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CHAPTER XIV.

It is time now to return to the correspondence between the Governments of Great Britain and the United States with reference to the boundary question.

On the 10th of October, 1859, Lord Lyons wrote as follows to Mr. Cass :())

“ Washington, October 10, 1859. “SIR,—Her Majesty's Government have received my report of the verbal communication which you did me the honour to make to me on the 5th of last month, with regard to the recent occupation of the island of San Juan by United States troops.

“ It is satisfactory to Her Majesty's Government to learn, as to the past, that General Harney did not act on that occasion upon any order from the United States Government, but entirely on his own responsibility.

“But, as to the future, Her Majesty's Government cannot consider it satisfactory that my note of the 12th of May last should have remained without an answer. They have, consequently, requested me to press for an answer to that note, and to urge that orders be sent to the United States officers not to use military force on disputed territory without direct authority from the President; for Her Majesty's Government cannot but think that if such acts are to take place by the sole direction of subordinate officers, and the President does not disavow them, the consequence must be as evil as if the President had authorised them from the beginning.

(1) American State Papers, p. 229.

“I have the honour to be, with the highest consideration, sir, your most obedient, humble servant,

" LYONS. “Hon. Lewis Cass, &c. &c. &c.”

This letter was followed by another(1) dated

“Washington, October 15, 1859. “SIR, I have the honour to inform you that I received this morning, from Her Majesty's principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, a despatch informing me that Her Majesty's Government had had under their consideration my reports of the communications which had taken place between you, sir, and myself, previously to the 14th of last month, relative to the island of San Juan.

“Her Majesty's Government awaited, with anxiety, the further decision of the Government of the United States respecting that island.

“ The withdrawal of the United States troops, or an arrangement for joint occupation by British marines and the military force of the United States, would provide for the immediate difficulty.

“But the course most conducive to permanent relations of friendship between the two countries, would be the acceptance of the United States of the fair and equitable proposal contained in the despatch from Lord John Russell, dated the 24th of August last, of which I had the honour to place a copy in your hands on the 12th of last month.

“I am instructed, sir, earnestly to recommend these points to your attention, and to inform you that the course of Her Majesty's Government will be guided by the nature of your reply.

“I have the honour to be, with the highest consideration, sir, your most obedient, humble servant,

“ Lyons. “ Hon. Lewis Cass, &c. &c. &c.”

(1) American State Papers, p. 230.

Mr. (or General) Cass replied as follows:0)

“Department of State,

“Washington, October 22, 1859. “MY LORD, I have had the honour to receive your lordship's note of the 10th instant, in which you recall my attention to your previous note of the 12th of May, on the subject of the recent occupation of the island of San Juan by troops of the United States.

“In several conversations with your lordship, I have endeavoured to place you fully in possession of such information on this subject as the President has received, and of the general views of this Government with respect to it. You are aware that on the 14th July, 1855, Mr. Marcy, the late Secretary of State, addressed a letter to Governor Stevens, of Washington Territory, with the special purpose of preventing any conflict on the island pending the settlenient of the title to it, which was in dispute between the two countries. While this Government had no doubt whatever that the island belonged to the United States, it was quite willing, for this very reason, to await the result of negotiation which might be expected to lead to this conclusion. A copy of Governor Marcy's letter was communicated to Mr. Crampton, then Her Majesty's Minister in Washington, and on the 18th of July, 1855, he replied, “entirely concurring in the propriety of the course recommended' to Governor Stevens, and expressing his intention to advise a similar course on the part of the local authorities of Great Britain. Nothing had been done on the part of the United States to change this condition of affairs at the time when General Harney thought it necessary, for the protection of American citizens, to direct a military force to take position on the island. In verbally communicating to you these facts, I also informed your lordship that General Scott had been ordered to Washington Territory with a view to ascertain the precise condition of affairs in that region, and with instructions calculated to prevent any further conflict of

(1) American State Papers, p. 230.

jurisdiction on the island, pending the negotiation between the United States and Great Britain, on the subject of their mutual claims to it under the treaty of 1846. The President fully concurs in the opinion expressed by Governor Marcy, that the island is a part of the possessions of the United States, and he confidently hopes that this may be soon established by friendly discussion, without further collision of any character between the citizens and subjects of the two countries residing in the vicinity of the island.

“ Thinking it quite right that what has thus been stated in conversation should be repeated in a more distinct and formal manner, the President has instructed me to address to you this note, and to enclose to you copies of the instructions recently issued on the subject by the [acting] Secretary of War to General Scott,(1) and by this department to the Governor of Washington Territory. In the transmission of these copies, I trust you will see renewed evidence of the desire of this Government to maintain the most frank and friendly relations with that of Great Britain.

“I embrace this opportunity of renewing to your lordship the assurances of my high consideration.

“ LEWIS CAss. “Lord Lyons, &c. &c. &c.”

Subsequently Mr. Cass wrote to Mr. Dallas, United States Minister at the Court of St. James, a long despatch, reviewing the whole question ab initio.(2)

“Department of State, Washington,

“ October 20, 1859. “SIR,- When the treaty of 1846 had been concluded between the United States and Great Britain, it was believed that all controversy concerning the boundary between their respective possessions on the north-west coast of America was

(1) These instructions have been set out above.
(3) American State Papers, p. 231.

for ever set at rest. In order to accomplish this result, the United States had relinquished its title, which it regarded as clear and unquestionable, to all that portion of Oregon Territory which was included between the parallels of 49° and 54° 40' north latitude, and, for the sake of peace, consented to a deflection from the forty-ninth parallel, so as to leave Vancouver's Island undivided to Great Britain. After these concessions, I need not explain to you with what regret and disappointment this Government now finds its title drawn in question to still other territory, south of the parallel of 49°, its right to which, it was thought, was beyond any possible dispute. When the first doubt concerning it was suggested, it was hoped that it might be readily determined by the Commissioners who should be appointed on the part of both Governments to survey and mark out the treaty line. You are aware, however, that the Commissioners appointed for this purpose were unable to agree as to that part of the boundary which lies between the point of deflection on the forty-ninth parallel and the Straits of Fuca, and that they reported their disagreements to their respective Governments. A new subject of difference has thus arisen between the two countries, the adjustment of which, we are admonished by recent events, cannot be long delayed without serious hazard to their friendly relations. It is doubtless in this view of it that the British Government has recently proposed to the United States to adopt what it regards as a compromise line of boundary between the conflicting claims of the two Commissioners. This proposal is made in a despatch from Her Majesty's principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to Lord Lyons, the British Minister, in Washington, dated August 24, 1859, a copy of which he was directed to furnish to this department, and of which a copy will also accompany this note.

“The President has not failed to consider this despatch with all that attention that is due to the importance of its subject, and he cordially reciprocates the desire expressed by Her Majesty's Government for a mutually satisfactory and honourable settlement of the question' in controversy. He

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