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OUR RIGHTFUL NORTH-WESTERN BOUNDARY.
Decidedly the clearest and best account we have seen of the Oregon Boundary controversy is given in the following article from the Edinburgh Review of July last. So lucid, so candid, so truthful is it, that the British newspaper press (the London Times especially) denounce it as a virtual surrender of all in dispute that is material—as in truth it is. The boundary proposed by the Review is that proposed and urged by our Government at different times, but always rejected by Great Britain. We think the Review demonstrates that it is the proper and just one.
I. Report from the Committee on the Hudson's fact a continuation of the Andes. Between Bay Company, April 24, 1749. Reprinted these mountains and the Pacific, from which in Reports from Committees of the House they are at an average distance of 500 miles, run intermediate ranges, some parallel and some from West to East, so as to leave level a very small portion of the country. The
of Commons. 1808.
8, 1842. No. 547.
III. American State Papers. Presented at differ- rivers which flow from the eastern slopes of ent times to Congress in 1826, 1828, and 1838. the Rocky Mountains are the great rivers of IV. Travels in the Oregon Territory. By T. J. North America--the Mackenzie, the MissouFARNHAM, 2 vols. 8vo. London: 1843. ri, and the Rio Grande. On the western side V. The Oregon Territory. By JOHN DUNN. 8vo. they are few, interrupted by falls and rapids, earlier part of their courses, generally conclosed at their mouths by bars, and, in the
VI. On the Discovery of the Mississippi, and the
We have said that the occupants of the ter-S ritory are the Indian tribes; but the greater) part of it is under the nominal sovereignty of Russia, England, the United States and Mexico. The Russian boundary begins at the southernmost point of Prince of Wales' Isl
Second edition. London: 1845.
CONER. 8vo. London: 1844. VII. The History of Oregon and California. By R. GREENHOW. 8vo. London: 1844. VIII. Narrative of the United States Exploring Er pedition. By CHARLES WILKES. 5 vols. 4to. Philadelphia: 1845. IX. The Life and Travels of Thomas Simpson By A. SIMPSON. 8vo. London: 1845. X. The Oregon Question. By T. FALCONER-and, (lat. 54° 40',) then runs in a north-western and northern direction to the Arctic Ocean; so as to include first a narrow strip of NORTH-WESTERN America is probably the coast, and then a peninsula washed by three largest portion of the world yet unsubdued seas, and forming the north-western extremity) by cultivation. From about latitude 32° to of the continent. The British portion in700, and from longitude 125 to 95°, bounda- cludes all that is east of the Rocky Mounries enclosing a space of more than 4,000,000 tains, and north of latitude 49°. The boun-> (square miles, the real occupants of the coun- dary of the United States comprises all that? (try are the aboriginal hunters and fishers.-is east of the Rocky Mountains, from latitude? Two or three Russian, English, and Mexican 49° to 42°; and then runs in a south-eastertrading stations on the coast; and in the inte-ly direction, until it reaches the rivers which rior a few English hunting posts, and some form the boundary of Texas. All that remissionary establishments supplied by Mexi-mains south of the forty-second parallel beco and the United States-are the only points longs to Mexico.
