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boundaries of the United States upon Mitchell's Map.

3. What rivers were claimed to or talked of by the Commis-
sioners on either side as a proper boundary, and for what rea-

Answer. The British Commissioner first claimed to Piscat-
aqua river, then to Kennebeck, then to Penobscot, and at
length agreed to Saint Croix as marked on Mitchell's Map. One
of the American ministers at first proposed the river St. Johns,
as marked on Mitchell's map, but his colleagues observing that
as St. Croix was the river mentioned in the charter of the Massa-


chusetts Bay they could not justify insisting on St. John as an
Ultimatum, he agreed with them to adhere to the charter of Mas-
sachusetts Bay.

4. Whether a copy of the patent of King James and Sir
William Alexander, or any act of the Parliament of Great Britain,
were before the said commissioners at that time, or spoken of, or
relied upon by the Commissioners, on the part of His Britannic
Majesty ?

Answer. It is very probable that the patent of King James
& Sir William Alexander, and that an act or acts of Parlia-
ment might be produced and agreed on, but I do not recollect at
this time any particular use that was made of them. Nothing
was ultimately relied on which interferred with the Charter of
Massachusetts Bay.

5. Generally what plans, documents, and papers were before
the said Commissioners when the second article of the same
treaty of peace was formed?

Answer. No other plans than Mitchell's Map, that I recollect.
Documents from the public offices in England were brought
over and laid before us, in answer lo which we produced the

memorials of Governor Shirley and Mr. and the counter

memorials of tlie French Commissi<mers at Paris in a printed
quarto volume. A report of Mr, Hutchinson to the General Court,
printed in a Journal of the House of Representatives, not many
years from 1760, though I cannot now recollect the precise year,
and certain proceedings of Governors Pownal and Bernard re-
corded also in the Journals of the House of Representatives and
the Charter of Massachusetts Bay.

6. What were the lines claimed on each side and how was
the matter ultimately settled ?

Answer. Answered in part under the third question. The
ultimate agreement was to adhere to the Charter of the Massa-
chusetts Bay and to St. Croix river mentioned in it which was
supposed to be delineated on Mitchell's map.

7. Whether it was agreed to let the matter of boundary
between the state of Massachusetts and the province of Nova
Scotia remain as the same had been conceived to be ?

Answer. Answered under the third and sixth questions.


Interrogatory by the Commissioners.

In explanation of your answer to the third interrogatory pro-
posed by the agent on the part of the United States : Do you know
whether it was understood, intended or agreed between the British
and American Commissioners that the Kiver St. Croix as marked
on Mitchell's Map should so be the boundary as to preclude all
inquiry respecting any error or mistake in the sa'd map in desig-
nating the River St. Croix, or was there any, and if so, what
understanding, intent or agreement between the Commissioners
relative to the case of error or mistake in this respect in the said

Answer. The case of such supposed error or mistake was
not suggested, and, consequently, there was no understanding,
intent or agreement expressed respecting it.

A deposition of Gov. Jay, of New York, was subse-
quently presented in which he agreed with Mr. Adams
that the River St. Croix, laid down on Mitchell's map,
was the River St. Croix which ought to form a part of
the said boundary line, "but," he added : —

Whether that river was so decidedly and permanently adopted
and agreed upon by the parties as conclusively to bind the two
Nations to that Limit, even in Case it should afterward appear
that Mitchell had been mistaken and that the true River St. Croix
was a different one from that which is delineated by that name in
his Map, is a Question, or a Case, which he did not recollect nor
believe was then put or talked of; for his own part he was of
Opinion that the Eastern Boundaries of the United States ought,
Oil Principles of Right and Justice, to be the same with the easterly
Boundaries of the late Colony or Province of Massachusetts.^

' " Mr. Adams and Jay testify that they were governed by Mitchell's map ; but add
(strangely) that the bounds of the chai-ter of Massachusetts were intended, when
in fact, the charter of 1692 was bounded on the gulf and river St. Lawrence. All
Nova Scotia was, by the charter of William and Mary, a part of Massachusetts, and
separated from it after the treaty of Ryswlck, in 1700, or about that time. The let-
ters and papers were mentioned and produced. There have great difHculties
resulted from that expression in these testimonies." .James Sullivan in a letter to
Judi^e Parsons. See Amory's Life and Writings of James Sullivan, vol. 1, p. 328.


