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The Canadian view of the Alaskan boundary dispute Mills, David 1899

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Array THE CANADIAN VIEW
ALASKAN BOUNDARY DISPUTE
AS  STATED  BY
HON,   DAVID   MILLS
Minister of Justice
In  an  interview  with  the  correspondent - of the
Chicago Tribune on the lJfth August, 1899.
OTTAWA
GOVERNMENT PRINTING BUREAU  THE CANADIAN VIEW
ALASKAN BOUNDARY DISPUTE
AS STATED BY
HON.  DAVID  MILLS
Minister of Justice
In  an  interview  with  the  correspondent  of  the
Chicago Tribune on the lJfih August, 1899
OTTAWA
GOVERNMENT PRINTING BUREAU
1899  ]
THE CANADIAN VIEW
ALASKAN BOUNDARY DISPUTE
AS STATED BY
Hon. David Mills, Minister of Justice
In an interview with the correspondent of the
Chicago Tribune on the 14-th August, 1899.
You ask me to state to you the Canadian view of
the Alaskan boundary dispute. I shall not in
endeavouring to meet your wishes, claim to do more
than express my own view upon the subject.
I may say to you that already correspondents
connected with two New York journals made a
similar request a short time ago, but it was during
the midst of the session when I had but a few
moments at my disposal, and in my conversation
with them, I could do no more than outline my
opinion upon the subject and point out in what
respect, we, on this side of the border, dissented
from the contention of the United States. I notice
that the brief statement of my opinions were not
very favourably received, or very carefully considered
by some of your citizens.    In discussing the speech made in the House of Commons by the leader of the
Conservative party (Sir Charles Tupper), it was
stated by some Washington correspondents of the
New York and Philadelphia press, that it was very
hard to explain his misinformation, and that I
seemed to be still more ignorant than Sir Charles
Tupper. The natural inference from this kind of
criticism is that every opinion at variance with the
contentions which have been put forward in your
country, and which for the most part meets with
favour in your press, is quite undeserving of serious
consideration. The impression made upon my mind
is that vehement assertions and frequent repetitions,
are to supersede careful investigation of the facts and
the legitimate conclusions to be drawn from them.
This Alaskan Boundary Dispute was discussed by
the Joint Commission of the two countries. No
conclusion, it seems, was reached. The proceedings
were secret. It was stated that the Commissioners
had referred the question to their respective governments. This was all that, for some time, was disclosed to the public; but no sooner was the statement bruited abroad that the matter was being
discussed by Lord Salisbury and Mr. Choate, than
telegraphic despatches were sent from Washington to the New York journals, and thence to the
London newspapers, in which the Canadian members
of the Commission, and the Canadian Government,
were described as men who were ill-informed,
obstinate, greedy, refusing to agree to an arbitration
in respect of the disputed boundary without first obtaining from the United States Commissioners or Government, a cession of territory, to which they could, in
eason, make no claim, and which undoubtedly
.elonged to your country.    Every one who has read the protocol on this part of the negotiations, which
I understand was published to prevent the persistent
repetition of thesO misrepresentations, now knows
how unfounded they were. The attempt was made to
prejudice the case of this country, by mis-stating its
position. It was announced by the New York and
Washington correspondents of London newspapers,
that the Commissioners of the United States desired
arbitration, and that the Canadian members of the
Commission stood in the way. This mis-statement
was, for a time, daily repeated. It was published
in the English and Canadian newspapers, as well as
in those of the United States. The attitude of the
respective parties was carefully concealed, and the
impression sought to be made, and for a time not
without success, that the demands of the Canadian
Commissioners were most unreasonable. It was not
until the protocols upon the subject were published
in England, and in this country, that the public
became aware of the gross injustice that was being
done us. When the publication was made, it was
seen that we were willing either to arbitrate or to
compromise. Our representatives had offered to
accept a compromise which would permit us to *
retain so much of the disputed country as would
afford us a means of access to our own possession in
the interior. Our geographical position is such, that
the disputed territory is of immensely greater consequence to us, than to you.
