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their power, on mature consideration and reflection, to decide for themselves and act accordingly. The hard lot and sufferings of these people. and of their fathers, give them a claim to our sympathies. The atrocious cruelties practised upon their ancestors are matters of history. The appalling details of them are among their traditions. The fathers and mothers have taught them to their children. When fleeing from their pressors in 1785 they settled down in the wilderness of Madawaska; y believed and understood themselves to be within the limits and jurisdiction of the United States, a people of whom France had been the friend and ally in the war which had just terminated in their independence, and who was still the friend and ally of France in peace. Their history since that period has lost little of its interest. Too few in number, too weak in resources, too remote to expect or receive aid, they submitted to whatever master assumed authority over them. With a knowledge, of their history, and the wrongs they and their ancestors have suffered, it will be difficult for the people of Maine to bring themselves into, the belief that these people are opposed to living under the mild and gentle sway of our free institutions. It will be equally difficult for the people of Maine to satisfy themselves that it is only from a lively and disinterested sympathy for these poor Frenchmen that the Government of Great Britain is so solicitous to retain possession of the south bank of the St. John, extending from the due north line more than fifty miles up to Fish River. On the best consideration they have been able to give to this subject the Undersigned can see nothing in the condition or circumstances of these settlers, which would justify them in abandoning the very obvious and only natural boundary, to adopt one that must be altogether arbitrary. The Undersigned avail themselves, &c., (Signed) WM. P. PREBLE.
EDWARD KAVANAGH .
Lord Ashburton to Mr. Webster.
Sir, Washington, July 11, 1842. I LOSE no time in ackowledging the receipt of the note you did me. the honour of addressing me on the 8th instant; and I beg in the first place to say that I am duly sensible of the assurance you give me that the President has been pleased to appreciate the motives which induced my present mission, . much flattered by your recognition of the candour and frankness which have hitherto marked our intercourse. I had hoped that we had escaped by mutual consent from a return to the endless and fruitless argument on the general question of the rights of our respective Governments in the matter of the North-Eastern Boundary. It seemed to have been decided by so many high and competent authorities, that the precise geographical point so long looked for was not to be found, that it necessarily followed that any hope of settlement must rest upon an amicable compromise. The arrival here of Commissioners from Maine and Massachusetts, and the admitted disposition of the two Governments have given the public a very general expectation that this compromise might at last be effected, and I hope you will excuse my expressing my regret, that the note now before me, and the paper from the gentlemen from Maine addressed to you which accompanied it, should have contained so much of a renewal of the old controversy, and should not have been confined to the simple question, whether we could or could not agree to terms of settlement. If the observations contained in my note of the 13th ultimo, have given rise to these consequences I much regret it; and I would now pass over all these more than useless discussions, and proceed at once to notice the proposals you
make, if I were not apprehensive, that my so doing might be construed
No proceeding could be more proper. The claims of the two parties varied, and it was natural that in the first instance, a line should be run north to the extent claimed by either party. Where that line would reach, and what highlands or streams it might strike was unknown; so much so that Mr. Gallatin in his letter from Ghent, mentioned in my note of the 13th ultimo, expressed his doubts on this subject. His prediction turned out to be true. The point where the line strikes the Metis, was a point not fulfilling the words of the Treaty. It did not divide the waters as desired, unless the Bay of Chaleurs, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence are considered to answer the description of the Atlantic Ocean. Mr. Gallatin was sensible of this, and intimates that if this fact created doubt, the lands about the Restigouche might be given up, but he forgets that in giving up this territory he gives up his argument, for he maintains in . opposition to the British line of boundary, that it does not continuously and in all its parts divide the waters as required by the Treaty. The American line was in this respect equally deficient, and it is useless therefore here to consider whether it would have been preferable to the British line, if it had divided the waters of the St. Lawrence from those of the St. John. To make even, a plausible case for the American line, both the St. John and the Restigouche must be held to be rivers emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. The Royal Arbiter says it would be hazardous so to class them. I believe that whatever argument might be made in the case of the St. John connected with the distinctions with which it was mentioned in the Treaty, to consider the Restigouche as flowing into the Atlantic Ocean, would be more than hazardous, it would be most absurd. - - - . . At all events I would submit to you, that no inference could be drawn from the commissioners in 1817, having ordered a north line to be run, the same commissioners after drawing the line having disagreed as to any conclusions from it. - - : I am rather surprised that an inspection of the map should lead us to such different views of the course of the rivers, and of the coast, as stated by you. I find that the upper St. John and the Restigouche, so far from cutting at right