inhabited by civilized men. About 500,000| Between these limits lies the unappropri-S Indians, and about 10,000 whites, constitute ated Oregon country, bounded on the North the population of a district more than one- by the parallel 54° 40', on the East by the third larger than Europe, and situated for the Rocky Mountains, on the South by the fortymost part within the temperate zone. The second parallel, and on the West by the Pawhole is intersected from North to South, by cific. It is about 650 miles in length, and of Sa chain called, to the north of latitude 420, the an average breadth of about 550-narrower Rocky Mountains, and to the south of that towards the North, and broader towards the parallel, the Sierra Anahuac; which is in South-the Rocky Mountains running, not
II. Hudson's Bay Company Charters and Correspondence. House of Commons, August
parallel with the coast, but in a south-wester- Until the last three or four years, the only ly direction. It contains, therefore, about use made of it by civilized men, has been as 360,000 square miles; more than three times a mart for the purchase of furs and skins.the surface of the British Islands. The The earliest adventurers in the North Amernorthern part of the coast, above the forty-ican fur-trade appear to have been the French eighth parallel, is protected by numerous isl-Canadians. At first, in the beginning of the ands, the largest of which, Vancouver's Isl-seventeenth century, when the wild animals (and, is about two-thirds of the size of Ireland. were plentiful and the Indians numerous and Along the straits which separate these islands powerful, the white traders remained in their from the continent, are many excellent har-towns on the banks of the St. Lawrence, and bors; but down the whole coast of the Pacific, were satisfied with the skins brought to them from latitude 48° to Port San Francisco, far by the hunters. As this supply diminished, within the Mexican frontier, there is no refuge and as the Indian tribes were thinned and except Bulfinch harbor and the Columbia-cowed by the destructive proximity of civilithe former of which can be entered only by zation, the traders found it necessary to penesmall vessels, and the latter is inaccessible trate the wilderness, and barter with the for eight months of the year, and dangerous hunter on his own territory. The bold men (at all times. who engaged in this traffic had to encounter We have already said that the whole coun- every form of hardship and danger. They try is intersected by ranges of mountains.-had to deal with savages, selfish, cruel, and Most of them are loftier than our loftiest Al- treacherous; intellectually, and, bad as the Spine ranges, and some are supposed to equal, whites were, perhaps morally their inferiors for even to exceed, the highest Andes. One-beings with whom they had no sympathy, consequence of this is, that the climate is se- towards whom their only relation was a mu vere except in the south-western valleys, tual struggle to kill, to overreach, or to plun-) where it is tempered by the neighborhood of der. Under such circumstances, and in a the sea. Another is, that only a very small country without law or public opinion, the Sportion of the land is capable of cultivation. coureurs des bois, as the French fur-traders The best portion is the valley between the were called, degenerated—as civilized men Kalmet Mountains and the Pacific, a strip exposed to such influences always will deabout eighty miles broad and three hundred generate-into intelligent beasts of prey long, watered by the Columbia, and by its tribu- uniting the foresight, the perseverance, and taries, the Cowlitz on the North, and the Wil- the powers of combination of the White, to lamet on the South. But even of this Oregon the rapacious and unscrupulous ferocity of Felix, Mr. Greenhow states that only from the Indian. The remedy adopted by the one-eighth to one-tenth is cultivable. Farther French government was, to prohibit all perto the West the land rises into elevated sons from entering the Indian territory with(plains, sometimes of rock and sometimes of out a license; and to make the continuance (sand, without wood and almost without vege-of the license depend on their conduct. Station, intersected indeed by rivers, but rivers In 1669, an association was formed by which bring no fertility. "The banks," says Prince Rupert to prosecute an English furCaptain Wilkes, "of the Upper Columbia trade; and in 1770 its members were incorpoSare altogether devoid of any fertile alluvial rated by charter, under the title of the Hudflats, destitute of even scattered trees; there is son's Bay Company. To this Company) no freshness in the little vegetation on its bor-Charles the Second granted, as absolute lords ders; the sterile sands reach to its very brink; and proprietors, all the lands on the coasts and it is scarcely to be believed, until its banks are confines of the seas, lakes, and rivers within) (reached, that a mighty river is rolling its the Hudson's straits, not actually possessed waters past these arid wastes."* Towards by the subjects of any other Prince or State, Sthe North, a higher latitude and a still greater and the exclusive right of trading with the Selevation render the country still less fit for inhabitants. And the charter proceeds to the abode of man. But even here some fer- threaten all who may intrude on their privitile valleys are to be found. And Mr. Dunn lege with the forfeiture of ship and merchandescribes the lower part of Vancouver's Isl-dise, half to the Crown and half to the Comand as, on the whole, the most habitable por-pany. tion of this inhospitable territory.t
In 1749, nearly eighty years after the creaBut though generally incapable of tillage, tion of the Company, an attempt was made the south-western part contains some districts to deprive them of their charter, on the ground) (not unfit for pasturage, and others which are of non-user; and it certainly appeared that (rich in timber. The rivers are full of fish, they had done but little. They had at that Sand the northern part abounds, or till lately time only four small forts, occupied by 120 did abound, with furred animals. men. Their exports for the ten preceding years had amounted only to £36,000, their ex penses of management and establishment to
*Vol. iv., p. 429. † Dunn's Oregon, p. 242.
