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of the United States have made to an equal right of navigation of the river St. Lawrence from the sea*: whether any formal claim has been made by the United States to the British government on this subject is not certain; but it is observable that, in this case, as in all others, claims of this nature have generally been promulgated in the first instance in anonymous publications, and so soon as the disposition of the American people respecting them is ascertained, they become objects of state, and are pursued and treated as such!
In noticing, again, the claim of the United States to the islands in Passamaquoddy Bay, it is impossible to avoid contrasting the conduct of the former administration of his grace the DUKE OF PORTLAND, with that of LORD SIDMOUTH; which cannot be done more forcibly than by refering to the several passages selected from HIS GRACE'S circular letter of the 11th April 1799, to the governors of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick on this subject t This letter was occasioned by a note addressed to him from LORD GRENVILLE, then secretary of state for foreign affairs, communicating an extract of a letter which his lordship had received from Mr. Liston, " on the subject of a doubt that had been started respecting the boundary of his Majesty's province of New Brunswick and the American district of Maine." On that occasion, his Majesty's then government were justly alarmed to find the right of water-way, or navigation, described in Mr. Liston's letter ‡, claimed as a right deduceable from the treaty; apprehending it was intended to deduce therefrom, as a farther consequence, a right to the islands in Passamaquoddy Bay, lying on the American side of such water-way or navigation.
Whatever were the circumstances which led to the cession of these islands to the United States, by the convention of May, 1803, in LORD SIDMOUTH's administration, a most singular coincidence arose out of it; the PRESIDENT of the United States having refused to ratify § it, as well as the treaty agreed upon, in London, by the late Administration, with the American commissioners; and whatever motives induced Mr. JEFFERSON to refuse to ratify this convention, it is evident, the subjects of the United States considered
The British Treaty.
+ See Appendix 1. (A.)
$ The British Treaty, page 39.
Ibid, p. 15.
it highly beneficial, and its rejection has been noticed, in many instances, with reprehension and displeasure. The author of the tract, called the "British Treaty," states, that "subsequent to 1794, a survey of the interior of America by British merchants, established in Canada,”—“ had proved, that a line due west from the Lake of the Woods would run north of the Missisippi, so that no further measures were needful to ascertain that point.-The River St. Croix had also been identified.-Two points, however, remained to be settled; the line from the Lake of the Woods to the Missisippi, and the termination of that which was to run north from the source of the St. Croix, on which depends a large tract of country in the district of Maine.Connected also with our eastern boundary, is an object of little intrinsic value (MOOSE ISLAND), but important to the trade of Massachussetts, and to the revenue of the United States. Another matter of considerable importance, particularly to the state of New York, had remained unnoticed. This was the ascertaining those islands in Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and the river St. Lawrence, which belong to the United States."-The same writer again observes, "that instructions were given to the American Minister in London*, which embraced all the matters above-mentioned. The Minister accordingly treated with the British Government, and such was THEIR confidence in him, and their liberality towards us, that he was desired to frame a convention agreeably to his own wishes. He drew it in the very words of his instructions, and it was immediately executed. Every thing asked was granted. The convention made complete provision for the subject matter of the fourth and fifth articles of the old treaty. It fixed our eastern boundary, settled the course of a line from the Missisippi to the Lake of the Woods, and confirmed our title to Moose Island +!?"
Thus have the rights of Great Britain been providentially preserved in two memorable instances, by the force of French influence in America; which otherwise would have been conceded by the British Government, from too strong a disposition to conciliate the esteem of the United States.
* In 1802.
+ British Treaty, p. 38,
Since the separation of the provinces, which now constitute Canada, the United States of America, from Great Britain, the re- Nova Scotia, maining British colonies on that continent, have been too New generally considered, as possessions of little comparative Bruns value; yet it will appear, on investigation, they do not yield&c. &c. to any other parts of the continent of America, either in soil, production, convenience of navigable rivers, or salubrity of climate.
It has been observed, "a distant province of an empire can only be wisely and well governed, in proportion as the interests and conditions of the people, and the resources of the country, are known and understood:"-it is therefore to be expected, "when all the circumstances, which are requisite to give a beneficial and prudential direction to the measures of government, are exhibited truly and without reserve, the colonies dependent on a mother country, such as Great Britain, will experience a just and liberal dispensation of power and protection; in proportion as government is acquainted with their wants and necessities, those wants will be relieved; in the degree that their industry is shewn to be zealous and productive, it will be encouraged; on exposition of undue burthens and checks on that industry, they will be removed; and on default shewn of safety and defence, it will be supplied *."
Unfortunately these provinces have not received from Great Britain, that encouragement to which they were so pre-eminently entitled, from their importance, patriotism, and loyalty; they have nevertheless thriven, under circumstances most disadvantageous and discouraging. It is evident, by the information received from numerous respectable authorities, as well as by the documents which have been within the last seven years submitted to Government, and by the late report of the Committee of the House of Commons, on the commercial state of the West India Islands, and the evidence taken before them, that the British colonies on the continent of North America are possessed of great resources, and capable of furnishing supplies of naval timber, and other valuable articles, to a very considerable extent +. It is to be lamented, the inquiry of that committee
*Sir W. Young's West India Common-place Book.
