. 



10 

estimated to be thirty times greater than the amount 
needed for the purposes of the canal; its small elevation 
above the average level of the two oceans (10G feet); the 
groat relative depth of its waters ; the constant breeze 
which cools it ; the fertility, the abundant products, the 
population and the continual traffic of its shores; its ex- 
cellent ports; its numerousund rich islands, among which 
Ometepe is ;i real wonder, on account of the majesty of 
its cone and the spontaneous growth of its vegetation; 
all these inestimable conditions make that great lake the 
true harbor of the canal, where all the squadrons of the> 
world will at all time* be able to find shelter. 

VII. 

As a complement of the advantageous circumstances 
which militate in favor of (he proposed canal, it is neces- 
sary to give an idea of the total extent of the territory of 
Nicaragua, of the population which it is able to maintain, 
and of the desire of its inhabitants to promote immigra- 
tion. 

The Republic emlmiees a surface of #1,500 square miles 
of a soil whose fertility is such that it could easily support 
several millions of inhabitants. One third of this surface is 
owned by individuals, nnd by communities; the remaining 
two thirds arc the property of the nation, and arc one of 
the sources of income of the public treasury. 

Foreigners, as well sis natives, can now purchase these 
lands at the insignificant rate of from twenty to forty 
cents per acre, according to their quality, and the kind of 
wood Vr'hich they contain; but they may even be obtained 
by the former without Uie payment of any money whatever. 
The people of Nicaragua, being well aware of the advan- 
tages consequent, np*u immigration, have taken variourt 
measures t.o promote it, among which may be men- 
tioned the passage of the law of March 10, .18(15, in 
relation to land-grants, Even if the Republic had 



* 11 

not, on sundry invasions, furnished incontestable evidence 
of its liberality and ot' its earnest desire to f>faee itself iu 

contact with tin.? most. advanced civilization, this law 
alone would he sufficient to prove to the whole world that 
Hcllishncss has no hold upon flu 1 Nicaraguan [K*ftjiUy The 
law in question authorises tho govern men t to grant'to any 
family (of whatever nationality) coming to the Republic 
with tlie intention of becoming naturalised, as many as 
one hundred and twenty iiiaHzannf?* of public land, such 
families being, moreover, entitled to use thq lands of eom- 
inunities on the same terms as natives of the country. 
The same law exempts the immigrant for ten years from 
municipal service, and from the performance of military 
duty. There is no tax on property in Nicaragua. 

VII f. 

I now pass on hriclly to sketch the distinguishing 
characteristics of the proposed Nicaragua canal in relation 
to its practicability as regards the work of the engineer, 
and the expectations of the capitalist ; since the necessity 
of a .ship-canal through one of the isthmuses of America- 
is a question which no longer admits of debate. 

IX. 

It is very noteworthy that throughout the route pro- 
posed for the construction of the canal in Nicaragua, tho 
maximum depth of the cut is so small, that the tcrrihle 
hughear of a tunnel is entirely eliminated. 

The dillicultu's and dangers connected with such a 
work would he incalculable. 

The exceptionally great width and height of such a 
subterranean passage, the'quantity of timber that would 
be required even to begin the construction of so vast an 
arch, the enormous cost of the entire work, and finally, 



'The mwuana i a square containing uinoiy-tivo yards cm c;u-h side. 



Ilio damage to which it would be liable from the forma- 
tion of fissures and from the considerable filtration pro- 
duced by tbo tropical .rains, arc obstacles of such magni- 
tude that, were it necessary to overcome them, their in- 
fluence in the scale of probabilities would be decidedly 

adverse. 

( - ' r) f; ' 

Hi . x 

That inexhaustible body of water, the in'cat lake to 

J o 

wjiich I have alluded, is no less remarkable, situated, ns 
it is, at the highest point of the route, and yet at such an 
elevation above the level ot the oceans, that the descent 
will 1)0 very gradual. 

I The supply of water, in all plans for an inter oceanic 

canal to cross the American continent, has perhaps always 
been the most important, problem, a satisfactory solution 
, <!' which has never been found. Tbo combinations which 
have, been proposed, in order to supply this great want, 
have been very complicated, involving heavy outlays of 

1 money, exhausting the resources of the engineer, and util- 

i/ingcvcry available drop of water, to form a reservoir at 
best but scanty and br.dly situated. 

