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A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents: Tyler by Compiled by James D. Richardson

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The diminution in the revenue arising from the great diminution of
duties under what is commonly called the compromise act necessarily
involves the Treasury in embarrassments, which have been for some years
palliated by the temporary expedient of issuing Treasury notes--an
expedient which, affording no permanent relief, has imposed upon
Congress from time to time the necessity of replacing the old by a new
issue. The amount outstanding on the 4th of March, 1840, varies in no
great degree from the amount which will be outstanding on the 1st
of January next, while in the interim the new issues are rendered
equivalent to the redemption of the old, and at the end of the fiscal
year leave an augmented pressure on the finances by the accumulation
of interest.

The contemplated revision of the tariff of duties may, and doubtless
will, lead in the end to a relief of the Treasury from these constantly
recurring embarrassments, but it must be obvious that time will be
necessary to realize the full anticipations of financial benefit from
any modification of the tariff laws. In the meantime I submit to
Congress the suggestions made by the Secretary, and invite its prompt
and speedy action.


WASHINGTON, _March 8, 1842_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives_:

In my message of the 7th of December I suggested to Congress the
propriety, and in some degree the necessity, of making proper provisions
by law within the pale of the Constitution for the removal at their
commencement and at the option of the party of all such cases as might
arise in State courts involving national questions or questions touching
the faithful observance and discharge of the international obligations
of the United States from such State tribunal to the Federal judiciary.
I am urged to repeat at this time this recommendation by the receipt of
intelligence, upon which I can rely, that a subject of Great Britain
residing in Upper Canada has been arrested upon a charge of connection
with the expedition fitted out by the Canadian authorities by which the
_Caroline_ was destroyed, and will in all probability be subjected to
trial in the State courts of New York. It is doubtful whether in this
state of things, should his discharge be demanded by the British
Government, this Government is invested with any control over the
subject until the case shall have reached the court of final resort of
the State of New York and been decided in that court; and although such
delay ought not, in a national point of view to give cause of umbrage
to Great Britain, yet the prompt and instant rendering of justice to
foreign nations should be placed among our highest duties. I can not,
therefore, in consideration of what properly becomes the United States,
and in anticipation of any demand from a foreign government for the
discharge of one of its subjects, forego the duty of repeating my
recommendation to Congress for the immediate Adoption of some suitable
legislative provision on this subject.


WASHINGTON, _March 11, 1842_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

In compliance with a resolution of the House of Representatives of the
23d ultimo, I communicate to that body a report from the Secretary of
State, conveying copies of the correspondence[26] which contains the
information called for by said resolution.


[Footnote 26: Relating to complaints of Spain and Portugal that the
operation of the revenue act of September 11, 1841, infringed treaty

WASHINGTON, _March 12, 1842_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I have reason to think that the rejection of Silas Reed as
surveyor-general of Illinois and Missouri on the evening of the last day
of the session of the Senate at the last session of Congress was founded
in a misapprehension of facts, which, while it deprived the public of
the services of a useful officer, left him to suffer a considerable
degree of injustice in his reputation. After mature reflection upon all
the circumstances of his case, and particularly of facts which have
become known since his rejection, I have felt it my duty to submit his
nomination for the same office anew to the Senate for its advice and

I therefore nominate Silas Reed to be surveyor-general of Illinois and
Missouri, in place of Joseph C. Brown, removed.


MARCH 15, 1842.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I take the earliest moment to correct an error into which I
inadvertently fell in my message of the 12th instant, nominating Silas
Reed to be surveyor-general for Illinois and Missouri. In that message I
represent the nominee as being rejected by the Senate on the evening of
the last day of the last session of Congress, when upon a more accurate
inquiry I find that he was rejected on the 14th of August, 1841, and
his successor nominated on the 23d August and confirmed on the 13th
September, which was the last day of the last session of Congress, and
which fact had become identified in my memory, upon which I drew when
I wrote the message, with the fact of his rejection.

I hasten to make the correction, not deeming it, however, of much moment
in regard to the real merits of the nomination; for whether the
rejection occurred on the last or any other day of the session, if done
under a misapprehension or mistake of the facts, the Senate, I doubt
not, will take equal pleasure in correcting the error.


WASHINGTON, _March 17, 1842_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In answer to the resolution of the Senate of the 2d ultimo, requesting
information in regard to the demarcation of the boundary line between
the United States and the Republic of Texas, I transmit a report from
the Secretary of State and the papers by which it was accompanied.


WASHINGTON, _March 17, 1842_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I have the honor to submit the accompanying report and documents[27] from
the Postmaster-General, in compliance with the resolution of the Senate
of the 16th February.


[Footnote 27: Statements of the quantity and cost of labor and materials
for the new public buildings in Washington, D.C., etc.]

WASHINGTON, _March 23, 1842_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

A resolution adopted by the House of Representatives on the 16th
instant, in the following words, viz, "_Resolved_, That the President of
the United States and the heads of the several Departments be requested
to communicate to the House of Representatives the names of such of the
members (if any) of the Twenty-sixth and Twenty-seventh Congresses who
have been applicants for office, and for what offices, distinguishing
between those who have applied in person and those whose applications
were made by friends, whether in person or by writing," has been
transmitted to me for my consideration.

If it were consistent with the rights and duties of the executive
department, it would afford me great pleasure to furnish in this, as in
all cases in which proper information is demanded, a ready compliance
with the wishes of the House of Representatives. But since, in my view,
general considerations of policy and propriety, as well as a proper
defense of the rights and safeguards of the executive department,
require of me as the Chief Magistrate to refuse compliance with the
terms of this resolution, it is incumbent on me to urge, for the
consideration of the House of Representatives, my reasons for declining
to give the desired information.

All appointments to office made by a President become from the date of
their nomination to the Senate official acts, which are matter of record
and are at the proper time made known to the House of Representatives
and to the country. But applications for office, or letters respecting
appointments, or conversations held with individuals on such subjects
are not official proceedings, and can not by any means be made to
partake of the character of official proceedings unless after the
nomination of such person so writing or conversing the President shall
think proper to lay such correspondence or such conversations before the
Senate. Applications for office are in their very nature confidential,
and if the reasons assigned for such applications or the names of the
applicants were communicated, not only would such implied confidence be
wantonly violated, but, in addition, it is quite obvious that a mass of
vague, incoherent, and personal matter would be made public at a vast
consumption of time, money, and trouble without accomplishing or tending
in any manner to accomplish, as it appears to me, any useful object
connected with a sound and constitutional administration of the
Government in any of its branches.

But there is a consideration of a still more effective and lofty
character which is with me entirely decisive of the correctness of the
view that I have taken of this question. While I shall ever evince the
greatest readiness to communicate to the House of Representatives all
proper information which the House shall deem necessary to a due
discharge of its constitutional obligations and functions, yet it
becomes me, in defense of the Constitution and laws of the United
States, to protect the executive department from all encroachment on
its powers, rights, and duties. In my judgment a compliance with the
resolution which has been transmitted to me would be a surrender of
duties and powers which the Constitution has conferred exclusively on
the Executive, and therefore such compliance can not be made by me nor
by the heads of Departments by my direction. The appointing power, so
far as it is bestowed on the President by the Constitution, is conferred
without reserve or qualification. The reason for the appointment and
the responsibility of the appointment rest with him alone. I can not
perceive anywhere in the Constitution of the United States any right
conferred on the House of Representatives to hear the reasons which an
applicant may urge for an appointment to office under the executive
department, or any duty resting upon the House of Representatives by
which it may become responsible for any such appointment.

Any assumption or misapprehension on the part of the House of
Representatives of its duties and powers in respect to appointments by
which it encroaches on the rights and duties of the executive department
is to the extent to which it reaches dangerous, impolitic, and

For these reasons, so perfectly convincing to my mind, I beg leave
respectfully to repeat, in conclusion, that I can not comply with the
request contained in the above resolution.


WASHINGTON, _March 25, 1842_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States_:

Notwithstanding the urgency with which I have on more than one occasion
felt it my duty to press upon Congress the necessity of providing the
Government with the means of discharging its debts and maintaining
inviolate the public faith, the increasing embarrassments of the
Treasury impose upon me the indispensable obligation of again inviting
your most serious attention to the condition of the finances.
Fortunately for myself in thus bringing this important subject to your
view for a deliberate and comprehensive examination in all its bearings,
and I trust I may add for a final adjustment of it to the common
advantage of the whole Union, I am permitted to approach it with perfect
freedom and candor. As few of the burdens for which provision is now
required to be made have been brought upon the country during my short
administration of its affairs, I have neither motive nor wish to make
them a matter of crimination against any of my predecessors. I am
disposed to regard, as I am bound to treat, them _as facts_ which can
not now be undone, and as deeply interesting to us all, and equally
imposing upon all the most solemn duties; and the only use I would make
of the errors of the past is by a careful examination of their causes
and character to avoid if possible the repetition of them in future.
The condition of the country, indeed, is such as may well arrest the
conflict of parties.