angles the parallel lines of the coast and the St. Lawrence as you say, run in their main course nearly parallel with them. I am not aware that the fact is important, although it seems connected with your argument. . - - - - - My inspection of these maps, and my examination of the documents, lead me to a very strong conviction that the highlands, contemplated by the negotiators of the Treaty, were the only highlands then known to them at the head of the Penobscot, Kennebec, and the rivers west of the St. Croix; and that they did not precisely know how the north line from the St. Croix would strike them; and if it were not my wish to shorten this discussion, I believe a very good argument might be drawn from the words of the Treaty in proof of this. In the negotiations with Mr. Livingston, and afterwards with Mr. McLane, this view seemed to prevail, and, as you are aware, there were proposals to search for these highlands to the west, where alone, I believe, they will be found to answer perfectly the description of the Treaty. If this question should, unfortunately, go to a further reference, I should by no means despair of finding some confirmation of this view of the case. I shall now, Sir, close what I have to say on the controversial part of this question. I should not have treated of it at all, but from respect to the gentlemen from Maine, whose arguments you conveyed to me; and I shall certainly not renew it, unless called upon by you to do so. Our immediate business is with the compromise of what is not otherwise to be settled, and argument and controversy far from assisting to that end, have more generally a tendency to irritate and excite. - - - " -- - - - - Referring, then, to our more immediate subject of a line by agreement, I deeply regret, on reading your observations and proposals, that we are yet so far asunder. I always thought this part of our duty better performed by conference than by correspondence, unless, indeed, we had the misfortune not, to be able ultimately to agree, in which case it would certainly be necessary, that our countries should see clearly on paper how
nearly we had approached to each other; and on whom the blame at last rested of leaving unsettled a question involving such serious consequences. I would still recommend this course of personal discussion and conference, but, in the mean time, I proceed to notice the proposals and observations contained in your note. . . . . . . - . . It is sufficiently explained in my plan for a settlement, why I was anxious not to divide, in two parts, by our new line of boundary, the Madawaska settlements; and I am sorry to say, that the information I
have since received, both as to local circumstances and the anxiety of the
people themselves, tends strongly to confirm my impressions. At the same time you will have seen, that I was sensible that some good reason should be assigned, why we should not be satisfied with what you justly term, the otherwise perfect boundary of the St. John. In your reply you recognize the difficulties of the case and do justice to our motives; but you state distinctly, on the part of your Government, that you can consent to no line which should bring us over the St. John, without some equivalent of territory to be found out of the limits of that part which is in dispute, and you refer, more particularly, to a certain strip lying between the north line and the river. This strip I have no power to give up, and I beg to add, that the refusal of my Government is founded simply on their objection to dispose arbitrarily of the persons and property of Her Majesty’s subjects living by preference id: her authority, an objection which you are sensible applies with peculiar force to the inhabitants of this part of New ... - I had hoped that the other equivalents which I had offered, combined with the sense entertained by the Government of the United States, of the pressing importance of the case, on the ground of humanity, would have been sufficient for the purpose I so anxiously desired; but perceiving from your note, as well as from personal conversation, that concession on this point is insisted upon, I might be disposed to consider, whether my anxious desire to arrive at a friendly settlement would not justify me in yielding, however reluctantly, if the latter part of your proposals did not, if finally persevered in, forbid all hope of any settlement whatever. The boundary you propose, supposing the British territory not to come over the St. John, is to run from the north side of that river three miles above its junction with the Madawaska, over an arbitrary line, which my map does not exactly permit me to follow, until it reaches somewhere the St. Francis. I need not examine this line in its precise details, because I am obliged frankly to state, that it is inadmissible. I think I might, Sir, fairly appeal to your candid judgment to say, whether this is a proposition of conciliation ; whether, after all antecedent discussions on this subject, it could reasonably be expected that, whatever might be the anxiety of my Government for a friendly settlement, I could be found with power to accede to such terms. I need not observe to you, that this would give to Great Britain less than the award of the Arbiter, while at the same time she should be called upon to give up what that Arbiter awarded to her, and if I do not mistake you, the floatage of the lumber of Maine down the St. John is also expected to be surrendered. I must beg to say, that I am quite at a loss to account for such a Popo. ..Your own principle of maintaining the Great River, as the best boundary is abandoned, an arbitrary line is drawn which nobody ever suggested before, and I can only suppose this course to be dictated by that general assumption, that notwithstanding all former admissions and decisions to the contrary, this Territory said to be in dispute, in truth belongs to one party to be doled out as a favour to the other, an assumption which cannot for a moment be admitted, and which you, Sir, with the records of your office before you will hardly maintain.