In Xicarau'ua this work is done, and on a grand scale, 
ns nature 1 alone could have done it. Not even the slight- 
est, effort on tho part of the engineer is required there, and 
there is suflieient water not only for one, but for thirty 
canals, 

1 'elides, the dimensions of that lake, and the other ad- 
vantages which it possesses, make it, as I have already 
remarked, the true harbor of the canal. This circum- 
stance, lessens, very considerably, the importance of the 
harbors required by the work, and reduces them, so to 
.-peak, to men; points of entrance, having the required 
width and depth. On the Atlant.it* sitln this fact is more 
conspicuous. At a distance of six miles from the coast, 



following the line of the proposed canal, across an almost 
' level section of country, is found Silico lake, .which is thor- 



oughly sheltered from the winds*, :nnd tlte waterof which is 
drinkable.. It has a surface of two square miles, and a 
depth, at. present, of sixteen feet: w with a muddy bottom 
Not a single lock would be ee*ks4 between this lake and 
the oeean. 



XI. 



The subject of locks, in the estimates for the great, 
work, is also one which has perplexed the engineer on all 
the isthmuses which have been (-xplored. In some locfcii- 
ties, an exorbitant number is proposed, thus impeding the 
general traflie ; in others, the Ii tun* ted space in which they 
arc to be constructed, requires ctwmplicated, expensive, and 
probably dangerous combination.^. 

In Nicaragua, the insignificant elevation of the great 
lake above the level of the oceanw, simplifies this problem 
amazingly. Scarcely ten lock*, of a moderate height, * 
would be ivfjui red to effect the jasccnt or descent of one 
hundred and six feet, which is tlbe dillerence between the 
highest arid the lowest part of tlfoe canal. Another very 
favorable circumstance for these locks is that they can 
be located on a right line, in ;ndvant:igeous situations, 
and at great distances apart, tlfoe difficulties being thus 
avoided which would naturally airise from the close prox- 
imity of such works. 

XII. 

The prevailing winds are also -of capital importance 0> 
regards the canal. Science will <onc day, perhaps, invc . I 
some means of locomotion as rapid as steam, and as cheap 
as sails, which will almost neutftral i/,c this importance. 
Meanwhile, we cannot overlook the advantages which 
that element oilers to the immense trailic in productions 
of prime necessity. ,, : *'.. 

Calms, which are often BO detrimental to the progress 
of sailing vessels, are unknown n the coast of Nicaragua 



14 

:i very different state of things from tliat which is ob- 
served on some of the neighboring coasts. In the Pa- 
cific, from the Gulf of Fonscca to Salinas Bay, and in the 
Atlantic, from Cape Gracias to the mouth of the San 
Juan, the winds never cease to blow. A vessel could en- 
ter and leave the canal in those regions at any season of 
the year without being subjected to any delay on account 
of calms. 

The sagacity of the speculator and the intelligent 
eye of the navigator cannot regard so notable an advan- 
tage with indirtereiico. 

XIII. 

The canal via Nicaragua has, among its many other ad- 
vantages, some of which I have mentioned, the no less 
important one of short distances, which so sensibly attests 
the interests of North America especially. 

It is well known that the commerce of South America 
is carried on mainly with Europe and the United States, 
and to the nations of that part of the globe it is almost 
n matter of indiilerence whether their vessels pass through 
the fsthmus of Darien, Nicaragua or Tehuantepec. They 
can have no very marked preference 4 or any one of these 
routes. This is not the case with the northern portion of 
the continent, on whose Pacific coast there is so ardent a 
desire for rapid communication with that ot the Atlantic. 

The Isthmus of Tehuantepec, so far as distance is con- 
cerned, possesses, perhaps, the most favorable conditions 
for those regions; but the plan of uniting the two oceans 
through this isthmus has been abandoned. Its impracti- 
cability is too notorious; and, it being laid aside, the Nic- 
aragua canal will oiler the most speedy communication 
to the entire population ot' North America. 

Comparing this route with that via the Isthmus of Da- 
rien, we find that, for a vessel Killing from any point on 
the Pacific coast north of Nicaragua, an<l bound to any 
point on the Atlantic coast north of that Republic, the 



15 

voyage by the fonnor routo will be at least eight hun- 
dred milcsshorfer. The distant tins economized repre- 
soi its an average saving of lour *Iays, with a correspond- 
ing avoidaneoof risks and expe-sasc. 

Although tlio liberal character -of the people of the 
Unil(Ml Stales leaves no ground iVr tint supposition lluit 
they hike so deep au interest, In the-. jicnoniplislniKMit oi' 
this enterprise from merely selfish motives, it is very nat 7 
ural tliat the interests of tlieir commerce should cxcrei.se 
^.controlling .inlluence upon their choice, and that they 
should prefer the route hest calculated to iiromote those 

9 

interests. 

Imm ignition and railroads uro developing the jrodue- 
lion of this country so prodigiously, and its coastwise 
trailic is so consideraMe, tliat th.! necessity is felt of giving 
to this great movement a wider Held, hy laying open to 
it a hroad navigable channel ac^n^ss tlie continent. 

