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SAN JUAN WATER BOUNDARY.
by and with the advice and consent of the Senate thereof, and
“In witness whereof the respective Plenipotentiaries have
“Done at London, the fourteenth day of January, in the
In the meantime, on the 7th of December, 1868, Mr. Moore, Governor of Washington Territory, and other persons, twenty-three in number, chiefly officials connected with the government of the Territory, presented a memorial to the Senate “ remonstrating against any recognition of the claims of Great Britain to the Haro Archipelago and to San Juan Island.” That memorial was as follows :(1)
“Olympia, Washington Territory,
“December 7, 1868.
“Your memorialists, having learned that a proposition had been made to submit the unfounded claims of Great Britain to the Haro Archipelago, and especially to San Juan Island, to the arbitration of some foreign power, respectfully protest against any recognition of those claims whatever. The terms of the treaty of 1846 fix the boundary line along the Canal de Haro. The object of the deflection of the line from the 49th parallel, being simply to give the whole of Vancouver's Island to Great Britain, can be exactly accomplished by this channel alone. The officers who negotiated and adopted the treaty, and the Senate by whom it was ratified, acted with the full understanding that the Canal de Haro was the boundary.
(1) Correspondence respecting the negotiations with the United States Government, presented to Parliament (1869), p. 42.
Having already conceded from the line of 54° 40' to that of 49° for the sake of peace, neither the honour nor the interests of the United States will admit of further surrender of right.
“ We therefore entreat your honourable body to consent to no protocol or convention that admits a doubt of our right to the line of the Canal de Haro, or renders possible a surrender of those islands.
“And your memorialists will ever pray, &c.”
Subsequently the convention referring the San Juan question to arbitration was placed before the Senate, () and the Committee on Foreign Relations authorised Mr. Sumner to make a report thereon to the Senate, and to recommend that that body should sanction the ratification thereof by the President. Mr. Thornton afterwards had an interview with Mr. Fish, United States Secretary of State, () in the course of which the former expressed a hope that the Senate would proceed to give its sanction to the ratification by the President of the last-mentioned convention. Mr. Fish also expressed a hope that the question would be settled. Mr. Thornton reported this conversation to Lord Clarendon, who wrote in approval of the same. (0)
The convention was at length, in April last, brought before the Senate, and a long speech was made by Mr. Garrett Davis, a senator from Kentucky, recommending that its ratification should not be sanctioned. The main argument, if such it can be called, appears to have been,() that the right of the United States to
(1) Correspondence respecting the negotiations with the United States Government, presented to Parliament (1869), p. 44, No. 32.
(3) Idem, p. 50, No. 41. (*) Idem, p. 50, No. 45. (*) Idem, p. 57, No. 57.
the possession of the island of San Juan (and therefore, it is to be presumed, of the entire Haro Archipelago) was so extremely clear that the question was not one which ought to be submitted to arbitration.
It was, however, finally decided by the Senate that the further consideration of the convention, and the course to be pursued by them with reference thereto, should be deferred until the next session of that body, to open in December, 1869.
Whatever be the advantages (considered from an American point of view) of the proviso of the United States constitution which requires the assent of the Senate to the ratification of a treaty by the President, it is certain that other powers negotiating with the United States Government may, by that proviso, be placed in a most invidious and humiliating position.
To borrow an expression used by Mr. Goldwin Smith,(1) in his recent speech on the relations between America and England, it becomes necessary to look behind the credentials of a United States ambassador, and to inquire whether he has enough political support to warrant our treating with him. In the case of the Alabama convention, all that Great Britain could do was done with good will; the draft of the convention was framed at Washington, it was accepted by us, it was amended at the request of the United States Government, and, as Mr. Goldwin Smith remarked in the speech to which I have alluded, “when the whole process had been gone through, the treaty was kicked
(1) “ The Relations between America and England, 1869,” by Goldwin Smith.
out of doors with contumely, amid a burst of hostility and menace against Great Britain."
Possibly this may be the fate of the convention referring the San Juan water boundary question to arbitration. It is curious to consider that both the nations seem to be actuated by the same motive, the one in desiring, the other in doubting the advantage of arbitration. Great Britain believes her rights to be so clear that she does not fear the result of a fair arbitration ; the people of the United States, on the other hand, seem to believe their right to the disputed territory to be so extremely clear that it ought not to be submitted to arbitration.(1)
(") Correspondence respecting the negotiations with the United States Government, presented to Parliament (1869), p. 57, No. 57.
I HAVE now laid before the public the evidence I have been able to collect upon the San Juan water boundary. By the information which I have reproduced, the public in this country are placed on an equal footing with the people of the United States, and will be able to take part in and form their own opinions upon any discussions which may arise with reference to that boundary. The time has passed when it was considered wise and politic to keep the public mind in ignorance upon imperial questions. The people should know “the whole truth,” as well as "nothing but the truth,” and I believe that the greater the intricacy, the greater the delicacy of a question arising between us and another power, the more important is it that the public mind should be put in possession of the facts connected therewith. All the care and skill of diplomacy are thrown away, if the minds of nations are kept asunder by an imperfect appreciation of the questions at issue between them. From the correspondence which has been printed it will have been seen that I have not over estimated the importance of the subject, or the interest which the controversy excites in the United States and in our American possessions. If Great Britain retains the Island of San Juan and the smaller