« PreviousContinue »
By the proclamation of 1763, the boundary of New York had been recognised, and it was further described as passing along “the high lands which divide the rivers that empty themselves into the said river Saint Lawrence from those which fall into the sea." As it was set forth in the commissions of the governors of Nova Scotia that the western boundary of that state was the river Saint Croix to its source, that river was so specified by the United States commissioners as the eastern boundary, and thence by the line drawn north to the declared southern boundary of Canada, thus leaving to Massachusetts the territory now forming the state of Maine.
Jay also urged that West Florida should be ceded to Spain, and that the navigation of the Mississippi from its source to the ocean should remain free and open.
On the 6th of October, the following day, de Vergennes gave to Fitzherbert the draft of his treaty. The general conditions need not be entered into in this history ; an exception must be made to the demand for the exclusive right of fishing off Newfoundland from cape Saint John to Point à la Lune (cape May) with the right of fortifying one or more islands to be held in full sovereignty. The Spanish terms, including the cession of Gibraltar, were so extravagant, that Fitzherbert at once declared there was no possibility of their acceptance.
At this stage of the proceeding, Strachey, then under secretary of the treasury, was deputed to proceed to Paris to aid Oswald in his negotiations. He was instructed to claim the territory to the west, extending from the boundaries of Pennsylvania and Virginia to the Mississippi, described by the Quebec act of 1774 as within the boundaries of Canada. To the east, he was to enforce the recognition of the Penobscot and its tributaries as the boundary, in accordance with the jurisdiction formerly claimed by French Canada, as dividing northern Massachusetts from Nova Scotia. The pretension to the country north of the Ohio must have been advanced on the theory of presenting a counterbalancing
claim against some exacting demand which might be made by the United States. It was known, that it was not possible to hold this western territory except at immense cost, for the expense of the few western posts had been the ceaseless theme of correspondence between the home authorities and Haldimand. There was more ground for the determination of the Penobscot and its tributaries as the boundary, for that river would really have established a natural division between Nova Scotia and the state of Maine, and the river had likewise borne the name of the Saint Croix. I haye already in a previous volume* entered into the question of the wisdom of abandoning the western territory; for by the expedition of Hamilton the fact had been established, that it could only have been held by large garrisons, an expense the country would never have tolerated, and its possession would have proved the ground of another war. Indeed, it is scarcely possible to believe that the claim was made in any expectation of its being allowed, for Oswald was told in his instructions, that if the concession could not be obtained, the decision regarding this frontier could be left with the commissioners.
Strachey was earnestly directed to enforce the payment of moneys due by parties in America to their creditors in Great Britain ; to require that honest debts should be paid in honest money, not congress money; further, that the demand for the restitution of their property to the loyalists, or compensation be made, was to be enforced.
The main point in the negotiation with France which threatened complication was the question of the fisheries. France was, however, promised the continuance of the rights she had hitherto possessed in Newfoundland. Consequently, the views of the British cabinet met more ready acceptance, and de Vergennes withdrew his demand for the exclusive right of fishery, on condition that Great Britain should enter into an engagement ministériellement, to secure an uninterrupted enjoyment by the French fishermen of their occupation, through instructions on the subject given to the colonial governors. I will further allude to this point when I describe the fishery negotiations. The success of the British at Gibraltar in September, with the total defeat of the French and Spanish fleets, had, by the middle of October, been perfectly understood in its magnitude, and had worked the consequence which is generally the attendant of a triumph in war; and it was of the more effect, that it had followed the victory of Rodney in the brief space of a few months. At this time de Vergennes evinced no desire to support the claims of Gibraltar. The right of conquest was entirely out of the question; but Spain still hoped, that, by the sacrifice of some equivalent, possession of the fortress could be obtained. De Vergennes did not, however, continue in this view, for, urged by Spain, he assumed a different tone, and declared that peace could not be made without accession of the fortress.
* [Vol. VI., p. 517.)
The negotiation with France and Spain was being continued without progress being made, when Adams joined his brother negotiators. Adams had at no time any particular affection for the French alliance. His opinion had always been that the United States had been constantly too effusive in the expression of what was owing to France. Moreover, he had a personal grievance; in 1780 at the Hague he had been discountenanced by the French minister, and, owing to French influence, had been refused an official reception. On his arrival he took Jay's view, that the negotiations carried on with France were not in the view of assisting the United States, and he gave his vote for entering into a separate negotiation with Great Britain, communicating as little as possible with de Vergennes.
On the question of the payment of debts, Adams admitted the justice of the British demand, that the treaty should give the right of collecting all debts due in England previous to 1776. He declared that he had no notion of cheating any. body. Paying debts and compensating Tories were different questions. Franklin had opposed the demand. Those who