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sions, frankly laid before you my views in regard to the literal meaning of the treaty, and having also shown by contemporaneous evidence what was the understanding of the Government of the United States as to the intention of the British Government in the projet of the treaty, and of the meaning of the words of the treaty itself, I can only repeat that my convictions in regard to the channel are so fixed that I cannot admit a doubt upon the subject.
“ With the highest respect and esteem I have the honour to subscribe myself, “ Your most obedient servant,
« ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL. “ Commissioner on the part of the United States for
determining the north-west boundary line. 6. Capt. James C. Prevost, R.N.
“ British Commissioner North-west Boundary, &c."
To these arguments the British commissioner, on the 9th November, 1857, replied as follows: (1
“SIR, I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 2nd inst., containing a statement of your views of the interpretation to be put upon the first article of the treaty of the 15th June, 1846, between Great Britain and the United States, so far as the article relates to the water boundary to be traced between the possessions of the two countries.
“2. From what has passed, I think it may now be considered as established, that there is no difficulty in tracing the boundary line through the waters now called the Gulf of Georgia, and through the waters of the Straits of Fuca to the Pacific Ocean; but that it is in the space between these waters that the question arises, as to which is the channel of the treaty. I advance, that the channel now called Rosario Strait is the channel through which the boundary line should pass ; you assert that your convictions are fixed, that the Canal
(1) American State Papers, p. 16.
de Haro is the channel in the treaty. I have given every consideration to all the points you have advanced, and I have most carefully weighed all the arguments you have adduced in support of your views, and I regret extremely that your views and mine upon the subject should be so widely different.
“3. Before commencing to reply to the arguments you have advanced in opposition to the views I have expressed, I will state that I fully acknowledge the weight to be attached to the opinions you have quoted from Vattel, that in cases of obscurity in the language of a treaty, its interpretation is to be sought in the intentions of the negotiators; but, while fully recognising this, and while ever being ready to bow to the opinion of an authority so high as Vattel, I must, on the other hand, maintain that when the language of a treaty is clear and precise, and will admit to be interpreted according to its strict and literal sense, there cannot be any need to seek aught else to its elucidation.
“4. In support of my proposition that the Rosario Strait should be the channel of the treaty, I advance that it is the only channel that will admit of being considered the channel according to the treaty, which separates the continent from Vancouver's Island. You state that while the other channels only separate the islands in the group from each other, the Canal de Haro for a considerable distance north of the Strait of Fuca, and where their waters unite, washes the shores of Vancouver's Island, and is, therefore, the only one which, according to the language of the treaty, separates the continent from Vancouver's Island. Surely, this would prove the converse of the proposition. It appears to me direct proof that the Canal de Haro is the channel separating Vancouver's Island from the continent; and, therefore, so long as other channels exist more adjacent to the continent, cannot be the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver's Island. I would ask your best attention to this most peculiar language of the treaty, in which the usual terms of expression appear to be designedly reversed, for the lesser
is not separated from the greater, but the greater from the lesser; not the island from the continent, but the continent from the island; and, therefore, it would seem indisputable that where several channels exist between the two, that channel which is the most adjacent to the continent must be the channel which separates the continent from any islands lying off its shores, however remote those islands may be. You state that the Rosario Strait does not separate the continent from Vancouver's Island, because in no part of its course does it touch upon the shores of either,' but that it separates the Islands of Lummi, Sinclair, Cypress, Guemes, and Fedalgo on the east from Orcas, Blakely, Decatur, and Lopez Islands on the west. I would submit that the islands of Lummi, Sinclair, Cypress, Guemes, and Fedalgo are lying close to the shores of the continent, and that between them and the continent is no navigable channel which would answer to the channel of the treaty, and that if the Rosario Strait is the channel separating these islands from Orcas, Blakely, Decatur, and Lopez Islands, it is also the navigable channel separating the continent from them; and in separating the first-named islands from Orcas, Blakely, Decatur, and Lopez Islands, it also separates the first-named islands from San Juan, Sidney, James Islands, &c., and from Vancouver's Island; and, therefore, if separating the continent from Orcas, Blakely, Decatur, and Lopez Islands, it also separates the continent from San Juan, Sidney, James Islands, &c., and from Vancouver's Island,
