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A History of British Columbia
Chapter V - International Questions


The Oregon Question.

Very soon after the return of Lewis and Clark a merchant whose name is still a synonym for boundless wealth formed the Pacific Coast Fur Company to establish the fur trade on the Pacific Coast. John Jacob Astor was a German by birth, who had made his home in New York and had prospered greatly. He had for many years been engaged in commerce on the Pacific Coast and with China, and in trade with the Indians in the center of the American continent. He now determined to obtain control of the whole fur trade of the unsettled parts of the United States and of the Russian establishment in North America. He intended to establish trading posts on the Missouri, the Columbia and the coasts contiguous to that river. By exporting the furs gathered in America to China and exchanging them for the products of the east, he hoped to extend the commerce of the Pacific Fur Company around the world. Astor tried to avoid the danger of the competition of the Northwest Company by inviting it to share his enterprise, an offer which that powerful and energetic body declined. He was, however, able to enlist several individual members of the company as partners and to engage a number of its old employes. A ship was sent out to view the coast and agents were sent to St. Petersburg to conclude an arrangement with the Russian Fur Company by which that body would sell its fur to the Astor Fur Company and obtain supplies of food and merchandise at the station to be established at the mouth of the Columbia. These preliminaries concluded, an expedition was sent out in 1810 on board the good ship Tonquin, Captain Thorn master, to build the fort and establish the fur trade. It called at the Hawaiian Islands for fresh supplies, and on the 12th of April, 1811, began to build a fort at Point George, on the south side of the Columbia, about twelve miles from its mouth. The fort was called after the founder of the enterprise, Astoria. As soon as the work was well under way Captain Thorn departed on the Tonquin on a trading cruise to the west coast of Vancouver Island. Neither the ship nor captain ever returned. The captain and most of the crew were massacred by the Indians in return for an insult which Thorn had put upon one of the chiefs. The ship itself was blown up, whether by accident or design could never be learned. The survivor of the crew of the Tonquin was an interpreter, who surrendered himself as a slave to the women who accompanied in their canoes the infuriated savages. On the 15th of July, before the fort was completed, a boat came down the Columbia bearing a party of the Northwest Company's men whose leader, David Thompson, had been for years exploring the region in which the northern waters of the Columbia had their source, and who had hoped to be the first to reach the Pacific and build a trading post at the mouth of the river of which he believed himself to be the discoverer, and had hoped to be the first to explore. McDougall, the commander of the Fort Astoria, treated his visitor with the greatest courtesy, and after a few days Thompson departed for Montreal accompanied by Stuart, who was in charge of an expedition to build a trading post in the interior. The place chosen by Stuart for the fort was on Okanagan River; the Northwest Company had already reached the Spokane. A few months later Clarke, of the Pacific Fur Company, planted another establishment on the latter river. On the 18th of January, 1812, an overland expedition in charge of Hunt, chief manager of the Pacific Fur Company, arrived at Astoria after having suffered many hardships and losses. When Astor heard of the loss of the Tonquin he sent a ship, namely, the Beaver, to Astoria with supplies and merchandise to trade with the Russians for furs. In August Hunt proceeded up the coast in the Beaver to conclude some arrangements begun in St. Petersburg some time before by which the Pacific Coast Fur Company would buy all the furs of the Russia Company and supply them with all necessaries for their trade with the natives. Having satisfactorily fulfilled his mission Hunt sailed for the Sandwich Islands, but it was six months before he could find a vessel to bring him to Astoria. During his absence the Northwest Company had established many trading ports on the Upper Columbia and its branches. The war of 1812 had broken out and the partners of the Pacific Fur Company having no ship and small means of defense were becoming anxious for the safety of their position. On the nth of April, 1813, Astoria was visited by John George McTavish and Joseph Leroche with a large party of nor'westers. The Northwest Company wanted to purchase Astoria and McTavish had come to show the partners there the danger of their position, the unlikelihood of their receiving supplies now that British cruisers were sailing the position and the wisdom of selling their post before it would be captured. McDougall and his associates were not easily persuaded. At last they agreed that if during the year supplies did not arrive arid if the war was not over, they would disband and having sold the post at a good price hand the money over to Astor. When Hunt returned shortly after the departure of McTavish he was sadly disappointed at the position of affairs, but could propose no better plan. In October of the same year McTavish came back, this time accompanied by Alexander Stewart, and the purchase of Astoria was concluded, the price being $80,500. Two weeks after H. M. S. Raccoon arrived and great was the disappointment of her officers to find that the Northwest Company by purchasing the trading-post had deprived them of a rich and easily obtained prize. The captain changed the name of the place to Fort George and took possession of the place in the name of Great Britain. In 1814 the treaty of Ghent was signed and by one of its clauses all territory, places and possessions taken during the war, with the exception of certain islands in the Bay of Fundy were to be restored. It was the 9th of August, 1818, before the British authorities finally restored Fort George in the following formula:

"We, the undersigned, do in conformity to the first article of the treaty of Ghent, restore to the government of the United States the settlement of Fort George on the Columbia River."

No attempt was made by the United States for several years after the sale of Astoria to settle or establish trading posts in what came to be known as the Oregon Country. In-1819 Long's expedition, of which an account was published in 1823, ascertained that the whole division of North America drained by Missouri and Arkansas and their tributaries between the meridian of the mouth of the Platte and the Rocky Mountains is a desert. The Northwest Company carried on their trade from Fort George at the mouth of the Columbia to Fort St. James near the head waters of the Fraser without a rival. By a convention made in 1818 between Great Britain and the United States it was agreed that the country westward of the Rocky Mountains should be free and open for ten years from the date of the convention, to the vessels, citizens, and subjects of both powers, without prejudice to the claims of either country. In the year 1821 the Hudson's Bay Company and the Northwest Company united and the courts of judicature of Upper Canada were empowered to take cognizance of all causes, civil or criminal, in the Hudson's Bay Territories or other ports not within the limits of Upper Canada, Lower Canada, or the United States. This company received a license to trade in the regions which had not originally formed part of Rupert's land for a period not exceeding 21 years, and persons in the service might act as justices of the peace. The Hudson's Bay Company being now a very powerful organization extended their fur trade along the coast to the borders of Alaska and increased and improved their establishments in the interior. Peace and good order were the rule wherever the company's authority reached. The manager of their affairs on the Pacific Coast was John McLoughlin, a man eminently fitted for his position. He moved from Fort George and built Fort Vancouver on the north bank of the Columbia near the mouth of the Willamette. Large farms were cultivated at Vancouver and at other places in the Columbia valley and on Puget Sound.

While the dispute about the ownership of the Northwest coast was arising between England and the United States, a third claim was made. The Russian emperor issued a ukase claiming the ownership of the whole west coast of America north of the fifty-first parallel and of the east coast of Asia north of forty-five degrees forty-five minutes north latitude and forbidding foreigners to come within one hundred miles of the coast. Both England and the United States protested against this extravagant assumption on the part of Russia and a treaty was made by each of them. That with the United States was concluded first in 1824. By this treaty it was agreed that the subjects of both nations should be free to navigate the waters of the Pacific Ocean or to resort to its coasts to trade with the natives, though United States citizens must not resort to any points where there is a Russian establishment nor found establishments north of fifty-four degrees forty minutes. The subjects of either nation could frequent interior seas, gulfs, harbors and creeks for the purposes of fishing and trading with the natives.

An important provision of the treaty of 1825 made with Great Britain provides that: "the line of demarcation between possessions of the high contracting parties upon the coast of the continent and the islands of America to the northwest shall be drawn from the southern most point of Prince of Wales Island, eastward to the great inlet in the continent called Portland Channel and along the middle of that inlet to the fifty-sixth degree of latitude, whence it shall follow the summit of the mountains bordering the coast within ten leagues northwestward to Mount St. Elias and thence north in the course of the twenty-first meridian from Greenwich, which line shall form the limit between the Russian and British possessions in the continent of America to the Northward." This clause of the treaty plainly acknowledged the Russian belief in the right of Great Britain to possessions on the northwest coast of America.

