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Message from the President of the United States, transmitting the information required by a resolution… [United States. President (1817-1825 : Monroe)] 1822

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   Art. XVIII.—Message from the President of the United
States, transmitting the information required by a resolution
of the House of Representatives of the 16th of February last,
in relation to Claims set up by Foreign Governments, to
Territory of the United States upon the Pacific Ocean,
north of the forty-second degree of latitude, fyc, April 17,
1822. |J     | .!      |
The measures lately adopted by the Russian government,
in relation to the northwestern coast of the American continent, are of so extraordinary a character, that we cannot re-
  1822.] to fAe Northwest Coast of America. 371
frain from examining the subject, and offering such comments
as it naturally demands. We are sensible that a discussion
relative to a country so remote, having within its limits but
few objects to excite the curiosity, and only connected with the
civilized world by an extremely limited commerce, might not
ordinarily, awaken much general interest. But it is also well
known that particular causes have heretofore drawn to it the
attention, both of statesmen and philosophers, and we are not
sure that the attempts to discover a northwest passage, or the
dispute respecting Nootka sound, involved more serious consequences than the efforts now making by Russia, in that
quarter of the globe, to monopolize commerce and usurp
A trade to the northwestern coast of America, and the free
navigation of the waters that wash its shores, have been enjoyed as a common right by subjects of the United States, and
of several European powers, without interruption, for nearly
forty years. We are by no means prepared to believe, or admit, that all this has been on sufferance merely; and that the
rights of commerce and navigation in that region, have been
vested in Russia alone. If such be the fact, however—if Russia has always possessed the right to interdict this trade, we
cannot but wonder at her forbearance in permitting it to be
carried on for so long a time, manifestly to the injury of her
own subjects. Had a monopoly of the fur trade, which Russia now aims at, been secured to the j Russian American Company' thirty years ago, that company, with any prudent management, might have attained at the present time the second
rank, for wealth and power, in the commercial world, and
been worthy not only of imperial protection, but of imperial
A short account of this trade, and sketch of its present state,
may assist our readers in forming some estimate of the importance of this subject to the United States, merely in a commercial view, and independent of any question of territorial
rights which it may be thought to involve. The third voyage of Cook having made us acquainted with countries of
which little was before known ; several enterprising individuals, allured by the prospect of a profitable traffic with the
natives, engaged in voyages to the northwest coast as early as
1784. The citizens of the United States, then just recovering from the entire prostration of their commerce by the revo^
 372 Examination of the Russian Claims [Oct.
lutionary war, and possessing more enterprise than capital,
were not slow in perceiving the benefits likely to result from
the participation in a branch of trade, where industry and perseverance could be substituted for capital. In 1787, two vessels were fitted out in the port of Boston, the Columbia of
three hundred tons, and the Washington of one hundred tons
burthen ; the former commanded by Mr John Kendrick, the
latter by Mr Robert Grey, since known as the first navigator
who entered the river Columbia. Other vessels followed
shortly after, and those entrusted with the management of
these voyages soon acquired the necessary local knowledge
to insure a successful competition with the traders of other
nations (mostly English) who had preceded them. The habits and ordinary pursuits of the New Englanders qualified them
in a peculiar manner for carrying on this trade, and the embarrassed state of Europe, combined with other circumstances, gave them, in the course of a few years, almost a
monopoly of the most lucrative part of it. In 1801, which
was perhaps the most flourishing period of the trade, there
were sixteen ships on the northwest coast, fifteen of which
were Americans, and one English. Upwards of eighteen
thousand sea otter skins, besides other furs, were collected for the China market in that year, by the American
vessels alone. Since that time the trade has declined, the
sea otter having become scarce, in consequence of the impolitic system pursued by the Russians, as well as by the
natives, who destroy indiscriminately the old and the young
of this animal, which will probably in a few years be as rarely met with on the coast of America, as it is now on that of
Kamtchatka and among the Aleutian islands, where they
abounded when first discovered by the Russians. There are
at the present time absent from the United States fourteen
vessels engaged in this trade, combined with that to the Sandwich islands, which for several years past has been carried on
to a considerable extent in sandal wood. These vessels are
from two to four hundred tons burthen, and carry from twenty-five to thirty men each, and they are usually about three
years in completing a voyage. After exchanging with the
natives of the coast for furs, such part of their cargoes as is
adapted to the wants or suited to the fancy of these people,
the ships return to the Sandwich islands, where a cargo of
sandal wood is prepared, with which, and their furs, they pro-
 1822.] to the Northwest Coast of America. 373
ceed to Canton, and return to the United States with cargoes
of teas, &c. The value at Canton of the furs, sandal wood,,
and other articles, carried thither the last season, by American
vessels engaged in the trade, was little short of half a million
of dollars. When it is considered that a comparatively small
capital is originally embarked; that a great part of the value-
arises from the employment of so much tonnage, and so many
men, for the long time necessary to perform a voyage f and
that government finally derives a revenue from that portion of
the proceeds which is brought home in teas, equal at least to
the amount invested at Canton, we believe this trade will be
thought too valuable to be quietly relinquished.
The publication, of which the title is perfixed to this article,
contains certain documents, communicated by the president
of the United States to congress at their last session. The
most important of them is the ukase, issued by the emperor of
Russia in September 1821, and made known to our government
in February of the present year. We shall devote most of
this article to some remarks on this Russian edict, and the
correspondence in relation to it between Mr Adams, secretary
of state, and the chevalier de Poletica, the Russian minister to
the United States.
The prohibitions and regulations contained in this edict are
very minute and particular, occupying nearly ten pages of a
closely printed pamphlet, and divided into sixty-three sections ; in the first and second of which, however, will be found
the pith and marrow of the subject. These, together with the
introduction, we transcribe. The others are of minor importance. They however authorize the forcible seizure, by Russian ships of war, by vessels belonging to the company, or by
individuals in their service, of all foreign vessels which may
be suspected of violating these regulations, and direct that
they be sent to the port of St Peter and St Paul, in Kamt-
chatka, for trial; and if condemned, the crews are to be sent
across Siberia, to some port on the Baltic, and permitted to
return to their own country, if they can find the means !
i Of His Imperial Majesty, Jlutocrat of all the Russias.
6 The Directing Senate maketh known unto all men : Whereas,
in an Edict of His Imperial Majesty, issued to  the  Directing
Senate on the 4th day of September, and signed by his Imperial
" tjesty's own hand, it is thus expressed : " Observing, from re-
74 Examination of the Russian Claims [Oct,
ports submitted to us, that the trade of our subjects on the Aleutian Islands and on the northwest coast of America appertaining
unto Russia, is subjected, because of secret and illicit traffic, to
oppression and impediments ; and finding that the principal cause
of these difficulties is the want of rules establishing the boundaries
for navigation along these coasts, and the order of naval communication, as well in these places as on the whole of the eastern
coast of Siberia and the Kurile Islands, we have deemed it necessary to determine these communications by specific regulations,
which are hereto attached.
" In forwarding these regulations to the Directing Senate, we
command that the same be published for universal information, and
that the proper measures be taken to carry them into execution.
Countersigned Count D. Gurief,
•Minister of Finances,
"It is therefore decreed by the Directing Senate, that His Imperial Majesty's Edict be published for the information of all men,
and that the same be obeyed by all whom it may concern."
c The original is signed by the Directing Senate.
' On the original is written, in the hand writing of His Imperial
Majesty, thus:
| Be it accordingly.
* Sec. 1st. The pursuits of commerce, whaling, and fishery, and
of all other industry, on all islands, ports, and gulfs, including the
whole of the northwest coast of America, beginning from Beh-
ring's Straits, to the 51° of northern latitude, also from the Aleutian islands to the eastern coast of Siberia, as well as along the
Kurile islands from Behring's Straits to the south cape of the island of Urup, viz: to the 45° 50' northern latitude, is exclusively
granted to Russian subjects.
' Sec 2d. It is therefore prohibited to all foreign vessels, not
only to land on the coasts and islands belonging to Russia, as
stated above, but also to approach them within less than a hundred Italian miles. The transgressor's vessel is subject to confiscation, along with the whole cargo.'
We doubt if pretensions so extravagant and unfounded—so
utterly repugnant to the established laws and usages of nations,
have been set up by any government, claiming rank among
civilized nations, since the dark ages of ignorance and superstition, when a bull of the holy see was supposed to convey the
rights of sovereignty over whole continents, even in anticipation of their discovery. Russia claims the exclusive possession
of the whole American continent, north of the 51st degree of
latitude \   We say the whole continent, for we search in vain
 1822. J to the Northwest Coast of America. 375
for limits except the latitude of 51° on the south, and 'Behring's Straits' on the north. It is just possible that his ' imperial majesty' may be content, for the present, to take the Rocky
Mountains for his eastern boundary, though we are not sure
but we do him injustice in ascribing to him such narrow views.
Even the attempts of Spain, to usurp the exclusive navigation of the South sea in the vicinity of her American possessions, arbitrary as they were, and violating, as they did, the
indisputable rights of other nations, must, when examined with
reference to the different periods when they were made, yield
in absurdity to the claims now before us. We cannot forbear
expressing our surprise, that, in this enlightened age, when the
general principles of national rights have been clearly defined,
and are well understood, a government, possessing the highest
influence in the political world, and constantly referred to as the
arbiter of national disputes, should prefer claims which can
only be supported by the extraordinary notion of considering
the Pacific ocean a i close sea,' where it is, at least, four thousand miles across.
Mr Adams, in answer to a note from M. de Poletica, accompanying a printed copy of the Russian edict, expresses
the surprise of the American government at the extraordinary
claims it sets forth, and after alluding to the friendly relations
which have always existed between the two nations, says, j it
was expected before any act which should define the boundaries between the territories of the United States and Russia on
this continent, that the same would have been arranged, by
treaty, between the parties.' We think this expectation a very
reasonable one, and the different course which Russia has
chosen to pursue evinces either ignorance of her own rights,
or a disregard to those of others. Mr Adams inquires if M. de
Poletica is' authorized to give explanations of the grounds of
right, upon principles generally recognized by the laws and
usages of nations, which can warrant the claims and regulations contained in the edict.' M. de Poletica, in reply, declares
himself ' happy to fulfil this task.' But as this letter purports
to be a complete vindication of the claims of Russia, we prefer
giving it entire; and shall follow it with some comments on
the * historical facts' it contains, and the inferences which are
drawn from them ; and add some facts within our own knowledge, which may have a bearing on the subject.
 376 Examination of the Russian Claims [Oct,
* The Chevalier de Poletica to the Secretary of State.
1 Sir—I received two days since, the letter which you did me
the honor to address to me on the same day, by order of the President of the United States, in answer to my note of the 11th current, by which I discharged the orders of my government, in
communicating to you the new regulation adopted by the Russian
American Company, and sanctioned by his majesty the emperor,
my august sovereign, on the 4th (16th) of September, 1821, relative
to foreign commerce in the waters which border upon the establishments of the said company, on the northwest coast of America.
' Readily yielding, sir, to the desire expressed by you in your
letter, of knowing the rights and principles upon which are founded the determinate limits of the Russian possessions on the northwest coast of America, from Behrins's Strait to the 51° of north
latitude, I am happy to fulfil this task, by only calling your attention to the following historical facts, the authenticity of which
cannot be contested.
'The first discoveries of the Russians on the northwest continent of America, go back to the time of the Emperor Peter I.
They belong to the attempt, made towards the end of the reign of
this great monarch, to find a passage from the Icy sea into the
Pacific ocean.
I In 1728 the celebrated Captain Behring made his first voyage.
The recital of his discoveries attracted the attention of the government, and the Empress Anne entrusted to captain Behring
(1741) a new expedition in these same latitudes. She sent with
him the academicians, Gmeliny Delile de la Crayere, Muller, Stel-
ler, Fisher, Krasilnicqff, Krazcheninicoff, and others, and the first
chart of these countries which is known, was the result of their
labors, published in 1758. Besides the strait, which bears the
name of the chief of this expedition, he discovered a great part of
the islands which are found between the two continents ; cape or
mount St Elias, which still bears this name upon all the charts,
was so called by Captain Behring, who discovered it on the day of
the feast of this saint; and his second, Captain Tchiricoif, pushed
his discoveries as far as the 49th degree of north latitude.
' The first private expeditions undertaken upon the northwest
coast of America, go back as far as the year 1743.
* In 1763, the Russian establishments had already extended as
far as the island of Kodiak, (or Kichtak.) In 1778, Cook found
them at Ounalashka, and some Russian inscriptions at Kodiac.
Vancouver saw the Russian establishment in the bay of Kinai.
In fine, Captains Mirs, Portlock, La Peyrouse, unanimously attest the existence of Russian establishments in these latitudes.
6 If the imperial government had, at the time, published the dis-
1822.] to the Northwest Coast of America.   |    '      377
coveries made by the Russian navigators after Behring and Tchi-
ricoff, (viz. ChlodilofF; Screbreanicoff; Krassilnicoff; Paycoff;
Poushcareff; Lazareff; MedwedefF; Solowieff; Lewasheff; Kre-
nitsin; and others,) no one could refuse to Russia the right of first
discovery, nor could even any one deny her that of first occupation.
\ Moreover, when D. Jose Martinez was sent, in 1789, by the
court of Madrid, %o form an establishment in Vancouver's Island,
and to remove foreigners from thence under the pretext that all
that coast belonged to Spain, he gave not the least disturbance to
the Russian colonies and navigators; yet the Spanish government
was not ignorant of their existence, for this very Martinez had
visited them the year before. The report which captain Males-
pinamade of the results of his voyage, proves, that the Spaniards
very well knew of the Russian colonies, and in this very report
it is seen that the court of Madrid acknowledged that its possessions upon the coast of the Pacific ocean ought not to extend to
the north of Cape Blanc, taken from the point of Trinity, situated
under 42° 50' of north latitude.
i When in 1799, the emperor Paul I. granted to the present
American company its first charter, he gave it the exclusive possession of the northwest coast of America which belonged to Russia, from the 55th degree of north latitude to Behring's strait.
He permitted them to extend their discoveries to the south, and
there to form establishments, provided they did not encroach upon the territory occupied by other powers.
' This act, when made public, excited no claim on the part of
other cabinets, not even on that of Madrid, which confirms that it
did not extend its pretensions to the 60th degree.
« When the government of the United States treated with Spain
for the cession of a part of the northwest coast, it was able to
acquire by the treaty of Washington, the right to all that belonged to the Spaniards, north of the 42d degree of latitude; but, this
treaty%says nothing positive concerning the northern boundary
of this cession ; because, in fact, Spain well knew that she could
not say, that the coast as far as the 60th degree belonged to her.
i From this faithful exposition of known facts, it is easy, sir, as
appears to me, to draw the conclusion that the rights of Russia to
the extent of the northwest coast, specified in the regulation of
the Russian American Company, rest upon the three bases required by the general law of nations and immemorial usage
among nations ; that is, upon the title of first discovery; upon
the title of first occupation; and, in the last place, upon that
which results from a peaceable and uncontested possession of
more than half a century ; an epoch, consequently, several years
anterior to that when the United States took their place among
independent nations.
New Series, No. 12. 48
 $78 Examination of the Russian Claims [Oct,
e It is moreover evident that if the right of the possession of a
certain extent of the northwest coast of America, claimed by the
United States, only devolves upon them in virtue of the treaty of Washington, of 22d of February, 1819, and I believe it
would be difficult to make good any other title, this treaty could
not confer upon the American government any right of claim
against the limits assigned to the Russian possessions upon the
same coast, because Spain herself had never pretended to similar
1 The Imperial government, in assigning for limits to the Russian possessions on the northwest coast of America, on the one
side Behring's strait, and, on the other, the 51st degree of north
latitude, has only made a moderate use of an incontestible right ;
since the Russian navigators, who were the first to explore that
part of the American continent, in 1741, pushed their discovery
as far as the 49th degree of north latitude. The 51st degree,
therefore, is no more than a mean point between the Russian establishment of New Archangel, situated under the 57th degree,
and the American colony at the mouth of the Columbia, which is
found under the 46th degree of the same latitude.
' All these considerations united have concurred in inspiring
the Imperial government with an entire conviction that, in the
last arrangements adopted in Russia, relative to her possessions
on the northwest coast, the legitimate right of no foreign power
has been infringed. In this conviction, the Emperor, my august
sovereign, has judged that his good right, and the obligation imposed by Providence upon him to protect with all his power the
interests of his subjects, sufficiently justified the measures last
taken by his Imperial Majesty in favor of the Russian American
Company, without its being necessary to clothe them with the
sanction of treaties.
