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1818.]

BRITISH VIEWS OF NATIONAL FAITH.

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consider as sufficient, protests and exceptions made in that manner, and brought forward long after, without acknowledgment of any kind on the part of those to whom they are said to have been addressed. The only communication received by the American government, on the occasion of the restitution of Astoria, is explicit : We, the undersigned, do, in conformity to the first article of the treaty of Ghent, restore to the government of the United States the settlement of Fort George, on the Columbia River;and this direct and unqualified recognition of the right of the United States cannot be affected by subsequent communications to or from any persons.

It may also be remarked, that although the British government, in 1826, pronounced as sufficient a reservation contained in a secret despatch from one of its own ministers to one of its own agents, and withheld from the other party interested in the matter, yet, in 1834, the same government pronounced the reservation contained in the Declaration publicly presented by the Spanish ambassador at London, in 1771, on the conclusion of the dispute respecting the Falkland Islands, “not to possess any substantial weight," * inasmuch as

" it had not been noticed in the Acceptance presented by the British government in return. The circumstances connected with the lastmentioned transaction have been already so fully exposed, that it is unnecessary to repeat them here.

Immediately after the conclusion of the surrender of Astoria, Mr. Keith presented to Mr. Prevost a note containing inquiries whether or not the government of the United States would insist upon the abandonment of the post by the North-West Company,t before the final decision of the question as to the right of sovereignty over the country; and whether, in the event of such a

* Letter from Viscount Palmerston to Señor Moreno, envoy of Buenos Ayres at London, dated January 8th, 1834. See the note in p. 111, containing a sketch of the circumstances of the dispute respecting the Falkland Islands.

+ The buildings, and, indeed, the whole establishment at Astoria, had been consid. erably increased, since it came into the hands of the North-West Company. Accord ing to the plan and description of the place sent by Mr. Prevost to Washington, the factory consisted, in 1818, of a stockade made of pine logs, twelve feet in length above the ground, enclosing a parallelogram of one hundred and fifty by two hundred and fifty feet, extending in its greatest length from north-west to south-east, and defended by bastions or towers at two opposite angles. Within this enclosure were all the buildings of the establishment, such as dwelling-houses, magazines, storehouses, mechanics' shops, &c. The artillery were two heavy eighteen-pounders, six six-pounders, four four-pound carronades, two six-pound cohorns, and seven swivels, all mounted. The number of persons attached to the place, besides a few women and children, was sixty-five, of whom twenty-three were whites, twenty-six Sandwich Islanders, (or Kanakis, as they are generally called in the Pacific,) and the remainder persons of mixed blood, from Canada.

decision being in favor of the United States, their government would be disposed to indemnify the North-West Company for any improvements which they might, in the mean time, have made there. On these points, Mr. Prevost, having no instructions, could only reply, as he did, to the effect - that his government would, doubtless, if it should determine to keep up the settlement, satisfy any claims of the North-West Company which might be conformable with justice and the usages of civilized nations. After a few days more spent on the Columbia, the Blossom quitted the river with Mr. Prevost, whom she carried to Peru, the post remaining in the hands of the British traders, who have ever since continued to occupy it.

Whilst these measures for the restitution of Astoria were in progress, a negotiation was carried on, at London, between the plenipotentiaries of the American and British governments, for the definitive arrangement of many questions which were left unsettled by the treaty of Ghent, including those relating to the boundaries of the territories of the two nations west of the Lake of the Woods.* Messrs. Rush and Gallatin, the plenipotentiaries of the United States, proposed that the dividing line between those territories should be drawn from the north-western extremity of that lake, north or south, as the case might require, to the 49th parallel of latitude, and thence along that parallel west to the Pacific Ocean. The British commissioners, Messrs. Goulburn and Robinson, after a discussion in which they endeavored to secure to British subjects the right of access to the Mississippi, and of navigating that river, agreed to admit the line proposed as far west as the Rocky Mountains; and an article to that effect was accordingly inserted in the projet of a convention.

The claims of the respective nations to territories west of the Rocky Mountains were then considered. Messrs. Rush and Gallatin “ did not assert thal the United States had a perfect right to that country, but insisted that their claim was at least good against Great Britain ;” and they cited, in support of that claim, the facts of the discovery of the Columbia River, of the first exploration from its sources to its mouth, and of the formation of the first establishments in the country through which it flows, by American citizens. Messrs. Goulburn and Robinson, on the other hand, affirmed that former voyages, and principally that of Captain Cook, gave to Great Britain the rights derived from discovery; and they alluded to

* President Monroe's message to Congress, with the accompanying documents, sent December 29th, 1818.

1818.] CONVENTION OF UNITED STATES AND GREAT BRITAIN.

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purchases from the natives south of the Columbia, which they alleged to have been made prior to the American revolution. They did not make any formal proposition for a boundary, but intimated that the river itself was the most convenient which could be adopted; and that they would not agree to any which did not give them the harbor at the mouth of that river, in common with the United States."

It is needless here to repeat the proofs that Cook saw no part of the west coast of America south of Mount San Jacinto, near the 57th degree of latitude, which had not been already explored by the Spaniards; with regard to the purchases from the natives south of the Columbia, alleged to have been made by British subjects prior to the revolution, history is entirely silent. The determination expressed on the part of the British government not to assent to any arrangement which did not give to Great Britain the mouth of the Columbia, was at least unequivocal, and was sufficient to show that all arguments on the American side would be unavailing. It was, accordingly, at length agreed that all territories and their waters, claimed by either power, west of the Rocky Mountains, should be free and open to the vessels, citizens, and subjects, of both for the space of ten years; provided, however, that no claim of either, or of any other nation, to any part of those territories, should be prejudiced by the arrangement.

This convention having been completed, it was signed by the plenipotentiaries on the 20th of October, 1818, and was soon after ratified by the governments of both nations.* The compromise contained in its third article, with regard to the territories west of the Rocky Mountains, was, perhaps, the most wise, as well as the most equitable, measure which could have been adopted at that time ; considering that neither party pretended to possess a perfect title to the sovereignty of any of those territories, and that there was no prospect of the speedy conclusion of any arrangement with regard to them, between either party and the other claimants, Spain and Russia. The agreement could not certainly, at the time, have been considered unfavorable to the United States; for, although the North-West Company held the whole trade of the Columbia country, yet the important post at the mouth of that river was restored to the Americans without reservation, and there was every reason for supposing that it would be immediately re

* See the third article of the convention of October, 1818, among the Proofs and Illustrations, in the latter part of this History, under the letter K, No. 2.

occupied by its founders: and it seemed, moreover, evident that the citizens of the United States would enjoy many and great advantages over all other people in the country in question, in consequence of their superior facilities of access to it, especially since the introduction of steam vessels on the Mississippi and its branches.

In the same year, a negotiation was carried on at Washington, between the governments of the United States and Spain, in which the question of boundaries on the north-west side of America was likewise discussed. The Spanish minister, Don Luis de Onis, began by declaring that “the right and dominion of the crown of Spain to the north-west coast of America as high as the Californias, is certain and indisputable; the Spaniards having explored it as far as the 47th degree, in the expedition under Juan de Fuca, in 1592, and in that under Admiral Fonté, to the 55th degree, in 1640. The dominion of Spain in these vast regions being thus established, and her rights of discovery, conquest, and possession, being never disputed, she could scarcely possess a property founded on more respectable principles, whether of the law of nations, of public law, or of any others which serve as a basis to such acquisitions as compose all the independent kingdoms and states of the earth.” Upon these positive assertions, the American plenipotentiary, Mr. J. Q. Adams, secretary of state, did not consider himself required to offer any comment; and the origin, extent, and value, of the claims of Spain to the north-western portion of America remained unquestioned during the discussion. The negotiation was broken off in the early part of the year, soon after its commencement; it was, however, renewed, and was terminated on the 22d of February, 1819, by a treaty commonly called the Florida treaty, in which the southern boundaries of the United States were definitively fixed. Spain ceded Florida to the American republic, wbich relinquished all claims to territories west of the River Sabine, and south of the upper parts of the Red and the Arkansas Rivers; and it was agreed that a line drawn on the meridian from the source of the Arkansas northward to the 42d parallel of latitude, and thence along that parallel westward to the Pacific, should form the northern boundary of the Spanish possessions, and the southern boundary of those of the United States, in that quarter, - “ His Catholic majesty ceding to the United States all his rights, claims, and pretensions, to any territories north of the said line."

The provisions of this treaty, particularly those relating to limits, appear to have been as nearly just as any which could have been

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1819.] FLORIDA TREATY BETWEEN THE 0. S. AND SPAIN.

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framed under existing circumstances; and as an almost necessary consequence, they were not received with general satisfaction by either nation. The Americans insisted that the Rio del Norté should have been made the boundary of their republic in the south-west, so as to secure to it the possession of the vast and fertile region of Texas, which they claimed as 'originally forming part of Louisiana ; whilst the Spaniards protested that their interests in the new world had been sacrificed by the surrender of Florida to the power most dangerous to them in that quarter. The Spanish government, which was then in the hands of the Cortés, withheld its ratification of the treaty for nearly two years; and within a year after that ratification had been given, the authority of Spain was extinguished in every portion of America contiguous to the new line of boundary.

With regard to the extent of the territory west of the Rocky Mountains, and the validity of the title to it thus acquired by the United States, it will be convenient here to introduce some observations.

* See the third article of the treaty of 1819, defining the boundary, as settled, in the Proofs and Illustrations, under the Letter K, No. 6. The correspondence which passed during the negotiation may be found accompanying President Monroe's message to Congress of February 220, 1819. Great skill and knowledge of the subject are displayed by each of the plenipotentiaries in this correspondence ; the Chevalier de Onis occasionally employing that finesse which was considered as the principal weapon of the diplomatist of the last centuries, while Mr. Adams, in addition to his superior acquaintance with history and national law, impresses upon the reader his profound conviction of the justice of his cause.

The Spanish plenipotentiary, on returning to his country, found it necessary to vindicate his conduct in this negotiation, by a Memoir, published at Madrid in 1820, in which he shows that he was by no means convinced of the right of Spain to the territory west of the Sabine River; and he claims especial commendation from his government for this part of the treaty of 1819, “ which," he says, “is improperly styled a treaty of cession, whereas it is in reality one of exchange, or permutation, of a small province for another of double the extent, more rich and fertile. I will agree," he adds, “that the third article might, with greater clearness, have been expressed thus: “In exchange, the United States cede to his Catholic majesty the province of Texas,' &c.; but as I had been for three years maintaining, in the lengthened correspondence herein inserted, that this province belonged to the king, it would have been a contradiction to express, in the treaty, that the United States cede it to his majesty."

The Chevalier de Onis, however, insinuates, in his Memoir, that one object of his long correspondence on this subject was to gain time. In fact, during the summer of 1818, while the correspondence was partially suspended, (with the same object of gaining time, no doubt,) the Spanish government formally applied to that of Great Britain for aid, or mediation, in the affair; to which Lord Castlereagh immediately returned a decided negative, at the same time advising the Spanish government to cede Florida to the United States, and to make any other arrangement which might be deemed proper, without delay.

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