Gambar halaman

London, April 25, 1807.

SIR, We had the honour to inform you, in our letter of the 22d inst. that the British commissioners having proposed to us to endeavour to adjust the terms of a supplemental convention relative to boundary, to a trade by sea between the United States and the British northern colonies, and to the subjects reserved for future explanation by the 2d article of our treaty, we had resumed our conferences with them, and had made considerable progress in digesting the plan of such a convention, when the business was interrupted by an entire change of the king's ministers. It is the purpose of this despatch concisely to explain that negotiation and its objects.

After many interviews and much discussion, the British commissioners at length presented to us the project, of which a copy is now transmitted, differing in many essential particulars from that which had been originally offered on our part.

The first article in our plan, which, like the first article in their project, defined the connecting line between the mouth of the St. Croix, as heretofore settled by commissioners, and the bay of Fundy, was copied from the convention of Mr. King and lord Hawkesbury, and, adopting the ship channel between Deer Island and Campo Bello Island, first included and then excepted the latter. The British commissioners alleged that the article in that shape accomplished its object by an useless inconsistency; that it gave a line of property and jurisdiction beyond its own views, merely to furnish occasion for an exception of almost equal importance with the whole residue of the subject; and that the navigation of the east passage being secured to the United States by a precise provision, the whole effect of the first article of the convention of 1803 would be produced at once by running the line along the middle of the west passage. They therefore proposed an article framed on that principle, to which no objection of any weight has occurred to us. We do not perceive that in substance this article is different from the other, while it is more simple and intelligible in its plan. Even if the commencement of one of the parallel east lines, within which, by the treaty of peace, the United States are enti

tled to all islands within twenty leagues of any part of our shores (not within the limits of Nova Scotia) should be admitted to depend upon the channel through which our line from the St. Croix is: conducted to the bay of Fundy, it would probably be indifferent to the United States whether the east or the west channel were adopted. Grand Menan seems to be considerably southward of an east line drawn even from West Quoddy Head, and we know of no other island, taking into consideration the exception in the treaty of peace, to the title of which the commencement of that line can now be important.

To the 5th article, regulating our boundary in the northwest, which has encountered much zealous opposition here, even in the form suggested by the British commissioners, from the prejudices, supposed interests, and mistaken view of many persons, an explanation of some of which will be found in an idle paper written by lord Selkirk, (of which a copy is enclosed) we finally objected, that the division line between our respective territories in that quarter ought to be drawn from the most north-western point of the Lake of the Woods, due north or south, until it shall intersect the parallel of 49 degrees, and from the point of such intersection due west along, and with that parallel. This was agreed to by the British commissioners.

We objected also to the terms defining the extension of the west line, viz. "as far as the territories of the United States extend in that quarter." It appeared to us that by these words a great portion of the subject was in danger of being set at large; that the provision would, perhaps, do no more than establish between the parties the commence. ment of the line, and might of course leave it open to Great Britain to found a claim hereafter to any part of the tract of country to the westward of that commencement, upon the notions of occupancy or conquest, which you will find stated by lord Selkirk, in the paper above mentioned, or upon some future purchase from Spain, as intimated by others. We therefore proposed to omit the words in question altogether, which the concluding proviso appeared to render wholly unnecessary, even upon the ideas of the British commissioners. This was not agreed to; but it was said there would be no objection to give to this part of the description a character of reciprocity, so as to make it read "as far as their said respective territories extend in that

[ocr errors]

quarter." A copy is enclosed of our plan of a fifth article, as also of the same article which the description above quoted merely made reciprocal.

It is proper to observe in this place that the project of the British commissioners contemplates, what of course had not entered into our plan, a permanent concession on our part of access through our territories in the north western quarter to the river Mississippi, for the purpose of enabling British subjects to enjoy the navigation of that river, as secured to them by the treaty of peace, and the treaty of 1794, and the like access to the rivers falling into the Mississippi from the westward. The desired concession however amounts simply to a right of passage, and is claimed, not only as an equivalent for such a permanent adjustment of boundary as is here thought, or affected to be thought, highly advantageous to us, and injurious to Great Britain, but (as regards access to the Mississippi) upon this idea, among others, that the treaty of peace, which secures to Great Britain the free navigation of that river, appears to have looked to it, in common with the treaty of 1763, as over-reaching our northern limit, and consequently as being accessible to the British in the territory of the Hudson's Bay. It is probable that this demand, so far as respects the waters falling into the Mississippi from the westward, would not be persisted in, if no other difficulty should present itself.

