National Geographic : 1897 Jul
194 THE VENEZUELAN BOUNDARY COMMISSION and irritating controversy. The matter was taken up by our own foreign office (the Department of State) and correspondence car ried on in 1895 between Secretary Olney and Lord Salisbury. Secretary Olney, in a document resembling a lawyer's brief much more than it does the ordinary diplomatic dispatch, stated the case as it appeared to him and asked that it be arbitrated. To this Lord Salisbury replied in two careful and most courteous dispatches (as diplomatists are wont to call letters), declining general arbitration. Thereupon President Cleveland, on December 17, 1895, sent to Congress this correspondence, accompanied by a brief but now famous message-a message of which, without exaggeration, it may be said that it startled the civilized world. After summa rizing the correspondence and commenting upon Lord Salisbury's two replies, President Cleveland proceeded as follows: In the belief that the doctrine for which we contend (the Monroe doc trine) was clear and definite, that it was founded upon substantial consid erations and involved our safety and welfare, that it was fully applicable to our present conditions and to the state of the world's progress, and that it was directly related to the pending controversy, and without any con viction as to the final merits of the dispute, but anxious to learn in a satisfactory and conclusive manner whether Great Britain sought, under a claim of boundary, to extend her possession of territory fairly included within her lines of ownership, this government proposed to the govern ment of Great Britain a resort to arbitration as the proper means of set tling the question, to the end that a vexatious boundary dispute between the two contestants might be determined and our exact standing and relation in respect to the controversy might be made clear. It will be seen from the correspondence herewith submitted that this proposition has been declined by the British government upon grounds which, in the circumstances, seem to me to be far from satisfactory. It is deeply disappointing that such an appeal, actuated by the most friendly feelings toward both nations directly concerned, addressed to the sense of justice and to the magnanimity of one of the great powers of the world and touching its relations to one comparatively weak and small, should have produced no better results. The course to be pursued by this government, in view of the present condition, does not appear to admit of serious doubt. Having labored faithfully for many years to induce Great Britain to submit this dispute to impartial arbitration, and having been now finally apprised of her re fusal to do so, nothing remains but to accept the situation, to recognize its plain requirements and deal with it accordingly. Great Britain's present proposition has never thus far been regarded as admissible by Venezuela, though any adjustment of the boundary which that country may deem for her advantage and may enter into of her own free will cannot of course be objected to by the United States.