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Sound on the 6th of May, 1789, and immediately landed
materials and cannon for building and arming a fort on a
small island at the entrance of Friendly Cove. In Novem-
ber he returned to St. Bias, and, in the spring of 1790,
Captain Elisa took his place. A permanent establishment
was formed, vessels were sent out on exploring expeditions,
and, during the negotiations between Vancouver and Quadra
in 179s, the Spaniards were in possession of houses and
cultivated lands. Vancouver again found them in posses-
sion in 1793, under Seiior Fidalgo, and in 179^, under
Seiior Saavadra, and the post was maintained without in-
terruption until 179«5.^ By turning to page 836, Vol. II.,
of " Vancouver's Journal," a view of the Spanish estab-
lishment at Friendly Cove, on Nootka Sound, will be seen,
from a sketch taken on the spot by one of Vancouver's
party, in September or October, 179^ ; and it exhibits ten

1 Vancouver arrived at Nootka Sound * Vancouver arrived at Nootka Sound

on the 20th May, 1793, and found the on the 2d September, 1794, and found

Spaniards in possession. He says : Brigadier-General Alava in command.

"An officer was immediately despatched He left without resuming the negotia-

on shore to acquaint Seiior Tidalgo of tion which he had commenced with

our arrival, and that I would salute the Quadra, in 1792. On the 12th Novem-

fort if he would make an equal return ; ber, 1794, he was informed by General

this was accordingly done with eleven Alava, at Monterey, where they met,

guns." — Vancouver's Journal, Vol. III. that instructions had been sent to adjust

P- 422. the matter in an amicable way, and

Vancouver arrived at Nootka Sound nearly on the 'terms which he (Van-
on the 5tli of October, 1793, and, to use couver) had repeatedly offered to Senor
his own words, " the usual ceremonies Quadra in September, 1792. But of
of salutes, and other formalities, hav- this, as has been seen, there is no satis-
ing passed, accompanied by Mr. Puget, factory evidence. — See Vol. VI. p.
I waited on Senor Saavadra, the com- 118.
mander of the post." — Vol. IV. p. 289.



22 SPEECHES IN THE SENATE.

roofed buildings, with several enclosures of cultivated land.
It also exhibits, totally distinct from these lands and build-
ings, a cove adjoining, and a reference to it, stating that
it includes " the territories which, in September, 179^?
were offered by Spain to be ceded to Great Britain." This
was the site of the hut occupied by Meares, and the Spanish
commander refused to make a formal and absolute surrender
to Great Britain of any other land.

Thus it is established, by proof not to be impeached,
that the Spaniards were in the occupation of a post at
Nootka Sound in 1790, when the convention was negotiated
and concluded ; and I submit, therefore, whether this must
not be regarded as the southern limit of the region within
which the right of forming settlements, recognized or con-
ceded by the convention, was to be exercised. This point
was strenuously and perseveringly insisted on by Quadra
in his negotiation with Vancouver, and with obvious justice.
To use Vancouver's own language, page 342, Vol. II., of
his " Journal," Quadra observed that " Nootka ought to
be the last or most northwardly Spanish settlement ; that
there the dividing line should be fixed, and that from thence
to the northward should be free for entrance, use, and com-
merce to both parties, conformably with the fifth article of
the convention ; that establishments should not be formed
without permission of the respective courts ; and that the
English should not pass to the south of Fuca." Such was
Quadra's construction of tli* treaty ; and he uniformly re-
fused to make any formal surrender of territory or buildings,
excepting the small cove referred to. Nootka Sound is
midway between the 49th and 50th parallels of latitude ;
and south of this point, if Quadra's position was well taken,
Great Britain could claim no right by virtue of the con-
vention, though it were still in force.

That Great Britain would have had the right, under the
convention, at any time, during its continuance, to form a
temporary establishment on any part of the northwest coast,



THE OREGON QUESTION. gg

north of the Spanish post at Nootka, will not be disputed ;
though it would have been subject to the right of free access
and trade reserved to the subjects of Spain. But she neg-
lected to assert her right. She formed no settlements in
pursuance of the convention ; and, in 1796, Spain, by de-
clariug \var against her, put an end to the treaty, agreeably
to the acknowledged principle of international law, that the
permanence of treaty stipulations can only be secured by ex-
press agreement, and that, without such an agreement, they
cease to be binding on the occurrence of hostilities between
the contracting parties, unless there is something in the na-
ture of the questions settled which is, of necessity, perma-
nent and final. Having failed, then, to make any settle-
ment on the coast from 1790 to 1796, all rights conceded
by the convention ceased with the declaration of war, by
which it was terminated. From that time forth, Great
Britain stood in precisely the same relation to Spain as
though the convention had never been formed ; and, in order
to establish any claim she may advance to territorial rights
on the northwest coast, she must resort to those general
rules founded upon discovery and occupation which were
briefly adverted to at the commencement of my remarks.