The conviction seems at length to have made its way to the minds of all
that the disproportion between the public responsibilities and the means
provided for meeting them is no casual nor transient evil. It is, on the
contrary, one which for some years to come, notwithstanding a resort to
all reasonable retrenchments and the constant progress of the country
in population and productive power, must continue to increase under
existing laws, unless we consent to give up or impair all our defenses
in war and peace. But this is a thought which I am persuaded no
patriotic mind would for a moment entertain. Without affecting an alarm,
which I do not feel, in regard to our foreign relations, it may safely
be affirmed that they are in a state too critical and involve too many
momentous issues to permit us to neglect in the least, much less to
abandon entirely, those means of asserting our rights without which
negotiation is without dignity and peace without security.

In the report of the Secretary of the Treasury submitted to Congress
at the commencement of the present session it is estimated that after
exhausting all the probable resources of the year there will remain a
deficit of about $14,000,000. With a view partly to a permanent system
of revenue and partly to immediate relief from actual embarrassment,
that officer recommended, together with a plan for establishing a
Government exchequer, some expedients of a more temporary character,
viz, the issuing of Treasury notes and the extension of the time for
which the loan authorized to be negotiated by the act of the last
session should be taken. Congress accordingly provided for an issue of
Treasury notes to the amount of $5,000,000, but subject to the condition
that they should not be paid away below par.

No measure connected with the last of the two objects above mentioned
was introduced until recently into the House of Representatives. Should
the loan bill now pending before that body pass into a law for its
present amount, there would still remain a deficit of $2,500,000. It
requires no argument to show that such a condition of the Treasury is
incompatible not only with a high state of public credit, but with
anything approaching to efficiency in the conduct of public affairs.
It must be obvious even to the most inexperienced minds that, to say
nothing of any particular exigency, actual or imminent, there should
be at all times in the Treasury of a great nation, with a view to
contingencies of ordinary occurrence, a surplus at least equal in amount
to the above deficiency. But that deficiency, serious as it would be in
itself, will, I am compelled to say, rather be increased than diminished
without the adoption of measures adequate to correct the evil at once.
The stagnation of trade and business, in some degree incident to the
derangement of the national finances and the state of the revenue laws,
holds out but little prospect of relief, in the ordinary course of
things, for some time to come.

Under such circumstances I am deeply impressed with the necessity of
meeting the crisis with a vigor and decision which it imperatively
demands at the hands of all intrusted with the conduct of public
affairs. The gravity of the evil calls for a remedy proportioned to it.
No slight palliatives or occasional expedients will give the country the
relief it needs. Such measures, on the contrary, will in the end, as is
now manifest to all, too surely multiply its embarrassments. Relying,
as I am bound to do, on the representatives of a people rendered
illustrious among nations by having paid off its whole public debt,
I shall not shrink from the responsibility imposed upon me by the
Constitution of pointing out such measures as will in my opinion insure
adequate relief. I am the more encouraged to recommend the course which
necessity exacts by the confidence which I have in its complete success.
The resources of the country in everything that constitutes the wealth
and strength of nations are so abundant, the spirit of a most
industrious, enterprising, and intelligent people is so energetic and
elastic, that the Government will be without the shadow of excuse for
its delinquency if the difficulties which now embarrass it be not
speedily and effectually removed.

From present indications it is hardly doubtful that Congress will find
it necessary to lay additional duties on imports in order to meet the
ordinary current expenses of the Government. In the exercise of a sound
discrimination having reference to revenue, but at the same time
necessarily affording incidental protection to manufacturing industry,
it seems equally probable that duties on some articles of importation
will have to be advanced above 20 per cent. In performing this important
work of revising the tariff of duties, which in the present emergency
would seem to be indispensable, I can not too strongly recommend the
cultivation of a spirit of mutual harmony and concession, to which the
Government itself owes its origin, and without the continued exercise of
which jarring and discord would universally prevail.

An additional reason for the increase of duties in some instances beyond
the rate of 20 per cent will exist in fulfilling the recommendations
already made, and now repeated, of making adequate appropriations for
the defenses of the country.

By the express provision of the act distributing the proceeds of the
sales of the public lands among the States its operation is _ipso facto_
to cease so soon as the rate of the duties shall exceed the limits
prescribed in the act.

In recommending the adoption of measures for distributing the proceeds
of the public lands among the States at the commencement of the last
session of Congress such distribution was urged by arguments and
considerations which appeared to me then and appear to me now of great
weight, and was placed on the condition that it should not render
necessary any departure from the act of 1833. It is with sincere regret
that I now perceive the necessity of departing from that act, because I
am well aware that expectations justly entertained by some of the States
will be disappointed by any occasion which shall withhold from them the
proceeds of the lands. But the condition was plainly expressed in the
message and was inserted in terms equally plain in the law itself, and
amidst the embarrassments which surround the country on all sides and
beset both the General and the State Governments it appears to me that
the object first and highest in importance is to establish the credit of
this Government and to place it on durable foundations, and thus afford
the most effectual support to the credit of the States, equal at least
to what it would receive from a direct distribution of the proceeds of
the sales of the public lands.

When the distribution law was passed there was reason to anticipate that
there soon would be a real surplus to distribute. On that assumption
it was in my opinion a wise, a just, and a beneficent measure. But to
continue it in force while there is no such surplus to distribute and
when it is manifestly necessary not only to increase the duties, but at
the same time to borrow money in order to liquidate the public debt and
disembarrass the public Treasury, would cause it to be regarded as an
unwise alienation of the best security of the public creditor, which
would with difficulty be excused and could not be justified.

Causes of no ordinary character have recently depressed American credit
in the stock market of the world to a degree quite unprecedented. I need
scarcely mention the condition of the banking institutions of some of
the States, the vast amount of foreign debt contracted during a period
of wild speculation by corporations and individuals, and, above all, the
Doctrine of repudiation of contracts solemnly entered into by States,
which, although as yet applied only under circumstances of a peculiar
character and generally rebuked with severity by the moral sense of the
community, is yet so very licentious and, in a Government depending
wholly on opinion, so very alarming that the impression made by it to
our disadvantage as a people is anything but surprising. Under such
circumstances it is imperatively due from us to the people whom we
represent that when we go into the money market to contract a loan we
should tender such securities as to cause the money lender, as well at
home as abroad, to feel that the most propitious opportunity is afforded
him of investing profitably and judiciously his capital. A government
which has paid off the debts of two wars, waged with the most powerful
nation of modern times, should not be brought to the necessity of
chaffering for terms in the money market. Under such circumstances as I
have adverted to our object should be to produce with the capitalist a
feeling of entire confidence, by a tender of that sort of security which
in all times past has been esteemed sufficient, and which for the small
amount of our proposed indebtedness will unhesitatingly be regarded as
amply adequate. While a pledge of all the revenues amounts to no more
than is implied in every instance when the Government contracts a
debt, and although it ought in ordinary circumstances to be entirely
satisfactory, yet in times like these the capitalist would feel better
satisfied with the pledge of a specific fund, ample in magnitude to the
payment of his interest and ultimate reimbursement of his principal.
Such is the character of the land fund. The most vigilant money dealer
will readily perceive that not only will his interest be secure on
such a pledge, but that a debt of $18,000,000 or $20,000,000 would by
the surplus of sales over and above the payment of the interest be
extinguished within any reasonable time fixed for its redemption.
To relieve the Treasury from its embarrassments and to aid in meeting
its requisitions until time is allowed for any new tariff of duties
to become available, it would seem to be necessary to fund a debt
approaching to $15,000,000; and in order to place the negotiation of the
loan beyond a reasonable doubt I submit to Congress whether the proceeds
of the sales of the public lands should not be pledged for the payment
of the interest, and the Secretary of the Treasury be authorized out of
the surplus of the proceeds of such sales to purchase the stock, when it
can be procured on such terms as will render it beneficial in that way,
to extinguish the debt and prevent the accumulation of such surplus
while its distribution is suspended.