The 7th article of the project is wholly that of the British commissioners, and proposes to extend, as you were apprised by our letter of the 3d of January would be attempted by them for the term of the treaty, the privileges of trade and inland navigation, secured by the 3d article of the treaty of 1794, to the territories of the contracting parties to the north and south of the dividing line established by the 5th article, in other words, to Louisiana and the territories of the Hudson's Bay company, with the exception only of the actual settlements of that company and their immediate neighbourhood. This, if agreed to, must undoubt edly be considered as a concession to Great Britain; although the proposed arrangement throws open to us for the first time the territories of the Hudson's Bay; although they still insist that their admission into the trade of Loui siana is a necessary consequence of our acquisition of it, coupled with the third article of the treaty of 1794; and

although they sometimes intimate that the independent tribes of savages who inhabit that vast region have a right to carry on within it their usual traffick with whom they please, and of course to authorize a continuance of the customary British trade to which this article relates; and, if not absolutely to authorize it, at least to give to Great Britain a claim upon the United States for a recognition of it (especially in connection with the treaty of 1794) upon fair terms and equivalents. We resisted this proposal by every consideration which has been stated by you, or has occurred to ourselves. We dwelt particularly upon the high motives of duty and the urgent views of policy, connected with the publick tranquillity, as suggested by recent facts, or by the state and peculiar population, as far as they were known, of the country to the westward of the Mississippi, as well as by the nature and character of the traffick itself, which were likely to influence our government against any plan, which should admit British or any other foreign traders into it. We were not able, however, to produce any disposition to dispense with this demand, and had abundant reason to apprehend that a rejection of it by the United States would be considered here as an unfriendly act without an adequate motive, and might prevent the completion of any satisfactory arrangement of the other points embraced by the proposed convention. Still, if the consideration of this subject should be resumed, we shall not fail to renew our efforts, whatever may be the prospect of success, to reconcile this government to the failure of this favourite object, unless the instructions we may receive from you should appear to point to a different course.

There is another feature in this article which it is proper to notice. It relates to a subject with which you are already familiar, the mode of calculating the ad valorem duties on goods imported into the United States, under the 3d article of the treaty of 1794. The calculation is understood to be made upon the value in Canada, not upon the value at the place of original exportation. This is complained of, not as a hardship merely, but as a plain infringement of the treaty. The object is not perhaps of such value as to make a perseverance in this doubtful practice desirable, and it is certain that the explanation, if made at this time (and if not made now, it will probably

be pressed hereafter with increased zeal, as being demanded by good faith) will be received in this country as the effect of a just and liberal policy towards Great Britain. The remaining provisions of the article in favour of Great Britain are of no importance, and will perhaps be best explained by the enclosed copy of an "extra official communication with regard to the Canada trade," made to us by lord Holland and lord Auckland some time ago.

The 8th article of the project relates to a trade by sea, between some port or ports of the British northern provinces and the United States, in the vessels of either party. The article is not such as we entirely approve, but connected with an act of parliament, which it was proposed to pass immediately, and of which the draft was shown to us by the British commissioners, it would perhaps go near to accomplish the object of our government. Our project contained an article upon this subject proposing an open trade in native productions, with the same system of duties as is contained in our treaty. We were told that, although well disposed towards our object, it was impossible for the government to venture at present upon a measure striking so plainly and essentially at their colonial system; that with the aid of the good understanding between the two countries, which would grow out of the adjustment of all points of difference, their plan would be found in its practical effect to be nearly, if not altogether as convenient and beneficial to us as our own; and that, by taking a form as little calculated as possible to alarm the advocates of rigorous monopoly, it was the more likely to become the successful means of introducing more enlightened opinions, and a more liberal practice into the whole colony system of this country.

The 9th article merely prescribes the duration of the commercial articles of the convention.

We ought to add that we had inserted in our project upon the subject of boundary an article relative to Grand Menan, but found it impracticable to retain it; the British commissioners had been induced to believe that Great Britain had been in possession of that island for a great number of years; and that, although this possession might not amount to a title, it was a reasonable ground upon which to presume every thing which constituted title, so as to make it improper for them to bring it into question. We

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »