« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
“ United States North-west Boundary Commission, “ Camp Simiahmoo, 49th parallel, September 25th, 1858.(1)
“SIR,—In compliance with my instructions to keep the department from time to time advised of the progress of the work entrusted to my charge, I have the honour to report, &c. * *
“ The determination of the forty-ninth parallel being a purely scientific operation, it is not probable, in the survey of the land boundary, that any question can arise between the commissioners that will cause serious interruption or delay in the demarcation of the line.
“In reference to the water boundary, however, which depends mainly upon the interpretation of the language of the treaty defining it, I had the honour, on the 10th of February last, to inform you that a question had arisen between Captain Prevost and myself as to the channel' through which the boundary line is to be traced; and to lay before you a copy of a correspondence and proceedings, setting forth our respective views on the subject, and the result of our disagreement. Since that time no further progress has been made in the settlement of this question. Meantime the minute survey of the channels and islands between the continent and Vancouver's Island is progressing. On the part of the United States Commission, the hydrographic work is carried on by Commander Alden, United States Navy, in charge of the Coast Survey steamer Active, and the triangulation and survey of the shore line by Mr. Lawson, assistant of the Coast Survey, in charge of the brig Fauntleroy. On the part of the British Commission, the work is prosecuted by Captain Richards, Second Commissioner and Surveyor, in command of Her Majesty's surveying steamer Plumper.
“ The settlement of the question of the channel' involves the sovereignty of the group of islands called the Haro Archipelago, between the Canal de Haro and Rosario Straits, embraced in a space of about 400 square miles. The recent emigration to this region has attracted considerable attention to this beautiful and picturesque group of islands, and much
(") American State Papers, p. 51.
greater interest than heretofore is now manifested in the settlement of the boundary question. The uncertainty in regard to their sovereignty prevents them from being occupied by American settlers. The largest and most valuable of these islands are San Juan, Orcas, and Lopez, and upon each of them there is a large portion of land suitable for agricultural aud grazing purposes. It is in a military and naval point of view, however, that their importance is to be mainly regarded.”
The letter then referred to and quoted the report of General Persifer A. Smith, an extract from which has been already quoted:(1)—
“In 1855 Captain George Stoneman, of the Dragoons, and Lieutenant W. H. C. Whiting, of the Corps of Engineers, by order of General Wool, then commanding the Department of the Pacific, made a military examination of this part of the north-west coast, and in their report they express their opinion in relation to the value of these islands, as a means of defending the approaches to our territories and the inland waters, as follows:
“• Between the Gulf of Georgia and the Straits of Fuca are two great channels, the Straits of Haro on the west and of Rosario on the east, separated by the Archipelago, a group of small islands, forming a very important feature of the sound. The title to these is in dispute between the English and American Governments. There can, however, be no reasonable doubt as to the validity of our claim. The natural and direct ship channel, the treaty boundary, is the Straits of Haro. No vessel bound for the Gulf of Georgia would take the longer, narrower, and more intricate passage of Rosario Straits. In considering the subject of the defence of the sound, these islands are important, and we shall again briefly recur to them.
“. It is easily seen from the maps of our western coast that the sound and the straits are the only available point
(") Ante, p. 28.
which can afford an enemy the point d'appui for an attack on San Francisco, or refuge, wood, water, coal, provisions, timber, and spars, for a blockade of our coast. Possessing this, an enemy has every advantage, either for prompt attack, or for continued action. The strong north-west winds which prevail with the regularity of the trades for the greater part of the year make the passage of sailing ships from six to ten days, while steamers may do it in four. Vancouver's Island is naturally the key to this position, and it is greatly to be regretted that it does not belong to us. There are, howerer, other points which may be improved to be nearly as effective. Of these may be mentioned Port Discovery and Sequin Bay, opposite to the southern end of Vancouver; and also the Archipelago. This group consists of the islands of San Juan, Lopez, Orcas, and Waldron the largest, besides several others not yet named. They are so situated that they form an admirable land-locked harbour of ample size, accessible by six narrow entrances in any wind and weather, and capable of being defended almost by small arms. As a naval station, secured by batteries, this position commands all the interior waters and the approach to the territories.'
