Page images
PDF
EPUB

popular agitation. If this offer be accepted, the President believes that before another season shall open, the friendly relations existing between the two countries and the mutual desire to continue them, will had to treaty stipulations which shall be permanent, because just and leonorable to all parties. I have, etc.,

JAMES G. BLAINE.

Mr. Blaine to Sir Julian Pauncefote.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, June 2, 1890. MY DEAR SIR JULIAN: I have had a prolonged interview with the President on the matters upon which we are endeavoring to come to an agreement touching the fur-seal question. The President expresses the opinion that an arbitration can not be concluded in time for this season. Arbitration is of little value unless conducted with the most careful deliberation. What the President most anxiously desires to know is whether Lord Salisbury, in order to promote a friendly solution of the question, will make for a single season the regulation which in 1888 he offered to make permanent. The President regards that as the step which will lead most certainly and most promptly to a friendly agreement between the two Governments. I am, etc.,

JAMES G. BLAINE.

Sir Julian Pauncefote to Mr. Blaine,

BRITISH LEGATION,

Washington, D. C., June 3, 1890. DEAR MR. BLAINE: In reply to your letter of yesterday evening, touching the fur-seal question, I beg to state that I am in a position to answer at once the inquiry “Whether Lord Salisbury, in order to promote a friendly solution of the question, will make for a single season the regulation which in 1888 he offered to make perinanent."

The words which I quote from your letter have reference no doubt to the proposal of the United States that British sealing vessels should be entirely excluded from the Behring Sea during the seal-fishery season. I shall not attempt to discuss here whether what took place in the course of the abortive negotiations of 1888 amounted to an offer on the part of Lord Salisbury “to make such a regulation permanent."

It will suffice for the present purpose to state that the further exam. ination of the question which has taken place has satisfied His Lordship that such an extreme measure as that proposed in 1888 goes far beyond the requirements of the case.

Her Majesty's Government are quite willing to adopt all measures which shall be satisfactorily proved to be necessary for the preservation of the fur-seal species, and to enforce such measures on British subjects by proper legislation. But they are not prepared to agree to such a regulation as is suggested in your letter for the present fishery season,

from other considerations, there would be no legal power to enforce its observance ou British subjects and British vessels. I have, etc.

JULIAN PAUNCEFOTE.

as, ap

Mr. Blaine to Sir Julian Pauncefote.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, June 4, 1890. Sir: I have your favor of the 2d instant. The President sincerely regrets that his considerate and most friendly proposal for adjustment of all troubles connected with the Behring Sea should be so promptly rejected. The paragraph in your note in which you refer to Lord Salisbury's position needs explanation. I quote it in full:

It will suffice for the present purpose to state that the further examination of the question which has taken place has satisfied His Lordship that such an extreme measure as that proposed in 1888 goes far beyond the requirements of the case.

I do not know what may have been the “examination of the ques. tion” that “has satisfied Lord Salisbury that such an extreme measure as that proposed in 1888 goes far beyond the requirements of the case.” I only know that the most extreme measure proposed came from Lord Salisbury himself in suggesting a close season as far south as the fortyseventh parallel of latitude, to last from April 15 to October 1 in each year.

At the close of his negotiations with Mr. Phelps in September, 1888, His Lordship, still approving the measures to prevent the wanton destruction of so valuable an industry,” declared, apparently with regret, that “the Canadian Government objected to any such restrictions” (i. e., as those which His Lordship had in part proposed and wholly approved), and that “until its consent would be obtained Her Majesty's Government was not willing to enter into the convention.” It is evident, therefore, that in 1888 Lord Salisbury abruptly closed the negotiations because in his own phrase "the Canadian Government objected.” He assigned no other reason whatever, and until your note of the 2d was received this Government had never been informed that His Lordship entertained any other objections than those expressed in September, 1888.

It is proper to recall to your recollection that at divers times in personal conversation I have proposed to you, on behalf of this Government, a close season, materially shorter, in point of time, than was voluntarily offered by Lord Salisbury and much less extended in pointof space. Instead of going as far south as the forty-seventh parallel I have frequently indicated the willingness of this Government to take the dividing line between the Pacific Ocean and the Behring Sea—the line which is tangent to the southernmost island of the Aleutian group-being as near as may be the fiftieth parallel of north latitude.