' As the time of the expiration of the convention of 1818 drew near there was a strong feeling both in England- and the United States that the boundary between their possessions should be determined, and plenipotentiaries were appointed. England proposed that the southern boundary of her possessions should be the forty-ninth parallel to the northeasternmost branch of the Columbia River, thence down the middle of the stream to the Pacific. The utmost that the United States would concede was that the forty-ninth parallel should be the boundary line to the Ocean. As neither side would yield on the sixth of August, 1827, it was resolved "that the provisions of October 20th, 1818, rendering all territories claimed by Great Britain or by the United States west of the Rock Mountains free and open to the citizens or subjects of both nations for ten years should be extended for an indefinite period, and that either party could annul or abrogate the convention by giving a year's notice."

So far the only settlers in Oregon had been fur traders, but from this time immigrants from the United States began to arrive in very small numbers at first, but gradually increasing till about the year 1842 it was felt that joint occupation was no longer practicable. In that year the Northeastern boundary of the United States was fixed by the Ashburton Treaty, but the contracting powers did not consider it wise to complicate the situation by introducing into the negotiations the Oregon Question.

There was a party from the United States who claimed the whole region west of the Rocky Mountains from the forty-second parallel of north latitude to that of fifty-four degrees forty minutes, that is, from California to Alaska. Some of its members asserted their determination to take up arms and drive Great Britain from the Pacific Slope. They rested their claim on right derived from the purchase of Louisianan in 1803 and on the Florida Treaty with Spain in 1819. When by the Treaty of Versailles the Independence of the United States was acknowledged the Mississippi formed its western borders. In 1803 the young Republic extended its borders by the purchase from France of Louisiana. Concerning the western boundary of this new acquisition Greenhow says: "In the absence of all light on the subject from history we are forced to regard the boundaries indicated by nature, namely the highlands separating the headwaters of the Mississippi from those flowing into the Pacific or Californian Gulf, as the true western boundaries of Louisiana." By the Florida Treaty Spain ceded to the United States all rights, claims and pretentions to territories beyond Louisiana, which by the words of that Treaty reached on the north to latitude forty-two degrees, and on the west to the Pacific Ocean. Spain, these claimants contended, owned the Northwest Coast by virtue of discovery, and that right she ceded by the treaty of 1819 to the United States. The moderate party claimed the valley of the Columbia from Gray's discovery in 1792, the exploration of Lewis and Clark in 1804-5, the settlement of Astoria and others made by the Pacific Fur Company and on the ground of contiguity to what was their undisputed territory. The British on their part based their claims on the discovery of Cook, the Nootka Convention which gave them the right of settlement in what had previously been claimed as Spanish possessions, the explorations of Vancouver and the journeys and discoveries of Mackenzie, Fraser and Thompson. Their strongest argument, however, was that for nearly thirty-five years British subjects had been the chief occupants of the whole region and for the greater part of that time no United States subject had lived west of the Rocky Mountains. Many other matters were imported into the controversy between the nations, which grew more and more bitter as time went on. Negotiations having continued through the years 1844 and 1845 without result, and notice of the abrogation of the Convention by the United States having been received in England, the British plenipotentiary was instructed to present to the United States government a new scheme for the settlement of the difficulty. This was accepted and became in 1846 the Treaty of Oregon.

By this treaty it was provided that the forty-ninth parallel should be the boundary between the United States and the British possessions to the middle of the channel that separates the continent from Vancouver Island; that the navigation of the Columbia should be free to British subjects; that the possessory rights of all British subjects shall be respected and the farm lands and other property of the Puget Sound Agricultural Company should be confirmed to it. There were many in Canada and in Great Britain who viewed the Oregon treaty as a weak concession to' the claims of the United States, while on the other hand the extremists in the Republic believed that the Monroe Doctrine promulgated in 1818 should have been followed and "that the American continents by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for colonization by any European power."

