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and Mr. Webster had tarnished the honour and surrendered the interests of their respective countries. The accusers of Lord Ashburton charged him with having so far failed in his duty, that he had in the way of compromise made concessions to America that wounded the honour of England; not attending to the fact, that his mission was produced by a critical and menacing state of things, and was altogether a measure of friendly compromise, necessary to the prosperous intercourse of the two greatest commercial countries in Christendom. In like manner, Mr. Webster was accused of abandoning the claim of the State of Maine, and of sacrificing the honour of his country; although he was especially authorized by the President of the United States to treat for a conventional line, that was not to correspond with that claim. The exhibition, however, of these partial discontents had not the effect of disturbing the calm action of the two Governments, which were no doubt both anxious to give effect to the peaceful arrangement that had been so happily accomplished; for the Senate of the United States immediately proceeded to ratify the Treaty upon its signature, by a majority of thirty-nine to nine : and Her Majesty's Government lost no time in giving it their sanction, and returning it to America at the earliest moment. Thus did a
vexatious question, which had frequently threatened the peaceful relations of England and America, become closed for ever upon terms consistent with the conviction each sincerely appeared to entertain of its rights, and the respect which was due to the peace of mankind. : As in attempting a vindication of the Treaty of Washington, it will be necessary to advert briefly to the state of our late territorial dispute with the United States at the period when Lord Ashburton entered upon his mission, a rapid sketch will now be given of the history of the controversy, referring the reader, who may be desirous of consulting its details, to the various publications in which they are to be found.
In the Second Article of the Treaty of Peace of 1783, the northern frontier of the United States is fully described as running along certain “ Highlands” dividing rivers flowing into the St. Lawrence from rivers flowing into the Atlantic Ocean, and thence by a specified line westward to the river Mississippi.
This frontier, which in its whole distance was conterininous with the British dominions in Canada, extended about 2,300 miles, and the only portion of it of which the description could be considered so doubtful as to permit a question to be raised concerning the intentions of the negotiators respecting it, was the com
mencement from the “ Highlands” to the Connecticut river, a distance of about 200 iniles.
Up to the year 1792, this part of the country was a wilderness of forests, lakes, and inorasses, only known to a few Indians, who occasionally frequented it for the chase; but about that period, the citizens of the present State of Maine, which is the most eastern of the United States, began to survey and occupy portions of it, although it had never been considered to have been conceded to the new republic, and had always been believed to belong to the Crown. This encroachment was followed by their claiming as the Treaty boundary a line of “Highlands” that would have brought the United States, at certain points, within the distance of twenty miles from the St. Lawrence, that would have cut off from Great Britain the established military and post routes leading from the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to Quebec, and would have given to the Americans various military positions overlooking the river St. Lawrence, and from whence they could have threatened the fortress of Quebec.
No person out of the United States believed that such an arrangement of the frontier was consistent with even the intentions of the Commissioners, who, on the part of America, nego
tiated the Treaty of 1783, and it was impossible to suppose that the British negotiators upon that occasion would have consented to, or that the King's Government of that day would have ratified an unfriendly, menacing, and impracticable frontier, that was unnecessary to the United States, was antagonist to the whole spirit of the Treaty, and inconsistent with the proceedings of the Commissioners by whom it had been negotiated.
War broke out between the two countries in 1812, but was happily followed by the Treaty of Peace at Ghent, in 1814. At the period when the Commissioners of the two countries met at this place, the dispute respecting this frontier had not excited much attention, and the geographical details, upon which alone a proper judgment could at that time have been formed as to the equity of the case, if not exclusively confined to the Americans, were but imperfectly known to the British Commissioners: they, however, were not ignorant of the pretensions that were to be brought forward, and perceiving that it was intended to urge them in å very serious manner, they adopted a course eminently calculated to forward the great object they were deputed to prepare the way for, viz. : the restoration of peace.
Instead, therefore, of entering upon a dis
cussion of the respective rights of the two parties, which, as past experience has shown, would have led to no conviction, they proposed in their first communication with the American Commissioners
“A revision of the boundary between His “ Majesty's territories in America and those of “ the United States, not upon any principle of “conquest or acquisition, but upon that of mu“ tual advantage and security.” Aug. 8, 1814.
This proposition related to another portion of the general boundary betwixt the two countries, as well as to the north-eastern frontier of what was then called the District of Maine; but as it is only necessary upon the present occasion to speak of this last, it may be as well to give at once a brief statement of the difference existing between the two countries, arising from their respective claims, all the geographical relations of which will be further illustrated by the annexed Map.
The Territory in dispute amounted to something less than 7,000,000 acres of land, and was comprehended between two distinct lines claimed adversely to be the “Highlands” of the Treaty. Through the centre of this territory the western part of the course of the river St. John flowed, Great Britain claiming the Highlands of the Treaty to be south of that