« PreviousContinue »
Article III. The line of demarcation is described in Article III as fol. lowing “the summit of the mountains situated parallel to the coast as far as the point of intersection of the one hundred and forty-first degree of west longitude.” Article IV, qualifying Article III, specifies that wherever the summit of the mountains which extend ju a direction parallel to the coast, from the fifty-sixth degree of north latitude to the point of intersection of the one hundred and forty-first degree of west longitude, shall prove to be at a distance of more than ten marine leagues from the ocean, the limit between the British possessious and the line of coast which is to belong to Russia, as above mentioned, shall be formed by a line parallel to the windings of the coast, and shall never exceed the distance of ten marine leagues therefrom."
By both these articles the line of demarcation ceases to have any parallel relation to the coast when it reaches the point of intersection of the one hundred and forty-first degree of west longitude.
From that point the one hundred and forty first degree of west longitude, as far as it extends continuously on land northward, is taken as the boundary between the territories of the two powers. It is thus evident that British subjects were guaranteed the right of navigating only such rivers as crossed the line of demarcation while it followed the line of coast. They were limited, therefore, to the rivers that emptied into the Pacific Ocean between 54 40 and 60 degrees north latitude, the latter being the point on the coast opposite the point where the line of demarcation diverges-Mount St. Elias.
By this agreement Great Britain was excluded from all rivers emptying into the Behring Sea, including the great Yukon and its : fuent, the Porcupine, which rise and for a long distance flow in British America. So complete was the exclusion from Behring Sea that Great Britian surrendered in this case a doctrine which she had aided in impressing upon the Congress of Vienna for European rivers. She did not demand access to the sea from a river whose source was in her territory. She consented, by signing the treaty of 1825, to such total exclusion from the Bering Sea as to forego following her own river to its mouth in that sea.
It shows a curious association of political events that in the Washington treaty of 1871 the United States conceded to Great Britain the privilege of navigating the Yukon and its branch, the Porcupine, to the Behring Sea in exchange for certain privileges conceded to the United States on the St. Lawrence. The request of Great Britain for the privilege of navigating the Yukon and Porcupine is a suggestive confession that it was with held from her by Russia in the treaty of 1825—withheld because the rivers flowed to the Behring Sea.
The seventh article is practically a repetition of the fourth article in the treaty between Russia and the United States, and the privilege of fishing and trading with the natives is limited to the coast, mentioned in Article III, identically the same line of coast which they were at liberty to pass through to reach British America or to reach the coast from British America. They are excluded from going north of the prescribed point on the coast near Mount St. Elias, and are therefore kept out of Bering Sea.
It is to be noted that the negotiators of this treaty, in defining the boundary between the Russian and British possessions, cease to observe particularity exactly at the point on the coast where it is intersected by the sixtieth parallel. From that point the boundary is designated by the almost indefinite prolongation northward of the one hundred and forty-first degree of longitude west. It is plain, therefore, that this treaty, like the Russo-American treaty, limited the “ Northwest Coast” to that part of the coast between the fiftieth and sixtieth parallels of north latitude-as fully set forth by Mr. Middletou in the protocols preceding the treaty between the United States and Russia. The negotiators never touched one foot of the boundary of the Behring Sea, whether on continent or island, and never even made a reference to it. Its nearest point, in Bristol Bay, was a thousand miles distant from the field of negotiation between the powers.
It must not be forgotten that this entire negotiation of the three powers proceeded with full knowledge and recognition of the ukase of 1821. While all questions touching the respective rights of the powers on the Northwest Coast between the fiftieth and sixtieth parallels were discussed and pressed by one side or the other, and finally agreed upon, the terms of the ukase of 1821, in which the Emperor set forth so clearly the rights claimed and exercised by Russia in the Behring Sea, were un. touched and unquestioned. These rights were therefore admitted by all the powers negotiating as within the exercise of Russia's lawful authority then, and they were left inviolate by England during all the subsequent continuance of Russia's dominion over Alaska.
These treaties were therefore a practical renunciation, both on the part of England and the United States, of any rights in the waters of Behring Sea during the period of Russia's sovereignty. They left the Behring Sea and all its coasts and islands precisely as the ukase of Alexander in 1821 left them—that is, with a prohibition against any vessel approaching nearer to the coast than 100 Italian miles, under danger of confiscation. The original ukase of Alexander (1821) claimed as far south as the fifty-first degree of north latitude, with the inhibition of 100 miles from the coast applying to the whole.
