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AMERICAN ANNUAL REGISTER,

FOR

THE YEAR 1826-7.

HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES.

CHAPTER I.

Character of American history–Controversies with Great Britain – North East boundary-Navigation of St. Lawrence-Disputes with BrazilPanama mission.

Is the preliminary chapter of the last volume, a short account was given of the principles and pretensions of the European pow. ers, that appropriated the American continent to their exclusive use; and of the manner in which most of the colonies established here, assumed the rank of inde. pendent powers. This change in the character of those colonies essentially modified the policy of all those governments, which in any manner were connected with the destiny of the new world. A new era now commenced in its history. Instead of being the relation of fruitless remonstrances against partial commercial regulations, and

resistance to colonial oppressions; it became the record of discussions and measures, all having in view the welfare and essential independence of this hemisphere, and the abrogation of the novel principles of international law, which grew out of the colonial system. Other questions, too, were presented, concerning disputed limits, and the navigation of boundary rivers; which, during the last year, were brought under discussion. Such are the materials of the present his. tory of America. When the independent states which now occupy this portion of the globe, shall have existed long enough to give an air of plausibility to claims founded on

prescription, no doubt their conflicting interests will often bring them into collision; but hitherto all the controversies in which they have been engaged, have been part of their European inheritance, and the entailed evils of their colonial connexion with the old world. Instead of disputes about contested titles to crowns and provinces, and the various controversies resulting from the feudal system, which have proved such fruitful sources of dissention in Europe; the discussions and contests which have engaged the attention of the independent powers of America, have been in behalf of free trade, as opposed to the colonial system; or concerning the boundary lines between provinces, whose limits were never properly defined, while colonies. This remark is strikingly exemplified in the course of the transactions between the United States and Great Britain, the nation most interested in perpetuating the colonial dependence of this continent upon Europe. On every occasion, that power is found in opposition to the policy of this country. Fortunately, the most important questions between them are no longer agitated; and it is to be hoped, that circumstances will not soon render their decision necessary to the interest and honour of either nation; but still enough remains of controversy to engage the

earnest attention of both governments. An account of one of the most fruitful causes of dissension, viz. the intercourse between the United States, and the British West-Indies, will be found in the third chapter of this volume; and the official correspondence on that subject, among the public documents in the second part, fully developes the conflicting views and principles of the two governments. The other topics of discussion which especially engaged their attention during the last year, were concerning the right of navigation of the St. Lawrence, and the northeast boundary of the United States.

As the latter question relates to territorial limits and jurisdiction, topics on which both nations are unusually sensitive; and, as connected with the arrest of Baker, it has been made the subject of serious negotiation, and requires the interposition of a third power in the character of an umpire, we shall examine it first in order.

It arises out of the construction of the 2d article of the treaty of '83; and as that depends upon the meaning to be affixed to the expression "the N. W. angle of Nova Scotia," in order to designate that point, it becomes necessary to ascertain the boundaries of that province.

Upon the termination of the se. ven years war with France in 1763,

all the North American possessions of that power were ceded to Great Britain.

One of the first steps of the British ministry after the cession was, to divide their new acquisitions into provinces, and to define their respective limits.

Accordingly a royal proclama. tion was issued October 7th, 1763, fixing the south east boundary line of Quebec as follows:

"Crossing the river St. Lawrence and lake Champlain, in forty-five degrees of north latitude, passing along the highlands which divide the rivers that empty themselves in the said river St. Lawrence, from those which fall into the seas: and also along the coast of the bay of Chalures and the coast of the gulf of St. Lawrence to cape Rosier."

In conformity with this line, the royal commission to Montague Wilmot, as governor of Nova Scotia, thus describes the limits of that province :

"To the northward, our said province shall be bounded by the southern boundary of our province of Quebec, as far as the western extremity of the bay des Chaleurs; and to the westward, it shall be bounded by a line drawn from cape Sable, across the entrance of the bay of Fundy, to the mouth of the river St. Croix, by the said river to its source, and by a line drawn due north, from thence to the southern boundary of our colony of Quebec."

This formed the dividing lines of Nova Scotia between the province of Massachusetts on the west, and

of Quebec on the north; and the northwest angle of that province was bounded by the junction of those two lines.

The northern and eastern boundary lines of the United States, as established by the treaty of 1783 was evidently copied from the descriptions in that proclamation and commission; and it was obviously intended to preserve the ancient boundaries between the States and Nova Scotia on one side, and the Canadas on the other.

