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Thomas C. Grattan, Esq.
"I mean these remarks for the people of America. I may be told it is
THE BOUNDARY QUESTION REVISED;
AND DR. FRANKLIN'S RED LINE SHOWN TO BE THE RIGHT ONE.
BY A BRITISH SUBJECT.
"I mean these remarks for the People of America. I may be told it is too late. If so, I shall reply, that it is never too late to tell the truth to a reasonable audience; and I hope the result in this case will bear out that opinion."-Burke's Parliamentary Speeches.
The Boundary question has become matter of history. Diplomacy had done its work, in arguing and explaining it. The treaty of 1842 compromised what the treaties of 1783, 1794, 1815, and the award of the King of the Netherlands in 1831, had left unsettled. But scarcely had the two contracting na tions ratified the final deed when the voice of discontent was raised, and doubts as to the construction of some portions, and dissatisfaction at the tenor of others, were heard in both hemispheres. Thus another important document attests, the almost unavoidable imperfections of those very acts, which require the clearest exercise of human wisdom.
The particular branch of the treaty of Washington, to which the following pages have reference, is the North-Eastern Boundary between the United States and the British North American possessions.
Almost every one has heard of the discovery of certain maps relating to that subject, only made known to the public since the ratification of the treaty by the President and Senate of the United States, and the Queen of Great Britain. The existence of these maps has been so made known by the publication in the Globe newspaper, at Washington, in December, 1842, of the speeches of Mr. Rives, chairman of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, on the 17th of August preceding, and of other senators, during the debate on the question of the ratification of the treaty.
The map of chief interest is one discovered, by Mr. Jared Sparks, in the archives of the Bureau des Affaires Etrangeres in Paris, in the year 1841; and by him transmitted to Mr. Webster, Secretary of State at Washington, previous to the negociation held there with Lord Ashburton, in the early part of 1842.
The following extract from Mr. Sparks' communication to Mr. Webster explains the transaction :
"While pursuing my researches among the voluminous papers relating to the American Revolution in the Archives des Affaires Etrangeres in Paris, I found in one of the bound volumes an original letter from Dr. Franklin to Count de Vergennes, of which the following is an exact transcript: :"PASSY, December 6, 1782.
"SIR: I have the honor of returning herewith the map your Excellency sent me yesterday. I have marked with a strong red line, according to your desire, the limits of the United States, as settled in the preliminaries between the British and American plenipotentiaries.
"With great respect, I am, &c.,
"This letter was written six days after the preliminaries were signed; and if we could procure the identical map mentioned by Franklin, it would seem to afford conclusive evidence as to the meaning affixed by the commissioners to the language of the treaty on the subject of the boundaries. You may well suppose that I lost no time in making inquiry for the map, not doubting that it would confirm all my previous opinions respecting the validity of our claim
In the geographical department of the Archives are sixty thousand maps and charts; but so well arranged with catalogues and indexes, that any one of them may be easily found. After a little research in the American division, with the aid of the keeper, I came upon a map of North America, by D'Anville, dated 1746, in size about eighteen inches square, on which was drawn a strong red lane throughout the entire boundary of the United States, answering precisely to Franklin's description. The line is bold and distinct in every part, made with red ink, and apparently drawn with a hair-pencil, or a pen with a blunt point. There is no other coloring on any part of the map.
"Imagine my surprise on discovering that this line runs wholly south of the St. John, and between the head waters of that river and those of the Penobscot and Kennebec. In short, it is exactly the line now contended for by Great Britain, except that it concedes more than is claimed. The north line, after departing from the source of the St. Croix, instead of proceeding to Mars Hill, stops far short of that point, and turns off to the west, so as to leave on the British side all the streams which flow into the St. John, between the source of the St. Croix and Mars Hill. It is evident that the line, from the St. Croix to the Canadian highland, is intended to exclude all the waters running into the St. John.
"There is no positive proof that this map is actually the one marked by Franklin; yet, upon any other supposition, it would be difficult to explain the circumstances of its agreeing so perfectly with his description, and of its being preserved in the place where it would naturally be deposited by Count de Vergennes. I also found another map in the Archives, on which the same boundary was traced in a dotted red line with a pen, apparently colored from the other.
"I enclose herewith a map of Maine, on which I have drawn a strong black line, corresponding with the red one above mentioned."
When Mr. Rives brought forward, during the debate on the treaty, this communication of Mr. Sparks, Mr. Benton informed the Senate that he could produce a map of higher validity than the one alluded to. He accordingly repaired to the library of Congress, and soon returned with a map, of which an account is given in the following extract from the published speech of Mr. Rives :
"A map has been vauntingly paraded here, from Mr. Jefferson's collection, in the zeal of opposition, (without taking time to see what it was), to confront and invalidate the map found by Mr. Sparks in the Foreign Office at Paris; but the moment it is examined, it is found to sustain, by the most precise and remarkable correspondence in every feature, the map communicated by Mr. Sparks. The Senator who produced it could see nothing but the microscopic dotted line running on in a north-easterly direction; but the moment other eyes were applied to it, there was found in bold relief, a strong red line, indicating the limits of the United States, according to the treaty of peace, and coinciding minutely and exactly with the boundary traced on the map of Mr. Sparks. That this red line, and not the hardly visible dotted line, was intended to represent the limits of the United States according to the treaty of peace, is conclusively shown by the circumstance that the red line is drawn on the map all around the exterior boundary of the United States, through the middle of the northern Lakes, thence through the Long Lake, and the Rainy Lake to the Lake of the Woods; and from the western extremity of the Lake of the Woods to the river Mississippi; and along that river to the point where and boundary of the United States, according to the treaty of peace, leaves it, the thence, by its easterly course, to the mouth of the St. Mary's, on the Atlantic."
"Here, then," continued Mr. Rives," is a most remarkable and unforeseen confirmation of the map of Mr. Sparks, and by another map of a most imposing character, and bearing every mark of high authenticity. It was printed and published in Paris, in 1784, (the year after the conclusion of the peace), by Lattré, engraver of maps, &c., to the King of France. It is formally entitled on its face, A map of the United States of America, according to the Treaty of Peace of 1783.'-' Carte des Etats Unis de l'Amérique, suivant
le Traité de Paix de 1783.') It is dedicated and presented ('dediée et présentée,') to his Excellency Benjamin Franklin, Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America, near the court of France,' and while Dr. Franklin yet remained in Paris, for he did not return to the United States till the spring of the year 1785. Is there not, then, the most plausible ground to argue that this map, professing to be one constructed according to the treaty of peace of 1783,' and being dedicated and presented' to Dr. Franklin, the leading negociator who conducted that treaty, and who yet remained in Paris while the map was published, was made out with his knowledge and by his directions; and that, according as it does identically with the map found by Mr. Sparks in the archives of the Foreign Affairs at Paris, they both partake of the same presumptions in favour of their authenticity."
During this debate in the Senate, Mr. Benton refused altogether to believe in the authenticity of the maps alluded to by Mr. Sparks; but he observed that "if they were really authentic, the concealment of them was a fraud on the British, and that the Senate was insulted by being made a party to the fraud." And further, that "if evidence had been discovered which deprived Maine of the title to one-third of its territory, honor required that it should be made known to the British."
Mr. Woodbury and Mr. Buchanan, in their speeches, seemed to consider the maps discovered by Mr. Sparks as merely shewing the old boundaries claimed by France in her colonial disputes with Great Britain. But this opi nion is refuted by the fact, that the red line on the map, supposed to have been traced by Franklin, as well as on the one produced by Mr. Benton, goes out to sea beyond the exterior bounds of the American continent, in accordance with the treaty of 1783, which gives twenty leagues out beyond the sea-coast, or the jurisdiction of the United States.
Since the existence of these maps was thus made known to the public, it has been understood that another map, which formerly belonged to Baron Steuben, a Prussian officer in the service of the United States, but which has been for many years in possession of a gentleman of New York, has been transmitted to the State Department in Washington; and that it also shews a line in strict accordance with those before mentioned, and with the British claim.
Later still, a pamphlet has been published in London, by Mr. G. W. Featherstonhaugh, (Feb. 3d, 1843), which contains the following statement :— "Shortly after the departure of Lord Ashburton (for America), an ancient map, which had apparently been hid away for near sixty years, was discovered in one of the public offices, with a red line drawn upon it, exactly conforming to the British claim; and, upon a careful consideration of all the circum stances connected with it, no doubt was entertained that that map was one of the maps used by the negociators of the treaty of 1783, and that the red line marked upon it, designated the direction of the boundary they had established. But this map was not signed, and could not be authenticated. A map, however, engraved in 1785, only a year, perhaps, after the ratification of the treaty of 1783, by W. Faden, geographer to the king, was taken to the United States by Lord Ashburton. This was evidently copied from an official map, and probably from the one last mentioned. It had the boundary line traced in the copper, and was coloured exactly in the same direction with the red line on the map that could not be authenticated, running from the St. Croix along the highlands south of the St John, and thence to the Lake of the Woods, according to the terms of the treaty."*
* An intelligent gentleman in Boston called the attention of the author to the mention of another map with a red line, in connection with the negociation of 1782, and which he supposed to be identical with the one discovered by Mr. Sparks. In reference to this map, there is in the official correspondence of John Jay, (one of the commissioners with Dr. Franklin, Mr. Adams, and Mr. Laurens, for the United States), an account of a conference between him and Count d'Aranda, the Spanish minister at Paris, in July, 1782, in which it was agreed that the Count should send him a map, with a red line traced on it, in accordance with the boundary proposed by Spain for the western portion of the United States.
"A few days afterwards," writes Mr. Jay," he sent me the map, with his proposed