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RUSSIA'S EARLY TITLE TO PARTS OF THE AMERICAN
From a summary of what has been said in the Case on the subject of early discovery and ownership of the territory surrounding Bering Sea, it appears that prior to 1891 the Russians were without question both the first discoverers and settlers of all territory on its western and southern boundary. As to its eastern boundary, they were the first to visit a portion of it, and the subsequent discoveries of Cook were followed up by Russian expeditions. No nation save Russia ever claimed this territory as its own. This she did as early as the year 1799, when she conferred upon the Russian American Company exclusive privileges tlıroughout its whole length; and it is not known that any protest was ever raised to this grant, which, furthermore, included the coast, already largely settled by Russians, down to latitude 550 N.
If further proof is required as to Russia's ownership not only of this shore but also of the coast of the continent, at least as far west as Prince William Sound or Yakutat Bay, it is furnished by what follows.
In a number of the London Quarterly Review of 18222 it is said in ref. erence to the famous ukase of 1821: “Let us examine, however, what claim Russia can reasonably set up to the territory in question. To the two shores of Bering Sea we admit she would have an undoubted claim, on the scope of priority of discovery, that on the side of Asia having been visited by Deshnew in 1648, and that of America visited by Bering in 1741, as far down as the latitude 51° and the peaked mountain, since generally known by the name of Cape Fairweather; to the southward of this point, however, Russia has not the slightest
In the North American Review for October, 1822, we find the following: “We have no doubt but Russian fur-hunters formed establishments, at an early period, on the Aleutian Islands and neighboring coast of the continent; but we are equally certain that it can be clearly demonstrated that no settlement was made eastward of Bering Bay till the one at Norfolk Sound (Sitka), in 1799. The statements of Cook, Vancouver, Mears (Mirs), Portlock, and La Perouse prove, what we readily admit, that previous to 1786 the Russians had settlements on the island of Kadiak and in Cook's River; but we shall take leave to use the same authorities to establish the fact that none of these settlements extended so far east as Bering Bay.
Claret Fleurieu, in his introduction to the Voyage of Marchand, pubiPp. 20–25. ? Vol. XXVI, p. 344. 3 See also, to the same effect, article in Quartely Review for 1814,
* See also North American Review, March, 1816, p. 302: “ At the settlement of Norfolk Sound, in latitude 57° N., there are about 600 Russians."
lished in 1801, says: “The principal object of all these voyages was the examination of that long archipelago, known under the collective name of the Aleutian or Fox Islands, which the Russian charts divide into several archipelagoes under different names; of all the part of the coast which extends east and west under the parallel of 600 and comprehends a great number of islands situated to the south of the mainland, some of which were visited, and others only perceived by Beering; lastly, of the Peninsula of Alaska, and of the other islands situated to the north of this peninsula as far as the seventieth degree. It is on these Aleutian Islands, and on upwards of three hundred leagues of the coast, which extend beyond the Polar Circle, that the indefatigable Russians have formed those numerous settlements, those factories that support the fur trade, from which the Empire of Russia derives such great ad. vantages in its commercial concerns and exchanges with the Empire of China.”
Sir George Simpson, the governor in chief of the Hudson's Bay Company's territories in North America, says in his "Narrative of a journey round the world during the years 1841 and 1812”:2 “In justice, however, to Russia, I have no hesitation in saying that under the recog. nized principles of colonization she is fully entitled to all that she holds in America. The writer goes on to describe the discoveries as far as Kadiak, and states: “... no other nation having previously penetrated, or even pretended to have penetrated, farther north than the parallel of 530,” And he continues: “But the Russian discoveries were distinguished by this favorable peculiarity, that they were in a great measure achieved independently of the more southerly discoveries of Spain, being the result of rumors of a neighboring continent which in the beginning of the century the Russian conquerors had found to be rite in Kamchatka. Moreover, in the case of the Russians, discovery and possession had advanced hand in hand. The settlement of Kadiak was made four years before Mears erected his solitary shed in Nootka Sound, and Sitka was established fully ten or twelve years earlier than Astoria. According to this plain summary of undeniable facts Russia had a better claim, at least down to the parallel of 56°, than any other power could possibly acquire."
