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that the object of the projectors of the treaty was to run the line so as to avoid cutting off the southern cape of Vancouver's Island, and that the Canal de Haro was selected as the channel adapted to that object. President Polk, before accepting the proposal submitted by the British Government (received at the same time with Mr. McLane's letter), laid it before the Senate (the co-ordinate branch of the treaty-making power) for their advice on the subject, and, with his message, transmitted it; he also submitted Mr. McLane's letter of the 18th May, explanatory of the proposition or projet of the treaty. And it is presumed he did so that the Senate might clearly understand the nature of the proposal upon which their advice was asked. They advised him to accept it, and, in accordance with their advice, the treaty was adopted by him, and submitted to the Senate for its ratification.
“To show the Senate's understanding of the meaning to be attached to the words of the treaty—the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver's Island'-I must call your attention to the language of Mr. Benton, one of the leading members of that body. In his speech on the treaty, the day of its ratification, he says :
66. The line established by the first article follows the parallel of forty-nine degrees to the sea, with a slight deflection through the Straits of Fuca, to avoid cutting the south end of Vancouver's Island.
"" The first article of the treaty is in the very words which I myself would have used if the two Governments had left it to me to draw the boundary line between them.
“And in describing the line he says :- When the line reaches the channel which separates Vancouver's Island from the continent (which it does within sight of the mouth of Fraser River), it proceeds to the middle of the channel, and thence, turning south, through the Channel de Haro (wrongly written Arro on the maps) to the Straits of Fuca and the west, through the middle of that strait, to the sea. This is a fair partition of these waters, and gives us everything we want; namely, all the waters of Puget Sound, Hood's Canal, Admiralty Inlet, Bellingham Bay, Birch Bay, and, with them, the cluster of islands, probably of no value, between de Haro channel and the continent.'
“ After reviewing the other articles of the treaty, Mr. Benton concludes :-“In my high and responsible character of constitutional adviser to the President, I gave my opinion in favour of accepting the propositions which constitute the treaty. The first article is in the very terms which I would have used, and that article constitutes the treaty. With me it is the treaty.
“I have thus presented to you, in writing, the evidence I laid before you during our discussions—that the Canal de Haro must be the channel referred to in the treaty, through the middle of which the boundary line is to be traced. This evidence is entitled to the greatest weight, considering the official positions occupied by Mr. McLane and Mr. Benton during the negotiation and ratification of the treaty, and is conclusive with me.
“I am not aware of any evidence going to show that Rosario Strait was at all in the thoughts of the negotiators of the treaty, or that it was the intention or understanding of the two Governments that the boundary line was to pass through it. The only claim I have been able to find, on the part of the British Government, that such was the case, is contained in a letter of Mr. Crampton to the Secretary of State (Mr. Buchanan) dated January 13th, 1848, in which he calls the attention of our Government to the expediency of endeavouring to arrive at an early settlement of everything connected with the Oregon boundary question, and particularly of the boundary line between the continent and Vancouver's Island. Mr. Crampton's letter will be found in the executive documents of the House of Representatives for 1851, accompanying the message of President Fillmore for that year. In that letter Mr. Crampton gives his opinion as to the meaning of the words, the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver's Island.' He says :
666 In regard to that portion of the boundary line (the water
boundary) a preliminary question arises, which turns upon the interpretation of the treaty, rather than upon the result of local observations and surveys.
66 The convention of June 15th, 1846, declares that the line shall be drawn down the middle of the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver's Island; and upon this it may be asked what the word channel was intended to mean. Generally speaking, the word channel when employed in treaties means a deep and navigable channel. In the present case, it is believed only one channel, that, namely, which was laid down by Vancouver on his chart, has, in this part of the gulf, been hitherto surveyed and used ; and it seems natural to suppose that the negociators of the Oregon Convention, in employing the word channel, had that particular channel in view.'
From the above extracts from Mr. Crampton's letter, written within two years after the conclusion of the treaty, it will be perceived that no evidence is presented to show that the channel called Rosario Strait was the one intended by the negotiators. If there had been any evidence that such was their intention it would undoubtedly have been produced. But Mr. Crampton is mistaken even in his assumption that Vancouver's channel was the only one in that part of the gulf that had been hitherto surveyed and used; hence his inference that the negotiators of the Oregon Convention, in employing the word channel, had that particular channel in view, falls to the ground. The Canal de Haro had been both surveyed and used by the Spanish Government and our own.
“Mr. Crampton, at the conclusion of his letter, remarks that, as the question is one of interpretation, rather than of local observation and survey, it ought in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, to be determined before the commissioners go out. It would thus appear that the British Government regard an interpretation of the treaty as necessary to an understanding of the negotiators in employing the word channel.
6 Having in this communication, as in our recent discussions, 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. “ 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 expressioni appear to be designedly reversed, for the lesser