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The Oregon question Gallatin, Albert, 1761-1849 1846

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1846.  THE
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I had been a pioneer in collecting facts and stating the case.
The only materials within my reach consisted of the accounts of
voyages previously published, (including that of Maurelle, in Bar-
rington's Miscellanies), of the varied and important information
derived from Humboldt's New Spain, and of the voyage of the
Sutil and Mexicano, the introduction to which contains a brief
official account of the Spanish discoveries. The statement of the
case was the best I was able to make with the materials on hand,
and may be found defective in many respects. Since that time manuscript journals of several of the voyages have been obtained at Madrid. New facts have thus been added ; others have been better
analyzed, and some errors rectified. Arguments which had been
only indicated have been enforced, and new views have been
suggested. The subject, indeed, seems to be exhausted ; and it
would be difficult to add anything to the able correspondence
between the two Governments which has been lately published.
Ministers charged with diplomatic discussions are not, however,
in those official papers intended for publication, to be considered as
philosophers calmly investigating the questions, with no other
object bat to elicit truth. They are always, to a certain extent*
advocates, who use their best endeavors to urge and even strain the
\ /
reasons that may be alleged in favor of the claims set up by their
Governments; and in the same manner to repel, if not to deny, all
that may be adduced by the other party. Such official papers are
in fact appeals to public opinion, and generally published when
there remains no hope to conclude for the present an amicable
But, though acting in that respect as advocates, diplomatists are
essentially ministers of peace, whose constant and primary duty is
mutually to devise conciliatory means for the adjustment of conflicting pretensions, for the continuance of friendly relations, for preventing war, or for the restoration of peace. It has unfortunately
happened that on this occasion, both Governments have assumed
such absolute and exclusive grounds as to have greatly increased,
at least for theTpresent, the obstacles to an amicable arrangement.
It is morally impossible for the bulk of the people of any country
thoroughly to investigate a subject so complex as that of the
respective claims to the Oregon territory ; and, for obvious reasons,
it is much less understood by the great mass of the population in
England than in the United States. Everywhere, when the
question is between the country and a foreign nation, the people at
large, impelled by natural and patriotic feelings, will rally around
their Government. For the. consequences that may ensue, those
who are entrusted with the directibn of the foreign relations are
alone responsible. Whatever may be the cause, to whomsoever
the result may be ascribed, it appears from the general style of the
periodical press, that, with few exceptions, the people, both in
Great Britain and in the United States, are imbued with the belief
that the contested territory belongs exclusively to themselves, and
that any concession which might be made would be a boon to the
ether party. Such opinions, if sustained by either Government and
accompanied by corresponding measures, must necessarily lead to
immediate collisions, and probably to war. Yet, a war so calamitous in itself, so fatal to the general interests of both countries, is
almost universally deprecated, without distinction of parties, by all
the rational men who are not carried away by the warmth of their
din the present state of excitement, an immediate amicable arrange- N
ment is almost hopeless ; time is necessary before the two Governments can be induced to recede from their extreme pretensions.
In the meanwhile, nothing, as it seems to me, should for the present
be done, which might increase the excitement, aggravate the difficulties, or remove the only remaining barrier against immediate
The United States claim a right of sovereignty over the whole
territory. The pretensions of the British Government, so far as
they have been heretofore exhibited, though not extending to a
claim of absolute sovereignty over the whole, are yet such as cannot
be admitted by the United States, and, if persisted in, must lead to
a similar result.
If the claim of Great Britain be properly analyzed, it will be
found that, although she has incidentally discussed other questions,
she in fact disregards every other claim but that of actual occupancy, and that she regards as such the establishment of trading
factories by her subjects. She according^ claims a participation
in the navigation of the river Columbia, and would make that river
the boundary between the two Powers. This utter disregard of
the rights of discovery, particularly of that of the mouth, sources,
and course of a river,* of the principle of contiguity, and of every
other consideration whatever, cannot be admitted by the United
States. The offer of a detached defenceless territory, with a single
port, and the reciprocal offers of what are called free ports, cannot
be viewed but as derisory. An amicable arrangement by way of
compromise cannot be effected without a due regard to the claims
advanced by both parties, and to the expediency of the dividing
An equitable division must have reference not only to the extent
of territory, but also to the other peculiar advantages attached to
each portion respectively.
From and including Fuca Straits, the country extending; norths
wardly abounds with convenient sea-ports.    From the 42d degree
* I allude here only to the compromise proposed by Great Britain. Her
actual claim, as explicitly stated by herself, is to the whole territory-
limited to a right of joint occupancy, in common with other States, leaving
the right of exclusive dominion in abeyance.
*   \
— of latitude to those Straits, there is but one port of any importance,
the mouth of the River Columbia; and this is of difficult and
dangerous access, and cannot admit ships of war of a large size.
It is important only as a port of exports. As one of common
resort for supplies, or asylum, in case of need, for the numberless
American vessels engaged in the fisheries or commerce of the Pacific,
it would be almost useless, even if in the exclusive possession of
the United States. It must also be observed that the navigable
channel of the river, from its mouth to Puget's Island, is, according
to Vancouver, close along the northern shore. Great Britain proposes that the river should be the boundary, and that the United
States should be content with the possession of the port it offered,
in common with herself. It is really unnecessary to dwell on the
consequences of-such an arrangement. It is sufficient to say that,
in case of war between the two countries, it would leave the United
States without a single port, and give to Great Britain the indisputable and exclusive control over those seas and their commerce.
The first apd indispensable step towards an amicable arrangement consists in the investigation, not so much of the superiority of
one claim over the other, as of the question whether there be
sufficient grounds to sustain the exclusive pretensions of either
If the claim of the United States to the whole of the contested
territory can be sustained against Great Britain, or if the pretensions
of this Power can to their full extent be maintained against the
United States, it must be, by either party assuming that the other
has no opposite claim of any kind whatever, that there are no
doubtful and debatable questions pending between the two countries.
This, if true and maintained, must necessarily lead to war, unless
one of the two Powers should yield what it considers as its absolute
right. But, if there be any such debatable questions, the way is
Still open for negotiations ; and both powers may recede from their
extreme pretensions, without any abandonment of positive rights,
without disgrace, without impairing national honor and dignity.
It has been asserted that the title of the United States to the
whole Oregon territory was maintained by irrefragable facts and
arguments.   These must be sought for in the correspondence lately published. They consist—first, of the assertion of the ancient
claim of Spain to the absolute sovereignty over the whole northwest coast of America as far north as the 61st degree of north latitude. Secondly, of the cumulated proofs which sustain the claims
of the United States to the various portions of the territory (whether in their own right, or as derived from the acquisition of
Louisiana and the Spanish discoveries), and of the refutation of the
arguments adduced by the other party. The first mentioned position would, if it could be sustained, be sufficient to prove, and is,
as I think, the only one that could prove, the absolute and complete right of the United States to the whole contested territory.
It is undoubtedly true that " Spain considered the northwest
coast of America as exclusively her own;" that this claim " had
been asserted by her, and maintained with the most vigilant jealousy, ever since the discovery of the American continent, or nearly three centuries, as far north as her settlements or missions extended." There were two ways of examining the soundness of
that claim; an investigation of the principles on which it was
founded, and an appeal to precedents. The Secretary of State has
abstained from discussing the principle ; but he has said that the
claim of Spain to sovereignty " had never been seriously questioned by any European nation: that it had been acquiesced in by all
European Governments." This appears to me the most vulnerable part of his arguments.
The early charters of the British monarchs to the colonies bordering on the Atlantic, extended from sea to sea, from the Atlantic
to the Pacific ocean, with the single exception which excluded from
the grants the places actually occupied by the subjects of any
Christian nation. The right of prior occupancy was recognized;
but the general claim of Spain to the sovereignty of the whole
coast bordering on the Pacific was utterly disregarded. Had that
claim been considered as unquestionable,had it been acquiesced in,
it never could have been supposed that, in any case whatever, England could have a right to bestow on her subjects a single foot of
land bordering on the Pacific.
Coming down to modern times, the only nations which have set
up any claims or attempted any settlements on the Pacific, north of §
the country actually occupied by the Spaniards, are Russia, Great
Britain, and the United States. All three have asserted claims to
•the northwestern coasts of America, irreconcilable with the uni*
versal sovereignty claimed by Spain : Russia and Englan^,ffrom the
time when their flags first floated along the coast and their subjects
landed on its shores; the United States from a similar date, or at
least from the time when they acquired Louisiana.
If the right of Spain was absolute and exclusive to the whole,
there was no reason why it should not have extended beyond the
61st degree of latitude. The right of Russia was founded only on
her discoveries and the establishment of some trading factories.
She respected the right of Spain only as far as it did not interfere
with her own claim. She has, in fact, extended this more than
six degrees further south; and to this the United States, who had
acquired all the rights of Spain, have assented by a solemn treaty.
Whatever might be the boundary acquiesced in by Spain, it was
not Russia which recognized the claim of Spain; it was Spain which
recognized that her claim was not unlimited. And, let it be also
observed, that, since Spain still claimed as far north as the 61st
degree of north latitude (the southern limit of the Russian factories when first visited by Spanish navigators), the United States, if
they believed the Spanish right absolute and exclusive, oughtinot
to have ceded to Russia a country extending more than six degrees
of latitude along the shores of the Pacific.
Great Britain contested the exclusive claim of Spain from the
year 1778, the date of Cook's third voyage; and he was the first
British navigator that had for more thai* two centuries appeared on
those coasts. This doctrine she has maintained ever since. She
did not resist the exclusive cl#im of Spain by tirtue of the Nootka
convention, but prior to it. It was on that ground that she impe*
riously demanded indemnity and restoration for the property and
factory of one of her subjects, which had been forcibjy taken by
the Spanish Government. She even threatened war; and the
Nootka convention was the result of those transactions. Whatever
construction may at this time be given to that instrument, it is cer*
tain at least that Spain by it conceded a portion of the absolute and
sovereign right she had till then asserted; that she yielded the right of trade with the natives on all that part of the coast lying
north of her actual settlements; and that, by suffering the ultimate
right of sovereignty to remain in abeyance, she made that pretension questionable which she had contended could not be called in
With respect to the United States, without recurring to former
negotiations which were not attended with any result, it is sufficient to advert to the convention between them and Great Britain
of the year 1818, concluded prior to the date of the treaty by
which they acquired the claims of Spain to the territory north of
the 42d degree of north latitude.
The United States at that time distinctly claimed, in their own
right and independent of the Spanish claims, that the boundary
along the 49th parallel, which had been agreed on as that between
them and Great Britain, from the Lake of the Woods to the Stony
Mountains, should be extended to the Pacific. To this division of
territory Great Britain would not accede; and the provision for a
joint occupancy during the next ensuing years was substituted. A
clause was inserted that the agreement should not be taken to affect
the claims of any other Power or State to any part of the country
west of the Stony Mountains. This provision clearly referred to
the claims of Russia and Spain. The northern and southern boundaries of the country, which the two contracting parties might
claim, were left undefined: Great Britain probably thought herself
bound by the Nootka convention to respect the Spanish claims to
the extent prodded by that instrument: the United States could
not but recognize those derived from discovery, with which they
were at that time but imperfectly acquainted, since their own
claims were in a great degree derived from a similar source. But
the convention decisively proves that the United States did not
acquiesce in the antiquated claim of Spain to the absolute and exclusive sovereignty of the whole country; since, if they had recognized that prior claim to the whole, they could have had none
whatever, to any portion of it.
r Its* therefore undeniable that the assertion of the Spanish claim
of absolute sovereignty cannot be sustained by a presumed acquiescence on the part of the only nations, which now claim the 10
country. It may perhaps be said that their opposition came too
late, and that they neglected too long to protest against the Spanish
pretension on the Pacific. No stress will be laid on Drake's voyage, which had a warlike character. But the British charters to
their colonies show that those pretensions were disregarded at a
very early date. There was no occasion for opposition or direct
denial, with respect to the Pacific, until the attention of other nations was directed towards that remote country. This was neglected because all the commercial nations were, in their attempts to
colonize, or to conquer the foreign and till then unexplored regions,
attracted by countries far more accessible, and were exclusively
engaged in pursuits much more important. The East Indies and
the West India Islands offered a vast and lucrative field for commercial enterprise anjl territorial acquisition. With respect to the
continent of America, France, England, and Holland most natural-4
ly planted their colonies on the nearest opposite shores of the Atlantic ; and they did it in opposition to the pretended claim of Spain,
* which extended to the whole of America. Although strenuously
engaged in extending those colonies wrestwardly, these, in the year
1754, twenty years only before Cook's third voyage, hardly extended beyond the Mississippi. What immediate interest could
then have impelled either France or England to enter a formal
protest against the antiquated claim of Spain to a country with
which they had never attempted even to trade ? And what opportunity had occurred for doing it prior to Cook's voyage ?
But, what is still more conclusive, the country in question was
equally neglected by Spain herself. Some exploring voyages, few
of which are authentic, were indeed made by Spanish navigators;
and the claims which may be derived from their discoveries have
now been transferred to the United States, so far as discovery alone
can give a claim, and no • further. But, during more than two
centurfes that Spain had no competitor on the Pacific, there was
on her part no occupancy, no settlement, or attempt to make
a settlement. She had some missions on the western coast of
the peninsula of California: but her missions or settlements in
Northern or New California are of quite recent date; that of the
most southern (San Diego)4n 1769, and that of the most northern 11
(San Francisco) in 1776, two years only before Cook's arrival at
Nootka Sound.
In point of fact, the contested territory had been utterly neglected by Spain. All the energies, such as they were, of her
Mexican colonies were much more advantageously applied to the
improvement of the vast and rich* countries which they had conquered, principally to the discovery and working of the richest and
most productive mines of the precious metals as yet known.
Anson's expedition was purely military, and confined to southern
latitudes. But the narrative drew the public attention towards the
Pacific ocean, and gave a new impulse to the spirit of discovery.
Almost immediately after the peace of 1763 voyages were undertaken for that purpose by the Governments of England and France:
the Pacific was explored: the Russians on the other hand had,
more than thirty years before, ascertained the continuity of the
American continent from Behring's Straits to Mount St. Elias.
It was then, and not till then, that Spain, or rather the Mexican
Government, awakening from its long lethargy, extended its missions to New California. In the year 1774, Perez, with his pilot,
Martinez, sailed as far north as the northern extremity of Queen
Charlotte's Island, having anchored in Nootka Sound, and, as
Martinez asserts, perceived the entrance of Fuca's Straits. New
and important discoveries were made by Quadra and Heceta in
the yedr 1775.    The sequel is well known.
But on what foundation did the claim of Spain rest 1 If she
had indeed an absolute right to the whole country bordering on
the Pacific, derived either from natural or international law, or
from usages generally recognized, it matters but little, as respects
right, whether other nations had acquiesced in, or opposed her
claim. If there was no foundation for that absolute and exclusive
right of sovereignty, Spain could transfer nothing more to the
United States than the legitimate claims derived from her discoveries.