Simon Fraser.

While Lewis and Clark were making their way down the Columbia the Northwest Company were preparing to occupy the Pacific Slope. In 1805 Simon Fraser was at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, having received directions to follow Mackenzie's route, establish the fur trade among the tribes near the headwaters of the Peace, and the yet unnamed river discovered by the great explorer, and to follow, if possible, that river to its mouth and find out whether or not it was the Columbia. About the same time David Thompson received instructions to find a pass further to the south and seek in that direction the headwaters of the Columbia. As we have seen that members of .the Northwest Company met Lewis and Clark in the Mandan country the previous year, it is possible that news of the United States expedition had reached the headquarters of that enterprising body and stimulated its efforts to prevent the trade of the great unexplored region to the west from falling into the hands of the shrewd citizens of the young republic.

The only explorations of which we have any record during the twelve years since Mackenzie crossed the Pacific Slope is that of James Finlay, who in 1797 ascended the Finlay River, the northern branch of the Peace River.

The first building erected by a white man west of the Rocky Mountains . was Fort McLeod, built on McLeod Lake by James McDougall. No one since 1793 had ventured to launch a boat on the terrible river, whose dangers -even the intrepid Mackenzie "had feared to brave. The man to whom the arduous task of exploring it was one of the youngest of the partners of the Northwest Company. Simon Fraser was the son of a Loyalist, who served under Burgoyne and who died not long after the surrender of the army of that ill-fated general. His widow with her child removed to Cornwall, Upper Canada, and when her boy was sixteen years old he received a position in the Northwest Company. Being hardy and adventurous as well as industrious the boy succeeded and by the time he was twenty-six years old had become one of the advance guard of the Northwest Company. Leaving Fort Dunvegan on the Peace River in the autumn of 1805 he made his way to the Rock Mountain portage where he with fourteen of his men spent the winter. From Rocky Mountain House he proceeded by the Peace River to the Pacific Slope, finding as Mackenzie had done, great difficulty in passing. from the headwaters of the Parsnip to those of the Fraser. In this region of lakes and mountains Fraser remained building forts and establishing the fur trade for more than two years. It was he who, recalling his mother's stories of her childhood's home, first gave this rugged land the appropriate name of New Caledonia. In a beautiful situation on Stuart Lake in 1806, Fraser built Fort St. James, which has been ever since the principal depot of the fur trade of northern British Columbia. The lake was called after John Stuart, a clerk of the Northwest Company and Fraser's friend and lieutenant. At the confluence of the Fraser and Nechaco the explorers met a band of Indians to whom tobacco and soap were alike unknown luxuries. Proceeding up the Nechaco, Stuart discovered a lake which from its position he considered would make a good trading center. He gave it the name of his leader and Fort Fraser was built where the lake falls into the river. The following winter, was passed at Stuart Lake. The difficulty of obtaining supplies induced Fraser to send for more men. While he was awaiting their arrival he erected Fort George at the confluence of the Nechaco and the Fraser. The reinforcement arrived in 1807 in charge of Hugh Fairies and Maurice Quesnel, bringing rumors of Lewis and Qark and a request to hurry the expedition.

On the 26th of May Fraser set out on his journey to the sea. Every hour of the long- summer days, during which the explorers followed the windings of the tumultuous river around towering mountains and over jagged rocks which tore its waters into foam, was full of peril. The coolness with which they overcame the boiling surges of the river and crept along its precipitous banks, often making a foothold for themselves with their daggers. showed that these rugged fur traders were as fearless as the vikings of old. Their canoes were repeatedly broken, often destroyed. At length the attempt to navigate the river was abandoned and the party toiled over the mountains till at length the smoother current showed that they were nearing the sea. On the way down Fraser had observed and named the rivers Quesnel and Thompson, which contributed their waters to the volume of the river. Fraser reached the tide waters of the Pacific in the vicinity of the site of the city of New Westminster on the second day of July, 1808. He was prevented from proceeding to the ocean by the attacks of hostile Indians, but he had learned that the river he had been exploring was not the Columbia.

