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upon the northwest coast of America, and which have heretofore formed a subject of correspondence between the two Governments, as well at Washington, as at St. Petersburg."
On July 17, Secretary Adams made the following notation in his diary:
At the office, Baron Tuyll came, and enquired if he might inform his Government that instructions would be forwarded by Mr. Hughes to Mr. Middleton for negotiating on the Northwest Coast question. I said he might. He then manifested a desire to know as much as I was disposed to tell him as to the purport of those instructions. I told him as much as I thought prudent, as he observed that it was personally somewhat important to him to be so far confided in here as to know the general purport of what we intended to propose. I told him specially that we should contest the right of Russia to any territorial establishment on this continent, and that we should assume distinctly the principle that the American continents are no longer subjects for any new European colonial establishments."8
On July 22, 1823, Secretary Adams sent an instruction to Mr. Middleton in which the following language is used:
From the tenor of the ukase, the pretensions of the Imperial Government extend to an exclusive territorial jurisdiction from the forty-fifth degree of north latitude on the Asiatic coast to the latitude of fifty-one north on the western coast of the American continent; and they assume the right of interdicting the navigation and the fishery 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 these 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 jurisdictions, which, so far as Russian rights are concerned, are confined to certain islands north of the fifty-fifth degree of latitude, and have no existence on the continent of America.
It does not appear that there ever has been a permanent Russian settlement on this continent south of latitude 59°; that of New Archangel, cited by Mr. Poletica, in latitude 57° 30′, being upon an island. So far as prior discovery can constitute a foundation of right, the papers which I have referred to prove that it belongs to the United States as far as 59° north, by the transfer to them of the rights of Spain. There is, however, no part of the globe where the mere fact of discovery could be held to give weaker, claims than on the Northwest coast. No European nation has yet formed an establishment upon the immense extent of coast from Cape Mendosino to the 59th degree of latitude. Beyond that limit the Russian factories commence, most of which are scattered and distant from each other, like the factories established by the European nations for the last three centuries on the coast of Africa.
On the 4th of January, 1810, Mr. Daschkoff, chargé d'affaires and consulgeneral from Russia, renewed this proposal of a convention, and requested, as
77 Ibid., p. 47.
18 Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, vol. vi, p. 163.
an alternative, that the United States should, by a legislative act, prohibit the trade of their citizens with the natives of the northwest coast of America, as unlawful and irregular, and thereby induce them to carry on the trade exclusively with the agents of the Russian-American Company. The answer of the Secretary of State, dated the 5th of May, 1810, declines those proposals for Jeasons which were then satisfactory to the Russian Government, or to which, at least, no reply on their part was made. Copies of these papers, and of those containing the instructions to the minister of the United States then at St. Petersburg, and the relation of his conferences with the chancellor of the empire, Count Romanzoff, on this subject, are herewith inclosed. By them it will be seen that the Russian Government at that time explicitly declined the assertion of any boundary line upon the northwest coast, and that the proposal of measures for confining the trade of the citizens of the United States exclusively to the Russian settlement at Kodiack and with the agents of the RussianAmerican Company had been made by Count Romanzoff, under the impression that they would be as advantageous to the interests of the United States as to those of Russia.
It is necessary now to say that this impression was erroneous. That the traffic of the citizens of the United States with the natives of the northwest coast was neither clandestine nor unlawful nor irregular. That it had been enjoyed many years before the Russian-American Company existed, and that it interfered with no lawful right or claim of Russia.
This trade has been shared also by the English, French, and Portuguese. In the prosecution of it the English settlement of Nootka Sound was made, which occasioned the differences between Great Britain and Spain in 1789 and 1790, ten years before the Russian-American Company was first chartered.
The right of the United States from the forty-second to the forty-ninth parallel of latitude on the Pacific Ocean we consider as unquestionable, being founded, first, on the acquisition by the treaty of February 22, 1819, of all the rights of Spain; second, by the discovery of the Columbia River, first from sea at its mouth, and then by land by Lewis and Clarke; and third, by the settlement at its mouth in 1811. This territory is to the United States of an importance which no possession in North America can be of to any European nation, not only as it is but the continuity of their possessions from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, but as it offers their inhabitants the means of establishing hereafter water communications from the one to the other.
It is not conceivable that any possession upon the continent of North America should be of use or importance to Russia for any other purpose than that of traffic with the natives. This was in fact the inducement to the formation of the Russian American Company and to the charter granted them by the Emperor Paul. It was the inducement to the ukase of the Emperor Alexander. By offering free and equal access for a term of years to navigation and intercourse with the natives to Russia, within the limits to which our claims are indisputable, we concede much more than we obtain. It is not to be doubted that, long before the expiration of that time, our settlement at the mouth of the Columbia River will become so considerable as to offer means of useful commercial intercourse with the Russian settlements on the islands of the northwest coast.
With regard to the territorial claim, separate from the right of traffic with the natives and from any system of colonial exclusions, we are willing to agree to the boundary line within which the Emperor Paul had granted exclusive privileges to the Russian American Company, that is to say latitude 55°
If the Russian Government apprehend serious inconvenience from the illicit traffic of foreigners with their settlements on the northwest coast, it may be effectually guarded against by stipulations similar to those, a draft of which is herewith subjoined, and to which you are authorized, on the part of the United States, to agree.
As the British ambassador at St. Petersburg is authorized and insrtucted to negotiate likewise upon this subject, it may be proper to adjust the interests and claims of the three powers by a joint convention. Your full power is prepared accordingly."
Secretary Adams accompanied his instruction to Mr. Middleton of July 22, 1823, with certain observations, one of the concluding paragraphs of which reads:
There can, perhaps, be no better time for saying, frankly and explicitly, to the Russian Government, that the future peace of the world, and the interests of Russia herself, cannot be promoted by Russian settlements upon any part of the American continent. With the exception of the British establishments north of the United States, the remainder of both the American continents must henceforth be left to the management of American hands. It cannot possibly be the purpose of Russia to form extensive colonial establishments in America. The new American Republics will be as impatient of a Russian neighbor as the United States; and the claim of Russia to territorial possession, extending to the 51st degree of north latitude, is equally incompatible with the British pretensions.
On the same day, July 22, 1823, Secretary Adams sent an instruction to Mr. Rush, our Minister to Great Britain, in which, in discussing the claim of Great Britain to the northwest portion of the North American continent, he used the following language:
Until the Nootka Sound contest Great Britain had never advanced any claim to territory upon the Northwest Coast of America by right of occupation. Under the treaty of 1763 her territorial rights were bounded by the Mississippi.
On the 22nd of July, 1793, McKenzie reached the shores of the Pacific by land from Canada, in latitude 52° 21′ north, longitude 128° 2' west of Greenwich. .
It is not imaginable that, in the present condition of the world, any European nation should entertain the project of settling a colony on the Northwest Coast of America. That the United States should form establishments there, with views of absolute territorial right and inland communication, is not only to be expected, but is pointed out by the finger of nature, and has been for many years a subject of serious deliberation in Congress. A plan has, for several sessions, been before them for establishing a Territorial Government on the borders of the Columbia river. It will undoubtedly be resumed at their next session, and even if then again postponed there cannot be a doubt that, in the course of a very few years, it must be carried into effect.
As yet, however, the only useful purpose to which the Northwest Coast of America has been or can be made subservient to the settlements of civilized
"Alaskan Boundary Tribunal: Appendix to the Case of the United States, vol. 1, pp. 48-51.
80 American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. v, p. 445.
men are the fisheries on its adjoining seas and trade with the aboriginal inhabitants of the country. These have, hitherto, been enjoyed in common by the people of the United States, and by the British and Russian nations. The Spanish, Portuguese, and French nations have also participated in them hitherto, without other annoyance than that which resulted from the exclusive territorial claims of Spain, so long as they were insisted on by her.
The United States and Great Britain have both protested against the Russian Imperial ukase of September 4, (16,) 1821. At the proposal of the Russian Government, a full power and instructions are now transmitted to Mr. Middleton, for the adjustment, by amicable negotiation, of the conflicting claims of the parties on this subject.
We have been informed by the Baron de Tuyll that a similar authority has been given on the part of the British Government to Sir Charles Bagot.
Previous to the restoration of the settlement at the mouth of Columbia river in 1818, and again upon the first introduction in Congress of the plan for constituting a Territorial Government there, some disposition was manifested by Sir Charles Bagot and by Mr. Canning to dispute the right of the United States to that establishment, and some vague intimation was given of British claims on the Northwest Coast. The restoration of the place and the convention of 1818 were considered as a final disposal of Mr. Bagot's objections, and Mr. Canning declined committing to paper those which he had intimated in conversation.
The discussion of the Russian pretensions in the negotiation now proposed necessarily involves the interests of the three powers, and renders it manifestly proper that the United States and Great Britain should come to a mutual understanding with respect to their respective pretensions, as well as upon their joint views with reference to those of Russia. Copies of the instructions to Mr. Middleton are, therefore, herewith transmitted to you, and the President wishes you to confer freely with the British Government on the subject.
The principles settled by the Nootka Sound convention of October 28, 1790,
1st. That the rights of fishery in the South Seas, of trading with the natives of the Northwest Coast of America, and of making settlements on the coasts itself for the purposes of that trade, north of the actual settlements of Spain, were common to all the European nations, and of course to the United States.
2d. That so far as the actual settlements of Spain had extended, she possessed the exclusive rights, territorial, and of navigation and fishery, extending to the distance of ten miles from the coasts so actually occupied. 3d. That on the coasts of South America, and the adjacent islands south of the parts already occupied by Spain, no settlement should thereafter be made either by British or Spanish subjects, but on both sides should be retained the liberty of landing, and of erecting temporary buildings for the purposes of the fishery. These rights were, also, of course, enjoyed by the people of the United States.
The exclusive rights of Spain to any part of the American continents have ceased. That portion of the convention, therefore, which recognizes the exclusive colonial rights of Spain on these continents, though confirmed as between Great Britain and Spain, by the first additional article to the treaty of the 5th of July, 1814, has been extinguished by the fact of the independence of the South American nation and of Mexico. Those independent nations will possess the rights incident to that condition, and their territories will, of course, be subject to no exclusive right of navigation in their vicinity, or of access to them by any foreign nation.
A necessary consequence of this state of things will be, that the American continents, henceforth, will no longer be subjects of colonization. Occupied by civilized independent nations, they will be accessible to Europeans and to each
other on that footing alone, and the Pacific Ocean in every part of it will remain open to the navigation of all nations, in like manner with the Atlantic. Incidental to the condition of national independence and sovereignty, the rights of anterior navigation of their rivers will belong to each of the American nations within its own territories.
The application of colonial principles of exclusion, therefore, can not be admitted by the United States as lawful upon any part of the Northwest Coast of America, or as belonging to any European nation. Their own settlements there, when organized as Territorial Governments, will be adapted to the freedom of their own institutions, and, as constituent parts of the Union, be subject to the -principles and provisions of their constitution.81
THE CORRESPONDENCE REGARDING CUBA, 1822-1823
During the closing months of 1822 and the opening months of 1823 a considerable anxiety existed as to the possible disposition of Cuba by Spain. Secretary Adams, writing to Mr. Forsyth, our Minister to Spain, on December 17, 1822, with reference to a presumed intention of the British Government "to obtain possession of the island," said that:
It is even asserted from sources to which some credit is due that they have been for more than two years in secret negotiation with Spain for the cession of the Island; and it is added that Spain, though disinclined to such an arrangement might resist it with more firmness, if for a limited period of time she could obtain the joint guaranty of the United States and France, securing the Island to herself.82
Adverting to the fact that both France and Great Britain had agents "observing the course of events and perhaps endeavoring to give them different directions," Secretary Adams stated that the President desired Mr. Forsyth
to obtain correct information whether such a negotiation as has been above suggested is on foot between Spain and Great Britain, and if so to communicate to the Spanish Government in a manner adapted to the delicacy of the case the sentiments of this Government in relation to this subject, which are favorable to the continuance of Cuba in its connection with Spain.83
Henry Clay is credited with having told Mr. Canning in February of 1823 that "we would fight for it [Cuba] should they [the British] attempt the possession." 84
Secretary Adams communicated with Mr. Nelson, our Minister to Spain, on April 28, 1823. Commenting upon the war commencing between France and Spain, Secretary Adams said:
Whatever may be the issue of this war, as between those two European Powers it may be taken for granted that the dominion of Spain upon the American Continents, North and South is irrevocably gone.85
81 American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. v, pp. 447-448.
82 MS., Instructions to United States Ministers, vol. ix, p. 158.
*MS., Instructions to United States Ministers, vol. ix, p. 186,