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and valuable island belonging to the group-namely, that called Whidbey's—would, of course, belong to the United States.
“ This question being, as I have already said, one of interpretation rather than of local observation, it ought, in the opinion of ller Majesty's Government, to be determined before the Commissioners go out, which cannot be earlier than spring next year.”
A draught copy of the instructions proposed by Great Britain to be given to the Commissioners, it appointed, was enclosed in the above letter, and it appears to have been in the following words: (1)
“ Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States, having determined to appoint Commissioners for the purpose of marking out that part of the line of boundary between the British and United States possessions in North America, which passes through the Gulf of Georgia and Fuca Straits to the Pacific Ocean, I have to acquaint you, &c., &c.
“ The first article of the treaty of the 15th of June, 1846, between Great Britain and the United States, provides as follows:
“ From the point on the forty-ninth 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 the territories of Her Britannic Majesty 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 from Vancouver's Island, and thence southerly, through the middle of the said channel, and of Fuca Straits, to the Pacific Ocean: Provided, however, that the navigation of the whole of the said channel and strait, south of the fortyninth parallel of north latitude, remain free and open to both parties.
(1) American State Papers, p. 42.
“ The first operation, which, in conjunction with the United States Commissioners, you will have to undertake, in tracing the above mentioned boundary line, will be to determine with accuracy the point at which the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude strikes the eastern shore of the Gulf of Georgia, and to mark that point by a substantial monument.
“From that point you will carry on the line of boundary, along the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude to the middle of the channel between Vancouver's Island and the continent; the whole breadth of the Gulf of Georgia in this part being, as far as is known, navigable. The term 'middle of the channel,' used in the treaty, may here be assumed to mean the middle of the gulf; but it is probable that the point which constitutes the middle of the gulf cannot well be marked out by any object to be fixed permanently on the spot, it must be ascertained and fixed by the intersection of the cross - bearings of natural or artificial landmarks. This matter the Commissioners will have to settle by mutual agreement; but it will be essential that the point in question should be marked out as accurately as the nature of things will admit.
“You will then proceed to carry on the line of boundary, from this point down the middle of the Straits of Fuca to the ocean.
In tracing and marking out this continuation of the boundary, the water-line must, probably, still be determined by a series of points, to be ascertained by the intersection of cross-bearings.
“ In performing this operation it will, of course, be desirable to observe as much accuracy as may be attainable ; but, independently of the impossibility of arriving at mathematical precision in such matters, such precision is the less important, because the treaty stipulates that the navigation of the whole of the channel of the Gulf of Georgia, and of the Straits of Fuca, shall remain free and open to both parties.
“That part of the channel of the Gulf of Georgia which lies nearly midway between the forty-eighth and forty-ninth parallels of north latitude appearing, by Vancouver's chart, to
be obstructed by numerous islands, which seem to be separated from each other by small and intricate channels, as yet unexplored, it has, therefore, been mutually determined between the Governments of Great Britain and the United States, in order to avoid the difficulties which would probably attend the explorations of all those channels, that the line of boundary shall be drawn along the middle of the wide channel to the east of those islands, which is laid down by Vancouver and marked with soundings as the channel which liad been explored and used by the officers under his command. You will find the line thus described traced in red in the copy from Vancouver's chart hereto annexed. It must necessarily be left to the discretion of the Commissioners to connect this part of the line, which, being drawn through portions of the gulf free from islands, must pass exactly half way between Vancouver's Island and the main ; but the slight deviations of the boundary from the accurate midway which may for some short distance be required for this purpose, cannot be of any material importance to either party'
The British Government had thus done all in their power to approach a final settlement of the question, but it remained in abeyance until the year 1856, inasmuch as the legislature of the United States refrained from appropriating the sums necessary to meet the expenses of conducting the operation of marking out the boundary (1)
(1) American State Papers, p. 105.
MEANWHILE, on the 2nd of February, 1847, the Senate of the United States passed a resolution in due form, directing Colonel (afterwards General) J. C. Fremont, of the United States army, who was then engaged, officially, upon a topographical survey of Oregon and Upper California, to construct a map of those regions, and Mr. Charles Preuss, who had also been engaged in such survey, was directed to assist in the construction of this map.(4)
General Fremont and Mr. Preuss gave their most assiduous attention to the work, which was not concluded until June, 1848, when it was presented to the Senate, together with a geographical memoir descriptive thereof, drawn up by General Fremont himself. The full title of the map was as follows:
FROM THE SURVEYS OF
AND OTUER AUTHORITIES.
UNDER THE ORDER OF THE
WASHINGTON CITY, 1848.
The extent and character of this map was described by General Fremont in the “ Geographical
(1) Geographical Memoir upon Upper California. By John Charles Fremont. Washington, 1818. P. 1.
Memoir,” and, inasmuch as his description contains highly important evidence in favour of the claims of Great Britain to the Haro Archipelago, I shall give his own language:(1)
“In laying the map of Oregon and Upper California before the Senate, I deem it proper to show the extent and general character of the work, and how far it may be depended on as correct, as being founded on my own or other surveys, and how far it is conjectural, and only presented as the best that is known.
" In extent it embraces the whole western side of this continent, between the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, and between the Straits of Fuca and the Gulf of California, taking for its outline, on the north, the boundary line with Great Britain, and on the south, including the bay of San Diego, the head of the Gulf of California, the rivers Colorado and Gila, and all the country through which the line of the late treaty with Mexico would run from El Paso del Norte to the sea. To complete the view in that quarter, the valley of the Rio del Norte is added, from the head of the river to El Paso del Norte, thereby including New Mexico. The map has been constructed expressly to exhibit the two countries of Oregon (%) and the alta California together. It is believed to be the most correct that has appeared of either of them; and it is certainly the only one that shows the structure and configuration of the interior of Upper California.”
The position in which he placed the boundary line between the possessions of Great Britain and the United States is nowhere described by him as “conjectural, and only presented as the best that is known,” and it must, therefore, be taken to be correct according to
(4) “Geographical Memoir,” p. 1.
(*) At the period of this survey that which is now called Washington Territory formed a part of the Oregon Territory.