I will not discuss the question whether the Treaty of
the Escurial was revived by the Treaty of Madrid, in 1814'.
I consider it put at rest by the able argument of the Amer-
ican negotiator, Mr. Buchanan*

Let me now revert to the progress of discovery and
exploration, which I w^as briefly sketching, and which was
interrupted by the events of the Nootka Sound contro-
versy.

In 1789, the American sloop Washington, commanded
by Captain Gray, who afterwards discovered the Columbia
River, entered and sailed fifty miles in the Strait of Juan
de Fuca. Meares, in his narrative, describes a voyage by
the Washington entirely through the strait to the north of
the islands of Quadra and Vancouver, and thence into the



24f SPEECHES IN THE SENATE.

Pacific. If such a voyage was ever made, it must have
been under Captain Kendrick, who was, at another period,
in the command of that vessel ; for Gray, when he met
Vancouver in 1792, said it was not made by himself. But,
be this as it may, it is certain that the Washington was
the first vessel which penetrated the strait beyond its mouth
after its discovery by De Fuca. A subsequent examination
was made in 1790, as high as 50°, by order of the Spanish
commander at Nootka Sound ; so that its shores were well
known in their general outlines before the examinations
made by Vancouver two years afterwards.

In 1792, Vancouver arrived on the northwest coast, with
instructions to examine and survey the whole shore of the
Pacific from the Soth to the 60th parallel of latitude, and
particularly to examine " the supposed Strait of Juan de
Fuca," through which the sloop Washington is reported to
have passed in 17^9, and to have come out again to the
northward of Nootka." He passed the mouth of the Co-
lumbia River, which he considered as an opening undeserv-
ing of " more attention," and came to the conclusion that,
between the 40th and 48th parallels of latitude, the rivers
which had been described " were reduced " (I use his own
words) " to brooks insufficient for our vessels to navigate,
or to bays inapplicable, as harbors, for refitting." On the
S9th of April, he met Captain Gray, in the ship Columbia,
from Boston, and was informed by him that he had " been
off' the mouth of a river in the latitude of 46° 10', where
the outset or reflux was so great as to prevent his enter-
ing for nine days." And Vancouver adds : " This was
probably the opening passed by us on the forenoon of the
J27th, and was apparently inaccessible, not from the current,
but from the breakers that extended across it." (Vol. II.
p. 43.) Notwithstanding this communication by Gray, Van-
couver, relying on his own examinations, still remained of
the opinion (and he so records it) that, "if any inlet or
river should be found, it must be a very intricate one, and



THE OREGON QUESTION.



25



inaccessible to vessels of our burden, owing- to the reefs,
broken ^vater," &c. ; and he concludes that he was " thor-
oughly convinced " that he could " not possibly have passed
any safe navigable opening, harbor, or place of security for
shipping on this coast, from Cape Mendocino to the prom-
ontory of Classet," the entrance of the Strait of Fuca. —
(Vol. II. pp. 58, 59.)^



1 The following extracts from Van-
couver's Voj/age illustrate more fully the
positions assumed in the text : —

"On the south side of tliis promon-
tory was tlie appearance of an inlet or
small river, the land behind not indi-
cating it to be of any great extent ; nor
did it seem accessible for vessels of our
burden, as tlie breakers extended from
the above point two or tliree miles into
tlae ocean, until they joined those on
the beacli nearly four leagues further
south." — Vancouver's Journal, Vol. III.
p. 34.

Tliis he states to be in 46° 19'.

" The sea had now changed from its
natural to river-colored water ; the prob-
able consequence of some streams fall-
ing into the bay, or into the ocean to
the north of it, through the low land.
Not considering this opening worthy of
more attention, I continued our pur-
suit," &c. — lb.

" The several large rivers and capa-
cious inlets that liave been described
as discliarging their contents into the
Pacific, between the fortieth and forty-
eighth degrees of north latitude, were
reduced to brooks insufficient for our
vessels to navigate, or to bays inappli-
cable, as harbors, for refitting." — lb.
p. 40.