No one can doubt that were the Federal Treasury now as prosperous as it
was ten years ago and its fiscal operations conducted by an efficient
agency of its own, coextensive with the Union, the embarrassments of the
States and corporations in them would produce, even if they continued as
they are (were that possible), effects far less disastrous than those
now experienced. It is the disorder here, at the heart and center of the
system, that paralyzes and deranges every part of it. Who does not know
the permanent importance, not to the Federal Government alone, but to
every State and every individual within its jurisdiction, even in their
most independent and isolated individual pursuits, of the preservation
of a sound state of public opinion and a judicious administration here?
The sympathy is instantaneous and universal. To attempt to remedy the
evil of the deranged credit and currency of the States while the disease
is allowed to rage in the vitals of this Government would be a hopeless

It is the full conviction of this truth which emboldens me most
earnestly to recommend to your early and serious consideration the
measures now submitted to your better judgment, as well as those to
which your attention has been already invited. The first great want of
the country, that without answering which all attempts at bettering
the present condition of things will prove fruitless, is a complete
restoration of the credit and finances of the Federal Government.
The source and foundation of all credit is in the confidence which the
Government inspires, and just in proportion as that confidence shall
be shaken or diminished will be the distrust among all classes of the
community and the derangement and demoralization in every branch of
business and all the interests of the country. Keep up the standard of
good faith and punctuality in the operations of the General Government,
and all partial irregularities and disorders will be rectified by
the influence of its example; but suffer that standard to be debased
or disturbed, and it is impossible to foresee to what a degree of
degradation and confusion all financial interests, public and private,
may sink. In such a country as this the representatives of the people
have only to will it, and the public credit will be as high as it ever

My own views of the measures calculated to effect this great and
desirable object I have thus frankly expressed to Congress under
circumstances which give to the entire subject a peculiar and solemn
interest. The Executive can do no more. If the credit of the country be
exposed to question, if the public defenses be broken down or weakened,
if the whole administration of public affairs be embarrassed for want of
the necessary means for conducting them with vigor and effect, I trust
that this department of the Government will be found to have done all
that was in its power to avert such evils, and will be acquitted of all
just blame on account of them.


WASHINGTON, _March 25, 1842_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I have the honor herewith to submit a report[28] from the Secretary of
the Navy, in compliance with your resolution of the 18th February, 1842.


[Footnote 28: Transmitting list of agents, etc., employed by the Navy
Department without express authority of law, etc.]

WASHINGTON, _March 30, 1842_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

I transmit to the House of Representatives two extracts from a note
of the charge d'affaires of the Republic of Texas accredited to this
Government to the Department of State, one suggesting in behalf of his
Government such modifications of the existing laws of the United States
as will impart greater facility to the trade between the two countries,
particularly to that which passes across their frontier, and the other
expressing a desire for some regulation on the part of this Government
by means of which the communication by post between the United States
and Texas may be improved.

As the wishes of the Texan Government in relation to those subjects can
only be gratified by means of laws to be passed by Congress, they are
accordingly referred to the consideration of the two Houses.


[The same message was sent to the Senate.]

WASHINGTON, _April 1, 1842_.

_To the Senate_:

In part compliance with a resolution of the Senate of the 20th of July,
1841, I transmit herewith a report[29] from the Department of War.


[Footnote 29: Transmitting list of removals from and appointments to
office in the Department of War from March 4, 1829, to September 30,

WASHINGTON, _April 1, 1842_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

In compliance with your resolution of the 21st of March, I have the
honor to submit the accompanying communication[30] from the Secretary
of the Navy.


[Footnote 30: Relating to appointments to office in the Navy and Marine
Corps since April 4, 1841.]

WASHINGTON, _April 4, 1842_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_.

In part compliance with a resolution of the House of Representatives
of the 21st March, 1842, I herewith communicate a report[31] from the
Secretary of State.


[Footnote 31: Transmitting list of appointments by the President or
Secretary of State since April 4, 1841.]

WASHINGTON, _April 7, 1842_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

I herewith transmit to the House of Representatives copies of a letter
addressed to the Secretary of State by the chairman of the board of
commissioners appointed to explore and survey the boundary line between
the States of Maine and New Hampshire and the adjoining British
Provinces, together with the report of the operations of that commission
to the 31st ultimo, and a profile of the meridian line from the source
of the St. Croix River as far as surveyed, illustrative of the report.


[The same message was sent to the Senate.]


_Washington, March 31, 1842_.


_Secretary of State_.

SIR: By directions of the board of commissioners for exploring and
surveying the northeastern boundary, I have handed you the papers
hereinafter specified, viz:

1. The report of the operations of the commission up to the present

2. A profile of the meridian line of the source of the St. Croix as far
as surveyed, intended to illustrate the report.

3. A portfolio of drawings intended for the same purpose.

4. A roll marked Appendix No. 1, containing the narrative of the field
operations of the division of Professor Renwick.

5. A tin case containing the detail of the surveys of the division of
Professor Renwick.

In reply to your inquiry in relation to the disposition of the said
papers, I am directed respectfully to suggest that all which it is
absolutely necessary to lay before Congress are the items 1 and 2,
which, with a general map now in preparation, will contain all that will
be of any general public interest.

The portfolio (No. 3) and the box of maps and profiles (No. 5) should
remain on file in the Department; and while a part of the drawings in
the former may be useful for illustration, the latter will be superseded
by the general map, in which will be embodied all that they contain of
importance to the question at issue.

Appendix No. 1, specified as No. 4 in the above list, will probably be
demanded hereafter to give authenticity to the conclusions of the report
(No. 1). It ought not, however, to be communicated until the Appendices
Nos. 2 and 3, containing the operations of the divisions of Messrs.
Graham and Talcott, are handed in; and of the three no more than a
limited number of copies will be useful.

I have the honor to be, with much respect, your most obedient servant,


_Report of the commissioners appointed by the President of the United
States for the purpose of surveying and exploring the boundary line
between the States of Maine and New Hampshire and the British

WASHINGTON, _March 28,1842_.


_Secretary of State_.

SIR: The duties assigned to the undersigned by the instructions of your
predecessor were twofold:

First. To explore and survey the lines respectively claimed by the
Governments of the United States and Great Britain.

Second. To examine and report upon the arguments contained in the report
of Messrs. Featherstonhaugh and Mudge addressed to the secretary of
state of Her Britannic Majesty for foreign affairs under date of 16th
April, 1840.


In order to the more exact and successful performance of the duties
included under the first of the above heads, the boundary line was
divided by their instructions into three separate portions, one of
which was assigned to each of the commissioners; and while they were
instructed to assemble in a board for the purpose of comparing their
respective surveys, in view of the performance of the duties included
in the second of the above divisions their explorations have been
separately conducted. Each of the commissioners has employed the methods
and course of action most appropriate in his opinion to the successful
fulfillment of his appointed task, and the nature of the surveys
assigned to one of them has been of a character widely different from
those of his colleagues. The commissioners, therefore, while uniting in
a general report of the progress made up to this time in the duties of
their appointment, beg leave to submit, in the form of appendices, the
narrative of their several operations, with so much of the records
of their observations and calculations as they have severally judged
necessary to authenticate the conclusions at which they have arrived.

The progress which has been made in the labors of the commissioners
enables them at this time to lay before you--

1. A description of the physical features of the disputed territory.

2. A comparison of the heights of the line claimed by the United States
with those of the line styled the "axis of maximum elevation" by Messrs.
Featherstonhaugh and Mudge. In laying the latter before you they have,
in order to avoid delay, made use in part of the published results
obtained by those gentlemen, and although they have already detected
errors in their inferences they do not consider that by accepting them
for the moment as the basis of comparison they can be accused of
exhibiting the line claimed by Great Britain in an unfavorable light.


The seacoast of the State of Maine is rugged and hilly. The primitive
rocks of which its geological structure is chiefly composed are broken
into ridges which run parallel to the great streams, and therefore in a
direction from north to south. These ridges terminate in an irregular
line, which to the east of the Penobscot may be identified nearly with
the military road to Houlton. From the northern summit of these ridges
an extensive view of the disputed territory can in many places be
obtained. This is the case at the military post at Houlton, whence a
wide extent of country may be seen. A still more perfect view may be
obtained from the summit of Parks Hill, at a point about 400 yards south
of the road from Houlton to Woodstock and about half a mile east of the
exploring meridian line. At the time when that line was run by the
British and American surveyors, under the fifth article of the treaty of
Ghent, the top of this hill was covered with wood, and they were obliged
to content themselves with the view from Park's barn, which is at least
200 feet beneath the summit. At the present moment the latter is
cleared, and the view from west-southwest to northeast is unimpeded
except by a single clump of trees, which cuts off the view for a few
degrees in the northwest direction; but by a change of position every
part of the horizon between these points is to be seen. Toward the west
are seen ridges parallel to the Penobscot, over which Katahdin towers to
a great height, bearing by compass N. 85 deg. W. In a direction N. 75 deg. W.
are seen two distant peaks, one of which was identified as the
Traveller. All of these eminences lie south of the line claimed by Great
Britain. In the north-northwest direction there appear two ridges of
comparatively small elevation, which were pointed out as the Aroostook
Mountains, but have since been ascertained to lie near the sources of
the Meduxnikeag. These lie in the line claimed by Great Britain in 1817.

Between these and the other mountains there is evidently no connection,
and the rest of the country, as seen from the hill, bears the aspect
of a wooded plain. It will be sufficient to refer to this view to be
satisfied that all the impressions which have been circulated of a
continuous chain of elevations extending along the line claimed by
Great Britain are utterly fallacious.

