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In respect to the application of Mr. Coombs, I cannot at all recognize the transaction between himself and the American land-agent. If the timber is the property of British settlers, it would be admissable only on the terms and conditions of the licence from this Government, and not in virtue of any authority to cut it by the American land-agent; and if obtained otherwise than by authority from hence, it is liable to seizure under the special commission granted to you. - - - . . . . ... - - ... You will not fail to report to me by an express messenger, any occurrence of importance at the Madawaska, giving me immediate intimation of the arrival of any troops at the block-house, and of the relief of the armed posse. I have, &c., (Signed) W. M. G. COLEBROOKE.
Inclosure 17 in No. 28.
May it please your Excellency, - Fredericton, June 9, 1841.
- I HAVE the honour to return the inclosed papers. With respect to that part of Captain Lauchlan's letter which relates to the timber claimed by Mr. Coombs, and for which he (Mr. Coombs) states he has paid what he calls “stumpage” to the American deputy land-agent, (by which term I understand him to mean, licence to cut the same within the Disputed Territory), it does appear to me that under existing circumstances, the fact that the timber was cut under such licence, must of itself prevent the Government from allowing it to pass; as the doing so would be considered as a sanction to the American claim to the Disputed Territory in question. The occupation of the same by the armed posse, wrongful as it is, was professed to be solely to prevent trespassers, and to save the territory from devastation, until the final settlement of the question in dispute, and not to give them permission to give licences which this Government withholds. If Mr. Coombs' case had been simply the purchase of timber cut under the order of the Governor and Council in March last, there would be no difficulty; but when, from his own showing, the said timber (or some part at least) was cut by authority of the State of Maine, and beyond what was intended by that order, and which, I presume, is now so intermixed as to prevent a distinct separation, I do not see how it can be allowed to pass free. I also consider that any of the timber in question, which was not cut under the licence in March last, was illegally cut, and, as such, the right of property therein is not legally vested in the trespasser. Captain McLauchlan has no power, as Warden of the Disputed Territory, to seize the timber; but he holds a commission under the Great Seal of the province, giving him such an authority. . The communication from the assessors at Madawaska did not state for what purpose the assessment was ordered. It was stated to be for parish rates, and, therefore, I am unable to refer your Excellency to the particular provincial statute. The Court of Sessions have power to assess the inhabi tants in different counties, “for money to support the poor, to pay county contingencies, to build jails, and court-houses, and buildings for the safe-keeping of the county records,” and, occasionally, for other county purposes; and it would require that I should be furnished with a copy of the assess warrant, before I could point out the particular Act to your Excellency. . . . . . I have, &c., - - - - - (Signed) CHARLES J. PETERS, - r Attorney-General.
. . . . . * o Inclosure 18 in No. 28. . ---, Sir W. Colebrooke to Mr. For. - - - . . . . Sir, . . . . . . . . * Fredericton, June 19, 1841. I HAVE the honour to inclose to your Excellency copy of two des
patches I have addressed to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, on the subject of the defence of the frontier and the settlement of the Boundary
REFERRING to my despatch dated 9th June, I have the honour to report to your Lordship, that on the 10th instant, I proceeded to Woodstock with the object of inspecting the site of the barracks proposed to be erected at that place, and of forming an opinion of the necessity of proceeding with the work. - - - - The township of Woodstock, which is situated on the St. John's River, is the most prominent settlement in that quarter, and the elevated ground selected for the barrack is extremely well chosen for the defence of the position. After inspecting the ground I proceeded to the frontier line opposite to the American settlement of Houlton. This settlement, which is increasing rapidly, is distant about ten miles. from Woodstock, and a military post has been formed which is occupied by a body of the troops of the United States. The post is retired about two miles from the frontier, and is overlooked from an eminence within the British territory called Parkes' Hill. Roads having been opened from Woodstock in various directions, and extending to the frontier, several thriving settlements have been formed; and as a doubt exists whether these settlements may not, in some cases, be found to be beyond the line as recently retraced by the American surveyors, much anxiety prevails; and I regretted to understand, that the feelings of the people on both sides of the border had been, of late, considerably excited. The British settlers, being aware of the influence which those of the State of Maine are able to exert upon their Government, are not disposed to rely upon the pacific disposition of those in authority; and I confess that I am apprehensive that no adequate security at present exists for the maintenance of tranquillity. I am, therefore, of opinion, that as a measure of precaution as well as of defence, the establishment of a body of regular troops at Woodstock is desirable; by giving confidence and a sense of security to the settlers, it will tend to allay the excitement which at present prevails, and to prevent those movements on the part of the people of Maine, which might disturb the peace of the frontier. It is not now a question whether the valuable lands within the line should be reclaimed and settled, or left in a wilderness state with a view to defence. The country is now in progress of settlement on both sides of the line, and it appears to me to be of the utmost importance, that while the American population is rapidly augmenting, the settlement of the British territory should not be retarded. - - - The Assembly having passed a resolution in the last session to enable the Government to purchase the land required for the intended barracks, the tenders have been recently approved in Council; and I beg leave to recommend to your Lordship that the work should be proceeded with, as soon as it may be practicable. From the various information I have recently received, I am strongly impressed with a conviction that the only practicable means of effecting a settlement of the long-pending Question of the Boundary Line, will be for the Government of England and the United States to appoint competent persons to draw a line of mutual convenience which should divide the two countries, leaving to arbitration the various claims to pecuniary compensation arising from the surrender of lands on either side. The settlement of the Americans upon the lands south of the Restook River, would render them extremely reluctant to resign any part of that valuable territory; but I have reason to believe that they would at present agree to a line being drawn from the point where the north line crosses the Restook to the confluence either of the St. Francis, or of the Fish River with the St. John’s; by such a line the British settlers on both banks of the St. John’s would be protected,—a measure which is very desirable, both in justice to them and in consideration of the moral effect which an abandonment of them would have within the province. It is not necessary that I should inform your Lordship that while the inhabitants of this province entertain a strong feeling against any concession being made to the Americans, those of the neighbouring States of the Union are equally strenuous in their claim to the Territory in dispute, and that their influence might be effectually exerted in defeating the plan of the General Government for the settlement of the boundary on any basis which would involve a renewal of the question of right By the proposed line the communication with Quebec would also be adequately secured, and a better boundary line secured than that of the river of Woodstock. I found that the Governor of Maine had left the place but a few hours previous to my arrival, having come there in the course of his tour through the new settlements. From Major Ruxton, who has recently arrived at this place from Canada by the way of Boston, I learn that the question is much discussed at the present time by the Americans, and not always in a friendly spirit. I have, &c., (Signed) W. M. G. COLEBKOOKE.
Inclosure 20 in No. 28.
Sir W. Colebrooke to Lord John Russell.
My Lord, Government House, June 18, 1841.
WITH reference to my despatch, dated June 14, recommending an early settlement of the Boundary Question by drawing a line which might be agreed upon as mutually convenient, I beg to observe that I have not failed to consider the advantages of a line of separation drawn from the due north line at Mars' Hill to the confluence of the St. Francis or Fish River with the St. John’s. Circumstances might at one time have induced the Americans to assent to such a line, and, if now attainable, it would undoubtedly be preferable to the line which I have proposed from the point where the north line intersects the Restook; but the settlement of the lands south of that river by the people of Maine would probably lead them to oppose it, and such opposition would, as I apprehend, effectually prevent the Government of the United States from acceding to it. The encroachments which have taken place, and the embarrassment they have occasioned, induce me to consider that no time should be lost in effecting such a settlement as may now be practicable, and that would not compromise the just rights of the settlers on both banks of the St. John's River at Madawaska, who have a just claim to the protection of the British Government. There is another question which has been mooted regarding the navigation of the St. John's by the Americans. The project alluded to in the Report of the British Consul in Maine inclosed with your Lordship's despatch of the 27th of May, of cutting a canai to unite the waters of the Allegash with those of the Penobscot, would indi
cate that the Americans are looking to other means of transporting the lumber to their markets. -
The St. John's would, however, still be the most convenient channel for
the valuable timber cut near the Restook ; and if any equivalent advantage
should be obtained in the settlement of the boundary, I am of opinion that
the privilege might be accorded to the Americans of floating their timber
down the St. John's, it being understood that the privilege should be strictly limited to that object.
I have, &c., (Signed) W. M. G. COLEBROOKE,
Inclosure 21 in No. 28.
Government House, Fredericton, Sir, New Brunswick, June 26, 1841.
I DO myself the honour to inclose to you, for your information, the copy of a letter which I have this day addressed to Lord Sydenham on the state of our relations with the Americans on the frontier of this province. - I have, &c., (Signed) W. M. G. COLEBROOKE.
Inclosure 22 in No. 28.
My Lord, Fredericton, N.B., June 25, 1841.
ON the 23rd instant I had the honour to receive your Lordship's letter, dated Kingston, the 8th instant, and by the same opportunity I received one from Mr. McLauchlan, dated Madawaska, the 19th. Since the dates of my letters now acknowledged by your Lordship, I have successively addressed you on the 2nd, 9th, and 19th instant, and the communications of the Warden, which I herewith inclose, will put your Lordship in possession of the present state of affairs upon the frontier. When I wrote to your Lordship on the 11th of May, it was my intention to have proceeded at an early period to Madawaska; but on further consideration I was induced to postpone that intention, unless circumstancs should occur to render it necessary; and I am of opinion that in the existing circumstances of our relations with the Americans, my presence could only have the effect of bringing on questions with the inhabitants, for the solution of which I was unprepared. Your Lordship is aware that I considered it my first duty, in assuming charge of this Government, to make myself acquainted with the correspondence which has been held by my predecessor with your Lordship, and with Her Majesty’s Government, on this intricate and important subject. I took occasion to bring under your consideration the difficulties resulting from the position which the Americans had been permitted to assume ; and from the responsibility devolving on me in the protection of Her Majesty's subjects and the administration of the laws, I expressed an apprehension that collisions could not be avoided without the adoption of timely measures of precaution by the Supreme Authorities. It was my object to impress on your Lordship that my responsibility in reference to the question of the Boundary arose from the exercise of the jurisdiction of this province over the Disputed Territory, and more especially over the Madawaska settlement; and that the American posse having placed themselves at the Fish River within that jurisdiction, and in fact assumed it over the territory above their post, rendered it impracticable for the Warden and the other magistrates to exercise an authortty in that quarter without collision. In point of fact, referring to the letter of the Governor of Maine to Sir John Harvey, of the 15th of December, 1840, it is quite evident that he distinctly claimed and asserted his intention to maintain that jurisdiction; and although, in conformity to your Lordship's instructions, Sir John Harvey informed the Warden, that “the inhabitants on both banks of the Madawaska were to be protected,” he did not disclaim the pretensions of the Americans in respect to the settlement above the Fish River; and that the Warden has never felt himself authorized to do any act in that quarter which would, as he was aware, revive the question, or induce a collision. On a recent occasion of the annual assemblage of the militia, the Acadian and English settlers from the Upper Madawaska turned out, whilst the French and American settlers disregarded the summons,—a result which is the natural consequence of a disputed jurisdiction; and I concur with Mr. McLauchlan in opinion, that an attempt to levy the county rate in that quarter, while it would be resisted by some, would bring on a collision with the authorities of the State of Maine. To be assured of this, it may be sufficient to refer to the letter of the Governor of Maine above-mentioned, and to the report of their Legislature in the month of March last, wherein it is stated, that “the territory contiguous to the mouth of the Fish River, on both sides of the St. John's, is not considered in any proper sense as included in the Madawaska settlement, which is confined to the immediate vicinity of that river, and does not extend even to the mouth of the Merumpticook; and although obliged to yield to the continuance of the illegal occupation at the proper original settlement of the Madawaska, they cannot allow its being extended to the Fish River, or upon the south bank of the St. John's, above the western bend, up to which Maine has at least regained and made good her ground.” By this assumption, so far as it has been partially acquiesced in, the interests of some of Her Majesty's subjects are involved, in the same manner that occurred in the case of the British settlers on the Restook in 1839. By the separate proceedings of the British and American surveyors, the questions at issue have only hitherto been further complicated; and by the recent connexion of the north line by the American surveyors, the granted lands of several British settlers which were considered to be within that line, are now declared to be excluded. I adduce these facts, in order to exemplify to your Lordship the consequences of delay in the definitive settlement of the Boundary by the two Governments; and important as may be the question as to the preservation of a line of communication between the British provinces, it is even more important as affecting the rights of Her Majesty’s subjects, who claim the protection of the laws; for it must be obvious that the consequences which would result either from the enforcement of the laws, or from their suspension, where the jurisdiction may be disputed, are alike serious. - It is, therefore, that I would earnestly impress on your Lordship, that if the territorial claims of the two countries canuot be definitively adjusted, a convenient line should be drawn, which would at least define the extent of the jurisdiction of the respective Governments. - - * * * * By the Report of the Legislature of Maine, above referred to, it would appear that the temporary arrangement of 1839, in itself imperfect, was never fully recognized in that State; and that the reservation of the Governor of Maine, in his agreement of the 25th of March, 1839, coupled with the declaration of that Legislature in the present year, has practically superseded it. * .. " . - - - This would undoubtedly be quoted in the event of any complaint of the infraction of the agreement by the Americans. I cannot doubt that the two Governments must be conscious of the danger of leaving an intermediate territory subject to a disputed jurisdiction, and the subjects of both under doubtful allegiance to either, the effect of which could only be to induce the settlement of such territory, which is too inviting to be neglected, by outlaws from both countries, instead of the more respectable inhabitants of each, leading to border aggressions and to collisions which might involve the nations in hostilities. - - - , r