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Majesty's Government, to any island lying to the eastward of the Canal de Haro, as marked on Captain Wilkes's “Map of the Oregon Territory.” This, I have no doubt, is the channel which Lord Aberdeen had in view, when in a conversation with Mr. McLane, about the middle of May last, on the subject of the resumption of the negotiation for an amicable settlement of the Oregon question, his lordship explained the character of the proposition he intended to submit through Mr. Pakenham.'
“It would appear from the tenor of Mr. Buchanan's reference to the tracing of Captain Wilkes's chart of the Canal de Haro, that he was aware that it was the main channel in that particular part of the space between the continent and Vancouver's Island south of the forty-ninth parallel, where several channels are represented on the maps, as well as the particular channel understood between Mr. McLane and Lord Aberdeen, as carrying out the object of both Governments in deflecting from the forty-ninth parallel, viz. : to give the whole of Vancouver's Island to Great Britain. In conversing with Mr. Crampton on the subject, a year subsequently, without reference to maps or documents, and without giving the subject particular consideration, Mr. Buchanan may simply have remembered the fact that the Canal de Haro was the main channel, without recalling its name. Practically it can make no difference whether the main channel be adopted as 'the channel' intended by the treaty upon the 'generally admitted principle’ recognised by Mr. Crampton, and assented to by Her Majesty's Government in 1848, or whether the Canal de Haro be adopted on the proof of cotemporaneous evidence that it was proposed by the British Government, and in good faith accepted by the United States as the boundary channel. In either case the Canal de Haro would be the boundary channel. In advocating it with Captain Prevost, I did not confine myself singly to either of these sufficient grounds, but maintained both with others equally forcible and tenable.
“Under the mere letter of the treaty, without any knowedge of, or reference to, the motives which induced the adoption of the water boundary, the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver's Island may fairly be construed as follows :
“1. As the channel ;' that is, the main channel, if there be more than one. And this is the view taken by nautical men generally, including officers of our navy, whom I have consulted in reference to the language of the treaty.
“ 2. The channel nearest to Vancouver's Island, without regard to its size, so that it is navigable; the proviso to the first article requiring that the navigation of said channel shall be free and open to both parties. If it had been intended to mean any other channel than that nearest Vancouver's Island, that island need not to have been mentioned at all, or if referred to, the channel which separates the continent from the archipelago east of Vancouver's Island,' or the channel nearest the continent,' would have been the proper description of the channel now claimed by the British Commissioner under 'the peculiarly precise and clear' language of the treaty.
“3. Upon the international ground that islands are natural appendages to the continent, and that, unless otherwise agreed, all the islands between the continent and Vancouver's Island east of the nearest navigable channel to Vancouver's Island pertain to the continent.
“ The Canal de Haro would be the channel under either of the above legitimate readings of the treaty.
“But leaving the mere letter of the treaty, and referring to the history of the negotiation to ascertain the cause which prevented the United States and the British Government from agreeing upon the prolongation of the forty-ninth parallel to the ocean, it will be found that the southern end of Vancouver's Island was alone the stumbling-block. The British Government refused to concede it to the United States, four-fifths of the island being north of the forty.ninth parallel; and the southern end, with its harbours, being the most valuable portion. The United States, considering the disadvantages of a divided jurisdiction of the island, and the probabilities of difficulties arising therefrom, reluctantly yielded it. This was the sole object in deviating from the forty-ninth parallel, and reduces the water boundary to a very simple question. It was
a second compromise line. Divested of all quibbles, the meaning of the treaty is that the forty-ninth parallel shall be the dividing line between the territories of the United States and the British possessions until it reaches the middle' of the nearest natural boundary to Vancouver's Island; and thence the line shall be run to the ocean by the nearest natural boundary, in such a direction as will give the whole of Vancouver's Island to that power upon whose side the greatest portion would fall by the prolongation of the parallel to the ocean.