Toward the north the country exhibits the same general features. One
vast and apparently unbroken plain extends to the utmost limits of the
visible horizon. In the midst of this, and at a distance of nearly 30
miles, Mars Hill alone breaks the monotonous prospect, and from its
isolated position assumes to the eye an importance to which its altitude
of less than 1,800 feet would not otherwise entitle it. No other
eminences are to be seen in this direction, except a round peak bearing
a few degrees west of north and some distant ridges about an equal
distance to the east. The first of these has been ascertained by the
surveys of Major Graham to be an isolated hill near the peak known as
Quaquajo. The eastern ridges are probably those measured between the
Tobique and the Bay of Chaleurs by the British commissioners. A sketch
of this view from Parks Hill is annexed to the report, and lest any
doubt be entertained of its accuracy it is proper to state that the
unassisted vision was not relied upon, but that the outlines were
carefully delineated by means of the camera lucida.

From this view it might be inferred that the northern part of the
admitted possessions of the United States to the east of the Penobscot
and the disputed territory as far as visible constitute a vast
table-land slightly inclined toward the southeast.

On descending into the valley of the St. John the appearances change.
The tableland is cut to a great depth by that stream, and from its bed
the broken edges of the great plain look like ridges whose height is
exaggerated to the senses in consequence of their being densely clothed
with wood. The same is the case with all the branches of this river,
which also cut the table-land to greater or less depths according to
their distance from the stream into which they discharge themselves.

The want of a true highland or mountainous character in this region is
obvious from the aspect it presents in the two different points of view.
Mountainous regions are most imposing when seen from a distance and from
heights. On a nearer approach, and from the valleys which intersect
them, the elevations, so important in the distant view, are hidden
by their own slopes or lose the appearance of relative elevation in
consequence of the absolute heights of the valleys themselves. In
conformity with this character, the line claimed by the United States
for the most part presents, when seen at a distance, the appearance of
lofty and deeply serrated ridges, while to one who traverses it it is a
labyrinth of lakes, morasses, and short but steep elevations which hide
its peaks from the valleys and streams.

The line claimed by Great Britain, on the other hand, when seen from
a distance is as level as the surface of the ocean, with no greater
appearance of elevation and depression than would represent its billows;
while, seen from its own valleys, the heights assume an importance which
their elevation above the valleys when actually measured does not
warrant. The characteristics of the region through which the line of
Messrs. Mudge and Featherstonhaugh passes are therefore the opposite of
those usually remarked in highland countries, while those of the line
claimed by the United States are the same as are always observed in
such regions.

This character of a table-land deeply cut by streams is well exhibited
in the section of their "axis of maximum elevation" by the British
commissioners. In that will be seen the mountains near the source of the
Aroostook, Alleguash, and Penobscot on the one hand, and of the Tobique
on the other, while the intervening space is occupied by a curve
resembling an inverted arch, of which the St. John occupies the
keystone. In a country of this character any line whatever would present
the appearance of a succession of eminences, and might by as liberal a
construction of the term as has been made by Messrs. Mudge and
Featherstonhaugh be called highlands.

The sameness of this general character is broken only by a single chain
of hills.[32] This is a prolongation of Mars Hill toward the north, and,
being both of less height and breadth than that mountain, is hidden by
it from the view of a spectator on Parks Hill. Mars Hill is itself an
isolated eminence, and is in fact nearly an island, for the Presque Isle
and Gissiguit rivers, running the one to the north and the other to the
south of it, have branches which take their rise in the same swamp on
its northwestern side. To the north of the Des Chutes the ground again
rises, and although cut by several streams, and particularly by the
Aroostook, the chain is prolonged by isolated eminences as far as the
White Rapids, below the Grand Falls of the St. John, where it crosses
that river. It may thence be traced in a northern direction to the Sugar
Loaf Mountain, on the Wagansis portage, where it terminates.

[Footnote 32: A chain is made up of mountains whose bases touch each

To this broken chain belongs the elevation of 918 feet given by Messrs.
Mudge and Featherstonhaugh to an eminence in the neighborhood of the
Aroostook Falls. An accurate profile of so many of these eminences as
fall in the line of the connected meridian is herewith submitted. This
chain of eminences is not prolonged to the westward, as it is entirely
unconnected with any other height aspiring to the name of mountain in
that direction.

It is not in any sense a dividing ridge, being cut by all the streams in
the country, and in particular to a great depth by the St. John and the

A section of this line was given in a report to the British commissioner
under the fifth article of the treaty of Ghent by Colonel Bouchette, the
surveyor-general of the Province of Canada. His heights were determined
by the barometer, and estimated from the assumed level of the monument
at the source of the St. Croix.

It would now appear that the section of Colonel Bouchette is very
inaccurate, and that the heights as reported by him are not only much
beyond the truth, but that the continually ascending slope ascribed by
him to the country from the monument at the source of the St. Croix to
the point where the due north line crosses the St. John is entirely
erroneous. He, however, adroitly availed himself of this inaccurate
section to attempt to prove the existence of a continuous chain of
mountains from Katahdin to the Great Falls of the St. John, and thence
around the southwestern branches of the Restigouche until it met the
heights rising from the north shore of the Bay of Chaleurs. For this
reason his view taken from Park's barn and that made by Mr. Odell from
the same point were urged for admission as evidence on oath by the
British agent, and the map of Mr. Johnson, which contradicted this
evidence, was carefully excluded. It can not be concealed that could
Colonel Bouchette's idea founded on erroneous premises have been
established by indisputable facts it would have been the most fatal
argument that has ever been adduced against the American claim, for he
would have argued that the meridian line of the St. Croix would at Mars
Hill have first intersected highlands which, rising from the north shore
of the Bay of Chaleurs, would have appeared to divide until within a few
miles of the Grand Falls of the St. John waters which fall into the St.
Lawrence from those which fall into the Atlantic, and would have been
the south boundary of the Province of Quebec.

Mars Hill would then have appeared to be in truth as well as in claim
the northwest angle of the Province of Nova Scotia; and although the
rest of the line would not have fulfilled the conditions, the United
States might by an arbitrator have been compelled to accept this point
as the beginning of their boundary. Nor, in the unexplored state of the
country, is it by any means certain that the American agent, who does
not seem to have seen the drift of the proceedings of Colonel Bouchette,
would have been prepared with the adverse facts, which are now known to
be undeniable. It may therefore be considered fortunate for the claim of
the United States that the survey was afterwards intrusted to a surveyor
who, in pursuit of the double object of encroachment on the United
States and the enlargement of his native Province at the expense of
Canada, signally failed in the proof of either of his positions.

The knowledge now acquired shows that the idea of Colonel Bouchette is
unsupported by the facts of the case, for the highlands which rise from
the north shore of the Bay of Chaleurs do not meet those in which the
most southerly branch of the Restigouche takes its rise.

The British commissioners, although they give a profile of this ridge,
do not pretend to have examined it except at Mars Hill, near the
Aroostook, and at the Grand Falls of the St. John. It must be remarked
that these profiles (the original one of Colonel Bouchette and that
exhibited by themselves) are contrasted--one British authority with
another--for the purpose of invalidating the ground on which the
American claim is founded.

It is not our business to reconcile these conflicting authorities, but
it is our duty to recall the recollections of the fact that no part
of the American argument laid before the King of the Netherlands was
founded on this or any other estimate of heights. Many elevations,
indeed, were measured with great pains on the part of the Americans
as well as of Great Britain.

On behalf of the United States Captain Partridge made many barometric
observations, while Mr. Johnson took an extensive series of vertical
and horizontal angles. His operations were performed in the presence of
Mr. Odell, the surveyor on behalf of Great Britain, who doubtless made
similar ones, as he visited the same stations with a better instrument
and for the same avowed purpose. Mr. Odell's observations were not
presented by the British agent, and those of Mr. Johnson were objected
to. If received, they would have set aside the pretensions that a
continuous ridge of mountains existed between the Metjarmette portage
and Mars Hill. They are, however, superseded by the operations of the
undersigned, which have yielded satisfactory evidence that no chain of
highlands in the sense of the British commissioners, or even an "axis of
maximum elevation," exists where it is laid down on their map. Nor can
it be doubted that the operations of Mr. Johnson had a decided advantage
in point of probable accuracy over theirs. The exploring meridian line
used as a base was measured with a tolerable degree of accuracy, and
from the three heights chosen by him the whole country is visible.

On the other hand, the course of Messrs. Mudge and Featherstonhaugh
being confined, except where they ascended Mars Hill, to the valleys of
the streams, they were for the most part excluded from a prospect. In
describing the view from Mars Hill, however, they have pictured in most
accurate terms the true features of the country:

"The character of the country may be well discerned and understood from
this insulated hill. It presents to the eye one mass of dark and gloomy
forest to the utmost limits of sight, covering by its umbrageous mantle
the principal rivers, minor streams, and scanty vestiges of the
habitation of man."

