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The recommendations of this international conference of enlightened statesmen will doubtless have the considerate attention of Congress, and its co-operation in the removal of unnecessary barriers to beneficial intercourse between the nations of America. But while the commercial results, which it is hoped will follow this conference, are worthy of pursuit and of the great interest they have excited, it is believed that the crowning benefit will be found in the better securities which may be devised for the maintenance of peace among all American nations and the settlement of all contentions by methods that a Christian civilization can approve. While viewing with interest our national resources and products, the delegates will, I am sure, find a higher satisfaction in the evidences of unselfish friendship which everywhere attend their intercourse with our people.
Another international conference, having great possibilities for good, has lately assembled and is now in session in this Capital. An invitation was extended by the Government, under the act of Congress of July 9, 1888, to all maritime nations to send delegates to confer touching the revision and amendment of the rules and regulations governing vessels at sea and to adopt a uniform system of marine signals. The response to this invitation has been very general and very cordial. Delegates from twenty-six nations are present in the conference, and they have entered upon their useful work with great zeal, and with an evident appreciation of its importance. So far as the agreement to be reached may require legislation to give it effect, the co-operation of Congress is confidently
It is an interesting if not indeed an unprecedented fact, that the two International Conferences have brought together here the accredited representatives of thirty-three nations.
Bolivia, Ecuador, and Honduras are now represented by resident envoys of the plenipotentiary grade. All the states of the American system now maintain diplomatic representation at this Capital.
In this connection it may be noted that all the nations of the western hemisphere, with one exception, send to Washington envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary, being the highest grade accredited to this Government. The United States, on the contrary, sends envoys of lower grade to some of our sister republics. Our representative in Paraguay and Uruguay is a minister resident, while to Bolivia we send a minister resident and consulgeneral. In view of the importance of our relatious with the states of the American system, our diplomatic agents in those countries should be of the uniform rank of envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary. Certain missions were so elevated by the last Congress with happy effect, and I recommend the completion of the reform thus begun, with the inclusion also of Hawaii and Hayti, in view of their relations to the American system of states.
I also recommend that timely provision be made for extending to Hawaii an invitation to be represented in the International Conference now sitting at this Capital.
Our relations with China have the attentive consideration which their magnitude and interest demand. The failure of the treaty negotiated under the administration of my predecessor for the further and more complete restriction of Chinese labor-immigration, and, with it, the legislation of the last session of Congress dependent thereon, leave some questions open which Congress should now approach in that wise and just spirit which should characterize the relations of two great and friendly powers. While our supreme interests demand the exclusion of a laboring element which experience has shown to be incompatible with our social life, all steps to compass this imperative need should be accompanied with a recognition of the claim of those strangers now lawfully among us to humane and just treatment.
The accession of the young Emperor of China marks, we may hope, an era of progress and prosperity for the great country over which he is called to rule.
The present state of affairs in respect to the Samoan Islands is encouraging. The conference which was held in this city in the summer of 1887 between the representatives of the United States, Germany, and Great Britain having been adjourned because of the persistent divergence of views which was developed in its deliberations, the subsequent course of events in the islands gave rise to questions of a serious character. On the 4th of February last, the German minister at this Capital, in behalf of his Government, proposed a resumption of the conference at Berlin. This proposition was accepted, as Congress, in February last, was informed.
Pursuant to the understanding thus reached, commissioners were appointed by me, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, who proceeded to Berlin, where the conference was renewed. The deliberations extended through several weeks, and resulted in the conclusion of a treaty which will be submitted to the Senate for its approval. I trust that the efforts which have been made to effect an adjustment of this question will be productive of the permanent establishment of law and order in Samoa upon the basis of the maintenance of the rights and interests of the natives as well as of the treaty powers.
The questions which have arisen during the past few years between Great Britain and the United States are in abeyance or in course of amicable adjustment.
On the part of the Government of the Dominion of Canada an effort has been apparent during the season just ended to administer the laws and regulations applicable to the fisheries with as little occasion for friction as was possible, and the temperate representations of this Government in respect of cases of undue hardship or of harsh interpretations have been in most cases met with measures of transitory relief. It is trusted that the attainment of our just rights under existing treaties and in virtue of the concurrent legislation of the two contiguous countries will not be long deferred and that all existing causes of difference may be equitably adjusted.
