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Sir, Washington, July 16, 1842. THERE is a further question of disputed boundary between Great Britain and the United States, called the North-west Boundary, about which we have had some conferences; and I now proceed to state the terms which I am ready to agree to for the settlement of this difference. As the principal object in dispute is to be given up by Great Britain, I trust, Sir, that you will here again recognise the spirit of friendly conciliation which has guided my Government in disposing of these questions. I have already o discussed with you the boundaries between Her Majesty's provinces and the United States, from the monument at the head of the River St. Croix, to the monument on the River St. Lawrence, near the village of St. Regis, The commissioners under the Sixth Article of the Treaty of Ghent, succeeded in continuing this boundary from St. Regis, through the St. Lawrence and the great northern lakes, up to a point in the channel between Lake Huron and Lake Superior. A further continuation of this boundary, from this point through Lake Superior to the Lake of the Woods, was confided to the same commissioners under the Seventh Article of the Treaty of Ghent, but they were unfortunately unable to agree, and have consequently left this portion of the boundary undetermined. Its final settlement has been much desired by both Governments, and urgently pressed by communications from Mr. Secretary Forsyth to Mr. Fox, in 1839 and 1840. What I have now to propose cannot, I feel assured, be otherwise than satisfactory for this purpose. The commissioners who failed in their endeavours to make this settlement, differed on two points: First, as to the appropriation of an island called St. George's Island, lying in the water communication between Lake Huron and Lake Superior; and Secondly, as to the boundary through the water communications from Lake Superior to the Lake of the Woods. The first point I am ready to give up to you, and you are no doubt aware that it is the only object of any real value in this controversy. The Island of St. George's is reported to contain 25,920 acres of very fertile land, but the other things connected with these boundaries being satisfactorily arranged, a line shall be drawn so as to throw this island within the limits of the United States. In considering the second point, it really appears of little importance to either party how the line be determined through the wild country between Lake Superior and the Lake of the Woods, but it is important that some line should be fixed and known. The American Commissioner asked for the line from Lake Superior up the River Kamanistiguia to the lake called Dog Lake, which he supposed to be the same as that called Long Lake in the treaties, thence through Sturgeon Lake to the Lac la Pluie, to that point where the two lines assumed by the commissioners again meet. The British Commissioner, on the other hand, contended for a line from the south-western extremity, at a point called le Fond du Lac to the - middle of the mouth of the estuary or Lake of St. Louis River, thence up that river through Vermilion River to Lac la Pluie. Attempts were made to compromise these differences, but they failed, apparently more from neither party being willing to give up the Island of g. George's, than from much importance being ão to any other part of the case. - - Upon the line from Lake Superior to the Lake of the Woods, both Commissioners agreed to abandon their respective claims, and to adopt a middle course, for which the Ameri; Commissioner admitted that there 2
was some ground of preference. This was from Pigeon River, a point between Kamanistiguia and the Fond du Lac ; and although there were differences as to the precise point near the mouth of Pigeon River, where the line should begin, neither party seem to have attached much importance to this part of the subject. I would propose that the line be taken from a point about six miles. south of Pigeon River, where the Grand Portage commences on the lake, and continued along the line of the said portage, alternately by land and water, to Lac la Pluie—the existing route, by land and by water remaining common to both parties. This line has the advantage of being known, and attended with no doubt or uncertainty in running it. In making the important concession on this boundary, of the Isle St. George, I must attach a condition to it of accommodation, which experience has proved to be necessary in the navigation of the great waters which bound the two countries—an accommodation which can, I apprehend, be no possible inconvenience to either. This was asked by the British Commissioner, in the course of the attempts at compromise above. alluded to; but nothing was done because he was not then prepared, as I am now, to yield the property and sovereignty of St. George's Island. The first of these two cases is at the head of Lake St. Clair, where the river of that name empties into it from Lake Huron. It is represented that the channel bordering the United States coast in this part, is not only the best for navigation, but, with some winds, is the only serviceable passage. I do not know that under such circumstances the passage of a British vessel would be refused; but on a final settlement of boundaries, it is desirable to stipulate for what the commissioners would probably have settled had the facts been known to them. r The other case, of nearly the same description, occurs on the St. Lawrence, some miles above the boundary of St. Regis. In distributing the islands of the river by the commissioners, Barnhart's Island and the Long Sault Islands were assigned to America. This part of the river has, very formidable rapids, and the only safe passage is on the southern or American side, between those islands and the main land. We want a clause in our present treaty to say that for a short distance, viz.: from the upper end of Upper Long Sault Island to the lower end of Barnhart's Island, the several channels of the river shall be used in common by the boatmen of the two countries. I am not aware that these very reasonable demands are likely to meet with any objection, especially when the United States will have surrendered to them all that is essential in the boundary I have now to propose to you. . I beg you will be assured, sir, of my unfeigned and distinguished consideration.