£157,000, and their imports to about £280,-[times they merely drove away their inhabi000; so that their net profit was about £8,000 tants by force, or by cutting off their means a year.* At this time the value of the furs of support; sometimes they waylaid and deannually imported from Canada into Rochelle, stroyed them on their route; and at length, in amounted, according to the rate fixed by the the year 1814, they organized an expedition Company, to £120,000, or more than four against the Red River Settlement, which, af times as much.t ter a civil war of two years, ended in the deIn 1763, Canada was ceded to England.- feat and massacre of the Governor, Mr. SemHaving been under the sovereignty of France ple, with his immediate companions, and the in 1670, it was not included in the Company's expulsion of the survivors. charter. The vast western regions were now It was now obvious that the contest beopen without the necessity of a license; and tween the companies would produce the ruin the fur-trade was prosecuted at first by indi- of one or of both; and a successful attempt viduals, and afterwards by associations, which was made to consolidate them. But this all, ultimately, were consolidated in the North- alone would not have been a remedy. The West Company. Of this great Company-experience of a century had shown that the of its wealth, its power, its feudal discipline, indiscriminate admission of civilized men as) (and its feudal magnificence-Mr. Washington traders into the territory of the Indians, is Irving has given a vivid picture in the intro- destructive to the morals of the former, and duction to his "Astoria." The Hudson's Bay not only to the morals but to the existence of Company, with the characteristic inactivity the latter. It has been tried by the French, of an ancient body protected by charter, re- it has been tried by the English, and it has mained quietly at their posts, like the earlier been tried by the Americans; and in every French traders, and purchased the furs which case the natives have been swept away by the Indians brought to them. The North- war, disease, and famine; and the whites West Company explored the forest, the have exhibited a frightful mixture of all the (mountain, and the lake, frightened the Indians vices of civilized and savage life. "I have (by their power, destroyed them by supplies heard it related," says Mr. Wyeth, himself an (of spirits and of arms; and for a time were American, "among white American trappers Salmost masters of the continent between the as a good joke, that a trapper who had said Rocky Mountains and the Canadian lakes.—that he would shoot any Indian whom he But the fur-trade, even when best managed, could catch stealing his traps, was seen one has always been a decaying trade, the repro- morning to kill one; and on being asked if duction of wild animals never equaling their the Indian had stolen his traps, he answered, consumption. Conducted as it was by traders No; but he looked as if he was going to.'and Indians, anxious only for immediate gain, An Indian was thus wantonly murdered, and who killed indiscriminately the male and the white men laughed at the joke."* (female, the full-grown and the cub, it became The union of the two great companies, more destructive, and yet less productive, though it would have cured the mischief of Jevery year. As their original hunting- their competition, would have stimulated the grounds were exhausted, the North-West enterprise, and let loose the evil passions of) Company pushed their parties and their posts hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of private towards the West. About the year 1806, adventurers. To prevent this, and also to they are supposed to have first crossed the subject to the influence of law the British Rocky Mountains, and to have established traders who might be allowed to visit the Inposts on the northern head-waters of the Co-dian territory, the 1 and 2 Geo. IV. cap. 66, lumbia. About the same time they advanced was passed.
North into the territories of the Hudson's Bay That Act, after reciting that the animosities) (Company, which at length had also found it and feuds arising from the competition of the (necessary to establish posts in the interior.-Hudson's Bay and North-West Companies) In 1812, that Company for the first time made had for many years past kept the interior of an attempt to exercise their rights of coloni- North America in a state of continued disturbzation. They sold a tract on the shores of ance, enacts that it shall be lawful for his Lake Winnipeg and of the Red River to Majesty to give license to any company or Lord Selkirk, who planted there the germ of persons for the exclusive privilege of trading a considerable colony. The North-West with the Indians in any part of North AmerCompany, with the unscrupulous ferocity ica, not being part of the territories of the which a life among savages seems to produce Hudson's Bay Company, or of any of his among the members of even the most civil- Majesty's provinces, or of any lands or terriized nations, for some years waged a partisan tories belonging to the United States. The war against the Hudson's Bay posts. Some- Act then gives civil jurisdiction to the courts of Upper Canada over every part of America,
*Reports from Committees of the House of Commons, reprinted in 1803. Vol. ii., p. 215.
† Anderson. Vol. iii., p. 237.
* Mr. Wyeth's Memoir. Report on Territory of Oregon. 25th Congress, 3d Session, Report 101.