Page images
PDF
EPUB

In the same way the phrase “Northwest Coast” will be found, beyond all possible doubt, to have been used in two senses, one including the northwest coast of the Russian possessions, and one to describe the coast whose northern limit is the sixtieth parallel of north latitude.

It is very plain that Mr. Adams's phrase the continent of America," in his reference to Russia's possessions, was used in a territorial sense, and not in a geographical sense. He was drawing the distinction between the territory of “ Ainerica” and the territory of the “ Russian possessions.” Mr. Adams did not intend to assert that these territorial rights of Russia had no existence on the continent of North America. He meant that they did not exist as the ukase of the Emperor Alexander had attempted to establish them-southward of the Aleutian peninsula and on that distinctive part of the continent claimed as the territory of the United States. “ America” and the “United States” were then, as they are now, commonly used as synonymous.

British statesmen at the time used the phrase precisely as Mr. Adams did. The possessions of the Crown were generically termed British America. Great Britain and the United States harmonized at this point and on this territorial issue against Russia. Whatever disputes inight be left by these negotiations for subsequent settlement between the two powers there can be no doubt that at that time they had a common and very strong interest against the territorial aggrandizement of Russia. The British use of the phrase is clearly seen in the treaty between Great Britain and Russia, negotiated in 1825, and referred to at length in a subsequent portion of this dispatch. A publiclst as eminent as Stratford Canning opened the third article of that treaty in these descriptive words:

The line of demarcation between the possessions of the high contracting parties, upon the coast of the continent, and the islands of America to the northwest.

Mr. Canning evidently distinguished “the islands of America” from the “ islands of the Russian possessions," which were far more numerous; and by the use of the phrase to the northwest” just as evidently limited the coast of the continent as Mr. Adams limited it, in that direction, by the Alaskan peninsula. A concurrence of opinion between John Quincy Adams and Stratford Canning, touching any public question, left little room even for suggestion by a third person.

It will be observed as having weighty significance that the Russian ownership of the Aleutian and Kurile Islands (which border and close in the Belring Sea, and by the dip of the peninsula are several degrees south of latitude 55) was not disputed by Mr. Adams, and could not possibly have been referred to by him when he was limiting the island possessions of Russia. This is but another evidence that Mr. Adams was making no question as to Russia's ownership of all territory bordering on the Bebring Sea. The contest pertamed wholly to the territory on the Northwest Coast. The Emperor Paul's ukase, declaring his sovereignty over the Aleutian and Kurile Islands, was never questioned or denied by any power at any time.

Many of the acts of Mr. Adams's public life received interesting commentary and, where there was doubt, luminous interpretation in his personal diary, which was carefutly kept from Jue 3, 1794, to January 1, 1848, inclusive. The present case affords a happy illustration of the corroborative strength of the diary. During the progress of this correspondence Baron Tuyll, who had succeeded Mr. Poletica as Russian Minister in Washington, called upon Mr. Adams at his office on July 17, 1823, six days before the date of the dispatch upon which I have been commenting, and upon which Lord Salisbury relies for sustaining his contention in regard to the Behring Sea. During an animated conversation of an hour or more between Mr. Adams and Baron Tuyll, the former said:

I told Baron Tuyll specially that we should contest the right of Russia to any territorial establishment on this continent.

It will be observed that Mr. Adams uses the same phrase in his conversation that has inisled English statesmen as to the true scope and meaning of his dispatch of July 23, 1823. When he declared that we should contest the right of Russia to any territorial establishment on this continent" (with the word “any” italicized), he no more meant that we should attempt to drive Russia from her ancient possessions than that we should attempt to drive England from the ownership of Canada or Nova Scotia. Such talk would have been absurd gasconade and Mr. Adams was the last man to indulge in it. His true meaning, it will be seen, comes out in the next sentence, when he declares:

I told Baron Tuyll that we should assume distinctly the principle that the Ameri. can continents are no longer subjects for any new European colonial establishments.