- - Department of State, M Lord, Washington, July 27, 1842. I HAVE now to propose to your Lordship a line of division embracing the disputed portions of the boundary between the United States and the British Provinces of New Brunswick and the Canadas, with its considerations and equivalents, such as conforms, I believe, in substance to the result of the many conferences and discussions which have taken place between us. y
The acknowledged territories of the United States and England join upon each other from the Atlantic Ocean to the eastern foot of the Rocky Mountain, a distance of more than 3,000 miles. From the ocean to the source of the St. Croix the line of division has been ascertained and fixed by agreement; from the source of the St. Croix to a point near St. Regis, on the River St. Lawrence, it may be considered as unsettled or controverted; from this last-mentioned point along the St. Lawrence and, through the Lakes, it is settled until it reaches the water-communication, between Lake Huron and Lake Superior. At this point the Commissioners under the 7th Article of the Treaty of Ghent, found a subject of disagreement which they could not overcome, in deciding up which branch or channel the line should proceed till it should reach a point in the middle of St. Mary's River, about one mile above St. George's or Sugar. Island. . - - - From the middle of the water-communication between the two lakes, at the point last mentioned, the Commissioners extended the line through the remaining part of that water-communication, and across Lake. Superior to a point north of Ile Royale, but they could not agree in what direction the line should run from this last-mentioned point, nor where it should leave Lake Superior, nor how it should be extended to the Rainy Lake, or Lac la Pluie. From this last-mentioned lake they agreed on the line to the north-westernmost point of the Lake of the Woods, which they found to be in latitude 49° 23' 55". The line therefore extends, according to existing treaties, due south. from this point to the 49th parallel of north latitude, and by that latitude to the Rocky Mountains. Not being able to agree upon the whole line, the Commissioners under the 7th Article did not make any joint report to their respective Governments; so far as they agreed on any part of the line that part has been considered settled, but it may be well to give validity to these portions. of the line by the Treaty. To complete the Boundary Line, therefore, and to remove all doubts and disputes, it is necessary for the two Governments to come to an agreement on three points:— 1st. What shall be the line on the north-eastern and northern limits. of the United States, from the St. Croix to the St. Lawrence. This is by far the most important and difficult of the subjects, and involves the principal questions of equivalents and compensations. 2nd. What shall be the course of the boundary from the point where the Commissioners under the 6th Article of the Treaty of Ghent terminated their labours; to wit, a point in the Neebish Channel, near Muddy Lake, in the water-communication between Lake Huron and Lake Superior, to a point in the middle of St. Mary's River, one mile above Sugar Island. This question is important, as it involves the ownership of that island. 3rd. What shall be the line from the point north of Ile Royale in. Lake Superior, to which the Commissioners of the two Governments arrived by agreement, to the Rainy Lake ; and also to confirm those parts of the line to which the said Commissioners agreed. Besides agreeing upon the line of division through these controverted portions of the boundary, you have suggested also, as the proposed settlement proceeds upon the ground of compromise and equivalents, that: boats belonging to Her Majesty's subjects may pass the falls of the Long Saut on the St. Lawrence, on either side of the Long Saut Islands; and that the passages between the islands lying at or near the junction of the River St. Clair with the lake of that name, shall be severally free and open to the vessels of both countries. There appears no reasonable objection to what is requested in these particulars; and on the part of the United States it is desirable that their vessels in proceeding from Lake Erie into the Detroit River, should have the privilege of passing between Bois Blanc, an island belonging to England, and the Canadian shore, the deeper and better channel being on that side. - The line, then, now proposed to be agreed to, may be thus described:— - Beginning at the monument at the source of the River St. Croix, as designated and agreed to by the Commissioners under the 5th Article of the Treaty of 1794 between the Governments of the United States and Great Britain; thence north, following the exploring line run and marked by , the surveyors of the two Governments, in the years 1817 and 1818, under the 5th Article of the Treaty of Ghent, to its intersection with the River St. John, and to the middle of the channel thereof; thence up the middle of the main channel of the said River St. John to the mouth of the River St. Francis; thence up the middle of the channel of the said River St. Francis, and of the lakes through which it flows, to the outlet of the Lake Pohenagamook; thence south-westerly, in a straight line, to a point on the north-west branch of the River St. John, which point shall be ten miles distant from the main branch of the St. John, in a straight line, and in the nearest direction; but if the said point shall be found to be less than seven miles from the nearest point of the summit or crest of the highlands that divide those rivers which empty themselves into the River St. Lawrence, from those which fall into the Atlantic Ocean, then the said int shall be made to recede down the said river, to a point seven miles in a straight line from the said summit or crest; thence in a straight line, in a course about south 8° west, to the point where the parallel of latitude of 46° 25' intersects the south-west branch of the St. John ; thence southerly by the said branch to the source thereof in the highlands at the Metjarmette portage; thence down along the said highlands to the head of Hall's Stream ; thence down the middle of said stream, till the line thus run intersects the old line of boundary surveyed and marked by Valentine and Collins previously to the year 1774, as the 45° of latitude, and which has been known and understood to be the line of actual