Hay-Pauncefote Treaties

Hay-Pauncefote Treaties (hā-pônsˈfŏt) [key], negotiated in 1899 and 1901 by Secretary of State John Hay, for the United States, and Lord Pauncefote of Preston, British ambassador to the United States, for Great Britain, with the object of modifying the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, concerning the construction of an Isthmian canal in Central America. The draft of the first treaty was submitted to London in Jan., 1889. The proposed agreement granted to the United States the exclusive right to build and maintain a canal. It further provided for a neutralization scheme (to be governed by rules similar to the Suez Canal regulations adopted at Constantinople in 1888) calling for the nonfortification of the canal and equal transit rights to ships of all nations, even in time of war. After a delay of almost a year the treaty was signed and submitted to the U.S. Senate in Feb., 1900. Resistance to ratification grew steadily, particularly among those concerned over the neutralization rules. On Dec. 20, 1900, the Senate finally ratified the agreement, but with three amendments: abrogation of the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, provision for the fortification of the canal, and deletion of the article providing that other powers join the treaty. Since Great Britain refused to ratify the treaty as amended, negotiations were immediately reinstated. A new treaty was signed by Hay and Pauncefote on Nov. 18, 1901, and was ratified by the U.S. Senate on Dec. 16, 1901. The new compromise treaty, superseding the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, provided that the United States might construct a canal and have full control in its management and regulation. It nominally retained the principle of neutrality under the sole guarantee of the United States, stipulated that the canal be open to ships of all nations on equal terms, but omitted the clause contained in the first draft forbidding fortifications. The Panama Canal Act, passed in 1912, which exempted from tolls American ships engaged in coastwise trade, was protested by Great Britain as a violation of the treaty and was repealed in 1914 through the efforts of President Wilson.

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