“5. In answer to my statement that the Canal de Haro will not meet one of the conditions of the channel of the treaty, as it will not admit of the boundary line being carried into it in a southerly direction, you state that the objection applies with equal force to the Gulf of Georgia, if the term southerly is to be construed in a strictly nautical or technical sense, and with still greater force to the Straits of Fuca, which, for the greater part of its course, runs north-westerly, for the language of the treaty being thence scutherly through the middle of the said channel, and of Fuca Straits, to the Pacific
Ocean,' the direction applies throughout the whole extent of the line ; and you further state that “if objection is made to this ground, the treaty will be nullified, and cannot be carried into effect. This conclusion I cannot admit. It can hardly, I think, be disputed, that when the words of a treaty can be carried out in their strict and literal sense, they should be so interpreted; when they cannot be so carried out, the intentions of the negotiators and the dictates of common sense have to be sought, and from them should the interpretation be deduced. From the Gulf of Georgia to the Strait of Fuca the boundary line can be carried through the Rosario Strait in a southerly direction; to pass through the Canal de Haro it must take a westerly course ; therefore, so far as this particular is concerned, I conceive that the Rosario Strait admits of a closer adherence to the words of the treaty than does the Canal de Arro, and should for this reason, be chosen in preference to a channel which would cause a wider departure from the words of the treaty.
“6. In alluding to the necessity, in cases of obscurity, to seek the interpretation of a treaty in the intentions of its negotiators, you observe that you will “prove by contemporaneous evidence of the highest authority that the Canal de Haro was the channel proposed by the British Government, and accepted by the United States Government, as the one through which the boundary line was to be traced, and that the language of the treaty drawn up by the British Government was intended to convey that fact, and was so understood by the Government of the United States,' and you proceed to quote from a letter of Mr. McLane, the ambassador of the United States sent specially to Great Britain to aid in settling the Oregon boundary question, and from the speech of Mr. Benton, one of the leading members of the Senate of the United States. Evidence from so high a source as this is most unquestionably entitled to the greatest respect and deepest consideration. That consideration I have given it, and I assure you it has had its full weight with me. But I would respectfully observe that neither Mr. McLane nor Mr. Benton were actual negotiators of the treaty, and however valuable their opinions may be to the elucidation of obscure points, yet that these opinions can in no way alter the actual wording and terms of the treaty. Mr. McLane, in his report to the Secretary of State for the United States, writes that the proposition of the British Government most probably will offer substantially as follows:
6661st. 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.'
“Now this is stated to have been the probable proposition; it appears strange if it was not the adopted proposition, that the simple and unmistakable wording used by Mr. McLane should not have been retained. The fact that it was not retained would seem rather to show that discussion on the subject had taken place, and that the line of boundary had been designedly altered, and the wording of the treaty as it now stands substituted to meet the alteration, the channel through which the boundary line was to pass not being designated by name, inasmuch as it had no name on the map which was, I have not the least doubt, used by the British Government at the time-viz., that of Vancouver, where the channel now called the Rosario Strait is shown-as in fact it really is—as a continuation of the waters now called the Gulf of Georgia, the whole being named by Vancouver the Gulf of Georgia. It is quite possible that in viewing the boundary line as passing through the Canal de Haro some objection might have been made to the nearness of some of the islands to Vancouver's Island, as the objection did not apply with equal force to the continent, and as the islands between the two were deemed, according to Mr. Benton, to be barren, rocky, and valueless, it is not at all improbable that the slight alteration in the line would be conceded without difficulty, and might be considered too trivial, considering the important interests at stake at the time, for public discussion or reference. I am the more strengthened in my opinion on