Imágenes de páginas

route. Thus these two questions occurring under the 7th article of the treaty, remain for future negotiation.

"It would seem too, that these points in difference are reduced by the surveys, evidence, discussions and reports of the commissioners and agents,* to such narrow limits, and to such mere matters of fact, that no great difficulty is to be apprehended in having them ultimately adjusted, whenever the negotiation is resumed.

"The extreme north-western point of the Lake of the Woods is declared to be latitude N. 49° 23' 54", and longitude W. 95° 14' 38"; so that in conformity with the treaty, this point, having been ascertained to be north of parallel 49′′, a line is drawn due south from it to parallel 49", on which parallel it is to be continued to the Rocky Mountains. No means have yet been taken to delineate the boundary westward from the Lake of the Woods."

We shall conclude this subject with the following remarks from the source, already mentioned, in regard to the boundary under the sixth article:

"By the adjustment of this line, great advantages have been secured to both parties, such as the right to jurisdiction over very many islands, about which doubts heretofore existed, and the consequent benefits of proprietorship. The prominent advantages which have occurred to the United States are their right to the principal islands in the Long Sault Rapids of the St. Lawrence river, confining the best navigable waters within the limits of the United States, a similar arrangement in the entrance to the river St. Clair, the right to Grand Island in the Niagara, to the Bass islands in Lake Erie, which afford the best harbour in that lake, and the right to Drummond island in Lake Huron, which the British had occupied as a military post. The advantages to the British are their right to the large island covering Kingston, in the St. Lawrence, and the small island opposite Malden, controlling the best channel of the Detroit river. The former was necessarily relinquished to obtain others of greater value to the United States; and the latter to prevent a disagreement, in compliance with the wishes of both governments."

* The commissioners under the 6th and 7th articles were organized thus: American-P. B. Porter, Commissioner; Jos. Delafield, Agent; Donald Fraser, Secretary. British-Anth. Barclay, Commissioner ; John Hale, Agent; J. Williams, Secretary.



Great distance of mouth of Columbia-Called Oregon-Reason not given-Seat of a great empire-Rock Mountains called the limits of the United States-Harbour of Columbia very important—Fur trade and fisheries-Grounds of American claim—Discovery, examination and possession-Capt. Gray enters the Columbia in 1790 -Lewis and Clarke-Account of Astoria-Proposition of British commissioners in 1824-Not accepted-Boundaries in north-west remain unsettled-Convention of 1818 renewed for ten years- Sir A. MKenzie sees the Pacific in 1793, but mistakes the river-Great project of the English in regard to their fur grounds—Their empire founded in commerce.

THE distance of the mouth of the Columbia,* from the mouth of the Missouri, the eastern boundary of the most western state, is, in round numbers, 3,500 miles, and from Washington the distance to the same point is 4,600 miles. That consideration, in some degree, diminishes the interest the people of the confederacy feel in that portion of country. But that a great population will, hereafter, be assembled on its banks, admits of little doubt. The river, itself, is broader, and penetrates deeper into the interior than any other on the western shore of this hemisphere; the vicinity to the rich and populous portions of Asia, from which all the civilized world is now remote, and an easy access to the

* In the bills, reported the last three and four years in Congress, the name of this river is changed into Oregon, which, we believe, in the original, signifies, river of the west. We have seen no reason given for this, especially as the other name is consecrated by long usage. Indeed, we have no recollection of seeing in any of the travellers any other term employed. Lewis and Clarke call it in one place (vol. ii. p. 384) Shocatilcan, though habitually, Columbia.

whole western coast of the two continents of America, will in all speculations on this magnificent subject, be accounted surprizing advantages. We, at once, allow that the Columbia will, at a distant time, form the principal river of a powerful dominion, and it is equally evident, that the Saxon race, which, only two or three centuries ago, landed on a few scattered and bleak points of the eastern coast, will, perhaps, in the brief course of another, expand, with its vigorous, rapid growth, entirely across the continent to the Pacific. Neither is it the most unlikely thing in the world, that they will there meet the same race of men, coming from an opposite direction, across the plains of India, though originally issuing from the same spot and stock.