"He [Captain Gray] likewise in-
formed tliem of his having been off the
mouth of a river in the latitude of 46°
10', where the outlet or reflux was so
strong as to prevent his entering for
nine days. Tliis was probably the
opening passed by us on the forenoon
of the 27th, and was apparently inac-
cessible, not from the current, but from
the breakers that extended across it." —
lb. p. 43.

" The thick, rainy weather permitted
us to see little of the country. Yet
we were enabled to ascertain tliat this
coast, like that wliicli Ave have hitherto
explored from Cape Mendocino, was
firm and compact, without any opening
into the Mediterranean Sea, as stated,
in latitude 47° 45', or the least appear-



ance of a safe or secure harbor, either
in that latitude or from it to Cape Men-
docino, notwithstanding that, in that
space, geographers have thought it
expedient to furnish many." — lb. p.
44.

Vancouver states that his inquii'ies
had been lately employed under the
most favorable circumstances of wind
and weatlier, and that the surf had con-
stantly been seen from the masthead.
He then adds : " The river Mr. Gray
mentioned should, from the latitude he
assigned to it, have existence in the
bay south of Cape Disappointment.
This we passed on the forenoon of the
27th ; and, as I then observed, if any
inlet or river should be found, it must
be a very intricate one, and inaccessible
to vessels of our burden, owing to the
reefs and broken water wiiich then ap-
peared in its neighborhood. Mr. Gray
stated that he had been several days
attempting to enter it, which he was
unable to effect in consequence of a very
strong outlet. This is a phenomenon
difficult to account for, as, in most cases,
where there are outlets of such strength
on a seacoast, there are corresponding
tides setting in. Be that, however, as
it may, I was thoroughly convinced, as
were also most persons of observation
on board, that we could not possibly
have passed any safe navigable open-
ing, harbor, or place of security for
shipping on this coast, from Mendocino
to the promontory of Classet ; nor had
we any reason to alter our opinions, not-
withstanding that theoretical geogra-
phers have tiiougbt proper to assert, in
that space, the existence of arms of the
ocean communicating with a Mediter-
ranean sea and extensive rivers, with
safe and convenient ports. These ideas,
not derived from any source of substan-
tial information, have, it is much to be
feared, been adopted for the sole pur-
pose of giving unlimited credit to the
traditions and exploits of ancient for-
eigners, and to undervalue tlie labori-
ous and enterprising exertions of our



26 SPEECHES IN THE SENATE.

Only eight days after parting with Vancouver, Gray
discovered Bulfinch's Harbor, between the mouth of the
Columbia and the Strait of Fuca, and remained three days
in it. On the 11th May, 1792, the day after he left Bul-
finch's Harbor, he saw, to use his own words, " the entrance
of our desired port," and in a few hours was anchored in
" a large river of fresh water," as he terms it, to which he
gave the name of the Columbia. He remained in the river
nine days, and sailed, as he states, more than twenty miles
up the channel from the bar at its entrance. Thus was
verified the conjecture of Heceta, who, seventeen years
before, saw an opening in the coast, which on the Spanish
maps was called the river St. Roc. Meares and Vancouver
had asserted, in the most positive manner, their conviction
that no such river existed ; yet, when the fact was clearly
ascertained by Captain Gray, who had given copies of his
charts to Quadra, the Spanish commander at Nootka, Van-
couver, having procured copies from the latter, sent Lieuten-
ant Broughton to examine the river, and take formal pos-
session of it. Broughton not only performed both these
services, but, for the purpose of earning for himself the
reputation of a discoverer, he labored, in his account of his
expedition, to rob Captain Gray of the merit of discovering
the river, by the unworthy device of drawing a distinction
between the bay in which it debouches and the upper part
of the stream. Public opinion has rejected this unmanly
attempt; and Captain Gray is admitted by all fair-minded
men to have been the first person who entered the river and
solved the doubt which had long prevailed with regard to
its existence, while Vancouver, twelve days before the dis-
covery, had not hesitated to deny, on the strength of his own

own countrymen in the noble science 30', in Miiich he had sailed to the lati-

of discovery." — lb. p. 59. tude of 56^, without discovering its ter-

Captain Gray, it appears, had also niination." — 76. p. 43.

made discoveries as high as the north. This was probably what is now known

ern boundary of the territory in dis- as tlie Portland Canal. I have not al-

pute, and even beyond it. Vancouver luded to this fact in the text, tliough it

says : " He had also entered another rests on Vancouver's report of Gray's

inlet to the northward, in latitude 54° statement.