There was also laid before the commission a let-
ter from Dr. Franklin, in which, April 8, 1790, Frank-
lin wrote to Secretary Jefferson as follows : —

I received your Letter of the 2 1st post, relating to the Encroach-
ments made on the eastern Limits of the United States by Set-
tlers, under the British Government, pretending that it is the
western and not the eastern, River of the Bay of Passamaquoddy,
which was designated by the name of St. Croix, in the Treaty of
Peace with that Nation, and requesting Me to Communicate any
Facts, which my Memory or Papers may enable me to recollect,
and which may indicate the true River the Commissioners had in
View to establish as the Boundary between the two Nations. I
can assure You I am perfectly clear in the Remembrance, that the
Map we used, in tracing the Boundary between the two Nations
was brought to the Treaty by the Commissioners from Engbmd,
and that it was the same that was published by Mitchell above
twenty years before. That the Map we used was Mitchell's
Map, Congress were acquainted with at the time by a letter to
their Secretary for foreign Affairs which I supposed may be
found on their Files.

The American agent laid before the commissioners
the identical Mitchell's map which the treaty commis-
sioners had before them in Paris, it having been found
in the office of the secretary of state for the United
States. On it the eastern boundary of the United
States, according to Judge Benson, was traced " with a
pen or pencil, through the middle of the river laid
down as the St. Croix, to a lake, laid down as its source
and named Kousaki, and continued thence north as
far as to where it was conjectured it would come to
the Highlands. "1

* Justin Winsor's "A Cartographical History of tlie Nortli Eastern Boundary Con-
troversy," p. 11. Mr. Winsor says that the famous red line on the map discovered
by Sparks in the French archives, in 1841, had nothing to do with the northeast-
boundary question. "The maps for a long period before the ti-eaty of 17S2-83, had
had two lines of demarcation across the present State of Maine, according as they


On the day following the examination of President
Adams, the British agent filed his argument in support
of the claim presented by him in the preceding Oc-
tober, also his reply to the arguments then made by
the American agent. He also deposited with the
secretary of the commission the several maps and
documents referred to in the said argument and reply,
for the inspection of the agent of the United States.
The American agent likewise filed an argument in
support of the claim presented by him in the preced-
ing October and also deposited with the secretary of
the commission the several maps and documents
referred to in his argument; and the commission
adjourned to meet in Providence, R. I., on the first
Monday in June, 1798.

During the intermission surveyors were busily em-
ployed on the Magaguadavic and Schoodic Rivers. A
discussion also had arisen with reference to the varia-
tion in the terms of the instructions to the British and
American commissioners. In Mr. Barclay's commis-
sion it was stated that "in all matters which shall
come before you the opinions of the major part of the
said commissioners shall prevail, provided the matters

represented French claims or showed those of England. The English maps, with-
out exception, gave the bounds of Massachusetts as north of the St. John ; and it
was this line, according to the understanding ot the American commissioners at
least, that they were to engraft in the treaty of 1782. Tliis is imdeniably the line
g^ven in all the maps published in England during the progress of the treaty of
1782-1783, as shown in those of Sayer and Bennet, Bew, Willis and Gary, not to name
very many others. The French maps gave a line south of the St. John valley, vary-
ing more or less from time to time, but throwing into Canada all north of the Eng-
lish settlements, even if they did not include these settlements wholly or in part.
The direction of the line as given in the smaU D'Anville map, found by Sparks,
was just one of these French claims ; and we have the history of it in certain maps,
beginning with the larger D'Anville map of the same year as the small D'Anville
map (1746) which Sparks found, and of this larger map Sparks seems to have had
no knowledge. On this larger map the line across Maine is given in a dotted line,
which carries it back to the date of the engraving of the map itself," p. 18.