It is in these words:

"ART. 2d. And that all disputes which might arise in future, on the subject of the boundaries of the said United States, may be prevented, it is

hereby agreed and declared, that the following are and shall be their boundaries, viz. From the northwest angle of Nova Scotia, viz.: that angle which is formed by a line, drawn due

north from the source of St. Croix river to the highlands-along the said highlands which divide those rivers that empty themselves into the river St. Lawrence, from those which fall into the Atlantic ocean, to the northwesternmost head of Connecticut river; thence down along the middle of that river, to the forty-fifth degree of or north latitude, thence due west on that latitude." &c. defining the great northern boundaries of the States. In the same article, the eastern boundary is again drawn in a similar man

ner:

"East by a line to be drawn along the river St. Croix, from its mouth, in the bay of Fundy, to its source, directly north to the aforesaid highland which divide the rivers that fall into the Atlantic ocean, from those which fall into the St. Lawrence."

It would scarcely seem possible, after determining the source of the

river St. Croix, that there could be any difficulty in ascertaining the northwest corner of Nova Scotia; which must necessarily lie in that part of the highlands dividing the rivers falling into the St. Law. rence, from those flowing into the ocean, which is intersected by a line extended due north, from the source of the St. Croix. At all events, it is clear, that one of the points from which the boundary of the United States commences, is the northwest angle or corner of Nova Scotia, and not at a point south of that angle; and also, that from that angle, the northern boundary of the United States is to proceed along the highlands, which divide the rivers falling into the St. Lawrence from those falling into the Atlantic. The northwest corner of Nova Scotia is either at the source of the Ristigouche, or of its southern branch, called the Wagantiz river, both of which terminate near the line extended north from the source of the St. Croix; and it is not important to the decision of this controversy, which of these points be considered the northwest angle. In that quarter of the country, the chain of highlands which divide the rivers falling into the St. Law. rence from the ocean rivers, spread to the south, and meet the line extended from the St. Croix; and according to the maps of Bouchette, surveyor general of Lower Canada, published in 1815, the N. W.

angle of Nova Scotia is placed at the source of the Wagantiz, at the termination of those highlands.

From this point, then, the northern boundary line of the United States runs along those highlands, which are at the sources of the rivers falling into the St. Lawrence, and which form a range of hills de. signated in the maps of Bouchette, as the height of land, sometimes approaching within 25 miles of the St. Lawrence, and then receding until it crosses the 45th degree of N. latitude.

According to this boundary, which extends to the north of the river St. John; all the rivers falling into the St. Lawrence, are divided from those running into the ocean; and this is the only line, which, commencing at the northwest angle of Nova Scotia, can make that division.

The effect of this, however, will be,to intercept the direct communication between Quebec and Halifax, and will also concede the right of jurisdiction to the United States, over two settlements; one on the Aroostock, and the other on the Madawaska, over which the British government also claims jurisdiction. The first of these settlements was formed about 7 years since, by British provincials, much involved in debt, and who established themselves there, to avoid their credi tors; and the Madawaska settlement was founded by the French

refugees who were expelled from Nova Scotia by the British troops, in 1749, and who fled to the wilderness for refuge from the persecution of the British authorities.

To establish its jurisdiction over these settlements, and more especially to preserve the communication between its remaining provinces, the British Government seeks to put another construction upon the treaty, and contends that the northern boundary line of the United States commences at a hill called Mars hill, and thence runs to the westward over a range of hills which lie at the sources of the Penobscot, Kennebec and Androscoggin.

This line indeed divides those rivers from those which fall into the St. Lawrence, but it also divides them from the St. John's, which falls not into the St. Lawrence, but into the Atlantic through the bay of Fundy.

The amount of territory comprehended between this and the American boundary, is about 10,000 square miles, mostly uninhabited, but of a good soil and covered with timber.

The grounds upon which the British claim is advanced are, that it was the intention of the Commissioners who concluded the treaty, so to divide the territory as to give to the United States the whole course of the rivers, whose mouths are within their boundaries, and to the

British the heads of all the rivers discharging themselves within their limits; and that as the mouth of the St. John was within the British boundary line, that river belonged in its whole course to Great Britain. They also contended that the St. John does not empty into the Atlantic, but into the bay of Fundy, and that the highlands referred to in the treaty commence at Mars hill.

To this argument, however, there are two conclusive objections: 1st, that the treaty expressly declares that the American line should commence at the North West angle of Nova Scotia, and thence proceed to the West or North West along the highlands; whereas this construction would make it commence one hundred and twenty miles south of the North West angle: and 2ndly, that Mars hill is a solitary elevation of no great height, and unconnected with any range of mountains, along which the boundary line could be extended.

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