The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Anglo-American Isthmian Diplomacy, usually focus on the diplomatic dis-
putes between the United States and Great Britain, which produced the
1850 Clayton-Bulwer treaty and led to subsequent debates about its mean-
ing. Folkman, however, has dedicated himself to telling the story of private
business concerns whose goal it was to achieve a feasible and profitable
transisthmian passageway.
The central figure in this endeavor was the indefatigable and ruthless
Cornelius Vanderbilt, who dreamed of a Nicaraguan canal but settled in
I851 for more conventional means of transporting passengers from the East
to the gold fields of California. Folkman details the business operations of
Vanderbilt's concern, the Accessory Transit Company-how the commodore
sold out his interests in a few years only to turn vengefully on the new
owners; how the filibustering of William Walker in Nicaragua almost de-
stroyed the business of the company; and how Vanderbilt and the Central
Americans finally joined forces in I857 to bring Walker's regime down.
The political troubles of Nicaragua cost the line dearly, and it never quite
recovered to the level of business of earlier years. A successor, the Central
American Transit Company, operated in the I86os.
Folkman terminates his account in I868, a year before the driving of the
golden spike and the completion of the great transcontinental railroad across
the United States. American diplomats were still interested in the Nicara-
guan route, but the incredible profits of an earlier era were no more.
The author bases his study on contemporaneous material, particularly
State Department documents, memoirs, and period pieces. A handy appen-
dix lists steamship schedules for New York-Nicaragua, San Francisco-Nica-
ragua, and New Orleans-Nicaragua, and comparative figures for Nicara-
gua and Panama.
This work's major value is its contribution to business history, particularly
the effect of an enterprise on isthmian diplomacy. The title is somewhat
misleading, for the term "the Nicaragua route" could also be applied to late
nineteenth-century canal proposals.
University of Georgia, Athens LESTER D. LANGLEY
Tree of Hate. By Philip Wayne Powell. (New York: Basic Books, Inc.,
1971. Pp. x+210. Notes, bibliography, illustrations, index. $8.95.)
In this study Philip Wayne Powell, professor of history at the University
of California, Santa Barbara, examines the enduring Black Legend-the

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117148/. Accessed July 10, 2014.