Page images

“Although Mr. McLane and Mr. Benton were not the signers of the treaty, both of them had that official connection with the negotiation that gives their evidence equal weight with that of the signers themselves, and in the absence of evidence from the latter it must be regarded as indisputable. Nothing short of positive contradictory testimony from equallý reliable authority can invalidate it.

“ I will, however, show you clearly the understanding of Mr. Buchanan, the Secretary of State, one of the negotiators and signers of the treáty. Immediately upon the receipt of Mr. McLane's letter of the 18th of May, stating the substance 8f the proposition that was to be made by Lord Aberdeen, a Conference was held in the State Department between Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Pakenham. The protocol of this proceeding accompanied the President's message to the Senate asking their advice as to the acceptance of the proposition. It is as follows:

6 A conference was held at the Department of State on the 6th of June, 1846, between the Hon. James Buchanan, Secretary of State, the American plenipotentiary, and the Right Honourable Richard Pakenham, the British plenipotentiary, when the negotiation respecting the Oregon territory was resumed. The British plenipotentiáry made a verbal explanation of the motives which håd induced Her Majesty's Government to instruct him to make another proposition to the Government of the United States for the solution of these long-existing difficulties. The Secretary of State expressed his satisfaction with the friendly motives which had anir ted the British Government in this endeavour: Whereupon the British plenipotentiary submitted to thë Secretary of State the draught of a conventioň (márkéd A) setting forth the terms which he had been instructed to propose to the Government of the United States for the settlement of the Oregon question.'

“The draught of the convention is in the same words às the ratified treaty. The instructions of Lord Aberdeen, and Mr. McLane's letter to Mr. Buchanan, stating the nåture of Llië proposition to be submitted for the settlement of the

Oregon question, were dispatched to the United States by the same steamer the day after their conference, and the letter was received in Washington on the 3rd of June. The conference between Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Pakenham was held on the 6th of June. On the same day Mr. Buchanan writes to Mr. McLane as follows:

"6" I transmit to you herewith a copy of the projet of a convention, delivered to me by Mr. Pakenham this morning, for the adjustment of the Oregon question, together with a copy of the protocol of the proceeding. This being the regular day for the meeting of the Cabinet, the subject was brought before them by the President. The result was a determination on his part to submit the projet to the Senate for their previous advice. This will be done as soon as the proper message can be prepared, and the necessary papers copied.'

“The papers necessary to accompany this projet of the treaty were the protocol mentioned above and a copy of Mr. McLane's letter of the 18th of May, containing his statement of the substance of the treaty as communicated to him by Lord Aberdeen. The object of sending this letter to the Senate was to explain to the senators the intentions of the British Government as to the details of the treaty, that they might be able to give their advice to the President understandingly. And as the letter was copied in the Department of State by direction of Mr. Buchanan, to accompany the projet of thie treaty, it must be considered as expressing the understanding between himself and Mr. Pakenham ; being in harmony with the proposition submitted to him by the latter 'in conformity with the instructions he received from his Government. It is, therefore, quite clear that Mr. Buchanan must have understood the language describing the boundary line in the treaty äs intending the • Canal de Haro’ for the chånnel which separates the continent from Vancouver's Island.' With the letter of Mr. McLane in his possession, and deeming it necessary that it should accompany the projet of the treaty to the Senate for their information, there cannot be a doubt that Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Pakenham understood the language of the treaty alike.

“You state that Mr. McLane, in his report to the Secretary of State, writes that the proposition of the Government most probably will offer substantially as follows,' and quotes his language, giving the substance of the first article of the treaty; and add, Now this is stated to have been the probable proposition ; it appears strange, if it was the adopted proposition, that the simple and unmistakable wording used by Mr. McLane should not have been retained.