David Thompson.

The leader of the northern expedition of the Northwest Company was a remarkable man. David Thompson had in his youth received a good education. and having- adopted the calling of a surveyor received a position in the Hudson's Bay Company. In 1795 he found a route from Hudson's Bay to Lake Athabasca. On his return he learned that his services were no longer needed and immediately set out for the headquarters of the Northwest Company. He was immediately engaged and on August 9th, 1796, began a series of surveys lasting for many years, during which he traced the courses of the Saskachewan, the Assiniboine and most of the rivers between Lake Superior and the Rocky Mountains. He visited the Mandan country and sought and thought he had found the sources of the Mississippi. In his busy, though often lonely life, the explorer found time and opportunity to pursue the study of the heavens, and has been distinguished by the title of astronomer.

In 1805 Thompson was commissioned to ascend the Saskachewan to explore the Columbia and examine the region between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

During the five years from 1806 to 1811 Thompson spent most of his time in southeastern British Columbia. He discovered the source of the Columbia and explored its northern waters. He followed the course of the Kootenay and finally reaching the Lower Columbia by way of the Spokane and Pend d'Oreille branches rowed down to its mouth, as has been before related, on the 15th of July, 1811. He established the fur trade at points as far distant as the Bend of the Columbia, the Forks of the Thompson and the United States boundary line. The explorer made frequent journeys eastward, and is said to have come through the wall of mountains by the Kicking Horse, the Yellowhead, Howe's and Athabasca passes. The importance of his labors can hardly be overestimated though they were very ill-requited. It is largely due to the achievement of these explorers and pioneers of the fur trade, Fraser and Thompson, that. Great Britain owns the magnificent province of British Columbia.

San Juan.

When in 1846 the Oregon Treaty was signed it was believed that the question of the northern limits of the territory of the United States was settled at once and forever; yet the ink was hardly dry on the paper when events took place which at an earlier period would have ended in a fratricidal war.

Seven miles to the southeast of Victoria, now the capital of British Columbia, at the time of the signing of the treaty a Hudson's Bay Company trading post, lies the island of San Juan, the largest of the Haro Archipelago. About the time of the founding of Fort Camosun, when the Hudson's Bay Company were seeking new pastures for their flocks and herds at a distance from those of the settlers in Oregon, they sent a number of sheep and cattle in charge of some of their servants to the island of San Juan. These throve so well that when disputes arose as to the ownership of the place they had five thousand sheep and a great number of cattle, pigs and horses. In 1851 W. J. McDonald, one of the Hudson's Bay Company's employes, established a salmon fishery at San Juan and warned the United States fishermen in the vicinity that they must not fish inshore as the island was British territory.

