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Orleans, were as fully confirmed by the seventh article of the treaty of Paris, as those of Great Britain to the Hudson's Bay territories had been by the treaty of Utrecht. Assuming this to have been the view and intention of the parties to the treaty of Paris, - and no other supposition seems to be admissible, - the line of separation between Louisiana and the British possessions would have then passed along the highlands dividing the head-waters of the Mississippi and its western tributaries, on the south, from those of the streams pouring into Hudson's Bay on the north, so far as the respective territories extended.
Whilst Louisiana remained in the possession of Spain, no further determination or question was made as to its boundaries. On the 1st of October, 1800, a treaty was concluded between the French republic and the king of Spain, by which the former party engaged to enlarge the dominions of the duke of Parma, a prince of the royal family of Spain, by adding to them some other territories in Italy; and his Catholic majesty, by the third article, “engaged, on his part, to retrocede to the French republic, six months after the full and entire execution of the above-mentioned conditions and stipulations relative to the duke of Parma, the colony or province of Louisiana, with the same extent which it now has in the hands of Spain, and which it had when France possessed it, and such as it should be, according to the treaties subsequently made between Spain and other states.” * The conditions relative to the duke of Parma having been fulfilled, agreeably to a treaty of March 21, 1801, Spain bound herself to perform her part, by delivering Louisiana to the French republic; and an order to that effect was accordingly issued by King Charles IV., at Barcelona, on the 15th of October, 1802. The First Consul, Bonaparte, however, finding it impolitic to attempt to take possession, concluded a treaty with the United States of America, on the 30th of April, 1803, wherein, after reciting the third article of the treaty of 1800, the territory thus retroceded to France was “ceded to the United States, in the name of the French republic, forever, and in full sovereignty, with all its rights and appurtenances, as fully, and in the same manner, as they have been acquired by the French republic, in virtue of the above-mentioned treaty with his Catholic majesty."
* The treaty of October 1st, 1800, was never made public until 1820, when it appeared, for the first time, in the French and Spanish languages, in the Memoir published at Madrid by the Chevalier de Onis, formerly minister plenipotentiary of Spain in the United States, in defence of his conduct, in concluding the treaty by which Florida became the property of the American Union.
LOUISIANA CEDED TO THE UNITED STATES.
At the time when the treaty for the cession of Louisiana to the United States was concluded, the Spaniards still remained in possession of the country; the order from the court of Madrid for the delivery to France, was not executed until the 30th of November, 1804, twenty days after which the surrender to the American commissioners took place in due form at New Orleans. The Spanish government had already protested against the transfer of Louisiana to the United States, as being contrary to engagements previously made by France, of which, however, no proof was adduced; and some disposition was at first manifested on the part of the Spanish authorities at New Orleans, and in the provinces of Mexico adjacent, to dispute the entrance of the Americans. This opposition was, however, abandoned, and a negotiation was commenced at Madrid, in 1804, between the governments of the United States and Spain, for the adjustment of the lines which were to separate their respective territories.
In this negotiation, the United States claimed the whole of the territory ceded by France to Spain in 1762, with the exception of the portion east of the Mississippi, which had been surrendered to Great Britain in 1763; and this territory was considered by them as including the whole coast on the Mexican Gulf, from the Perdido River as the western limit of Florida, west and south to the River Bravo del Norte as the north-east boundary of Mexico, with all the intermediate rivers and all the countries drained by them, not previously possessed by the United States. The Spanish government, on its side, contended — that France had never rightfully possessed
any part of America west of the Mississippi, the whole of which had belonged to Spain ever since its discovery — that the French establishments in that territory were all intrusive, and had only been tolerated by Spain, for the sake of preserving peace; and — that the Louisiana ceded to Spain by France in 1762, and retroceded to France in 1800, and transferred by the latter power to the United States in 1803, could not, in justice, be considered as comprising more than New Orleans, with the tract in its vicinity east of the Mississippi, and the country immediately bordering on the west bank of that river. The parties were thus completely at variance on fundamental principles; and, neither being disposed to yield, the negotiation, after having been carried on for some months, was broken off, and it was not renewed until 1817. Meanwhile, however, the United States remained in possession of nearly all the
territories drained by the Mississippi ; the Sabine River being, by tacit consent, regarded as the dividing line between Louisiana and the Mexican provinces.
A negotiation was at the same time in progress, between the government of the United States and that of Great Britain, respecting the northern boundary of Louisiana, for which the Americans claimed a line running along the 49th parallel of latitude, upon the grounds that this parallel had becn adopted and definitively settled, by commissaries appointed agreeably to the tenth article of the treaty concluded at Utrecht, in 1713, as the dividing line between the French possessions of Western Canada and Louisiana on the south, and the British territories of Hudson's Bay on the north ; and that, this treaty having been specially confirmed in the treaty of 1763, by which Canada and the part of Louisiana east of the Mississippi and Iberville were ceded to Great Britain, the remainder of Louisiana continued, as before, bounded on the north by the 49th parallel.
