Page images

1. The first discovery of the mouth of the river Columbia by Captain Gray, of Boston, in 1792; the first discovery of the sources of that river, and the exploration of its course to the sea, by Captains Lewis and Clarke, in 1805–6; and the establishment of the first posts and settlements in the territory in question by citizens of the United States.

2. The virtual recognition by the British government of the title of the United States in the restitution of the settlement of Astoria or Fort George, at the mouth of the Columbia River, which had been captured by the British during the late war between the two countries, and which was restored in virtue of the 1st article of the treaty of Ghent, 1814, stipulating that “all territory, places, and possessions whatever, taken by either party from the other during the war," &c.,“ shall be restored without delay.” This restitution was made, without any reservation or exception whatsoever, communicated at the time to the Ameri. can government.

3. The acquisition by the United States of all the titles of Spain, which titles were derived from the discovery of the coasts of the region in question, by Spanish subjects, before they had been seen by the people of any other civilized nation. By the 3d article of the treaty of 1819, between the United States and Spain, the boundary line between the two countries, west of the Mississippi, was established from the mouth of the river Sabine, to certain points on the Red River and the Arkansas, and running along the parallel of 42 degrees north of the South Sea; his Catholic Majesty ceding to the United States “all bit rights, claims, and pretensions, to any territories east and north of the said line; and” renouncing “for himself, his heirs and successors, all claim to the said territories forever.” The boundary thus agreed on with Spain was confirmed by the treaty of 1828, between the United States and Mexico, which had, in the mean time, become independent of Spain.

4. Upon the ground of contiguity, which should give to the United States a stronger right to those territories than could be advanced by any other power. .

“ If," said Mr. Gallatin, "a few trading factories on the shores of Hudson's Bay have been considered by Great Britain as giving an exclusive right of occupancy as far as the Rocky Mountains; if the infant settlements on the more southern Atlantic shores justified a claim thence to the South Seas, and which was actually enforced to the Mississippi; that of the millions of American citizens already within reach of those seas, cannot consistently be rejected. It will not be denied that the extent of contiguous country to which an actual settlement gives a prior right, must depend, in a considerable degree, on the magnitude and population of that settlement, and on the facility with which the vacant adjacent land may, within a short time, be occupied, settled, and cultivated by such population, compared with the probability of its being occupied and settled from any other quarter. This doctrine was admitted to its fullest extent by Great Britain, as appeared by all her charters, extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific, given to colonies established then only on the borders of the Atlantic. How much more natural and stronger the claim, when made by a nation whose population extended to the central parts of the continent, and whose dominions were by all acknowledged to extend to the Rocky Mountains."

The exclusive claim of the United States is opposed by Great Britain on the following grounds :

1. That the Columbia was not discovered by Gray, who had only entered its mouth, discovered four years previously by Lieutenant Meares of the British navy; and that the exploration of the interior borders of the Columbia by Lewis and Clarke could not be considered as confirming the claim of the United States, because, if not before, at least in the same and subsequent years, the British Northwest Company had, by means of their agents, already established their posts on the head waters or main branch of the river.

2. That the restitution of Astoria, in 1818, was accompanied by express reservations of the claim of Great Britain to that territory, upon which the American settlement must be considered an encroachment.

3. That the titles to the territory in question, derived by the United States from Spain through the treaty of 1819, amounted to nothing more than the rights secured to Spain equally with Great Britain by the Nootka Sound Convention of 1790: namely, to settle on any part of those countries, to navigate and fish in their waters, and to trade with the natives.

4. That the charters granted by British sovereigns to colonies on the Atlantic coasts were nothing more than cessions to the

grantees of whatever rights the grantor might consider himself to possess, and could not be considered as binding the subjects of any other nation, or as part of the law of nations, until they had been confirmed by treaties.

During the negotiation of 1827, the British plenipotentiaries, Messrs. Huskisson and Addington, presented the pretensions of their government in respect to the territory in question in a statement, of which the following is a summary.

“ Great Britain claims no exclusive sovereignty over any portion of the territory on the Pacific, between the 42d and the 49th parallels of latitude. Her present claim, not in respect to any part, but to the whole, is limited to a right of joint occupancy, in common with other States, leaving the right of exclusive dominion in abeyance ; and her pretensions tend to the mere maintenance of her own rights, in resistance to the exclusive character of the pretensions of the United States.

