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in 1789 the Spanish packet St. Charles, commanded by Captain Haro, found in the latitude 48° and 49°, Russian settlements to the number of eight, consisting in the whole of twenty families and 462 individuals." But, more than twenty years since, Heurieu had shown, in his introduction to the voyage of Marchand, that in this statement there was a mistake of at least ten degrees of latitude, and that instead of 480 and 490, it should read 580 and 590. This is probably not the only mistake in the account. It rests altogetber upon the credit of two private letters-one written from San Blas, and the other from the City of Mexico, to Spain-there communicated to a French consul in one of the Spanish ports, and by him to the French minister of marine. They were written in October, 1788, and August, 1789. We have seen that in 1790 Russia explicitly disclaimed interfering with the exclusive rights of Spain to beyond Prince William Sound in latitude 61°; and Vancouver, in 1794, was informed by the Russians on the spot that their most eastern settlement there was on Hinchinbrook Island, at Port Etches, which had been established in the course of the preceding summer, and that the adjacent continent was a sterile and uninhabited country.
Until the Nootka Sound contest Great Britain bad never advanced any claim to territory upon the northwest coast of America by right of occupation. Under the treaty of 1763 her territorial rights were bounded by the Mississippi.
On the 22d of July, 1793, McKenzie reached the shores of the Pacific by land from Canada in latitude 52° 21' north, longitude 128° 2' west of Greenwich.
It is stated in the 52d number of the Quarterly Review, in the article upon Kotzebue's
voyage, “that the whole country from latitude 560 30' to the boundary of the United States in latitude 48°, or thereabouts, is now and has long been in the actual possession of the British Northwest Company;" that this company have a post on the borders of a river in latitude 54° 30' north, longitude 1250 west, and that in lati. tude 55° 15' north, longitude 129° 44' west, “by this time (March, 1822) the United Company of the Northwest and Hudsons Bay have, in alí probability, formed an establishment."
It is not imaginable that, in the present condition of the world, any European nation should entertain the project of settling a colony on the northwest coast of America. That the United States should form establishments there, with views of absolute territorial right and inland communication, is not only to be expected, but is pointed out by the finger of nature, and has been for many years a subject of serious deliberation in Congress. A plan has, for several sessions, been before them for establishing a Territorial government on the borders of the Columbia River. It will undoubtedly be resumed at their next session, and even if then again postponed, there can not be a doubt that, in the course of a few years, it must be carried into effect.
As yet, however, the only useful purpose to which the Northwest Coast of America has been or can be made srbservient to the settlements of civilized men are the fisheries on its adjoining seas and trade with the aboriginal inhabitants of the country. These have hitherto been enjoyed in common by the people of the United States and by the British and Russian nations. The Spanish, Portuguese, and French nations have also participated in them hitherto, without other annoyance than that which resulted from the exclusive territorial claims of Spain, so long as they were insisted on by her.
The United States and Great Britain have both protested against the Russian imperial ukase of September 4 (16), 1821. At the proposal of the Russian Government a full power and instructions are now transmitted to Mr. Middleton for the adjustment, by amicable negotiation, of the conflicting claims of the parties on this subject.
We have been informed by the Baron de Tuyll that a similar authority has been given on the part of the British Government to Sir Charles Bagot.
Previous to the restoration of the settlement at the mouth of the Columbia River in 1818, and again upon the first introduction into Con. gress of the plan for constituting a Territorial government there, some disposition was manifested by Sir Charles Bagot and Mr. Canning to dispute the right of the United States to that establishment, and some vague intimation was given of British claims on the Northwest Coast. The restoration of the place and the convention of 1818 were considered as a final disposal of Mr. Bagot's objections, and Mr. Canning declined committing to paper those which he had intimated in conversation.
The discussion of the Russian pretensions in the negotiation now proposed necessarily involves the interests of the three powers and renders it manifestly proper that the United States and Great Britain should come to a mutual understanding with respect to their respectire pretensions, as well as upon their joint views with reference to those of Russia. Copies of the instructions to Mr. Middleton are, therefore, herewith transmitted to you, and the President wishes you to confer freely with the British Government on the subject.
The principles settled by the Nootka Sound Convention of October 28, 1790, were
(1) That the rights of fishery in the south seas, of trading with the natives of the Northwest Coast of America, and of making settlements on the coast itself for the purposes of that trade, north of the actual settlements of Spain, were common to all the European nations, and of course to the United States.
