Page images
PDF
EPUB

It will, of course, strike the Russian plenipotentiaries that by the aloption of the American article respecting navigation, etc., the provision for an exclusive fishery of two leagues from the coasts of our respective possessions falls to the ground.

But the omission in truth, immaterial. The law of nations signs the exclusive sovereignty of one league to each power off its own coasts, without any specific stipulation, and though Sir Charles Bagot was authorized to sign the convention with the specific stipulation of two leagues, in ignorance of what had been decided in the American convention at the time, yet, after that convention has been some months before the world, and after the opportunity of reconsideration has been forced upon us by the act of Russia herself, we can not now consent, in negotiaing de novo, to a stipulation which, while it is absolutely unimportant to any practical good, would appear to establish a contract between the United States and us to our disadvantage.

Count Nesselrode himself has frankly admitted that it was natural that we should expect, and reasonable that we should receive, at the hands of Russia, equal measure in all respects with the United States of America.

It remains only, in recapitulation, to remind you of the origin and principles of this whole negotiation.

It is not, on our part, essentially a negotiation about limits. It is a demand of the repeal of an offensive and unjustifiable arrogation of exclusive jurisdiction over an ocean of unmeasured extent, but a demand qualified and mitigated in its manner, in order that its justice may be acknowledged and satisfied without soreness or humiliation on the part of Russia.

We negotiate about territory to cover the remonstrance upon principle.

But any attempt to take undue advantage of this voluntary facility we must oppose.

If the present “Projet” is agreeable to Russia we are ready to conclude and sign the treaty. If the territorial arrangements are not satisfactory we are ready to postpone them and to conclude and sign the essential part—that which relates to navigation alone, adding an article stipulating to negotiate about territorial limits hereafter.

But we are not prepared to defer any longer the settlement of that essential part of the question; and if Russia will neither sign the whole convention nor that essential part of it, she must not take it amiss that we resort to some mode of recording, in the face of the world, our protest against the pretensions of the ukase of 1821, and of ettectually securing our own interests against the possibility of its future operations.

[Inclosure 16.)

Mr. S. Canning to Mr. G. Canning.

(Received March 21.)

No. 15.]

ST. PETERSBURG, February 17 (March 1), 1825. Sir: By the messenger Latchford I have the honor to send you the accompanying convention between His Majesty and the Emperor of Russia respecting the Pacitic Ocean and Northwest Coast of America, which, according to your instructions, I concluded and signed last night with the Russian plenipotentiaries.

The alterations which, at their instance, I have admitted into the “Projet,” such as I presented it to them at first, will be found, I conceive, to be in strict conformity with the spirit and substance of His Majesty's commands. The order of the two main subjects of our negotiation, as stated in the preamble of the convention, is preserved in the articles of that instrument. The line of demarcation along the strip of land on the northwest coast of America, assigned to Russia, is laid down in the convention agreeably to your directions, notwithstanding some difficulties raised on this point, as well as on that which regards the order of the articles, by the Russian plenipotentiaries.

The instance in which you will perceive that I have most availed myself of the latitudo afforded by your instructions to bring the negotiation to a satisfactory and prompt conclusion is the division of the third article of the new “Projet," as it stood when I gave it in, into the third, fourth, and fifth articles of the convention signed by the plenipotentiaries.

This change was suggested by the Russian plenipotentiaries, and at first it was suggested in a shape which appeared to me objectionable; but the articles, as they are now drawn up, I humbly conceive to be such as will not meet with your disapprobation. The second paragraph of the fourth article had already appeared parenthetically in the third article of the " Projet," and the whole of the fourth article is limited in its signitication and connected with the articlo immediately preceding it by the first paragraph.

With respect to Behring Strait, I am happy to have it in my power to assure you, on the joint authority of the Russian plenipotentiaries, that the Emperor of Russia has no intention whatever of maintaining any exclusive claim to the navigation of those straits or of the seas to the north of them.

'It can not be necessary, under these circumstances, to trouble you with a more particular account of the several conferences which I have held with the Russian plenipotentiaries, and it is but justice to state that I have found them disposed, throughout this latter stage of the negotiation, to treat the matters under discussion with fairness and liberality

As two originals of the convention prepared for His Majesty's Government are signed by the plenipotentiaries, I propose to leave one of them with Mr. Ward for the archives of the embassy. I have, etc.,

STRATFORD CANNING.

Mr. Blaine to Sir Julian Pauncefote.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, December 17, 1890. SIR: Your note of August 12, which I acknowledged on the 1st of September, inclosed a copy of a dispatch from the Marquis of Salisbury, dated August 2, in reply to my note of June 30.

The considerations advanced by his lordship have received the careful attention of the President, and I am instructed to insist upon the correctness and validity of the position which has been earnestly advocated by the Government of the United States, in defense of American rights in the Behring Sea.

Legal and diplomatic questions, apparently complicated, are often found, after prolonged discussion, to depend on the settlement of a single point. Such, in the judgment of the President, is the position in which the United States and Great Britain find themselves in the pending controversy touching the true construction of the RussoAmerican and Anglo-Russian treaties of 1824 and 1825. Great Britain contends that the phrase “ Pacific Ocean,” as used in the treaties, was intended to include, and does include, the body of water which is now known as the Behring Sea. The United States contends that the Behring Sea was not mentioned, or even referred to, in either treaty, and was in no sense included in the phrase “ Pacific Ocean." If Great Britain can maintain her position that the Behring Sea at the time of the treaties with Russia of 1824 and 1825 was included in the Pacific Ocean, the Government of the United States has no well-grounded complaint against her. If, on the other hand, this Government can prove beyond all doubt that the Behring Sea, at the date of the treaties, was understood by the three signatory Powers to be a separate body of water, and was not included in the phrase 6 Pacific Ocean," then the American case against Great Britain is complete and undeniable.

The dispute prominently involves the meaning of the phrase "Northwest Coast,” or “ Northwest Coast of America.” Lord Salisbury assumes that the “Northwest Coast” has but one meaning, and that it includes the whole coast stretching northward to the Beliring Straits. The contention of this Government is that by long prescription the “Northwest Coast” means the coast of the Pacific Ocean, south of the Alaskan Peninsula, or south of the sixtieth parallel of north latitude; or, to define it still more accurately, the coast, from the northern border of the Spanish possessions, ceded to the United States in 18199, to the point where the Spanish claims met the claims of Russia, viz, from 420 to 600 north latitude. The Russian authorities for a long time assumed that 59° 30' was the exact point of latitude, but subsequent adjustments fixed-it at 600. The phrase “Northwest Coast,” or “Northwest Coast of America," has been well known and widely recognized in popular usage in England and America from the date of the first trading to that coast, about 1781.' So absolute has been this prescription that the distinguished historian Hubert Howe Bancroft has written an accurate history of the Northwest Coast, which, at different times, during a period of seventy-five years, was the scene of important contests between at least four great powers. To render the understanding explicit, Mr. Bancrott has illustrated the Northwest Coast by a carefully prepared map. The map will be found to include precisely the area which has been steadily maintained by this Government in the pending discussion. (For map, see opposite page.)

The phrase "Northwest Coast of America” has not infrequently been used simply as the synonym of the “Northwest Coast,” but it has also been used in another sense as including the American coast of the Russian possessions as far northward as the straits of Behring. Confusion bas sometimes arisen in the use of the phrase “Northwest Coast of America,” but the true meaning can always be determined by reference to the context.

The treaty between the United States and Russia was concluded on the 17th of April, 1824, and that between Great Britain and Russia was concluded February 28, 1825. The full and accurate text of both treaties will be found in inclosure A. The treaty between the United States and Russia is first in the order of time, but I shall consider both treaties together. I quote the first article of each treaty, for, to all intents and prirposes, they are identical in meaning, though differing somewhat in phrase.

The first article in the American treaty is as follows: ARTICLE I. It is agreed that, in any part of the great ocean, commonly called the Pacific 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 fishing, 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.

The first article in the British treaty is as follows: ARTICLE I. It is agreed that the respective subjects of the high contracting parties shall not be troubled or molested, in any part of the ocean, commonly called the Pacific Ocean, either in navigating the same, in fishing therein, or in landing at such parts of the coast as shall not have been already occupied, in order to trade with the natives, under the restrictions and conditions specified in the following articles.

Lord Salisbury contends that

The Russian Gorernment had no idea of any distinction between Behring Sea and the Pacific Ocean, which latter they considered as reaching southward from Behring Straits. Nor throughout the whole of the subsequent correspondence is there any reference whatever on either side to any distinctive name for Behring's Sea, or any intimation that it could be considered otherwise than as forming an integral part of the Pacific Ocean.

The Government of the United States cordially agrees with Lord Salisbury's statement that throughout the whole correspondence connected with the formation of the treaties there was no reference wliatever by either side to any distinctive name for Behring Sea, and for the very simple reason which I have already indicated, that the negotiation had no reference whatever to the Behring Sea, but was entirely confined

The same designation obtained in Europe. As early as 1803, in a map published by the Geographic Institute at Weimar, the coast from Columbia River (49C) to Capo Elizabeth (600) is designated as the “ Nord West Kuste.

2 For map see House Ex. Doc. No. 141, Fifty-first Congress, second session, p. 23.

to a “strip of land” on the Northwest coast and the waters of the Pacific Ocean adjacent thereto. For future reference I call special attention to the phrase "strip of land."

I venture to remind Lord Salisbury of the fact that Behring Sea was, at the time referred to, the recognized name in some quarters, and so appeared on many authentic maps several years before the treaties were negotiated. But, as I mentioned in my note of June 30, the same sea had been presented as a body of water separate from the Pacific Ocean for a long period prior to 1825. Many names had been applied to it, but the one most frequently used and most widely recognized was the Sea of Kamchatka. English statesmen of the period when the treaties were negotiated had complete knowledge of all the geographical points involved. They knew that on the map published in 1784 to illustrate the voyages of the most eminent English navigator of the eighteenth century the Sea of Kamchatka” appeared in absolute contradistinction to the “Great South Sea” or the Pacific Ocean. And the map, as shown by the words on its margiu, was prepared by Lieut. Henry Roberts under the immediate inspection of Captain Cook.”

Twenty years before Captain Cook's map appeared, the London Magazine contained a map on which the Sea of Kamchatka was conspicuously engraved. At a still earlier date-even as far back as 1732Gvosdef, surveyor of the Russian expedition of Shestakof in 1730 (who, even before Behring, sighted the land of the American continent), published the sea as bearing the name of Kamchatka. Muller, who was historian and geographer of the second expedition of Bering in 1741, designated it as the Sea of Kamchatka, in his map published in 1761.

I inclose a list of a large proportion of the most authentic maps pub. lished during the ninety years prior to 1825 in Great Britain, in the United States, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Germany, and Russiain all 105 maps-on every one of which the body of water now known as Behring Sea was plainly distinguished by a name separate from the Pacific Ocean. On the great majority it is named the Sea of Kamschatka, a few use the name of Behring, while several other desiguations are used. The whole number, aggregating, as they did, the opinion of a large part of the civilized world, distinguished the sea, no matter under what name, as altogether separate from the Pacific Ocean. (See inclosure B.)