The discovery gives an incipient claim not only to the identical
spot thus discovered, but to a certain distance beyond it. It has
been admitted that the claim extends generally, though not universally, as far inland as the sources of rivers emptying into the
J v   12 " jp
sea where the discovery has been made. The distance to which
the right or claim extends along the sea shore may not be precisely
defined, and may vary according to circumstances. But it never can
be unlimited; it has never been recognized beyond a reasonable extent. Spain was the first European nation which discovered and
occupied Florida. A claim on that account to the absolute sovereignty over the whole of the Atlantic shores as far as Hudson's
Bay, or the 60th degree of latitude, would strike every one as
utterly absurd. A claim on the part of Spain to the sovereignty
of all the shores of the Pacific, derived from her having established
missions in California, would be similar in its nature and extent,
and equally inadmissible. It cannot be sustained asja natural
right, nor by the -principles of international law, nor by any
general usage or precedent. The claim of Spain rested on no such-
It was derived from the bull of Pope Alexander VI., which the
Spanish monarchs obtained in the year 1493, immediately after the
discovery of America by Columbus. By virtue of that bull, combined with another previously granted to Portugal, and ^rith modi<-
fications respecting the division line between the two Powers, the
Pope granted to them the exclusive sovereignty over all the di$*»>
coveries made or to be made in all the heathen portions of the
globe, including, it must be recollected, all the countries in
America bordering on the Atlantic, as well as those on theiPacific,
ocean. Yet, even at that time, the Catholic Kings of England
and France did not recognize the authority of the Pope on such
subjects ; as evidently appears by the voyages of Cabot under the
orders of Henry VII. of England, and of Cartier under those of the
King of France, Francis I. Subsequently, the eoj^nies jjianted by
both countries, from Florida to Hudson's ftey, were a practical
and continued protest and denial of the Spanish claim o£ absolute
sovereignty over the whole of America: whilst the acquiescence
of Spain was tantamount to an abandonment of that claim where
it was resisted. Ridiculous as a right derived from such a source
may appear at this time, it was not then thjus considered by Spainf
and the western boundary of Brazil is to this day regulated by the
division line prescribed by the Pope. 13
I am not aware of any other principle by which the claim ever
was or can be sustained, unless it be the idle ceremony of taking
possession, as it is called. The celebrated Spaniard who first discovered the Pacific oceanj " Balboa, advancing up to the middle
in the waves, with his buckler and sword, took possession of that
ocean in the name of the King his master, and vowed to defend it,
with his arms, against all his enemies."—{Robertson.)
I have dwelt longer on this subject than it may seem to deserve.
The assertion of the solidity of this ancient exclusive Spanish
claim has had an apparent effect on public opinion fatal to the
prospect of an amicable arrangement. I am also fuUy satisfied
that the resort to vulnerable argumentSj?instead of strengthening,
has,a tendency to lessen the weight of the multiplied proofs, by
whieh the superiority of the American over the British clsiim has
been so fully established. NUMBER II.
It has, it is believed, been conclusively proved that tne claim of
the United States to absolute sovereignty over the whole Oregon
territory, in virtue of the ancient exclusive Spanish claim, is wholly
unfounded. The next question is, whether the other facts and
arguments adducedT>y either party establish a complete and absolute
title of either to the whole; for the United States claim it explicitly ; and, although the British proposal of compromise did yield
a part, yet her qualified claim extends to the whole. It has been
stated by herself in the following words: " Great Britain claims no
exclusive sovereignty over any portion of that territory. Her
present claim, not in respect to any part, but to the whole, is
limited to a right of joint occupancy, in common with other States,
leaving the right of exclusive dominion in abeyance." And, again:
" The qualified rights which Great Britain now possesses over the
whole of the territory in question, embrace the right to navigate
the waters of those countries, the right to settle in and over any
part of them, and the right freely to trade with the inhabitants and
occupiers of the same. * * * * * * It is fully admitted
that the United States possess the same rights; but beyond they
possess none."
In the nature of things, it seems almost impossible that a com?
plete and absolute right to any portion of America can exist, unless
it be by prescriptive and undisputed actual possession and settlements, or by virtue of a treaty.
At the time when America was discovered, the law of nations
was altogether unsettled. More than a century elapsed before
Grotius attempted to lay its foundation on Natural Law and the
moral precepts of Christianity; and, when sustaining it by precedents, he was compelled to recur to Rome and Greece.    It was in 15
reaKty a new case, to which no ancient precedents could apply,*
for which some new rules must be adopted. Gradually, some
general principles were admitted, never universally, in their nature
vague and often conflicting. For instance, discovery varies, from
the simple ascertaining of the continuity of land, to a minute exploration of its various harbors, rivers, &c; and the rights derived
from it may vary accordingly, and may occasionally be claimed to
the same district by different nations. There is no precise rule for
regulating the time after which the neglect to occupy would nullify
the right of prior discovery ; nor for defining the extent of coast
beyond the spot discovered to which the discoverer may be entitled,
or how far inland his claim extends. The principle most generally
admitted was, that, in case of a river, the right extended to the
whole countfy drained by that river and its tributaries. Even this
was not-universaily conceded. This right might be affected by a
simultaneous or prior discovery and occupancy of some of the
sources of such river by another party; or it might conflict witji a
general claim of contiguity. This last claim, when extending
beyond the sources of rivers discovered and occupied, is vague
and undefined: though it would seem that it cannot exceed in
breadth that of the territory on the coast originally discovered and
occupied. A few examples will show the uncertainty resulting
from those various claims, when they conflicted with each other.
The old British charters extending from sea to sea have already
been mentioned. They were founded, beyond the sources of the
rivers emptying into the Atlantic, on no other principle than that
of contiguity or continuity. The grant in 1621 of Nova Scotia, by
James the First, is bounded on the north by the river St. Lawrence,
though Carrier had more than eighty-five years before discovered
the mouth of that river and ascended it as high up as the present
site of Montreal, and the Freifch under Champlain had several
years before 1621 been settled at Quebec. But there is another
case more important, and still more in point.
The few survivors of the disastrous expedition of Narvaez, who,
coming from Florida, did in a most extraordinary wayreach Culia-
* Grotius, however, sustains the right of occupation by a maxim of the
Civil Roman Code. 16
can on the Pacific, were the first Europeans who crossed the Mian
sissippi. Some years later, Ferdinand de Soto^ coming also from
Florida, did in the year 1541 readi and cross the Mississippi, at
some place between the mouth of the Ohio and that of the Arkan-*
sas. He explored a portion of the river and of the adjacent country;
and, after his death, Moscoso, who succeeded him in command, did?
in the year 1543, build seven brigaritines or barques^in which,
with the residue of his followers, he descended the Mississippi, the
mouth of which he reached in seventeen days. Thence putting to
sea with his frail vessels, he was fortunate enough to reach the
Spanish port of Panuco, on the Mexican coast. The right of discovery clearly belonged to Spain; but she had neglected for near
one hundred andiifty years to make any settlement on the great
river or any of its tributaries. The French, coming from Canada,
reached the Mississippi in the year 1680, and ascended it as high
up as St Anthony's Falls; and La Salle descended it in 1682 to
its mouth. The French Government did, in virtue of that second
discovery, claim the country, subsequently founded New Orleans,
and formed several other settlements in the interior, on the MissigH
sippi or its waters. Spain almost immediately occupied Pensacola
and Nacogdoches, in order to check the progress of the French east-
wardly and westwardly; but she did not attempt to disturb them
in their settlements on the Mississippi and its tributaries. We have
here the proof of a prior right of discovery being superseded, when
too long neglected, by that of actual occupancy and settlement.
The French, by virtue of having thus discovered the mouth of
the Mississippi, of having ascended it more than fifteen hundred
miles, of having explored the Ohio, the Wabashi and the Illinois,
from theufirespectiye mouths to their most remote sowrcesj and of
having formed several settlements as above mentioned, laid claim
to the whole country drained by the main river and its tributaries.
They accordingly built forts at Le Boeuf, high up the Alleghany
river, and on the site where Pittsburgh now stands. iqOn the ground
of discovery or settlement, Great Britain had net the slightest claim.
General, then Colonel Washington, was the first who, at the age
of twenty-two, and in the year 1754, planted the British banner on
the Western watef& ' The British claim was founded principally 17
on the ground of contiguity, enforced by other considerations. The
strongest of these was, that it could not consist with natural law,
that the British colonies, with a population of near two millions,
should be confined to the narrow belt of land between the Atlantic
and the Alleghany Mountains, and that the right derived from the
discovery of the main river should be carried to such an extent as
tQ allow the French colonies, with a population of fifty thousand,
rightfully to claim the whole valley of the Mississippi. The contest was decided by the sword. By the treaty of peace of 1763,
the Mississippi, with the exception of New Orleans and its immediate vicinity, was made the boundary. The French not only lost
all that part of the valley which lay east of that river, but they
were compelled to cede Canada to Great Britain.
It may* however, happenfthat all the various claims, from whicj^
a title may be derived, instead of pertaining to several Powers,
and gifving rise to conflicting pretensions, are united and rightfully
belong to one nation alone. This union, if entire, may justly be
considered as giving a complete and exclusive title to the sovereignty of that part of the country embraced by such united
The position assumed by the British Government, that those various claims exclude each other, and that the assertion of one forbids an appeal to the others, is obviously untenable. All that can
be said in that respect is, that if any one claim is alone sufficient to
establish a complete and indisputable title, an appeal to others is>
superfluous. Thus for, and no farther, can the objection be maintained. The argument on the part of the United States in reality
was, that the Government considered the title derived from the
ancient exclusive Spanish claim as indisputable; t ut that, if this
was denied, all the other just claims of the United States taken together constituted a complete title, or at least far superior to any
that could be adduced on the part of Great Britain.
It is not intended to enter into the merits of the question, which
has been completely discussed, since the object of this paper is only
to show that there remain on both sides certain debatable questions ; and that therefore both Governments may, if so disposed,
2 18
recede from some of their pretentions, without any abandonment of
positive rights, and without impairing national honor and dignity.
Although Great Britain seems, in this discussion, to have relied
almost exclusively on the right derived from actual occupancy and
settlement, she cannot reject absolutely those derived from other
sources. She must admit that, both in theory and practice, the
claims derived from prior discovery, from contiguity, from the principle which gives to the first discoverer of the mouth of a river and
of its course a claim to the whole country drained by such river,
have all been recognized to a certain, though not well-defined extent, by all the European nations claiming various portions of
America. And she cannot deny the facts, that (as Mr. Greenhow
justly concludes) the seashore had been generally examined from
the 42d, and minutely from the 45th to the 48th degree of latitude,
Nootka Sound discovered, and the general direction of the coast
from the 48th to the 58th degree of latitude ascertained, by the
Spanish expeditions, in the years 1774 and 1775, of Perez, Heceta,
and Bodego y Quadra ; that the American Captain Gray was the
first who, in 1792, entered into and ascertained the existence of the
River Columbia, and the place where it empties into the sea; that,
prior to that discovery, the Spaniard Heceta was the first who had
been within the bay, called Deception Bay by Meares, into which
the river does empty ; that, of the four navigators who had been in
that bay prior to Gray's final discovery, the Spaniard Heceta and
the American ,Gray were the only ones who had asserted that a
great river emptied itself into that bay, Heceta having even given
a name to the river (St. Roc), and the entrance having been designated by his own name (Ensennada de Heceta), whilst the two
English navigators, Meares and Vancouver, had both concluded
that no large river had its mouth there; that, in the year 1805,
Lewis and Clarke were the first who descended the river Columbia,
from one of its principal western sources to its mouth; that the first
actual occupancy in that quarter was by Mr. Astor's company, on
the 24th of March, 1811, though Mr. Thompson, the astronomer
of the British Northwest Company, who arrived at Astoria on the
15ih of July, may have wintered on or near some northern source of
the river in 52 degrees north latitude; that amongst the factories 19
established by that American company one was situated at the con»-
fluence of the Okanagan with the Columbia, in about 49 degrees
of latitude; that the 42d degree is the boundary, west of the Stony
Mountains, established by treaty between Spain, now Mexico, and
the United States; that the 49th degree is likewise the boundary,
from the Lake of the Woods to the Stony Mountains, established
by treaty between Great Britain and the United States; and that
therefore the right of the United States, which may be derived from
the principle of contiguity or continuity, embraces the territory
west of the Stony Mountains contained between the 42d and 49th
degrees of latitude.
Omitting other considerations which apply principally to the ter-
^ritory north of Fuca Straits, where the claims of both parties are
almost exclusively derived from their respective discoveries, including those of Spain, it may be rationally inferred from the preceding enumeration that there remain various questions which
must be considered by Great Britain as being still doubtful and debatable, and that she may therefore, without any abandonment of
positive rights, recede from the extreme pretensions which she has
advanced in the discussion respecting a division of the territory.
But, although conjectures may be formed, and the course pursued
by the Government of the United States may have an influence on
that which Great Britain will adopt, it does not belong to me to
discuss what that Government may or will do. This paper is intended for the American, and not for the English public; and my
attention has been principally directed to those points which may
be considered by the United States as doubtful and debatable.
It was expressly stipulated that nothing contained in the conventions of 1818 and 1827 should be construed to impair, or in any
manner affect, the claims which either of the contracting parties
may have to any part of the country westward of the Stony or
Rocky Mountains. After the most cool and impartial investigation of which I am capable, I have not been able to perceive any
claim on the part of Great Britain, or debatable question, respecting the territory south of Fuca's Straits, but the species of occupancy by the British Fur companies between the year 1813 and
October 20th, 1818; and this must be considered in connection 20
with the restoration of " all territory, places, and possessicns whatsoever, taken by either party from the other during the war," provided for by the treaty of Ghent. To this branch of the subject
belongs also the question whether the establishment of trading factories with Indians may eventually give a right to sovereignty.
My opinion was expressed in the American counter-statement of
the case, dated 19th December, 1826 : " It is believed that mete
factories, established solely for the purpose of trafficking with the
natives, and without any view to cultivation and permanent settlement, cannot, of themselves, and unsupported by any other consideration, give any better title to dominion and absolute sovereignty than similar establishments made in a civilized country." H ow-
ever true this may be as an abstract proposition, it must be admitted that, practically, the modest British factory at Calcutta has
gradually grown up-into absolute and undisputed sovereignty over
a population of eighty millions of people. '
The questions which, as it appears to me, may be allowed by the
United States to be debatable, and therefore to make it questionable whether they have a complete right to the whole Oregon territory, are:
1st. The Nootka convention, which applies to the whole, and
which, though not of primary importance, is nevertheless a fact,
and the inferences drawn from it a matter of argument.
2dly. The discovery of the Straits of Fuca.
