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their occupation of the northwest coast of America"; that he must postpone a decisive answer until the arrival, next season, of Governor Wrangel, who would "disclose all information necessary to a correct understanding of the subject, and of the interests of Russia as well as of the Fur Company."
In a letter to the secretary of state Mr. Wilkins dwelt at great length upon this interview and remarked: “During our conference, I did not feel myself authorized to call the attention of the Imperial Minister to what might, or probably would be, the construction by the Government of the United States, upon the treaty with the fourth article extinct; nor what rule of the law of nations would be considered as applicable to the case, and controlling the trade upon a wild and extensive coast, of a great and open ocean, and stil, with the exception of a few posts, at a vast distance from each other, in the rightful occupancy of the natives, and to which I believe, the sovereignty of Russia has not yet, in any treaty or convention, been admitted.”
In the meantime the matter took a more serious turn owing to the "Blinn Affair." On August 22, 1836, the American brig Loriot, Richard D. Blinn, master, sailed from Hawaii bound for the northwest coast of America to procure provisions and Indians for hunting the sea-otter. On September 14th she made land at what the Russians called Forrester's Island and anchored in the harbor of Tuckessan, which place was distinguished by no settlement, in latitude 54° 55' north, and longitude 132° 30' west, but before a landing could be effected, was forcibly obliged to depart and to return to the original place of sailing, occasioning much alleged loss to her owner. Captain Blinn appealed to the American consul in Hawaii, and in virtue of the stipulations of the convention of 1824, and especially of Article 1, preferred complaints against the conduct of the Russians toward him; and asked indemnification for the losses sustained in consequence, by the proprietors.
During this same summer (1836) the officers of the fur-company arrived in St. Petersburg, and the American diplomats discussed critically their move if the renewal stipulations took a doubtful turn. An answer might in all fitness have been rendered late in that year, but none was forthcoming; nor during the following year. Not until February 23, 1838, did Nesslerode write:
"It is true, indeed, that the 1st article of the convention of 1824, to which the proprietors of the Loriot 'appeal, secures to the citizens of the United States entire liberty of navigation in the Pacific ocean, as well as the right of landing without disturbance, upon all points on the northwest coast of America, not already occupied, and to trade with the natives. But this liberty of navigation is subject to certain conditions and restrictions, and one of these restrictions is that stipulated by the 4th article, which has specially limited to the period of ten years the right on the part of the citizens of the United States to frequent, without disturbance, the interior seas, the gulfs, harbors, and creeks, north of the latitude of 54 degrees 40 minutes. Now the period had expired more than two years before the Loriot anchored in the harbor of Tukessan.
“By examining the stipulation of that convention, with the spirit of equity which marks the character of Mr. Dallas, he will be convinced that the Imperial Government cannot acknowledge the justice of the complaints of Mr. Blinn."
Mr. Dallas, well fortified, quickly replied in a letter dated March 17, 1838:
“The undersigned submits that in no sense can the fourth article be understood as implying an acknowledgement, on the part of the United States of the right of Russia to the possession of the coast above the latitude of 54° 40' north. It must, of course, be taken in connection with the other articles, and they have, in fact, no reference whatever to the question of the right of possession of the unoccupied parts. To prevent future collision it was agreed that no new establishment should be formed by the respective parties to the north or south of the parallel mentioned; but the question of the right of possession beyond the existing establishments, as it stood previous to, or at the time of, the convention, was left untouched.
"By agreeing not to form new establishments north of latitude 54° 40' the United States made no acknowledgement of the right of Russia to the territory above that line. If such an admission had been made Russia, by the same construction of the article referred to, must have equally acknowledged the right of the United States to the territory south of the parallel. But that Russia did not so understand the article is conclusively proved by her having entered into a similar agreement in her subsequent treaty of 1825, with Great Britain, and having, in that instrument, acknowledged the right of possession of the same territory by Great Britain. The United States can only be considered inferentially as having acknowledged the right of Russia to acquire, above the designated meridian, by actual occupation, a just claim to unoccupied lands. Until that actual occupation be taken, the first article of the convention recognizes the American right to navigate, fish, and trade, as prior to its negotiation."
Another set of notes was exchanged and the matter was dropped although the incident cannot be considered as closed. Nesslerode remained firm in his contention as set forth in his note of the 23d of February, 1838, and what views the state authorities held at the time the matter was dropped is not clear.
In the meantime the British reopening of their convention of 1825 was successfully adjudicated when the Hudson's Bay Company secured a leasehold of a strip of territory they especially coveted.
