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of the King of the Netherlands as obligatory, and they refused to advise
and consent to its execution." This rejection of the decision of the arbi-
trator by the Government of the United States has thrown the parties, as
Mr. Livingston observes, into the situation in which they were prior to
the selection of his Netherland Majesty to be the arbitrator between them.
It may be observed, also, that though the tracing of the boundary line,
according to the treaty of 1783, appeared, from the statements delivered
by the respective parties, to be the principal object of arbitration, the
King of the Netherlands was invited, in general terms, " to be pleased to
take upon himself the office of arbitrator of the differences between the
two Governments." It was a measure adopted in order to put an end to
tedious and unsatisfactory negotiations which had occupied the attention
of the Government for more than forty years ; and, by the seventh article
of the convention, it was agreed "that the decision of the arbiter, when
given, shall be taken affinal and conchisive, and shall be carried, without
reserve, into immediate effect."

The undersigned caimot but regret the rejection of the decision of the
King of the Netherlands, when he sees, throughout the note of Mr. Liv-
ingston, all the difiiculties which attend the endeavors of the two Gov-
ernments, actuated by the most frank and friendly spirit, to devise any
reasonable means of settling this question.

Mr, Livingston seems to be persuaded that a renewed negotiation may
yet have a happy result ; and the undersigned observes with satisfaction
that the Government of the United States has consented not now to in-
sist upon th.' navigation of the St. John's river — a claim which the British
Govennnent refused to consider in connexion with the boundary question.
But the arrangement in progress last summer having failed, which was to
result in enabling: the General Government to treat for a more convenient
boundary, that Govennnent, in the present state of things, con only treat
on th(! basis of the establishment of the boundary presented by the'treaty.

Thf! undersigufd is convinced that it is hopeless to expect a favorable
result from a renewed negotiation upon that basis.

With regard to Mr. Livingston's ])roposal, that, in the event of negotia-
tion (ailing, the two Governments may have recourse to a commission of
boundary, composed of equal numbers, selected by each party, to be at-

[ Senate Doc. No. 414. ] 205

tended by an umpire chosen by a friendly sovereign, to decide at once all
disputed points ; or, that a connnissiou of some of the most skilful men
in Europe should be selected by a friendly sovereign, and should be sent
to view and survey the disputed territory, attended by agents appointed
by the parties ; the undersigned can only express his conviction that, after
the expense, delay, and unsatisfactory result of the commission of boundary
under the fifth artiflc of the treaty of Ghent, it must be with great re-
luctance that the British Government consents to have recourse to such a
measure. He does not conceive that it would be an easy task to engage,
in such a service, "all the impartiality, local knowledge, and high pro-
fessional skill," which it would be necessary " to combine for the solution
of the question" to be submitted, and which either the umpire in the one
instance, or the commission of scientific persons in the other, were to de-
cide peremptorily.

The undersigned does not sufficiently comprehend the other view
which Mr. Livingston has partially developed in his note, and which the
latter conceives might lead to a more favorable result. It seems applica-
ble to the manner in which the line due north from the sources of the St.
Croix river may be drawn, in conformity with the treaty of 17S3, though
not strictly according to the terms in which that article is drawn up.
The natural feature on the boundary, which Mr. Livingston supposes to
exist, and to which the Une in question is to be drawn, it is presumed, are
the highlands mentioned in the treaty ; the fixing the position of which
highlands has formed the principal difficulty, hitherto, in adjusting the
boundary. A deviation from the direct north line laid down in the treaty,
might lead to an oblique line being drawn to mountains to the eastward
of it, which would trench upon his Majesty's territories of New Bruns-
wick. The undersigned, however, does not venture, with the imperfect
knowledge which he has of all the bearings of the view developed by
Mr. Livingston, to do more than suggest a doubt of its advantages.

The rejection of the award of the arbitrator, by the Government of the
United States, revives, to their full extent, the pretensions of Great Britain ;
and it becomes an object of great importance to put an end to this ques-
tion of boundary — "one of the few 'questions," as Mr. Livingston ob-
serves, "which divide two nations whose mutual interest it will always
be to cultivate the relations of amity, and a cordial good understanding
with each other."

