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river, whilst the United States asserted them to be identical with certain highlands running north of that river, and which overlook the St. Lawrence.*
This claim of the United States, as it will be seen by the map, could not be admitted without injurious consequences to the interests of the British Colonies; for, independent of other serious inconveniences, such an admission would have thrown the established military and post routes by which the important provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick communicated with Quebec, into the United States; so that in the unfortunate event of a war with that country, Great Britain would have had a powerful and enterprizing enemy lodged in the very heart of her colonial empire. The British negotiators, therefore, perceiving that there really was sufficient apparent ambiguity in the second article of the Treaty of 1783, upon which to raise a claim for a line of frontier hostile to the British construction of that article, and pregnant with serious misunder
* A remark may be made here not undeserving the attention of all future negotiators of treaties of delimitation, that if the Commissioners of the Peace of 1783 had inserted after the word “Highlands,” in the description of the boundary, the words “South of the St. John,” or, “ North of the St. John,” no controversy on the subject could ever have taken place.
standings, proposed to remove all future uncertainty and doubt by negotiating. : « Such a variation of the line of frontier “ as would secure a direct communication “ between Quebec and Halifax.”-Aug. 19, 1814.
The American Commissioners had admitted, upon the opening of the negotiations, that they were warranted by their instructions in agreeing to a revision of the Boundary; but, upon further consultation, those gentlemen considered their powers limited to cases where there was an obvious cause for uncertainty and dispute; and as the present claim of America was considered by them to have nothing uncertain about it, and to be perfect, they therefore declared that they had : “No authority to cede any part of the “ Territory of the United States, and to no sti“pulation to that effect will they subscribe.”_ Aug. 24, 1814.
To this it was replied
“ The American Plenipotentiaries must be “ aware that the boundary of the district of “ Maine has never been correctly ascertained ; “ that the one asserted at present by the “ American government, by which the direct " communication between Halifax and Quebec “ becomes interrupted, was not in contempla
“ ţion of the British Plenipotentiaries who “ concluded the Treaty of 1783, and that the “ greater part of the Territory in question is Gunoccupied."-Sept. 4,1814.
The American Plenipotentiaries adhering, however, to their determination, the British negotiators could only answer that
“ With respect to the boundary of the “ District of Maine, the undersigned observe “ with regret that, although the American “ Plenipotentiaries have acknowledged them
selves to be instructed to discuss a revision
of the boundary line, with a view to prevent “ uncertainty and dispute, yet, by assuming
an exclusive right. to decide what is, or is “ not, a subject of uncertainty and dispute, " they have rendered their powers nugatory, -“ or inadmissibly partial in their operation.”— Sept. 19, 1814.
This first attempt to compromise this territorial question was therefore rendered abortive, because the American Plenipotentiaries, notwithstanding that the greater part of them were gentlemen of distinction and influence in their native country, would not assume the responsibility of interpreting their powers in an effective manner; and, no doubt, for the reason that they were unwilling to set an example of proposing to bind their Government in one of those cases where, according to their system of federation, the general Government is exposed to have its authority denied to conclude upon any arrangement of delimitation, without the special consent of that particular State or States whose interests are more di, rectly concerned : an anomaly in Government which has influenced in a remarkable manner all the proceedings of this territorial dispute, up to the conclusion of the late negotiations at Washington.
Before dismissing this brief recital of the cause of this failure to compromise the boundary question at Ghent, it is almost impossible to refer to the conduct of the British Government of that day without just pride. At the period of these negotiations our country had issued from her terrible contest with Napoleon, full of glory and renown. She had no enemy in arms against her but the United States of America, and she was now at liberty to turn her veteran strength and her concentrated resources in that direction. But disregarding her overwhelming advantage, she did not hesitate to set the bright example of preferring the interests of peace and humanity to all selfish considerations; and we find her Government then, as we find it at the present day, asserting her moderate pretensions, not to a boundary which
could in any manner be prejudicial to the United States, but to one which, whilst it was sanctioned by justice, was indispensably necessary to the security of her own colonies, and to the permanency of the friendship she was desirous of returning to, with a country peopled by a common ancestry.
The negotiation on this point ended in the adoption of the fifth article of the Treaty of Ghent, authorizing Commissioners on the part of each Government to survey the territory in dispute, and in case of disagreement, to "refer “ the Report or Reports of the said Commis“sioners to some friendly Sovereign or State, “ to be then named for that purpose; and who « shall be requested to decide on the differences “ which may be stated in the said Report or “ Reports."
This contingency having occurred, a Convention was signed by the parties in 1827, for the purpose of proceeding in concert to the choice of an arbiter, whose decision was to be “ final and conclusive," and for settling the manner in which the claims of the two Governments should be laid before himn.
The King of the Netherlands having accepted the arbitration on the 12th of January, 1829, gave in his award on the 10th of January, 1831, deciding two of the three points which had been