This conclusion would be undeniable, if the premises on which it is founded were correct. The tenth article of the treaty of Utrecht does certainly stipulate that commissaries should be appointed by the governments of Great Britain and France respectively, to determine the line of separation between their possessions in the northern part of America above specified; and there is reason to believe that persons were commissioned for that object : but there is no evidence which can be admitted as establishing the fact that a line running along the 49th parallel of latitude, or any other line, was ever adopted, or even proposed, by those commissaries, or by their governments, as the limit of any part of the French possessions on the north, and of the British Hudson's Bay territories on the south.
It is true that, on some maps of Northern America, published in the middle of the last century, a line drawn along the 49th parallel does appear as a part of the boundary between the French possessions and the Hudson's Bay territories, as settled according to the creaty of Utrecht: but, on other maps, which are deservedly held in higher estimation, a different line, following the course of the highlands encircling Hudson's Bay, is presented as the limit of the Hudson's Bay territory, agreeably to the same treaty; and, in other maps again, enjoying equal, if not greater, consideration, as having been published under the immediate direction of the British gov
NORTHERN BOUNDARY OF LOUISIANA.
ernment, no line separating the dominions of that power from those of France on the South is to be seen. Nor is any evidence whatsoever, of such a transaction, to be found in the numerous political, historical, and biographical works, in which it could not have failed to be noticed if it had taken place; nor have any traces of it been discovered in the archives of France or of England, by those who have examined them with care in order to elucidate the history of that period.* But had the 49th parallel been positively adopted, as the line of separation between the French and English possessions, that line could not have been considered as extending west of the Rocky Mountains : for the Hudson's Bay territories were expressly defined by the charter of 1670, and the Utrecht treaty, to be those drained by streams falling into Hudson's Bay; and the charter of Louis XIV. to Crozat, with the decree annexing the Illinois to Louisiana, the only acts by which western limits of the French possessions in that quarter are indicated, as clearly restrict them to the portion of the continent traversed by rivers flowing into the Mexican Gulf. Neither of the parties pretended at that time to claim any spot on the Pacific side of the great dividing chain.
During the negotiation above mentioned, between the British and American governments, no attempt was made by the former to controvert the assertions of Mr. Monroe, as to this supposed establishment of boundaries under the Utrecht treaty ; nor indeed has it ever been publicly noticed by the British government in any way at any time. In the fifth of the additional and explanatory articles proposed to be annexed to the treaty signed by the plenipotentiaries on that occasion, it was agreed that "a line drawn due north or south (as the case may require) from the most north-western point of the Lake of the Woods, until it shall intersect the 49th parallel of north latitude, and from the point of such intersection, due west, along and with the said parallel, shall be the dividing line between his majesty's territories and those of the United States, to the westward of the said lake, as far as their said respective territories extend in that quarter; and that the said line shall, to that extent, form the southern boundary of his majesty's said territories, and the northern boundary of the said territories of the United States : Provided, That nothing in the present article shall be construed to extend to the north-west coast of America, or to the territories belonging to or claimed by either party on the continent of
See page 436, where the question is minutely examined.
America to the westward of the Stony Mountains.” * This article was approved by both governments; though President Jefferson wished that the proviso respecting the north-west coast should be omitted, as it “could have little other effect than as an offensive intimation to Spain that the claims of the United States extend to the Pacific Ocean. However reasonable such claims may be, compared with those of others, it is impolitic, especially at the present moment, to strengthen Spanish jealousies of the United States, which it is probably an object with Great Britain to excite, by the clause in question.” The treaty thus amended was not submitted by the President to the Senate of the United States for its confirmation ; and the question of boundaries was not again discussed between the two nations until 1814. The belief that the 49th parallel of latitude had been fixed, agreeably to the treaty of Utrecht, as the northern limit of Louisiana and Western Canada, was nevertheless universally entertained in the United States ; and it remained entirely unquestioned, until 1840, when the error was first exposed, t though not until it had formed the basis of important conventions.
It will be proper here to notice another assertion, which has been made by some English and French writers — namely, that the Canada surrendered by France to England by the treaty of 1763, extended westward to the Pacific. The grounds on which the claim of France to the regions on the latter ocean rested, before that treaty, have
* President Jefferson's Message to Congress of March 22d, 1808.
+ The first public denial of the accuracy of the assertion, respecting this supposed determination of limits, was made by the author of the present work in a “ Summary of Facts respecting the North-west Coast of America,” published in the Washington Globe of January 15, 1840. The proofs were first given at length in his “ Memoir on the North-west Coast of America," (page 216) published by order of the Senate of the United States in the following month, and were afterwards repeated and strengthened in this history. That the supposed settlement of boundaries was always asserted, by the government of the United States, previous to this denial, is abundantly proved by the records of negotiations, messages of Presidents, reports to Congress, and speeches in and out of Congress, on the subject of Oregon, from 1805 to 1840.
Since that period, many attempts have been made to revive the belief, that the boundary in question was really established by commissaries appointed under the Utrecht treaty; and a vast mass of old maps and pamphlets, mostly anonymous or misnamed, newspapers, speeches, messages, petitions of traders, and letters containing recollectious of opinions expressed by individuals at dinner tables, was gravely produced on the floor of the Senate of the United States, in the Spring of 1846, as evidence of the transaction; the conclusion from the whole being—that, inasmuch as the assertion had been printed in some books, and engraved in some maps, and written in soine President's messages, and communicated in some recent diplomatic notes, and spoken in some Congress speeches, it must necessarily be true.