in question be not inconsistent with our commission
or with the tenor of these our instructions." In Judge
Howell's commission, he was directed "with those other
commissioners, being duly sworn, to proceed to decide
the said question, and exactly to perform all the duties
enjoined and necessary to be done, to carry the said fifth
article into complete execution." Mr. Barclay, at an
early period, called Lord Grenville's attention to the
fact that, in accordance with his own instructions, a ma-
jority of the commissioners could make the award,
while Judge Howell's instructions seemed to require
the consent of all the commissioners ; and December
9, 1796, Lord Grenville wrote to Mr. Barclay that he
had instructed Mr. Liston, the British minister at Phil-
adelphia, to state to the government of the United
States the variations between Mr. Howell's and Mr.
Barclay's commissions and to propose " the inter-
change of declarations purporting that His Majesty
and the United States will consider as final and con-
clusive the decisions of the three commissioners, or of
a majority of them." Mr. Liston wrote to Mr. Bar-
clay, October 30, 1797 :—

His Majesty's Secretary of State communicated to me the
observation made by you on tlie difference between the terms
of your Commission and those of the one given by the Presi-
dent of the United States to Mr. Howell, and His Lordship
directed me to request an explanatory declaration on the subject
on the part of the American Ministry. On executing this com-
mission, I perceived that Colonel Pickering was a little hurt as
well at the imputation of inaccuracy or insufficiency thus cast on an
Instrument which had been carefully drawn up by himself, as at
the surmise that appeared to be started respecting the sincerity
and good faith of the Government of the United States. I did


not therefore insist upon any changes being made in Mr.
Howell's Commission, and contented myself with a general decla-
ration, made to me by authority, that the President would give
the decision of the Commissioners full force and effect. I do not
indeed entertain the smallest apprehension that any difficulty
will occur with regard to the execution of the award of the ma-
jority of the Commissioners, whatever it may be.

The fifth article of the " Treaty of Amity, Com-
merce and Navigation," required that the commis-
sioners appointed under it should give the latitude
and longitude of the river intended as the River St.
Croix, both at its mouth and source. At the meeting
of the commissioners in Boston, they agreed to recom-
mend to their respective governments, a supplemen-
tary treaty, to the ejBTect that the source of the St.
Croix, as determined by them, should be marked by a
monument, and not by its latitude and longitude.
The British commissioner, however did not think the
erection of such a monument either safe or necessary.
A map, compiled from accurate surveys, with the
courses and distances minutely laid down, and every
collateral stream represented in a proportionable scale,
he said, would place the source of the river beyond the
probabilty of future doubt, while interested parties
might remove the monument to some other locality,
and so the whole question would again be open for
negotiation or controversy. The sujDplementary treat}'',
providing for the erection of " a suitable monument "
at the source of the St. Croix, instead of ascertaining
the latitude and longitude of that spot, was signed in
London, March 15, 1798, and its ratification was
advised by the senate of the United States, June 6,


As the surveys ordered by the commission were
not completed, the commissioners, who had adjourned
until June, 1798, did not meet in Providence until
September, 1798.^ After prolonged consideration of
the matter before them, the commissioners adjourned
to October 15, awaiting the completion of a plan that
had been ordered from the surveys received. Sep-
tember 29, 1798, Judge Sullivan wrote to Mr. Picker-
ing, secretary of state, as follows : —

Judge Howell will never sign a result to allow the English
claim. The decision rests with Judge Benson ; and I am npjjre-
hensive that he will give them all they ask, and carry them to the
river Penobscot. This 1 conclude from his uniform conduct from
tlie opening until the close of the arguments. He seems to be
impressed with an idea that it is of no consequence to the
United States how this line is settled. I wonder at his embrac-
ing this opinion, because there is on the table a file of papers,
frequently referred to, consisting of the zealous proceedings of
Massachusetts, from the treaty of peace to the treaty of amity, in
order to remove the English people from St. Andrews. Judge
Howell and myself are clearly of the opinion that the Magagua-
davic is the river intended ; and that on a fair construction of all
the evidence that river ought now to be fixed as the boundary.
But, as the English government has granted the lands as far west
as the north branch of the Schoodiac, as there are difiiculties of a
public nature in the country, and our situation in regard to the
English is critical, T should not l)e uneasy at a unanimous result
that the Schoodiac is tlie St. Croix intended, and that the lake
from which the north branch issues is the source. The quantity
of land between the Magaguadavic and the Schoodiac north
branch is about two millions of acres, and has been granted by
the English government. The lakes from which the Magagua-

|i Gen. Lincoln, who was a large owner of lands on the Cobscook, a small stream
flowing into Passamaquoddy Bay, west of the Schoodic, accompanied Mr. Sullivan
to this meeting of the commissioners.