In the theories of some of our statesmen on the Columbia, we have observed an intimation, that the Rock Mountains will probably form the western boundary of the United States. Here will be situated the temple of the God, Terminus, and the population, instead of ascending and flowing over the mountains on to the ocean, will roll its last and highest surf at their feet. Still, to trace the confines of this empire is to enter upon that sea, which a great poet has described, where there is perpetual darkness and no navigator has before sailed; not because its bounds and limits are not well marked out, but there is neither among ourselves, nor in the history of the people, that have gone before us, any one trace, or circumstance, that will assist us in designating its developement with the least precision. The progress of the population has already been an Arabian night. And, even, if the difficulty of maintaining the confederacy augments, as the members recede from the centre, nothing that has yet taken place, furnishes a fact or even a ground for speculation, to enable us to draw the chain where the old shall cease, and the new nation arise. The point of separation is not only the sovereign difficulty, but so greatly has the progress already exceeded all anticipations on the subject, (without either shaking or weakening the union) that, with an elasticity, certainly peculiar to this people, as well as to their institutions, their progeny, will, undoubtedly, still continue

to stretch themselves along the Yellow Stone and the Missouri, their faces turned towards the setting sun, but their feelings and sympathies following the flow of the waters.

But the Columbia is of immediate importance to this country, not so much on account of a deep interest, felt in the river and territory themselves, as for the questions with which they are connected. In that consideration are involved many difficult problems, regarding territorial rights;—the whole system of the intercourse with the Indian tribes ;— with the fur trade, both on the north-west and in the interior, with the Pacific ocean fisheries,-with the various and peculiar traffic, carried on with the islands in that sea; in short, with all the commerce, we drive round Cape Horn, -with a boundary to the south on Mexico, and till within a short time, with our relations with Russia.

By the 3d article of the convention of 1818, with Great Britain it was agreed, that all territory, to the westward of the Rock Mountains, should be left open, for the space of ten years, for the use of both countries. Great Britain had, in the same year, in the month of October, peaceably restored to an American officer the settlement at the mouth of the Columbia. And Spain, by the treaty of settlement and limits of February 1819, had surrendered all claims to territory, north of the parallel of 42 degrees from the source of the Arkansas to the South sea. It will be seen under the proper head, that, in September 1821, Russia issued an Ukase, asserting on the part of that government, an exclusive territorial right to the northwest from the northern extremity to latitude 51 degrees, and interdicting the commerce and fisheries of all nations within an hundred Italian miles of the coast. Against this unexpected pretension both the United States and Great Britain immediately and with firmness protested. It will, also, be seen, that in accordance with that friendly and conciliatory spirit, that has distinguished all the transactions of the Russian government with our own, a satisfactory adjustment of this difficulty was, after a discussion slightly protracted, fortunately accomplished. There is an obvious connexion between the Russian pretensions and 16


those of Great Britain, and we mention the circumstance for the purpose of introducing in a distinct and intelligible form an account of the negotiations, that have taken place with the latter government on this subject, referring the reader to the chapter on Russia for the proceedings on this head with that power.

The United States, in their discussions with England, claimed an absolute right and exclusive sovereignty and jurisdiction of the whole range and extent of country, west of the Rock Mountains, from the 42d degree, the parallel, established in the treaty of February 1819 with Spain, to the 51st degree of north latitude, nearly to the bottom of Queen Charlotte's Sound. This right and title was founded on the principles of settlement, applied by the European powers to their discoveries in America. The Columbia was first seen in 1790 by the American captain Gray, who entered its mouth in the sloop Washington, a trading vessel. Gray was subsequently found there by Vancouver, and, in the instructions prepared for that celebrated navigator (now in the archives of the British admiralty), the expedition by the Washington is particularly mentioned. This fact establishes priority of discovery, and the records of a foreign nation, now urging a claim to the same country, supply incontestable proof of it. The usages of nations make no difference between discoveries by private or public vessels. It matters not, who drops the anchor, who carves the inscription, who deposites the medal, who hoists the bunting, or who buries the bottle;-mysterious and cabalistic ceremonies, that, in the greedy, grasping spirit of modern practices set apart to an exclusive ownership thousands of square miles of rivers, plains and mountains. But though often accidental, always unmeaning, they have, in all cases of European construction, constituted sovereignty. This was the right of discovery from the sea. The sources of the Columbia were first seen by Americans and its whole course explored to the Pacific ocean. To this form, either of discovery or examination,


* Travels to the source of the Missouri river, with an account of the American continent to the Pacific ocean, performed by order of

« AnteriorContinuar »