The position in which this negotiation now stands, seems to prove what
I have before ventured to advance, that it would have a better chance of suc
cess by conference than by correspondence; at all events, that we should
sooner arrive at ascertaining what we can, or what we cannot do. Slow,
unnecessarily slow, our progress has hitherto been, and the public seem,
somehow or other, to have become informed that there are differences. I
hope when we come to discuss them, that they will prove less serious than E
they are supposed to be ; but it is very desirable that doubts and distrusts should be set at rest, and that public credit and the transactions of commerce should suffer the least possible disturbance. For although, should this negotiation unfortunately fail, it will be our duty immediately to place it in some new course of further reference, it is not to be disguised that such a result must be productive of considerable public anxiety and disappointment. What I have said with respect to the case of the Madawaska settlements will, I trust, sufficiently prove my disposition to approach such a discussion with the true spirit of conciliation; and I trust you will permit me to express a hope that it will be met with a corresponding feeling. Before concluding, I wish to add a few words respecting the line of . the St. John to one of its sources, and the navigation, for certain purposes, of that river. It may be true that the district between the St. John west of the St. Francis and the highlands, may be of some extent; but your own surveyors will confirm to you that it is of very little value, either for cultivation or timber. Is it reasonable that in the division of an object in dispute, its intrinsic value should be wholly disregarded, and its size or extent be alone considered 2 I would further suggest for your consideration, whether, supposing the division by the King of the Netherlands to be admitted to satisfy fairly the equity of the case between the parties, what is proposed to be added by Great Britain, viz.: the Strip, on the 45th parallel of latitude, and the use of the navigation of the St. John, be not an ample compensation for what we ask in return, viz.: that barren strip above the Upper St. John, which is wanted for no other purpose than as a boundary, for which purpose it is admitted on all sides to be most convenient. The right to use the St. John for floating down the lumber of Maine, on the same terms as the river is used by the Queen's subjects, is now treated as a matter of light importance. This is not uncommon when a concession of any kind is about to be yielded, but I beg to remind you that this was not formerly so considered. It has been repeatedly solicited and invariably refused; and no Minister of Great Britain has before been foil. to connect this concession with the settlement of the boundary. t is considered by my Government as a very important concessiou. I am sure that it must be considered by all persons in Maine connected with the lumber trade, as not only valuable but indispensable; and I am compelled to add, that I am empowered to allow this privilege only in the event of a settlement of the Boundary on satisfactory terms. It is said in the memorandum of the Maine Commissioners, that this conceded navigation will be as useful to the town of St. John as to the lumberers of Maine; but it will not escape you that even if this be so, it is a concession necessary to give any value whatever to so bulky an article as lumber, which, being not otherwise disposable, would bear any reasonable toll which the provincial authorities of New Brunswick might think it expedient to levy upon it. Further, it should not be forgotten, that the timber, once at the mouth of the St. John, will have the privilege of reaching the British as well as other markets; and lastly, that it is a very different thing to hold a privilege of this important description by right, or by mere sufferance, to be granted or withheld at pleasure. I have to apologize for entering into these details in treating of the great question with which we are occupied; but they seemed called for by observations contained in the paper you send me.
I beg, Sir, you will be assured, &c.,