Early in April you will remember that you suggested to me the advantage that might follow if the sailing of the revenue cutters for Behring Sea could be postponed till the middle of May. Though that was a matter entirely under the control of the Treasury Department, Secretary Windom promptly complied with your request, and by the Presi. dent's direction a still longer postponement was ordered in the hope that some form of equitable adjustment might be proposed by Her Mjesty's Government. Even the revenue cutter, which annually passes through Behring Sea carrying supplies to the relief station at Point Barrow in the Arctic Ocean-seventy-second degree of north latitudewas held back lest her appearance in Behring Sea might be misrepresented as a nonobservance of the understanding between us.

It is perfectly clear that if your claim for British vessels to kill seals within 10 miles of the Pribilof Islands, directly after the mothers are delivered of their young, should be granted, the Behring Sea would swarm with vessels engaged in sealing-not forty or fifty, as now, but many hundreds, through the summer months. If that privilege should be given to Canadian vessels, it must of course, be conceded at once to American vessels. If the rookeries are to be thrown open to Canadians, they would certainly, as matter of common right, be thrown open to citizens of the United States. The seal mothers, which require an area of from 40 to 50 miles from the islands, on all sides, to secure food for their young, would be slaughtered by hundreds of thousands, and in a brief space of time there would be no seals in the Behring Sea. Siinilar causes bave uniformly produced similar effects. Seal rookeries in all parts of the world bave been destroyed in that way. The present course of Great Britain will produce the same effect on the only seal rookery of any value left in the waters of the oceans and seas of the globe. The United States have leased the privilege of sealing because only in that way can the rookeries be preserved, and only in that way can this Government derive a revenue from the Pribilof Islands. Great Britain would perhaps gain something for a few years, but it would be at the expense of destroying a valuable interest belonging to a friendly nation-an interest which the civilized world desires to have preserved.

I observe that you quote Treasury Agent George R. Tingle in your dispatch of April 30 as showing that, notwithstanding the depredations of marauders, the total number of seals had increased in the Bering Sea. The rude mode of estimating the total number can readily lead to mistakes, and other agents have differed from Mr. Tingle. But aside from the correctness or incorrectness of Mr. Tingle's conclusions on that point, may I ask upon what grounds do the Canadian vessels assert a claim, unless they assume that they have a title to the increase of the seal herd! If the claim of the United States to the seals of the Pribilof Islands be well founded, we are certainly entitled to the increase as much as a sheep-grower is entitled to the increase of his flock.

Having introduced Mr. Tingle, who has very extensive knowledge touching the seals in Behring Sea, as well as the habits of the Canadian maranders, I trust you will not discredit his testimony. The following statement made by Mr. Tingle in his official report to the Treasury Department at the close of the season of 1887 is respectfully commended to your consideration.

I am now convinged from what I gather in questioning the men belonging to captured schooners and from reading the logs of the vessels, that not more than one seal in ten killed and mortally wounded is landed on the boats and skinned; thus you will see the wanton destruction of seal life without any benefit whatever. I think 30,000 skins taken this year is a low estimate on this basis; 300,000 fur seals were killed to secure that number, or three times as many as the Alaska Commercial Company are allowed by law to kill. You can readily see that this great slaughter of seals will in a few years make it impossible for 100,000 skins to be taken on the islands by the lessees. I earnestly hope more rigorous measures will be adopted by the Government in dealing with these destructive law-breakers.

Both of Mr. Tingle's statements are made in his official capacity, and in both cases he had no temptation to state anything except what he honestly believed to be the truth.

The President does not conceal his disappointment that even for the sake of securing an impartial arbitration of the question at issue, Her Majesty's Government is not willing to suspend, for a single season, the practice which Lord Salisbury described in 1888 as “the wanton dlestruction of a valuable industry," and which this Government has uniformly regarded as an unprovoked invasion of its established rights. I have, etc.,

JAMES G. BLAINE.

Sir Julian Pauncefote to Mr. Blaine.

WASHINGTON, June 6, 1890. SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your official note of the 4th instant, commenting upon the reply which I returned to the inquiry contained in your letter of the 2d instant, whether the Marquis of Salisbury would, in order to promote a friendly solution of the furseal question, agree to the total exclusion of British sealers from the Behring Sea during the present fishery season. You express the regret of the President that "his considerate and most friendly proposal for the adjustment of all trouble connected with the Behring Sea should be so promptly rejected."