It is the duty of the undersigned to transmit immediately to his Gov-
ernment the note of Mr. Livingston ; but, at the same time, he cannot
resist from inviting the Secretary of State of the United States to offer,
without waiting the result of that reference, some more prompt and effec-
tive measure for the settlement of the boundary than the renewal of a nego-
tiation on an inadmissible basis, or having recourse again to commissions
of boundary, which, though upon an improved plan, so far as the ensuring
of a final result may be concerned, are too complicated in their nature to
bring about a speedy or a satisfactory decision.

The imdersigned has the honor to renew to the Secretary of State the
assurance of his most distinguished consideration.


The Hon. Edward Livingston, &c.

206 [ Senate Doc. No. 414. J

Mr. Livingston to Sir Charles R. Vaughan.

Department op State,

JVushiiigton, May 28, 1833.

SiH ; III the two conversations we have had, on the 13th and 27th in-
stant, yon reqncsted some fnrther development of the propositions' con-
tained in my note of the 30th April.

Tlie principal object of that note was to show tliat the faikire of the
several endeavors which had been made to ascertain the true boundary
between the United States and tlie liritish Provinces of New Brunswick
and Lower Canada ought n(»t, as is thought by his Britannic Majesty's
Government, to be attributed to any insuperable dillicuhy, but rather to
the inefficiency of the means heretofore resorted to in order to secure such
a decision as should be binding on both parties, and to the want of atten-
tion, by the commissioners and arbiter severally employed for that pur-
pose, to an established rule in tlie settlement of boundaries.

The first point seems to be fully explained in my note above referred
to ; and I repeat, that the President will agree to either of the modes
therein suggested, to secure a final decision of tlie question. The rea-
sons why, under the present circumstances, he caimot undertake to nego-
tiate upon any other basis than that of the treaty of 1783, drawn from
the nature of our Government, were fully explained to you in those con-
versations. And the probability of ascertaining the boundary according
to that treaty, by applying the principle to which I, perhaps, too briefly
alluded in my note, was further developed. That you may present it in
a more precise form to your Government, I now repeat the substance of
my observations.

The boundary, as far as the head of the river St. Croix, is ascertained
and agreed upon by both nations. The monument erected there is, then,
a fixed point of departure. From thence we have a two-fold description
of boundary : a line in a certain direction, and a natural object to which
it was supposed the line in that direction would lead ; "a line from the
source of the river Si. Croix, directly north," and the highlands which
divide the waters that flow into the Atlantic ocean from those which flow
into the river St. Lawrence. The American Government have believed
that these two descriptions Avould coincide; that is to say, that the high-
lands designated by the treaty would be reached by a north line drawn
from the head of the St. Croix. They make no pretensions further east
than that line ; but if, on a more accurate survey, it should be found that
the north line mentioned in the treaty should pass each of the highlands
therein di-scribed, and that they siiould be found at some point further
west, then th<! principle to which I refer would apply, to Avit: that the
direction of the line to connect the two natural boundaries must be
altered so as to suit their ascertained position. Thus, in the annexed
diagram: suppose A the monument at the head of the St. Croix; A B the
north line drawn from them. If the liighlands described in the treaty
should be Iburxl in the course of that line, both the descriptions in the
treaty would be found to coincide, and the (juestion would be at an end;
if, on the contrary, tliose highlands should be found at C or I), or any
other point West of that line, then the Eastern boundary of the United
States would be the line A C or A D, or any other line drawn directly

[ Senate Doc. No. 414, J


from the point A to the place which should be foimd to answer the de-
scription of the Iiighlands mentioned in the treaty.

This being fuhy understood, the President is wilHng, in order to sim-
phfy the operation, that the conmiission should be restricted to the simple
question of determining tiie point designated by the treaty as the high-
lands whicii divide the waters, to whicli point a straight line shall be
drawn from the monument, and this line shall, as far as it extends, form
part of the boundary in question ; that they shall tiien designate the
course of the line along the highlands, and fix on the point designated as
the northwesternmost head of the Connecticut river.

It will be obvious to you, sir, that, until a survey and decision shall
be had in one of the modes pointed out in my note, or in some other
to be agreed on, the President cannot designate any line which he
would be willing to adopt as the boundary ; but he directs me to repeat
his firm persuasion that a speedy and satisfactory arrangement may be
made, by a negotiation carried on by both parties in the spirit of concili-
ation by which he is actuated, and which, he has not the least doubt, will
direct the Government of his Britannic Majesty.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,


Rt. Hon. Sir Charles R. Vaughan,

Envoi/ Extraordinary, 4'C.



\ \



Sir Charles B. Vaughan to Mr. McLane.

Washington, May 31, 1833.
The undersigned, his Britannic Majesty's envoy extraordinary and
minister plenipotentiary, has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a
note from Mr. Livingston, dated 28th Mtiy, and previously to the ap-

208 f Senate Doc. No. 414. ]

pointmcnl of Mr. McLaiie as Secretary of State of the United States,
explaining; a proposition made by the former in a note dated 30th April,
relative to a new maimer in which ihe boundary Hne might be traced be-
tween the possessions of his JMajcsty and those of the United States.

TJio unclersigned observes, with great satisfaction, the desire of the
Government of the United States, as manifested in the proposal of Mr.
Liviiii^sion, to devise some mode by which the question of boundary may
be tinally settled ; but he at (he same time regrets that he cannot anticipate
the favorable result expected by Mr. Livingston, should the two Govern-
ments adopt his proposal.

The imdersigned is led to believe, after the commmiication which ho
has lately had, both with Mr. Livingston and Mr. McLane, that insupera-
ble constitutional dilficnlties impose upon the Government of the United
States a restriction to treat only of a line of boundary according to the
terms of the treaty of 1783. That the only deviation, therefore, which
can be admitted in tracing the boundary, from the strict terms of the
treaty, is an abandonment of the direct due north line from the St. Croix,
which has been hitherto followed in search of the highlands of the treaty ;
and a permission to be given to a joint commission to be sent expressly
to examine the country, to follow an obhqu? line to the westward of the
direct north line, until they shall meet with highlands answering the de-
scription given of them in the treaty, as dividing rivers falling into the
Atlantic from those which fall into the St. Lawrei;ce. A line drawn to
them, wherever they may be found, from the monument at the source of
the St. Croix, would be such a compliance with the description of the
boundary laid down in the treaty, as to remove all constitutional dilh-
culties in the way of the GovernmRUt of the United States, and enable it
to fix that line as the line of boundary.

It is not for the undersigned to discuss the nature of the constitutional
ditficullics mr-ntioned by Mr. Livingston. It is to be lamented that they
are stated to be iu.surmouutable, and that the proposition of Mr. Living-
ston, after a <liscu3sion which has occupied the two Governments, from
time to time, for upwards of forty years, is the only offer which the British
Government can expect to receive from the Government of the United
States. It appears to the undersignel that the time is now arrived when
this per[)lexed an 1 hitherto interminable question can only be set at rest
by an al)andonment of the d(?fective description of boundary contained
iu the treaty, by the two Governments mutually agreeing upon a con-
ventional line of boundary more convenient to both parties than those
insistc'd upon by the commissioners of boundary under the 5th article
of the treaty of Ghent, or the line suggested by the King of the Nether-

The proposition of Mr. Livingston very justly provides against any
deviation eastward froui the direct north line from the St. Croix ; but the
-operation which it contemplates is still so restricted to the terms of the
treaty, that the basis of it is tlie .same as that which the undersigned has
been instructed by his Govcirnment to inform the Government of the
United States that it was hopeless to negotiate upon. The lines of
boin)dary In id down by the connnissloncrs who framed the treaty of
178.3, may fairly he considered as itnn<jinary. arising from their ignorance
at the lime of the actual geography of the country. 'I'lic point of depart-
ure of the boundary line was not settled until upwards of ten years after

[ Senale Doc. No. 4 14. J 209

it had been so confidently laid down in ihc treaty, when a commission
under tlic treaty of 17!J4 ascertained what river was to be considered as
tlie St. Croix. In IS 14 no less than lour commissions were appointed
under the treaty of Glient to discover and trace as many portions of the
line of boundary laid down in the treaty of 1783.