3dly. North of those straits; along the sea shores, the discoveries of the British contrasted with those of the American and Spanish navigators ; in the interior, the question whether the discovery
of the mouth and the navigation of one of its principal branches,
from its*source to the mouth of the river, implies without exception
a complete right to the whole country drained by all the tributaries of such river; and also the British claim to the whole territory drained by Frazer's river—its sources having been discovered
in 1792 by Sir Alexander Mackenzie, factories having been established upon it by the British as early as the year 1806, and the
whole river thence to its mouth having been for a number of years
exclusively navigated by British subjects.^
It appears to me sufficient generally to suggest the controverted points.' That which relates to Fuca's Straits is the most important,
and deserves particular consideration.
If Fuca's voyage in 1592 could be proved to be an authentic
document, this would settle at once the question in favor of the
United States; but the voyage was denied in the introduction to
the fpyage of the Sutil and Mexicano. This was an official document, published under the auspices of the Spanish Government,
and intended to vindicate Spain against the charges, that she had
contributed nothing to the advancement of geography in those
quarter* This negative evidence was confirmed by Humboldt,
who says^hat no trace of such voyage can be found in the archives
of Mexico. Unwilling to adduce any doubtful fact, I abstained
from alluding to it in the statement of the American case in 1826.
Later researches show that, although recorded evidences remain of
the voyages of Gali from Macao to Acapulco in 1584, of the Santa
Anna (on board of which was, as he says, Fuca himself) from Manilla to the coast of California, where she was captured in 1587
by Cavendish, and of Vizcaino in 1602-1603, and even of Maldo-
nado's fictitious voyage in 1588, yet no trace has been found in
Spain or Mexico of Fuca's, or any other similar voyage, in 1692,
or thereabout.
On reading with attention the brief account published by Pur-
chas, I will say that the voyage itself has much internal evidence
of it$ truth, but that the inference or conclusion throws much discredit on the whole. The only known account of the voyage is
that given verbally at Venice in 1596, by Fuca, a Greek pilot, to
Mr. Lock, a respectable English merchant, who transmitted it to
Fuca says that^he had been sent by the Viceroy of Mexico to
discover the straits of Anian and the passage thereof into the sea,
which they called the North Sea, which is our Northwest Sea ;
that between 47 and 48 degrees of latitude he entered into a broad
inlet, through which he sailed more than twenty days; and, being
then come into the North Sea already, and not being sufficiently
armed, he returned again to Acapulco. He offered then to Mr.
Lock to go into England and serve her Majesty in a voyage for
the discovery perfectly of the Northwest passage into the South I
it !
Sea. If it be granted that the inlet through which he had sailed
was really the same as the straits which now bear his name, that
sea into which he emerged, and which he asserts to be our Northwest Sea, must have been that which is now called Queen Charlotte's Sound, north of Quadra and Vancouver's Island, in about
51 degrees of latitude. Our Northwest Sea was that which
washes the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador, then universally known as far north as the vicinity of the 60th degree of latitude. Hudson's Straits had not yet been discovered, and the discovery of Davis's Straits might not be known to Fuca. But no
navigator at that time, who, like he, had sailed across both the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, could be ignorant that the northern
extremity of Newfoundland, which lies nearly in the same latitude
as the northern entrance of Fuca's Straits, is situated sixty or seventy
degrees of longitude east of that entrance. The only way to reconcile the account with itself is, to suppose that Fuca believed
that the continent of America did not, on the side of the Atlantic,
extend further north than about the 60th degree, and was bounded
northwardly by an open sea, which extended as far west as the
northern extremity of the inlet through which he had sailed. It is
true nevertheless that, between the years 1774 and 1792, there
was a prevailing opinion amongst the navigators that Fuca had
actually discovered an inlet leading towards the Atlantic. Prior
to the year 1787 they were engaged in seeking for it, and the
Spaniards had for that purpose explored in vain the sea coast lying
south of the 48th degree; for it is well known that Fuca's entrance lies between the 48th and 49th, and not between the 47th
and 48th degrees of latitude, as he had announced.
The modern discovery of that inlet is due to Captain Barclay,
an Englishman, commanding the Imperial Eagle, a vessel owned
by British merchants, but which was' equipped at, and took its departure from Ostend, and which sailed under the flag of the Austrian East India Company. The British Government, which has
objected to the American claim derived from Captain Gray's discovery of the mouth of the river Columbia, on the ground that he
was a private individual, and that his vessel was not a public ship,
cannot certainly claim   anything m virtue of a  discovery by a Hi
private Englishman, sailing under Austrian colors. In that case,
and rejecting Fuca's voyage, neither the United States nor England can lay any claim on account of the discovery of the straits.
Subsequently, the Englishman, Meares, sailing under the Portuguese flag, penetrated, in 1768, about ten miles into the inlet, and
the American, Gray, in 1789, about fifty miles. The pretended
voyage of the sloop Washington throughout the straits, under the
command of either Gray or Kendrick, has no other foundation than j
an assertion of Meares, on which no reliance can be placed.
In the year 1790 (1791 according to Vancouver) the Spaniards,
Elisa and Quimper, explored the straits more than one hundred
miles, discovering the Port Discovery, the entrance of Admiralty
Inlet, the Deception Passage, and the Canal de Haro. In 1792
Vancouver explored and surveyed the straits throughout, together
with their various bays and harbors. Even there he had been
preceded in part by the Sutil and Mexicano; and he expresses
his regret that they had advanced before him as far as the Canal
del Rosario.
Under all the circumstances of the case, it cannot be doubted
that the United States must admit that the discovery of the straits,
and the various inferences which may be drawn from it, are doubtful and debatable questions.
That which relates to a presumed agreement of Commissioners
appointed under the treaty of Utrecht, by which the northern
boundary of Canada was, from a certain point north of Lake Superior, declared to extend westwardly along the 49th parallel of
latitude, does not appear to me definitively settled. As this had
been assumed many years before, as a positive fact, and had never
been contradicted, I also assumed it as such and did not thoroughly
investigate the subject. Yet I had before me at least one map
(name of publisher not recollected), of which I have a vivid recollection, on which the dividing lines were distinctly marked and
expressly designated, as being in conformity with the agreement
of the Commissioners under the treaty of Utrecht. The evidence
against the fact, though in some respects strong, is purely negative.
The line, according to the map, extended from a certain point
near the source of the river Saguenay, in a westerly direction, to
•*V <v
*JLs-*ty1ww 24
another designated point on another river emptying either into the
St. Lawrence or James's Bay ; and there were, in that way, four
or five lines following each other, all tending westwardly, but with
different inclinations northwardly or southwardly, and all extending, from some apparently known point on a designated river, to
another similar point on another river; the rivers themselves
emptying themselves, some into the river St. Lawrence and others
into James's Bay or Hudson's Bay, until, from a certain point
lying north of Lake Superior, the line was declared to extend
along the 49th degree of latitude, as above stated. It was with
that map before me that the following paragraph was inserted in
the American statement of December, 1826 :
" The limits between the possessions of Great Britain in North America,
and those of France in the same quarter, namely, Canada and Louisiana,
were determined by Commissioners appointed in pursuance of the treaty of
Utrecht. From the coast of Labrador to a certain point North of Lake
Superior, those limits were fixed according to certain metes and bounds;
and from that point the line of demarcation was agreed to extend indefinitely
due west, along the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude. It was in conformity with that arrangement that the United States did claim that parallel
as the northern boundary of Louisiana. It has been accordingly thus
settled, as far as the Stony Mountains, by the convention of 1818 between
the United States and Great Britain ; and no adequate reason can be given
why the same boundary should not be continued as far as the claims of the
United States do extend, that is to say, as far as the Pacific ocean."
It appears very extraordinary that any geographer or map-maker
should have invented a dividing line, with such specific details,
without having sufficient grounds for believing that it had been
thus determined by the Commissioners under the treaty of Utrecht.
It is also believed that Douglass' Summary (not at this moment
within my reach) adverts to the portion of the line from the coast
of Labrador to the Saguenay. Finally, the allusion to the 49th
parallel, as a boundary fixed in consequence of the treaty of Utrecht,
had been repeatedly made in the course of preceding negotiations,
as well as in the conferences of that of the year 1826; and there
is no apparent motive, if the assertion was known by the British
negotiators not to be founded in fact, why they should not have
ZmSmmnm V
at once denied it. It may be, however, that the question having
ceased to be of any interest to Great Britain since the acquisition
of Canada, they had not investigated the Subject. It is of some
importance, because, if authenticated, the discussion would be converted from questions respecting undefined claims, into one concerning the construction of a positive treaty or convention.
It is sufficiently clear that, under all the circumstances of the
case, an amicable division of the territory, if at all practicable, must
be founded in a great degree on expediency. This of course must
be left to the wisdom of the two Governments. The only natural*
equitable, and practicable line which has occurred to me, is one
which, running through the middle of Fuca Straits, from its entrance
to a point on the main, situated south of the mouth of Frazer's river,
should leave to the United States all the shores and harbors lying
south, and to Great Britain all those north of that line, including
the whole of Quadra and Vancouver's Island. It would be through
Fuca's Straits a nearly easterly line, along the parallel of about 48 \
degrees, leaving to England the most valuable and permanent portion of the fur trade, dividing the sea-coast as nearly as possible
into two equal parts, and the ports in the most equitable manner.
To leave Admiralty Inlet and its Sounds to Great Britain, would
give her a possession in the heart of the American portion of the
territory. Whether from the point where the line would strike the
main, it should be continued along the same parallel, or run along
the 49th, is a matter of secondary importance.
If such division should take place, the right of the inhabitants of
the country situated on the upper waters of the Columbia to the
navigation of that river to its mouth, is founded on natural law;
and the principle has almost been recognized as the public law of
Europe. Limited to commercial purposes, it might be admitted,
but on the express condition that the citizens of the United States
should in the same manner, and to the same extent, have the right
to navigate the river St. Lawrence.
But I must sky that, whatever may be the ultimate destinies of
the Oregon territory, I would feel great regret In seeing it in any way
divided. An amicable division appears to me without comparison
preferable to a war for that object between the two countries.   In 26
every other view of the subject it is highly exceptionable. Without
adverting for the present to considerations of a higher nature, it
may be sufficient here to observe, that the conversion of the northern part of the territory into a British colony would in its effects
make the arrangement very unequal. The United States are forbidden by their Constitution to give a preference to the ports of
one State over those of another. The ports within the portion of
territory allotted to the United States would of course remain open
to British vessels; whilst American vessels would be excluded from
the ports of the British colony, unless occasionally admitted by
special acts depending on the will of Great Britain. NUMBER III,
Beyond the naked assertion of an absolute right to the whole
territory, so little in the shape of argument has been adduced, and
so much warmth has been exhibited in the discussion of the subject,
that it cannot be doubted that the question has now become, on
both sides, one of feeling rather than of right. This, in America,
grows out of the fact that, in this contest with a European nation,
the contested territory is in America and not in Europe. It is identical with the premature official annunciation, that the United States
could not acquiesce in the establishment of any new colony in
North America by any European nation. This sentiment was already general at the time when it was first publicly declared; and
now that it has been almost universally avowed, there can be no
impropriety in any private citizen to say, as I now do, that I share
in that feeling to its full extent. For the Americans, Oregon is or
will be home : for England, it is but an outpost, which may afford
means of annoyance, rather than be a source of real power. In
America all have the same ultimate object in view; we differ only
with respect to the means by which it may be attained.
Two circumstances have had a tendency to nourish and excite
these feelings. The British fur companies, from their position,
from their monopolizing character, from their natural influence
upon the Indians, and from that, much greater than might have
been expected, which they have constantly had upon the British
Government in its negotiations with the United States, have for
sixty years been a perpetual source of annoyance and collisions.
The vested interests of the Hudson Bay Company are at this mo- f!'
< 28
ment the greatest obstacle to an amicable arrangement. It is at
the same time due to justice to say that, as far as is known, that
company has acted in Oregon in conformity with the terms of the
convention, and that its officers have uniformly treated the Ameri-.
cans, whether visitors or emigrants, not only courteously, but with
great kindness.
If the British colonies on the continent of America were an independent country, or were they placed in their commercial relations, at least with the United States, on the same footing as the
British possessions in Europe, these relations would be regulated
by the reciprocal interests and wants of the parties immediately
concerned. GreatJBritain has an undoubted right to persist in her
colonial policy; but the result has been extremely vexatious, and
to the United States injurious. All this is true. But feelings do
not confer a right, and the indulgence of excited feelings is neither
virtue nor wisdom.
The Western States have no greater apparent immediate interest
in the acquisition of Oregon than the States bordering on the Atlantic. These stand in greater need of an outlet for their surplus
emigrating population, and to them exclusively, will for the present,
the benefit accrue of ports on the Pacific, for the protection of the
numerous American ships employed in the fisheries and commerce
of that ocean. It is true that in case of war the inhabitants of the
Western States will not, if a naval superiority shall be obtained on
the Upper Lakes, feel those immediate calamities of war to which
the country along the seashore is necessarily exposed ; but no section of the United States will be more deeply affected, by the impossibility of finding during the war a market for the immense surplus of its agricultural products. It must also be remembered that
a direct tax has heretofore been found as productive as the aggregate of all the other internal taxes levied by the General Government ; that, in case of war, it must necessarily be imposed; and
that, as it must, in conformity with the Constitution, be levied in
proportion to the respective population of the several States, it will
be much more oppressive on those which have not yet accumulated
a large amount of circulating or personal capital. The greater
degree of excitement which prevails in the West is due to other
and more powerful causes than a regard for self-interest.
I 29
Bordering through the whole of their northern frontier on the
British possessions, the Western people have always been personally exposed to the annoyances and collisions already alluded to;
and it may be that the hope of getting rid of these by the conquest
of Canada has some influence upon their conduct. Independent of
this, the indomitable energy of this nation has been and is nowhere
displayed so forcibly as in the new States and settlements. It was
necessarily directed towards the acquisition of land and the cultivation of the soil. In that respect it has performed prodigies. Three
millions of cultivators of the soil are now found between the Lakes
and the Ohio, where, little more than fifty years before, save only
three or four half Indian French settlements, there was not a single
white inhabitant. Nothing now seems impossible to those men ;
they have not even been sobered by fresh experience. Attempting
to do at once, and without an adequate capital, that which should
have been delayed five-and-twenty years, and might have then
been successfully accomplished, some of those States have had the
mortification to find themselves unable to pay the interest on the
debt they had contracted, and obliged to try to compound with
their* creditors. Nevertheless, undiminished activity and locomotion are still the ruling principles: the Western people leap over
time and distance; ahead they must go; it is their mission. May
God speed them, and may they thus quietly take possession pf the
entire contested territory!
All this was as well known to the British Government as to
ourselves. A public and official declaration by the President of
the United States was unnecessary and at least premature. Mr.
Rush's correspondence of 1824 bears witness of its unfortunate
effect on the negotiations of that year. These feelings had gradually subsided. But, whatever may be the cause, the fact that an
extraordinary excitement on this subject has manifested itself,
and does now exist on both sides, cannot be denied. Time is
absolutely necessary in order that this should subside. Any precipitate step now taken by e ther Government would be attended
with the most fatal consequences. That which, if done some years
ago, might have been harmless, would now be highly dangerous,
and should at least be postponed for the present. I
The first, incipient step* recommended by the Executive is, to
give the notice that the convention of 1827 shall expire at the end
of one year. This measure at this time, and connected with the
avowed intention of assuming exclusive sovereignty over the whole
territory, becomes a question of peace or war.
