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documents bearing upon a question of so much interest and importance to the two countries, should, in the first instance, be communicated to the President. The documents had been officially placed in the hands of Her Majesty's Govern. ment, only a few days previously to the date of the instruction addressed to the Undersigned.
Her Majesty's Government feel an unabated desire to bring the long-pending questions connected with the boundary between the United States and the British possessions in North America, to a final and satisfactory settlement, being well aware that questions of this nature, as long as they remain open between two countries, must be the source of frequent irritation on both sides, and are liable, at any moment, to lead to events that may endanger the existence of friendly relations.
It is obvious that the questions at issue between Great Britain and the United States, must be beset with various and really existing difficulties; or else those questions would not have remained open ever since the year 1783, notwithstanding the frequent and earnest endeavours made by each Government to bring them to an adjustment. But Her Majesty's Government do not relinquish the hope, that the sincere desire which is felt by both parties to arrive at an amicable settlement, will at length be attended with success.
The best clue to guide the two Governments in their future proceedings, may perhaps be obtained by an examination of the causes of past failure; and the most prominent amongst these causes has certainly been a want of correct information as to the topographical features and physical character of the district in dispute.
This want of adequate information may be traced as one of the difficulties which embarrassed the Netherlands' Government in its endeavours to decide the points submitted to its arbitration in 1830. The same has been felt by the Government of England; it has been felt and admitted by the Government of the United States, and even by the Local Government of the contiguous State of Maine.
The British Government, and the Government of the United States, agreed, therefore, two years ago, that a survey of the disputed territory by a joint Commission would be the measure best calculated to elucidate and solve the questions at issue. . The President proposed such a Commission, and Her Majesty's Government consented to it; and it was believed by Her Majesty's Government that the general principles upon which the Commission was to be guided in its local operations, had been settled by mutual agreement, arrived at by means of a correspondence which took place between the two Governments in 1837 and 1838. Her Majesty's Government accordingly transmitted, in April of last year, for the consideration of the President, the Draft of a Convention to regulate the proceedings of the proposed Commission. The preamble of that Draft recited textually the agreement that had been come to by means of Notes which had been exchanged between the two Governments; and the articles of the Draft were frained, as Her Majesty's Government considered, in strict conformity with that agreement.
But the Government of the United States did not think proper to assent to the Convention so proposed. - The United States' Government did not indeed allege that the proposed Convention was at variance with the result of the previous correspondence between the two Governments; but it thought that the Convention would establish a Commission of “mere Exploration and Survey;" and the President was of opinion that the step next to be taken by the two Governments should be to contract stipulations bearing upon the face of them the promise of a final settlement, under some form or other, and within a reasonable time.
The United States' Government accordingly transmitted to the Undersigned, for communication to Her Majesty's Government, in the month of July last, a Counter-Draft of Convention, varying considerably in some parts, as the Secretary of State of the United States admitted in his letter to the Undersigned, of the 29th of July last, from the Draft proposed by Great Britain. But the Secretary of State added, that the United States Government did not deem it necessary to comment upon the alterations so made, as the 'text itself of the Counter-Draft would be found sufficiently perspicuous.
Her Majesty's Government might certainly well have expected that some reasons would have been given, to explain why the United States' Government declined to confirm an arrangement which was founded upon propositions made, by that Government itself, and upon modifications to which that Government ; had agreed ; or that, if the American Government thought the Draft of Convention thus proposed was not in conformity with the previous agree- : ment, it would have pointed out in what respect the two were considered to differ.
Her Majesty's Government, considering the present state of the Boundary Question, concur with the Government of the United States in thinking, that it . is on every account expedient that the next measure to be adopted by the two Governments should contain arrangements which will necessarily lead to a final, settlement; and they think that the Convention which they proposed last year to the President, instead of being framed so as to constitute a mere Commission of Exploration and Survey, did, on the contrary, contain stipulations calculated to lead to the final ascertainment of the Boundary between the two countries. .
There was, however, undoubtedly, one essential difference between the British Draft and the American Counter-Draft. The British Draft contained no provision embodying the principle of arbitration ; the American Counter-Draft, did contain such a provision.
The British Draft contained no provision for arbitration, because the principle of arbitration had not been proposed on either side during the negotiations upon which that Draft was founded; and because, moreover, it was understood at that time that the principle of arbitration would be decidedly objected to by the United States.
But as the United States'Government have now expressed a wish to embody the principle of arbitration in the proposed Convention, Her Majesty's Government are perfectly willing to accede to that wish.
: The Undersigned is accordingly instructed to state officially to Mr. For-, syth, that Her Majesty's Govenment consent to the two principles which formed the main foundation of the American Counter-Draft ; namely, first that the. Commission to be appointed shall be so constituted as necessarily to lead to a final settlement of the questions of Boundary at issue between the two countries;. and, secondly, that in order to secure such a result, the Convention, by which the Commission is to be created, shall contain a provision for arbitration upon points as to which the British and American Commissioners may not be able to agree.