I recommend that provision be made by an international agreement for visibly marking the water boundary between the United States and Canada in the narrow channels that join the Great Lakes. The conventional line therein traced by the Northwestern Boundary Survey, years ago, is not in all cases readily ascertainable for the settlement of jurisdictional questions.
A just and acceptable enlargement of the list of offenses for which extradition may be claimed and granted is most desirable between this country and Great Britain. The territory of neither should become a secure harbor for the evil-doers of the other through any avoidable short-coming in this regard. A new treaty on this subject between the two powers has been recently negotiated and will soon be laid before the Senate.
The importance of the commerce of Cuba and Porto Rico with the United States, their nearest and principal market, justifies the expectation that the existing relations may be beneficially expanded. The impediments resulting from varying dues on navigation and from the vexatious treatment of our vessels, on merely technical grounds of complaint, in West India ports, should be removed.
The progress toward an adjustment of pending claims between the United States and Spain is not as rapid as could be desired.
Questions affecting American interests in connection with railways constructed and operated by our citizens in Peru have claimed the attention of this Government. It is urged that other Governments, in pressing Peru to the payment of their claims, have disregarded the property rights of American citizens. The matter will be carefully investigated, with a view to securing a proper and equitable adjustment.
A similar issue is now pending with Portugal. The Delagoa Bay Railway in Africa was constructed under a concession by Portugal to an American citizen. When nearly completed the road was seized by the agents of the Portuguese Government. Formal protest has been made through our minister at Lisbon against this act, and no proper effort will be spared to secure proper relief.
In pursuance of the charter granted by Congress, and under the terms of its contract with the Government of Nicaragua, the Interoceanic Canal Company has begun the construction of the important water-way between the two oceans which its organization contemplates. Grave complications for a time seemed imminent, in view of a supposed conflict of jurisdiction between Nicaragua and Costa Rica in regard to the accessory privileges to be conceded by the latter Republic toward the construction of works on the San Juan River, of which the right bank is Costa Rican territory. I am happy to learn that a friendly arrangement has been effected between the two nations. This Government has held itself ready to promote in every proper way the adjustment of all questions that might present obstacles to the completion of a work of such transcendent importance to the commerce of this country, and indeed to the commercial interests of the world.
The traditional good-feeling between this country and the French Republic has received additional testimony in the participation of our Government and people in the International Exposition held at Paris during the past summer. The success of our exhibiters has been gratifying. The report of the commission will be laid before Congress in due season.
This Government has accepted, under proper reserve as to its policy in foreign territories, the invitation of the Government of Belgium to take part in an International Congress, which opened at Brussels on the 16th of November, for the purpose of devising measures to promote the abolition of the slave-trade in Africa and to prevent the shipment of slaves by sea. Our interest in the extinction of this crime against humanity, in the regions where it yet survives, has been increased by the results of emancipation within our own borders.
With Germany the most cordial relations continue. The questions arising from the return to the Empire of Germans naturalized in this country are considered and disposed of in a temperate spirit, to the entire satisfaction of both Governments.
It is a source of great satisfaction that the internal disturbances of the Republic of Hayti are at last happily ended, and that an apparently stable government has been constituted. It has been duly recognized by the United States.
A mixed commission is now in session in this Capital for the settlement of long-standing claims against the Republic of Venezuela, and it is hoped that a satisfactory conclusion will be speedily reached. This Government has not hesitated to express its earnest desire that the boundary dispute now pending between Great Britain and Venezuela may be adjusted amicably and in strict accordance with the historic title of the parties.
The advancement of the Empire of Japan has been evidenced by the recent promulgation of a new constitution, containing valuable guaranties of liberty and providing for a responsible ministry to conduct the government.
It is earnestly recommended that our judicial rights and processes in Corea be established on a firm basis, by providing the machinery necessary to carry out treaty stipulations in that regard.
The friendliness of the Persian Government continues to be shown by its generous treatment of Americans engaged in missionary labors, and by the cordial disposition of the Shah to encourage the enterprise of our citizens in the development of Persian re
A discussion is in progress touching the jurisdictional treaty rights of the United States in Turkey. An earnest effort will be made to define those rights to the satisfaction of both Governments.
Questions continue to arise in our relations with several countries in respect to the rights of naturalized citizens. Especially is this