This description can only agree with that of a vast table-land into
which the streams cut so deep and form such narrow valleys as to be

But if a chain of highlands, or even an "axis of maximum elevation,"
had existed as they lay it down, within 20 miles, it would have been
visible, and it need not be said that they would not have failed to
describe it. The inconsistency between their map and this true and
forcible description of the features of the country is apparent.

The same general character of table-land is found to the north of the
St. John above the Grand Falls. Its first important northern tributary
is the Grand River. In ascending this stream the level of the table-land
is soon reached. The river runs between banks of very moderate elevation
and on a regular slope, and although running with great rapidity upon a
pebbly bed it is yet so tortuous that while its distance from its mouth
to the Wagansis portage in a straight line is no more than 13 miles the
meanders of its channel amount to 30.

On the Wagansis portage the table-land is terminated by a ridge whose
summit is elevated 264 feet above the wagansis[33] of Grand River. It
was at first believed that this, although of small elevation, was a
dividing ridge, and that it might correspond to one construction which
has, although inaccurately, been put on the treaty of 1783. This belief
was speedily removed, for the rivulet on its northern side was found to
be cut off from the Restigouche by the Sugar Loaf Mountain, and is
therefore a branch either of the Grand River or of the stream which
falls into the St. John immediately above the Grand Falls. The height of
land which divides this rivulet from the wagan of the Restigouche is not
elevated above the former more than 117 feet. There is, in fact, at this
place a gap 5 or 6 miles in breadth in the great system of mountains
which extend from the Gulf of St. Lawrence at the Bay des Chaleurs to
the river St. Lawrence near the Temiscouata portage. At the northern
verge of the table-land which has been described, and near the mouth of
Green River, rises to the height of about 1,600 feet a mountain known
from the name of that stream. This is, like Mars Hill, isolated, and
affords an extensive view. To the north and west the prospect is bounded
by a continuous line of horizon, which, instead of being obviously below
the level of the eye, as in the view of the disputed territory from Mars
Hill, is evidently of even greater height than the Green River Mountain

[Footnote 33: Wagan is a term in the Abenaki language signifying way.
Sis is a diminutive particle. Wagansis is therefore the little way; and
it seems probable that the name of Grand River, the usual epithet for
the St. John, has been improperly applied to the small stream which
bears it on the map.]

On entering into this region from the south by any of the navigable
streams which traverse it, it presents a more decidedly mountainous
character than the country to the south. The Grande Fourche of
Restigouche is bordered by two continuous chains of mountains, rising
when it first issues from them to the height of a thousand feet above
its surface. The stream having a rapid fall, the relative elevation
becomes less until, in the neighborhood of the lake in which its north
branch first collects its waters, the relative elevation is not more
than four or five hundred feet.

On traversing this elevated country it presents a different aspect from
what is seen either from a distance or where it is entered from the
rivers. Frequent ridges are crossed; the tops of these are often
occupied by swamps filled with a thick growth of cedars. Deep and small
basins occur, which are occupied by lakes that give rise to rivers
flowing to the St. Lawrence or to the St. John. These are intermingled
with thickets of dwarf spruce, and the streams are sometimes bordered
by marshes covered by low alders, and sometimes cut deep into rocky
channels. In this apparent labyrinth one positive circumstance marks the
line of division, or the true height of land: The streams which run to
the St. John are all of the first description--sluggish--while those
which discharge themselves into the St. Lawrence are rapid, and have the
character of torrents.

On the western side of the disputed territory are ridges of rocky
hills running nearly north and south, and thus tending toward the
St. Lawrence, which they in some places reach and shut out the view
of the interior.

It thus becomes difficult to find a station whence the heights of land
can be viewed and its character exhibited. It has therefore been
hitherto possible for those who have argued in support of the claims
of Great Britain to represent without meeting with contradiction that
the streams which fall into the St. John had their rise in a country
possessed of none of that mountainous character which they urged was
essential to the epithet of highlands. There are, however, points where
a different character is apparent, and some of these are easy of access.
Thus, on the main mail road, along the Southeast Branch of the St.
Lawrence a mile northeast of the church of L'Islette, a rocky eminence
is passed, whence may be seen a bold group of mountains which have been
identified with the sources of the Ouelle, the Kamouraska, and Black
rivers. A view of this group is herewith presented.

From the height to the east of river Du Loup a view may be seen on a
clear day extending round 137 deg. of the horizon, beginning with the
highlands of Bic, bearing N. 58 deg. E., and terminating in a conical
mountain bearing S. 15 deg. W.

The nearest and more conspicuous of these highlands (named those of St.
Andre) are on the river Fourche, a branch of the river Du Loup, whose
waters they divide from those of the St. Francis. A view of these is
also submitted herewith.

A similar view of the same panorama of highlands is obtained from Hare
Island, in the St. Lawrence, an outline of which, taken with the camera
lucida, is likewise submitted. About a quarter of a mile to the south
of the point where the Temiscouata portage crosses Mount Biort the
highlands may be seen at the head of Rimouski, bearing nearly east,
thence extending round by the north to the mountains of St. Andre,
bearing nearly west, forming about one-half of the entire horizon.
The entire panorama from the latter point, taken with the camera
lucida, along with copies of some daguerreotypes made at the same place,
are herewith submitted. Of the part of the line which extends to the
northeast from the source of the Etchemin for a distance of many miles,
a view may be almost constantly seen from the citadel of Quebec and from
the tops of the houses in that city. One still more satisfactory may be
obtained from the road between Quebec and the Falls of Montmorency, in
the neighborhood of the village of Belport. The latter views are in
particular referred to, as they are within the reach of numerous civil
and military officers of the British Government, who must assent to the
evidence of their own senses, which will prove that this region, the
position of the path pursued during the present year by Captain
Talcott's parties, is to all intents a range of highlands.

The boundary presents from these positions the aspect of a continuous
and deeply serrated ridge.

The geological character of the country can not be admitted as having
any bearing upon the subject under consideration. It never entered into
the views of the framers of the treaty of 1783, and therefore could
afford no illustrations of their intentions.

Were it admissible, however, it might be cited as an additional argument
that the dividing height which incloses the waters of the Connecticut
continues unchanged in its features until it is cut off by the deep
channel of the St. Lawrence.

Opportunities for observations of this character were most frequent on
the Temiscouata portage and on the banks of the St. Lawrence itself. It
was only on the former place that the relative geological heights of the
rocks could be observed by means of their outcrop.

The whole of the portage passes over stratified rocks dipping rapidly to
the southeast. They were found to be alternate groups of common and
talcose slate and of a rock made up principally of angular fragments of
white quartz (grauwacke). These are in all respects identical with rocks
which have been observed by one of the commissioners in place in
Berkshire County, Mass., and in Columbia and Rensselaer counties, N.Y.,
and the description of geologists at various intervening points, as well
as the observations of Captain Talcott's parties, would tend to
establish the fact that the formations are continuous.

From these data it would appear probable that the rocks are a
prolongation of the western slope of the great range called by Mr.
Featherstonhaugh, in his report as United States geologist, the Atlantic
ridge. This formation, which is but a few miles in width where it
crosses the Hudson, appears gradually to widen as it proceeds to the
north, and was on the St. Lawrence found to prevail both at the river
Du Loup and at Grand Metis, dipping in the two places in opposite
directions and covered in the interval by the thick diluvial deposits
which form the valley of the Trois Pistoles. To render the analogy more
complete, in the valley of the outlet of the Little Lake (Temiscouata)
was found a vein of metalliferous quartz charged with peroxide of iron,
evidently arising from the decomposition of pyrites, being in fact the
same as the matrix of the gold which has been traced in the talcose
slate formation from Georgia to Vermont; and on the western shore of the
Temiscouata Lake, about a mile to the south of Fort Ingall, lie great
masses of granular carbonate of lime, identically resembling the white
marbles of Pennsylvania, Westchester County, N.Y., and Berkshire County,

If the latter be in place, which, although probable, was not ascertained
beyond all question, the primitive carbonate of lime has exactly the
same relation to the slaty rocks which it bears in the latter locality.

The formations which have been spoken of appear to occupy the whole
extent of the country explored by the parties of Professor Renwick.
Everywhere the streams were found cutting through rocks of slate. On
the summits of many of the hills were found weathered masses of angular
quartz rocks, showing that while the slate had yielded to the action of
the elements, the harder and less friable rock had kept its place. The
ridges which intervene between the St. Lawrence at the river Du Loup
and Lake Temiscouata have the character, so well described by Elie de
Beaumont, of mountains elevated by some internal force.

To the eastward of Lake Temiscouata, on the other hand, the country has
the aspect of having once been a table-land, elevated on the average
about 1,700 feet above the level of the sea, and of having been washed
by some mighty flood, which, wearing away the softer rocks, had cut it
into valleys, forming a complex system incapable of being described in
words and only to be understood by inspection of a map.