(2) That so far as the actual settlements of Spain had extended she possessed the exclusive rights, territorial and of navigation and fishery, extending to the distance of 10 miles from the coasts so actually occupied.
(3) Thaton the coasts of South America, and the adjacent islands south of the parts already occupied by Spain, no settlement should thereafter be made either by British or Spanish subjects, but on both sides should be retained the liberty of landing and of erecting temporary buildings for the purposes of the fishery. These rights were also, of course, enjoyed by the people of the United States.
The exclusive rights of Spain to any part of the American continents have ceased. That portion of the convention, therefore, which recog. vizes the exclusive colonial right of Spain on these continents, though confirmed, as between Great Britain and Spain, by the first additional article to the treaty of the 5th of July, 1811, has been extinguished by the fact of the independence of the South American nation ansl of Mexico. These independent nations will possess the rights incident to that condition, and their territories will
, of course, be subject to no exclusive right of navigation in their vicinity, or of access to them by any foreign nation.
A necessary consequence of this state of things will be that the American continents henceforth will no longer be subjects of colonization. Occupied by civilized, independent nations, they will be accessible to Europeans and to each other on that footing alone, and the Pacific Ocean in every part of it will remain open to the navigation of all nations in like manner with the Atlantic.
Incidental to the condition of national independence and sovereignty, the rights of anterior navigation of their rivers will belong to each of the American nations within its own territories.
The application of colonial principles of exclusion, therefore, can not be admitted by the United States as lawful on any part of the Northwest Coast of America, or as belonging to any European nation, Their own settlements there, when organized as Territorial governments, will be adapted to the freedom of their own institutions, and, as constituent parts of the Union, be subject to the principles and provisions of their constitution.
The right of carrying on trade with the natives throughout the Northwest Coast they (the United States) can not renounce. With the Russion settlements at Kodiak, or at New Archangel, they may irly claim the advantage of a free trade, having so long enjoyed it unmolested, and because it has been and would continue to be as advantageous at least to those settlements as to them. But they will not contest the right of Russia to prohibit the traffic, as strictly confined to the Russian settlement itself and not extending to the original natives of the coast.
If the British Northwest and Iludson's Bay Companies have any posts on the coast, as suggested in the article of the Quarterly Review, above cited, the third article of the convention of October 20, 1818, is applicable to them. Mr. Middleton is authorized by his instructions to propose an article of similar import, to be inserted in a joint convention between the United States, Great Britain, and Russia, for a term of ten years from its signature. You are authorized to make the same proposal to the British Government, and with a view to draw a definite line of demarcation for the future, to stipulate that no settlement shall hereafter be made on the Northwest Coast or on any of the islands thereto adjoining by Russian subjects south of latitude 55°, by citizens of the United States north of latitude 51°, or by British subjects either south of 51° or north of 55°. I mention the latitude of 51° as the bound within which we are willing to limit the future settlement of the United States, because it is not to be doubted that the Columbia River branches as far north as 51°, although it is most probably not the Taconesche Tesse of Mackenzie. As, however, the line already runs in latitude 190 to the Stony Mountains, should it be earnestly insisted upon by Great Britain, we will consent to carry it in continuance on the same parallel to the sea. Copies of this instruction will likewise be forwarded to Mr. Middleton, with whom you will freely, but cautiously, correspond on this subject, as well as in relation to your negotiation respecting the suppression of the slave trade.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your very humble obedient servant,
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS. Hon. RICHARD RUSH, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister
Plenipotentiary of the United States, London.
Mr. Middleton to Mr. Adams.
[Extract.) No. 33.]
ST. PETERSBURG, December 1 (13), 1823. Sir: I have prepared, and shall deliver in on the first fit occasion, for his Imperial Majesty's inspection, a confidential memoir on the North
west question, and I now forward a copy of it marked A. The subject must be trite to you; but I have found here that it is indispensable to make some statements of facts and principles in this case before I can proceed further in the negotiation. I hope you will approve of the course I am pursuing, and that you will find that I have stated correctly both facts and principles. I felt it to be necessary to broach the subject in this mode, knowing the erroneous impressions which prevail. I lave now great hopes, notwithstanding the unfavorable appearances which this affair has worn for a few weeks past, that it may iake a new turn, and that I may yet be enabled to succeed in attaining the main object of the negotiation.