“ The rights of Great Britain are recorded and defined in the Convention of 1790. They embrace the right to navigate the waters of those countries, to settle in and over any part of them, and to trade with the inhabitants and occupiers of the same. These rights have been peaceably exercised ever since the date of that Convention; that is, for a period of nearly forty years. Under that Convention, valuable British interests have grown up in those countries. It is admitted that the United States possess the same rights, although they have been exercised by them only in a single instance, and have not, since the year 1813, been exercised at all; but beyond those rights they possess none.

“ In the interior of the territory in question, the subjects of Great Britain have had, for many years, numerous settlements and trading-posts; several of these posts are on the tributary waters of the Columbia; several upon the Columbia itself; some to the northward, and others to the southward of that river. And they navigate the Columbia as the sole channel for the conveyance of their produce to the British stations nearest to the sea, and for its shipment thence to Great Britain ; it is also by the Columbia and its tributary streams that these posts and settlements receive their annual supplies from Great Britain.

“ To the interests and establishments which British industry and enterprise have created, Great Britain owes protection; that protection will be given, both as regards settlement, and freedom of trade and navigation, with every attention not to infringe the coördinate rights of the United States; it being the desire of the British government, so long as the joint occupancy continues, to regulate its own obligations by the same rules which govern the obligations of every other occupying party.” 1

By the 3d article of the Convention between the United States and Great Britain, in 1818, it was “ agreed, that any country that may be claimed by either party, on the north-west coast of America, westward of the Stony Mountains, shall, together with its harbors, bays, and creeks, and the navigation of all rivers within the same, be free and open, for the term of ten years from the date of the signature of the present Convention, to the vessels, citizens, and subjects of the two powers; it being well understood that this agreement is not to be construed to the prejudice of any

claim which either of the two high contracting parties may have to any part of the said country, nor shall it be taken to affect the claims of any other power or State to any part of the said country; the only object of the high contracting parties, in that respect, being to prevent disputes and differences amongst themselves."

In 1827, another Convention was concluded between the two parties, by which it was agreed :

“ Art. 1. All the provisions of the third article of the Convention concluded between the United States of America and his Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, on the 20th of October, 1818, shall be, and they are, hereby, further indefinitely extended and continued in force, in the same manner as if all the provisions of the said article were herein specifically recited.

“ Art. 2. It shall be competent, however, to either of the contracting parties, in case either should think fit at any time after the 20th of October, 1828, on giving due notice of twelve months to the other contracting party, to annul and abrogate this Con

i Congress Documents, 20th Cong. and 1st Sess. No. 199. Greenhow, Proofs and Illustrations, H.

vention; and it shall, in such case, be accordingly entirely annulled and abrogated, after the expiration of the said term of notice.

“ Art. 3. Nothing contained in this Convention, or in the third article of the convention of the 20th of October, 1818, hereby continued in force, shall be construed to impair, or in any manner affect, the claims which either of the contracting parties may have to any part of the country westward of the Stony or Rocky Mountains.” 1

The notification provided for by the convention having been given by the American government, new discussions took place between the two governments, which were terminated by a treaty concluded at Washington, in 1846. By the first article of that treaty it was stipulated, that from the point on the 49th parallel of north latitude, where the boundary laid down in existing treaties and conventions between the United States and Great Britain terminates, the line of boundary shall be continued westward along the said 49th 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 Fucas Straits, to the Pacific Ocean; provided, however, that the navigation of the whole of the said channel and straits, south of the 49th parallel of north latitude, remain free and open to both parties. The second article stipulated for the free navigation of the Columbia River by the Hudson's Bay Company, and the British subjects trading with them, from the 49th degree of north latitude to the ocean. The third article provided that the possessory rights of the Hudson's Bay Company, and of all other British subjects, to the territory south of the parallel of the 49th degree of north latitude, should be respected. (a)

time territo

The maritime territory of every State extends to the

$ 6. Mariports, harbors, bays, mouths of rivers, and adjacent parts

rial jurisof the sea inclosed by headlands, belonging to the same diction. State. The general usage of nations superadds to this extent of territorial jurisdiction a distance of a marine league, or as far as a cannon-shot will reach from the shore, along all the coasts of the State. Within these limits, its rights of property and

| Elliot's American Diplomatic Code, vol. i. pp. 282, 330. (a) (United States Statutes at Large, vol. ix. pp. 109, 869.]

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »