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It appears to the undersigned, from a view of the whole subject, that
it imiteriously becomes both Governments seriously to consider the pres-
ent j>osture of the affair, and their future anncable relations, end, in pro-
portion to the dilficulties admitted to exist, to cultivate the disposition
necessary to surmount them.

It is not contended that either of the high parties was bound to adopt
the line of houndary recommended by the arbiter; and the Senate of the
United States have refused, by a vote of great unanimity, to consent to its
adoption hy the President. It camiot with propriety be contended that
the United States were under greater obligation to take the fine recom-
mended hy the arbiter, wheji he himself could not be satisfied of the right
of either party, than either (iovernment would have been under to adopt
either of the lines upon which the original connnissioners disaa;reed.

Nolhint^ remains, therelore, hut to discard the line called lor by the
treaty of 1783, and ndo]tt a new ;uid conventional line, mutually con-
venient l\)\- \)i)\\\ i)arlies ; or to make a finilier ellort, by means yet untried.

[ Senate Doc. No. 414. ] 233

but affording reasonable lioj^e of success, lo discover tlic true line of the
treaty of 1783.

To adopt the former alternative, the United States have no power with-
out the assent of Maine ; and that assent, in the present state of the con-
troversy, Avliiie there remnins a reasonable hope of discovering the true
and original boundary, it is not j)ossible to obtain.

It is under such circumstances that the Covernment of his Britannic
Majesty is invited to unite with the President in another ellbrt, aided by
the adoption of a plain and easy rule of surveying, to find the line of the
treaty of 1783, and thus finally to remove the chief obstacle to that state
of amity which it is so much the interest of both nations to cherish and

The undersigned avails himself of the occasion to renew to Sir Charles
R. Vaughan the assurance ofliis distinguished consideration.


Right Hon. Sir Charles R. Vaughan,

Envoy Extraordinary and Minister

Plenipotentiary of his Britannic Majesty.

Sir Charles R. Vaughan to Mr. McLane.

Washington, March 24, 1834.

The undersigned, his Britannic Majesty's envpy extraordinary and min-
ister plenipotentiary, has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Mr.
McLane's note of the 21st instant : and he feels himself called upon to offer
some explanation of the misapprehension which it appears that he has
entertained of the bearing of the several divisions in the Senate when the
award of the King of the Netherlands was under their consideration.

The undersigned found, in the report which has been published of the
proceedings in the Senate on that occasion, the question distinctly taken,
and the award rejected by a bare majority of one vote. The division ot
35 to 8, which Mr. McLane states was decisive upon the award, as it
negatived the resolution in the report of the committee which recommend-
ed the acceptance, escaped the attention of the undersigned, in conse-
quence of that question having been divided and encumbered with amend-
ments. Subsequently, a resolution similar to the one in the report of the
committee, the undersigned now finds was rejected by a vote of 34 to 8.
The inference drawn by Mr. McLane from these two divisions is, that
only eiglit Senators were in lavor of accepting the award, and it liad been
determined that two-thirds of the Senators present must concur in con-
senting to accept it ; which could not, from the nature of the opinion ex-
pressed by the arbiter, be carried into etlect by the President without the
consent of the Senate.

Mr. McLane asserts that the division of 21 to 20, cited by the under-
signed, b.id no direct application to the validity of the award, and afforded
no indijniion of the opinion of the award of the twenty Senators who
voted for its acceptance ; and yet the vote was distinctly taken upon the
question whether the Senate should advise the President to decline the
adoption of the boundary recommended by his Majesty the King of the

2J4 [ Senate Doc. No. 414. ]

With regard to tlie observation ol' the uiitlersigncd tliat the mode m
which it was proposed by the United States to settle the boundary was
coinpUcated, he did not mean to apply it to the adoption of a rule in the
settlement ol' disputed questions of location, but to the manner in which it
is proposed by the United States that the new conmiission of survey shall
be selected and constituted.

The only alternative being, according to Mr. McLane's note, to decide
upon a conventional line of boundary, or to make another attempt to find
the line of the treaty of 17S3 ; and the United States not having the pow-
er to adopt the former, without the assent of Maine, the undersigned will
seize the earliest opportunity of laying before his Majesty's Government
the invitation of the President to make another effort to discover the line
of the treaty.

The undersigned has the honor to renew to Mr. McLane the assurance
of his most distinguished consideration.


The Hon. Louis McLane, 4'C.

Sh' Charles /?. J'aughan to Mr. Forsyth.

Washington, December 8, 1S34.

The undersigned, his Britannic Majesty's envoy extraordinary and min-
ister pli'iiipotentiary, has received instructions from his Majesty's Govern-
ment to lay before the Government of the United States the following ob-
servations, in reply to the proposition made by the President for settling
the disputed boundary between his Majesty's North American possessions
and the United States.

His Majesty's Government have considered, with all the attention which
the great importance o{ the subject demands, the notes addressed to the
undersigned on the 11th and 21st Marcli, by Mr. McLane, the Secretary
of State of the United States, and perceive with great satisfaction, in the
language of Mr. McLane's notes, and in his earnestness in pressing upon
his Majesty's Government a proposition believed by the President of the
United States to be conducive to an adjustment of important differences
])etween the two Governments, a new proof of the friendly sentiments of
the Govcnnucnt of the United States to\vards that of his IVIajcsty, and a
fresh manifestaticjn of a desire to confirm and pcr})etuate the amicable re-
lations now so happily subsisting between the two countries.

Animated by a similar spirit of cordial friendshij) towards the President
and Government of the United States, and actuated by an unabated and
most anxious desire to arrive at a settlement of this question of boundary
by any means not inconsistent with the honor and with the essential inter-
ests of Gn.'at liritain, his Majesty's GovcMnmont, in niplying to the notes
of Mr. MeLan«', have determined to al)stain from expressing all the regret
which thi;y feel at finding that the American Government slill declines (o
come to a separate understanding on those several points of difference,
with respect to which the elements of decision are fully before both Gov-
ernments. But his Majesty's Government cannot refrain from saying
that they regret this circmnstance the more, because, on the one hand,
'Ik'sc ])(jints of (lifferen<'(" an- not beset with such dilliculties ;is attend the

[ Senate Doc. No. 414. ] 233

asccrtaiument of the liiglilaiids desciibcil l)y the treaty of 17S3 ; and be-
cause, oil the other liaiid, the scttlcineiit of these i)oiiits could not fail to
facilitate the adjustnieut of the remaiiiiiii,' points of didereuce, by narrow-
ing the lield of discussion, and by clearly establishing some of the data
upon which a right determination of those remaining points of dilference
must depend. Passing by, however, for the present, these subjects of just
regret, but without in any degree abandoning tlie argument contained in
the note addressed by the undersigned to Mr. McLane on the 10th of Feb-
ruary last, his Majesty's Government will now address tliemselves exclu-
sively to that proposition of the President which is contained in Mr.
McLane's notes, and in the previous communications of Mr. Livhisgton
of the 30th April and 28th May, 1833 ; the proposition, namely, that new
commissioners should be appointed, who should be empowered to seek,
westward of the meridian of the source of the St. Croix, highlands answer-
ing to the description of those which are mentioned in the treaty of 1783.

The President founds this proposition on what Mr. McLane represents
to be a plain and universal rule for surveying and laying down the bound-
aries of tracts and of countries designated by natural objects ; this rule
being, first to find the natural object, and then to reach that object by the
nearest direct course from any other given point, and with the least pos-
sible departure from the particular course prescribed in the original deed
or treaty in which the boundary is described. The President, it is said,
does not doubt that, with the aid of more accurate surveys of the ground
by skilful persons, highlands answering to the definition of the treaty may
yet be found ; and he adds that, "should a new commission of survey,
freed from the restriction of following the due north line of the treaty,
find, anywhere westward of that line, highlands separating rivers accord-
ing to the treaty of 1783, a line drawn to them from the monument at
the source of the St. Croix river will be such a fulfilment of the terms of
that treaty, as that the President can agree to make it the boundary,
without a reference to the State of Maine."

His Majesty's Government think it right, with regard to this propo-
sition, in the first place to say, that, however just and reasonable the rule
of surveying here stated by Mr. McLane may seem, they do not con-
sider that rule to be so generally established and recognised as Mr.
McLane assumes it to be. His Majesty's Government, indeed, do not
recollect any case similar to the present, in which the principle here as-
serted has been actually put in practice ; but, on the contrary, they re-
member a case, not merely analogous to that which is now under discus-
sion, but arising out of the same article of the same treaty of 1783, in
which this supposed rule was inverted by the agents of the American
Government itself. The treaty of 1783 declared that the line of bound-
ary was to proceed from the Lake of the Woods, " in a due west course
to the river Mississippi." It was afterwards ascertained, by actual sur-
vey, that even the sources of the Mississippi lie south of the latitude of
the Lake of the Woods; and that, consequently, it would be impossible
to reach the Mississippi by any line drawn due west from that lake. In
order to escape from the clilficulty thus encountered, it was urged by the
American commissioners that the natural object, the Mississippi, should
be wholly disregarded ; and in the final settlement of that part ot the
boundary, as it was fixed by the second article of the convention of Oc-
tober 20, ISIS, the principle now contended for by the American Gov-

236 [ Senate Doc. No. il4. ]

eriiinent was reversed ; for, instead of tlie natural object being made the
piiiiKiry, and ll;e connecting line the secondary guide, the natural ob-
ject, namely, ti.e river Missi.'\si|)pi, was put out of consideration, and the
connecting line, namely, the line to be drawn due west from the Lake
of the Woods, was converted into a primary element of the boundary.
It was demonstrated that such a line never could reach the Mississippi
at all ; bur, instead of adhering to the source of the Mississippi as one
fixed point, and drawing a new conncctmg line to it from the Lake of
the \N'oods, which was the other fixed point, the commissioners adhered
to the arbitrary Hue, to be drawn due west from the lake, and wholly
abandoned the Mississippi, though that river was specifically mentioned
in the treaty as a landmark.

The undersigned has ah-eady observed, in his note of the 10th of Feb-
ruary last, that the objection which has been made by the State of Maine
to the line proposed by the King of the Netherlands, would seem to be
equally apphcable to a westerly deviation from the due north line. But, '
nevertheless, if the President of the United States is persuaded that, not-
withstanding raiy opporution on the part of Maine, he can carry through,
on this occasion, the practical application of the principle of surveying
which he has proposed ; and if, as Mr. McLane alleges, no hope remains
of overcoming the constitutional difRcuhy in any other way, at least until
this new proposition shall have been tried and found unavail'ng, his
Majesty's Government are ready to forego their own doubts on this head,
and to acquiesce in the proceeding proposed by the President of the
United States, if that proceeding can be carried into eifect in a manner
not otherwise objectionable. But, in order to preclude all future uncer-
tainty or cavil on matters upon which differences of opinion have arisen,
and may arise again, liis Majesty's Government would consider it desi-
rable that the principles on which the new commissioners would have to
conduct their survey should be settled beforehand, by a special convention
between the two Governments. There is, indeed, one preliminary ques-
tion upon which it is obviously necessary that the two Governments should
be agreed, before the commissioners to be appointed could begin their sur-
vey with any chance of success; and that question is, What is the precise
meaning to be attached to the words which are employed in the treaty to
define the highlands which the commissioners are to seek for? A differ-
ence of opinion has heretofore existed between the two Govenmients with
respect to that meaning; and, unless the commissioners arc agreed upon
that point.it is obvious that they never can concur in determining whether
any [)articnlar highlands wliich they may meet with in their survey, are
actually the highlands intended to be described in the treaty. Mr. McLane
has correctly stated, in his note of the 21st of March, that the hiijhlands to
be sought for nuist be hii^hlctnds .separating rivers according to the treaty
of ITH.'i; i-nd, in ccjiifonnity with the words of that treaty, they must be
"highlands which dividt; those rivers that empty themselves into the river
St. Lawrence from those which fall into the Atlantic ocean." As, there-
fore, the highlands intended by the treaty are to be distinguished from
other higiilands by the riv'ers whicjj How from them, and as those distin-
guishing rivers aiu to be known from other rivers by the situation of their
moiuhs, it is obvious that the operations of the surveying •omniissioners
can lead to no practical result, imless it be settled beforehand which are
the rivers that fall into the St. I^awrence,and which are tho.se that lall into
the Atlantic ocean.