It is well to bear in mind that two controversies
have arisen between you and us in respect to the
possessions which you acquired from Russia upon our
northwestern border. In one, you claimed that that
part of the Pacific Ocean known in recent years as
Behring Sea, and which borders upon the Aleutian Islands which Russia ceded to you, along with her
possessions upon this continent, was a part of your
acquisition, and so the fur-bearing seals found in its
waters were your exclusive property. Sometimes
you contended that it was a mare clausum; sometimes you said this was not your contention, but you
claimed to exercise upon the high seas, in time of
peace, rights which belong to a state only in time of
war, and you contended that people, in the pursuit of
a legitimate vocation upon the high seas, were guilty
of a crime only a little less atrocious than piracy;
and so the killing of seals in the Pacific Ocean, by
Canadian seal hunters, was claimed to be the destruction of wild animals that were the property of the
United States.
We find it difficult to understand how any public
man could have persuaded himself that there was
any merit in this contention. The Municipal Law of
the United States can have no force outside of the
territories of the Republic, except upon board a ship
sailing under the United States flag. The courts of
the United States have held that a man standing on
board a United States ship, and shooting a man in a
boat at the Society Islands, was not amenable to the
laws of the United States, as the murder which he
committed was beyond the jurisdiction of the Republic. I dare say that this was, in strict law, a proper
decision; but how, then, could a Canadian on board
a Canadian vessel, under the British flag, upon the
high seas, be amenable to the Municipal Law of the
United States ? Your government assumed that they
were. It authorized the seizure of Canadian vessels
upon the high seas, under the authority of your Municipal Law, to which they owed no subjection, and
where   International Law  alone prevails.     These vessels were confiscated. The men on board were
imprisoned, and when they were discharged, it was
far away from home, and without the means necessary
to enable them to return. We felt that the action
of your Government was a violent encroachment upon
the municipal rights of Canadians, that were wrongfully subjected to your authority. It was a violation
of these settled principles of International Law for
which, on many occasions, the United States had conspicuously contended. It was also at variance with
the contention of the United States, in her controversy with Russia, between 1821 and 1824, in respect
to an exclusive sovereignty, over the same waters.
The contention of your Government, we thought
wholly untenable. We thought the principles of
Public Law applicable to the case, were too clear to
admit of controversy. I do not know of any foreign
jurist who took your side. Yet unreasonable as
were thought your pretensions, they went to arbitration. Erroneous as we thought the doctrine set up
by Mr. Blaine and others to be, we did not refuse to
arbitrate. The question went to an International
Tribunal that was certainly not biassed in our favour,
and our contention, in that matter, was upheld. Why,
then, should the Government of the United States,
in this second branch of the controversy, hesitate to
refer the question, since we cannot agree to compromise, to a tribunal of like character ?
It may be that the Government of the United
States has persuaded itself that our position is untenable ; that the boundary line ought not to be placed
where we say, that under the Convention of St.
Petersburg, it should be drawn. But the United
States, like ourselves, is an interested party, and its
Government ought not, either wholly, or in part, 8
undertake to decide the question in dispute, before
the reference is made, nor refuse to have the contention put forward by us and by them, submitted to
a competent and impartial tribunal, for adjudication.
If, in the opinion of your Government, your contention is well founded, and if they believe it best
comports with the terms of the Convention of 1825,
it will be enabled to establish that fact before an
International Tribunal, and if such a tribunal agrees
with your contention, we must bow to its decision;
but should it be found that our contention is well
founded, the Government of the United States ought
to be equally ready to acquiesce. There is neither
reason nor justice, in suggesting a reference of a
matter, upon which we cannot agree to a tribunal,
that is not permitted to consider the whole question,
and to locate the boundary in conformity with the
terms of the Convention of 1825.
As I understand the protocols upon this subject,
they show that we contend that the boundary line,
as set out in the convention, crosses the Lynn Inlet
not far from the ocean, being drawn from the crest
of the mountains on one side, to the crest of the
mountains on the opposite side. The Government of the United States dissents from this view
and maintains the boundary passes round the head of
the inlet. Now what efforts do the protocols show,
were made to reach a solution % We were of opinion
that there were two ways in which this difference
might be amicably adjusted—by a compromise, or by
reference to a properly constituted tribunal. We
offered to compromise. We contended that Dyea
and Skagway are built in Canadian territory. They
are the natural seaports from which sea access, at
the present time, can be had into our Yukon country, where we have a mining population of 30,000. The
possession of the inlet is of great consequence to us.
It is of little importance to you. As a compromise
we offered to leave Dyea and Skagway in your possession, if you assented to our retaining Pyramid Harbour,"
which would afford to us a highway into the interior,
through our own country. This compromise would
have left you the greater portion of the territory, at
this point, in dispute. It would have made the Ljmn
Inlet a common water. This proposal your representatives declined. The proposal was then made to
you, to refer the question to arbitration, in order to
ascertain the boundary fixed by the convention, and
this also you have declined. Why? There would
seem to be but one answer—because you are in
possession of territory that is rightfully ours. If
under the Convention of St. Petersburg you think
you can rightfully claim Lynn Inlet, why should not
the matter have gone to arbitration 1
It is said that this disputed boundary should be
dealt with on principles recognized by diplomatists,
and not on those which govern the actions of Attorneys. I admit it. We did so proceed, when we
offered to compromise this dispute, and leave Dyea
and Skagway in your possession. We did so, when
we offered to ascertain the legal boundary, by a properly constituted independent tribunal. We did so,
when we offered to qualify our extreme right, by the
rule adopted, in the Venezuela arbitration. This statement of facts is our answer to the charge of obstinacy.
Our obstinacy consists in this, that we object to the
surrender of everything that is in controversy between us. Since you have been good enough to ask me
my opinion upon the subject, let me ask your readers to
carefully compare these offered concessions  on our 10
part with the concessions which your Government is
willing to make. What was it ? Nothing beyond
this, that they would grant to us the liberty to build
a highway in a territory behind the coast range of
mountains, beyond which under the convention you
have no right to go, upon condition, that we admitted,
that the harbour from which we started, and the
country through which our road ran, was under the
sovereignty of the United States. I ask your people
to compare the two concessions, and let them candidly
say, which of us is most open to the charge of being
unreasonably obstinate. We are most desirous of a
fair settlement. The people of the United States are
our neighbours, and we are theirs. It is to the advantage of both countries that a feeling of friendship
and mutual good-will should prevail amongst the
people of each towards the other, but this most
desirable object is not promoted by one country appropriating to itself the territory which rightfully
belongs to the other.
I have referred to the question of boundary at the
Lynn Inlet, which is the place most prominently
brought forward in the controversy, but in order to
understand the treaty, and the proper location of the
limitary line, separating the American territory
acquired from Russia from this country, it is necessary to give some attention to the historical circumstances out of which that treaty grew. Before the
treaty was negotiated between Great Britain and
Russia, disputes had arisen between the Government
of the United Kingdom and the Emperor of Russia
in regard to the extent of their respective possessions
upon the north-west coast of this continent. The
Russians had visited the country. They had explored
the coast at least as far south as the 54th degree of 11
north latitude. They had established fishing and
trading stations upon the coast. The Canadian
traders who had been organized into a Fur Trading
Company, known a;_ the Northwest Trading Company, had also explored the country. Their explorations began as early as 1762, and continued until
1820. There were the two Frobishers, the two
Henrys, Sir Alexander Mackenzie, Fraser, McLeod
and others. Their exploration extended from the
Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of California. They had
established numerous trading posts within the Pacific
slope. At the beginning of this century, they had
beyond the mountains, at least 700 agents in their
employ. It was upon their explorations and discoveries, that the British Government relied for the
maintenance of its title to the country. It is a well
recognized rule of English law, that a British subject
carries with him, into a derelict country, both the
laws of his country, and the sovereignty of his King.
When the question of boundary came to be discussed between the representatives of the Emperor
of Russia and the King of England, there was not
much difficulty in arriving at an agreement, because
the Russians had visited the coast for the purpose of
fishing and of trading with the Indians found there.
They had no desire to undertake the extension of
their dominions into the interior. They had at the
time no resources in the country for the purpose.
The English by the treaty were left in possession of
nearly the whole country. Russia was confined to a
narrow fringe upon the shore.
Before this treaty was made, the United States
had acquired north of the 42nd degree of latitude,
whatever rights Spain possessed upon the coast.
Between the United States and Great Britain a con- 12
vention had been entered into which established a
modus vivendi between them, by which each bound
itself not to interfere with the settlements of the
other; but the question as to their territorial rights,
under the convention, was left untouched.
In 1824, the United States made a treaty with
Russia, which is modelled on the plan of the one
which had previously been entered into by the
United Kingdom and the United States. This convention, between the United States and Russia did
not undertake to define any territorial limits as an
assertion of territorial sovereignty. By Article I.,
the citizens and subjects of the high contracting
parties agreed that neither will disturb or restrain
the other in navigating or fishing in these waters, or
in the liberty of resorting to the coast to trade with
the natives. But where any part of the coast is in
actual occupation of the one, resort shall not be had
to it by the other, for the purpose of trading with
the natives.
By Article II. non-intercourse by the one, with
the settlements of the other, is mutually agreed upon,
except by the permission of the Governor or Commandant of the place. The United States agreed
that they will form no settlement north of 54 degrees
40 minutes of north latitude. And Russia agrees to
form no settlement south of that parallel. They further agreed, that for a period of ten years, the ships
of both powers, and the ships which belong to the
citizens and subjects of each, may without hindrance,
frequent the interior seas, gulfs, harbours and creeks
upon the coast mentioned in the preceding article.
Here there was no division of territory between the
parties. There was a modus vivendi provided by
which  the  United  States   agreed  not to   exclude 13
Russian vessels from the interior seas, gulfs, &c,
south of 54 degrees and 40 minutes, and Russia
agreed not to exclude the United States vessels from
like waters north of that parallel The United States
Government knew at the time this convention was
made, that the Government of Great Britain was
claiming sovereignty upon the same coast ; and so
that the United States could not well recognize any
rights of Russia to the sovereignty of the country.
In the correspondence which took place between
the Governments of the United States and Russia,
the United States did not concede the pretensions
which Russia set up. Mr. Adams, in a despatch to
the American Minister, Mr. Middleton, in July,
1883, says:—
" From the tenor of the ukase of the 14th September, 1821, the pretensions of the Imperial
Government extend to an exclusive territorial jurisdiction from 45 degrees of north latitude on the
Asiatic coast to 51 degrees north latitude on the
western coast of the American continent: and they
assume the right of interdicting the navigation and
fishing of all other nations to the extent of one
hundred miles from the whole of that coast. The
United States can admit no part of those claims.
Their right of navigation and of fishing is perfect,
and has been in constant exercise from the earliest
times after the peace of 1783 throughout the whole
extent of the southern ocean, subject only, to the
ordinary exceptions and exclusions of the territorial
jurisdiction which so far as Russian rights are concerned, are confined to certain islands north of the
35th degree of latitude and have no existence on the
continent of America." 14
There is nothing in the treaty of 1824 inconsistent with the contention which Mr. Adams put forward in this communication, and so we find Mr.
Adams, in his letter of instructions to Mr. Middleton,
takes the ground that the exclusive right of Spain to
any portion of the American continent, had been
terminated by the successful revolution of her colonists, and by her treaty stipulations with the United
States. Mr. Adams practically maintained that the
entire continent of America was closed against any
European power, that North America consisted of
the colonial possessions of the United Kingdom, and
of independent republics, and so there was no further
room for acquisition, and he argues that the necessary consequence of this state of things, is that the
American continents henceforth will no longer be
open to colonization.
A few months later, the celebrated message of
President Monroe, set out two propositions, the one
against the attempt of the Holy Alliance to interfere with the independence of the Spanish American
States, and the other declaring that no part of the
American continent is to be considered as subject
to future acquisition for colonization by any European power. It is clear, that this second proposition
was intended as a denial of the rights of Russia to
acquire territory on the continent of North America.
Mr. Adams conceded that Russia had possession of
certain islands, but he denied altogether that she
had any right to territory upon the continent—upon
the main land. Mr. Adams was conversant with the
explorations of Mackenzie and others associated with
the North-west Company, and his position was, that
the territories which did not belonge to the United
States by virtue of her treaty with Spain, and by 15*
the explorations of Lewis and Clarke, were under
the jurisdiction of Great Britain, and so the treaty
of 1824 with Russia was not one for the mutual
recognition of territorial sovereignty on the part of
either party.
These facts are important to bear in mind in the
interpretation of the Treaty which was subsequently
negotiated and ratified between His Britannic
Majesty, and the Emperor of Russia. There is this
marked difference between the convention entered
into between Great Britain and Russia in February
1825, and the convention of the previous year
between the United States and the Emperor of Russia ) the convention between His Britannic Majesty
and the Emperor, was a convention settling a boundary between territories admittedly belonging to
Great Britain and territories to which it was conceded that Russia had valid claim; that is, the part
of the continent north of 54 degrees 40 minutes of
north latitude. The territories south of 54 degrees
40 minutes north latitude were territories that were
still in controversy between Great Britain and the
United States.
The first Article of this convention declares,
wholly contrary to the action and contention of the
government of the United States in reference to the
Behring Sea, that the subjects of the High Contracting parties shall not be troubled or molested in any
part of the ocean, commonly called the Pacific Ocean,
either in navigating the same, in fishing therein, or
in landing on the coast in parts not already occupied,
to trade with the natives.
Article II provides that in order to prevent the
right of navigating and fishing exercised upon the
ocean by the subjects of the High Contracting parties 16
from becoming a pretext for illicit commerce, they
mutually agree that subjects of His Britannic
Majesty shall not land at any place where there is a
Russian establishment, without the permission of the
Governor or Commandant, and that Russian subjects
shall not land without permission at any British
establishment on the north-west coast.
Under these articles, the freedom of navigation is
recognized. Article III and IV provide for the
demarcation of the boundary which is to separate
the territories of the one, from the territories of the
other. Let me read to you those articles in precise
terms :—
" Article III.—The line of demarcation between
the possessions of the High Contracting parties, upon
the coast of the continent, and the islands of America
to the north-west shall be drawn in the manner following:—Commencing from the southernmost point
of the island called the Prince of Wales Island, which
point lies in the parallel of 50 degrees 40 minutes
north latitude, and between the 131st and the 133rd
degree of west longitude (Meridian of Greenwich) the
said line shall ascend to the north along the channel
called Portland Channel as far as the point of the
continent where it strikes 56th degree of north latitude ; from this last mentioned point, the line of
demarcation shall follow the summit of the mountains
situated parallel to the coast as far as the point of
intersection of the 141st degree of west longitude of
the said meridian ; and finally from the said point of
intersection, the said meridian line of the 141st degree, in its prolongation as far as the Frozen Ocean,
shall form the limit between the Russian and British
possessions on the continent of America on the northwest. 17
" Article IV.—With reference to the line of demarcation laid down in the preceding article it is understood :
"1st. That the island called Prince of Wales
Island shall belong wholly to Russia.
" 2nd. That whenever the summit of the mountains
which extend in a direction parallel to the coast from
the 56th degree of north latitude to the point of intersection of the 141st degree of west longitude shall
prove to be at the distance of more than ten marine
leagues from the ocean, the limit between the British
possessions and the line of coast which is to belong
to Russia, as above mentioned, shall be formed by a
line parallel to the windings of the coast and which
shall never exceed the distance of ten marine leagues
therefrom."
It will be seen that the starting point is the
southernmost point of the Island called Prince of
Wales Island, which lies in 54 degrees 40 minutes
north latitude and that this line is to ascend north.
From whence ? Why from the starting point—the
southernmost point of Prince of Wales Island. It is
perfectly true that the boundary is to ascend north
along the channel called Portland Channel, but it
cannot ascend north along the channel called Portland Channel by commencing at the southernmost
point of Prince of Wales Island, the place of begin-
~ ning, a line more than one hundred miles in length
running due east, must be drawn from the southern
end of Prince of Wales Island before Portland Channel
can be reached. The first question then to be considered is, whether the description of the direction
of the latitude and longitude of the line is to yield
to the use of the words " Portland Channel," or
whether the name  " Portland  Channel" must be 18
subordinated to the direction and description contained in these articles. If Clarence Channel, which
lies immediately east of Prince of Wales Island is
taken, there is an exact conformity to the description. You may ascend north from the southernmost
point of Prince of Wales Island along Clarence
Channel, but you cannot ascend north from the
southernmost point of Prince of Wales Island along
Portland Channel. You can ascend to a point on
Clarence Channel as far as the point on the continent
where it strikes the 56th degree of latitude. You
cannot ascend Portland Channel to a point on the
continent where it strikes the 56th degree of north
latitude, because Portland Channel does not reach
that far north. The difference between drawing the
boundary from Portland Channel and from Clarence
Channel is this—the boundary upon the mainland
commences where the 56th degree of north latitude
cuts the shore in the one instance, and in the other
it commences at a point at the head of Portland
Channel which falls short of the place designated as
the place of beginning.
By Article IV, the line is to be drawn so as to
leave the whole of Prince of Wales Island to Russia.
If a due east line is to be drawn from the southernmost point of the island to the entrance at Portland
Channel, these words "leaving the whole of Prince
of Wales Island to Russia " are surplusage, because
a due east line would not only leave the whole of the
Prince of Wales Island to Russia, but would leave
several other large islands, of which no mention is
made, lying between this island and the mainland.
If Clarence Channel is taken, there is an obvious
reason for providing in the treaty, the words, that
the whole of the Prince of Wales Island shall be left 19
to Russia, because a line ascending from the southern
most point north, would cut off the southeastern portion of the island, but these words have no proper
place in the treaty if the line starting from the southernmost point of Prince of Wales Island is to be extended eastward to the entrance of Portland Channel, as it would not be a line "ascending north"
from the southernmost point of Prince of Wales
Island. It will be observed that this qualification
found in Article IV of the description given of the
limitary line in Article III is unaccountable, if a
line is first to be drawn eastward from the Prince of
Wales Island to the entrance to Portland Channel.
Why should this portion of the description have been
omitted altogether ? It is, I think, clear from the
wording of the treaty, that the use of the words
"Portland Channel" cannot refer to the body of water
commonly so designated, and the whole of this part
of the description of the boundary is inapplicable.
Let any intelligent reader with a map before him,
undertake to draw the line from the description
which the treaty furnishes. If he begins at the
southernmost point of Prince of Wales Island, which
lies in 54 degrees, 40 minutes of north latitude, he
cannot from that point ascend to the north along
Portland Channel. The name of the channel through
which the line is drawn are words subordinate to the
direction, description and relation of the line so
drawn to the starting point, which determines, in
my opinion, through what waters the line is to so ascend that the whole of the Prince of Wales Island is
to remain in Russia. It is assumed in the words of
description, found in the treaty, that the line that
ascends to the north along the channel, can do so as
far as to the point of the continent where it strikes 20
the 56th degree of north latitude. This is a point, upon the shore, in which the boundary upon the mainland is to begin, and so the words are wholly inapplicable to Portland Channel, as it falls short, by
several miles, of extending to that degree of latitude.
The channel which lies immediately east of Prince of
Wales Island, and through which the descriptive
words of the treaty requires the boundary to be
drawn does so extend, so that the geographical conditions fit in with the description in the one case,
and do not in the other.
By the third article the line of demarcation is to
follow the summit of the mountains, situated parallel
to the coast as far as the intersection of the 141st
degree of west longitude; and the fourth article provides that whenever the summit of the mountains,
which extend in a direction parallel to the coast from
the 56th degree of north latitude, shall prove to be
at the distance of more than ten marine leagues from
the coast, the limit between the British possessions
and the line of coast which is to belong to Russia
shall be formed by a line parallel to the windings of
the coast, and which shall never exceed the distance
of ten marine leagues therefrom.
It is too clear to require argument that the limitary
line was to follow the coast range and the summit of
that coast range, whether high or low was to be the
boundary, when it was not more than ten leagues
from the coast. In many places inlets extend through
canyons through the mountains, and so much of each
of those inlets as would be cut off, by a line drawn
from the summit of the mountain upon the one side,
to the summit of the mountain upon the other, is
Canadian territory. The line cannot be removed
urther inland, because there may be a gap in the 21
mountains into which an arm of the sea extends.
The coast range approaches these inlets on each side,
in most cases, near the waters of the ocean. When
you pass the Lynn Inlet, it will be found that the
coast range embraces peaks from 10,000 to 18,000
feet high, and it does seem to me preposterous to
contend that the provisions of the treaty can be applied by drawing a line in the rear of those mountains, as certainly would be done, if the boundary
passed around the head of Lynn Inlet.
It is, I think, manifest that the framers of the
treaty assumed, that harbours, inlets, and arms
of the sea, would be found, when the boundary was
drawn, within British territory, and certain provisions of the treaty were entered into upon this assumption.
Article VI provides that the subjects of Her Britannic Majesty from whatever quarter they may
arrive, whether from the ocean, or from the interior
of the continent, shall, for ever enjoy the right of
navigation freely, and without any hindrance whatever, all the rivers and streams, which in their course
towards the Pacific Ocean, may cross the line of demarcation on the line of the coast. As some of those
rivers flow into Behring Sea, it is perfectly obvious,
that the contracting parties assumed that the navigation of that sea was open to British vessels
By Article VII for a period of ten years, the vessels of the two powers, and of their subjects respectively shall mutually be at liberty to frequent all the
inland seas, the gulfs, havens and creeks on the coast
mentioned in Article III. The coast mentioned in
Article III is not the entire coast of the continent,
but the coast north of 54 degrees 40 minutes. 22
By Article X every British or Russian vessel navigating the Pacific Ocean, which may be compelled by
storms or by accident to take shelter in the ports of
the respective parties shall be at liberty to refit therein, to provide itself with all necessary stores and to
put to sea again without paying any other than port
and lighthouse dues, which shall be the same as those
paid by national vessels.
This is not a temporary arrangement but a permanent one which each party has within the ports of
the other.
It has been contended by some of the United.
States press, that the waters belonging to Great Britain herein referred to, are those that lie south of the
54th degree 40 minutes of north latitude, but this is
not so. Those territories were in dispute between
Great Britain and the United States, and with reference to them no compact was entered into in the
treaty between Russia and Great Britain. What is
entered into is the establishment of a boundary north
of 54 degrees 40 minutes, and it is with reference to
this boundary, separating the territories of Russia
from the territories of His Britannic Majesty, that
all the provisions of the treaty referred,—Russia
made no claim, in this treaty, to any territories further south. She set up no pretensions to any privileges further south; what was being settled was the
dispute between Great Britain and Russia in respect
to sovereign rights north of 54 degrees 40 minutes
north latitude. The subjects of Great Britain were
without any hindrance whatever to have liberty of
navigating freely all the rivers and streams which in
their course towards the Pacific Ocean may cross the
boundary line, the line of demarcation, as set out in 23
Article III of the convention. These rivers and
navigable, routes were not rivers south of 54 degrees
40 minutes north latitude, but rivers north of that
latitude—rivers that flowed from British territory
through the Russian territory upon the coast. All
the provisions of the treaty relating to fishing
and to navigation have reference to the territories
and waters which were the subject of the treaty, and
so it is wholly beside the question to refer to the convention between the United States and Russia of
the previous year. Ic is as plain as anything can
well be, that the contracting parties assumed that
when the separating line came to be drawn, uuder the
treaty, that there would be, in some places, harbours
and inlets remaining on the British side of this
boundary line, and Russia stipulated for the right of
Russian navigators to use them, and for her ships to
take refuge in them, as she had conceded a like right
to the subjects of His Britannic Majesty. These
would, indeed, be strange treaty stipulations, if upon
the whole length of this boundary, from the 56th
degree of latitude to Mount St. Elias, it never
crossed an inlet, and at no point touched the sea.
This is, in my opinion, a conclusion which no one who
will candidly examine the treaty, can reach, and I
ask a fair consideration of our side of the dispute by
the people of the United States, to whom justice is far
more important than success.  I 

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