For the purpose of exhibiting the relative claims of the two lines to
the exclusive epithet of "the highlands" in the most clear and definite
manner, each of them will be considered as divided into three portions,
which will be contrasted with each other by pairs The first portion
of each of the lines is that which lies nearest to the point of
bifurcation, the residue of the American line is divided at the source
of the Ouelle, the remainder of the line of Messrs. Featherstonhaugh and
Mudge at that of the Aroostook Metjarmette portage is taken as the point
of bifurcation, whence waters run to the Penobscot, the St. John, and
the St. Lawrence.

On the American line from the Metjarmette portage
to Lake Etchemm-- Feet
The maximum height is 1,718
The minimum height is 1,218

The minimum measured height is that of Lake Etchemm, which is lower
than the actual source of that stream, and whose omission as not upon
the dividing ridge would make the minimum greater. This height was
determined by the parties of A. Talcott, esq, by two distinct and
separate sets of observations, one of which was continued hourly for
several days, and no doubt can exist that it is as accurate a measure
as the barometer is capable of affording. In the report of Messrs.
Featherstonhaugh and Mudge this height is set down as no more than
957 feet, but it is determined from a single observation. That it is
erroneous must be considered as demonstrated. In the map presented by
those gentlemen they have made use of this erroneous determination for a
purpose which, even were it correct, would not be warranted, for they on
its authority leave out all the symbols by which heights are represented,
and substitute therefore a dotted line with the inscription "Fictitious
hills of Mr. Burnham's map." The actual character of this part of the
American line is an undulating country.

On the line of Messrs. Featherstonhaugh and Mudge between
the Metjarmette portage and the Cocumgamoc Mountains-- Feet
The maximum elevation is 2,302
The minimum elevation is 987

This part of the line of Messrs. Featherstonhaugh and Mudge derives its
apparent advantage from the fact that it crosses the summit and occupies
the eastern slope of the highlands claimed by the United States.
Notwithstanding this, the difference in their elevation is not such as
to give it any decided superiority in its highland character.

On the American line from Lake Etchemm to the river Ouelle-- Feet
The maximum height is 2,854
The minimum height is 1,306

On the line of Messrs Featherstonhaugh and Mudge from the
Cocumgamoc Mountains to the head waters of the Aroostook--
The maximum height is 1,268
The minimum height is 880

On the parts of the line thus contrasted the maximum height of that
claimed by Great Britain is less elevated than the lowest gap of that
claimed by the United States.

On the third portion of the American line

From the head of the Ouelle to the Temiscouata portage-- Feet
The maximum height is 2,231
The minimum height is 853

From the point where the line first crosses the Temiscouata
portage to Mount Paradis--
The maximum height is 1,983
The minimum height is 906

From the Temiscouata portage to the head of the Abagusquash--
The maximum height is 1,510
The minimum height is 676

From Abagusquash to the Rimouski Lake--
The maximum height is 1,824
The minimum height is 651

From the Rimouski Lake to the northwest angle--
The maximum height is 1,841
The minimum height is 1,014

The greatest elevation of the whole of the third part of the
American line, therefore, is 2,231
The minimum is 651

The termination of the exploring meridian line falls into this part
of the American line. Its height of 1,519 feet was determined by two
separate observations, compared with others taken on Lake Johnson.
The height of the latter was calculated at 1,007 feet from a series
of observations continued for seventeen days, and is believed to be
as accurate as the method of the barometer is susceptible of.

This height of the termination of that line is estimated by Messrs.
Featherstonhaugh and Mudge at no more than 388 feet, and that of the
lake at no more than 363. In this estimate they reject the indications
of their own barometers, because the results of them would have
contradicted the previous impressions which seem to have governed all
their operations, viz, that the point claimed by the United States as
the northwest angle of Nova Scotia is not in an elevated region of

[Footnote 34: A continuous line of leveling was carried by one of the
parties of Major Graham's division, by means of two spirit levels
checking one another, from tide water at Calais, in Maine, to the
monument at the source of the St. Croix, and thence along the true
meridian line to its intersection with the river St. John. The surface
of the St. John at this point of intersection was thus found to be
419-1/2 feet above the level of mean tide at Calais. The basin of the
river immediately above the Grand Falls may be stated as of the same
elevation in round numbers, as there is very little current in the river
between those two points.]

On the third part of the British line from the sources of the Aroostook
to the Grand Falls of the St. John no height is reported as measured by
the British commissioners which exceeds 1,050 feet, while the greatest
height on their profile is 1,150 feet. The minimum height on their
profile, excluding the Aroostook at its mouth and its intersection with
the meridian line, is 243 feet, and the mean of the numbers entered by
them both on their map and profile is 665 feet.

It will therefore appear that if the profile of Messrs. Featherstonhaugh
and Mudge be correct the lowest gap on the third part of the American
line is about as high as the mean elevation of the part of the British
line with which it is compared.

The line claimed by the United States therefore possesses throughout in
a pre-eminent degree the highland character according to the sense at
one time contended for in the argument of Great Britain, and is, to use
the term of the British commissioners, "the axis of maximum elevation,"
the mean of all the heights measured upon it being 1,459 feet, while
that of those measured on the line of Messrs. Featherstonhaugh and Mudge
is no more than 1,085 feet.

It is regretted that the computations of the barometric and other
observations for the determination of the heights of that portion of
the country between the valley of the St. John and the sources of the
Aroostook, explored by the division of Major Graham, could not be
completed in time to be made use of for this report in the description
of that portion of the line claimed for Great Britain by Messrs.
Featherstonhaugh and Mudge. This delay has been solely caused by
a want of reasonable time to complete this portion of the work, the
commissioner having direction of the division charged with it having
only returned from the field in the month of January.

Sufficient information is known, however, to have been derived from
those surveys to justify the assertion that, instead of the strongly
marked range of highlands represented by the British commissioners as
constituting a part of their "axis of maximum elevation," the country in
the vicinity of the Aroostook lying between its sources and the valley
of the St. John is devoid of the character they have attributed to it.
When properly represented upon a map it will appear as an extended
undulating surface of moderate elevation above the level of the
Aroostook River, sparsely interspersed with occasional detached
elevations rising to heights of 600 to 900 and 1,400 feet above the
level of the sea, but forming no continuous or connected chain whatever
in the direction represented by the British commissioners, or that could
be construed into the character of highlands such as are described in
the treaty of 1783.[35]

[Footnote 35: Since the above was written Major Graham's map and the
computations of the barometric heights above alluded to have been

This map exhibits in their proper positions the numerous altitudes which
were determined throughout the country watered by the Aroostook and its
principal tributaries, extending laterally to the heights which bound
the basin of that river on either side; along the due west line traced
in the year 1835 by Captain Yule, of the royal engineers, between Mars
Hill and a point near the forks of the Great Machias River; along and in
the vicinity of the road recently opened by the State of Maine from
Lewis's (a point in latitude 46 deg. 12' 20", between the head branches of
the Meduxnikeag and the Masardis or St. Croix of the Aroostook) to the
mouth of Fish River, in latitude 47 deg. 15' 13", being a distance, actually
measured, of 79 miles; and along the new military road, embracing 40-1/2
miles of the distance from Fort Fairfield to Houlton and including the
adjacent heights on either side.

The number of elevations within the territory watered by the Aroostook
and claimed by Great Britain that have thus been carefully measured
amounts to upward of 200.

This survey shows that although the prominent eminences which occur
along that portion of the "axis of maximum elevation" of Messrs. Mudge
and Featherstonhaugh which lies between the mouth and the source of
the Aroostook correspond very nearly in height and position by our
measurements with those reported by themselves, yet these eminences are
separated one from another by spaces of comparatively low and very often
swampy country, so extended as to preclude the idea of a continuous
range of highlands in the direction represented upon the map of those

If a range or chain of highlands is to be made to appear by drawing
a strongly marked line over widely extended valleys or districts of
comparatively low country so as to reach and connect the most prominent
eminences which may fall within the assumed direction, then such a range
or chain of highlands may here be made as plausibly in any other
direction as in that chosen by Messrs. Mudge and Featherstonhaugh, for
the detached elevated peaks are so distributed as under such a principle
to favor any one direction as much as another, and might thus be made to
subserve in an equal degree whatever conflicting theories the object in
view might cause to be originated.

We may also refer, in further illustration of the character of the
country through which a portion of this pretended "axis of maximum
elevation" is made to pass, to a panorama view taken in October, 1841,
by one of Major Graham's assistants from the summit of Blue Hill, where
crossed by the true meridian of the monument, at the source of the St.
Croix. This position is 1,100 feet above the level of the sea and 47-1/2
miles north of the monument. It commands a most satisfactory view of the
whole country embraced within a radius of 40 to 60 miles, including, as
the landscape shows, Parks Hill to the south; Katahdin, the Traveller,
and Mars Hill to the southwest; Quaquajo, the Horseback, the Haystack,
and one or two peaks beyond the Aroostook to the west; the heights upon
the Fish River and the southern margin of the Eagle Lakes to the
northwest, and those south of the St. John (except a small angle
obstructed by the Aroostook Hill) to the north.

The character of the great basin of the Aroostook, dotted with the
detached peaks which rise abruptly from it at intervals of many miles
apart, is here exhibited through at least two-thirds of its extent in so
satisfactory a manner as in itself to preclude the idea of an "axis of
maximum elevation" composed of anything like a connected or continuous
chain in this region of country.

MAY 1 1842.]

In addition to the surveys upon the boundary line claimed by the United
States, an exploring line was run under the direction of Professor
Renwick, as is more particularly described in Appendix No. 1. This line
extended to an eminence on the eastern side of Lake Matapediac, elevated
1,743 feet above the level of the sea. The views obtained from this
eminence established the fact that a chain of highlands extended thence
to the north shore of the Bay des Chaleurs. They are believed to
terminate in an eminence, which from its imposing appearance has been
called by the Scotch settlers at its foot Ben Lomond. This was measured
during the operations of the summer of 1840, and found to rise from
the tide of the bay to the height of 1,024 feet. This exploring line,
coupled with the more accurate surveys, appears to establish the fact of
the existence of a continuous chain of eminences entitled to the epithet
of highlands from the north shore of the Bay des Chaleurs at its western
extremity to the sources of the Connecticut River. Returning from the
latter point, they exhibit the aspect of well-marked ranges of mountains
as far as the sources of the Metjarmette. Thence to the sources of the
Etchemin extends an undulating country whose mean height is 1,300 or
1,500 feet above the level of the sea. The boundary line is thence
prolonged to the Temiscouata portage over well-defined ridges to the
eastern side of Lake Temiscouata. At the sources of two of the streams
which run into this lake the minimum heights of 651 feet and 676 feet
have been observed.

With these exceptions, the sources of the streams which rise to the
north of the Temiscouata portage and between the lake of that name and
Lake Matapediac average more than 900 feet above the level of the sea.
For the purpose of describing this portion of the line claimed by the
United States, we may take this height of 900 feet as the elevation of
a horizontal plane or base. On this are raised knolls, eminences, and
short ridges whose heights above this assumed base vary from 300 to
1,300 feet. The more elevated of these are universally designated by the
hunters who occasionally visit the country and the lumberers who search
it for timber as mountains clothed to the summit with wood, which, in
consequence of the rigor of the climate, attains but a feeble growth.
They have an aspect of much greater altitude than they in reality
possess, but their character as highlands is indisputable. This term,
which the first English visitors ascribed without hesitation to the
hills of New Jersey,[36] whose altitude is about 300 feet above the
level of the sea, is much better merited by a group of eminences rising
from 300 to 1,300 feet above a base itself 900 feet in height, and which
exceed in elevation the well-known highlands of the Hudson River.

[Footnote 36: The highlands of Neversink.]

Not to rest merely on instances drawn from the language of those of
English birth who first settled or traded on the coast of the present
United States, there are in the immediate vicinity of the region in
question a range of eminences the highest of which is no more than
1,206 feet above the level of the sea. These, on the authority of a
distinguished officer of Her Britannic Majesty's navy,[37] are named
the "highlands of Bic," and have long been thus known by all the
navigators of the St. Lawrence who use the English tongue.

[Footnote 37: Captain Byfield.]

To sum up the results of the field operations of the commissioners:

(1) The meridian has been traced by astronomic observations from the
monument, established by the consent of both nations in 1798, at the
source of the St. Croix to a point 4 miles beyond the left bank of the
St. John in the neighborhood of the Grand Falls. In the course of this
not only has no highland dividing waters which run into the St. Lawrence
from those which run into the Atlantic been reached, but no common
source or reservoir of two streams running in opposite directions.[38]
No place has, therefore, been found which by any construction proposed
or attempted to be put on the words of the treaty of 1783 can be
considered as the northwest angle of Nova Scotia. This point must, in
consequence, lie in the further prolongation of the meridian line to
the north.

[Footnote 38: The levelings carried along this meridian line by means of
spirit levels, alluded to in the note at bottom of page 121, passed Mars
Hill at a depression of 12 feet _below_ the level of the base of the
monument which stands (except at seasons of extreme drought) in the
water at the source of the St. Croix.]

(2) The streams whose title to the name of the northwesternmost head of
the Connecticut River is in dispute have been explored, and the line of
the highlands has been traced from their sources to the point at which
the lines respectively claimed by the two nations diverge from each

(3) The line claimed by Messrs. Featherstonhaugh and Mudge, on the part
of Great Britain, has been in a great measure explored.

(4) The line of highlands claimed by the United States has, with some
small exceptions, been thoroughly examined, and its prolongation as far
as the north shore of the Bay of Chaleurs reconnoitered. The parts of
the line which have not been actually reached have been seen from a
distance, and streams flowing from them crossed and leveled. From the
former indication it is probable that the average height of those parts
exceeds that of the neighboring parts of the line. From the heights of
the streams it is certain that the lowest gaps in the unexplored portion
of the line can not be less elevated than 1,000 feet above the level of
the sea.

That part of this line of highlands which lies east of the sources of
the Rimouski fulfills to the letter the words of the royal proclamation
of 1763 and the contemporaneous commission of Governor Wilmot. The first
of those instruments defines the mouth of the river St. Lawrence by a
line drawn from Cape Rozier to the St. John River (on the Labrador
coast), and therefore all to the eastward of that line is "the sea." The
height of land thus traced by the commission, rising from the north
shore of the Bay des Chaleurs at its western extremity, divides waters
which fall into the river St. Lawrence from those which fall into the
sea, and is the southern boundary of the Province established by the
proclamation of 1763 under the name of Quebec. The identity of the line
defined in the proclamation of 1763 and the boundary of the United
States in the treaty of 1783 has been uniformly maintained on the part
of the United States, and is not merely admitted but strenuously argued
for in the report of Messrs. Featherstonhaugh and Mudge.

The undersigned therefore report that they have explored and in a great
measure surveyed and leveled a line of highlands in which the northwest
angle of Nova Scotia lies, and which in their opinion is the true
boundary between the States of Maine and New Hampshire and the British


The progress which has been made in the first portion of the duties
of the commissioners has been set forth in the preceding part of this

Although, as will be there seen, the task of running the meridian line
of the monument marking the source of the St. Croix and of exploring and
surveying the lines of highlands respectively claimed by the Governments
of the United States and Great Britain has not been completed, yet
enough has been done to furnish materials for an examination of the
argument preferred by Messrs. Mudge and Featherstonhaugh in support of
the novel form in which the claim of Great Britain has been presented
by them.

In the surveys made by direction of the commissioners under the fifth
article of the treaty of Ghent the difficult character of the country
had prevented any other method of exploration than that of ascending
rivers to their sources. It was believed on the part of the United
States that the determination of the position of these sources was
sufficient for the demarcation of the line of highlands in relation to
which the controversy exists, and no attempt was made to meet the
British argument by the exhibition of the fact that the lines joining
these sources run in some cases along ridges and in other cases pass
over elevations to which in any sense of the term the epithet of
"highlands" may be justly applied. The denial of this mode of
determining the line of highlands by Great Britain has made it important
that both the lines claimed by Great Britain and by the United States
should be explored and leveled--a task which until recently had not been
attempted on either part. The examination of the lines claimed by the
two nations, respectively, has been in a great measure accomplished, as
will be seen from the reports of the field operations of the commission,
while such of these determinations as have a direct bearing on the
argument will be cited in their proper place in this report.

It is to be regretted that the document now under consideration exhibits
many instances of an unfriendly spirit. Charges of direct and implied
fraud are made, and language is used throughout that is irritating and
insulting. It is fondly hoped that these passages do not express the
sentiments of the British nation, as in a state of feeling such as
this report indicates little hope could be entertained of an amicable
adjustment of this question. Any inference to be drawn from the language
of the report under consideration is contradicted by the official
declarations of the British Government, and may therefore be considered
as the individual act of the authors, not as the deliberate voice of the
nation by which they were employed.

It might have been easy to have retorted similar charges, and thus have
excited in the Government of Great Britain feelings of irritation
similar to those which pervaded the whole population of the United
States on the reception of that report. While, however, it is due
to the honor of the United States to declare that no desire of undue
aggrandizement has been felt, no claim advanced beyond what a strict
construction of their rights will warrant, it is trusted that the
pretensions of Great Britain, however unfounded in fact or principle,
have been advanced with a like disregard to mere extension of territory,
and urged with the same good faith which has uniformly characterized the
proceedings of the United States.

