« PreviousContinue »
would point out a new division of the governments of the colonies, which is not the purport of this paper.
“The consideration of this country, so far as it is connected with, or has any effect upon, the interests and politics of the English settlements, presents itself to view, divided in two ideas,- First, The country between the sea and the mountains; Secondly, -The mountains themselves. The first part is almost throughout the whole capable of culture, and is entirely settled; the second a wilderness, in which are found here and there in small portions in comparison of the whole) solitary detached spots of ground fit for settlements; the rest is nothing but cover for vermin and rapine, a den for wild beasts, and the more wild savages who wander in it.
Thus far of the site of the country as it becomes the foundation of a natural difference between the English and French possessions in America."
Governor Pownall also laid before the Government, in 1759, a memorial containing observations on a line of demarcation between the English and French in North America, so far as it respects that continent only, which will be found at the end of his work on the Administration of the British Colonies. In his war map called Mitchell's Map, he fixes the boundary in the peninsula beyond the highlands of the dividing ridge, and at the highlands of the gulf, because he could not but know that barrier would soon be broken by the Power inhabiting the intermediate country, and that the sortie of the great lakes would, with the gulf itself, fall under the control of the Power of which he was so able and faithful a subject. And this is the view which he and men like him must have taken in 1783 of the boundary to divide the territories of the United States from the possessions of England in North America. Accordingly, all men agree that the boundary laid down in Mitchell's Map does not correspond with the boundary described in the Treaty of 1783, whilst it appears to be equally clear that the dividing ridge corresponds with the letter and spirit of the Treaty, and forms an appropriate termination to the line of boundary which commences at the Lake of the Woods, and is drawn through the middle of the great lakes until it strikes the 45th degree of north latitude.
OF THE NEGOCIATIONS BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT
OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND THE
STATES OF MAINE AND MASSACHUSETTS, RESPECT
ING A CONVENTIONAL LINE OF BOUNDARY TO BE
SUBSTITUTED IN THE PLACE OF THAT OF THE
THAT THIS LAST WAS IMPOSSIBLE,
The Government of the United States of America does not appear to have any interest in the establishment of the boundary claimed by Maine and Massachusetts ; on the contrary, that Government has the same interest as the British Government in having as the boundary the dividing ridge. If the former boundary should be adopted, there would be danger of collision between the people of the two nations. The General Government would be put to the trouble and expense of settling these differences. The policy of the United States is, or ought to be peaceful ; if the boundary claimed by Maine and Massachusetts were established, the Government of the United States, considering the peculiar character of its institutions, could not be sure of maintaining peace with England for any length of time.
The United States might be forced into a war
with Great Britain, or subjected to disagreeable internal dissentions arising from this source; the territory in question is of no assignable value to the United States as a whole people. Thinking men there well know that their territory is already too large ; then as the property in the soil of the territory lying betweeen the dividing ridge and the mountains of the Gulf, would be in the States of Maine and Massachusetts, the General Government would derive no revenue from its sale. In fact, for the last forty years the General Government has been put to the expense and trouble of a vexatious negociation in supporting a claim wherein Maine and Massachusetts are alone interested.
But as to Maine and Massachusetts it is far otherwise ; the lands, if surrendered by England, would come to be held by those two States by equal moieties; the produce of the sale of six millions of acres of ground would be poured into their treasuries in the same proportions ; they would, without taxing their constituents, have put into their hands large sums of money, which might either be made the means of relieving them for a time from the whole or a part of the taxes they now pay, or might be applied to the improvement of their internal communications, or to other objects of public and general utility. The timber which now covers this tract of country would become the subject of large and profitable speculation, its acquisition would add much directly, and indirectly more, to the wealth of every family in those States.
The question of surrender of any portion of their claim has been looked at by both Maine and Massachusetts with much jealousy, and it has been prosecuted with all the fierceness and recklessness of consequences which belong to protracted litigations of private individuals, when the subject in controversy is deemed to be of large value.
One difference, however, is to be observed between the conduct of these States : it has been seen, in a previous part of this paper, that in 1832 the State of Maine agreed to surrender a portion of her interest in the lands in question, but that the State of Massachusetts refused.
The cause of this difference in their conduct is probably to be found in the circumstance that amongst the leading men in the State of Maine, there are men who understand the question better than it is understood in Massachusetts, and that those men succeeded in influencing the votes of the Legislature on that occasion, without being under the necessity of committing the case, by indiscreet disclosures as to the nature and strength of their title ; whilst, on the other hand, the Legislature of the State of Massachusetts is so numerous, consisting, as is believed, of above 600 members, that such communications could not have been made with safety to that body; accordingly the