In a confidential memorandum submitted by Mr. Middleton, United States Minister, to the Russian authorities during the heat of the subsequent controversy between the United States and Russia, it is said:
“ About this time, but a little later, in 1697, the Russians penetrated, by Siberia, as far as Kamchatka, and from thence embarking at the ports of Oklotsk and Avatcha, between the years 1710 and 1741, they pushed their discoveries in the northern latitudes of the Great Ocean. From these discoveries Russia derives her rights to that long chain of islands intervening between the western and the eastern continents, and even to a very considerable portion of the continent of Americarights which have never been contested.”
“It is, then, demonstrated that Russia, in the year 1790, was far from forming any territorial claim for herself upon the continent of North America on this side of the sixty-first degree of north latitude.” :
Marchand's Voyage, translated by C. P. Claret Fleurieu, London, 1801, vol. I, introduction, p. XXXV.
. Ibid., vol. i, p. 270.
IMPERIAL RUSSIAN EDICTS RELATING TO THE
RUSSIAN AMERICAN COMPANY.
CHARTER OF 1799.1
First charter of the Russian American Company.
On the original is written in His Imperial Majesty's own hand: "Be it thus.”—Peterhoff, July 8, 1799.
“By the grace of a merciful God, we, Paul the First, Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias, etc. To the Russian American Company under our highest protection. The benefits and advantages resulting to our empire from the hunting and trading carried on by our loyal subjects in the northeastern seas and along the coasts of America have attracted our imperial attention and consideration; therefore, having taken under our immediate protection a Company organized for the above-named purpose of carrying on hunting and trading, we allow it to assume the appellation of Russian American Company, operating under our Highest Protection; and for the purpose of aiding the Company in its enterprises, we allow the commanders of our land and sea forces to employ said forces in the Company's aid if occasion requires it, while for further relief and assistance of said Company, and having examined their rules and regulations, we hereby declare it to be our highest Imperial will to grant to this Company for a period of 20 years the following rights and privileges:
I. By the right of discovery in past times by Russian navigators of the northeastern part of America, beginning from the fifty-fifth degree of north latitude and of the chain of islands extending from Kamchatka to the north to America, and southward to Japan, and by right of possession of the same by Russia, we most graciously permit the Company to have the use of all hunting-grounds and establishments now existing on the northeastern coast of America, from the above-mentioned fifty-fifth degree to Bering Strait, and also on the Aleutian, Kurile, and other islands situated in the Northeastern Ocean.
II. To make new discoveries not only north of the fifty-fifth degree of north latitude, but farther to the south, and to occupy the new lands discovered, as Russian possessions, according to prescribed rules, if they have not been previously occupied by, or been dependent on, any other nation).
III. To use and profit by everything which has been or shall be discovered in those localities, on the surface and in the interior of the earth, without competition from others.
IV. We most graciously permit this Company to establish settlements in future times, wherever they are wanted, according to its best
For Russian text, see Tikhmenief, vol. 1, app., p. 19, and Golovnin, in Materialui, I, pp. 77-80, Sic.
knowledge and belief, and fortify them to insure the safety of the inhabitants, and to send ships to those shores with goods and hunters, without any obstacles
part of the Government. V. To extend their navigation to all adjoining nations and hold business intercourse with all surrounding powers, upon obtaining their free consent for the purpose, and under our highest protection to enable them to prosecute their enterprises with greater force and advantage.
VI. To employ for navigation, hunting, and all other business, free and unsuspected people, having no illegal views or intentions. In consideration of the distance of the localities where they will be sent, the provincial authorities will grant to all persons sent out as settlers, hun. ters, and in other capacities, passports for seven years. Serfs and houseservants will only be employed by the Company with the consent of their landholders, and Government taxes will be paid for all serfs thus employed.
VII. Though it is forbidden by our highest order to cut Government timber anywhere without the permission of the admiralty college, this Company is hereby permitted, on account of the distance of the admiralty from Okhotsk, when it needs timber for repairs, and occasionally for the construction of new ships, to use freely such timber as is required.