THE OREGON QUESTION. ^

personal examination, made " under the most favorable cir-
cumstances of wind and weather," to use his own language,
that any such great river existed. This attempt on the part
of Broughton is the more unmanly, from the fact that he
actually entered the mouth of the Columbia with the aid of
Gray's chart. I am disposed to acquit Vancouver, in a great
degree, from all participation in the odium of this act. The
account of the examination of the Columbia by Broughton,
contained in " Vancouver's Journal," though in the language
of the latter, is, in fact, a report made by Broughton, the
commander of the party, as may be seen by reference to the
"Journal," Vol. III. p. 85. Vancouver more than once
recognizes Gray distinctly as the discoverer of the Columbia.
At p. 388, Vol. II., he expresses the hope that he may be
able, in his route to the southward, to " reexamine the coast
of New Albion, and particularly a river and a harbor discov-
ered by Mr. Gray, in the Columbia, between the 4i6th and
47th degrees of north latitude, of which Senor Quadra had
favored me with a sketch." At p. 393, same volume, he
says he directed that " Mr. Whidbey, taking one of the Dis-
covery's boats, should proceed in the Deedalus to examine
Gray's Harbor, said to be situated in latitude 4<6° 53', whilst
the Chatham and Discovery explored the river Mr. Gray
had discovjered in the latitude of 46° 10'."

The explorations of Vancouver, though they resulted in a
minute and critical examination of the shores of the Strait
of Fuca, led to the discovery of no new territory ; and it is
a singular fact, that, while this naval officer of Great Britain,
himself an accomplished navigator, furnished with all the
means of making scientific investigations, was pursuing the
examinations which were the great purpose of the expedition,
Captain Gray, in a trading vessel, and in the prosecution of
commercial objects alone, discovered the only two important
openings, the Columbia River and Bulfinch's Harbor, on the
northwest coast, from the 40th to the 48th parallel of lati-
tude, where Vancouver, after the most critical survey, had
discovered none.



28 SPEECHES IN THE SENATE.

It is indeed an extraordinary circumstance that the exist-
ence of all the great inlets in the coast, to which Great
Britain now lays claim on the ground of discovery, was
strenuously denied by the navigators in her public service,
until those inlets were discovered and made known by others.
We have seen what Vancouver said in relation to the coast
between the 40th and 48th parallels of latitude. On the
Q2([ of March, 1778, Captain Cook was in latitude 48° 15',
inspecting the coast. The Promontory of Classet, (or Cape
Flattery, as he denominated it,) the southern cape at the
entrance of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, was in full view,
and but a few miles distant. Hear what he says in relation
to the strait : —

" It is in this very latitude where we now were that geographers
have placed the pretended Strait of Juan de Fuca. But we saw
nothing like it ; nor is there the least probability that any such thing
ever existed." — Cook's Third Voyage, Vol. II. p. 263.

Now, however, Great Britain claims the whole strait and
the adjoining country by Vancouver's discovery, though he
himself admits (as we shall see) that the Spaniards had
surveyed and mapped a portion of it before he arrived on
the northwest coast.

In the letter of the British plenipotentiary, Mr. Paken-
ham, of the 29th of July last, the following passage will be
found at p. 67, documents accompanying the President's
Message : —

"In 1792, Vancouver, who had been sent from England to witness
the fulfilment of the above-mentioned engagement, [the restitution of
buildings, &c. at Nootka, which, as has already been seen, were not to
be found,] and to effect a survey of the northwest coast, departing
from Nootka Sound entered the Straits of Fuca ; and after an accurate
survey of the coasts and inlets on both sides, discovered a passage
northwards into the Pacific, by which he returned to Nootka, having
thus circumnavigated the island which now bears his name. And here
we have, as far as relates to Vancouver's Island, as complete a case of
discovery, exploration, and settlement, as can well be presented, giving'
to Great Britain, in any arrangement that may be made with regard to
the territory in dispute, the strongest possible claim to the exclusive
possession of the island."



THE OREGON QUESTION. gQ

To repel this assumption, the grounds of which the
disting-uished British plenipotentiary appears not to have
sufficiently investigated, Mr. Buchanan briefly referred to
previous examinations by the Spaniards. I now proceed to
show, by Vancouver himself, that the assumption is entirely
unsustained by the facts.