On the other hand, the Legislature of Oregon in 1852 organized Whid-by Island and the Haro Archipelago into a district called Esland County. The next year Oregon was divided and the district placed under the jurisdiction of Washington. In 1854 the collector of customs for Puget Sound, I. N. Ebey, came over to collect dues from the Hudson's Bay Company agent for pure bred stock which had been lately imported. The customs house officer met Charles John Griffen, a clerk of the company and justice of the peace for the colony of Vancouver Island, who asserted that San Juan was British territory and that no duties could be collected on behalf of the United States. When Governor Douglas heard of the matter he came over from Victoria in the steamer Otter, with Charles Sangster, collector of customs for that port. Sangster came on shore, declared the island British territory and hoisted the British flag. Ebey unfurled the United States revenue flag, swore in Henry Webber as a deputy and sailed away. Within the year, fear of the northern Indians caused Webber to leave the island. During this year an appraiser was sent over from Washington to assess the property of San Juan. As the Hudson's Bay Company refused to pay the assessment the sheriff of Whatcom arrived and seized and sold at auction a number of the company's sheep. The protests against this action caused Governor Stephens to apprise the executive of the United States of what he had done. He was told to instruct the officials of the territory not to attempt to enforce the payment of any taxes on the island of San Juan as long as there was any dispute as to its ownership. At the same time they were not to acknowledge that it was a British possession. Accordingly assessments continued to be made and imports valued as before though the officials sent to perform these services were frequently obliged to seek from the Hudson's Bay Company's men protection from the northern Indians, who were frequent and dangerous visitors. Affairs had reached this point when in 1856 a commission was appointed to fix the boundary line laid down in the Treaty of Oregon in 1846. The commissioners were Captain Prevost and Captain Richards for the British government and Archibald Campbell, with whom was associated Lieutenant Parke, for that of the United States. Expeditions were fitted out by both nations. That of the United States, the first to arrive, was on board the surveying ship "Active," and the brig "Fauntleroy." Captain Prevost came out in H. M. S. "Satellite" in June, 1857, followed some months later by Captain Richards in H. M. S. " Plumper."

There was no question as to the boundary between the British and United States possessions .until the sea was reached. The position of the forty-ninth parallel was ascertained and monuments placed from the north shore of Semiahmoo Bay to the southeastern limit of East Kootenay. But as to the boundary through the water after it left the forty-ninth parallel there was an irreconcilable difference of opinion between the commissioners. The words of the Oregon Treaty which refer to this part of the boundary are: "From the point on the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude, where the boundary laid down by existing treaties and conventions between Great Britain and the United States terminates, the line of the boundary between the territories of her Britannic Majesty and those of the United States shall be continued westward along the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude to the middle of the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver Island and thence southerly through the middle of said channel, and of Fuca Strait to the Pacific Ocean, provided, however, that the navigation of the said channel and straits, south of the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude, remain free and open to both parties."

If there had been only one channel between Vancouver Island and the continent, there could have been no dispute, as the words of the treaty are very explicit. But the water immediately south of the forty-ninth parallel is divided by the Haro Archipelago, into three navigable channels. The largest of these, some seven miles wide, called the Canal de Haro, separates Vancouver Island from the Archipelago. Rosario Straits lies between Washington and the islands of Orcas and Lopez. Through which of these channels should the boundary run? The United States commissioners declared that the framers of the treaty had in mind the Canal de Haro, the widest channel and the one nearest Vancouver Island. The British commissioners contended quite as strongly that Rosario Strait fulfilled the conditions of the treaty and that moreover at the time it was drawn up, San Juan, the largest of the islands, belonged to Vancouver Island, the Hudson's Bay Company having occupied it since 1843. In August, 1859, Lord Jorm Russell, head of the foreign office, in a dispatch to Lord Lyons, the British minister at Washington, proposed that rather than continue the irritating controversy the middle channel should be adopted as the one through the middle of which the boundary line should pass. This would give all the islands except San Juan to the United States. The compromise was not accepted and when, having thoroughly surveyed the three channels the commission found that they could come to no agreement, the matter was in 1867, ten years after they had begun their labors, referred to their respective governments,

While surveyors and diplomatists were striving to. arrive at a peaceful solution of the boundary question a trivial incident rendered its settlement still more difficult. A United States settler named Lyman A. Cutler, had gone in April, 1859, to live on San Juan Island, and planted a patch of potatoes near the Hudson's Bay Company's establishment. One of the Company's hogs on the 15th of June had rooted up some of Cutler's potatoes and was shot by the angry farmer. The manager of the Company's farm demanded a high price for the animal, which Cutler refused to pay. During the day it happened that three of the leading men of the company, Dallas, Tolmie and Fraser, came over to San Juan on the steamer "Beaver." Dallas on hearing of the occurrence insisted on the payment demanded and warned Cutler against any further injury to the company's property. High words and even threats were said to have passed between the two men.