During my recent visit to Washington, Lord Napier expressed a desire to converse with me in regard to the points of difference between the British Commissioner and myself upon the question of the water boundary. In compliance with his wishes several interviews took place between us, in which the facts and arguments on both sides of the question were fully discussed. Lord Napier conceded that he could not attach any importance to Captain Prevost's agreement in favour of Rosario Straits, based upon his interpretation of the word southerly,' and upon what he designates the very peculiar wording' of the treaty, though,' he added, the Earl of Clarendon does seem to attach some importance to it.' He also acknowledged that there was much force in the argument in favour of the Canal de Haro; that the sole object of the deviation from the forty-ninth parallel was to avoid dividing the sovereignty of Vancouver's Island and to give the whole of it to Great Britain ; and agreed that if the forty-ninth parallel had intersected Vancouver's Island so as to throw the greater portion of it on the American side, the line would in all probability have been turned ‘ northerly' instead of southerly' to the Pacific Ocean ; but nevertheless was unwilling to admit that Mr. McLane's report of his conference with Lord Aberdeen was definitive proof that the Canal de Haro is the boundary channel which was actually intended by his Government in the proposition they submitted to the United States. The language of the treaty in regard to the particular channel through which the boundary line is to run, he argued, might be considered as at least indefinite. Captain Prevost, on the contrary, maintains the language of the treaty in regard to the channel' to be so free from obscurity, and 'worded' in such clear and precise terms, that he cannot conscientiously admit any evidence to weigh with him that would lead to an interpretation differing from the one chosen by him.
“ As it seems to have been no part of the business of the British Commissioner to ascertain by cotemporaneous evidence the actual intentions of his own Government in regard to the water boundary, nor of his own Government to furnish him with such evidence, I suggested to Lord Napier that an examination of the instructions of Lord Aberdeen to Mr. Pakenham containing the proposition' referred to by Mr. McLane ought to throw some light upon the subject. He subsequently produced the original despatch from the archives of the legation, and submitted it to my perusal.
“ It is a long document (dated May 18, 1846), and is mainly devoted to a review of the state of feeling between the United States and Great Britain upon the Oregon question, contrasting favourably the conduct of Great Britain with that of the United States throughout the excitement. In resuming the negotiation for an amicable settlement of the question, Mr. Pakenham is authorised to propose as a boundary line the forty-ninth parallel to the sea-coast, thence in a southerly direction through the centre of King George's Sound and the Straits of Fuca to the ocean, thus giving to Great Britain the whole of Vancouver's Island and its harbours.'
“I regret that Lord Napier did not feel at liberty to furnish me with a copy of the document as I requested; but, as he declined, I was obliged to content myself with a careful perusal of it. I wrote down the foregoing description of the boundary line from memory shortly afterwards, and believe it is substantially (if not verbally) correct. For greater certainty, however, it would be well for the department to obtain a copy, as there may be other points touching the subject of the boundary which escaped my notice in the attention I had to bestow on the above extract.
“Mr. McLane, in his despatch to Mr. Buchanan, of the same date (May 18, 1846), refers to the proposition to be submitted to the United States through Mr. Pakenham, as follows:
“ I have now to acquaint you that after the receipt of your despatches, on the 15th instant, by the Caledonia, I had a lengthened conference with Lord Aberdeen, on which occasion the resumption of the negotiation for an amicable settlement of the Oregon question, and the nature of the proposition he contemplated submitting for that purpose, formed the subject of a full and free conversation. [ have now to state that instructions will be transmitted to Mr. Pakenham by the steamer of to-morrow to submit a new and further proposition on the part of this Government for a partition of the territory in dispute. The proposition, most probably, will offer, substantially, first, to divide the territory by the extension of the line on the parallel of forty-nine to the sea—that is to say, to the arm of the sea called Birch's Bay; thence by the Canal de Haro and Straits of Fuca to the ocean; and confirming to the United States, what indeed they would possess without any special confirmation, the right freely to use and navigate the strait throughout its extent.'
“Both despatches having been written almost immediately after the nature of the proposition' to be submitted to the United States had been fully and freely discussed, it may seem strange that the description of the boundary line contained in them is not identical. But an examination of the
which were most probably before Mr. McLane and Lord Aberdeen in describing the line, will show the difference between them to be only apparent.
“I enclose a traced copy of Vancouver's chart, which, Captain Prevost officially informed me, he had not the least doubt' was the map used by his Government when the boundary line was under consideration. (See sketch No. 1, p. 59.) I also send a traced copy of so much of Captain Wilkes's Map of Oregon Territory' as is necessary to show the boundary channel (1) between the continent and Vancouver's Island, which I have every reason to believe is the map which was principally relied
(1) These sketches or tracir gs are to be found in the volume of Ameri. can State Papers quoted by me, but I have not thought them worth reproducing in this book.