Sir Charles Bagot is now daily expecting the return of his messenger with new powers and instructions respecting the same matters. I mentioned in my last, and I now repeat, that I have a reasonable expertation that he will be instructed to pursue the course of policy so obviously pointed out by the true interests of England, and suggested by a sense of the propriety of being consistent, and of persevering in the principles which marked the Nootka Sound contestation. Neither be nor I foresee any difficulty in reconciling and adjusting the interests of our respective countries upon this question.
(For inclosures see American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. V, p. 419, et seq.)
Mr. Rush to Jr. Adams.
LONDON, December 19, 1823. SIR: Since I last wrote, Mr. Canning has been confined to his house by a sharp attack of gout; nevertheless, he wrote me a note the day before yesterday inviting me to call upon him on that day for the purpose of having our proposed conference on the topic of the Northwest Coast. I went accordingly and was received by him in his chamber.
He repeated his wish to learn from me our general grounds upon this subject preparatory to his sending off instructions to Sir Charles Bagot.
lat once unfolded them to him by stating that the proposals of my Government were, first, that as regarded the country lying between the Stony Mountains and the Pacitic Ocean, Great Britain, the United States, and Russia should jointly enter into a convention, similar in its nature to the third article of the convention of the 20th of October, 1818, now existing between the two former powers, by which the whole of that country westward of the Stony Mountains and all its waters would be free and open to the citizens and subjects of the three powers as long as the joint convention remained in force. This my Government proposed should be for the term of ten years.
And, second, that the l'nited States were willing to stipulate to make no settlements north of the fifty-first degree of north latitude on that coast, provided Great Britain stipulated to make none south of 51° or north of 55°, and Russia to make mone south of 5.50.
These, I said, were the principal points which I had to put forward upon this subject. The map was spread out before us, and, in stating the points, I endeavored to explain and recommend them by such appropriate remarks as your instructions supplied me with, going as far as seemed titted to a discussion regarded only as preparatory and informal.
Mr. Canning repeated that he had not invited me to call upon him with any view to discussion at present, but only to obtain from me a statement of the points, in anticipation of the opening of the negotiation, from the motive that he had mentioned of writing to Mr. Bagot. Yet my statement naturally led to further conversation. He expressed no opinion on any of the points, but his inquiries and remarks under that which proposes to confine the British settlements within 510 and 550 were evidently of a nature to indicate strong objections on his side, hough he professed to speak only from his first impressions. It is nore proper, I should say, that his objections were directed to our proposal of not letting Great Britain go above 55° north with her settlements, whilst we allowed Russia to come down to that line with hers. In treating of this coast he had supposed that Britain had ber northern question with Russia, as her southern with the United States. He could see a motive for the United States desiring to stop the settlements of Great Britain southward; but he had not before kuown of their desire to stop them northward, and, above all, over limits conceded to Russia. It was to this effect that his suggestions went. He threw out no dissent to the plan of joint usufruction between the three powers of the country westward of the Stony Mountains for the period of time proposed.
In the course of my remarks I said that the United States no longer regarded any part of that coast as open to European colonization, but only to be used for purposes of traffic with the natives and for fishing in the neighboring seas; that we did not know that Great Britain had ever advanced any claim whatever to territory there founded on occu. pation prior to the Nootka Sound controversy; that under the treaties of 1763 her territorial rights in America were bounded westward by the Mississippi; that if the Northwest and Hudson's Bay Companies now had settlements as high up as 54° or 550 we suppose it to be as much as could be shown, and were not aware how Great Britain could make good her claims any further; that Spain, on the contrary, had much larger claims on that coast by right of discovery, and that to the whole extent of these the United States had succeeded by the Florida treaty; that they were willing, however, waiving for the present the full ad. vantage of these claiins, to forbear all settlements north of 51°, as that limit might be sufficient to give them the benefit of all the waters of the Columbia River; but that they would expect Great Britain to abstain froin coming south of that limit or going above 55°, the latter parallel being taken as that beyond which it was not imagined that she had any actual settlements. The same parallel was proposed for the southern limit of Russia as the boundary within which the Emperor Paul had granted certain commercial privileges to his Russian American Company in 1799; but that, in fixing upon this live as regarded Russia, it was not the intention of the United States to deprive themselves of the right of traffic with the natives above it and still less to concede to that power any system of colonial exclusion above it.
Such was the general character of my remarks which Mr. Canning said he would take into due consideration. In conclusion I said to him that I should reserve myself for the negotiation itself for such further elucidations of the subject as might tend to show the justice and reasonableness of our propositions. I have the honor to be, etc.,
RICHARD RUSH. Hon. JOIN QUINCY ADAMS,
Secretary of State.