VIII. For shooting animals, for marine signals, and in all unexpected emergencies on the mainland of America, and on the islands, the Company is permitted to buy for cash, at cost price, from the Government artillery magazine at Irkutsk, yearly, 40 or 50 pouds of powder and from the Nertchinsk mine 200 pouds of lead.
IX. If one of the partners of the Company becomes indebted to the Government or to private persons and is not in a condition to pay them from any other property except what he holds in the Company, such property can not be seized for the satisfaction of such debts, but the debtor shall not be permitted to use anything but the interest or dividends of such property until the term of the Company's privileges expires, when it will be at his or his creditor's disposal.
X. The exclusive right is most graciously granted to the Company for a period of twenty years, to use and enjoy, in the above-described extent of country and islands, all profits and advantages derived from hunting, trade, industries, and discovery of new lands, prohibiting the enjoyinent of these profits and advantages not only to those who would wish to sail to those countries on their own account, but to all former hunters and trappers who have been engaged in this trade and have their vessels and furs at those places; and other companies which may have been formed will not be allowed to continue their business unless they unite with the present Company with their free consent; but such private companies or traders as have their vessels in those regions can eitlier sell their property, or, with the Company's consent, remain until they have obtained a cargo, but no longer than is required for the loading and return of their vessel; and after that nobody will have any privileges but this one Company, which will be protected in the enjoy. ment of all the rights mentioned.
XI. Under our highest protection the Russian American Company will have full control over all above-inentioned localities, and exercise judicial powers in minor cases. The Company will also be permitted to use all local facilities for fortifications in the defense of the country under their control against foreign attacks. Ouly partners of the Company shall be employed in the administration of the new possessions in charge of the Company.
UKASE OF 1821.?
Edict of his Imperial Majesty Autocrat of all the Russias. The Directing Senate maketh known unto all men. Whereas in an edict of this Imperial Majesty, issued to the Directing Senate on the 4th day of September, and sigued by His Imperial Majesty's own hand, it is thus expressed:
“ Observing from reports submitted to us that the trade of our subjects on the Aleutian Islands and on the northwest coast of America appertaining unto Russia, is subjected, because of secret and illicit traffic, to oppression and impediments; and finding that the principal cause of these difficulties is the want of rules establishing the boundaries for navigation along these coasts, and the order of naval communication as well in these places as on the whole of the eastern coast of Siberia and the Kurile Islands, we have deemed it necessary to determine these communications by specific regulations, which are hereto attached.”
“In forwarding these regulations to the Directing Senate, we command that the same be published for universal information, and that the proper measures be taken to carry them into execution.”
(Countersigned: Count D. Gurief, Minister of Finances.)
It is therefore decreed by the Directing Senate that His Imperial Majesty's edict be published for the information of all men, and that the same be obeyed by all whom it may concern.
The original is signed by the Directing Senate.
On the original is written in the handwriting of His Imperial Majesty, thus: Be it accordingly
ALEXANDER. KAMENNOY OSTROFF, 4th September, 1821.
RULES ESTABLISHED FOR TILE LIMITS OF NATIGATION AND ORDER OF COMMUNICATION ALONG THE COAST OF EASTERN SIBERIA, THE NORTHWEST COAST OF AMERICA, AND TIE ALEUTIAN, KURILE, AND OTHER ISL.LVDS.
SEC. 1. The pursuits of commerce, whaling, and fishery, and of all other industry on all islands, ports, and gulfs including the whole of the, northwest coast of America, beginning from Behring's Straits to the 51° of northern latitude, also from the Aleutian Islands to the eastern coast of Siberia, as well as along the Kurile Islands from Behring's Straits to the South Cape of the Island of Urup, viz, to the 45° 50' northern latitude, is exclusively granted to Russian subjects.
SEC. 2. It is therefore prohibited to all foreign vessels not only to and on the coasts and islands belonging to Russia as stated above, but also to approach them within less than a hundred Italian miles.
1 Translation as sent out by the Russian Goverument in 1821.