Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

neighbourhood of the sea”; and they propose as the boundary "the nearest chain of mountains, not exceeding a few leagues of the coast.” In writing to Sir Charles Bagot on the 12th July, 1824, Mr.

Canning suggests a line * * * * * “following the sinuosities 82 of the coast, along the base of the mountains nearest the sea,"

and he particularly refers to the point that it is the “seaward base” that is referred to.

In Count Lieven's Memorandum of July 1824 he speaks of “la base des montagnes qui suivent les sinuosités de cette côte," and he refers to the possibilities that they slope “jusqu'aux bords même de cette côte.” On the matter again coming before the Hudson's Bay Company they once more emphasize the necessity of more accurately defining the eastern boundary "than by the chain of mountains at a “très petite distance de la côte.'

In Mr. Canning's despatch of the 8th December, 1824, the phrase is, “the mountains which run parallel to the coast, and which appear, according to the map, to follow all its sinuosities.”

In Count Nesselrode's despatch of the 13th March, 1825, it is, “la crête des montaynes qui suivent les sinuosités de la côte."

The same conclusion is indicated by the expressions as to the character of the lisière.

In the negotiations which took place in February and March 1824, the Russian desideratum is thrice described by them as a “point d'appui ” and once as “un portion de territoire sur la côte.” In Count Nesselrode's despatch of the 17th April, 1824, it is,

qu'une étroite lisière sur la côte mêne," "une simple lisière du continent,” “une médiocre espace de terre ferme," "uniquement un point d'appui.”

Mr. Canning, on the 29th May, 1824, writes of “the strip of land required by Russia.”

From this point in the correspondence the word lisière is used without qualification to denote what the parties now thoroughly understood to be referred to.

Great Britain contends that this view cannot be sustained with reference to the topography of this region, and that as the Treaty is to be followed the line must be drawn according to the contention of Great Britain.

The identification of the mountains further depends (as has already been shown in the argument submitted upon Question V) upon the identification of the “côte” to which their direction is to be parallel.

ne

It is to be observed that if “côte” includes the shore of the inlets, the mountains to be sought are those parallel to that shore, and a

line drawn on this principle would give to Great Britain 83 the interior not only of the stretches of territory between the

inlets, but also of peninsulas running out beyond the coast-line, if there are mountains running parallel to the shore. Great Britain does not put forward the contention that this is the true boundary, but if the contention of the United States that "côte" includes the shore of inlets is well founded, Great Britain will maintain that it certainly incudes also the shore between the mouths of the inlets and the shore of peninsulas, and that the principle must be applied in favour of Great Britain as well as against her.

The contention of Great Britain as to the interpretation to be put upon the word “côte," and as to the considerations which are to be regarded in identifying the mountains parallel thereto, have now been set forth. The result upon the ground which the adoption of those contentions would give must now be indicated.

The point of departure is, as has already been submitted, the point where the crest of the coast mountains is found on the 56th parallel. Great Britain suggests as answering this description the point shown on the map in the Atlas herewith in longitude 131° 42'. This is where the mountains finally leave latitude 56° and run north. The coast just south of latitude 56° turns, however, suddenly to the east, and it may be that a point on the crest of the mountains parallel to the coast may be found on the 56th parallel more to the eastward. The adoption of such an alternative would not affect in principle the British contention.

From the point of departure above suggested, the line proposed by Great Britain follows the mountains northwards as shown on the map referred to. The particular mountains and ridges followed with the reasons for selecting them are set forth in a declaration to be found in the Appendix by Mr. W. F. King, the British Commissioner upon the Survey under the Convention of 1892. It will, of course, be understood that this is not put forwarıl as showing throughout the only possible way of giving effect to the British contentions, but that it is susceptible of any variations in detail which may commend themselves to the Tribunal in examining the topographical conditions met with in tracing the line.

84

CHAPTER V.

ACTS SUBSEQUENT TO THE TREATY.

The tribunal is to consider in the settlement of the questions submitted to its decision, not only the original text of the BritishRussian Treaty of 1825, and of the Treaty of cession of Russian America to the United States in 1867, but also

Any action of the several Governments, or of their respective Representatives, preliminary or subsequent to the conclusion of said Treaties, so far as the same tends to show the original and effective understanding of the parties in respect to the limits of their several territorial jurisdictions under and by virtue of the provisions of said Treaties.

The actions of the parties previous to the Treaty of 1825 bave already been discussed. The remaining period naturally divides itself into two, the actions of the parties from 1825 to 1867, and subsequently from 1867 to the date of the present Convention, the 24th January, 1903.