In the first place, let me correct an error into which Mr.
Pakenham has fallen at the outset, in saying that Vancouver,
" departing from Nootka Sound," surveyed the Straits of
Fuca, circumnavigated the island which bears his name, and
then returned to Nootka. Sir, Vancouver had never seen
Nootka Sound when he surveyed the Straits of Fuca. He
entered the straits on the 29th of April, the evening of the
day he met Captain Gray, and proceeded immediately to
survey them, as may be seen by his " Journal," Vol. II. pp.
40, 52. He arrived at Nootka for the first time on the
28th of August, four months afterwards (p. S34<, same vol-
ume). This correction is only important as repelling the
inference which might have been drawn from the fact, if it
had been as stated by Mr. Pakenham, that Vancouver had
been previously established at Nootka, and had departed
from it, as from a regular station, on a voyage of explora-
tion to the Straits of Fuca.

But there are more important errors to be corrected.

While Vancouver was surveying the Strait of Fuca, and
the extensive inland waters connected with it, Galiano and
Valdes, two Spanish officers sent out from Nootka Sound,
were engaged in the same service. The two parties met on
the 22d of June, about the middle of the strait, near Point
Gray, above Frazer's River, and proceeded together northerly,
uniting their labors, and surveying its shores to a point near
the extremity of the island of Quadra and Vancouver, be-
tween the 50th and the 51st degrees of north latitude, where
they separated. And here I desire to call the special atten-
tion of the Senate to the " Journal " of Vancouver, who
states that Senor Galiano, who spoke a little English, in-



so SPEECHES IN THE SENATE.

formed him "that they had arrived at Nootka on the 11th of
April, from whence they had sailed on the 5th of this month,"
(June,) " in order to complete the examination of this inlet,
which had, in the preceding year, been partly surveyed by
some Spanish officers, whose chart they produced." Ob-
serve, sir, the inlet [i. e. the Strait of Fuca), about latitude
50°, partly surveyed and mapped a year before Vancouver
came on the coast. Vancouver then continues (Vol. II.'
p. 210) : —

" I cannot avoid acknowledging that, on this occasion, I experienced
no small degree of mortification in finding the external shores of the
gulf had been visited, and already examined a few miles beyond where
my researches during the excursion had extended, making the land I
had been in doubt about an island ; continuing nearly in the same
direction about four leagues further than had been seen by us, and by
the Spaniai-ds named Favida [Feveda]."

By turning back to p. 204<, Vol. II., it will appear
that Vancouver's examination terminated at 50° 6' north lati-
tude ; so that the Spaniards, before his arrival, by his own
acknowledgment, had examined the Strait of Fuca to a point
north of that parallel ; and by turning to p. 249, Vol. II.,
it will be seen that, on parting vi^ith Senor Galiano, the latter
furnished him with " a copy of his survey and other particu-
lars relative to the inlet of the sea, which contained also that
part of the neighboring coast extending northwestward from
the Straits of De Fuca, beyond Nootka, to the latitude of
50° S', longitude 232° 48'."

What, then, becomes of this complete " case of discovery,
exploration, and settlement," in respect to Quadra and
Vancouver's Island, and the Strait of Fucal It is proved
by Vancouver himself that the Spaniards had partially sur-
veyed and mapped the shores of the strait as high as 50° a
year before he arrived on the coast. And if we turn to his
" Journal," Vol. II. p. 339, it will be seen that Galiano and
Valdes arrived at Nootka on the 1st of September, three
days after him, by a " route through Queen Charlotte's
Sound," round the northern point of the island, " to the



THE OREGON QUESTION. 31

southward of that which we had navigated," and of course
following- its shores more closely than he. " The strongest
possible claim to the exclusive possession of the island," to
use Mr. Pakenhani's language, is not, therefore, as he
asserts, in Great Britain, but, as shown by Vancouver
himself, it was in Spain then, and is in us now.

But, sir, I have a word to say in relation to the whole
subject of Vancouver's explorations.

It would seem that the Spaniards, in the autumn of 1793,
had become distrustful of Vancouver's objects in the survey
of the northwest coast. At the Bay of St. Francisco, al-
though he had everywhere before been treated with a civility
by the Spaniards for which his " Journal " abounded in expres-
sions of gratitude, he was subjected to restrictions which he
denominates " unexpected, ungracious, and degrading." On



Online LibraryJohn A. (John Adams) DixSpeeches and occasional addresses (Volume 1) → online text (page 3 of 40)