Vol. VI. 17


davic and Cheputnaticook issue respectively are but nine miles
apart. The strip of land between lines drawn due north from these
sources to the highlands is not considerable ; but the territory
between a north line from the Schoodiac Lake, near Penobscot
River, is very great ; and three millions of acres have been granted
by Massachusetts. Judge Benson says that he has been told, in
Boston, that the place of the line is of no moment. He did not say
who told him so ; but he appears to be too deeply impressed with
that idea. Judge Howell had a long conversation with him, after
the arguments were over, and expressed his opinion very fully to
him. Howell would not have let me know his opinion before the
final result, had not circumstances taken place which rendered it
expedient. He understands the controversy perfectly ; and will
not agree to sign a result merely because a majority of the com-
missioners shall agree to do it, nor to let the matter pass in
silence without communicating his reasons for dissenting, if he
does not unite with the others. He is very firm ; and I can assure
you that, from all appearances, we have nothing but that firmness
to rely on, when we hope that the other two will not, without
him, sign a result allowing the whole of the English claim. ^

The apprehensions of the American agent, that
Judge Benson was ready to concede the British claim,
and even make the Penobscot the boundary line, were
happily groundless.

The commissioners reassembled October 15, and
continued in session until October 25, 1798, when the
award was made. Neither the claim of the American
agent, that the Magaguadavic was the St. Croix of the
treaty of 1783, nor the claim of the British agent, that
the Schoodic, following its westernmost branch, was
that stream, was adopted. October 23, in a private note
to Mr. Listen, the British minister, who was then in
Providence, the British agent said : —

I have the honor to inform you that the proposed decision and

1 Amory's Life of James Sullivan, Vol. 1, pp. 329-331.


declaration of the Commissioners before whom I have been
appointed to manage the business as Agent on the part of His
Majesty have been communicated to me by which it appears
that the River Scudiac claimed on the part of his Majesty to be
the Source of its Western branch is to be decided to be the River
St. Croix truly intended under that name in the Treaty of Peace
the Source of this Branch is however in this decision particu-
larized to be where it issues from the Lake Genesagarumsis, the
Easternmost of the Scudiac Lakes, and distant about five miles
and three quarters on a direct course from where the Cheputna-
ticook falls into it. Altho' this decision is very flattering to me,
as it establishes every principle upon which the claim on the part
of his Majesty was founded, and is fully accordant with the
prayer of that claim, still in its consequences I fear it will prove
very inconvenient if not injurious to the interest of the Province
of New Brunswick, as a north line from this Source will intersect
the River St. John so as to leave the Military posts at Presque
Isle, and Grand Falls and every part of the River St, John above
Presque Isle, which is about Eighty miles above Fredericton
within the territory of the United States. Some inconveniences
will at the same time result to the United States from this
decision, as the North Line from this Source will leave in his
Majesty's dominions a considerable tract of Country lying
between this line and the River Cheputnaticook which has been
granted to Individuals by the State of Massachusets. These
inconveniences are considered so great by the Agent of the United
States as to induce him to propose to me an accommodation
between the two Governments, by an Agreement to recommend
to the Commissioners to decide the Northernmost Source of the
Cheputnaticook to be the Source of the St. Croix, in lieu of the
Source above mentioned. .......