General Harney was at that time commander of the military department of Oregon. The American settlers, of whom there were about thirty, had in May asked the general to send them a guard of twenty soldiers to protect them from, the northern Indians. He did not comply with their request at the time, but on the 9th of July he visited the island. He was presented by Cutler and other settlers from the United States with a second petition asking for protection, not only from the Indians, but from the authorities on Vancouver Island, who they stated had threatened Cutler's arrest. General Harney without communicating with his superior officer or with the authorities at Washington, issued an order to Captain Pickett to transfer his company from Fort Bellingham to San Juan Island. On the day of the arrival of Pickett's deatchment (July 27th), Major de Courcy came over from Victoria on H. M. S. "Satellite" to fill under British law the office of Stipendiary Magistrate on the Island of San Juan.

Captain Pickett proceeded to establish a military camp, and on the 31st was reinforced by another company under Colonel Casey from Steilacoom. There were then stationed at the island 461 United States soldiers, with eight 32 pounders.

It was September before the British minister in Washington learned that the disputed territory had been occupied by United States soldiers. The ambassador represented the matter to the president as likely to occasion a grave breach of the friendly relations between the two governments. The executive of the United States immediately sent General Scott to inquire into the cause of General Harney's action, and to make such arrangements as would tend to preserve peace between England and the United States. On his arrival at the Pacific Coast General Scott ordered the removal of all the cannon from San Juan and left but one company of soldiers there. As Pickett had rendered himself objectionable to the British residents of the island an officer named Hunt was put in his place. He urged upon Governor Douglas the advisability of sending an equal force to occupy the island on behalf of Great Britain. After some delay this plan was agreed to and on the 20th of March, 1860, a detachment of Marines under Captain George Bazalgette was sent to San Juan. This joint occupation continued for twelve years. The greatest harmony and good feeling prevailed between the military men stationed at San Juan and many pleasant social gatherings attended by the young people of Victoria and Esquimalt, took place on the island. That no collision took place while General Harney was placing the troops on San Juan was entirely owing to the wise forbearance of General Baynes, who would allow neither the provocation of his enemies nor the rashness of his friends to hurry into ill-considered action. This was the more to be commended as he had, by the admission of the American officers; a force amply sufficient to prevent the landing of the troops or to effect their capture afterwards.

The San Juan difficulty still remained unsettled when in 1871 the Joint High Commission met at Washington. By one of the terms of the treaty then drawn up it was decreed that the matter of the disputed boundary should be submitted to the arbitration of the Emperor William of Germany, whose decision would be final. George Bancroft the American minister to Germany was appointed to prepare the case of the United States, while Mr. Petre the British charge d'affaires conducted that of Great Britain. The award was made in favor of the contention of the United States on October ioth, 1872. By this time British Columbia had become a province of Canada, whose southern limit from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific was not completely defined.

The Alaskan Boundary.

To the modern tourist the name of Alaska suggests a scene of rugged grandeur whose chief features are high rocky islands, deep fiords and mighty mountains, whose immense glaciers glisten in the sunlight. The sea sheltered by rocks on either hand is peaceful and the only dangers to be feared are the sunken rock or the hidden iceberg. As he floats along during the endless midsummer days it requires an effort to remember that the ownership of these picturesque fiords and barren shores has been a subject of grave dispute between two powerful nations. Yet a great deal of time and thought has been spent by some of the wisest men in England and the United States and much money has been expended in the effort to settle the Alaskan Boundary Question. All that can be done here is to give a brief outline of the history of the dispute and of the terms of settlement.

The peninsula of Alaska was discovered in the year 1741 by Behring on his third voyage. Its shores were soon frequented by Russian fur traders, and in 1789 the Russian American Fur Company was formed, and given exclusive privileges of trade in the whole of Alaska, which seems at that time to have been undefined territory. When at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century British explorers found their way either by land or sea to the territory to the south and east of her possessions, Russia does not seem to have concerned herself much about their doings. It was another matter when fur traders began to occupy the country and to deplete the waters of the sea-otter and seal and the land of beaver, marten and other fur-bearing animals. The Russian monopolists -viewed with great disfavor the neighborhood of the British monopolists. In 1821, the year when the great fur companies united, the Russian emperor issued a ukase, claiming the whole west of America north of the fifty-first parallel of north latitude and forbidding the subjects of any foreign nation to approach within one hundred miles of the coast. England hastened to protest against the extravagant claims, and in 1825 a treaty was made defining the boundary between the respective possessions of England and Russia in America.

The Peninsula of Alaska was divided from1 the British possessions to the east of it by the one hundred and forty-first degree of longitude, about which no dispute could arise. Russia, however, claimed a strip of seacoast reaching as far south as latitude fifty-four degrees forty minutes. Though the coast had been explored by Vancouver the land was untrodden by the foot of civilized man. It was traversed by mountains, crossed by rivers, and indented by many arms of the sea. An archipelago of islands stretched along its coast. The definition of the eastern boundary of this part of Alaska was laid down very elaborately by the negotiations. It was more than half a century before there was any necessity for ascertaining where this boundary lay and then many difficulties presented themselves as to the interpretation of the treaty. There was also a clause which gave British subjects "the right of navigating freely and without any hindrance whatever, all the rivers and streams which may cross the line of demarcation upon the line of coast described in article III of the present Convention."

While the Russians held Alaska no dispute arose with regard to the provisions of the treaty. Between the years 1839 and 1849 the Hudson's Bay Company leased the Russian territory between latitudes fifty-four degrees forty minutes and 58 degrees North.

In 1867 the United States purchased Alaska from Russia in the same year the Dominion of Canada was formed. When in 1871 British Columbia entered into confederation Alaska and Canada became adjoining territories. In that year the treaty of Washington was signed and it contained a clause which was interpreted to mean that England gave up the right of her subject to navigate the rivers and streams of Alaska for any purpose save that of commerce.

Gold was discovered in the Cassiar District of British Columbia in 1872. The nearest route into the country was by the Stikine River, which was declared to run through the United States territory; this caused an agitation for a definition of the boundary and surveyors went into the country to try to locate it, but little was done till in 1896 the great discovery of gold in the Klondike, a tributary of the Yukon situated in the northwest of Canada, showed still more plainly the dangers and inconveniences that might arise from an uncertain boundary. From every quarter men rushed to the gold-fields carrying with them valuable outfits. The most direct entrance was by Lynn Canal in Alaska. The. United States town of Skagway was on this canal, and Canada claimed, but was refused the right to build one near it. A provisional boundary was perforce agreed upon at this place.

The Alaskan Boundary controversy must be allowed to exist no longer. All the points in dispute resolved themselves into one. To whom did the inlets belong? The treaty declared that the width of the Russian, now the United States possessions should be ten marine leagues measured by a line drawn "parallel to the windings of the coast." Canada contended that the "coast" meant the shores of the Archipelago while the United States maintained that the ten marine leagues were to be measured from the continental coast-line. The wheels of diplomacy were at last set in motion and in January, 1903, a commission was appointed, consisting of Lord Alverston, Chief Justice of England, Sir Louis Jette, a retired judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, and A. B. Aylesworth, a Canadian lawyer, representing British interests, and Elihu Root, Secretary of War, Henry C. Lodge, Senator of Massachusetts, and George Turner, formerly Senator from Washington, on behalf of the United States. It was agreed that the decision of a majority of the commission should be binding on both nations. After many months' de-r liberation the award was given in October in spite of the protest of the Canadian commissioners, who refused to sign it. By the verdict of the commission the United States retained possession of the inlets of Alaska. At the< mouth of Portland Channel, the beginning of the boundary, are four islands. Two of these, Pearse and Wales Islands, were awarded to Canada, while the United States received Sitklan and Kamaghmnut.


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