division between the States of New York and Vermont, on one side, and the British Province of Canada on the other; and from said point of intersection, west, along the said dividing line, as heretofore known and understood, to the Iroquois, or St. Lawrence River; and from the place where the Joint Commissioners terminated their labours under the 6th Article of the Treaty of Ghent, to wit, at a point in the Neebish Channel, near Muddy Lake, the line shall run into and along the ship channel between St. Joseph and St. Tammany Islands, to the division of the channel at or near the head of St. Joseph’s Island; thence turning eastwardly and northwardly around the lower end of St. George's or Sugar Islands, and following the middle of the channel which divides St. George’s from St. Joseph's Island; thence up the East Neebish channel, next to St. George's Island, through the middle of Lake George; thence west of Jonas Island, into St. Mary's River, to a point in the middle of that river, about one mile above St. George's or Sugar Island, so as to appropriate and assign the said island to the United States; thence, adopting the line traced on the maps by the Commissioners, through the River St. Mary and Lake Superior, to a point north of Ile Royale in said lake, 100 yards to the north and east of Ile Chapeau, which last-mentioned island lies near the northeastern-point of Ile Royale, where the line marked by the Commissioners terminates; and from the last-mentioned point south-westerly, through the middle of the Sound, between Ile Royale and the north-western mainland, to the mouth of Pigeon River, and up said river to and through the north and south Fowl Lakes, to the lakes of the height of land between Lake Superior and the Lake of the Woods; thence, along the water communication to Lake Saisaginaga, and through that lake; thence to and through Cypress Lake, Lac du Bois Blanc, Lac la Croix, Little Vermillion Lake, and Lake Namecan, and through the smaller lakes, straits, or streams connecting the lakes here mentioned, to that point in Lac la Pluie, or Rainy Lake, at the Chaudière Falls, from which the Commissioners traced the line to the most north-western point of the Lake of the Woods; thence, along the said line to the said most north-western point, being in latitude 49° 23' 55° north, and in longitude 95° 14′ 38° west from the observatory at Greenwich; thence, according to existin Treaties, the line extends due south to its intersection with the 49t parallel of north latitude, and along that parallel to the Rocky Mountains. All the water-communications, and all the usual portages along the line from Lake Superior to the Lake of the Woods, and also Grand Portage, from the shore of Lake Superior to the Pigeon River, as now actuall used, to be free and open to the use of the subjects and citizens of § countries.
It is desirable to follow the description, and the exact line of the original Treaty, as far as practicable. There is reason to think, that “Long Lake” mentioned in the Treaty of 1783, meant merely the estuary of the Pigeon River, as no lake, called “Long Lake,” or any water strictly conforming to the idea of a lake, is found in that quarter. This opinion is strengthened by the fact, that the words of the Treaty would seem to imply, that the water, intended as “Long Lake,” was immediately adjoining Lake Superior. In one respect, an exact compliance with the words of the Treaty, is not practicable. There is no continuous water-communication between Lake Superior and the Lake of the Woods, as the Lake of the Woods is known to discharge its waters through Red River of the north into Hudson's Bay. The dividing height or ridge between the eastern sources, or the tributaries of the Lake of the Woods, and the western sources of Pigeon River, appears, by authentic maps, to be distant about forty miles from the mouth of the Pigeon River, on the shore of Lake Superior. It is not improbable, that in the imperfection of knowledge which then existed, of these remote countries, and, perhaps, misled by Mitchell’s Map, the negotiators of the Treaty of 1783 supposed the Lake of the Woods to discharge its waters into Lake Superior. The broken and difficult nature of the water-communication from Lake Superior to the Lake of the Woods, renders numerous portages necessary; and it is right that these water-communications, and these portages, should make a common highway, where necessary, for the use of the subjects and citizens of both Governments. When the proposed line shall be properly described in the Treaty, the grant by England of the right to use .. waters of the River St. John, for the purpose of transporting to the mouth of that river, all the timber and agricultural products raised in Maine, on the waters of the St. John, or any of its tributaries, without subjection to any discriminating toll, duty, or disability, is to be inserted. Provision should also be made for quieting and confirming the titles of all persons having claim to lands on either side of the line, whether such titles be perfect or inchoate only; and to the same extent in which they would have been confirmed by their respective Governments, had no change taken place. What has been agreed to, also, in respect to the common use of certain passages in the rivers and lakes, as already stated, must be made matter of regular stipulation. Your Lordship is also informed by correspondence which formerly took place between the two Governments, that there is a fund arising from the sale of timber, concerning which fund, an understanding was had some years ago. It will be expedient to provide by the Treaty, that this arrangement shall be carried into effect. A proper Article will be necessary to provide for the creation of a commission to run and mark some parts of the line between Maine and the British provinces. These several objects appear to me to embrace all respecting the Boundary Line and its equivalents, which the Treaty needs to contain as matters of stipulation between the United States and England. I have, &c., (Signed) DANIEL WEBSTER.
Lord Ashburton to Mr. Webster.
Sir, PWashington, July 29, 1842.
I HAVE attentively considered the statement contained in the letter you did me the honour of addressing me the 27th of this month, of the terms agreed to for the settlement of boundaries between Her Majesty’s provinces and the United States, being the final result of the many conferences we have had on this subject. This statement appears sub