XIV. 



It remains for me to ^ive so-mo idea of the cost of the 
work, a^id of the relation whieli such cost \yould hear to 
the l>enelUs to he, dorivc'd iVorai it. In so tloiug, I shall 
huso my statements upon the esiti mates made ly the, most 
recent expeditions which haw ex])lored the.Istlimus of 
.Nicaragua, and upon .some abridged statistics of the com- 
merce of certain parts of the world. 

The important lahors of th*.- I'xpeditions referred to, 
wliich were organized l>y the Government of the United 
States, were performed with the most scrupulous care. 
The high character of the gentlemen who composed thorn 
is a guarantee of the reliability of their assertions. 

The entire length of the propped canal, from ocean to 
ocean, is one hundred and cigidy-one miles. It is in- 
tended that it shall bo one hundred and iifty feet wide, 
and twenty-six deep. Deducting from the above length 
fifty-seven miles of sailing through the lake, and sixty- 



16 

three through the San Juan river, there remain but sixty- 
one miles of canal, properly so called. The average 
depth of the cut between the lake and the Pacific will be 
thirty feet ; between the lake and the Atlantic it will bo 
one foot ami seven tenths. 

The construction of the work rc<[?iiring neither a tun- 
nel nor the formation of a deposit of water, the length 
of the purely artificial canal being HO limited, and con- 
sidering the small number of locks, the cost of improving 
ports, and of accessory labor of less importance that will 
Ue required, I. think I hazard .nothing in saying that 
the estimate of. 05,000,000 made by these expeditions as- 
the total co*t, is a close approximation to the truth. 

This outlay, which i,s by no means exorbitant for an 
enterprise of such transcendent importance, will be di- 
minished to tin* amount of several millions by a more de- 
tailed location of the proposed line, by the value of the 
lands which Nicaragua has al ways been disposed to 
grant in favor of the canal, with the mines and other 
natural wealth which they contain, and by the sums 
with which she would now aid the immediate improve- 
ment of navigation in the San .Juan river. 

At such small cost, the undertaking must be a finan- 
cial success. 

Even supposing the amount required to be double the 
above estimate, the commerce of the world would insure 
a remunerative interest. The Sue/, canal, the cost of 
which cannot be placed at less than ?! 00,000,000, whose 
success was so long a matter of dispute, and whose impor- 
tance will undoubtedly always be inferior to that of the 
American canal, is now an enterprise whose future suc- 
cess is assured. 

The distinguished Professor J. K. Xonrsc, of the United 
States Naval Observatory, in bis pamphlet published in 
1S70, "m relation to the Sue/, canal, says, in comparing it 
with the American one: 

"The probabilities are that a canal here would even far 



17 

< in value that of Sucx. It will he not for South- 
ern hurope only, or for Asia, or coast-bound Africa only; 
but lor the world's trade/' He adds that if (he i.,f Imms 
r. >ue, , the centre of the old continent, the other is 
the centre o( the great ocean, the Atlantic-Pacific; of 
the water as well as of the land of our globe." 

<au-'? k "'? f th rcvi<lluc of the Sue* canal, he .:ivs: 
Tl itniii the past twenty years the steam marine of Kn- 
'land has mcreased 411 per cent; that of France 01?, i^r 
'cent. ; and that of Austria (j:!7 per cent. 

icS'^T"' e ^ iai !0t '"" S ol ' Xl ' ol ' ts an ' 1 ""iwls for ti, 
"francs: for (he year lS, i8 tl^^'l^l^X^, 

] .^fVir T-1 V .KM IS C " ler0 ' 1 al "' Cll ' iiml i " 1S ' ;r> '' 
oisis'sii;;. ' w " s 14)0 '' 



" 



Tho .Suex Canal Company, (akin- as their I,,*. ,] u . 
nnual tonnage of Liverpool at. six millions, MuiWillca 
at hve.and the trade around the Dardanelles and ]!!aek 
sea ^ suv nnlhn,, S expect six, nillions as the .uiuinann 
|ro^, the canal, and across receip,. of ,;,,, 0ll ,, m 

) A.ln.iUin,- these data, and in view nf the .uceess of (he 
N,e, eanal, (he appr,,ximaf, cost of that of m-;,r.ni-, 
bou,g known, to^efh,,. with the superiori^- of it 



'^ i i^v il. IM" (Ililt 

is. 8 .,xv:,p in a direct ratio to (he ,TC; 
ot kss latMllfy o! coiiiiiiuiiU^ittoii \\-4- 



IMJtJJIKXTS. 



REITHMC OF 

,MlMSTKYOK FOKI.K'.N I'KI.ATION?. 