[ Senate Doc. No. 414. ] 237

Now, with respect to tlie riv^ers which How iiorthwiird into the St. Law-
rence, no dili'erence of opinion has arisen hetween the two Governments.
Hut, with respect to the rivers which How southward into tiie Atlantic
ocean, a diflerence of opinion has taken place.

The British Government contend that the treaty of 1783 cstabhshed a
distinction in this respect between the Atlantic ocean and the bay of Fundy ;
and that rivers falling into the bay of Fundy are not, for the purposes of
the treaty, rivers falling into the Atlantic ocean.

The American Government, on the other hand, has maintaiiK^d that, for
the purposes of the treaty, the bay of Fundy is part of the Atlantic ocean ;
and that rivers falling hito the bay may be considered to be rivers falling
into the ocean.

His JNIajesty's Government do not deem it necessary to recapitnlatc in
tliis place the conclusive arguments by which it has been shown in the
British statements which were laid before the arbiter, and which are now
in the hands of the American Government, that the frameis of the treaty
of 178:3, when they used in the second article the words ''rivers which
fall into the Atlantic ocean," could not possibly have meant to desig-
nate any rivers whose mouths were situate to the eastward of the river
St. Croix, which falls into the bay of Fundy. It is thought sufficient
on the ])resent occasion to advert, in support of this construction of the
words of the treaty, to the striking fact, that, whilst the river St. Mary,
which was to form the Southern boundary of the United States, is de-
scribed in the second article of the treaty as flilling into the Atlantic
ocean, the river St. Croix, which was to form the Eastern boundary, not
merely in the same article of the treaty, but in the very next member
of the same sentence, is described as falling into the bay of Fundy ; while
a little further on, in the sime article, the Eastern fine of boundary, where
it terminates at the mouth of the river St. Croix, and the Sonthern line
of boundary, where it terminates at the mouth of the river St. Mary,
are described " as respectively touching the bay of Fundy and the At-
lantic ocean." Can it be seriously maintained that, in a treaty for set-
tling a question of such vast importance as a boundary between two con-
tiguous States — a matter which, of all others, imperiously requires pre-
ciseness of expression — the terms "bay of Fundy" and "Atlantic ocean"
should have been thus set, not once only, but twice, in the same article,
in pointed opposition to each other, and yet that no real distinction .should
have been intended to be drawn between them; but that the "bay of
Fundy" and the "Atlantic ocean" should have been carelessly used as
synonymous and convertible expressions? His Majesty's Government
conceive that no reasonable doubt can be entertained that, where the St.
Croix, the Eastern limit of the United States, is described as falling into
the bay of Fundy, it is advisedly so described, in contradistinction to
the other rivers which are mentioned in the same article as flowing into
the Atlantic ocean. But, if the St. Croix, whose mouth is situate at the
very entrance of the bay of Fundy, is not an Atlantic river in the mean-
ing of the treaty, none of the rivers which discharge themselves to the
eastward of the St. Croix, and higher up in the bay, can possibly be con-
sidered as such.

The view which has uniformly been taken of this question by his
Majesty's Government has lately received additional confirmation by the
terms of the award of the King of the Netherlands. The opinion ex-

238 [ Senate Doc. No. 114. ]

pressed in tliat document, tluit the rivers Si. John and Ristigoiiche are not
Athmtic rivers according to the meaning of the treaty, althougli it may
not he accepted hy the Government of the United States as carrying
with ii the authority of an award, is at least, to use the language of the
report of tiie Senate of the United States, "the impartial opinion of a dis-
interested judge selected by both parties to settle a question of great

Considering, then, the force of tlic arguments which have here been
either stated or referred to, and adverting to the fact that those argu-
ments have been confirmed by the opinion of an impartial authority, se-
lected by the common consent of the two Governments, his Majesty's
Government trust that the American cabinet will be i)rei)ared to agree
with that of his Majesty as to the construction to be put upon this passage
of the treaty, and will concur in deciding that the Atlantic rivers which
are to guide the commissioners in searching for the highlands described
in the treaty, are those rivers which fall into the sea to the westward of
tlie mouth of the river St. Croix.

The undersigned is instructed to represent to Mr. Forsyth that his
Majesty's Government consider a clear agreement between the two Gov-
ernments on this point to be an indisputable preliminary to the establish-
ment of any new commission of survey, 'rill this point is decided, no
survey of commissioners can lead to any useful result. But the decision
of this point turns upon the interpretation of the words of a treaty, and
not upon the operations of surveyors ; and his Majesty's Government
having once submitted this point, in common with others, to the judg-
ment of an impartial arbiter, by whose award they have declared them-
selves ready to abide, they cannot now consent to refer it to any other

Tiic undersigned has the honor to renew to Mr. Forsyth the assurance
of his highest consideration.

The Hon. John Forsyth, ^x:

Mr. Forsyth to Sir Charles R. Vaughan.

Departaient of State,

Washington, Jlpril 28, 1835.

The observations of the 8th December, submitted under instructions
from the Jiritish Government by Sir Charles R. Vaughan, his Britannic
Majesty's envoy extraordinary and minister plenij)otentiary, on the prop-
osition made by the United States lor the settlement of the disputed
boundary between the United States and his Britaimic Majesty's North
American possessions, have been laid before the President, and, by his di-
rections, the undersigned, Secretary of State of the United States, has now
tlie honor to rcj)ly.

Tlie President reciprocates most fully the spirit of cordial friendship
towards the Government of the United States and liiniseH', by which Sir
Charles R. Vaughan is pleased to assure the undersigned thai his Majes-
ty's Govenmicnt is aetuated, and sees with satisliiction the renewed
assurances of its desire to arrive at a settlement of the question of bound-

[ Senate Doc No. 114. J 239

ary by any means not inconsistent with the honor and essential interests
of Great Britahi. Tlie undersigned is iuslructed to repeat, on the part of
tlie President, the exfression of his detcn-niination to cllectuate that object
by all tlie means within liis constitutional competency, which are recon-
cilable to his views of wiiat are justly due to the character and interests
of the United States.

The President has derived a satisfaction proportionable to his deep
sense of its importance, from the success which has attended the past
elforts of the two Governments hi removing existing, and preventing- the
recurrence of new, obstacles to the most liberal and friendly intercourse
between them; and it would be a source of unalloyed pleasure to be able
during the short period which he may remain at the head of the Govern-
ment, to bring to a conclusion, satisfactory to both parties, a controversy
which has been justly described as the only matter of serious difliculty
which is still in contestation between Great IJritain and the United States.

The convention authorizing and regulating the reference of the points
of difference to a friendly sovereign, and the selection of that sovereio-n
had been made before the President entered on the duties of his office ^
but no time was lost in adopting and facilitating all the measures in which
his agency could be properly employed to bring that reference to a speedy
and satisfactory result. If the distinguished arbiter agreed upon had
found himself able to come to a decision upon the subject satisfactory to
his own judgment, the Government of the United States would not have
hesitated for a moment, whatever might have been its opinion of the jus-
tice of such decision, to have united with his Majesty's Government in
carrying it fully and immediately into effect. Unfortunately, this was
beyond his power ; and the respected arbiter was too sensible of what was
due as well to his own high character as to the parties, to profess to have
done what lie found himself unable to accomplish. Believing, sincerely
(but as the President cannot but think erroneously,) that he could not dis-
charge the functions of arbitrator, he, from unquestioned motives of friendly-
regard to the parties respectively, acted in the character of mediator.

That the acts or suggestions of the selected sovereign, in the character
of mediator, were not binding upon the parties further than they should,
subsequently, respectively agree to adopt them, was a point too' clear to
furnish grounds of dispute between the two Governments; nor was it less
clearly the duty of the President to submit the whole matter, as presented
by the arbiter, to the Senate of the United States for its constitutional
advice and co-operation. Recommendations of the arbiter were rejected
by a large majority of that body, and a resolution passed advising the
President " to open a new negotiation with his Britannic Majesty's Gov-
ernment for the ascertainment of the boundary between the possessions of

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of StateMaine boundary--Mr. Greely, &c. .. → online text (page 31 of 56)