Three points stand out clearly in the correspondence on the reopening of the convention of 1824:
(1) A most remarkable construction of the treaty in question.
(2) A knowledge that the state department held definite views of policy with regard to the Pacific Coast even at this early date; a policy quite in keeping with its Oregon diplomacy.
(3) The fact that the Russians attached no political importance whatsoever to the American possessions; that the fur-trade was their only interest there and the Russian American Company the key to the situation. During the fifties and sixties several movements looking forward to American exploitation of the country in question got under way, and these, together with the efforts of the company itself to unload brought about the ultimate purchase.
VICTOR J. FARRAR.
It is for the interest of true history that our Church should be clear as to the beginning of any of its Mission enterprises. Promoters of Missions pass away. Early workers complete their labor. Private correspondence from which much information could be gained is destroyed. Erroneous statements arise, and by and by are taken for the truth. Then when some one wishes to write history, unwittingly the work of some devoted laborer and friend is overlooked and a part of the truth is lost. We are near the sources of information about Alaska now. There are men and women living who know when our Church began its work for Alaska and how. My own interest in the Mission work of our Church wherever carried, has caused friends to place at my disposal missionary correspondence of one of our most honored ministers on this Coast. I have taken great pleasure in tracing this man's interest in Alaska through many years. The Presbyterian Church is indebted to the late Rev. A. L. Lindsley, D. D., pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Portland, Oregon, for eighteen years, for opening mission work in Alaska.
Dr. Lindsley became pastor of the First Church, Portland, Oregon, in 1868. Secretary Seward visited Alaska in 1869, after the purchase. When he returned Dr. Lindsley was in Victoria, B. C. He had an interview with Mr. Seward in which he sought and obtained such information as a man of Mr. Seward's knowledge and judgment could give concerning the general condition of the natives of Alaska. Already the mind of the minister saw in Alaska a field for evangelistic effort. From this time until he was taken from earthly scenes his interest in that country continued, and he left no means untried to introduce the Gospel to that part of our land. His hands were full in his own field. He was alert to the growing needs of the white people on the coast. But he could always take time to consult the needs of the Indians of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska. His letters to the Boards of Home and Foreign Missions and to individuals are full of thought and care for the aborigines who learned to know that he was their true friend. As concerns Alaska, Dr. Lindsley used every opportunity to complete his own knowledge of the country and people, corresponding with or visiting those who had been in the country whether as
Government officials or travelers, and hoping for the day when work should be begun.
In 1875, General O. O. Howard came to Portland from Alaska, all on fire with zeal for Mission work. In a personal interview with General Howard on March 4th of 1895, he said, “I suppose I talked with Dr. Lindsley twenty times in 1875 about opening Missions in Alaska. I lived across the street from him and Alaska was a frequent subject for conversation.”
As a result of General Howard's interest, Rev. E. P. Hammond and wife, who were on this coast as evangelists, made a visit to Fort Wrangel and Sitka in 1875. Mr. Hammond was undoubtedly the first American minister to visit Alaska in the interest of Mission work. He himself says they had two objects in view. 1-To preach the Gospel for a short time. 2.—To get acquainted with the natives and urge their need of Missionaries.
Dr. Lindsley naturally in his missionary correspondence with the Home and Foreign Boards urged repeatedly the claims of the Alaskans. At the same time, determined that something should be done, he began to look for a man to go to the field. The Wesleyans were at work at Fort Simpson in British Columbia and were meeting with success. Why should not equal success follow efforts made among our own Indians ? A memorial to the General Assembly prepared by Dr. Lindsley and authorized by the Synod in 1876, was sent forward to the Commissioner. But it was never presented.
In May of 1877, Mr. J. C. Mallory, a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Portland was sent up to Alaska by Dr. Lindsley. The object of the trip was to visit Fort Wrangel and Sitka with a view to Missionary effort. Mr. Mallory found at Fort Wrangel a Christian Indian, who had been trained by the Wesley
He employed him to carry on a school. The rent of school room and salary of the teacher were assumed in Dr. Lindsley's
In a letter to the Home Board, bearing date of July 27, 1877, Dr. Lindsley rehearsed the fact of Mr. Mallory's visit, his hearty reception by whites and Indians, the employment of the Christian Indian to teach, the projection of a Church building, the promise of money from natives toward a building fund, the great need of books, the appointment of Mr. Mallory to an Indian agency in another part of the country, which his health compelled him to accept, the urgent need for a successor, without delay, and the formal application for the appointment of the Indian teacher, Philip