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Special Message

July 01, 1852

To the Senate of the United States:

On the 26th ultimo I received a resolution of the Senate, passed in executive session, in the following words:

Resolved , That the President of the United States be requested to inform the Senate, if not in his opinion incompatible with the public interest, whether any convention or compact has been entered into on the part of the United States and the Government of Great Britain whereby the two Governments jointly recommend or advise the Republics of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, or either of those Republics, and the Mosquito Indians, inhabiting the Mosquito Coast, in Central America, on matters affecting their several and respective boundaries, or whereby any recommendation or advice is given to either of said Republics or said Indians respecting the territorial rights thereafter to be enjoyed or observed by them respectively, or in any other manner affecting or regulating the relations hereafter to be maintained between said Republics themselves, or either of them, and the said Indians concerning their territorial boundaries or other matters thereto appertaining. And if there be any such convention or compact, then that the President be requested to communicate the same, or a copy thereof, to the Senate, and to inform the Senate whether the same was made at the request or invitation of either of said Republics or of said Indians, or with their privity, approbation, or consent. And that the President be further requested to communicate to the Senate copies of all correspondence between the Executive and Great Britain, or with either of said Republics of Central America, touching said convention, and of all documents connected therewith. And if such convention or compact has been made, that the President be further requested to inform the Senate whether the same has been formally communicated to the respective Governments of Nicaragua and Costa Rica and the Mosquito Indians on the part of the Governments of Great Britain and the United States, and in what form such communications have been made to them, and that he lay before the Senate copies of any instructions that have been given to the representatives or agents of the United States at Nicaragua and Costa Rica touching such convention and the matters therein contained, with copies of like instructions to any naval officer of the United States relating to or in any manner concerning the said convention or its communication to said Republics or said Indians.

On the same day I returned the following answer to that resolution:

I have received and taken into respectful consideration the resolution of the Senate of yesterday, adopted in executive session, requesting information in regard to supposed negotiations between the United States and Great Britain and between the United States and the Republics of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, respectively. Any information which may be in the possession of the Executive on these subjects shall in due time be laid before the Senate, but it is apprehended that it would not comport with the public interests to communicate it under existing circumstances.

Great was my surprise to observe this morning in one of the public journals a statement of what purports to be a proposition, jointly signed by Her Britannic Majesty's minister here and the Secretary of State, for the adjustment of certain claims to territory between Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and the Mosquito Indians. I have caused immediate inquiry to be made into the origin of this highly improper publication, and shall omit no proper or legal means for bringing it to light. Whether it shall turn out to have been caused by unfaithfulness or breach of duty in any officer of this Government, high or low, or by a violation of diplomatic confidence, the appropriate remedy will be immediately applied, as being due not only to this Government, but to other governments. And I hold this communication to be especially proper to be made immediately by me to the Senate, after what has transpired on this subject, that the Senate may be perfectly assured that no information asked by it has been withheld and at the same time permitted to be published to the world.

This publication can not be considered otherwise than as a breach of official duty by some officer of the Government or a gross violation of the confidence necessary always to be reposed in the representatives of other nations. An occurrence of this kind can not but weaken the faith so desirable to be preserved between different governments and to injure the negotiations now pending, and it merits the severest reprobation.


Millard Fillmore, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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