The conventions of 1818 and 1827, whilst reserving the rights
of both parties, allowed the freedom of trade and navigation
throughout the whole territory to remain common to both; and the
citizens or subjects of both powers were permitted to occupy any
part of it. Jhe inconveniences of that temporary arrangement
were well understood at the time. The British fur companies had
established factories on the banks, and even south of the river Columbia, within the limits of that portion of the country which the
United States had, "whenever the subject was discussed, claimed as
belonging exclusively to them. The conditions of the agreement
were nominally reciprocal; but, though they did not give, yet they
did in fact leave the British company in the exclusive possession of
the fur trade. This could not be prevented otherwise than by
resorting to actual force: the United States were not then either
ready or disposed to run the risks of a war for that object; and it
was thought more eligible, that the British traders should remain on
the territory of the United States, by virtue of a compact and wifh
their consent, than in defiance of their authority. It is but very
lately that the Americans have begun to migrate to that remote
country: a greater number will certainly follow; and they have
under the convention a perfect right to occupy and make settlements in any part of the territory they may think proper, with
the sole exception of the spots actually occupied by the British
What is then the object in view, in giving the notice at this time ?
This has been declared without reserve by the President: " At
the end of the year's notice, should Congress think it proper to
make provision for giving that notice, we shall have reached a
period when the national rights in Oregon must either be abandoned or firmly maintained. That they cannot be abandoned without a sacrifice of both national honor and interests, is too clear to
admit of doubt."   And it must be recollected that this candid avowal 31
has been accompanied by the declaration that " our title to the
whole Oregon territory had been asserted and, as was believed,
maintained by irrefragable facts and arguments." Nothing can
be more plain and explicit. The exclusive right of the United
States to absolute sovereignty over the whole territory must be
asserted and maintained.
It may not be necessary for that purpose to drive away the
British fur company, nor to prevent the migration into Oregon of
British emigrants coming from the British dominions. The company may, if deemed expedient, be permitted to trade as heretofore
with the Indians. British emigrants may be treated in the same
manner as the other sixty or eighty thousand who already arrive
yearly in the United States. They may at their option be naturalized* or remain on the same footing as foreigners in other parts of
the Union. In this case they will enjoy no political rights; they
will not be permitted to own American vessels and to sail under
the American flag; the permission to own real property seems, so
long as Oregon remains a territory, to depend on the will of Congress.   Thus far collision may be avoided.
But no foreign jurisdiction can be permitted, from the moment
when the sovereignty of the United States over the whole territory shall be asserted and maintained. To this, all those who
reside in the territory must submit. After having taken the decisive step of giving the notice, the United States cannot, as the
President justly states, abandon the right of sovereignty without a
sacrifice of national honor.
It bad been expressly agreed by the convention that nothing
contained in it should affect the claims of either party to the territory. The all-important question of sovereignty remained therefore in abeyance. Negotiations for a division of the territory have
failed : the question of sovereignty remains undecided, as it was
prior to the convention. If the United Sat es exercise the reserved
right to put an end to the convention, and if, from the time when
it shall have expired, they peremptorily assume the right of sovereignty over the whole, it cannot be doubted that Great Britain
will at once resist. She will adhere to the principle she had
asserted prior to the Nootka convention, and has ever since main- !.:;
tained, that actual occupancy can alone give a right to the country.
She will not permit the jurisdiction of the United States to be
extended over her subjects : she will oppose the removal, arrest,
or exercise of any other legal process, against her justices of the
peace, against any other officers who directly or indirectly act under
her authority, against any of her subjects; and she will continue
to exercise her jurisdiction over all of them throughout the whole
territory. Whatever either Power asserts must be maintained:
military occupation and war must necessarily ensue.
A portion of the people, both in the West and elsewhere, see
clearly that such must be the consequence of giving the notice.
Such men openly avow their opinions, prefer war to a longer continuation of the present state of things, are ready to meet all the
dangers and calamities of the impending conflict, and to adopt at
once all the measures which may ensure success. With them, the
discussion brings at once the question to its true issue : Is war necessary for the object they have in view 1 Or may it not be attained by peaceable means 1 It is a question of war or peace, and
it is fairly laid before the nation.
But many respectable men appear to entertain hopes that peace
may still be preserved after the United States shall have assumed,
or attempted to assume, exclusive sovereignty. The reverse appears to me so clear, so obvious, so inevitable, that I really cannot
understand on what grounds these hopes are founded.
Is it thought that the President will not, after the assent of Congress has been obtained (and whether immediately or at the end of
this session, is quite immaterial), give the notice which he has
asked Congress to authorize 1 Or is it supposed that a change in
the form which, in order to avoid responsibility, would give him a
discretionary power, could lead to a different result, or be anything
else but a transfer by Congress to the Executive of the power to
declare war *?
Can it be presumed that when, after the expiration of the term
of notice, the convention shall have been abrogated, the President
will not assert and maintain the sovereignty claimed by the United
States 1 I have not the honor of a personal acquaintance with
him; I respect in him the First Magistrate of the Nation; and he Tl
is universally represented as of irreproachable character, sincere,
and patriotic. Every citizen has a right to differ with him in opinion : no one has that of supposing that he says one thing and
means another. I feel an intimate conviction of his entire sincerity.
Is it possible that any one, who does not labor under a singular
illusion, can believe that England will yield to threats and defiance
that which she has refused to concede to our arguments ? Reverse
the case: Suppose for a moment that Great Britain was the aggressor, and had given the notice; declaring, at the same time,
that, at the expiration of the year, she wxmld assume exclusive
sovereignty over the whole country, and oppose the exercise of any
whatever by the United States: is there any American, even
amongst those who set the least value on the Oregon territory, and
are most sincerely desirous of preserving peace, who would not at
once declare that such pretension on the part of Great Britain wras
outrageous and must be resisted ?
It is not certainly the interest of Great Britain to wage war
against the United States, and it may be fairly presumed that the
British Government has no such wish.   But England is, as well
• as the United States, a great, powerful, sensitive, and proud nation.
Every effusion of the British press which displays hostility to the
United States, produces an analogous sentiment, and adds new
fuel to excitement in America.   A moment's reflection will enable
us to judge of the inevitable effect of an offensive and threatening
act, emanating from our Government; an act which throws, in the
face of the world, the gauntlet of defiance to Great Britain.   Her
claims and views, as laid down in her statement of December, 1826,
remove every doubt respecting the steps she will take.    " Great
Britain claims no exclusive sovereignty over any portion of that
territory.   Her present claim, not in respect to any part, but to the
whole, is limited to a right of joint occupancy in common with
other States, leaving the right of exclusive dominion in abeyance.
*   *   *   *   The pretensions of Great Britain tend to the mere
maintenance of her own rights, in resistance to the exclusive character of the pretensions of the United States.   *   *   *   *   These
rights embrace the right to navigate the waters of those countries,
J 34
the right to settle in and over any part of them, and the right freely
to trade with the inhabitants and occupiers of the same. It is fully
admitted that the United States possess the same rights. But beyond these rights, they possess none. To the interests and establishments which British industry and enterprise have created
Great Britain owes protection. That protection will be given,
both as regards settlement and freedom of trade and navigation,
with every attention not to infringe the co-ordinate rights of the
United States."
Thus, the United States declare that they give notice of the abrogation of the convention, with the avowed determination of asserting their assumed right of absolute and exclusive sovereignty
over the whole territory of Oregon. And Great Britain has explicitly declared that her pretensions were, in resistance to the exclusive character of those of the United States; and that protection
will be given both as regards settlement and freedom of trade and
navigation to the interests and establishments which British industry and enterprise have created.
How war can be avoided, if both Powers persist in their conflicting determinations, is incomprehensible. Under such circumstances negotiation is morally impossible during the year following
the notice. To give that notice, with the avowed determination
to assume exclusive sovereignty at the end of the year, is a decisive, most probably an irretrievable, step. " After that period the
United States cannot abandon their right of sovereignty without a
sacrifice of national honor."
The question of sovereignty has never been decided. Simply
to give notice of the abrogation of the convention, would leave the
question in the same situation: it would remain in abeyance. But
when the President has recommended that the notice should be
given with the avowed object of assuming exclusive sovereignty,
an Act of Congress, in compliance with his recommendation, necessarily implies an approbation of the object for which it is given.
If the notice should be given, the only way to avoid that implication and its fatal consequences, is to insert in it, an explicit declaration, that the sovereignty shall not be assumed. But then why
give the notice at all ?    A postponement is far preferable, unless 35
some other advantage shall be obtained by the abrogation of the
convention. This must be examined, and it is necessary to inquire
whether any and what measures may be adopted, without any violation of the convention, that will preserve the rights and strengthen
the position of the United States. NUMBER  IV.
The acts which the government of the United States may do,
in conformity with the convention, embrace two objects: the
measures applicable^ to the territory within their acknowledged
limits which may facilitate and promote migration; and those
which are necessary for the protection of their citizens residing in
the Oregon territory.
It is a remarkable fact that, although the convention has now
been in force twenty-seven years, Congress has actually done
nothing with respect to either of those objects. Enterprising
individuals have, without any aid or encouragement by Government, opened a wagon-road eighteen hundred miles in length,
through an arid or mountainous region, and made settlements on
or near the shores of the Pacific, without any guaranty for the
possession of the land improved by their labors. Even the attempt
to carry on an inland trade with the Indians of Oregon has been
defeated, by the refusal to allow a drawback of the high duties
imposed on the importation of foreign goods absolutely necessary
for that commerce. Thus the fur trade has remained engrossed by
the Hudson Bay Company; missionaries were, till very lately,
almost the only citizens of the United States to be found in Oregon;
the United States, during the whole of that period, have derived
no other advantage from the convention than the reservation of
their rights, and the express provision that these should in no way
be affected by the continuance of the British factories in the territory. And, now that the tide of migration has turned in their
favor, they are suddenly invited to assume a hostile position, to ^
endure the calamities and to run the chances and consequences of
war, in order to gain an object which natural and irresistible
causes, if permitted to operate, cannot fail ultimately to attain.
The measures applicable to the territory within the acknowledged
limits of the U. States have generally been recommended by the President. A very moderate appropriation will be sufficient to improve
the most difficult portions of the road: and block-houses or other temporary works, erected in proper places and at convenient distances,
and garrisoned by a portion of the intended additional force, will protect and facilitate the progress of the emigrants. However uninviting may be the vast extent of prairies, destitute of timber,
which intervene between the western boundary of the State of
Missouri and the country bordering on the Stony Mountains, it
seems impossible that there should not be found some more favored
spots where settlements may be formed. If these were selected
for military posts, and donations of land were made to actual settlers in their vicinity, a series of villages, though probably not a
continuity of settlements, would soon arise through the whole
length of the road. The most important place, that which is most
wanted, either as a place of rest for the emigrants, or for military
purposes, is one in the immediate vicinity of the Stony Mountains.
Reports speak favorably of the fertility of the soil in some of the
valleys of the upper waters, within our limits—of Bear's river, of
the Rio Colorado, and of some of the northern branches of the
river Platte. There, also, the seat of justice might be placed of
the new territory, whose courts should have superior jurisdiction
over Oregon.
The measures which the United States have a right to carry
into effect within the territory of Oregon must now be considered.
The only positive condition of the convention is, that the territory in question shall, together with its harbors, bays, and creeks,
and the navigation of all rivers within the same, be free and open
to vessels, citizens, and subjects of the two Powers.
For the construction put on this article by Great Britain, it is
necessary to recur again to the statement of her claim, as given
by herself, and to her own acts subsequent to the convention.
The acts of England, subsequent to the convention of 1818, are
- tiT "•"  ^"~ *— -^    '**"- ■— 38
to be found in the various charters of the Hudson Bay Company
(observing that some of their most important provisions, though
of a much earlier date, stand unrepealed), and in the act of Parliament of the year 1821, which confirms and extends a prior one of
the year 1803. It must also be recollected that, by grants or acts
subsequent to the convention, the ancient Hudson Bay Company
and the Northwest Company of Montreal have been united together.,
preserving the name of Hudson Bay Company.
This Company wras and remains a body corporate and politic,
with provisions for the election of a Governor and other officers,,
who direct its business; and amongst other powers, the Company
is empowered to build fortifications for the defence of its possessions, as well as to make war or peace with all nations or people,
not Christian, inhabiting their territories, which now embrace the
entire Oregon. By the act of Parliament of 1821, the jurisdiction
of the courts of Upper Canada is extended, in all civil and criminal
cases, to the Oregon territory; provision is made for th$ appointment of justices of the peace within the said territory, with a limited jurisdiction, and power to act as Commissioners in certain cases3
and to convey offenders to Upper Canada.
It must also be observed that, although the Company is forbidden to claim any exclusive trade with the Indians, to the prejudice or exclusion of any citizen of the United States who may be
engaged in the same trade, yet the jurisdiction above mentioned is,
by the letter of the act, extended to any persons whatsoever residing or being within the said territory. The British Plenipotentiaries did, however, explicitly deelare, in the course of the negotiations of 1826-1827, that the act had no other object but the
maintenance of order amongst British subjects, and had never been
intended to apply to citizens of the United States.
It is perfectly clear that, since it has been fully admitted that the
United States possess the same rights over the territory as Great
Britain, they are fully authorized, under the convention, to enjoy
all the rights which Great Britain claims for herself, and to exercise that jurisdiction which she has assumed as being consistent
with the convention.
The citizens of the United States have, therefore, at this time a ^
full and acknowledged right to navigate the waters of the Oregon
territory, to settle in and over any part of it, and freely to trade
with the inhabitants and occupiers of the same. And the Government of the United States is likewise fully authorized to incorporate any company or association of men for the purpose of
trading or of occupying and settling the country; to extend the
jurisdiction of the courts of any of its territories lying within its
acknowledged limits, in all civil and criminal cases, to the territory aforesaid; to appoint within the same justices of the peace
and such other officers as may be necessary for carrying the
jurisdiction into effect; and also to make war and peace with the
Indian inhabitants of the territory, including the incidental power
to appoint agents for that purpose.
On the other hand, it seems to be understood that, so long as
the convention remains in force, neither Government shall lay
duties in the Territory on tonnage, merchandise, or commerce ;
nor exercise exclusive jurisdiction over any portion of it; and that
the citizens and subjects of the two Powers, residing in or removing to the territory, shall be amenable only to the jurisdiction
of their own country respectively.
It has been contended by the British Government that the
establishment of any military post, or the introduction of any regular force under a national flag, by either Power, would be an act
of exclusive sovereignty, which could not be permitted to either
whilst the sovereignty remained in abeyance. Under existing
circumstances, it is believed that such an act would be highly
dangerous, and prove unfavorable to the United States.
But the establishment by the United States of a Territorial Government over Oregon is also objected to on the same principle.
The want of such government appears to be the only serious inconvenience attending a continuance of the convention, and requires special consideration.
The United States have the same right as Great Britain, and
are equally bound, to protect their citizens residing in the Oregon
territory, in the exercise of all the rights secured to them by the
convention. It has been fully admitted that these rights embrace the
right to settle in and over any part of the territory, and that they 40
are to be, in all cases whatever, amenable only to the jurisdiction
of their own country. The subjects of Great Britain, who are not
in the employ of the Hudson Bay Company, are forbidden to trade
with the natives; and the company does in fact control and
govern all the British subjects residing in the territory. This
gives a strong guaranty against the violation, by rash individuals,
of the rights of the citizens of the United States. Should any of
'them, however, be disturbed in the exercise of their legitimate
rights, and the company should be unable or unwilling to relieve
and indemnify them, the United States would be justly entitled to
appeal to the British Government for the redress of a violation of
rights secured by the convention ; for the British Government has
preserved a controHover the Hudson Bay Company, and does in
fact, through it, govern the British subjects who reside in the territory.
The United States are placed, in that respect, in a very different
situation. It is not believed that the General Government is
authorized to incorporate, as a political body, a commercial company, with such powers as would give it an efficient control over
the private citizens residing in the territory. Such delegation of
powers, either by any of the States or by Congress, is wholly
inconsistent with our institutions. The United States may indeed
give to their citizens in Oregon a regular and complete judiciary
system; and they may also extend to them, as the British Government has done on its part, the laws of an adjacent territory. But
an executive local power is wanted in this case, as it is everywhere else, under any form of government whatever, to cause
the laws to be executed, and to have that general control
which is now exercised, through the Hudson Bay Company, by
the British Government. There are, besides, v arious acts of a
public though local nature, such as opening roads, making bridges,
erecting block-houses for protection against the natives, providing
for the destitute, &c, all which are performed by the Hudson Bay
Company, and cannot be accomplished by insulated individuals,
bound by no legal association or government.
Whether any measures may be devised, other than a territorial
government, that will be sufficient for the purpose intended; 41
whether all the American citizens residing in Oregon might not
be incorporated and made a body politic, with powers equivalent
to those vested in the Hudson Bay Company, and with the reservation by the General Government of a check or control analogous
to that reserved by the Government of Great Britain, are questions
worthy of serious consideration. But Great Britain has the same
interest as the United States to prevent collision during the continuance of the convention; and it is believed that, if negotiations
should be renewed, with an equal and sincere desire on both sides
to preserve friendly relations, there would be no difficulty at this
time in coming to an understanding on the subject. It would
seem sufficient that this should be accompanied with provisions,
preventing the possibility of the powers exercised by the United
States being ever applied to British subjects, and with an explicit
declaration that these powers should never be construed as an
admission by Great Britain of any claim of the United States to
exclusive sovereignty.
There is another important subject which has not, it is believed,
ever been discussed by the two Powers. This is the claim to the
ownership of the places settled and improved under the convention.
It seems to me that, on the principles of both natural and international law, these rights, to a defined extent, should be respected
by each Power respectively, whose sovereignty over the portion of
the territory in which such improved settlements may be situated
will ultimately be recognized. It appears also that the United
States may, in conformity with the convention, and without
affecting in any shape the claims advanced by Great Britain, pass
a law declaring that they abandon or grant without warranty, to such
of their citizens as shall have made actual and bona fide settlements in any part of Oregon, under the convention, all the rights
of and claims to the ownership of the soil, on which such settlements shall have been made, which the United States may now or
hereafter claim or acquire: limiting and defining the extent of the
grant in the same manner as would be done if such grant was
absolute; and promising that the title should be confirmed, in
case and whenever the sovereignty of the United States was
recognized or asserted and maintained. 42
The prolongation, in 1827, of the convention of 1818, 'was
evidently intended as a temporary measure, since it was made
revocable at the will of either party. The plenipotentiaries of
the two Powers had been unable to agree on the terms of a definitive arrangement, or even in defining with precision the conditions
on wdiich the convention of 1818 might be continued for a determinate period. It will be seen, by reference to the protocols and
correspondence, that, although it was generally admitted that
neither party ought during such continuance to exercise any
exclusive sovereignty over the territory, the American Plenipotentiary declined to agree to any convention containing an express
provision to that effect, or accompanied by the insertion in the
protocol of a declaration for the same purpose by the British
Plenipotentiaries. The reason was not only because an exclusive
right over Astoria and its dependencies was claimed by the United
States, but principally because it was anticipated that, in order to
have in fact an authority equal to that exercised by the Hudson
Bay Company, it would become necessary for the United States
to perform acts which the British Government might contend to
be forbidden by such express provision or declaration. The consequence was, that the convention recognizes some certain rights,
and imposes no positive restrictions but only such, as may be supposed to be implied in the clause which declares, that nothing
contained in it should be construed to impair or affect the claims
of either party. The probability that it might become necessary
for the United States to establish a territory or some sort of
government over their own citizens was explicitly avowed; the
deficiencies of the renewed convention of 1827, and the inconveniences which might ensue, were fully understood; and the
continuance of that of 1818, made revokable at will, was agreed
on, with the hope that the two Powers would embrace an early
opportunity, if not to make a definitive arrangement, at least to
substitute for the convention another, defining with precision the
acts which both parties should be allowed or forbidden to perform
so long as the sovereignty remained in abeyance.
The inconveniences alluded to have been fairly stated in this
paper, and some of the means by which they may be avoided •F—S
have been suggested. It is not, therefore, on account of the
intrinsic value of the convention that its abrogation is objectionable
and dangerous. It is because nothing is substituted in its place ;
it is because, if the two Powers are not yet prepared to make a
definitive agreement, it becomes the duty of both Governments,
instead of breaking the only barrier which still preserves peace,
to substitute for the existing convention one adapted to the present
state of things, and which shall prevent collisions until the question of sovereignty shall have been settled. The inconveniences
which were only anticipated have become tangible, from the time
when American citizens, whom the United States are bound to
protect, began to make settlements in the territory of Oregon.
The sudden transition, from an agreement however defective to a
promiscuous occupancy, without any provisions whatever that may
prevent collisions, is highly dangerous. When this is accompanied by an avowed determination on the part of the United States
to assume that exclusive sovereignty which Great Britain has positively declared she would resist, War becomes inevitable, NUMBER  V.
It may not be-possible to calculate, with any degree of certainty, the number of citizens of the United States who, aided by these
various measures, will, within any given period, remove to the
territory beyond the Stony Mountains. It is certain that this
number will annually increase, and keep pace with the rapid increase of the population of the Western States. It cannot be
doubted that ultimately, and at no very distant time, they will have
possession of all that is worth being occupied in the territory.
On what principle, then, will the right of sovereignty be decided ?
It may, however, be asked whether, if this be the inevitable
consequence of the continuance of the convention, England will
not herself give notice that it shall be abrogated. It might be
sufficient to answer that we must wait till that notice shall have
been given, and the subsequent measures which England means
to adopt shall have been made known to us, before we assume
rashly a hostile position. The United States may govern themselves ; although they may irritate Great Britain, they cannot control the acts of her Government. The British Government will
do whatever it may think proper ; but for the consequences that
may ensue it will be alone responsible. Should the abrogation of
the convention on her part be followed by aggressive measures;
should she assume exclusive possession over Oregon or any part
of it, as it is now proposed that the United States should do,
America will then be placed in a defensive position; the war, if
any should ensue, will be one unprovoked by her, a war purely of 45 A
defence, which will be not only sustained, but approved by the
unanimous voice of the nation. We may, however, be permitted
to examine what motive could impel England, what interest she
might have, either in annulling the convention or in adopting aggressive measures.
When it is recommended that the United States should give
notice of the abrogation of the convention, it is with the avowed
object of adopting measures forbidden by the convention, and
which Great Britain has uniformly declared she would resist. But,
according to the view of the subject uniformly taken by her, from
the first time she asserted the rights she claims to this day, the
simple abrogation of her convention with the United States will
produce no effect whatever on the rights, relations, and position
of the two Powers.    Great Britain, from the date at least of
Cook's third voyage, and prior to the Nootka convention, did deny
the exclusive claim of Spain, and assert that her subjects had, in
common with those of other States, the right freely to trade with
the natives, and to settle in any part of the Northwestern coast of
America, not already occupied by the subjects of Spain,    The
Nootka convention was nothing more than the acquiescence, on
the part of Spain, in the claims thus asserted by Great Britain,
leaving the sovereignty in abeyance.   And the convention between
the United States and Great Britain is nothing more nor less than
a temporary recognition of the same principle, so far as the two
parties were concerned.    England had, prior to that convention,
fully admitted that the United States possessed the same rights as
were claimed by her.    The abrogation of the convention by her
will leave those rights precisely in the same situation as they now
stand, and as they stood prior to the convention.    It cannot therefore be perceived what possible benefit could accrue to Great Bri-
tilin from her abrogation of that instrument; unless, discarding all
her former declarations, denying all that she has asserted for
more than sixty years, retracting her admission of the equal rights
of the United States to trade, to occupy, and to make settlements
in any part of the country, she should, without cause or pretext,
assume, as is now threatened on the part of the United States, exclusive sovereignty over the whole or part of the territory.    It may 46
be permitted to believe that the British Government entertains no
such intention.
It may also be observed that England has heretofore evinced no
disposition whatever to colonize the territory in question. She
has, indeed, declared most explicitly her determination to protect
the British interests that had been created by British enterprise and
capital in that quarter. But, by giving a monopoly of the fur trade
to the Hudson Bay Company, she has virtually arrested private
efforts on the part of British subjects. Her Government has been
in every other respect altogether inactive? and apparently careless
about the ultimate fate of Oregon. The country has been open
to her enterprise at least fifty years; and there are no other British settlements ofjnterests within its limits than those vested in, or
connected with the Hudson Bay Company. Whether the British
Government will hereafter make any effort towards that object
cannot be known; but as long as this right to colonize Oregon
shall remain common to both Powers, the United States have nothing to apprehend from the competition.
The negotiations on that subject between the two Governments
have been carried on, on both sides, with perfect candor. The
views and intentions of both parties were mutually communicated
without reserve. The conviction on the part of America that the
country must ultimately be occupied and settled by her agricultural emigrants, was used as an argument why, in case of a division of the territory, the greater share should be allotted to the
United States. The following quotation, from the American
statement of the case of December, 1826, proves that this expectation was fairly avowed at the time :
" If the present state of occupancy is urged on the part of Great Britain,
the probability of the manner in which the territory west of the Rocky
Mountains must be settled belongs also essentially to the subject. Under
whatever nominal sovereignty that country may be placed, and whatever
its ultimate destinies may be, it is nearly reduced to a certainty that it will be
almost exclusively peopled by the surplus population of the United States.
The distance from Great Britain, and the expense incident to emigration,
forbid the expectation of any being practicable from that quarter but on a
comparatively small scale.   Allowing the rate of increase to be the same in 1
the United States and in the North American British possessions, the difference in the actual population of both is such that the progressive rate
which would, within forty years, add three millions to these, would within
the same time give a positive increase of more than twenty millions to the
United States. And if circumstances, arising from localities and habits,
have given superior facilities to British subjects of extending their commerce
with the natives, and to that expansion which has the appearance, and the
appearance only, of occupancy, the slower but sure progress and extension
of an agricultural population will be regulated by distance, by natural
obstacles, and by its own amount."
There was no exaggeration in that comparative view; the superiority of the progressive increase of population in the United
States was, on the contrary, underrated. The essential difference
is, that migration from the United States to Oregon is the result
of purely natural causes, whilst England, in order to colonize
that country, must resort to artificial means. The number of
American emigrants may not, during the first next ensuing years,
be as great as seems to be anticipated. It will at first be limited
by the amount of provisions with which the earlier settlers can
supply them during the first year, and till they can raise a crop
themselves; and the rapidity with which a new country may be
settled is also lessened where maize cannot be profitably cultivated.
Whether more or less prompt, the result is nevertheless indubitable. The snowball sooner or later becomes an avalanche: where
the cultivator of the soil has once made a permanent establishment
game and hunters disappear; within a few years the fur trade
will have died its natural death, and no vestige shall remain, at
least south of Fuca's Straits, of that temporary occupancy, of
those vested British interests, which the British Government is
now bound to protect. When the whole territory shall have thus
fallen in the possession of an agricultural industrious population,
the question recurs, by what principle will then the right of sovereignty, all along kept in abeyance, be determined ?
The answer is obvious. In conformity with natural law, with
that right of occupancy for which Great Britain has always contended, the occupiers of the land, the inhabitants of the country,
from whatever quarter they may have come, will be of right as
J 48
well as in fact the sole legitimate sovereigns of Oregon. Whenever sufficiently numerous, they will decide whether it suits them
best to be an independent nation or an integral part of our great
Republic. There cannot be the slightest apprehension that they
will choose to become a dependent colony; for they will be the
most powerful nation bordering on the American shores of the Pacific, and will not stand in need of protection against either their
Russian or Mexican neighbors. Viewed as an abstract proposition, Mr. Jefferson's opinion appears correct, that it will be best
for both the Atlantic and the Pacific American nations, whilst entertaining the most friendly relations, to remain independent rather
than to be united under the same Government. But this conclusion is premature^ and the decision must be left to posterity.
It has been attempted in these papers to prove—
1. That neither of the two Powers has an absolute and indisputable right to the whole contested territory; that each may recede from its extreme pretensions without impairing national honor
or wounding national pride; and that the way is therefore still
open for a renewal of negotiations.
2. That the avowed object of the United States, in giving notice
of the abrogation of the convention, is the determination to assert
and maintain their assumed right of absolute and exclusive sovereignty over the whole territory; that Great Britain is fully committed on that point, and has constantly and explicitly declared
that such an attempt would be resisted, and the British interests
in that quarter be protected; and that war is therefore the unavoidable consequence of such a decisive step—a war not only necessarily calamitous and expensive, but in its character aggressive,
not justifiable by the magnitude and importance of its object, and
of which the chances are uncertain.
3. That the inconveniences of the present state of things may in
a great degree be avoided; that, if no war should ensue, they will
be the same, if not greater, without than under a convention; that
not a single object can be gained by giving the notice at this time,
unless it be to do something not permitted by the present convention, and therefore provoking resistance and productive of war. If
MM 49
a single other advantage can be gained by giving the notice, let
it be stated.
4th. That it has been fully admitted by Great Britain that,
whether under or without a convention, the United States have
the same rights as herself, to trade, to navigate, and to occupy and
make settlements in and over every part of the territory ; and that,
if this state of things be not disturbed, natural causes must necessarily give the whole territory to the United States.
Under these circumstances, it is only asked, that the subject
may be postponed for the present; that Government should not
commit itself by any premature act or declaration ; that, instead
of increasing the irritation and excitement which exist on both
sides, time be given for mutual reflection, and for the subdual or
subsidence of angry and violent k elings. Then, and then only,
can the deliberate opinion of the American people on this momentous question be truly ascertained. It is not perceived how the
postponement for the present and for a time can, in any shape or in
the slightest degree, injure the United States.
It is certainly true that England is very powerful, and has
often abused her power, in no case in a more outrageous manner
than by the impressment of seamen, whether American, English,
or other foreigners, sailing under and protected by the American
flag. I am not aware that there has ever been any powerful
nation, even in modern times, and professing Christianity, which
has not occasionally abused its power. The United States, who
always appealed to justice during their early youth, seem, as their
strength and power increase, to give symptoms of a similar disposition. Instead of useless and dangerous recriminations, might
not the two nations, by their united efforts, promote a great object,
and worthy of their elevated situation ?
With the single exception of the territory of Oregon, which
extends from 42 to 54° 40' north latitude, all the American shores
of the Pacific Ocean, from Cape Horn to Behring's Straits, are
occupied, on the north by the factories of the Russian Fur Company, southwardly by semi-civilized States, a mixture of Europeans of Spanish descent and of native Indians, who, notwithstanding the efforts of enlightened, intelligent, and liberal men, have
4 n 50
heretofore failed in the attempt to establish governments founded
on law, that might ensure liberty, preserve order, and protect
persons and property. It is in Oregon alone that we may hope
to see a portion of the western shores of America occupied and
inhabited by an active and enlightened nation, which may exercise a moral influence over her less favored neighbors, and extend
to them the benefits of a more advanced civilisation. It is on that
account that the wish has been expressed that the Oregon territory may not be divided. The United States and England are
the only Powers who lay any claim to that country, the only
nations which may and must inhabit it. It is not, fortunately, in
the power of either^ Government to prevent this taking place; but
it depends upon them, whether they shall unite in promoting the
object, or whether they shall bring on both countries the calamities
of an useless war, which may retard but not prevent the ultimate
result. It matters but little whether the inhabitants shall come
from England1 or from the United States. It would seem that
more importance might be attached to the fact that, within a
period of fifteen years, near one million of souls are now added to
the population of the United States by migrations from the
dominions of Great Britain ; yet, since permitted by both Powers,
they may be presumed to be beneficial to both. The emigrants
to Oregon, whether Americans or English, will be united together
by the community of language and literature, of the principles of
law, and of all the fundamental elements of a similar civilisation.
The establishment of a kindred and friendly Power on the
North-west Coast of America is all that England can expect, all
perhaps that the United States ought to desire. It seems almost
incredible that, whilst that object may be attained by simply not
impeding the effect of natural causes, two kindred nations, having
such powerful motives to remain at peace, and standing at the
head of European and American civilisation, should, in this enlightened age, give to the world the scandalous spectacle, perhaps not
unwelcome to some of the beholders, of an unnatural and an unnecessary war; that they should apply all their faculties and exhaust
their resources in inflicting, each on the other, every injury in their
power, and for what purpose 1   The certain consequence, inde- 51
pendent of all the direct calamities and miseries of war, will be a
mutual increase of debt and taxation, and the ultimate fate of
Oregon will be the same as if the war had not taken place.  APPENDIX
Those expenses may be arranged under three heads: 1st. Such
as are of a permanent nature, and should be considered as belonging to the Peace establishment of the country. 2dly. Those which
should be adopted when there is an impending danger of War.
3dly. Those which actual war renders necessary.
To the first class belong all those, which provide for objects that
require considerable time to be executed, and cannot, without
great difficulty, be accomplished pending a war. Such are
fortifications, building ships of war including steamers, accumulating materials for the same purpose, Navy Yards, providing
a sufficient artillery, and other important objects of the ordnance department. It may be taken for granted, that Government
has done, or will do all that is necessary and practicable in that
The preparatory measures which should be adopted, when there
is danger of wTar, are those respecting which the greatest variety
of opinions must be expected. It has been repeatedly asserted,
that such is the structure of our Government, that it never will or
can prepare for war, till after it has actually commenced; that is
to say, that, because Congress was dilatory in making effectual
provision for carrying on the last war against Great Britain, and
because the Administration, at the time when it was declared> was 54
inefficient and not well calculated for conducting it, the United
States are bound for ever to incur, at the commencement of every
p^ war, the disasters of one or two years, before they can be induced
to put on their armor. The past is irrevocable and of no other
use, than as far as it may teach us to avoid the faults that were
formerly committed. When our Government relies on the people
for being sustained in making war, its confidence must be entire.
They must be told the whole truth ; and if they are really in favor of war, they will cheerfully sustain Government in all the
measures necessary to carry it into effect. The frank annunciation
of the necessity of such measures is called, " creating a panic." It
is not the first time that under similar circumstances the same language has been heldr If there be no danger or intention of making
war, those create a panic, who proclaim a determination to assert
the exclusive sovereignty of the United States over the whole contested territory, with the full knowledge that Great Britain has
uniformly and explicitly declared, that she would resist any sucji
attempt. If instead of telling the people the whole truth, the attempt to conceal from them the necessity of the measures requisite
for carrying on the wrar should be successful, a reaction in the public sentiment will most certainly take place, whenever it will have
become impossible to delay any longer the heavy burden of taxation, for which the Nation had not been prepared.
I will not dwell on the necessary preparations of a military character, otherwise than by referring to some notorious facts.
The primary causes of the disastrous results of the campaign of
1812, were the want of a naval force on the Lakes, and that of a
sufficient regular force. Government had obtained a correct statement of the regular force of the British in Canada, with the exception of the garrison of Quebec. This last was estimated at
about three thousand men, and could not be lessened without great
inconvenience and some danger. The regular force at Montreal,
St. John's, and Three Rivers, amounted to 1130 men ; that in the
whole of Upper Canada, to 720. The act to raise an additional
military force of 25,000 men was passed on the 11th of January,
1812. The selection of the officers was not completed before the
termination of that year; the recruiting service was not organized
I 55
in time; the enlistments for the regular army fell short of the most
moderate calculation; and the total number recruited was so small,
as to render it impossible to strike a decisive blow on any one of
the most important points from Montreal upwards, insignificant as
was the force by which they were defended. The volunteer act
was also extremely unproductive. || At that time the treasury was
amply supplied; and the want was not that of money, but of a
regular force.
Such force cannot be raised without money ; and yet it will be
admitted that it would be extremely difficult to induce Congress
te lay internal taxes or duties before war was declared or certain.
In order to provide means for having an additional regular force
ready to act as soon as actual war takes place, a loan and Treasury notes must be resorted to. But it is deemed absolutely ne*
cessary, that the internal taxes should be imposed simultaneously
with the declaration of war, and that provision should be made
for their immediate collection. With the exception of the act for
doubling the duties on importations, Congress did not pass any
law for imposing any new taxes or duties, tijl more than one year
after the declaration of the last war; nor did it even lay a second
direct tax in the year 1814. It was not till after public credit
" was ruined, after Treasury notes which were had due remained
unpaid, and after Mr. Dallas had been placed at the head of the
Treasury, that at last the laws for imposing a double direct tax,
for increasing the rate of the existing internal dutie%;and for laying
new ones, were enacted. The peace was ratified immediately
aftei 5 and in point of fact, no more than 3,877,000 dollars were
paid in the Treasury before the end of the war, on account of the
direct tax and all other internal taxes or duties. There were
received from the same sources 20,654,000 dollars in the years
1815,1816 and 1817.
The preparatory measures necessary, in order to insure an immediate collection of internal taxes, whenever the laws imposing
such taxes shall have been passed, are those on which I may
speak with confidence. These consist simply in a previous organization of the machinery necessary for the collection of every
species of internal taxes, and the assessment of a direct tax. 56
The proper selection of the numerous officers necessary for the
collection always consumes several months. A previous selection
and appointment of those officers would obviate that difficulty^
and would cost nothing, as though appointed they should receive
no pay till called into actual service; this would be the*natural
consequence of the manner in which collectors are paid, this being
a per centage on the money collected. The only other necessary
measure in that respect, is that the Secretary of the Treasury
should, at the. time of their appointment, supply the collectors with
all the necessary forms of keeping and rendering their accounts.
The assessment in each State of the taxable property of every
individual who possesses such property, is the only operation
which requires considerable time and causes a proportionate delay.
This cannot be otherwise obviated than by making that assessment a preparatory measure, to be completed before actual war
takes place.
-In order to facilitate and hasten the process of assessment, I
Undertook, in the year 1812, to apportion the direct tax on the
Several Counties and State Districts m each State; and the Act of
2d August, 1813, which laid a direct tax of three millions of
dollars, was passed in conformity with that apportionment. The
process was easy for every State in which there was a direct State
tax; but though derived from the best data that could be collected, it was defective and partly arbitrary for the States in
which there was no State tax. plAs there is at present hardly any
(if any) State which has not laid a direct State tax, this mode
may be adopted for the proposed preparatory assessment. This
will reduce the duty of the assessors to the assessment of the quota
of each County or District, on the several individuals liable to the
tax, and the total expense of the assessment to a sum not exceeding
probably two hundred thousand dollars. A more regular and
correct assessment will, of course, be provided for, with respect to
the direct taxes which may be laid after the first year of the war
The only objection is that of the expense, which would prove
useless if the tax should not be laid, or in other words, if war
should not take place; but certainly this is too small an item to
deserve consideration. ■MH
This organization, easy and cheap as it is, is all that is necessary
in order to secure an immediate collection of a direct and other
internal taxes and duties, from the moment when they shall have
been imposed by Congress.
The probable annual expenses which must be incurred in a
war with England, and the resources for defraying them, are the
next objects of inquiry.
It is extremely difficult to draw any correct inference from the
expenses of the last war with England: the amount of the arrearages due on account of the military services at the time when the
peace was ratified, is not stated with precision in any of the public
documents which I have seen. Although the laws show the
number of men voted, that of those actually raised has never to
my knowledge been officially stated. There can be no doubt that
the want of a proper organization increased the amount of expenditure much beyond that which would have been sufficient under a
regular and efficient system. This has undoubtedly been much improved ; yet the expenses incurred in the Seminole war, compared
with the number of men employed and that of the hostile Indians,
show that either there are still some defects in the organization,
or that there were great abuses in the execution.
The payments from the Treasury for the military department,
embracing only those for the army proper, mjlitia and volunteers,
and exclusive of those for fortifications and the Indian department,
amounted for the year 1813 to 18,936,000 dollars, and for the
year 1814 to 20,508,000 dollars. The disbursements for the
navy are stated at 6,446,000 and 7,311,000 dollars for these two
years respectively. By comparing the reports of the Secretaries
of the Treasury of December 1815, 1816, 1817, it would appear
that the arrearages due on 1st January, 1815, exceeded ten
millions of dollars: and it seems certain that the actual war expenses of 1814 could not have fallen short of 35 to 40 millions of
dollars. It has been asserted that the regular force during that
year amounted to 35,000 men.
The population of the United States has nearly trebled during
the thirty-four years which have elapsed since that in which the
last war  against England  was declared.    Their wealth and 58
resources have increased in the same ratio; and that, in case of
war, these should be brought into action as promptly as possible,
admits of no doubt. Once engaged in the conflict, to make the
war as efficient as possible will shorten its duration, and can alone
secure honorable terms of peace. I have not the documents
necessary for making an approximate estimate of the annual
expenses of a war with Great Britain; and if I had, I could not
at this time perform that amount of labor which is absolutely
necessary in order to draw correct inferences. Taking only a
general view of the subject, and considering the great difference
of expense in keeping a naVy in active service, between one of
eight frigates and one of ten ships of the line, fourteen frigates
and a competent number of steamers; that Texas and Oregon
are additional objects of defence; that the extensive system of
fortifications which has been adopted will require about fifteen
thousand additional men; and that, in order to carry a successful
and decisive war against the most vulnerable portion of the British
dominions, a great disposable regular force is absolutely necessary; I am very sure that I fall below the mark in saying that,
after the first year of the war, and when the Resources of the
country shall be fully brought into action, the annual military and
naval expenses will amount to sixty or seventy millions of dollars.
To this must be added the expenses for all other objects, which,
for the year ending on the 30th of June, 1845, amounted to near
fifteen millions, but which the Secretary of the Treasury hopes
may be reduced to eleven millions and a half. The gross annual
expenses for all objects will be estimated at seventy-seven millions;
to be increased annually by the annual interest on each successive
In order to ascertain the amount of new revenue and loans
required to defray that expense, the first question which arises, is
the diminution of the revenue derived from customs, which will be
the necessary consequence of the war.
The actual receipts into the Treasury, arising from that source
of revenue, were in round numbers for the years 1812,1813,1814,
respectively 8,960,000,13,225,000, and 6,000,000 of dollars; and
the nett revenue which accrued during those three years respect- ^
ively amounted to 13,142,000, 6,708,000, and 4,250,000 dollars.
From the 1st of July, 1812, the rate of duties on importations was'
doubled; and in order to compare these receipts with those collected in peace time, they must be reduced for those three years
respectively, to 7,470,000,* 6,600,000 and 3,000,000; or, if the
revenue accrued be compared (which is the correct mode), to
9,850,000,* 3,354,000, and 2,125,000 dollars. At that time the
duties accrued were, on account of the credit allowed, collected on
an average only six or eight months later; and the unexpected
importations in the latter half of the year 1812 in American vessels which arrived with British licenses, subsequent to the declaration of war and to the act which doubled the rate of duties,
swelled considerably the receipts of the year 1813. It was only
in 1814 that the full effect of the war on the revenue derived
from that source was felt.
The diminution in the amount of American and foreign tonnage
employed in the foreign trade of tKe United States is strongly
exhibited by the following statement:
Tonnage in foreign trade, U. S.
Year 1811
" 1812
" 1813
"   1814
And it must be recollected that during the last nine months of
1814, Great Britain was at peace with all the other Powers of
Europe, and that these were therefore neutrals. Yet they hardly
ventured to trade with us.
The amount of receipts into the Treasury derived from customs,
as wrell as that of the revenue accrued, exceeded, during the
eleven years 1801 to 1811, 132,700,000 dollars, being an annual
average of about 12,000,000 dollars. During the same eleven
years the average amount of tonnage employed in the foreign trade
of the United States was 943,670 tons, of which 844,170 were
in American, and 99,500 foreign vessels.
* Estimated for 1812.
mencan ves.
Foreign ves.
107,928 60
Thus in the year 1814, the revenue derived from customs had
been reduced to one fourth part (to nearly one sixth part, if compared according to the revenue accrued, or amount of importations), the tonnage employed in the foreign trade of the United
States to nearly one ninth; and that of the American vessels
employed in that trade, to one fourteenth part of their respective
average amount during the eleven years of peace.
The small American navy did during the last war with England
all and more than could have been expected. The fact was
established to the satisfaction of the world and of Great Britain
herself, that the navy of the United States, with a parity of force,
was at least equal to that of England. But the prodigious numerical superiority of thef-British navy rendered it impossible for a few
frigates to protect the commerce of the United States, which was
accordingly almost annihilated. We have now ten ships of the
line, and a proportionate number of frigates and smaller vessels.
