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Short extract from the Illustrated London News of July 1865.
The island was first visited by an English gentleman in 1814, and again by him in 1825. A report was made to the British government (who had little interest at that time) that this island contained the richest deposit of phosphate of lime known at the time.
In 1856 the Americans took possession of the island and in a very short time had exported 100,000 tons of this valuable fertiliser. At the same time, a British surveying expedition in the West Indies, sent a report by Sir Roderick Murchison, to the Royal Agricultural Society "It appears that the Americans have already quarried away a considerable part of the island, and sold the substance in New York".
This led to an official correspondence between the British and American governments and eventually the right of the British Crown to the possession of this valuable deposit was acknowldeged by the Americans.