Is it possible, that with this great cloud of witnesses before the eyes of Mr. Adams and Mr. George Camping, attesting the existence of the Sea of Kainchatka, they would simply include it in the phrase " Pacific Ocean” and make no allusion whatever to it as a separate sea, when it was known by almost every educated man in Europe and America to have been so designated numberless times? Is it possible that Mr. Canning and Mr. Adams, both educated in the common law, could believe that they were acquiring for the United States and Great Britain the enormous rights inherent in the Sea of Kamchatka without the slightest reference to that sea or without any description of its metes and bounds, when neither of them would have paid for a village house lot unless the deed for it should recite every fact and feature necessary for the identification of the lot against any other piece of ground on the surface of the globe. When we contemplate the minute particularity, the tedious verbiage, the duplications and the reduplications employed to secure unmistakable plainness in framing treaties, it is impossible to conceive that a fact of this great magnitude could have been omitted from the instructions written by Mr. Adams and Mr. G. Canning, as secretaries for foreign affairs in their respective countries—impossible that such a fact could have escaped the notice of Mr. Middleton and ('ount Vesselrode, of Mr. Stratford Canning and Mr. Poletica, who were the negotiators of the two treaties. It is impossible, that in the AngloRussian treaty Count Nesselrode, Mr. Stratford Canning, and Mr. Poletica could have taken sixteen lines to recite the titles and honors they had received from their respective sovereigns, and not even suggest the insertion of one line, or even word, to secure so valuable a grant to England as the full freedom of the Behring Sea.

There is another argument of great weight against the assumption of Lord Salisbury that the phrase "Pacific Ocean," as used in the first article of both the American and British treaties, was intended to include the waters of the Behring Sea. It is true that by the treaties with the Cnited States and Great Britain, Russia practically withdrew the operation of the Ukase of 1821 from the waters of the Northwest Coast on the Pacific Ocean, but the proof is conclusive that it was left in full force over the waters of the Behring Sea. Lord Salisbury can not have ascertained the value of the Behring Sea to Russia, when he assumed that in the treaties of 1824 and 1825 the Imperial Government had, by mere inclusion in another plırase, with apparent carelessness, thrown open all the resources and all the wealth of those waters to the citizens of the United States and to the subjects of Great Britain.

Lord Salisbury has perhaps not thought it worth while to make any examination of the money value of Alaska and the waters of the Bering Sea at the time the treaties were negotiated and in the succeeding years. The first period of the Russian American Company's operations had closed before the Ukase of 1821 was issued. Its affairs were kept secret for a long time, but are now accurately known. The money advanced for the capital stock of the company at its opening in 1799 amounted to 1,238,7 46 rubles. The gross sales of furs and skins by the company at Kodiak and Canton from that date up to 1820 amounted to 20,024,698 rubles. The net profit was 7,68.5,000 rubles for the twentyone years--over 620 per cent for the whole period, or nearly 30 per cent per annum.

Reviewing these facts, Bancroft, in his “ History of Alaska,” a standard work of exhaustive research, says:

We find this powerful monopoly firmly established in the favor of the Imperial Government, many nobles of high rank and several members of the Royal family being among the shareholders.

And yet Lord Salisbury evidently supposes that a large amount of wealth was carelessly thrown away by the Royal family, the nobles, the courtiers, the capitalists, and the speculators of St. Petersburg in a phrase which merged the Beliring Sea in the Pacific Ocean. That it was not thrown away is shown by the transactions of the company for the next twenty years!

The second period of the Russian American ('ompany began in 1821 and ended in 1811. Within that time the gross revenues of the company exceeded 61,000,000 rubles. Besides paying all expenses and all taxes, the company largely increased the original capital and divided 8,500,000 rubles among the shareholders. These dividends and the increase of the stock showed a profit on the original capital of 55 per cent per annum for the whole twenty years—a great increase over the first period. It must not be forgotten that during sixteen of these twenty years of constantly increasing profits, the treaties, which, according to Lord Salisbury, gave to Great Britain and the United States equal rights with Russia in the Behring Sea, were in full force.

The proceedings which took place when the second period of the

« PreviousContinue »