“A further evidence of the importance to be attached to the sovereignty of these islands will be found in the steadiness of purpose with which the British Government, from the ratifcation of the treaty to the present time, have endeavoured to secure and retain possession of them. It is true that in their communications to our Government, when endeavouring to procure the adoption of Rosario Straits as the boundary channel, they have designated them as “islets of little or no value,' yet, at the same time, Governor Douglas had received the orders of Her Majesty's Ministers to treat these islands as part of the British dominions.'
* By a reference to my report of the 10th of February last, it will be seen that after a full discussion upon the relative claims of the Canal de Haro and Rosario Straits to be considered as the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver's Island,' Captain Prevost finally proposed, by way of compromise, to run the boundary line through one of the channels between the Canal de Haro and Rosario Straits, dividing the islands so as to give San Juan to Great Britain and the o:her islands of the group to the United States. Being fully satisfied that the Canal de Haro was the channel' intended by the treaty, I declined to entertain the proposal. Captain Prevost then proposed a reference of the whole matter to our respective Governments. As I did not consider the circumstances such as to justily him in making such a proposal, I did not concur in it. I therefore reported the proceedings of the Joint Commission to the department, and Captain Prevost, upon his own responsibility, referred the question to his Government, and has not yet received any further instructions for his guidance on the subject.
When the British Government consider the evidence brought to light, showing the intentions of the two Governments in relation to the meaning of the language of the treaty defining the boundary line between the continent and Vancouver's Island, it is but fair to presume they will direct their commissioner to adopt the Canal de Haro as the boundary channel ; and in consideration of the importance of a speedy settlement of the question, it is to be hoped that they will take early action on the subject. There is no part of the boundary between the two countries, from the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains, where a demarcation of the line is more to be desired.
“ I have the honour to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
« ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL, “ Cominissioner North-west Boundary Survey.”
This was followed by another from the same to the same, dated “Camp Simiahmoo, Dec. 1, 1858," and enclosing the copy of a letter from the Hon. George Bancroft, in reply to inquiries as to the interpretation which was placed upon the first article of the treaty of 1846, in relation to the water boundary, by
the British Government, at the time he was Minister to London. Mr. Bancroft's letter was as follows:0)
“ New York, June 15, 1858. “SIR, - Your letter of May 27 has but just reached me, in consequence of my absence from home on a long journey.
" I was in the administration of Mr. Polk at the time when Mr. Buchanan perfected the treaty for settling the boundary of Oregon. The basis of the settlement was the parallel of fortynine degrees, with the concession to Britain of that part of Vancouver's Island which lies south of forty-nine degrees. The United States held that both parties had a right to the free navigation of the waters round Vancouver's Island, and therefore consented that the British boundary should extend to the centre of the Channel of Haro. Such was the understanding of everybody at the time of consummating the treaty in England and at Washington. The Hudson's Bay Company may naturally enough covet the group of islands east of that channel, but the desire, which never can amount to a claim, should not be listened to for a moment.
“ While I was in England no minister was preposterous enough to lend the authority of the British Government to the cupidity of the Hudson's Bay Company in this particular. I think you must find in the Department of State a copy of a very short letter of mine to Lord Palmerston, enclosing him a chart of those waters as drawn by our own Coast Survey:(2) I think in that letter I mentioned the centre of the Straits of Haro as the boundary. That chart would show by the depths of the soundings that the Straits of Haro are the channel intended in the treaty, even if there had not been a distinct understanding on the part of the British Government, as well as the American, at the time of the signing of the treaty. Lord Palmerston, in his reply acknowledging the receipt of the chart, made no pretence of adopting the wishes of the Hudson's Bay Company, and he never did so, even in conversation. I never had occasion in England to make any peremptory state
(1) American State Papers, p. 53.
(2) Wilkes's chart.