Appendix, No. 8. for this Repórt, and the evidence annexed to it. The Editor has to apologize for reprinting this Report; but
was so limited; it certainly would have been much more satisfactory to the nation, if the conduct pursued by the Board of Trade in 1784 and 1791*, on similar occasions, had been adopted, and their inquiry so extended, as to havę embraced all the other points connected with the commercial state of the British West India colonies; namely, the competency of the mother country, and its dependencies, to furnish in British ships, in time of war, the necessary supplies for those islands; if such had been the course of that investigation, the affirmative of that national and important question would most indisputably have been established; and it would have appeared, that the distress now felt by the British West India interest, was not to be attributed to the enforcement, but to the improvident suspension of the navigation and colonial system of Great Britain, and to the
as many of the facts adduced by him were proved before that Com mittee, and not having seen in any other publication the Appendix to that Report, containing the evidence and accounts annexed to it, he has been induced to reprint the whole in the Appendix to this volume.
Reports of the Board of Trade, in 1784 and 1791, on the intercourse between the British West India Islands and the United States, in a collection of papers, &c. published by the Society of Shipowners of Great Britain, edit. 1807.
+ See an American tract, entitled "Peace without Dishonour, War without Hope," 1807, wherein it is observed,-" But lastly, we are to starve her West Indies. It is really astonishing, that men will be so blinded by their hatred to Great Britain, as to urge, and appear to believe, such absurd notions. Why did they not starve during the revolutionary war? Nova Scotia then supplied them with little or nothing; she can now supply them with nearly all they want. They do not take our beef and pork in peace, they are so dainty; and yet we talk of starving them! But if they could support a war of eight years, when Nova Scotia was a young uncultivated country, when our privateers swarmed in these seas, and the ocean was covered with the fleets of France, Spain, and Holland; how much easier will it be to sustain a war, when the provision-vessels of England can navigate in perfect safety, having no one to make them afraid But we do not view the other side of the picture! Is there not danger, that a war with us may turn their attention to other channels of supply; and then destroy, perhaps for ever, this branch of our commerce " At that period, May, 1807, there were several respectable persons in London from the British colonies in America, capable of affording much important information on this subject, and of the resources of the loyal provinces; but who have since returned to them.
‡ Sir F. M. Eden on Maritime Rights, 1808.
relaxation of those other MARITIME regulations of the country founded on the former, which had been so successfully enforced and maintained by LORD CHATHAM*; "the partial relinquishment of which occasioned so much disquietude to his illustrious son, Mr. Pirт, that previous to his death, " HE EXPRESSED TO ONE OF HIS PO
LITICAL FRIENDS HIS REGRET AT HAVING EVER BEEN INDUCED, BY EXISTING CIRCUMSTANCES, TO RELAX THE MARITIME RIGHTS OF BRITAIN, AND HIS DETERMINATION TO RE-ESTABLISH THE SYSTEM WHICH HAD BEEN ACTED
UPON DURING THE ADMINISTRATION OF HIS FATHER +."
It was likewise Mr. PITT's intention, which is proved by the measures actually taken in his last administration, on the recommendation from the Board of Trade ‡, not only to have confined to British ships, the whole of the colonial trade, and to have reclaimed that most salutary principle, that all supplies, from whatever country they came, should be conveyed to the West India Islands in British bottoms, but also to have prohibited the importation direct of all articles (except those essential to the existence of the manufactures of the kingdom) from the countries of the enemy, in neutral shipping ||; and it is well known, that during the latter part of Mr. PITT's administration, the greatest possible attention was given to the British colonies in North
* See the various tracts which were published from 1755 to 1758, when the spirit and energy of the nation were so conspicuously shewn in the brilliant and energetic measures adopted by Lord Chatham, during the last war in the late reign.
† Anti-Jacobin Review for August, 1807, p: 368; also, Introduction to Collection of Reports and Papers on Navigation, &c. p. 22.
At this period, his Grace the Duke of Montrose was president, and the Right Hon. George Rose, vice-president, of that board.
See Earl Camden's letters, in September, 1804, and January, 1805, to the Governors of the West India Islands, and Lord Castlereagh's letter in September, 1805. Also, various minutes of the Board of Trade, and Introduction to Collection of Reports, &c. on Navigation. This patriotic regulation was determined upon early in the autumn, before Mr. Pitt's death; but which, on application from persons in the spirit trade, stating the great purchases they had made, he allowed them to import in neutral vessels the goods they had actually purchased, and directed the prohibition to take place at a subsequent period: his death, however, unfortunately intervened, and this regulation was not carried into effect by his successors, although it would have been highly beneficial to the West India planter and British ship-owner, but in lieu of which, an increased duty was imposed on brandy and other foreign spirits.