' I shall be more succinct, sir, in the exposition of the motives
wrhich determined the imperial government to prohibit foreign
vessels from approaching the northwest coast of America belonging to Russia, within the distance of at least 100 Italian miles.
This measure, however severe it may at first view appear, is after
all but a measure of prevention. It is exclusively directed against
the culpable enterprizes of foreign adventurers, who, not content
♦ with exercising upon the coasts above mentioned an illicit trade,
very prejudicial to the rights reserved entirely to the Russian
American Company, take upon them besides to furnish arms and
ammunition to the natives in the Russian possessions in America,
exciting them likewise in every manner to resistance and revolt
against the authorities there established.
' The American government doubtless recollects, that the ii>
xegular conduct of these adventurers, the majority of whom was
 1322.] to the Northwest Coast of America. 379
composed of American citizens, has been the object of the most
pressing remonstrances on the part of Russia to the Federal government from the time that diplomatic missions were organized
between the two countries. These remonstrances, repeated at
different times, remain constantly without effect, and the inconveniences to which they ought to bring a remedy continue to increase.
'The imperial government respecting the intentions of the
American government, has always abstained from attributing the
ill success of its remonstrances to any other motives than those
which flow, if I may be allowed the expression, from the very nature of the institutions which govern the national affairs of the
American federation. But the high opinion which the emperor
has always entertained of the rectitude of the American government, cannot exempt him from the care which his sense of justice
towards his own subjects imposes upon him. Pacific means not
having brought any alleviation to the just grievances of the Rus-
rian American Company, against foreign navigators in the waters
which environ their establishments on the northwest coast of
America, the imperial government saw itself under the necessity
of having recourse to the means of coercion, and of measuring the
rigor according to the inveterate character of the evil to which it
wished to put a stop. Yet it is easy to discover on examining
closely the last regulation of the Russian American Company,
that no spirit of hostility had any thing to do with its formation.
The most minute precautions have been taken in it to prevent
abuses of authority on the part of commanders of Russian cruizers.
appointed for the execution of said regulation. At the same time,
it has not been neglected to give all the timely publicity necessary
to put those on their guard, against whom the measure is aimed.
f Its action therefore can only reach the foreign vessels, which,
in spite of the notification, will expose themselves to seizure, by
infringing upon the line marked out in the regulation. The government flatters itself, that these cases will be very rare; it all
remain as at present appears, not one.
61 ought, in the last place, to request you to consider, sir, that
the Russian possessions in the Pacific ocean, extend on the northwest coast of America, from Behring's Strait to the 51st degree
of north latitude, and on the opposite side of Asia, and the Islands adjacent, from the same Strait, to the 45th degree. The
extent of sea of which these possessions form the limits, comprehends all the conditions which are ordinarily attached to shut seas
|Mers fermees) and the Russian government might consequently
judge itself authorized to exercise upon this sea the right of sovereignty, and especially that of entirely interdicting the entrance
of foreigners. But it preferred only asserting its essential rights,
without taking any advantage of localities.
$80 Examination of the Russian Claims [OJ§-
' The Emperor, my august sovereign, sets a very high value
upon the maintenance of the relations of amity and good understanding, which have till now subsisted between the two countries. The dispositions of his Imperial Majesty, in this regard,
have never failed appearing at all times, when an occasion has
presented itself in the political relations of the United States with
the European powers, and surely in the midst of a general peace
Russia does not think of aiming a blow at the maritime interests
of the United States; she who has constantly respected them in
those difficult circumstances in which Europe has been seen to be
placed in the latter times, and the influence of which the United
States have been unable to avert.
I have the honor to be, with high consideration, sir,
Your most obedient humble servant,
Washington, QSth February, 1822.'
Before proceeding to remark on this letter, we must call the
particular attention of our readers to the conformation of the west
coast of America, within the disputed limits; by which the confusion, and apparentcontradictions in which the subjecthas been
involved, may be avoided. We further desire, that our conceptions of the question really at issue, may be distinctly understood. It is not, we apprehend, whether Russia has any
settlements, that give her territorial claims on the continent of
America. This we do not deny—but it is, whether the location of those settlements, and the discoveries of her navigators
are such as they are represented to be ; whether they entitle her
to the exclusive possession of the whole territory north of 51°,
and to sovereignty over the Pacific ocean, beyond that parallel.
The extremity of the peninsula of Alaska is in about the latitude 55° and longitude 162° west from Greenwich. On the
western side of the peninsula the land runs nearly north, to the
straits of Behring ; on the eastern side it tends northward and
eastward, to the entrance of Cook's River, in latitude 59°,
longitude 152°, and Prince William's Sound, in latitude 60° 30',
longitude 146° ; thence east, southerly to the Behring's Bay
of Cook and Vancouver ; and more southerly, to Cross sound
and Norfolk sound, the latter in latitude 57°, longitude 135°.
Cape Scott in the latitude of 51°, to which the Russian claim
now extends, is in the longitude of 128°; making a difference
between that and the points of Alaska of 34 degrees, or more
than 1200 miles. The coast between these two points forms
an immense bay, which extends north beyond the 61st degree
 1822.] to the Northwest Coast of America. 381
of latitude, and is nearly twice as broad across its entrance as
the Bay of Bengal. The Aleutian islands, lying southward
of Alaska, are scattered between the continents of Asia and
America, and extend to the latitude 51°. The large island of
Kodiac, on which are the principal Russian settlements, lies
near the eastern side of the peninsula Alaska, between the
parallels of 57° and 58°. Having no disposition to question
the claims of Russia, where they have a plausible foundation,
we shall, in this discussion, fix the boundary at Behring9s
Bay, in latitude 59° 30', and longitude 140° ; and leaving her
in undisputed possession of that bay, and the whole country
northwestward of it, shall confine our remarks to that part of
the coast lying to the southward and eastward of it; which
we undertake to prove was first seen and explored by the navigators of other nations, and that a commerce was carried on
by them with the native inhabitants, long before the Russians
had any intercourse with them whatever.
According to M. de Poletica the g rights of Russia' to this
coast rest upon jj three bases,' viz : \ the title of first discovery,'
' the title of first occupation,' and c upon that which results
from a peaceable and uncontested possession of more than
half a century.' We shall examine these c titles,' in the order
in which they are placed.
It is not pretended that Behring extended his excursions
beyond the bay which bears his name, and his discoveries are
therefore irrelevant to the discussion; but the assertion that
* his second captain, TchiricofF, (in 1741,) pushed his discoveries to the 49th degree of north latitude,' is deserving particular consideration, because, it will be found that the asserted
Russian c title of first discovery,' rests wholly on the voyage
of this navigator. We have not met with any account of this
voyage from which the slightest inference can be drawn that
TchiricofF saw the American coast in the parallel of 49°;
but, on the contrary, all the accounts which we have seen concur in fixing the southern limits of his continental researches,
north of 55°. The earliest account We can find, is in a memoir of Philippe Buache, read to the French academy in
1752, and published at Paris, in 1753. This memoir is accompanied by a chart, prepared by M. De Lisle, formerly
first professor of astronomy in the imperial academy of St
Petersburg, and brother to Delile de la Croyere, one of the
academicians who accompanied TchiricofF.    On this chart is
 382 Examination of the Russian Claims [Oct*
marked the route of that navigator from Kamtschatka to America, and of his return. It appears from this that they discovered the coast of America on the 15th July 1741, about
the latitude of 55° 30', and sent a boat, with the pilot, De-
mentiew, and ten men, with orders to land. This boat not
returning, after several days a second one was sent, with four
men, who shared the fate of the first, and nothing was heard
of them till 1822, when they were fortunately discovered by
M. de Poletica, in the latitude of 48° and 49° ! After waiting
in vain for the return of his boats, TchiricofF left the coast of
America, and on his return, discovered land in latitude 51°.