In the message of President Monroe to the next Congress (the Eighteenth) at its first session, December 2, 1823, he announced that at the proposal of the Russian Government the United States had agreed to Warrange by amicable negotiations the respective rights and interests of the two nations on the Northwest Coast of this continent.” A similar proposal hal been made by Russia to Great Britain and had been likewise agreed to. The negotiations in both cases were to be at St. Petersburg.

It was in connection with this subject, and in the same paragraph, that President Monroe spoke thus:

In the discussions to which this interest has given rise, and in the arrangements by which they may terminate, the occasion has been julged proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involveil, that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they h we assumed and maintained, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colinization by any European power.

This very brief declaration (in fact merely the three lines italicized constitute the famous “ Monroe doctrine.” Mr. Adams's words of the July preceding clearly foreshadowed this position as the permanent policy of the United States. The declaration removes the last doubt, if room for doubt had been left, that the reference made by Mr. Adams was to the future, and had no possible connection with the Russian rights existing for three-quarters of a century before the dispatch of 182:3 was written.

It was evident from the first that the determined attitude of the United States, subsequently supported by Great Britain, would prevent the extension of Russian territory southward to the fifty-first parallel. The treaties which were the result of the meeting at St. Petersburg, already noted, marked the surrender on the part of Russia of this pretension and the conclusion was a joint agreement that 54 degrees and 40 minutes should be taken as the extreme southern bourdary of Russia on the Northwest Coast, instead of the fifty-fifth degree, which was proclaimed by the Emperor Paul in the ukase of 1799.

The treaty between Russia and the United States was concluded on the 17th of April, 1824, and that between Russia and Great Britain, ten months later, on the 16th of February, 1825. In both treaties Russia acknowledges 54 40 as the dividing line. It was not determined which of the two nations owned the territory from 54 40 down to the forty-nintli parallel, and it remained in dispute between Great Britain and the United States until its final adjustment by the “Oregon treaty,” negotiated by Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Pakenham under the administration of Mr. Polk in 1846.

The Government of the United States has steadily maintained that in neither of these treaties with Russia was thereany attemptat regulating or controlling, or even asserting an interest in, the Russian possessions and the Behring Sea, which lie far to the north and west of the territory which formed the basis of the contention. This conclusion is indisputably proved by the protocols which were signed during the prog. ress of the negotiation. At the fourth conference of the plenipotentiaries, on the 8th day of March (1824), the American Minister, Mr. Henry Middleton, subinitted to the Russian representative, Count Nesselrode, the following:

The dominion can not be acquired but by a real occupation and possession, and an intention (animus) to establish it is by no means sufficient.

Now, it is clear, according to the facts established, that neither Russia nor any other European power has the right of dominion upon the continent of America between the fiftieth and sixtieth degrees of north latitude.

Still less has she the dominion of the adjacent maritime territory, or of the sea which washes these coasts, a dominion which is only accessory to the the territorial dominion.

Therefore she has not the right of exclusion or of admission on these coasts, nor in these seas which are free seas.

The right of navigating all the free seas bel by natural law, to every independent nation, and even constitutes an essential part of this independence.

The United States have exercised navigation in the seas and commerce upon the coasts above mentioned, from the time of their independence; and they have a perfect right to this navigation and to this commerce, and they can only be deprived of it by their own act or by a convention.

This is a clear proof of what is demonstrated in other ways, that the whole dispute between the United States and Russia and between Great Britain and Russia related to the North west Coast, as Mr. Middleton expresses it, between the "fiftieth and the sixtieth degrees of north latitude." This statement is in perfect harmony with Mr. Adams's paragraph when given in full, “ The United States," Mr. Middleton insist - have exercised navigation in the seas and commerce upon the coasts above mentioned, from the time of their independence;” but he does not say one word in regard to our possessing any rights of navigation or commerce in the Behring Sea. He declares that “Russia has not the right of exclusion or admission on these coasts (between the fiftieth and sixtieth degrees north latitude nor in these seas which are free seas," evidently emphasizing " free” to distinguish those seas from the Behring Sea, which was recognized as being under Russian restrictions.

Mr. Middleton wisely and conclusively maintained that if Russia had no claim to the continent between the fiftieth and the sixtieth degrees north latitude, “ still less could she have the dominion of the adjacent maritime territory," or, to make it more specific, "of the sea which washes these coasts.” That sea was the Great Ocean, or the Pacific Ocean, or the South Sea, the three names being equally used for the same thing.

The language of Mr. Middleton plainly shows that the lines of latitude were used simply to indicate the“ dominion” on the coast between the fiftieth and sixtieth parallels of north latitude.

The important declarations of Mr. Middleton, which interpret and enforce the contention of the United States, should be regarded as in disputable authority, from the fact that they are but a paraphrase of the instructions which Mr. Adams delivered to him for his guidance in

[ocr errors]

negotiating the treaty with Count Nesselrode. Beyond all doubt they prove that Mr. Adams's meaning was the reverse of what Lord Salisbury infers it to be in the paragraph of which he quoted only a part.

The four principal articles of the treaty negotiated by Mr. Middleton are as follows:

Art. I. It is agreed that, in any part of the Great Ocean, commonly called the Pacitic Ocean or South Sea, the respective citizens or subjects of the high contracting powers shall be neither disturbed nor restrained, either in navigation or in tishing, or in the power of resorting to the coasts, upon points which may not already have been occupied, for the purpose of trading with the natives, saving always the restrictions and conditions determined by the following articles:

Art. II. With a view of preventing the rights of navigation and of tishing exercised upon the (ireat Ocean by the citizens and subjects of the high contracting powers from becoming the pretext for an illicit trade, it is agreed that the citizens of the United States shall not resort to any point where there is a Russian establishment, without the permission of the governor or commander; and that, reciprocally, the subjects of Russia shall not resort, without permission, to any establishment of the United States upon the Northwest Coast.

ART. III. It is moreover agreed that, hereafter, there shall not be formed by the citizens of the United States, or under the authority of the said States, any establishment upon the Northwest Coast of America, nor in any of the islands adjacent, to the north of fifty-four degrees and forty minutes of north latitude; and that, in the same manner, there shall be none formed by Russian subjects, or under the authority of Russia, south of the same parallel.

ART. IV. It is, nevertheless, understood that during a term of ten years, counting from the signature of the present convention, the ships of both powers, or which be-. long to their citizens or subjects, respectively, may reciprocally frequent, without any hindrance whatever, the interior seas, gulfs, harbors, and creeks upon the coast mentioned in the preceding article, for the purpose of fishing and trading with the natives of the country.

The first article, by carefully mentioning the Great Ocean and describing it as the ocean commonly called the Pacific Ocean or South Sea," evidently meant to distinguish it from some other body of water with which the negotiators did not wish to confuse it. Mr. Adams used the term “South Sea” in the dispatch quoted by Lord Salisbury, and used it with the same discriminating knowledge that prevades his whole argument on this question. If no other body of water existed within the possible scope of the treaty, such particularity of description would have had no logical meaning. But there was another body of water already known as the Behring Sea. That name was first given to it in 1817—according to English authority-seven years before the American treaty, and eight years before the British treaty, with Russia; but it had been known as a sea, separate from the ocean, under the names of the Sea of Kamchatka, the Sea of Otters, or the Aleutian Sea, at different periods before the Emperor Paul issued his ukase of 1799.

The second article plainly shows that the treaty is limited to the Great Ocean, as separate from the Behring Sea, because the limitation of the Northwest Coast” between the fiftieth and sixtieth degrees could apply to no other. That coast, as defined both by American and British negotiators at that time, did not border on the Behring Sea.

The third article shows the compromise as to territorial sovereignty on the Northwest Coast. The United States and Great Britain had both claimed that Russia's just boundary on the coast terminated at the sixtieth degree north latitude, the southern border of the Aleutian penin. sula. Russia claimed to the tifty-first parallel. They made a compromise by a nearly equal division. An exactly equal division would have given Russia 54 30; but 10 miles farther north Prince of Wales Island presented a better geographical point for division, and Russia accepted a little less than half the coast of which she had claimed all and 54 40 vas thus established as the dividing point.

[ocr errors]

The fourth article of the treaty necessarily grew out of the claims of Russia to a share of the Northwest Coast in dispute between the United States and Great Britain. Mr. Adams, in the instruction to Mr. Middletou so often referred to, says:

By the third article of the convention between the t'nited States and Great Britain, of the 20th of October, 1818, it was agreed that any country that might be claimed by either party on the Northwest Coast of America, westward of the Stony Mountains, shoud, together with its harbors, bays, and creeks, and the navigation of all rivers within the same, be free and open for the term of ten years from that date, to the vessels, citizens, and subjects of the two powers, without prejudice to the claims of either party or of any other state.

You are authorized to propose an article of the same import for a term of ten years from the signature of a joint convention between the United States, Great Britain, and Russia.

It will be observed that the fourth article relates solely to the “Northwest Coast of America” so well understood as the Coast of the Pacific Ocean, between the fiftieth and the sixtieth degrees north latitude, and therefore does not in the remotest degree touch the Behring Sea or the land bordering upon it.

The several articles in the treaty between Great Britain and Russia,
February 16, 1825, that could have any bearing on the pending conten:
tion are as follows:
Articles I and II. (Substantially the same as in the treaty between

I
Russia and the United States.)

ARTICLE III. The line of demarcation between the possessions of the high contracting parties, ni pon the coast of the continent, and the islands of America to the northWest shall be drawn in the manner following:

Commencing from the southernmost point of the island called Prince of Wales Island, which point lies in the parallel of 54 degrees 40 minutes north Jatitude, and between the one hundred and thirty-first and the one hundred and thirty-third degree of west longitude (meridian of Greenwich), the said line shall ascend to the north along the channel called Portland Channel, as far as the point of the continent where it strikes the fifty-sixth degree of north latitude; from this last-mentioned point the line of demarcation shall follow the summit of the mountains situated parallel to the coast as far as the point of intersection of the one hundred and fortyfirst degree of west longitude (of the same meridian); and, finally, from the said. point of intersection the said meridian line of the one hundred and forty-first degree in its prolongation as far as the Frozen Ocean shall form the limit between the Russian and British possessions on the continent of America to the north west.

Article V. (Substantially the same as Article III of the treaty between Russia and the United States.)

ARTICLE VI. It is understood that the subjects of His Britannic Majesty, from whatever qnarter they may arrive, whether from the ocean or from the interior of the continent, shall forever enjoy the right of navigating freely and without any hindranee whatever all the rivers and streams which, in their course towards the Pacitic Ocean, may cross the line of demarcation upon the line of coast described in Article III of the present convention.

ARTICLE VII. It is also understood that, for the space of ten years from the signature of the present convention, the vessels of the two powers, or those belonging to their respective subjects, shall mutually be at liberty to frequent without any hincrance whatever all the inland seas, the gulfs, havens, and creeks on the coast mentioned in Article III, for the purposes of fishing and of trading with the natives.

After the analysis of the articles in the American treaty there is little in the English treaty that requires explanation. The two treaties were drafted under circumstances and fitted to conditions quite similar. There were some differences because of Great Britain's ownership of British America. But these very differences corroborate the position of the United States. This is most plainly seen in Article VI. By that article the subjects of Her Britannic Majesty were guaranteed the right of navigating freely the rivers emptying into the Pacific Ocean and crossing the line of demarcation upon the line of coast described in

« PreviousContinue »