Page images
PDF
EPUB

The little weight to be attached to the assumption of title to the Haro Archipelago by the legislature of Washington Territory, may be judged by the fact, that in the year 1860, six years subsequent to the passing of the Act, that legislature represented a population of 11,594 persons, men, women, and children (many of them half-castes), spread over an area of 113,000 square miles. (1) And when we read of governors, collectors, receivers, judges, and even chief justices, land agents, and United States marshals of Washington Territory, does not the picture rise before us of that Eden in the wilderness, described with so much humour and pathos by Mr. Dickens in

Martin Chuzzlewit.” On the 14th of July, 1855, Mr. Marcy, Secretary of State, wrote, by the direction of the President, a letter to Mr. Stevens, the governor of Washington Territory, from which the following is an extract:(4)—

“He (the President) has instructed me to say to you, that the officers of the territory should abstain from all acts on the disputed grounds which are calculated to provoke any conflicts, so far as it can be done without implying the concession to the authority of Great Britain of an exclusive right over the premises.

“ The title ought to be settled before either party should exclude the other, by force, or exercise complete and exclusive sovereign right, within the fairly disputed limits.

“Application will be made to the British Government to interpose with the local authorities on the northern borders of our territory, to abstain from like acts of exclusive ownership, with the explicit understanding that any forbearance on either

(1) Les États Unis d'Amerique en 1863. Par John Bigelow, Consul des États Unis à Paris. 1863. Pp. 543, 545.

(*) American State Papers, p. 144.

side to assert the rights respectively, shall not be construed into any concession to the adverse party.

'By a conciliatory and moderate course on both sides, it is sincerely hoped that all difficulties will be avoided until an adjustment of the boundary line can be made in a manner mutually satisfactory. The Government of the United States will do what they can to have the line established at an early period.” A

copy of this extract was forwarded by Mr. Marcy to Mr. Crampton in a letter of the 17th of July, which was as follows:(1)

“Sir,-I am under some apprehension that collisions may take place between our citizens and British subjects in regard to the occupation of the disputed point above the line, between Washington Territory and the British possessions on the north of it.

“In the hope of avoiding such a difficulty, I have, by the direction of the President, addressed a letter to the Governor of that Territory on the subject, and herewith furnish you with an extract from it. I presume that the Government of Her Britannic Majesty will be willing to recommend to her subjects along the boundary in question a similar course, until the line can be established. In that way I sincerely hope all collision may be avoided.

“I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to you, sir, the assurance of my high consideration."

On the 18th of July Mr. Crampton replied, concurring in the propriety of the course recommended to Governor Stevens, and expressing his intention to advise that a reciprocal policy should be adopted by the Governor of Vancouver's Island. (*)

Thus it was agreed between the Government of the United States and that of Great Britain, that the

(") American State Papers, p. 145.

(3) American State Papers, p. 230.

question as to the possession of the Haro Archipelago should remain in abeyance, and that no acts of either side, or forbearance from the exercise of jurisdiction, should prejudice the question of the title.

It appears that notwithstanding the definite agreement thus arrived at, the property of the Hudson's Bay Company on the Island of San Juan was in the

year 1855 assessed by the civil authorities of Washington Territory; the Company very properly declined to pay taxes attempted to be levied by a foreign power, and their property was, in consequence, advertised and sold by the authorities. (1) A correspondence ensued between the Governors respectively of Vancouver's Island and Washington Territory, in the course of which the former stated that he was instructed by the British Government to regard the Haro Archipelago as an integral part of the British dominions. A claim for damages in respect of the above-mentioned seizure of property was made by Mr. Crampton, the British Minister at Washington, against the Government of the United States, and at the same time he renewed his proposal for the appointment of a joint commission for the purpose of marking out the boundary line. While thus renewing his former proposal, he suggested that if the Govern. ment of the United States could not, without difficulty, accede to the same, it should join Great Britain in adopting the channel marked by Vancouver as the only navigable channel known, to be the channel intended by the treaty.

(*) American State Papers, pp. 3, 78.

CHAPTER VII.

On the 11th of August, 1856,(') an Act was at length passed by Congress, authorising the appointment of a commissioner by the United States Executive, to work jointly with a commissioner appointed by Great Britain ; the joint instructions proposed by Mr. Crampton on the former occasion were not, however, accepted, each Government being left at liberty to issue its own instructions to its own officers. By Section 4 of that Act it was provided that, “ until otherwise provided for by law, the proceedings of the said commission shall be limited to the demarcation of that part of the said line of boundary which forms the boundary line between Washington Territory and the British possessions.”

Two commissioners were then appointed by the British Government, Captain Prevost and Captain Richards, of the Royal Navy. As a dispute subsequently arose as to the authority with which those commissioners were invested, it will be convenient to insert here the commission by which they were appointed, and the instructions issued to them.

The commission was as follows:

“ Whereas, by the first Article of the Treaty concluded and signed at Washington on the 15th day of June, 1846,

(") American State Papers, p. 3.

(3) American State Papers, p. 99.

between us and our good friends the United States of America, it was stipulated and agreed that from the point on the fortyninth parallel of north latitude, where the boundary laid down in existing treaties and conventions between Great Britain and the United States terminates, the line of boundary between our territories and those of the United States shall be continued westward along the said forty-ninth parallel of north latitude to the middle of the channel which separates the continent of Vancouver's Island, and thence southerly through the middle of the said channel of the Fuca Straits to the Pacific Ocean: Provided, however, that the navigation of the whole of the said channel and straits south of the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude remain free and open to both parties. And whereas the line of boundary described in the said Article has never yet been ascertained and marked out, and it appears to us and to our said good friends the United States of America expedient to appoint commissioners for that purpose: Now know ye, that we, reposing especial trust and confidence in the diligence, skill, and integrity of our trusty and well-beloved James Charles Prevost, Esquire, a captain in our royal navy, have nominated, constituted, and appointed, and by these presents do nominate, constitute, and appoint him our First Commissioner, for the purpose of surveying, ascertaining, and marking out, in conjunction with the commissioner or commissioners appointed, or to be appointed, by the President of the United States in that behalf, so much as the line of boundary hereinbefore described as it is to be traced from the point where the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude strikes the eastern shore of the Gulf of Georgia. And we do hereby give to our said commissioner full power and authority to do and perform all acts, matters, and things which may be necessary and proper for duly carrying into effect the object of this our commission.

“ And we, reposing especial trust and confidence in the diligence, skill, and integrity of our trusty and well-beloved George Henry Richards, Esquire, a captain in our royal navy,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »