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and then tracing the boundary to the Mississippi, down that river to latitude thirty-one north, and so to the sea, and along the sea; and then says, the eastern boundary shall be the River St. John, from its source to its mouth. He goes, therefore, on the idea, evidently, that the source of the St. John is at the northwest angle of Nova Scotia; or else he leaves a hiatus in his description. The fact, as stated by you, Sir, is, that this delineation of the Madawaska was erroneous. It is not a north and south river. Errors in the calculation of the longitude had led to giving it a north and south direction on the map, whereas it should have had a northwest and southeast direction; and this error carries it, in order to conform to the fact, from forty to fifty miles farther to the west. Now, of the various questions which we may reasonably suppose to arise in a case of this sort, one would be, whether, in a case of mutual mistake of that kind, founded on a mutual misapprehension, this error was to be corrected, or whether the parties were to be bound by it, let the true course of that river be what it might. These questions are no longer of great importance to us, since the whole matter has been settled; but they may have their influence, and are worthy of consideration in an historical point of view.
The conflict of these maps is undoubtedly a pretty remarkable circumstance. The great mass of contemporaneous maps are favorable to the claims of the United States, and the remarks read by the President of the Society are most cogent to evince this. The treaty negotiated in Paris by Mr. Oswald, on the part of the British government, met with great opposition in Parliament. It was opposed on the very ground that it made a line of boundary "exceedingly inconvenient to Great Britain"; or, as a leading member of Parliament said, that it made the United States masters both of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick; and maps were published exhibiting this line exactly as claimed by the United States. These maps accompanied the Parliamentary papers and debates. Now, it is very extraordinary, it would be deemed almost incredible, that, if these maps, thus making out a case on which so much stress had been laid against the British ministry and their negotiation, had been erroneous, nobody in the Foreign Office, nor the minister, nor Mr. Oswald himself, should have one word to suggest against the accuracy of these maps. They defended the treaty and boundary as presented on the maps, not going on the ground at all that those maps exhibited any erroneous presentation. Nevertheless, it is a matter of historical notoriety, that, from the time of the conclusion of that treaty till our day, it had been impossible to bring the two governments to any agreement on the matter. That on the words of the treaty, on the fair and necessary import of the words of the treaty, the case is, and has always been, with the United States, I very much doubt if any intelligent Englishman at this day would be found ready to deny. The argument has been, not that it is possible to show the line anywhere else, not that it is possible to bring the northwest angle of Nova Scotia this side of all the waters that run into the St. John, — I suppose no man of sense and common candor would undertake to maintain seriously such a proposition as that, — but the argument always has been that which was successfully pressed upon the king of Holland, that there is a difficulty in ascertaining the meaning of these words, when we look to localities, the highlands, the streams, and face of the country; and that difficulty led his Majesty, as difficulties of a similar character in other cases lead referees and arbitrators, into the notion of "splitting the difference," or compromising the claim, and drawing a line between that claimed by us, on the one hand, and that claimed by the British government, on the other. The English government, therefore, has always proceeded less upon the terms of the treaty themselves, than on those external considerations, and especially upon that of the great inconvenience of such a line of demarcation; and has founded upon that, as its natural result, another inference, the great improbability that England would have agreed to a line, unnecessarily, which separated her own provinces from one another, and made the communication between them dependent on the will and pleasure of a foreign power. The treaty of Washington, and the negotiations which preceded it, were entered into in a spirit of compromise and settlement.
When the present administration came into power, it determined, that, as an arbitration conducted with the greatest diligence, ability, and learning, on the part of the United States, had failed, and, as the matter was likely at all events to terminate in compromise at last, it might be quite as wise for the parties to attempt to compromise it themselves, on such con
siderations as they might see fit to adopt . Rather wiser this, indeed, you must surely admit, than to refer it to the consideration of a third power. It was upon that principle and in that spirit that the negotiations of 1842 were entered into. It was altogether in that amicable and rational spirit in which one neighbor says to another, according to the Scripture, "Let us agree with our adversary while we are in the way with him." Or as one might suppose two landed proprietors would have done, whose contiguous estates had projecting corners, and irregular lines, producing inconvenience in the management of plantations and farms. These things, in private life, are adjusted, not on the principle that one shall get all he can and grant nothing, or yield every thing and get nothing, but on the principle that the arrangement shall be for the mutual convenience and advantage of both parties, if the terms can be made fair, and equal, and honorable to both.
I believe, or at least I trust with great humility, that the judgment of the country will ultimately be, that the arrangement in this case was not an objectionable one. In the first place, I am willing to maintain everywhere, that the States of Massachusetts and Maine are better off this day than if Lord Ashburton had not signed the treaty, but had signed, in behalf of his government, a relinquishment of the claim of England to every square foot of the territory in dispute, and gone home. These States get more by the opening of the navigation of the rivers, and by the other benefits obtained through the treaty, than all the territory north of the St. John is worth, according to any estimate any one has yet been pleased to make of it. And as to the United States, if we can trust the highest military judgment in the country, if we can trust the general sense of intelligent persons acquainted with the subject, if we can trust our own common sense on looking to the map, an object of great importance has been attained for the United States and the State of New York, by the settlement of the question relative to the forty-fifth degree of north latitude, from Vermont to the St. Lawrence across the outlet of Lake Champlain. At the same time that these are gains or advantages, it does not follow, because this whole arrangement is highly advantageous to the States of Massachusetts and Maine, of great importance to the United States, and particularly useful to the States of New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire, that therefore it must be disadvantageous or dishonorable to the other party to the treaty. By no means. It is a narrow and selfish, a crafty and mean spirit, which supposes that in things of this sort there can be nothing gained on one side without a corresponding loss on the other. Such arrangements may be, and always should be, for the mutual advantage of all parties. England has no reason to complain. She has obtained all she wanted, a reasonable boundary and a fair communication, a "convenient'' communication and line of intercourse between her own provinces. Who is therefore to complain? Massachusetts and Maine, by the unanimous vote of all their agents, have adopted the treaty. It has been ratified by the English government. And though in party times, and in contests of men, some little dust may be thrown into the air, and some little excitement of the political elements may be produced occasionally, yet, so far as we know, no considerable discontent exists on the subject. How far the United States consider themselves benefited by it, let the votes of the two houses of Congress decide. A greater majority, I will undertake to say, was never given, in either house, in favor of any treaty, from the foundation of the government to the present time.
With respect, Sir, to the publication of Mr. Featherstonhaugh, and the tone of sundry articles in the London press, concerning the Paris map, I hope nobody supposes, so far as the government of the United States is concerned, that these things are exciting any sensation at Washington. Mr. Featherstonhaugh does not alarm us for our reputation. Assuming that there must either be a second arbitration or a settlement by compromise, finding that no arbitration which did not end in a compromise would be successful in settling the dispute, the government thought it its duty to invite the attention of the two States immediately concerned to the subject, — to ask them to take part in negotiations about to be entered into, with an assurance that no line of boundary should be agreed to without their consent, and without their consent, also, to all the conditions and stipulations of the treaty respecting the boundary. To this the two States agreed, with the limitation upon the consent of their agents, that, with regard to both States, it should be unanimous. In this state of things, undoubtedly it was the duty of the government of the United States to lay before these States thus admitted into the negotiations all the information in its power. Every office in Washington was ransacked, every book of authority consulted, the whole history of all the negotiations, from the treaty of Paris downward, was produced, and among the rest this discovery in Paris, to go for what it was worth. If these afforded any evidences to their minds to produce a conviction that it might be used to obscure their rights, to lead an arbitration into an erroneous, unjust compromise, that was all for their consideration. The map was submitted as evidence, together with all the other proofs and documents in the case, without the slightest reservation on the part of the government of the United States. I must confess that I did not think it a very urgent duty on my part to go to Lord Ashburton and tell him that I had found a bit of doubtful evidence in Paris, out of which he might perhaps make something to the prejudice of our claims, and from which he could set up higher claims for himself, or throw further uncertainty over the whole matter.
I will detain you, Sir, by no remarks on any other part of the subject. Indeed, I had no expectation of being called upon to speak on the subject, in regard to which my own situation is a delicate one. I shall be quite satisfied if the general judgment of the country shall be, in the first place, that nothing disreputable to the Union, nothing prejudicial to its interests in regard to the line of boundary, has been done in the treaty; and in the next place, and above all things, that a fair, honorable, manly disposition has been manifested by the government in settling the question, and putting an end to a controversy which has disturbed the relations of the country for fifty years, not always without some danger of breaking the public peace, often with the effect of disturbing commercial intercourse, spreading distrust between those having daily dealings with one another, and always tending to excite alarm, jealousy, and suspicion.