“ Mr. McLane could hardly have used a stronger expression to convey to his Government the intentions of Lord Aberdeen, as communicated to him in their full and free conversation,' and lengthened conference,' than the words

most probably,' without having actually seen his despatches to Mr. Pakenham. At the date of his letter he most certainly believed that the proposition would be substantially as he stated, for he does not pretend to give the words of the treaty in his statement of any of the articles, but confines himself to its spirit and gives its substance. Having stated this fact in my previous letter, it ought not to appear strange to you that " the simple and unmistakable wording used by Mr. McLane should not have been retained.'

“ With the projet of the treaty and the chart before them, Mr. McLane and Lord Aberdeen could not fail to see at a glance that the concise language of the treaty clearly indicated the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver's Island.' The Gulf of Georgia washing the continent at the northern end of the line; the Canal de Haro, Vancouver's Island, at the southern end, and at its junction with the Straits of Fuca, presented to the eye a continuous channel that unmistakably separated, throughout its whole length, the continent from Vancouver's Island, and about which it might well have been supposed by them (with their full knowledge of the motive that induced this deflection from the fortyninth parallel) there could be no question. But a glance at the chart of the United States Coast Survey, on a large scale, accurately defining the space through which the boundary line is to be traced, will show much more forcibly how well the language of the treaty was chosen to express in few words the object of the negotiators.

“On the assumption that the language used by Mr. McLane to describe the boundary line had been originally the words of the proposition (or projet of the treaty), and not retained, you say that it 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.'

“I am somewhat at a loss to know between whom you suppose this discussion to have taken place; whether between Mr. McLane and Lord Aberdeen, or between Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Pakenham. It could not have been between the former, for it would not appear that there was any opportunity for discussion after their conference, and before the departure of their despatches ; or if it had been, Mr. McLane would certainly have notified his Government of the fact. Nor do I see how any discussion could have taken place between Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Pakenham that could have effected any alteration in the proposition ; for it would appear that Mr. Pakenham had neither power to accept nor offer modifications, as will be seen by an extract from Mr. McLane's letter, and his own statement in the conference with Mr. Buchanan. Mr. McLane says :

" It may be considered certain also in my opinion that the offer now to be made is not to be submitted as an ultimatum, and is not intended as such, though I have reason to know that Mr. Pakenham will not be authorised to accept or reject any modification that may be proposed on our part, but that he will in such case be instructed to refer the modification to his Government.'

“From the foregoing extract it will be perceived that Mr. Pakenham had no authority to accept any proposed alteration to the treaty, though it is not presumed the proposition for the change you suggest could have been expected from Mr. Buchanan. On the other hand, Mr. Pakenham was not authorised to propose any modifications, as has been seen from his conference with Mr. Buchanan, June 6th, in which he submits the draught of a convention setting forth the terms which he had been instructed to propose to the Government of the United States for the settlement of the Oregon question, which could not have been otherwise than in conformity with the terms of the proposition communicated by Lord Aberdeen to Mr. McLane. I cannot, therefore, admit that the original proposition was designedly altered’ with the consent of either Mr. Buchanan or Mr. McLane. Nor can I agree with you that the islands you refer to, 'barren, rocky, and valueless' as they might then have been deemed, would have been conceded as readily as you suppose, after the positive assertions of the President (communicated to Mr. McLane by Mr. Buchanan) that he would not consent to surrender any territory claimed by the United States south of the forty-ninth parallel, with the exception of the southern end of Vancouver's Island. I cannot conceive the motive which could induce any officer of the United States Government to surrender a portion of the territory which the line proposed by the British Government threw on the American side, when at the same time he knew the proposition was not an ultimatum, and not intended as such, as will be seen from the extract of Mr. McLane's letter heretofore quoted. In addition thereto he says >

"I do not think there can be much doubt, however, that an impression has been produced here that the Senate would accept the proposition now offered, at least without any material modification, and that the President would not take the responsibility of rejecting it without consulting the Senate. If there be any reasonable ground to entertain such an impression, however erroneous, an offer less objectionable, in the first instance, at least, could hardly be expected.'

" And he again says :

“Feeling very sure, however, that the present offer is not made or intended as an ultimatum, I think it only reason

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »