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then, afford the prospect of a more satisfactory result? This expedient seemed to be equally rejected by all parties—by the United States, by Great Britain, and by the State of Maine. If such an alternative should be contemplated by any one as preferable to the arrangement which has been made, it is fit to bear in mind the risk and uncertainty, as well as the inevitable delay and expense, incident to that mode of decision. We have already seen, in the instance of the arbitration by the King of the Netherlands, how much weight a tribunal of that sort is inclined to give to the argument of convenience, and a supposed intention on the part of the negotiators of the Treaty of 1783, against the literal and positive terms employed by the instrument in its description of limits. Is there no danger, in the event of another arbitration, that a farther research into the public archives of Europe might bring to light some embarrassing (even though apocryphal) document, to throw a new shade of plausible doubt on the clearness of our title, in the view of a sovereign arbiter? Such a document has already been communicated to the committee; and I feel it (said Mr. R.) to be my duty to lay it before the Senate, that they may fully appreciate its bearings, and determine for themselves the weight and importance which belong to it. It is due to the learned and distinguished gentleman, (Mr. Jared Sparks of Boston,) by whom the document referred to was discovered in the archives of France, while pursuing his laborious and intelligent researches connected with the history of our own country, that the account of it should be given in his own words, as contained in a communication addressed by him to the Department of State. I proceed, therefore, to read from that communication :
“While pursuing my researches among the volumimous papers relating to the American Revolution in the Archives des Affaires Etrangères in Paris, I found in one of the bound volumes an original letter from Dr. Franklin to Count de Vergennes, of which the following is an exact transcript:
- “‘Passy, December 6, 1782. “‘SIR,--I have the honour of returning herewith the map your Excellency sent me yesterday. I have marked with a strong red line, according to your desire, the limits of the United States, as settled in the preliminaries between the British and American plenipotentiaries. “‘With great respect, I am, &c., “* B. FRANKLIN.”
“This letter was written six days after the preliminaries were signed; and if we could procure the identical map mentioned by Franklin, it would seem to afford conclusive evidence as to the meaning affixed by the Commissioners to the language of the Treaty on the subject of the boundaries. You may well suppose that I lost no time in making inquiry for the map, not doubting that it would confirm all my previous opinions respecting the validity of our claim. In the geographical department of the Archives are sixty thousand maps and charts; but so well arranged with catalogues and indexes, that any one of them may be easily found. After a little research in the American division, with the aid of the keeper, I came upon a map of North America, by D'Anville, dated 1746, in size about eighteen inches square, on which was drawn a strong red line throughout the entire boundary of the United States, answering precisely to Franklin’s description. The line is bold and distinct in every part, made with red ink, and apparently drawn with a hair-pencil, or a pen with a blunt point. There is no other colouring on any part of the map. –
“Imagine my surprise on discovering that this line runs wholly south of the St. John’s, and between the head waters of that river and those of the Penobscot and Kennebec. In short, it is evactly the line now contended for by Great Britain, except that it concedes more than is claimed. The north line, after departing from the source of the St. Croix, instead of proceeding to Mars Hill, stops far short of that point, and turns off to the west, so as to leave on the British side all the streams which flow into the St. John's, between the source of the St. Croix and Mars Hill. It is evident that the line, from the St. Croix to the Canadian highlands, is intended to exclude all the waters running into the St. John’s. “There is no positive proof that this map is actually the one marked by Franklin; yet, upon any other supposition, it would be difficult to explain the circumstances of its agreeing so perfectly with his description, and of its being preserved in the place where it would naturally be deposited by Count de Vergennes. I also found another map in the Archives, on which the same boundary was traced in a dotted red line with a pen, apparently copied from the other. “I enclose herewith a map of Maine, on which I have drawn a strong black line, corresponding with the red one above mentioned.” I am far from intimating (said Mr. Rives) that the documents discovered by Mr. Sparks, curious and well worthy of consideration as they undoubtedly are, are of weight sufficient to shake the title of the United States (!!!) founded on the positive language of the Treaty of Peace. but they could not fail, in the event of another reference, to give increased confidence and emphasis to the pretensions of Great Britain, and to exert a corresponding influence upon the mind of the arbiter. It is worth while, in this connexion, to turn to what Lord Ashburton has said, in one of his communications to Mr. Webster, when explaining his views of the position of the highlands described in the Treaty:— “My inspection of the maps, and my examination of the documents,” says his Lordship, “lead me to a very strong conviction that the Highlands contemplated by the negotiators of the Treaty were the only Highlands then known to them—at the head of the Penobscot, Kennebec, and the rivers west of the St. Croia; and that they did not precisely know how the north line from the St. Croix would strike them; and if it were not my wish to shorten this discussion, I believe a very good argument might be drawn from the words of the Treaty in proof of this. In the negotiations with Mr. Livingston, and afterwards with Mr. M'Lane, this view seemed to prevail; and, as you are aware, there were proposals to
search for these Highlands to the west, where alone, I
leaves it, and thence, by its easterly course, to the mouth of the St. Mary’s, on the Atlantic. Here, then, is a most remarkable and unforeseen confirmation of the map of Mr. Sparks, and by another map of a most imposing character, and bearing every mark of high authenticity. It was printed and published in Paris, in 1784, (the year after the conclusion of the peace,) by Lattré, graveur du Roi, (engraver of maps, &c., to the King.) It is formally entitled on its face, a “Map of the United States of America, according to the Treaty of Peace of 1783” (“Carte des Etats Unis de l’Amérique, suivant le Traité de Paix de 1783”). It is “dedicated and presented” (dediée et présentée) “to his Excellency Benjamin Franklin, Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America, near the court of France,” and while Dr. Franklin yet remained in Paris, for he did not retnrn to the United States till the spring of the year 1785. Is there not, then, the most plausible ground to argue that this map, professing to be one constructed “according to the Treaty of Peace of 1783,” and being “dedicated and presented” to Dr. Franklin, the leading negotiator who concluded that treaty, and who yet remained in Paris while the map was published, was made out with his knowledge, and by his directions ; and that, corresponding as it does identically with the map found by Mr. Sparks in the Archives of the Foreign Affairs in Paris, they both partake of the same presumptions in favour of their authenticity.