I have this day transmitted a copy of your note to Lord Salisbury, and pending further instructions I will abstain from pursuing the discussion on the various points with which it deals, especially as the views of Her Majesty's Government on the main questions involved are stated with great precision in Lord Salisbury's dispatch of the 22d of May, which I had the honor to read to you yesterday, and of which, in accordance with your desire, I left a copy in your hands. I would only observe that as regards the sufficiency or insufficiency of the radius of 10 miles around the rookeries 6 within which Her Majesty's Government proposed that sealers should be excluded” no opportunity was afforded me of discussing the question before the proposals of Her Majesty's Government were summarily rejected.

I may mention, also, that I fear there has been some misapprehension as regards a request which you appear to have understood me to make respecting the date of the sailing of United States revenue-cutters for Behring Sea. I have no recollection of having made any suggestion with reference to those revenue-cutters, except that their commanders should receive explicit instructions not to apply the municipal law of the United States to British vessels in Behring Sea outside of territorial waters. I have, etc.,

JULIAN PAUNCEFOTE.

Sir Julian Pauncefote to Mr. Blaine.
[Extract from telegram from the Marquis of Salisbury.]

(Received June 9, 1890.) Lord Salisbury regrets that the President of the United States should think him wanting in conciliation, but his lordship can not refrain from thinking that the President does not appreciate the difficulty arising from the law of England.

It is entirely beyond the power of Her Majesty's Government to exclude British or Canadian ships from any portion of the high seas, even for an hour, without legislative sanction. Her Majesty's Government have always been willing, without pledging themselves to details on the questions of area and date, to carry on negotiations, hoping thereby to come to some arrangement for such a close season as is necessary in order to preserve the seal species from extinction, but the provisions of such an arrangement would always require legislative sanction so that the measures thereby determined may be enforced.

Lord Salisbury does not recognize the expressions attributed to him. He does not think that he can have used them, at all events, in the context mentioned.

Mr. Blaine to Sir Julian Pauncefote.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, June 11, 1890. SIR: I have shown to the President the extract from the telegram of Lord Salisbury of June 9, in which his lordship states that "it is beyond the power of Her Majesty's Government to exclude British or Canadian ships from any portion of the high seas, even for an hour, without legislative sanction."

Not stopping to comment upon the fact that his lordship assumes the waters surrounding the Pribilof Islands to be the “high seas,” the President instructs me to say that it would satisfy this Government if Lord Salisbury would by public proclamation simply request that vessels sailing under the British flag should abstain from entering the Behring Sea for the present season. If this request shall be complied with, there will be full time for impartial negotiations, and, as the Presi. dent hopes, for a friendly conclusion of the differences between the two governments. I have, etc.,

JAMES G. BLAINE.

Sir Julian Pauncefote to Mr. Blaine.

WASHINGTON, June 11, 1890. SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge your note of this day with reference to the passage in a telegram from the Marquis of Salisbury, which I communicated to you at our interview of the 9th instant, to the effect that “it is beyond the power of Her Majesty's Government to exclude British or Canadian ships from any portion of the high seas, even for an hour, without legislative action."

You inform me that without commenting on the fact that his lordship assumes the waters surrounding the Pribilof Islands to be the high seas, the President instructs you to say that it would satisfy your Gov. ernment if Lord Salisbury would by public proclamation simply request that vessels sailing under the British flag should abstain from entering the Behring Sea for the present season. You add, if this request shall be complied with there will be full time for impartial negotiations, and, as the President hopes, for a friendly conclusion of the differences between the two governinents.

I have telegraphed the above communication to Lord Salisbury, and I await his lordship's instructions thereon. In the meanwhile I take this opportunity of informing you that I reported to his lordship, by telegraph, that at the same interview I again pressed you for an assurance that British sealing vessels would not be interfered with in the Behring Sea by the United States revenue cruisers while the negotiatious continued, but you replied that you could not give such assurance. I trust this is not a final decision, and that in the course of the next few days, while there is yet time to communicate with the commanders, instructions will be sent to them to abstain from such interference.

It is in that hope that I have delayed delivering the formal protest of Her Majesty's Government announced in my note of the 23d of May. I have, etc.,

JULIAN PAUNCEFOTE.

« PreviousContinue »