The result of the protest of Mr. Adams, followed by the coöperation of Great Britain, was to force Russia back to 54 40 as her southern boundary. But there was no renunciation whatever on the part of Russia as to the Behring Sea, to which the ukase especially and primarily applied. As a piece of legislation this ukase was as authoritative in the dominions of Russia as an act of Parliament is in the dominions of Great Britain or an act of Congress in the territory of the United States. Except as voluntarily modified by Russia in the treaty with the United States, April 17, 1824, and in the treaty with Great Britain, February 16, 1825, the ukase of 1821 stood as the law controlling the Russian possessions in America until the close of Russia's ownership by transfer to this Government. Both the United States and Great Britain recognized it, respected it, obeyed it. It did not, as so inany suppose, declare the Behring Sea to be mare clausum. It did declare that the waters, to the extent of 100 miles from the shores, were reserved for the subjects of the Russian Empire. Of course many hundred miles, east and west and north and south, were thus intentionally left by Russia for the whale fishery and for fishing open and free to the world, of which other nations took large advantage. Perhaps in pur. suing this advantage foreigners did not always keep 100 miles from the shore, but the theory of right on which they conducted their business unmolested was that they observed the conditions of the ukase.
But the 100-mile restriction performed the function for which it was specially designed in preventing foreign nations from molesting, disturb. ing, or by any possibility sharing in the fur trade. The fur trade formed the principal, almost the sole employment of the Russian American Company. It formed its employinent, indeed, to such a degree that it soon became known only as the Russian American Fur Company, and quite suggestively that name is given to the Company by Lord Salisbury in the dispatch to which I am replying. While, therefore, there may have been a large amount of lawful whaling and fishing in the Behring Sea, the taking of furs by foreigners was always and under all circuistances illicit.
Eighteen years after the treaty of 1825 (in 1843) Great Britain made a commercial treaty with Russia, based on the principle of reciprocity of advantages, but the rights of the Russian American Company, which under both ukases included the sovereignty over the sea to the extent of 100 miles from the shores, were reserved by special clause, in a separate and special article, signed after the principal articles of the treaty had been concluded and signed. Although British rights were enlargel with nearly all other parts of the Russian Empire, her relations with the Russian possessions and with the Behring Sea remained at precisely the same point where the treaty of 1825 had placed them.
Again in 1859 Great Britain still further enlarged her commercial relations with the Empire of Russia, and again the “possessions” and the Behring Sea were held firmly in their relations to the Russian American Company as they had been held in the treaty of 1843.
It is especially notable that both in the treaty of 1843 and the treaty of 1859 it is declared that “ in regard to commerce and navigation in the Russian possessions on the Northwest Coast of America the convention concluded at St. Petersburg, February 16, 1825, shall continue in force." The same distinction and the same restrictions which Mr, Adams made in regard to the Northwest Coast of America were still observed, and Great Britain's access from or to the interior of the continent was still limited to that part of the coast between 54 40 and a point near Mount Saint Elias. The language of the three Russo British treaties of 1825, 1843, and 1859 correspond with that employed in Mr. Adams's dispatch to Mr. Middleton, to which reference has so frequently been made. This shows that the true meaning of Mr. Adams's paragraph is the key, and indeed the only key by which the treaties can be correctly interpreted and by which expressions apparently contradictory or unintelligible can be readily harmonized.
Immediately following the partial quotation of Mr. Adams's dispatch, Lord Salisbury quotes the case of the United States brig Loriot as having some bearing on the question relating to the Behring Sea. The case happened on the 15th of September, 1836, and Mr. Forsyth, Secretary of State, in a dispatch to the United States minister at St. Petersburg, declared the course of the Russians in arresting the vessel to be a violation of the rights of the citizens of the United States. He claimed that the citizens of the United States bad the right iinmemorially as well as by the stipulations of the treaty of 1824 to fish in those waters.
Lord Salisbury's understanding of the case differs entirely from that held by the Government of the United States. The Loriot was not arrested in Behring Sea at all, nor was she engaged in taking furs, She was arrested, as Mr. Forsyth in his dispatch says, in latitude 54 55, more than 60 miles south of Sitka, on the “ Northwest Coast,” to which, and to which only, the treaty of 1824 referred. Russia upheld its action on the ground that the ten-year term provided in the fourth article of the treaty had crid two years before. The case was made the basis of an application on the part of the United States Government for a renewal of that artile. This application was pressed for several years, but finally and absolutely refused by the Russian Government, Under the claim of Russia that the term of ten years had expired, the United States failed to secure any redress in the Loriot case. With all due respect to Lord Salisbury's judgment, the case of the Loriot sustains the entire correctness of the position of the United States in this contention.