Ci,\f AYAiiTA, April If., 1ST4. 
JiC Mtnitlrr of F,trf.itjn llclutinn* 

nf the Hi-public <>f Ni>'(ir<iyun. 
SIH : I have had the lionor to receive your note, in which you wero 
pleased to inform this (ovcrnment that the United States stcanuw 
* Gettysburg" anchored in t.ho hay of San Juan del Norto on (he 7tli* 
ultimo, luivin^j on hoanl a new cxjxMlit ion comm3ssionel to oxploni 
tho istlunus of Nicaragua, and '.oini>osotl of distin^nishiMl Anu'rican 
civil engineers, sc.nt by the siMont.ilir. commission :it \V;tshin^ton for thor 
cxjuvss inr])>sc of deciding HJXMI tlio ronl^ to bo sclocti'd for the ro:it|. 
work of the inlcroocunic canal, stating that, according to all the in- 
formation rt-coivcd by yon, the dfoision of tlu*, f.x^cditioii would bo in 
favor of Nicaragua, and, in conclusion, nri^injj tlu; government of 
Honduras to instruct its representative at Washington t.( use his bosfc-- 
olVorts to brin^j about such a solution of this important, question afl 
should be favorable, to the interests of Central America. 

The <'i:i/.'ii President, to whom I have communicated the contents! 
of your aforesaid note, has instructed me to assure the government of 
Nicaragua of the very deep intercut which is felt, by the ^overnmena 
and people of Honduras in the accomplishment of that, greatest and 
most important work of the a^e, which will at once- change the face of 
Central America. Although Honduras has, as yet, no representative! 
at \Yas]iin;;ton, it will make a point of accrediting an envoy exiraorl 
dinary, if the government of Nicaragua shall think ]roj>er, to the cn< 
that the question of the canal may he settled in a manner calculated tol 
promote the interests of Central America. 

With the highest consideration, I have tho honor to bo 

Your excellency's very obedient servant, 
Signed) ADOLFO ZUNIOA. 1 



MlXJSTIlY OH 1 FOJIKKJX KKLATIONS or TIIK 

i \KruuLic OK SAIA'ADOH. 

HAN SALVADOR, Apiil 
Tit (In. Minister <\f l*iirc,'fjn llddtions ttf'Jficttftfgtm: 

Sju: I have received your exeellency'sesJecmed note of the 2:' 
whereby you were pleased to inform my Government that the Vniteil 



Slates steamer (JeUysbur^ anchored i>i U' 1 ' o:l >' <'f ^ : "> .Juan del 
Xorte on the 7lli ult., having on board ;t new expedition commis- 
sioned to explore the isthmus of Nicaragua, which, after ascertaining 
Certain facts, is to join another expedition under the command of 
<?apt. Sel fridge, the l.iUe,r bein^ under orders to re-examine th(5 
At rat o Najiji ronlc, across the istlnuns of Drtru-n. 

His cxcollcncy the, I':x->i<lMit, to whom I have communicated the 
Contents of your excellency'* note,, has (liiv.-ted me to say to you, in 
reply, 111 at hi- is much jraf ili'l at the arriv.il of l.hes( t-xpiMlil .ions,an<l 
tliat lie earnestly IIOJH-S that, tlie.ir n-ports may indin-e the etimmissittii 
ut Waslun^toa to le<-i<hi in favor of the rotsti' via Nicaragua. 

As your excellency is well aware, such a let:ision v/ouhl l>e highly 
favorable t.> the interests of Central America; instruct ions a re therefore 
this <lay communicated to the Minister of Salvador at Washington, to 
:ict, in this matter, entirely in harmony" with the representative of 
your Government. 

\Vith the highest consideration, I have the honor to subscribe my- 
self. 

Your very obedient and faithful servant, 
( Signed ] M. liPJOSC). 



DEI'AttTMHNT U-' FoiiKICN HKLATIONS OK (IirATKMAI.A. 

ClJATKMAJ.A. April 1(5, 1.X7-I. 

Sir;: I have this day addressnd.the Licentiatt; D.n Vicente T>an!->n, 
Minister I'lenipotentiary and Knvoy Kxtr:u>rdinary of this Itcjmblic in 
North America, sending him a copy of the esteemed note of your 
Department, dated the ^2.'!d ultimo, and instructing him to do all in his 
power in favor of the Nicaragua canal, in conjunction with theoepiv- 
.xentativc of your country. 

In having the honor to .state this to your excellency for the. informa- 
tion of the Chief Magistrate of your KcpubhV, I am happy to .suhseriljc 
myself, 

Your obedient and faithful servant, 

(^ t!<1 ) MARCO A. SOTO. 

To the Mirtixter of Fnrciyn Relations ut Niciirayu /. 



SO 62