It does not appear that even up to the time of the cession in 1867 either Great Britain or the United States had acquired any but a very dim idea of that remote part of the New World. The United States, being nearer to Russian-America than any European country, and closely connected with it by trade, had been considering the purchase of the territory during the Administration of Mr. Polk and Mr. Buchanan, and had made a definite suggestion to purchase in December, 1859. If any exact information of the district from 1859 to 1867 were available, it would certainly be in the possession of the United States' public men, and could not have escaped the Hon. Charles Sumner, Senator for Massachusetts, whose speech advocating the purchase of Alaska is put forward as the embodiment of expert

84

knowledge regarding Alaska at that time. Yet Sumner declared in

1867 that “perhaps no region of equal extent on the globe, 85 unless we except the interior of Africa or possibly Greenland,

is as little known,” and cites the description of it given by the poet Campbell in the “Pleasures of Hope,” “While exploring earth's loneliest bounds and Ocean's wildest shore."

It seems impossible to conceive of any local act performed in those remote regions by Russia during that early period of which Great Britain could be said to have been made aware by any means except direct communication or correspondence with Russia. It has been shown that no such posts had been established by the Russians on the disputed territory previous to the Treaty of 1825. By the negotiations leading to that Treaty it appears that the lisière was sought simply as a “point d'appui,” so that it might not be adversely occupied. The lease to the Hudson's Bay Company, 6th February, 1839, provided for the return of only one Russian post at the expiry of the lease, that of Highfield, situated, not on the lisière, but on Wrangel Island, a part of the Russian possessions, and in no way in dispute. This seems sufficiently conclusive that there were no other posts. Bancroft, speaking of the cession of 1867, states that Russia herself had never occupied and never wished to occupy this territory-meaning, it seems, the whole territory of Russian America.

The lease by the Hudson's Bay Company of the 6th February, 1839, from the Russian-American Company, cannot be put forward as affecting the boundary question. The lease sets up no boundary. It is impossible to detect the recognition of any sovereignity on the part of Russia, except over that portion of the territory given her by the Treaty. That Russia possessed some portion of the mainland could not then be denied. If the Hudson's Bay Company, for the purpose of disposing of a disagreeable competitor in the fur trade, and to avoid a recurrence of the Stikine incident of 1834, chose to lease "say the whole mainland, coast, and interior country belonging to Russia,” it cannot be argued that it thereby leased something that did not belong to Russia, or that Great Britain thereby gave Russia something more than she had

previously possessed. The Company already enjoyed a 86 monopoly of the territory on the British side of the line.

By the lease it secured a similar monopoly on the Russian side. It was a matter of indifference to it wbether its rights were derived from its British charter or its Russian lease, and no question as to the true location could possibly arise.

The history of the lisière from the Treaty of 1825 until 1867 is simple enough. As has been said in the course of the diplomatic correspondence, the only value of the region during the first ten years after 1825 lay in the fur trade, and that trade was thrown open on equal terms to the subjects and citizens of Great Britain and Russia, by Article VII of the Treaty between Great Britain and Russia of 1825, and, before the expiry of the ten years, events, which resulted finally in the lease to the Hudson's Bay Company, of the trade of the whole of a lisière southward and eastward of a line joining Cape Spencer and Mount Fairweather, had occurred.

The circumstances leading to the lease are well known as "the Stikine incident.” The clause of the Treaty throwing open the trade in furs would terminate by effluxion of time in 1835. In 1833-34 a Hudson's Bay expedition proceeded to Stikine River for the purpose of exploring it and establishing a post on the upper portion of the river. In June 1834 the expedition was prevented by the Russians from ascending the river. This was in manifest violation of the Treaty inasmuch as British subjects had the right to the free navigation of the river, and the upper portion was, under any interpretation, in British territory.

On the 24th October, 1835, the Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company wrote Lord Palmerston complaining of the infraction of the VIth and VIIth Articles of the Treaty of 1825, and claiming 22,1501. damages. On the 28th January, 1836, the Hudson's Bay Company was informed that the Russian Government disavowed the action of its servants, and promised to convey His Imperial Majesty's displeasure over what had been done. The damages were not paid, however, but a negotiation followed, which led to the leasing by the Hudson's Bay Company of the territory of its rival. Part

of the consideration of the lease was the damage which had 87 been suffered by the Hudson's Bay Company through the

stoppage of its expedition up the Stikine. The lease was not brought about by any dispute as to the boundary line but by the desire of the Hudson's Bay Company to avoid unnecessary friction by illegal acts of the Russians, of which the above is an example, and by the further desire to enjoy a monopoly of the trade.

« AnteriorContinuar »