It only remains to say that whatever duty Great Britain owed to Alaska as a Russian province, whatever she agreed to do or to refrain from doing, touching Alaska and the Behring Sea, was not changed by the mere fact of the transfer of sovereignty to the United States. It was explicitly declared, in the sixth article of the treaty by which the territory was ceded by Russia, that “the cession hereby made conveys all the rights, franchises, and privileges now belonging to Russia in the said territory or dominions and appurtenances thereto.” Neither by the treaty with Russia of 1825, nor by its renewal in 1843, nor by its second renewal in 1859, did Great Britain gain any right to take seals in Behring Sea. In fact, those treaties were a prohibition upon her which she steadily respected so long as Alaska was a Russian province. It is for Great Britain now to show by what law she gained rights in that sea after the transfer of its sovereignty to the United States.
During all the time elapsing between the treaty of 1825 and the cessiop of Alaska to the United States in 1867, Great Britain never affirmed the right of her subjects to capture fur-seal in the Behring Sea; and, as a matter of fact, her subjects did not, during that long period, attempt to catch seals in the Behring Sea. Lord Salisbury, in replying to my assertion that these lawless intrusions upon the fur-seal fisheries began in 1886, declares that they had occurred before. He points out one attempt in 1870, in which forty-seven skins were found on board an intruding vessel; in 1872 there was a rumor that expeditions were about to fit out in Australia and Victoria for the purpose of taking seals in the Behring Sea; in 1874 some reports were heard that vessels had entered the sea for that purpose; one case was reported in 1875; two cases in 1884; two also in 1885.
These cases, I may say without intending disrespect to his lordship, prove the truth of the staternent which he endeavors to controvert, because they form just a sufficient number of exceptions to establish the fact that the destructive intrusion began in 1886. But I refer to them now for the purpose of showing that his lordship does not attempt to cite the intrusion of a single British sealer into the Behring Sea until after Alaska had been transferred to the United States. I am justified, therefore, in repeating the questions which I addressed to Her Majesty's Government on the 22d of last January, and which still remain unanswered, viz:
Whence did the ships of Canada derive the right to do, in 1886, that which they had refrained from doing for nearly ninety years?
Upon what grounds did Her Majesty's Government defend, in the year 1886, a course of conduct in the Behring Sea which had been carefully avoided ever since the discovery of that sea ?
By what reasoning did Her Majesty's Government conclude that an act may bo committed with impunity against the rights of the United States which had never been attempted against the same rights when held by the Russian Empire? I have, etc.,
JAMES G. BLAINE.
CORRESPONDENCE RELATIVE TO GREAT BRITAIN'S WILLING
NESS TO ENTER INTO A CONVENTION FOR THE PROTECTION
Sir Julian Pauncefote to Mr. Blaine.
WASHINGTON, June 30, 1890. SIR: In your note of the 29th of May last, which I duly transmitted to the Marquis of Salisbury, there are several references to communications which passed between the two Governments in the time of your predecessor.
I have now received a dispatch from Lord Salisbury, copy of which I have the hovor to inclose, pointing out that there is some error in the impressions which you have gathered from the records in the State Department with respect to those communications. I have, etc.
FOREIGN OFFICE, June 20, 1890. SIR: I have to acknowledge your dispatch No. 83 of the 30th ultimo, inclosing copy of a note from Mr. Blaine dated the 29th ultimo.
It contains several references to communications which passed between the two Governments in the time of Mr. Blaine's predecessor, especially in the spring of 1888. Without referring at present to other portions of Mr. Blaine's note I wish only now to point out some error in the impressions which he has gathered from the records in his office with respect to those commuvications. He states that on the 230 April of that year I informed the American chargé d'affaires, Mr.White, that it was proposed to give effect to a seal convention by order in council, not by act of Parliament. This was a mistake. It was very natural that Mr. White should not have apprehended me correctly when I was describing the somewhat complicated arrangements by which agreements of this kind are brought into force in England. But two or three days after the 230 April he called to make inquiry on the subject, and in reply to his question the following letter was addressed to him by my instructions:
FOREIGN OFFICE, April 27, 1888. MY DEAR WHITE: Lord Salisbury desires me to express his regret that he is not yet in a position to make any further communication to you on the subject of the seal fisheries in Behring Sea. After his interview with you and M. de Staal he had to refer to the Canadian Government, the board of trade, and the Admiralty, but has as yet only obtained the opinion of the Admiralty. The next step is to bring a bill into Parliament. Yours, etc.,
ERIC BARRINGTON. On the 28th Mr. White replied:
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, April 28, 1888. MY DEAR BARRINGTON: Thanks for your note, respecting the final sentence of which, “The next step is to ring a bill into Parliament," I must trouble you with a line.
For the earlier correspondence on this subject see ante, pp. 171-183 and 212-217.