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The Lion's Generosity
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The Lion's Generosity
Full TItle: The Lion's Generosity
Work Type
Map published in book or serial - source not in collection
(cm, H x W) 40 x 28 page
ID Number
Harper's Weekly, June 24, 1882, p. 392.
Collector's Notes
This Thomas Nast cartoon reflects the growing dispute between the U.S. and Great Britain over the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty and its relationship to a possible Panamanian canal.
The parties to the Treaty had agreed in 1850 not to colonize or occupy any part of Central America, and to assure the neutrality of any canal across the isthmus. From the outset, the parties disputed the application of the Treaty, and as the power and influence of the U.S. in the region grew, and that of the British declined, there were frequent and growing calls for the U.S. simply to repudiate it.
This situation came to a head when a French company inspired and led by Ferdinand de Lesseps - the force behind the Suez Canal - completed a very successful stock issue at the end of 1880 and began work in Panama in 1881. “These developments created alarm and indignation in the United States,” and President Hayes in 1880 set out the nation’s policy that any such canal must be “under American control.” Healy 2001, 40. While both the Hayes and Garfield Administrations had considered declaring the Treaty void on the ground that Britain had violated it, they determined instead to seek renegotiation - which the British firmly rejected. Ibid. 40-47.
After the death of Garfield, President Arthur’s new Secretary of State, Frederick Frelinghuysen, sent a message to Britain on May 28, 1882, adding new arguments for renegotiation. “The British response again demolished Washington’s claims; London was unyielding, and remained so . . . . Undeterred, [Frelinghuysen] began an active program to expedite the birth of a wholly American canal.” Ibid. 125. In the diplomatic back-and-forth, the New York Times headlined, “Lord Granville Answered. The Clayton-Buller Treaty Practically Abrogated by the State Department.” Tuesday, June 6, 1882, p. 2.
Nast’s illustration 2-1/2 weeks later captures the moment. The heavy British lion sits before a table covered with maps. On the wall behind him, the lion has his paws around the globe, reflecting “The (British) Lion’s Share All Over the World.” With a stern look, the lion extends a copy of the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty to Uncle Sam, saying "You must keep this." The response, labeled "Frelinghuysen to Granville," is "No, I don't want it, it's too dead, and has been gnawed too much by you."
In the end, the U.S. did not repudiate the Treaty, and it was not replaced until the parties adopted the Hay–Pauncefote Treaty of 1901.
Map published in book or serial - source not in collection
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