The great numerical superiority of the British navy still continues;
and it cannot be doubted that, in case of war, every exertion will
be made by the British Government to maintain its superiority in
our seas and on our coasts. Still it is but a portion of her force
that can be employed in that way, and, taking every circumstance
into consideration, it may be confidently hoped that our commerce,
though much lessened, will be partially protected by our navy.
Although the actual diminution which will be experienced is altogether conjectural, I think that no great error is to be apprehended
in estimating the revenue from customs, after the first year of the
war, at about one half of its present amount; and the whole
revenue from that source, from the sale of lands and all the
branches of the existing income, at fourteen millions of dollars;
leaving to be provided for sixty to sixty-five millions* besides the
interest on loans, which, for a war of three years, may be estimated at about six millions of dollars on an average. However
energetic and efficient Congress and the Executive may be, the
resources and strength of the nation can be but gradually brought
forth: the expenses will therefore be less during the first year,
after which the whole amount will be required and will be annu« 61
ally wanted.   In reference therefore to the second year of the
Assuming the total war expenses at   .   .    .   $65,000,000
All the others at       12,000,000
In all, .    . $77,000,000
From which deduct for existing revenue, .    .      14,000,000
To be provided for by taxes and loans, . . $63,000,000
On the principle that the amount of annual taxes
should be at least equal to the expenses of
the peace establishment and the interest on
the war loans, annual jieace expenses at. . 27,000,000
And for interest on the loans of 1st and 2d years,
viz. 1st year 25, and 2d year 45 millions at
7 per cent .i 5,000,000
Together, $32,000,000
From which deduct existing revenue, .    .    .      14,000,000
Leaves to be provided for by new taxes, at least $18,000,000
And by loans, 45,000,000
The estimate of 5,000,000 dollars for the interest of the loans
the second year after the war, is founded on the supposition that
the direct and other internal taxes or duties laid for the first year,
together with the existing revenue, and twenty-five millions borrowed by loans or Treasury notes, will be sufficient to defray the
expense incurred prior to and during the first year of the war.
The deficiency in the regular force for that year must be supplied
by large drafts of militia, which will be as expensive at least as
the regular soldiers whose place they will supply.
But it appears very doubtful whether such a large sum as forty-
five millions can be raised annually by loans and Treasury notes.
It is necessary in the first place to correct some erroneous opinions
respecting the extent to which these notes may be kept in circulation, and the legitimate objects to which they may be applied.
The Treasury notes were first introduced on my suggestion,
—— 1
which was no new discovery, since they are a mere transcript of
the Exchequer Bills of Great Britain. As these have been resorted
to for more than a century, and have never become there a portion
of the ordinary currency, the extent to which they may be used
for other-purposes is well ascertained, and bears always a certain
ratio to the wealth of the country and to the revenue of the State.
Whether issued to the bank as an anticipation of the revenue, or
used by capitalists for short investments, the gross amount has
rarely exceeded twenty millions sterling. Judging from past
experience, the amount which may, in time of war, be kept in
circulation at par in the United States falls far short of a proportionate sum.
The amount of Treasury Notes issued during the years 1812
and 1813 amounted to $8,930 000
Of which there had been paid including interest    $4,240 000
The amount in actual circulation was less than five millions, and
thus far they had been kept at par.
All the demands from the other departments had been met by
the Treasury, and there were but few, if any, outstanding arrears.
Nothing had as yet been collected on account of the direct tax
and of the internal duties. Besides the five millions of Treasury
Notes, there had been paid into the Treasury in the years 1812 and
1813, $28,740,000 on account of war loans, and $22,283,000
from the customs. The balance in the Treasury amounted to
$5,196,542 on the 31st December, 18 m. ■     '
The amount of Treasury Notes issued during the year 1814
amounted to near eight millions, and there had been paid off
during the same year, including interest, $2,700,000; making an
addition of about five millions and a half, and the total amount
outstanding about ten millions and a half. The receipts iluring
that year, on account of the direct tax and internal dutietyamounted to $3,877,000, from war loans to $15,Q80,00O^and from cus-
.toms to only six millions. Before the end of the year, Governmeifct
was unable to paj the notes which had become*!due. It is perfectly clear itiat, if new notes could not be issued in lieu of those
which had become due, it was because they had fallen below par,
and therefore tr^at the amount outstanding was greater than the 63 ,
demand for them. There was but one remedy, and it was very
simple. A reduction in that amount must be made, by funding at
their market price a quantity sufficient to re-establish the equilibrium. But all the banks west of New England had in the meanwhile suspended their specie payments. A period of anarchy in
the currency of the country was the consequence, andS^asted till
those payments were resumed in the year 1817.
'"The result of the suspension of specie payments in England
was, that the notes of the Bank of England became in fact a legal
tender and the standard of the currency. All the other banks
were obliged to keep their own notes on a par with those of that
bank; and all that was necessary in order to prevent a depreciation, was to regulate the issues of the Bank of England, so as to
keep them at par with gold and silver. Nevertheless, the clamor
for more currency prevailed; the bank found it very convenient
and profitable to issue notes which it was not obliged to pay, and
these finally depreciated twenty-five per cent. But in the United
States the banks were under no other control than that of the several States respectively. The consequence was, that we had fifty
and more species of local currencies, Varying in value in the different
States or districts of ctitefntry, and from time to time in the same
district. The banks might with facility have resumed specie payments during the first year of peace. The efforts of the Secretary
of the Treasury to induce them to resume proved unsuccessful;
and the resumption did not take place till after a new Bank of the
United States had been organized.
We have had two general suspensions of specie payments, the
last at a time of profound peace. I was then behind the scenes,
had some agency in restoring specie payments, and may speak on
that subject with knowledge and confidence. The obstacles came
partly from the Banks, principally from the Debtor interest, which
excites sympathy and preponderates throughout the United States.
The mis-named Bank of the United States, and the banks under
its influence, were, it is true, a formidable impediment; and this
obstacle is now fortunately removed. Still the continuance of
specie payments stands, whenever a crisis occurs, on a most precarious basis; and if any important place, especially New York,
J wr
happened to break, all the banks through the United States would
instantaneously follow the example. This is the most imminent
danger to which the Treasury of the United States will be exposed in time of war; and what effect the Sub-Treasury system
may produce in that respect remains to be tested by experience.
It is impossible to draw any inference respecting Treasury Notes,
from what took place in the United States during the confused
state of the currency in the years 1815 and 1816. The taxes
were paid everywhere with the cheapest local currency, in Treasury Notes only in the places where specie payments had been continued, or where bank notes were nearly at par. The depreciation
of the Treasury Notes was arrested by the fact, that they might
at all times be converted into a six or seven per cent, stock; but
in that case they became assimilated to a direct loan. They never
can become a general currency, on account of their varying value,
so long as they bear an interest and are made payable at some
future day. In order to give them that character, they should assume that of bank notes, bearing no interest and payable on demand. It does not require the gift of prophecy to be able to assert
that, as the wants of Government increased, such notes would degenerate into paper money to the utter ruin of the public credit.
They may, however, be made a special currency for the purpose
of paying taxes as gold and silver, and to the exclusion of any other
species of paper currency. The amount which might be thus kept
in circulation, in addition to that wanted for short investments,
would be limited by the gross amount of the annual revenjae, and
bear but a small proportion to it; since one thousand dollars, in
silver or in any paper currency, are sufficient to effect in one year
fifty payments of the same amount.
Although the amount kept in circulation may fluctuate according
to circumstances, the fundamental principle is, that the issue of
such notes is an anticipation of the revenue, which, after it has
reached the maximum that may be kept in circulation without
being depreciated, never can be increased. Be the amount ten or
twenty millions, the anticipation may be continued, but not renewed ; it is not an annual resource, but one, the whole amount of
which never can exceed that which may be kept in circulation. 65
The operation consists in re-issuing annually the amount which is
paid off in the year. Whenever, owing to incidental fluctuations,
the amount to be redeemed by the Treasury exceeds that wThich
may be re-issued, the difference must be immediately funded at the
market price of the notes, so as to keep them always at par or a
little above par.
It is evident, that if the direct tax and internal duties laid in
August, 1813, had been imposed in July, 1812; and if the acts of
January, 1815, which increased both, had been enacted in August,
1813; there would have been an addition of at least eight millions
to the revenue of the years 1812 and 1813 ; the Treasury Notes
which had become due would have been paid, public credit would
have been maintained, and the amount of war loans lessened.
The principal causes of the fall of public stocks during a war,
and of the consequent necessity of borrowing on dearer terms, are
a want of confidence in Government, and the large amount of
stocks thrown in the market beyond the natural demand for them.
The effect of this last cause is remarkably illustrated by the fluctuations in the price of the stocks of Great Britain, where it does not
appear that there ever was a want of confidence in the ability and
fidelity of Government in fulfilling its engagements. The British
three per cents, are now, and were before the war of American Independence, and before those which had their origin in the French
revolution, near par or at par. They fell gradually during the war
of independence, and were as low as fifty-four in February, 1782.
The long war with France was attended with the same result, and
the three per cents, had fallen to fifty-five in July, 1812. Notwithstanding the deranged state of the finances of the United
States in 1814, the American stocks had not fallen in the same
proportion. Such great depreciation is the result of the long continuance of a war. No one can say what would have been its progress, had the last war with England continued much longer.
There was not, however, at that time, at least in America, any
want of confidence in the Government: no one doubted that it
would ultimately faithfully discharge all its engagements. Although the General Government is in no way responsible for the
errors of any of the individual States, it is nevertheless certain, that 66
the credit of the Union, has been injured abroad by the failure of
several of the States to fulfil their engagements, and that no expectation can be entertained of being able to borrow money in
Europe. It is not less true that the Administration will cease to
enjoy the confidence of American capitalists, if the measures it has
recommended should be adopted and productive of war. No one
can doubt that, if that event should take place, the Americans will
fight in defence of their country, and none with greater zeal and
bravery than the people of the Western States. During the last
war, their militia and volunteers flocked either to the Lakes, to
New Orleans, orwherever there was danger; nor did they refuse
to take part in offensive operations, and to serve without the limits
of the United States. But men cannot, either there or elsewhere,
afford to render gratuitous services. Whether regulars, volunteers,
or militia, they must be fed, clothed, transported, supplied wTith arms
and artillery, and paid. There is as yet but very little active cir*
culating capital in the new States: they cannot lend; they, on the
contrary, want to borrow money. This can be obtained in the
shape of loans only from the capitalists of the Atlantic States. A
recurrence to public documents will show that all the loans of the
last war were obtained in that quarter.
Men of property are perhaps generally more timid than others,
and certainly all the quiet people, amongst whom the public stocks
are ultimately distributed, are remarkably cautious. Prudent capitalists, who do not speculate, and consider public stocks only as
convenient and safe investments, will not advance money to Government so long as it is controlled by men whom they consider as
reckless, and as entertaining rather lax opinions respecting public
credit. Yet money will be obtained, but on much dearer terms
than if public confidence was unimpaired. There will always be
found bold speculators, who will advance it at a premium—enhanced by the want of competition, and proportionate to the risks
they may be supposed to incur. Independent of this, it is most certain that the rate of interest at which loans may be obtained, will
always be increased in proportion to their magnitude. The only
ways by which these difficulties may be obviated, or at least lessened, are perfect fidelity in fulfilling the engagements of Govern- 1
ment; an economical, that is to say, a skilful application of the
public moneys to the most important objects, postponing all those
which are not immediately wanted, or are of inferior real utility ;
and an increase of the amount of revenue derived from taxation.
This has the double advantage of diminishing the amount to be
borrowed, and of inspiring confidence to the money-lenders. In
all cases, direct loans will be preferable ito, and prove a cheaper
mode of raising money than the over issues of Treasury Notes.
The Act of July, 1812, which doubled the duties on importations, afforded a resource which, on account of the high rate at this
time of those duties, cannot now be resorted to. Duties may, however, be levied on the importation of Tea and Coffee, and perhaps
some other articles now duty free. Other modifications may be
found useful, but it may be difficult to ascertain, even without any
regard to protection, what are the rates of duties which should be
imposed in time of war on the various imported articles, in order to
render the revenue derived from that source as productive as possible.
It must also be observed that if, on account of the credit then
allowed for the payment of duties on importations, the Treasury
had, when the war of 1812 commenced, a resource in the revenue
previously accrued but not yet collected, which does not now exist;
on the other hand the United States were still encumbered with a
considerable portion of the Revolutionary debt, and the payments
on account of its principal and interest amounted during the years
1812,1813,1814, to about $11,000,000, whilst the annual interest
on the now existing debt is less than one million.
The direct tax of the year 1815 amounted to $6,000,000, and the
revenue which accrued d uring the same year, on the aggregate of internal duties, as increased or imposed at the same time, amounted to about
the same sum. That year is also the most proper for a comparative view of the revenue derived from each object. In the subsequent years the revival of business increased the amount derived
from the duties connected with the commerce of the country, much
beyond that which could be collected in time of war; whilst, on
the other hand, the excise on spirits was much less productive.
The nett revenue derived from internal duties, which accrued
during that year was in round numbers, about 68
Excise on spirits . $2,750,000
Licences to retailers 880,000
Sales at auction . 780,000
Stamp duties . . 420,000
Tax on carriages . 150,000
Refined sugar       . 80,000
Several manufactured
articles . . . $840,000
Household furniture 20,000
Watches worn by
individuals      .    .      80,000
Total $6,000,000
The three last items were those added on Mr. Dallas's recommendation to the first items laid in 1813, but the rate of which
was increased, also on his recommendation. The manufactured
articles not before taxed on which the new duties were laid were, pig
and bar iron, nails-$ wax and tallow candles; hats, caps and umbrellas; paper and playing cards; leather, saddles, bridles, boots
and shoes; beer, ale and portetj- snuff*, cigars and manufactured
tobacco. This was the boldest measure proposed by the Secretary,
for these duties were from their nature intrinsically obnoxious.
Yet no voice was raised against them; and so far from becoming
unpopular, Mr. Dallas, by his courage and frankness, acquired a
well-earned popularity. No stronger proof can be adduced of the
propriety of telling the whole truth and placing an entire confidence in the people.
The only important measure omitted at that time, was an Act
of Congress ordering that all the Treasury notes actually due and
not paid should be immediately funded at their nominal value;
that is to say, that for every one hundred dollars in Treasury
notes, the same amount of funded stock should be issued as it was
necessary to give for one hundred dollars in gold or silver. It was
impossible to obtain a regular loan in time, and on reasonable
terms, for the purpose of defraying the war expenses of the first
six months of the year 1815. There was an absolute necessity for
recurring to Treasury notes for that purpose, and the attention of
the Treasury was forcibly directed to that object. But the first
and fundamental element of public credit is the faithful and punctual fulfilment of the public engagements; and the payment of
the Treasury notes, when becoming due, was as necessary as that
of the interest of the funded debt, which never was suspended
during the war.   As an immediate and considerable issue of Trea- \
sury notes was absolutely necessary, it was not sufficient that they
might be convertible into a funded stock, which was already
much below par, since that would be in fact an issue of depreciated paper. The Act should, therefore, have pledged the public
faith, that if the Treasury notes were not discharged in specie
when they became due, they should be funded at their nominal value
on the same terms as above seated. Mr. Dallas to great energy
united pre-eminent talents, he wanted only experience; and I
have no doubt that, had the war continued, he would within six
months have adopted that course. If I have alluded here to this
subject, it is on account of the primary importance, if placed hereafter in a similar difficult position, of adhering rigorously to those
principles respecting the legitimate use of Treasury notes and the
punctual discharge of every public engagement, which are absolutely necessary for the maintenance of public credit.
Since a direct tax of six millions could be raised thirty years
ago, there can be no difficulty in raising one of nine millions at
the very beginning of the war: this must be gradually increased,
but would be most heavily felt if beyond eighteen millions.
Should an equal sum be raised by internal duties, the annual
loans wanted after the first year of the war would be lessened in
the same proportion. The following estimate may assist in forming a correct opinion on that subject:—
The stamp duties, those on sales at auction, the
licences of retailers, and the carriage tax,
which accrued in the year 1815, amounted
together to $2,230,000, and rnay be now estimated at twice as much ....... $4,460,000
The aggregate annual value of leather, boots,
shoes, and other manufactures of leather; of
hats, caps and bonnets; snuff and cigars;
paper and playing cards, manufactured in the
United States, are estimated by the last census
at fifty-three millions, a tax on which of ten
per cent would give 5,300,000
On the same authority, three millions pounds of
spermaceti and wax candles would yield, at
five cents per pound,    .         150,000
Amount carried forward, $9,910,000
1* 70
Amount brought forward, $9,910,000
Three millions two hundred and fifty thousand
pounds of refined sugar, at the same rate .    .        160,000
Five hundred tons of pig and bar iron, nails and
brads, at two dollars per ton 1,000,000
The gross amount of spirits and beer manufactured in the United States, is stated in the
census at sixty-five millions of gallons; but
the happy influence of the Temperance cause
has probably reduced this amount to less than
fifty millions, a tax on which of ten cents per
gallon   . 5,000,000
I have inserted only such articles as were heretofore taxed, and
have no means of indicating such other as might be added or preferred ; nor must I be understood as recommending any specially,
or in reference to the rates of duties to be imposed on any one.
It has been very generally asserted that men of property were
averse to the war because the losses and burthens which it must
occasion fall exclusively upon them; and that poor men were
generally in favor of war, because they had nothing to lose.
It is true that the first great loss, caused by the war, will fall
immediately on those interested in the maritime commerce of the
United States, either as owners, insurers, or in any way employed
in it. Considering the imminent danger to which is exposed the
immense amount of American property afloat on every sea, and the
certain annihilation, during the war, of the fisheries, of the commerce with Great Britain, and of that with all the countries beyond
Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope, the American merchants
may be alarmed at the prospect of a war, the necessity of which
they do not perceive. But if the apprehension of immediate danger
is more vividly felt, the calamitous effects of the war on the agricultural interests are not less certain. The price of all the products,
of which large quantities are exported, must necessarily fall so low
that all the farmers must lessen the amount and with it their income,
whilst they must pay dearer for all the articles which they are
obliged to purchase. The distinction between rich and poor is
vague. The most numerous class in the United States is that of
the men who are at the same time owners and cultivators of the soil, and who'have but small properties and a very moderate
income. Every diminution of this, whether from the want of a
market or from any additional tax, is in that and the corresponding
class of mechanics, attended with the privation of the necessaries
or comforts of life. The really rich, the capitalists who have independent incomes, and are not obliged to engage in any of the active
pursuits of life, may, in any calamitous season, accumulate less, or
at most, must retrench only some luxuries. Thus the unavoidable
losses and burthens which are the consequences of a war, fall with
the greatest weight on those who derive their means of existence
from the pursuits of industry, and whose industry alone contributes
to the increase of the general wealth of the country.
But this is not all. Exclusive of those who, either as con*
tractors, or in some other way, are concerned with the large supplies
wanted for the support of the army and navy, there is a class ot
capitalists who are enriched by the war. These are the money
lenders, who shall have been bold enough to take up the public
loans: unless indeed it should be intended to break public faith,
and, on the return of peace, to question the obligation to pay them,
upon the pretence of their enormous profits. What these profits
are may be again illustrated by the example of Great Britain.
It has already been seen that, whenever a war is one of long
continuance, the British Government may at first borrow at par,
and ends by being compelled to sell its stock at the rate of fifty
per cent of its nominal value; which gives for the whole of the war
loans an average of about 75 per cent. In point of fact that Government received in the year 1812 less than 55 per cent: for the
money actually received consisted of bank notes, which had then
depreciated twenty per cent; so that the money lenders gave only
that which wras equivalent to forty-four per cent, in gold or silver,
of the nominal value of the stock which they received. Besides
receiving the interest on the nominal amount of the stock till the
principal shall have been paid, they might shortly after the peace,
and may now, receive from ninety-seven per cent to par, in gold
or silver, for that same stock for which they gave but forty-four.
Thus, assuming the public debt of Great Britain at eight hundred
thousand pounds sterling; not only was the whole of that capital ill
destroyed by the wars; not only are the British people subject
now, and it would seem for ever, to a burthen of taxes sufficient
to pay the interest on that debt; but of the eight hundred millions
thus consumed, only six hundred were received by the public, and
the other two hundred millions made the rich capitalists, who had
advanced the money, still richer.
There is another class of men who may occasionally derive
wealth from a war. Privateering consists in robbing of their
property unarmed and unresisting men, engaged in pursuits not
only legitimate but highly useful. It is nothing more nor less than
legalized Piracy._ For this the United States are not responsible;
and it must be admitted, that the practice of all nations justifies
them in resorting to those means, in order to make the enemy feel
the calamities of war. But the necessity of resorting to means
immoral in themselves affords an irrefragable argument against
precipitating the country into war for slight causes, indeed against
any war which is not purely in self defence.
It is equally untrue to assert that the poorer class of people, by
which must be meant all the laborers, or generally those who live
on their wages, have nothing to lose by the war.
In this, and other large cities, for every thousand merchants, or
men of capital who may be injured or thrown out of business, there
are ten thousand men living on wages, whose employment depends
directly or indirectly on the commerce of those cities. The number
of common laborers is proportionately less in the purely agricultural
districts. But it is evident that in both, a considerable number
must be thrown out of employment either by the destruction of
commerce, or in consequence of the lessened value and quantity of
the agricultural products. And it seems impossible that this should
take place without affecting the rate of wages, than which a more
afflicting evil could not fall on the community. There is no man
of pure and elevated feelings who does not ardently wish, that
means could be devised to ameliorate the state of society in that
respect, so as that those who live by manual labor should receive a
more just portion of the profits, which are now very unequally divided between them and their employers.
But even if the rate of wages was not materially affected, yet 73
when it is sard that the poor have nothing to lose by wTar, it must
be because their lives are counted for nothing. Whether militia,
regulars, or sailors, the privates, the men who actually fight the
battles, are exclusively taken from amongst the poorer classes of
society. Officers are uniformly selected from the class which has
some property or influence. They indeed risk gallantly their lives,
but with the hopes of promotion and of acquiring renown and consideration. According to the present system, at least of the regular army, it is extremely rare, almost impossible that a private
soldier should ever rise to the rank of an officer. In the course of
a war thousands are killed, more die of diseases, and the residue,
when disbanded, return home with habits unfavorable to the pursuits of industry. And yet it is asserted that they are predisposed
for war, because they have nothing to lose.
As yet, however, we have had recourse only to voluntary enlistments for raising a regular force; the pay or bounties must be increased in order to obtain a sufficient number; and thus far to
become a private soldier has been a voluntary act. The calling of
militia into actual service is a modified species of conscription, and
it has also been deemed a sufficient burthen to limit the time of that
service to six months. Another plan is now contemplated by those
who are so eager to plunge the country into a war. Fearing that
the sufficient number of men may not be voluntarily raised, they
propose that the militia should be divided into two portions ; those
belonging to the first class shall, if called into actual service, be
bound to serve twelve months instead of six; and the other portion
shall be liable to furnish a number of recruits for the army, not exceeding one tenth part of their total number. This last provision
seems to be borrowed from the Russian military code. The Emperor of Russia requires each village to supply him with a certain
number of men, in proportion to that of the male population. In
time of war he requires, at the rate of three men for each hundred
males, which answers nearly to that of ten for every one hundred
men enrolled in the militia; and he also grants to the serfs the
same privilege intended to be allowed to a portion of the militia by
the new project, that of selecting the recruits amongst themselves.
If it be any consolation, it is certain that, although we may not Ws
invade England, the evils arising from the war will be as sensibly
and more permanently felt by Great Britain than by the United
States. Her efforts must be commensurate with those of the
United States, much greater by sea in order to be efficient, in
every respect more expensive on account of her distance from the
seat of war. Such is the rapidly progressive state of America,
that the industry of the people will, in a few years of peace, have
repaired the evils caused by the errors of Government. England will remain burthened with additional debt and taxation.
An aged man, who has for the last thirty years been detached
from party politics, and who has now nothing whatever to hope or
to fear from the world, has no merit in seeking only the truth and
acting an independent part. But I know too well, and have felt
too much the influence of party feeling, not to be fully aware
that those men will be entitled to the highest praise, who, being
really desirous of preserving peace, shall on this momentous occasion dare to act for themselves, notwithstanding the powerful
sympathies of party. Yet no sacrifice of principles is required :
men may remain firmly attached to those on which their party
was founded and which they conscientiously adopted. There is
no connexion between the principles or doctrines on which each
party respectively was founded, and the question of war or peace
with a foreign nation which is now agitated. The practice
which has lately prevailed to convert every subject, from the most
frivolous to the most important, into a pure party question, destroys altogether personal independence, and strikes at the very
roots of our institutions. These usages of party, as they are
called, make every man a slave, and transfer the legitimate authority of the majority of the nation to the majority of a party,
and, consequently, to a minority of the sovereign people. If it
were permitted to appeal to former times, I would say that,
during the six years that I had the honor of a seat in Congress,
there were but two of those party meetings, called for the purpose
of deliberating upon the measures proper to be adopted. The
first was after the House had asserted its abstract right to decide
on the propriety of making appropriations necessary to carry a
treaty into effect, whether such appropriations should be made 75
with respect to the treaty with England of 1794. The other was
in 1be year 1798, respecting the course proper to be pursued after
the hostile and scandalous conduct of the French Directory. On
both occasions we were divided; and on both the members of the
minority of each meeting were left at full liberty to vote as they
pleased, without being on that account proscribed or considered
as having abandoned the principles of the party. This, too, took
place at a time when, unfortunately, each party most erroneously
suspected the other of an improper attachment to one or the other
of the great belligerent foreign nations. I must say that I never
knew a man belonging to the same party as myself, and I have
no reason to believe that there was any in the opposite party,
wTho would have sacrificed the interests of the country to those of
any foreign power. I am confident that no such person is to be
found now in our councils or amongst our citizens; nor am I apt to
suspect personal views, or apprehensive of the effect these might
produce. My only fear is that which I have expressed, the difficulty for honorable men to disenthral themselves from those party
sympathies and habits, laudable and useful in their origin, but
which carried to excess become a tyranny, and may leave the
most important measures to be decided in the National Councils
by an enthusiastic and inflamed minority.
6  —;—■■—- Iffl
the|transactions     f§SB
%&.%£ OF THE
Embracing1 the following Articles—the contributions of its Members:—
Art. I.—Notes on the Semi-civilized Nations of Mexico, Yucatan, and
Central America.   By Albert Gallatin.
This article occupies 352 pages; it is illustrated with several folding tables, exhibiting comparative vocabularies of the. several languages of Mexico, Guatemala^
Yucatan, Guyana, &c, alluded to in it; tables of the Ancient Mexican Almanac, a
folding-plate of the celebrated Calendar-Stone of Mexico, and engravings of Mexican
paintings, illustrating some important events in her annals.
Art. II.—An Account of Ancient Remains in Tennessee. By Gerard
Troost, M.D., Professor of Chemistry, Geology, &c, in the University of
This paper gives an account of some remarkable antiquities found in Tennessee,
'showing the former existence of an ancient idol-worship, practised by the Egyptians,
Greeks, Romans, and the people of Hindostan; also a description of the ancient
burial-places of Tennessee Kentucky, and adjacent parts, illustrated with four engravings of idols;
Art. III.—Observations respecting the Grave Creek Mound in Western
Virginia.   By Henry R. Schoolcraft.
Observations respecting the Grave-Creek Mound in Western Virginia:j^the
antique inscription discovered in its excavation, and the connected evidences of the
occupancy of the Mississippi Valley during the Mound period, and prior to the discovery by Corumbus.    Illustrated with four engravings.
The Grave-Creek Mound is not only remarkable as being the largest artificial
work of the kind in the United States, but for an inscribed tablet found within it, the
only instance yet discovered of an inscription having any resemblancs to alphabetic
characters. 'A detailed account of the Mound and other remains in the vicinity ; of
the various relics found within it; the character of the inscription; a comparison of
several ancient alphabets with it; and conjectures on its era and origin, form the
subjects of this paper.
Art. IV.r—On the Recent Discoveries of Himyaritic Inscriptions, and the
attempts made to decipher them. By William W; Turner.
Tiie attention of the savans of Europe is now turned to the ancient remains and
inscriptions recently discovered in Southern Arabia, a better knowledge of which
will tend to throw light on a portion of scriptural history of which little was known.
Mr. Turner's labors have been highly applauded for their acuteness, both in France
ass*-Germany. A folding-plate of comparative alphabets, a map, and eight engrav-
mgj«M>f inscriptions, illustrate this paper.
A$k. V.—Account of the Punico-Libyan Monument at Dugga, and the
Remains of an Ancient Structure at Bless, near the site of ancient
Carthage.   By Frederic Catherwood. §|J|
The monuments and inscriptions described in this paper are the result of a personal examination by Mr. Catherwood (the well-known companion of Mr. Stephens
in his travels in Central America). It is one of the most perfect yet discovered in the
region, and is as remarkable for its architectural beauty (in which there is a singular
combination of the Egyptian and Grecian styles) as for its high antiquity. A view
of this monument, its ground-plan, a fac-simile of the inscription, and five engravings
of other edifices, accompany this paper.
§CF" The American Ethnological Society was established for the promotion of the study of the
Natural History of Man and the globe he inhabits, including the distinguishing'characteristics of the
varieties of the Human Race, and the causes of such diversities. Archaeological and philological science are among the most important means for elucidating these subjects, and will receive attention
from the Society. Original papers on these subjects will be acceptable to the Society, and maybe
addressed to the Corresponding Secretary, John R. Bartlett, New York.


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