The Undersigned is, however, instructed to add, that there are many matters of detail in the American Counter-Draft which Her Majesty's Government cannot adopt. The Undersigned will be furnished from his Government, by an early opportunity, with an amended Draft, in conformity with the principles above stated, to be subinitted to the consideration of the President. And the Undersigned expects to be at the same time furnished with instructions to propose to the Government of the United States a fresh local and temporary Convention, for the better prevention of incidental border collisions within the disputed territory during the time that may be occupied in carrying through the operations of survey or arbitration. The Undersigned avails, &c.,
(Signed) H. S. FOX.
Inclosure 2 in No. 5.
Washington, June 26, 1840. THE Undersigned, Secretary of State of the United States, has had the honour to receive a note addressed to him on the 22nd instant, by Mr. Fox, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Great Britain, inclosing. printed copies of the Report and Map laid before the British Government by. the Commissioners employed during the last season to survey the territory in dispute between the two countries, and communicating the consent of Her Britannic Majesty's Government to the two principles which form the main
foundation of the counter-proposition of the United States for the adjustment of the question. .
The Undersigned having laid Mr. Fox's note before the President, is instructed to say, in answer, that the President duly appreciates the motives of courtesy which prompted the British Governinent to communicate to that of the United States the documents referred to; and that he derives great satisfaction from the announcement that Her Majesty's Government do not relinquish the hope that the sincere desire which is felt by both parties to arrive at an amicable settlement will at length be attended with success; and from the prospect held out by Mr. Fox of his being accordingly furnished by an early opportunity with the draft of a proposition, amended in conformity with the principles to which Her Majesty's Government has acceded, to be submitted to the consideration of this Government. .
Mr. Fox states that his Government might have expected that, when the American Counter-Draft was communicated to him, some reasons would have been given to explain why the United States Government declined accepting the British Draft of Convention, or that, if it thought the Draft was not in conformity with the previous agreement, it would have pointed out in what respect the two were considered to differ.
· In the note which the Undersigned addressed to Mr. Fox on the 29th of July of last year, transmitting the American Counter-Draft, he states that, in consequence of the then recent events on the frontier, and the danger of collision between the citizens and subjects of the two Governments, a mere Commission of Exploration and Survey would be inadequate to the exigencies of the occasion, and fall behind the just expectations of the people of both countries, and referred to the importance of having the measure next adopted bear upon its face stipulations which must result in a final settlement under some form, and in a reasonable time. These were the reasons which induced the President to introduce in the new project the provisions which he thought calculated for the attainment of so desirable an object, and which, in his opinion, rendered obviously unnecessary any allusion to the previous agreements referred to by Mr. Fox. The President is gratified to find that a concurrence in those views has brought the minds of Her Majesty's Government to a similar conclusion; and from this fresh indication of harmony in the wishes of the two Cabinets, he. permits himself to anticipate the most satisfactory result from the measures under consideration. · The Undersigned avails, &c.
(Signed) JOHN FORSYTH.
Washington, July 5, 1840. I HAVE the honour herewith to inclose a printed copy of a message from the President to Congress, transmitting the last correspondence upon the Boundary Negotiation between the United States' Secretary of State and myself, and which correspondence was forwarded to your Lordship in my despatch, of the 28th ultimo.
Although the President's message is dated the 27th of June, it was not transmitted to Congress until the Monday following, the 29th of the month, the next day after the date of my despatch of the 28th ultimo.
The message expresses, in satisfactory terms, the hope and expectation entertained by the President, of an amicable settlement of the Boundary Question ; and it calls for the assistance of Congress, to enable the President to effect a new preparatory survey, by American Commissioners, of those parts of the disputed territory which are especially treated of in the report of the British Commissioners, Colonel Mudge and Mr. Featherstonhaugh. If Congress assent : to this proposal, I presume that the preparatory survey, by American Commissioners, will be made, or at least, that it will be commenced, during the present season.