The point of deparnne of the line to be traced accordnig to the prop-
osition of Mr. Livmgston is clearly established ; but the jiohit at which
it is to terminate is left in doubt, and to be decided by tlie special com-
mission charged to find oat highlands answering to the description in the
treaty, westward of the direct hne, Avhich has alone been hitherto ex-
plored. The undersigned wishes to be informed what limitations it is in-
tended to put ui)on the course to be followed by the special commission.
The diagram which is annexed to Mr. Livingston's note does not explain
whether the attention of tlie commissioners is to be directed to any par-
ticular spot, or whether they are to be let't at liberty to stop at the first
highlands answering the required description with which Ihey njay meet
after their departure from the monument. It should be recollected that
Great Britain hqs hitherto insisted upon the highlands of the treaty of
1783 being sought for exclusively soutli of the St. John's river; and she
denies the claim of the Unhed States to any territory north of the St.
John's. Tlie omission of all mention of so remarkable a feature in the
boundary as the intersection of that river, botli in the treaty and in the
accounts extant of the negotiations, justifies the inference that the com-
missioners who formed that treaty did not contemplate the existence,
north of the St. John's, of the highlands which they described.

. The undersigned must here remind the Secretary of State of the United
States that the^British Government, by the rejection of the decision of the
King of the Netherlands, is at liberty to recur to their former position be-
fore tlie arbitration, and to mUintain the claims and pretensions they
originally established. A strong point in those claims is the exclusive
possession of the St. John's. Nor must it be inferred that Great Britain,
by having expressed a willingness to accept the line of boundary sug-
gested by the arbiter, which intersected the St. John's, is in any shape
prepared now to surrender that claim without a due equivalent.

The undersigned begs leave to observe, that the impression left upon
his mind, after liis conversation with Mr. Livingston, and the production
by him of a map upon a small scale, is, that the highlands to be sought
in the manner lie proposed would probably be found north of the St.
John's, but westward some miles of the river St. Francis. A subsequent
conversation with Mr. McLane left the impression that the special com-
mission would have their attention directed to an examination of the
country along the line assumed as the boundary by the American com-
missioners under the treaty of Ghent.

The delay occasioned by a reference to his Government, imposes upon
the undersigned the obligation of endeavoring to investigate fully, and to
seek every explanation of this proposition made by Mr. Livingston, as a
means of setthng the question of boundary, before he submits it to the
consideration of his Majesty's Government. From what has been al-
ready stated in this note, the undersigned will be happy to receive from
Mr. McLane some further explanation of the intended course to be pointed
out to the special commissioners, who, he takes it for granted, are to be
appointed in one of the two forms stated by Mr. Livingston in his note of

5210 [ Senate Doc. No. 414.]

tlio 30th April. If it is in the contemplation of the American Govern-
ment to seek the highlands north of the St. John's, and upon tlie line as-
sumed by tlie American commissioners under the treaty of Ghent, the
assent of the British Government to the proposition of Mr. Livingston
M'ould concede to the Government of the United States nearly all that
they have hitherto claimed, and place the British Government in an in-
finitely worse position than they were willing to accept, at a great sacri-
fice of territory, by acrpiiescing, as they thought themselves bound to do,
n the award of the arbiter.

The obscurity which, after all the endeavors of the two Governments,
still rests upon the position of tlie highlands, the Secretary of State, I
trust will allow, throws some difficulty, without further explanation, in
the way of acceding to the proposition of Mr. Livingston.

The undersigned has the honor to olfer to Mr. McLanc the assurance
of his highest consideration.


The Hon. Louis McLane.

Mr, McLane to Sir Charles R. Vaughan.

Department of State,

Washingto7i, June 5, 1833.

