Page images
PDF
EPUB

PROPOSAL OF MR. LIVINGSTON.

The establishment of a conventional line of boundary having thus become hopeless, the only remaining subject of consideration now is the proposal of Mr. Livingston, and the proceedings had thereupon. Its importance renders it necessary that it should be given in the words of Mr. Livingston himself. The letter of Mr. Livingston, in which this proposal was first made, shortly followed the rejection of the award of the King of the Netherlands by the Senate of the United State, and bears date April 30th, 1833, and is as follows:

The Hon. Edward Livingston to Sir C. R. Vaughan.

“ Department of State, Washington, April 30, 1833. “The undersigned, &c., has had the honour to receive from Sir Charles Vaughan, &c., his note of the 14th instant, communicating the substance of the instructions given by His Britannic Majesty's Government, in relation to the disputed question of the boundary between the United States and the British Province of New Brunswick; and has laid the same before the President, who has directed the undersigned to say, that he sees with great pleasure that the British Government concurs, with that of the United States, in the position, that His Netherland Majesty had not decided the question submitted to him, since by Sir C. Vaughan's note it is acknowledged, that the arbitrator, furnished by each claimant with every fact and argument that had been adduced on either side of the question, had declared the impossibility of tracing, in conformity with the description contained in the Treaty of 1783,' the boundary line in question ; and as the determination of that line, according to the Treaty of 1783, was the only question submitted to the august arbitrator, and he having declared that he found it impossible to trace it in conformity with the Treaty, it follows, that his inability to decide the point submitted to him, leaves the high parties to the submission precisely in the situation in which they were prior to the selection of His Netherland Majesty to be the arbitrator between them, that is to say, they are thrown back to the Convention of the 29th September, 1827. By that Convention it was agreed to submit the question, which was the true boundary according to the Treaty of 1783, to the decision of an arbitrator to be chosen between them. The arbitrator selected having declared himself unable to perform the trust, it is as if none had been selected, and it would seem as if the parties to the submission were

bound by their contract to select another; but this would be useless if the position assumed by the Government of His Britannic Majesty be correct, ' that it would be utterly hopeless at this time of day to attempt to find out, by means of a new negociation, an assumed line of boundary, which successive negociators, and which Commissioners employed on the spot, have during so many years failed to discover.' The American Government, however, while they acknowledge that the task is not without its difficulties, do not consider its execution as hopeless. They still trust that a negociation, opened and conducted in a spirit of frankness, and with a sincere desire to put an end to one of the few questions which divide two nations, whose mutual interest it will always be to cultivate the relations of amity, and a cordial good understanding with each other, may, contrary to the anticipations of His Britannic Majesty's Government, yet have a happy result; but if this should unfortunately fail, other means still untried remain. It was, perhaps, natural to suppose that negociators of the two Powers coming to the discussion with honest prejudices, each in favour of the construction adopted by his own nation on a matter of great import to both, should separate without coming to a decision. The same observations may apply to commissioners, citizens, or subjects of the contending parties, not having an impartial umpire to decide between them; and, although the selection of a sovereign arbiter would seem to have avoided these difficulties, yet this advantage may have been more than countervailed by the want of local knowledge. All the disadvantages of these modes of settlement, heretofore adopted, might, as it appears to the American Government, be avoided by appointing a new commission, consisting of an equal number of Commissioners, with an umpire selected by some friendly Sovereign from among the most skilful men in Europe, to decide on all points on which they disagree, or by a commission entirely composed of such men so selected, to be attended in the survey and view of the country by agents appointed by the parties. Impartiality, local knowledge, and high professional skill would thus be employed, which, although heretofore separately called into the service, have never before been combined for the solution of the question.

This is one mode, and perhaps others might occur in the course of the discussion, should the negociators fail in agreeing on the true boundary. An opinion, however, is entertained, and has been hereinbefore expressed, that a view of the subject, not hitherto taken, might lead to another and more favourable result.

“A free disclosure of this view might, according to the dictates of ordinary diplomacy, with more propriety, perhaps, be deferred until those of His Britannic Majesty's Government should be more fully known, or, at least, until that Government had consented to open a negociation for determining the boundary; but the plain dealing with which the President desires this and all his other communications with Foreign Governments to be conducted, has induced a developement of the principle for the consideration of His Britannic Majesty's Government.

“ Boundaries of tracts and countries where the region through which the line is to pass is unexplored, are frequently designated by natural objects, the precise situation of which is not known, but which are supposed to be in the direction of a particular point of the compass. Where the natural object is found in the designated direction no question can arise. Where the course will not touch the natural boundary the rule universally adopted is, not to consider the boundary as one impossible to be traced, but to preserve the natural boundary, and to reach it by the nearest direct course. Thus, if after more accurate surveys shall have been made it should be found that the north course from the head of the St Croix should not reach the highlands which answer the description of those designated in the Treaty of 1783, then a direct line from the head of the St. Croix, whatever may be its direction to such highlands, ought to be adopted, and the line would still be conformable to the Treaty.

“As this principle does not seem hitherto to have been adopted, it appears to the Government of the United States to offer to the Commissioners who may be appointed the means of an amicable adjustment.

« PreviousContinue »