I have been surprised to find, that although the President refers in his
message to the contents of the Report of the British Commissioners, (two copies of which Repart, as well as of the Map, accompanied my note to the United States' Secretary of State of the 22nd ultimo,) yet neither the Report itself nor the Map have been officially communicated to Congress. It appears, from state, ments made by Mr. Buchanan, Chairman of the Committee of Foreign Affairs of the Senate, during two short dircussions which have taken place in the Senate subsequently to the transmission of the message, namely, on the 1st and 3rd of this month, (reports of which discussions are herewith inclosed,) that one copy of the Report and one copy of the Map have been communicated by the President, in a confidential form, to the Committee of Foreign Affairs, but not publicly to Congress. Mr. Ruggles, the opposition Senator froin Maine, has moved for the official production of the Report: his motion will be discussed in the Senate to-morrow; it seems probable that it will be resisted by Mr. Buchanan and the administration party. Under these circumstances, I have not yet thought myself authorized to distribute among the members of Congress the copies of the Commissioners' Report and Map which were furnished to me for that purpose by your Lordship. Objections would be raised, perhaps technically just, against my doing so; and, moreover, it would not be prudent that I should run any risk of appearing to solicit readers for the British Report amongst the meinbers of Congress. A desire apparently prevails with the United States Government to conceal the Report; the effect will be, to cause it to be sought after and read with great avidity when it arrives in print in the English newspapers, which I presume will bappen by the next steain-packet.
I have, &c.,
H. S. FOX.
Inclosure 1 in No. 6.
To the Senate :
The importance of the subject to the tranquillity of our country makes it proper that I should communicate to the Senate, in addition to the information heretofore transmitted in reply to their resolution of the 17th of January last, the copy of a letter just received from Mr. Fox, announcing the determination of the British Government to consent to the principles of our last proposition for the settlement of the question of the North-Eastern Boundary, with a copy of the answer made to it by the Secretary of State. I cannot doubt that, with the sincere disposition which actuates both Governments to prevent any other than an amicable termination of the controversy, it will be found practicable so to arrange the details of a Conventional agreement on the principles alluded to as to effect that object.
The British Commissioners, in their report communicated to Mr. Fox, express an opinion, that the true line of the Treaty of 1783 is materially different from that so long contended for by Great Britain. The report is altogether ex parte in its character, and has nut yet, as far as we are informed, been adopted by the British Government. It has, however, assumed a form sufficiently authentic and important to justify the belief, that it is to be used hereafter by the British Government in the discussion of the question of Boundary; and, as it differs essentially from the line claimed by the United States, an immediate preparatory exploration and survey on our part, by Commissioners appointed for that purpose, of the portions of the territory therein more particularly brought into view, would, in my opinion, be proper. If Congress concur with me in this view of the subject, a provision by them to enable the Executive to carry it into effect will be necessary.
M. VAN BUREN. Washington, June 17, 1840.
Inclosure 2 in No. 6.
Discussion in the Senate on the Boundary Negotiations.
THE resolution offered by Mr. Ruggles, calling on the President of the United States, if not inconsistent with the public interest, for a copy of the report and map presented to the British Government by their Commissioners for surveying the disputed territory, coming up in its order :
Mr. Buchanan, as he must be absent from the Senate this morning, asked as an act of courtesy, that the Senator from Maine would let the resolution lie over till Monday. He proceeded to remark, that this was a subject of great delicacy; that but' one copy of the report and map had been sent to this country, and that in a confidential manner, and as a mere act of courtesy, as the report had not yet been acted upon by the British Government; that to his certain knowledge, important information had been often withheld from this Government, from the apprehension that it would be made public. Under these circumstances, although the report was really, no secret, Mr. B. thought it not proper to publish it. But, for the present, he wished merely that the resolution should lie over till Monday.
Mr. Ruggles said, it was not on his own account particularly that he had submitted the call for this map and report. But the President of the United States had warmly recommended a survey of the disputed territory on the part of the United States. That recommendation was ostensibly founded on the report and map in question; and Mr. Ruggles thought it due to the Senate that they should themselves see the ground on which they were called upon to act in relation to this subject.
Mr. Allen said there was a manifest impropriety in adopting this resolution, especially as the action of the Senate, even so far, on this map and report, would give them a sort of sanction which ought not to be given them, while it was known that they had not been accepted by the British Government, and no. intimation had been given that they would be adhered to. Mr. Allen, therefore, moved to lay the resolution finally on the table; but on its being observed that Mr. Buchanan had left the Senate, and might wish to say something further on the subject on Monday, Mr. Allen withdrew his resolution, and the resolution was laid over till Monday.
Foreign Office, August 19, 1840. IN my despatch,, of the 3rd of June last, I stated to you how desirable it seemed to be, that no time should be lost in endeavouring to settle with the Government of the United States, some temporary arrangement which should effectually prevent local collisions within the Disputed Territory, during the period which might yet elapse before the question of Boundary should be finally determined; and I instructed you to call the attention of the President to the inconveniences which were likely to result from the present state of things in that quarter, and to say that it was the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, that the best way of preventing the friendly relations between the United States and Great Britain from being interrupted by the indiscreet acts of local authorities, would be to place these matters in the hands of the two Governments; and that, for this purpose, Her Majesty's Government would propose that an agreement, to be recorded by a Protocol, or by an exchange of Notes, should