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HISTORY OF THE SAN JUAN WATER BOUNDARY QUESTION.
CHAPTER I. The foreign policy and colonial policy of Great Britain exercise a most potent influence for good or for evil upon the fortunes of her colonies and dependencies throughout the world; and whether some amongst them shall move upwards towards wealth and prosperity, or downwards towards stagnation and ruin, is contingent, in a great measure, upon the line of conduct adopted towards them by the Government at home.
Our domestic policy may, and must change with each change of Government, and with the varying fortunes of parties ; but with reference to imperial questions--questions upon which depend the prosperity of extensive territories, and of millions of loyal and devoted British subjects, a consistent and well-defined policy should be marked out by public opinion, and should be followed by each successive Government. If each colonial minister is to be considered as entitled to regard our colonies as a field for the display of his own peculiar views and
idiosyncrasies ; if orders carried by one mail are to be countermanded by the next; if every act connected with colonial government is to be distinguished by uncertainty and irresolution ; the connection between the colonies and the mother country must cease to be of advantage to either party.
The vacillating and changing attitudes assumed by Great Britain towards her colonies have brought many of them to a state bordering upon bankruptcy; intending settlers have been afraid to settle upon them, and bankers and merchants have been afraid to invest capital in them, in consequence of the uncertainty which rests like a dark cloud upon their future. I am myself most deeply interested in the prosperity and onward progress of the British possessions in the north-west of the American continent. Their position during many years has been one of uncertainty, and consequent despondency, traceable, in great measure, to the inconsistency which has characterised our political relationship with the United States. The policy of that great nation has, on the other hand, been distinguished by the closest consistency.
In the year 1823, Mr. Monroe, then President of the United States, in his message to Congress, protested against the proposed interference of certain European powers in the struggle between Spain and her American colonies, in language to the following effect:
“In the wars of the European powers, in matters relating to themselves, we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy to do so. . . . . . . We owe it, therefore, to candour, and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers, to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their political system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered, and shall not interfere. Our policy in regard to Europe is not to interfere in the internal concerns of any of its powers. .... But in regard to these continents, circumstances are eminently and conspicuously different. It is impossible that the allied powers should extend their political system to any portion of either continent without endangering our peace and happiness."
- This expansion of our population and accession of new states to our Union have had the happiest effect on all its highest interests. That it has eminently augmented our resources and added to our strength and respectability as a power is admitted by all. ..... . It is manifest that by enlarging the basis of our system, and increasing the number of states, the system itself has been strengthened in both its branches. Consolidation and disunion have thereby been rendered equally impracticable.” (1)
This announcement has been improved upon by subsequent politicians, and the Monroe doctrine is understood as containing the conception-so dear to the people of the United States—that their peculiar institutions and form of government must ere long overspread the entire continent.
From the first promulgation of the above-mentioned views of President Monroe, the restless energy and unlimited resources of that powerful people
(1) President's Messages, pp. 237—267.
have been directed to the furtherance of the doctrine which goes by his name; and his policy has been illustrated (as is well known by the determined opposition of the North towards Southern secession ; the implacable hostility of the United States to the policy of France with reference to Mexico; and also, more recently, by the purchase (at an enormous price) of the inhospitable region of Alaska from the Russians; and by the overtures which they have lately made for the purchase of the Hudson's Bay territory. In the acquisition of Alaska, however, that determined opponent of the power of Great Britain on the continent of North America, Mr. Seward, saw the advantage of the United States, for he seeks, thereby, and by a kindred policy, to “crowd” Great Britain out of the Pacific, and eventually to compel the North American colonies to enter the United States federation. - I am well aware that there is a strong anticolonial party in this country, and that it advocates an abandonment of the colonies. This party would meet any colonial question which might seem capable of embroiling the empire with other countries, by proposing the immediate cession or relinquishment of the territories with reference to which such questions arose.
If this were the general opinion, it would be useless to call the attention of the public to any colonial question in which other powerful and aggressive nations might be interested. It is, however, the opinion of the great majority of the people
of Great Britain, that she could not relinquish her colonies with advantage to herself, and that, even if she could, she is bound in honour not to do so, unless with the express assent, or at the express desire of the colonies themselves. I am not about to descant at any length in this place upon the well-known advantages which Great Britain has hitherto derived, and still continues to derive, from her possession of colonies. They form a natural outlet for her surplus population; and emigrants arriving in a well-governed colony are absorbed into the mass of its population, and remain well-disposed towards Great Britain. Until the resources of the colony are thoroughly developed, its population will prefer to purchase from the mother country, rather than from any other country, those manufactured articles which are neces. sary to their existence. On the manufacture of such articles, and upon ready markets for the same, the internal prosperity of this country mainly depends. At the present time those markets of the world (and they are few) which are open to the free competition of British commerce, are overcrowded with British manufactured goods. Supply is greater than demand, and our policy must aim at opening up new and unexplored regions to our trade. But at this very period, the United States are seeking to exclude our commerce, and to overshadow with their protective and selfish system those almost boundless territories, which a generous and consistent policy on the part of Great Britain might cover with loyal subjects, well-intentioned towards their mother country. But