The imdersigned. Secretary of State of the United States, has the honor
to acknowledge the receipt of a note from the right honorable Sir Charles
R. Vaughan, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of his
British Majesty, dated the 31st of May, requesting further explanations
of the proposition made by Mr. Livingston in his note of the 30th April,
and by him further explained in that of the 28th INlay, relative to a new
manner in which the boundary line might be traced between the posses-
sions of the United States and of his Britannic Majesty's Government, on
the Northeastern frontier.

The undersigned has submitted Sir Charles R. Vaughan's note to the
President ; and has the honor to state that, anxiously desiring finally to
settle this question of boundary, and entertaining the fullest confidence
that the proposal already made under his direction will accomplish that
object satisfactorily to both nations, the President readily directs such
further ex])lanations to be given as will render that proposition entirely
explicit and intelligible.

The undersigned concurs with Sir Charles R. Vaughan in avoiding at
this time any particular discussion of those constitutional diliicultics which
restrict the United States to a line of boundary according to the treaty of
1783, more especially as they have been recoitly explained to Sir Charles
R. Vaughan, and must be well understood by him.

In regard, however, to the suggestion of Sir Charles R. Vaughan, that
the time has now arrived when this j)erplexed and hitherto interminable
question can only be set at rest by an abandonment of the defective de-
scription of bf)undary contained in the treaty, by the two Governments
mutnally agreeing upon a conventional line of boundary more convenient
to both parties than that insisted upon by the commissioners under the
fifth article of the treaty of Ghent, or the Ihic suggested by the King of

[ Senate Doc. No. 414. J 211

the Netherlands, it may be proper to remark that the embarrassments, in
tracing the boundary in the treaty of 1783, arose more from the princi))lcs
assumed, and in the manner of seeking for it, than from any real defect in
the description when properly understood; and that, m the present state
of this business, the suggestion of Sir Charles II. Vaughan would rather
add to than obviate the constitutional dilliculties, already insuperable.

These dilliculties arise from a denial of tlie power of the General Gov-
cnmient, under the coiistilutiou of tlie United States, to dispose of any
portion of territory belonging to eitlicr of the States composing die Union.

The territory of the State of Mahie is supposed to comprehend all the
land which would be thrown within her limits by establishing the true
line of the treaty of 1783 ; and as any conventional line south of the true
line of the treaty would deprive her of so much of her territory, it could
not be adopted, luiless on grounds of greater public necessity than at
present exists, without the consent of that State. It is not probable that
such consent would be given by the State of Maine while there remained
a reasonable prospect of discovering the line of the treaty of 1783 ; and,
for the same reason, the President would not be authorized, after tlie re-
cent proceedings in the Senate, to venture now to agree upon a conven-
tional line Avithout such consent.

Under these circumstances, the President directed the proposition sub-
mitted in Mr. Livingston's note of the 30tli April, as affording, not only
a reasonable prospect, but, in Ids mind, the certain means of ascertaining
the boundary called for by the treaty of 1783, and of finally terminating
all the perplexities which have encompassed that subject.

In reply, therefore, to the wish expressed by Sir Charles R. Vaughan
to be informed what limitations it is intended to be put upon the course
to be pursued by the special commissioners ; whether their attention is to
be directed to any particular spot, or whether they are to be left at liberty
to stop at the first highlands answering the required description with
which they may meet after their departure from the monument ; the un-
dersigned has the honor to state, that it is not expected that any limitations
will be put upon the course to be pursued by the special commissioners
but such as are required by a faithful adherence to the description of
boundary in the treaty of 1783.

It is true that Great Britain has hitherto insisted upon the highlands of
the treaty of 1783 being sought for exclusively south of the St. John's
river ; but it is also true that the United States have, with equal confi-
dence and pertinacity, insisted upon seeking for them exclusively north of
that river.

It is the difficulty of reconciling these conflicting pretensions which has
hitherto prevented the settlement of the boundary question ; arising chiefly,
however, from the impracticability of finding a point of highlands answer-
ing the description in the treaty, to which a line due north from the monu-
ment could be drawn.

It is now proposed, therefore, to make another efibrt, and by means

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of StateMaine boundary--Mr. Greely, &c. .. → online text (page 27 of 56)