I have been given to understand that nothing has induced
Colonel Barclay to assent to the decision now in contemplation,
but the consideration that the Commissioners would otherwise
separate without coming to any determination, and that it is so
dissatisfactory to Mr. Howell the American Commissioner orig-
inally appointed that he will not sign it, as he contends for the


Cheputnaticook River and that its Source should be particu-
larized to be, where it issues from the first or most eastern lake
connected with that Branch ; he is therefore averse to the pro-
posed alteration, but will accede to it, if recommended by the
Agent on the part of the United States.^

This recommendation seems to have been secured,
and October 25, 1798, the three commissioners made
their award as follows : —

By Tho*^ Barclay, David Howell and Egbert Benson, Com-
missioners appointed in pursuance of the fifth article of Amity,
Commerce and Navigation between Mis Britannic Majesty and
the United States of America finally to decide the Question what
River was truly intended under the name of the River St. Croix
mentioned in the Treaty of Peace between His Majesty and the
United States and forming a part of the Boundary therein dis-


We the said commissioners having been sworn impartially to
examine and decide the Question according to such evidence as
should respectively be laid before us on the part of the British
Government and of the United States, and having heard the evi-
dence which hath been laid before us by the agent of His Majesty
and the Agent of the United States respectively appointed and
authorized to manage the Business on Behalf of the respective
Gov' Have decided and hereby do decide the River hereinafter
particularly described and mentioned to be the River truly in-
tended under the name of the River St. Croix in the said treaty
of Peace and forming a part of the Boundary therein described
that is to say, the mouth of the said River is in Passamaquoddy
Bay at a Point of Land called Toe's Point about one mile north-
ward from the northern ])art of Saint Andreios Island and on the
latitude of 45 degrees 5 minutes and 5 seconds north, and in the
longitude of 67 degrees 12 minutes and 30 seconds west from the
Royal Observatory at Greenwich in Great Britain and 3 degrees

1 Selections from the Correspondence of Thomas Barclay, pp. 87-89.


54 minutes and 15 seconds east from Harvard College or the
University of Cambridge in the State of Massachusetts, and the
Course of the said Iliver up from its said mouth is northerly to a
point of Land called the Devils Head then turning the said
point is westerly to where it divides into two streams the one
coming from the northward having the Indiin name of Chiput-
natecook or Chibuitcook as the same may be variously spelt then
up the said stream so coming from the northward to its Source,
which is at a stake near a Yellow Birch Tree, hooped witli Iron
and marked S. T. and J. H. 1797 by Samuel Titcomb and John
Harris the Surveyors employed to survey the above mentioned
stream coming from the northward, and the said River is desig-
nated on the map hereunto annexed and hereby referred to ;is
further descriptive of it by the letters A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I,
K, and L, the letter A being at its mouth, and the letter L being
at its said Source and the course and distance of the said source
from the island at the confluence of the above mentioned two
Streams is as laid down on the said map north 5 degrees and
about 15 minutes west by the magnet about 48 miles and one

In testimony whereof we have hereunto set our Hands and
Seals at Providence in the State of Rhode Island the 25"' day of
October in the year 1798.

Th°^ Barclay, [seal]
David Howell, [seal]
Egb^ Bexson. [seal]


Edward Winslow, tSect. to the Cornm\

Before the argiinients closed Judge Howell had
abandoned the American claim and had fixed on the
Schoodic River, including its north branch, as the true
St. Croix. He was influenced, doubtless, by the fact
that, while Mitchell's map was the map used by the
commissioners who negotiated the treaty of 1783,
there was no intention on the part of the negotiators


to change the boundary between the District of Maine
and the British provinces ; and also by the fact that
the Schoodic, as the larger stream, was a better natural

Judge Howell, however, was not pleased w^ith the
attitude of Judge Benson in the negotiations. In a
letter to Mr. Pickering, secretary of state, January 3,
1799, after stating that before the arguments closed
he had fixed upon the Schoodic, including the northern
branch, as the true St. Croix, he wrote : —

Both the other commissioners, I soon found, were as much
fixed on the western branch. Many days were occupied by us in
consideration and discussion of the subject. At length I was
mortified to find myself alone, and th;it the other two had pre-
pared a final declaration in f.tvor of the western branch, which
they showed to me, and said they were leady to sign. To this I

Online LibraryMaine Historical SocietyCollections of the Maine historical society (Volume 1) → online text (page 17 of 34)