Dawson Agreement

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Dawson Agreement

The vehicle through which the United States granted Nicaragua a critical loan and recognition of its government in exchange for certain concessions. After the ouster of Nicaraguan dictator José Santos Zelaya in 1909, the U.S. wanted to control Nicaragua's finances. The new Nicaraguan president, Juan Estrada, needed a loan, but the U.S. first wanted assurances that any Zelayista influences would be purged from the government—Zelaya had been vehemently antiforeign, and presumably any of his supporters would oppose foreign interests. In October 1910 the U.S. dispatched Thomas Dawson to Managua, to assist in the re-establishment of a constitutional government by ensuring that no Zelayistas maintained power and by preparing Nicaragua for new elections. The Estrada government signed the Dawson Agreement on October 27. Dawson intimated that if the Nicara-guans did not accept the agreement, there could be outside interference if disorder were to reoccur.

The Dawson Agreement called for the destruction of Zelaya's monopolies, the establishment of a claims commission to compensate foreigners for losses incurred during the civil war, U.S. supervision of a customs receivership based on the Dominican Republic model, and the creation of a new constitution by the Constituent Assembly. The U.S. agreed to recognize the Estrada government and to reorganize Nicaragua's finances through a loan secured by customs revenues.

See alsoUnited States-Latin American Relations .


William Kamman, A Search for Stability: United States Diplomacy Toward Nicaragua, 1925–1933 (1968), esp. pp. 12-13.

Langley, Lester D. The Banana Wars: United States Intervention in the Caribbean, 1898–1934. Wilmington, DE: SR Books, 2002.

Woodward, Ralph Lee, Jr. Central America: A Nation Divided. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Additional Bibliography

Langley, Lester D., and Thomas David Schoonover. The Banana Men: American Mercenaries and Entrepreneurs in Central America, 1880–1930. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1995.

                                       Shannon Bellamy