This could be no other than the southernmost of the Aleutian
islands; and the circumstance of the natives coming off to
him in skin canoes confirms this supposition, as no canoes of
that description have ever been found on the American coast
in that parallel. The authenticity of this account of Tchiri-
cofF's voyage can hardly be questioned. It was published a
few years only after his return, and it is stated that M. De
Lisle had received the manuscripts of his brother, who died at
Kamtschatka shortly after the termination of the voyage. Possibly this chart and memoir may not have met the eye of M.
de Poletica, or he would not have asserted that \ the first chart
of these countries was published in 1758.' Miiller, who was
in the expedition, on board Behring's ship, gives nearly the
same account as the above, of TchiricofF's voyage, placing
his land-fall in latitude of 56°. Cox, Burney, and all writers
on this subject, whom we have met with, have adopted these
accounts, and we cannot even conjecture on what authority
M. de Poletica pushes TchiricofF's discoveries to 49°*
The formidable host of navigators, cited by M. de Poletica,
does not appal us. If our readers will look intoc Cox's account
of the Russian discoveries,' and examine the relation there
given of most of these voyages, they will find it difficult to believe that any discoveries, resulting from them, remain unpublished, or that they have any bearing on the question before
us. There is not the slightest probability that any of those
navigators penetrated so far eastward as Behring's Bay. In
support of this opinion we have the authority of the learned
M. Fleurieu, the most intelligent writer, on this subject, of the
last century. In his \ historical introduction' to the voyage of
Marchand, published in 1801, speaking of the Russian navir
gators alluded to by M. de Poletica, he says, ' the principal
 1822.] to the Northwest Coast of America. 383
object of all these voyages was the examination of that long
archipelago, known under the collective name of the Aleutian
or Fox islands, which the Russian charts divide into several
archipelagoes, under different names ; of all that part of the
coast which extends east and west under the parallel of 60°,
and comprehends a great number of islands situated to the
south of the main land, some of which were visited, and others
only perceived by Behring ; lastly of the peninsula of Alaska,
and of the lands situated to the north of this peninsula as for
as the  70th degree.    It is on these Aleutian islands, and on
upwards of three hundred leagues of the coast, which extends
beyond the polar circle, that the indefatigable Russians have
formed those numerous settlements,' &&c.    From all these facts
we feel fully warranted in the conclusion, that no Russian
navigator, excepting TchiricofF, had seen the coast, eastward
of Behring's Bay, previous to the Spanish voyages of Perez,
in 1774 ; Heceta, Ayala, and Quadra, in 1775 ; that of Cook
in 1778 ; or even so late as 1788, when it was first visited by
vessels from the United States.    Thus much for the Russian
c title of first discovery :' that of \ first occupation' comes next.
We have no doubt but Russian fur-hunters formed establishments, at an early period, on the Aleutian islands and neighboring coast of the continent; but we are equally certain that
it can be clearly demonstrated that no settlement was made
eastward of Behring's Bay, till the one at Norfolk Sound in
1799.    The statements of Cook, Vancouver, Mears, (Mirs,)
Portlock, and La Perouse prove, what we readily admit, that
previous to 1786 the Russians had settlements on the island
of Kodiac and in Cook's River ; but we shall take leave to use
the same authorities to establish the fact that none of these
settlements extended so far east as Behring's Bay.    Vancouver, when speaking of Port-Etches in Prince William's Sound
(June, 1794) says, (vol. 3, page 173,) 'from the result of Mr
Johnstone's inquiries, it did not appear that the Russians had
formed any establishments eastward of this station, but that
their boats made excursions along the exterior coast as far as
Cape Suckling, and their galiots much farther.'    Again, page
199, £ we however clearly understood that the Russian government had little to do with these settlements; that they
were solely under the  direction and support of independent
mercantile companies ; and that Port-Etches, which had been
established in course of the preceding summer, ivas the most
eustern settlement on the American coast.'
i (■
84 Examination of the Russian Claims [Oct.
In a subsequent letter to Mr Adams, M. de Poletica says,
6 but what will dispel even the shadow of doubt in this regard
(title by occupation) is the authentic fact, that, in 1789, the
Spanish packet St Charles, commanded by captain Haro, found
in the latitude forty-eight and forty-nine, Russian establishments to the number of eight, consisting in the whole of
twenty families, and four hundred and sixty individuals. These
were the descendants of the companions of Tchiricoff, who was
supposed till then to have perished.' This, if true, is, we allow,
conclusive evidence of the Russian ' title by occupation.' It
is certainly the most important fact brought forward by M. de
Poletica. In truth'it is the only one that, in our opinion, has
a direct bearing on the question, and on its correctness we
are willing to rest the issue. Nootka Sound lies in latitude
49° 30', Clayoquot or Port Cox, in 49°, and Classet, at the
entrance of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, in 48°. Nootka was
first visited by the Spanish navigator, Perez, in 1774, by
Cook in 1778 ; from 1784 to 1789 it was frequented by English, Portuguese, and American vessels ; in 1788 captain
Mears built there a vessel, and made the settlement which,
subsequently, came near causing a rupture between Great
Britain and Spain; in 1789 a Spanish settlement was made
by Martinez, and continued till 1794. During this period
Nootka, Clayoquot, and Classet were the common rendezvous
for the ships and fur-traders of all nations ; vessels were built
by citizens of the United States, both at Nootka and Clayoquot; in 1790 the settlements at Nootka became the subject
of investigation in the British parliament, and volumes were
written on it. Now we ask M. de Poletica, or any man of
common intelligence, if it is within the bounds of probability—if it is even possible, that eight Russian establishments,
containing four hundred and sixty-two individuals, should have
existed in 1789, in the centre of these operations ; on the very
spot for which two powerful nations were contending ; and no
allusion be made to the circumstance during the whole discussion, no mention be made of them by any of the numerous writers on the subject, and no intimation of the fact in the journals
of Cook, Mears, Dixon, and Vancouver, who speak of Russian
establishments on other parts of the coast, and are altogether
silent respecting these, which, had they existed, would have
been of more importance than all the other Russian settlements, in that quarter of the globe !
 1820.] to the Northwest Coast of America. 385
We have recently conversed with a son of captain Kendrick,
who was with his father, in the Columbia, in 1787, and remained a considerable time at Nootka, in the Spanish service,
and with another individual, of great respectability, now residing near Boston, who, in 1792, built and equipped a small
vessel at Nootka for commercial purposes. Both these individuals were personally intimate with captain Haro, at Nootka,
but never heard an intimation of his having discovered Russian establishments in that vicinity ; yet such a fact must have
been highly interesting to the Spaniards, who intended their
settlement to be permanent, and to the Americans, who were
actively engaged in the fur-trade; and therefore very likely
to become a subject of discussion.
In 1799, the writer of this article visited the northwest
coast, on commercial pursuits. In the course of that year he
entered the several ports situated in the 48th and 49th degrees
of latitude ; was personally acquainted with the chiefs, and
many of the natives ; acquired considerable knowledge of their
language and customs, but saw no vestige of M. de Poletica's
Russian establishments, nor perceived the slightest indication
of Russians having ever set foot in the country or visited its
shores. These facts might be deemed sufficient, but we shall
offer one still more directly to the point. In the summer of
1799, the writer, then off Behring's Bay, in latitude 59° 30',
fell in with M. Baranoff, at that time, and for many years before and afterwards, commander in chief of all the Russian
establishments in that part of the world. He visited the American ship, and passed a day on board. Through an Englishman in his service, who acted as interpreter, a full and free
communication took place. M. Baranoff stated that he was
from Onalaska, which he left in company with a galiot and a
large fleet of skin-canoes, from whom he separated, in a fog, a
few days before ; and that they were all bound for Norfolk
sound, for the purpose of forming a settlement, or hunting-
post. Learning that the writer had been at that place a short
time previous, he showed great solicitude to obtain information, particularly respecting the native inhabitants, of whom he
appeared to be much in dread, declaring his apprehensions
that they would destroy his hunters, and defeat his plans. He
further stated, that a hunting party having a short time before
extended their excursion to the neighborhood of Norfolk sound,
had found the sea otters so abundant as to induce him to un-
New Series, No. 12. 49
 386 Examination of the Russian Cldims [Oct*
derlake what he considered a most perilous enterprise, and he
expressly declared, that this was the first attempt ever made by
the Russians to establish a post so far to the southward and
eastward. This, though not a | historical fact,' is one, for the
correctness of which we hold ourselves pledged. It would
thus seem that M. Baranoff knew nothing of the extensive Ru s-
sian establishments in 48° and 49°, and we may, without injustice, regard as wholly gratuitous on the part of M. de
Poletica, the discovery of the long lost companions of TchiricofF. We are tempted moreover to dwell a moment on the unparalleled increase ascribed to this party. Four hundred and
sixty descendants from fifteen men in forty-seven years, would
afford a duplication of numbers in a little more than nine years,
a statement we should not dare to make in the hearing of Mr
Godwin. But what has become of these j eight establishments'
at the present time ? By the same ratio of increase they would
now contain about four thousand souls ; why are they left
without the pale of imperial protection ? If they do not exist,
why, when, and to what place were they removed ? The
plain truth is, that in fixing the situation of the eight establishments, discovered by captain Haro, M. de Poletica has
made the mistake (a trifling one it may seem on a Russian
map) of ten degrees of latitude. They were actually found in
latitude fifty-eight and fifty-nine, instead of 48° and 49°, and
distant more than one thousand miles from the situation assigned
them by the Russian minister. This fact appears, beyond a
doubt, from the account of the voyage of captain Haro, given
byM. Fleurieu, in the ' historical introduction' before referred
to. It is there stated, on the authority of two original letters,
the one from San Blass, dated the 30th October 1788, (a few
days after the return of Haro,) the other from the city of
Mexico, the 28th of August 1789, that Don Haro found, between the latitudes of fifty-eight and fifty-nine, eight Russian
establishments, each composed of between sixteen and twenty
families, forming a total of four hundred and sixty-two individuals. It is added, ' that the strangers had succeeded in
habituating to their customs and manners, six hundred of the
natives of the country, and received a tribute from them for
the empress of Russia.' For this part of the account M. de
Poletica has substituted his own speculations concerning the
lost companions of TchiricofF. In a note, M. Fleurieu remarks, that I in the letter from St Blass it is mentioned that
 1822.] to ihe Northwest Coast of America. 387
the settlements are situated between the latitudes of 48° and
49°, but it is either the fault of the copy, or it is by design,
that the latitudes have been improperly indicated.' M. de
Humboldt, in his ' Political Essay on the Kingdom of New
Spain,' vol. ii. page 320, mentions the voyage of Don Haro,
in the St Carlos, and essentially confirms the account already
given. As he had access to the manuscript account of the
voyage, we presume his authority will not be questioned.
Page 339, he says, \ no European nation has yet formed a
solid establishment on the immense extent of coast from cape
Mendocino, (latitude 42°) to the fifty-ninth degree of latitude:
beyond this limit the Russian factories commence,' &c. We
have been thus particular respecting the discoveries made by
captain Haro, because M. de Poletica considers them as ' dispelling even the shadow of a doubt' in relation to the Russian
| title by occupation,' even farther south than 51°. As we
fully agree with him that they do dispel all doubt on the subject, and as this is probably the only point in which we shall
agree, we trust our readers will pardon us for dwelling on this
coincidence of opinion.
The minute investigation we have bestowed on the Russian
c title by first occupation,' has sufficiently taxed the patience
of our readers, and we spare them an examination of that
which f results from a peaceable possession of more than half
a century,' for it is obvious in the present case, that unless the
fact of occupation is clearly established, the claim to ' peaceable possession' must fall. We readily concede to Russia, priority of discovery, first occupation, and are by no means disposed to disturb her | peaceable possession' of the Aleutian
islands and adjacent coast, including Cook's River, Prince
William's Sound, and Behring's Bay. We are not remarkably
disinterested in making this concession, for to all practical purposes, we would as soon contend for one of the floating icebergs that are annually detached from the polar masses. The
trade carried on by citizens of the United States with those
places was never very valuable, and for many years has been
altogether abandoned. In a territorial point of view, it is of
little importance whether those distant regions are inhabited
by the aboriginal savage or the Siberian convict. As to the
fact, however, we give a short quotation from Vancouver, to
show that in 1794 the Russians were very far from having
(peaceable possession,' even of Behring's Bay.*    In relating
* Vol. iii. page 231, 232.
Examination of the Russian Claims
transactions at that place, when in company with a large hunting party of Russian Indians, he says, f Portoff embraced this
occasion to inform M. Puget, that on the evening of the 28th,
while he and his whole party were on one of the small islands
in Port Mulgrave,' (situated in Behring's Bay) i they were
surprised by a visit from about fifty of the natives ; and notwithstanding the superior numbers of his party (about 900 !)
he had so little confidence in the courage of the Kodiac and
Cook's Inlet Indians, that he was extremely anxious to be quit
of such dangerous visitors, and had determined on returning to
Kodiac, as soon as the Chatham should leave the Bay. The
destruction of the settlement at Norfolk sound in 1802, is as
little calculated to confirm the fact of peaceable possession at
that period. In short, it is perfectly well known to every
navigator, Russian as well as others, who has visited that part
of the world, that no Russian settlement now exists, or ever
did exist, between the latitudes of 58° and 42°, except the one
so often mentioned at Norfolk sound. On what, then, rests
the Russian claim to any part of the country between those
parallels ? Simply on the facts, that TchiricofF, in 1741, saw
land in 55° 36', and that M. Baranoff, in 1799, made a settlement at Norfolk sound, which was destroyed in 1802, and reestablished in 1804. Such, we conceive, is the plain result of
an investigation of the very authorities, which M. de Poletica
himself has adduced.
We are not among those who believe that a distant view of
a cape or mountain—or dropping the first anchor in a bay or
harbor—nay, we carry our incredulity so far as to doubt, if
the magical ceremony of landing on a coast, hoisting a piece
of bunting, cutting an inscription, or even that last great act of
empire, burying a bottle, can invest the nation, whose flag the
navigator happens to bear, with the rights of sovereignty over
a country, inhabited by a brave and independent people, whose
right to the soil which they possess, and the freedom they enjoy, is coeval with time itself. We therefore attach no importance to the circumstance of land being seen by TchiricofF in
1741; but ifM. de Poletica does, we are perfectiy willing to
try titles with him on the score of discovery. It is well
known that Spain, by the third article of the treaty of J 819,
ceded to the United States, all her rights to the western coast
of America north of 42°. It follows that all the discoveries
made by her navigators beyond that limit now belong to the
1822.] to the Northwest Coast of America. 389
United States. It is a j historical fact,' and one too well authenticated to admit of doubt, and it is stated by M. de Hum-
bolt in the work before quoted, page 3l3, that 'Francisco Gali,
in his voyage from Macao to Acapulco, discovered in fifteen
hundred eighty-two, the northwest coast of America, under the
57° 30'.'—| On correcting the old observations by the new, in
places of which the identity is ascertained, we find that Gali
coasted part of the archipelago of the Prince of Wales, or that
of King George.' Here we find that the land was discovered
and its shores examined one hundred and fifty-nine years before the voyage of TchiricofF, and from two degrees farther
north than the cape seen by that navigator; a fact that puts
the Russian claim to discovery out of the question. As little
do we believe in the validity of the claims resulting from the
occupation of Norfolk sound, in 1799. This sound was first
discovered, and examined by the Spanish expedition under
Heceta, Ayala, and Quadra, in 1775, and received the name of
f Bay of Guadalupa.' A few years afterwards it was visited
for commercial purposes, and abounding in valuable furs, soon
became the general resort of all those engaged in that trade. It
was frequented by the vessels of Great Britain, France, and the
United States, several years before the Russians had extended
their excursions so far eastward, and it is therefore clear, that
at that time, they had no claim on the ground of occupation.
If then prior to 1799, Russia possessed no rights on this
part of the coast, but such as were common to, and enjoyed by
other nations, we confess our selves unable to perceive why the
establishing of a few hunters, and mounting some cannon, in the
corner of Sitka Bay, should give her the right of restraining
an intercourse, and interdicting a commerce, which had hitherto been free as air; and prohibiting the approach of vessels
of other nations, to shores which the navigators of such nations first discovered and explored ! The claim of Russia to
sovereignty over the Pacific ocean, north of latitude 51°, on
the pretence of its being a * close sea,' is, if possible, more
unwarrantable than her territorial usurpations.
Mr Adams, in noticing it, merely states the fact, that c the
distance from shore to shore on this sea, in latitude 51°, is not
less than 90 degrees of longitude, or four thousand miles!'
A volume on the subject could not have placed the absurdity
of these pretensions more glaringly before us. M. de Poletica
in his third letter declines further discussion on this subject.
Examination of the Russian Claims
( as the imperial government,' he says, c has not thought fit to
take advantage of that right.' If interdicting the navigation
of this sea, to the distance of one hundred miles from the
shore, is not taking advantage of the right to consider it a
6 close sea,' we ask M. de Poletica to point out to us the \ laws
and usages of nations,' by which such a measure can be justified.
We have thus attempted to lay before our readers, the
character of the Russian claims to the northwest coast of
America. It is difficult to conjecture what are the ultimate
views of the Russian government in relation to this coast.
The ostensible object is, evidently, amonoply of the fur trade.
It is well known to the Russian fur company, that nearly all
the sea otter skins, and most of the other valuable furs, are
procured north of the 51st degree, and if j foreign adventurers'
can be prevented from approaching that part of the coast, the
company would soon be left in undisturbed possession of the
whole trade, for south of 51° it is not of sufficient value to
attract a single vessel in a season. This would not only secure to them a monopoly in the purchase, but give them the
control of the Chinese market, for the most valuable furs,
which would be still more important. But we suspect a deeper design than the monopoly of a few otter skins, for which the
interests of the fur company are made a convenient cover.
We have the authority of Humboldt for stating that in 1802,
the Russian government limited their territorial claims to the
north of 55°. They are now extended to 51°, and M. de
Poletica informs us, that this is only f a moderate use of an incontestable right,' intimating that the just claims of Russia
extend still further south. If these usurpations are submitted
to, is it improbable that a further use may be made of \ incontestable rights?' If the eight establishments existed in 1789,
where the Russian minister places them, no one would deny
their right of possession, at that time, as far as 48°. The
nearest European settlement was then the Spanish one of St
Francisco, in 38°. The point, equi-distant from these two, is
the 43d degree, which, according to the principle asserted by
M. de Poletica, would have been the Russian boundary in
1789. With the ingenuity which that gentleman has displayed,
it would not be difficult to extend the Russian claims quite to
the borders of California, and establish them there as satisfactorily as he has done to the 51st degree.    The Russians have
 1822.] to the Northwest Coast of America. 391
already made a considerable settlement on Spanish territory
at Port Bodega, in latitude 40° ; and it is possible, that guided
by the same spirit of philanthropy, which prompted the dismemberment of Poland, the august Emperor may choose to
occupy the fertile but defenceless province of California, and
annex it to his already extensive dominions. Notwithstanding the friendly relations that exist between the United States
and Russia, we should deem it a serious evil to have, on our
western frontiers, a formidable papulation, subjects of an ambitious and despotic government; and all the veneration we
feel for the great leader of the ' Holy alliance,' awakens no
desire to witness a nearer display of his greatness and power.
Great Britain, we apprehend, will not be more desirous of
such neighbours than the United States; and she may think
fit to advance claims that will be found to conflict with those
of Russia. The subject has recently been noticed in the
British Parliament, and appears to have created considerable
excitement. In justice to the memory of her celebrated navigators, Cook and Vancouver, we must declare, that the world
is more indebted to their indefatigable labors for a correct
knowledge of this coast, than to those of all other navigators
who have ever visited it. Her subjects were the first Europeans,
who engaged in the fur trade, and a free access to the interdicted shores is, at the present time, quite as important to them
as to those of any other power. Since the commencement of
the present century, the British c Northwest company,' following the steps of the enterprising Mc Kenzie, have extended
their trading posts westward of the Rocky mountains, and
established them, from the Columbia River, to the latitude of
55°, on the borders of several lakes and rivers, that empty
into the Pacific ocean. At first the supplies for these posts
were carried from Canada, by way of the lakes, and the Un-
jagah, or 6 Great Peace River,' that has its source near the
Pacific, and runs eastward, through the Rocky mountains.
This mode of transportation was found hazardous and expensive, and arrangements were made, about 1814, by the company, with the proprietors of a settlement made by American
citizens, at the mouth of the Columbia, by which the company
became possessed of that settlement. Since that time the
posts westward of the Rocky mountains receive their supplies
through that channel. Hitherto most of these supplies have
joeen shipped from London to Boston, and sent to the mouth
Examination of the Russian Claims
of the Columbia in American vessels. From an intimation,
in the fifty second number of the Quarterly Review, we are
prepared to learn that the united Northwest and Hudson bay
companies have extended their settlements still further, and already fixed themselves on the borders of the Pacific. They
will soon discover that the most direct and easy route, for
conveying supplies to all their northern establishments, west
of the Rocky mountains, and even to some of those on the
eastern side of that range, will be by means of the river, called
by Mr Harmon the ' Nate-ote-tain,' which empties into the
Pacific a little south of 54°; and by | Nass River,' which disembogues in a large bay, on the eastern side of j Observatory
Inlet,' about the lat of 55°. The Indians of the coast describe
both these rivers as communicating with euwon teedor huntles,
(great inlaid waters) and represent the navigation of them as
safe and easy for loaded canoes, with the exception of some short
portages, at the rapids and falls. They make frequent jour-
nies to trade with the Teedor Hardi, (inland people) who are
said to reside in numerous villages on the banks of these rivers
and the adjoining lakes. The free navigation of these streams
will be highly important to the united fur company; and the
British administration of the present day must be actuated by
a very different spirit from that which, thirty years ago, prompted the expenditure of millions, in preparing to resent the outrage committed at Nootka, if they do not resist the usurpations of Russia ; usurpations which would compel the British
company to abandon the settlements already made, and forego
the advantages resulting from free access to the shores of the
continent, north of 51°,
France has likewise an interest in resisting the pretensions
of Russia. She has made several efforts to carry on a trade
to this coast since it was visited by her distinguished navigator,
the unfortunate La Perouse. The voyage of Marchand, in
the Solide, was made between 1790 and 1793; and a French
vessel was cut off, by the tribe of Coyer, near the south part
of Queen Charlotte's islands, about the same time. In
1819 the attempt was renewed. A vessel from France, in
course of that season, collected a cargo of furs on the coast,
and carried them to Canton. These, however, are all the attempts of that nation which have come to our knowledge.
One section of the Ukase appears to us little short of an actual
declaration of hostilities against every nation carrying on a trade
to the northwest coast.   It is as follows :
 1822. J to the Northwest Coast of America. 393
j Sec. 26. The commander of a Russian vessel, suspecting
a foreign one to be liable to confiscation, must inquire and
search the same, and finding her guilty, take possession of her.
Should the foreign vessel resist, he is to employ, first, persuasion, then threats, and at last force; endeavoring, however, at
all events, to do this with as much reserve as possible. If the
foreign vessel employ force against force, then he shall consider the same as an evident enemy, and force her to surrender
according to the naval laws !'
It might have been expected that no attempt would be made
to enforce regulations, so deeply affecting the interest and
supposed rights of other nations, pending the discussions they
had given rise to ; but the closing part of the correspondence
precludes the hope of even this appearance of justice.    Mr
Adams, in concluding his last letter, says, ' The president is
persuaded that the citizens of this union will remain unmolested in the prosecution of their lawful commerce, and that no
effect will be given to an interdiction manifestly incompatible
with their rights.'    To this M. de Poletica answers, 11 cannot
dissemble, sir, that this same trade, beyond the 51st degree
will meet with difficulties and inconveniences, for which the
American owners will only have to accuse their own imprudence,' &c.    If we undertstand this threat, it is meant to prepare us for the immediate execution of the Imperial Ukase.
We thank M. de Poletica for this candid avowal of the hostile
intentions of his government, and, with equal frankness, assure
him, that those engaged in the trade, to the N. W. coast, have
always considered it a lawful commerce; and having been confirmed in that opinion by the official declaration of the executive of the United States, that j from the period of the existence
of the United States as an  independent nation, their vessels
have freely navigated those seas, and the right to navigate them
is a part of that independence,' and that I the right of the citizens of the United States to hold commerce with the aboriginal
natives of the northwest coast of America, without the territorial jurisdiction of other nations, even in arms and ammunitions
of war, is as clear and indisputable as that of navigating the
seas,' they are not disposed to surrender these rights without
a struggle.    The American vessels, employed on the N. W.
coast, are well armed, and amply furnished with the munitions of
war.   Separated from the civilized world, and cut off, for a long
time, from all communication with it, they have been accus-
New Series, No, 3 2, 50
Examination of the Russian Claims
tomed to rely on their own resources for protection and defence ;
and to consider, and treat as enemies, all who attempt to interrupt them in the prosecution of their lawful pursuits. To induce them to relinquish this commerce, \ persuasion' will be
unavailing, ' threats' will be disregarded, and any attempts at
coercion will be promptly resisted, unless made by a force so
superior as to render resistance hopeless, in which event they
will look with confidence, to their government for redress and
We have already devoted to this article more of our pages
than so dry a subject may be thought to merit; but we cannot
close without noticing the remarks, made by M. de Poletica,
upor> what he is pleased to call * the culpable enterprizes of
foreign adventurers,' whom he accuses of carrying on an I illicit
trade' of e furnishing arms and ammunition to the natives in the
Russian possessions in America,' and of ' exciting them in
every manner to resistance and revolt against the authorities
there established.'
In answer to the first charge, we would observe, that the
trade carried on by citizens of the United States with the
Russian settlements on the northwest coast, has the sanction
of their own government, and till now has never been prohibited by that of Russia. It is done openly, and with the consent of the | established authorities' at the several places, who
are themselves, in most instances, parties to all commercial
transactions. But for the supplies which this trade has furnished, some of the Russian settlements must have been abandoned ; and from Langsdorff's account of the situation of' New
Archangel,' it appears that in 1805 the people would have
perished from famine, had they not been relieved by American
traders. At this moment American vessels are engaged, by
contract with the servants of the Russian fur company, in
supplying their settlements with the necessaries and comforts of
life. It is a perversion of language to call such a trade
1 illicit.'
On no better foundation rests the charge of \ furnishing arms
and ammunition to the natives in the Russian possessions.'
The natives who have been subjected to the Russian power
are too wretchedly poor to purchase arms, or indeed any thing
else. That supplies of this nature are furnished in large quantities, to the independent aboriginal inhabitants, is certainly true.
No arguments are necessary to prove our unquestionable right
1822.] to the Northwest Coast of America. 395
to continue such supplies, and Russia might with equal justice
complain of our furnishing the Chinese with furs, as j prejudicial to rights,' which the \ Russian American company' seem
disposed to 8 reserve entirely,' to themselves.
The general charge of ' exciting the natives to revolt against
the established authorities' may be sufficiently answered by as
broad a denial. The only specification we have met with is
the following relation, given by the Russian navigator, Lisian-
sky, of the destruction of the settlement at Norfolk sound, in
1802, by the Sitka Indians.
' With so fair a face of friendship, no enmity could be suspected,
and the fort was occasionally left in a sort of unprotected state;
the Aleutians and Russians being engaged in hunting the sea-otter,
or in the still more necessary business of procuring a supply of provisions for the winter. It was an opportunity of this nature which
the Sitcans embraced for the execution of their nefarious plan ;
and so secret were they in its management, that, while some stole
through the woods, others passed in canoes by different creeks to
the place of rendezvous; they were about six hundred in number,
and all were provided with fire-arms. Though the attack was
wholly unexpected, the few Russians in the fort courageously
defended it. But vain was defence against such numbers: it was
quickly taken by storm. The assault commenced at noon, and in
a few hours the place was levelled to the ground. Among the assailants were three seamen belonging to the United States, who,
having deserted from their ship, had entered into the service of
the Russians, and then took part against them. These double
traitors were among the most active in the plot. They contrived
combustible wads, which they lighted, and threw upon the buildings where they knew the gunpowder was kept, which took fire
and were blown up. Every person who was found in the fort was
put to death.'
M. Lisiansky does not favor us with his authority for implicating the Americans in this transaction, of which we have
received a very different account from a source which leaves
not a doubt, in our minds, of its authenticity; and which we
subjoin to shew that6 foreign adventurers' have, contrary to
the dictates of sound policy, and their own interest, taken
part with the Russians against the aboriginal natives.
The intolerable tyranny, exercised by the Russians, over
the Sitka Indians, in seizing their chiefs, and loading them
with irons, on the most frivolous pretences; in taking posses-
Examination of the Russian Claims
sion of their hunting-grounds, and attempting, by every means
in their power, to subject them to the most abject slavery, roused the indignation of that tribe, and they resolved to destroy
their oppressors or perish in the attempt. Having by an appearance of submission lulled the suspicions of the Russians,
they determined in the summer of 1802 to make the attack.
At that time there resided at the Russian settlement, six
American seamen, who had deserted from the ship Jenny, of
Boston, and been secreted by the Russians till after her departure. These seamen were invited by the Indians to visit the
village of Sitka, and, on arriving there, were informed of the
meditated attack and their assistance solicited. This was pos-
sitively refused. They were then assured that no injury should
be done to them, whatever might be the event, but that they
must remain at the village, under guard, till the event was
known. The Indians, succeeded in surprising and destroying
the fort, and under the excitement of the moment, put to
death every Russian whom they found. The Aleutian women,
and some children, who were living with the Russians, were
made prisoners. A few days afterwards, two American vessels
and one English, entered Norfolk sound. The Indians immediately brought the six Americans on board in safety, but refused to comply with a demand, made by the commanders of
these vessels, for the Aleutian women and other captives, taken
in the fort; and coercive measures were finally resorted to,
and hostilities commenced, by these ' foreign adventurers,'
to obtain the release of Russian subjects ! This was accomplished, and upwards of thirty individuals were received on
board, and carried in one of the vessels, to the Russian settlement at Kodiac. The writer was at that time, in the vicinity of Norfolk sound and received this account from the Sitka
Indians, and from the officers of the American vessels; some
of whom are now living in Boston. But had the conduct of the
Americans been otherwise, we cannot admit that any transactions in Norfolk sound would support the charge of F exciting
revolt' in the \ Russian possessions ;' for the whole of her possessions there are limited to the range of the cannon-shot of
her fort. The whole extent of coast, from latitude 58° to the
straits of Juan De Fuca,* in 48°, is inhabited by numerous
powerful and warlike tribes, perfectly free and independent of Russian authority. Possessing in a high degree, the
nobler traits of savage character, and devotedly attached to
1822.] to the Northivest Coast of America. 397
liberty; they prize personal freedom more highly than life itself.
The courage and constancy of the Sitka Indians, when attacked by the Russians in 1804, is a striking instance of their
intrepidity, and deep rooted love of independence ; and warrants the conclusion, that to secure the •* peaceable possession'
of that country to Russia, something more will be requisite
than the \ be it accordingly' of her Emperor, or the arguments
of her envoy. The following is from the account of that
transaction, by Lisiansky, who commanded the Neva, a Russian ship of war, engaged in the expedition.
* In the afternoon of the 26th, a canoe, with three young
men in it, came alongside the American ship.* Being informed
that one of these youths was the son of our greatest enemy,
I could not resist the desire I felt to have him in my power;
and the moment the canoe left the O'Cain, 1 despatched a
jolly boat in pursuit of it; but the natives rowed so lustily,
that they outstripped the boat; and when our party fired upon
them, they intrepidly returned the fire, shewing us thereby,
with what sort of persons we should have to deal.' Again, i he
(the ambassador) was then sent back with the same answer as
before, that we required, as a necessary preliminary to pacification, that the chiefs themselves should come to us. At noon
we saw thirty men approaching, all having fire-arms. They
stopped when at the distance of musket-shot from the fort, and
commenced their parley ; which, however, was quickly terminated, as they would not agree to a proposal made by J\I. Baranoff, that we shoidd be permitted to keep perpetual possession
of the place at present occupied by us, and that two respectable
persons should be given as hostages! On the conclusion of
this interview, the savages, who were sitting, rose up, and after
singing out three several times Oo, Oo, Oo! meaning end,
end, end ! retired in military order. However, they were
given to understand by our interpreters, that we should instantly move our ships close to their fort, (for their settlement was
fortified by a wooden fence,) and they would have no one but
themselves to reproach for any consequences that might ensue.'
4 On the 1st of October we carried this menace into execution, by forming a line with four of our ships before the
settlement. I then ordered a white flag to be hoisted on
board the Neva, and presently we saw a similar one on  the
* The American ship O'Cain. of Boston, was then lying in Norfolk sound.
398 Examination of the Russian Claims [Oct,
fort of the enemy. From this circumstance, I was not without hope that something might yet occur to prevent bloodshed ;
but finding no advances on their part, I ordered the several
ships to fire into the fort. A launch and a jolly-boat, armed
with a four pounder, under the command of lieutenant Ar-
boosoff, were then sent to destroy the canoes on the beach,
some of which were of sufficient burthen to carry sixty men
each, and to set fire to a large barn, not far from the shore,
which I supposed to contain stores. Lieutenant ArboosofF
finding he could do but little execution from the boats, landed,
and taking with him the four pounder, advanced towards the
fort. M. Baranoff, who was then on board the Nerva, seeing
this, ordered some field pieces to be landed, and with about
one hundred and fifty men, went himself on shore to aid the
lieutenant. The savages kept perfectly quiet till dark, except
that now and then a musket was fired off. This stillness was
mistaken by M. Baranoff; and encouraged by it, he ordered
the fort to be stormed ; a proceeding, however, that had nearly proved fatal to the expedition, for as soon as the enemy
perceived our people close to their walls, they collected in a
body, and fired upon them with an order and execution that
surprised us. The Aleutians, who with the aid of some of
the company's servants, were drawing the guns along, terrified
at so unexpected a reception, took to their heels ; while the
commanders, left with a mere handful of men belonging to my
ship, judged it prudent to retire, and endeavor to save the guns.
The natives seeing this, rushed out in pursuit of them, but
our sailors behaved so gallantly, that though almost all wounded, they brought off the field-pieces in safety. In this affair,
out of my own ship alone, a lieutenant, a master's mate, a
surgeon's mate, a quarter master, and ten sailors of the sixteen
who accompanied them, were wounded, and two killed; and
if I had not covered this unfortunate retreat with my cannon,
not a man would probably would have been saved.' The
Russians finally prevailed, by the superiority of their artillery,
and this was the closing scene.
6 When morning came, I observed a great number of crows
hovering about the settlement. I sent on shore to ascertain the
cause of this, and the messenger returned with news that the
natives had quitted the fort during the night, leaving in it alive,
only two old women and a little boy. It appears that judging of
us by themselves, they imagined that we were capable of the
 1822.] to the Northwest Coast of America. 330
same perfidiousness and cruelty; and that if they had come
out openly in their boats, as had been proposed, we should
have fallen on them in revenge for their past behavior. They
had therefore preferred running into the woods, leaving many
things behind, which from their haste, they had been unable
to take away.'
\ It was on the 8th that the fate of Sitka fort was decided.
After every thing that could be of use was removed out of it,
it was burned to the ground. Upon my entering it before it
was set on fire, what anguish did I feel, when 1 saw, like a
second massacre of innocents, numbers of young children
lying together murdered, lest their cries, if they had been
borne away with their cruel parents, should have led to a discovery of the retreat to which they were flying ! O man,
man ! of what cruelties is not thy nature, civilized or uncivilized, capable ?'
Whether M. Lisiansky means this exclamation for the invaders or their victims does not appear.
Lisianskv adds ' we have reason to believe, from information
we obtained, that the chief cause of their flight was the want
of powder and ball; and that if these had not failed them,,
they would have defended themselves to the last extremity.'
Such we know to have been the fact, and but for this, they
would with a heroism worthy a better fate, have perished
in defending their invaded rights.
The writer was, at that time, near the scene of these transactions, and received from the Indians, daily accounts of passing events. They were in substance much the same as those
given by Lisiansky, with this addition, that having so often experienced the perfidy and cruelty of the Russians, they placed
no confidence in any promises made by them, and well knew,
that slavery must follow submission. Finding themselves
without means of defence, they determined to abandon their
country ; retreat into the interior, and thus preserve their independence by the sacrifice of their possessions ! Those who
were too old, or too young to support the fatigues and sufferings
of the contemplated journey, were despatched on the spot;
* and,' added the chief, who gave this account,' their innocent
blood be on the heads of those who caused ihe deed.' We shall
offer no apology for introducing the following anecdote as a
further illustration of the character of these people.
In the summer of 1804, several tribes collected at * Nass,'
: fi
Examination of the Russian Claims
where a sort of fair is annually held. At this time an affray
took place, between individuals of the Cockalane tribe, who
reside on the Main, near the entrance of Observatory inlet,
and of the Skettageets tribe, who inhabit the opposite shores
of Queen Charlotte's islands; in which Cockalane, the great
chief of his nation, was unfortunately killed. In the course
of the following winter, when the inclemency of the season
prevented all intercourse between the Indians of the main and
those of the islands, the writer visited Skettageets, Inquiry
being made by the chiefs respecting the intentions of the
Cockalane tribe, they were told, that early in the spring the
friends of the deceased chief were determined to attack them
with an irresistible force, and destroy the whole Skettageets
nation. Elsworsh, a distinguished young chief, heard this account with great calmness, and expressed doubts of the
ability of their enemies to execute these threats. Being assured that they were highly exasperated, and resolved on vengeance, he replied with a countenance and manner that expressed his feelings more forcibly than language ; ' it is well,
let them come—let them attack—let them destroy us—it is
well—we are but passing clouds,' and added, pointing to the
sun, 'where is the man, like yonder sun, who never dies?'*
Let us not be suspected of representing these people in too
favorable a light. They share of course the passions and vices
that usually prevail in the savage state. Implacable hatred
and thirst for revenge, engendered by real or supposed injuries, too often excite them to deeds, at which humanity shudders. We have known in their intercourse with foreigners,
instances of unprovoked outrage and violence. But we have
more frequently met with ex-parte accounts of their treachery
and ferocity, where circumstances have been known to us that
gave a very different coloring to their conduct. • They are a
people more ) sinned against' than 'sinning.' We should rejoice
if the dark shades of their character could be dispelled by the
mild influence of Christianity, without endangering that independence which is the ground work of every virtue they possess;
but our knowledge of their habits and feelings give us little
hope of its accomplishment \ and our fears that any change,
encouraging white people to settle among them, would lead
to their destruction, leave us no wish that it should be at-
*Keetlannu Keeset, tsue cootcanong, come howeene cardie*
1822.] to the Northwest Coast of America.
The march of civilization seems the signal for their disappearance ; and there is something mournful in the reflection,
that at no distant period this race of men, which physiologists
reckon as one of the distinct varieties of mankind, will exist
only in the pages of history.
We have already extended this article beyond reasonable
bounds, or we should have offered some remarks on the letter
of Mr Prevost to the secretary of state, respecting the Columbia river. We do not subscribe to all the opinions of that
gentleman, and doubt the accuracy of the information he received in relation to some facts he has stated. But as we cannot
go into the subject at large, we shall only notice an unimportant error in relation to the language, which he says ' bears a
strong analogy with that of Nootka.' This mistake (if it be
one) may be easily accounted for, when it is known that the
natives of Columbia river have frequent intercourse with the
Indians of Classett, who speak the Nootka language, and
that the first\ foreign adventurers,' who visited the river, had
previously acquired a knowledge of that language. It was
natural that their intercourse should be carried on in a language of which both had some knowledge, and this has been
the case, to a certain extent ever since. A comparison of the
following numerals, in the Nootka language, and in that spoken
at the mouth of the Columbia, will shew an essential difference.
* Mouth of the Columbia,
New Series, No. 12.
 402 Bastings on musical taste. [Oct.
Art. XIX. Dissertation on Musical Taste, or General Principles of Taste, applied to the Art of Music. By Thomas
Hastings.    Albany, Websters & Skinners, 1822. p. 228.
True reformation is rarely the work of a moment. When
the tenacious grasp with which mankind cling to long established customs and opinions is once broken, they generally
rush to the opposite extreme, and in their eagerness for reform
adopt without examination whatever seems to be contrary to
their former notions. ' Tear away, brother Martin, never
mind, so you do but tear away,' is the maxim on which they
often proceed ; and the consequence is, that when the excitement is diminished and they begin to review their labor, they
find that they tore the old coat in pieces before they had made
another-—that they have still much to do before they can appear
in a decent dress. Something like this has been the case in
the change whi&, within a few years, has taken place in the
character of our music.
When the discerning part of the community had at last become sensible of the absolute worthlessness of the music generally heard in our congregations, and awake to the necessity
of a reform, it was quhe natural that the first determination
should be to throw aside the whole mass of insipid compositions, to which they had so long listened, and to substitute the
works of foreign masters in their stead. The attempt was a
laudable one; at the same time it must be allowed that the
knowledge and good judgment of those who were active in the
measure, were outstripped by their zeal. The community
needed more preparation for so great a change, and to the no
small astonishment of the reformers, the anticipated result was
not realized. There were, two causes of this disappointment.
One was a general deficiency in musical science, which prevented any just discrimination in selecting from the works of
European composers. The good and the bad were equally
liable to be taken, and the quantity of the latter greatly exceeded that of the former ; so that in reality the exchange was in
many instances very little for the better. But there was another cause far more operative. Bad habits of execution, which
in a considerable degree had their origin in the peculiar qualities of the wretched compositions that had been so long in
vogue, still remained.   The tune was changed, but the man-


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