It is not to be wondered that the claims of Great Britain have been
urged with the utmost pertinacity and supported by every possible form
of argument. The territory in question is of great value to her, by
covering the only mode of communication which can exist for nearly six
months in the year, not only between two valuable colonies, but between
the most important of all her possessions and the mother country. The
time is not long past when the use of this very communication was not an
unimportant part of the means by which that colony was restrained from
an attempt to assert its independence. It is not, therefore, surprising
that the feelings of British statesmen and of those who desired to win
their favor have been more obvious in the several arguments which have
appeared on that side of the question than a sober view of the true
principles, on which alone a correct opinion of the case can be founded.

To the United States in their collective capacity the territory in
dispute is, on the other hand, of comparatively little moment. No other
desire is felt throughout the greater part of the Union than that the
question should be settled upon just principles. No regret could,
therefore, be widely felt if it should be satisfactorily shown that the
title of Great Britain to this region is indisputable. But should it be
shown, as is beyond all question the fact, that the title is in truth in
the United States, national honor forbids that this title should be
abandoned. To the States of Maine and Massachusetts, who are the joint
proprietors of the unseated lands, the territory is of a certain
importance from the value of the land and timber, and to the latter,
within whose jurisdiction it falls, as a future means of increasing her
relative importance in the Union, and a just and proper feeling on the
part of their sister States must prevent their yielding to any unfounded
claim or the surrender of any territory to which a title can be
established without an equivalent satisfactory to those States.

To show the basis on which the title rests--

It is maintained on the part of the United States that the territory
they held on the continent of North America prior to the purchase of
Louisiana and the Floridas was possessed by a title derived from their
own Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July, 1776, the assertion
of that independence in a successful war, and its acknowledgment by
Great Britain as a preliminary to any negotiation for a treaty of peace.
It is admitted on the part of Great Britain that a territory designated
by certain limits was _granted_ to the United States in the treaty of
1783. As a matter of national pride, the question whether the territory
of the original United States was held by the right of war or by virtue
of a grant from the British Crown is not unimportant; as a basis of
title it has not the least bearing on the subject. From the date of the
treaty of 1783 all pretensions of the British Crown to jurisdiction or
property within the limits prescribed by the provisions of that
instrument ceased, and when a war arose in 1812 between the two nations
it was terminated by the treaty of Ghent, in which the original
boundaries were confirmed and acknowledged on both sides.

The treaty of 1783, therefore, is, in reference to this territory, the
only instrument of binding force upon the two parties; nor can any other
document be with propriety brought forward in the discussion except for
the purpose of explaining and rendering definite such of the provisions
of that treaty as are obscure or apparently uncertain.

The desire of full and ample illustration, which has actuated both
parties, has led to the search among neglected archives for documents
almost innumerable, and their force and bearing upon the question have
been exhibited in arguments of great ability. Such has been the talent
shown in this task of illustration and so copious have been the
materials employed for the purpose that the great and only important
question, although never lost sight of by the writers themselves, has
to the eye of the casual observer been completely hidden. In the report
under consideration this distinction between treaties of binding force
and documents intended for mere illustration has not been regarded, and
the vague as well as obviously inaccurate delineations of a French or a
Venetian map maker are gravely held forth as of equal value for a basis
of argument as the solemn and ratified acts of the two nations.

In pursuance of this desire of illustration, every known document which
could in any form support either claim has been advanced and set forth
in the statements laid before His Majesty the King of the Netherlands
when acting as umpire under the fifth article of the treaty of Ghent. If
not yet given entire to the public,[39] they are in the possession of
both Governments in a printed form, together with the opinion of the
arbiter in respect to them; and although it is necessary that the
arguments then adduced in favor of the American claim should be in part
repeated, and although new illustrations of the correctness of that
argument have since been brought to light, the present document will be
confined as closely as possible to the provisions of the treaty itself,
and will adduce no more of illustration than is barely sufficient to
render the terms of that treaty certain and definite.

[Footnote 39: A considerable part of the papers, together with the
argument, has been published by Mr. Gallatin in his Right of the United
States to the Northeastern Boundary. New York, 1840. 8 vo. pp. 180.]

The boundaries of the United States are described in the treaty of 1783
in the following words:[40]

[Footnote 40: The words here appearing in italics are not italicized in
the original treaty.]

"And that _all disputes which might arise in future on the subject
of the boundaries of the said United States may be prevented_ it is
hereby agreed and declared that the following are and shall be their
boundaries, viz: _From the northwest angle of Nova Scotia_, viz, _that
angle which is formed by a line drawn due north from the source of
St. Croix River to the highlands; along the said highlands which divide
those rivers that empty themselves into the river St. Lawrence from
those which fall into the Atlantic Ocean_ to the _northwesternmost_ head
of Connecticut River; _thence_ down along the middle of that river to
the forty-fifth degree of north latitude; from thence by a line due west
on said latitude until it strikes the river Iroquois, or Cataraquy;
thence along the middle of said river into Lake Ontario; through the
middle of said lake until it strikes the communication by water between
that lake and Lake Brie; thence along the middle of said communication
into Lake Erie through the middle of said lake until it arrives at the
water communication between that lake and Lake Huron; thence along the
middle of said water communication into the Lake Huron; thence through
the middle of said lake to the water communication between that lake and
Lake Superior; thence through Lake Superior northward of the Isles Royal
and Phelipeaux to the Long Lake; thence through the middle of said Long
Lake and the water communication between it and the Lake of the Woods to
the said Lake of the Woods; thence through the said lake to the most
northwestern point thereof, and from thence on a due west course to the
river Mississippi; thence by a line to be drawn along the middle of the
said river Mississippi until it shall intersect the northernmost part of
the thirty-first degree of north latitude; south by a line to be drawn
due east from the determination of the line last mentioned in the
latitude of 31 deg. north of the equator to the middle of the river
Apalachicola, or Catahouche; thence along the middle thereof to its
junction with the Flint River; thence straight to the head of St. Marys
River, and thence down along the middle of St. Marys River to the
Atlantic Ocean; east _by a line to be drawn along the middle of the
river St. Croix from its mouth in the Bay of Fundy to its source_ and
from its source _directly north_ to the aforesaid highlands which divide
the rivers that fall into the Atlantic Ocean from those which fall into
the river St. Lawrence; comprehending all islands within 20 leagues of
any part of the shores of the United States and lying between lines to
be drawn due east from the points where the aforesaid boundaries between
Nova Scotia on the one part and East Florida on the other shall
respectively touch the Bay of Fundy and the Atlantic Ocean, excepting
such islands as now are or heretofore have been within the limits of
the said Province of Nova Scotia."

So far as the present question is concerned, five points of discussion
are presented by this article of the treaty of 1783:

I. What stream is to be understood by the name of the river St. Croix?

II. The determination of the line due north from the source of that

III. What is the position of the northwest angle of Nova Scotia?

IV. The delineation of the line passing through the highlands from that
angle to the northwest head of Connecticut River.

V. What is to be considered as the northwestern head of Connecticut


Doubts in respect to the particular river intended to be understood by
the name of the St. Croix having arisen, an article was inserted in the
treaty of commerce signed in London in November, 1794, by Lord Grenville
on the part of Great Britain and by John Jay on the part of the United
States.[41] This article, the fifth of that treaty, provided for the
appointment of a joint commission with full powers to decide that
question. This commission was constituted in conformity, and the award
was accepted by both Governments.[42] The river designated in this award
became thenceforth the true St. Croix, however erroneous may have been
the grounds on which it was decided so to be. When, therefore, in the
fourth article of the treaty of Ghent it is declared that the due north
line from the source of the St. Croix has not been surveyed, and when in
this and the other articles of the same treaty all other uncertain parts
of the boundary are recited, the validity of the decision of the
commissioners under the fifth article of Jay's treaty is virtually
acknowledged. Nay, more; the acknowledgment is completed by the
stipulation in the second article of the treaty of Ghent that "all
territory, places, and possessions taken by either party during the
war," with certain exceptions, shall be forthwith restored to their
previous possessors.[43] The only exceptions are the islands in
Passamaquoddy Bay; and had it been believed that any uncertainty in
respect to the adjacent territory existed it would not have been
neglected. Nay, more; all the settlements lying within the line claimed
by Great Britain before the commission created by the treaty of 1794 had
been taken, and were in her actual possession at the time the treaty of
Ghent took effect, and were forthwith restored to the jurisdiction of
the United States. When, also, it became necessary to proceed to the
investigation of the second point of the discussion, the agents and
surveyors of both parties proceeded as a matter of course to the point
marked in 1798 as the source of the St. Croix.[44] This point is
therefore fixed and established beyond the possibility of cavil, and the
faith of both Governments is pledged that it shall not be disturbed.

[Footnote 41: See Note I, pp. 141,142.]

[Footnote 42: See Note II, p. 142.]

[Footnote 43: See Note III, pp. 142,143.]

[Footnote 44: See Note IV, p. 143.]


The treaty of 1783 provides that the boundary from the source of the
St. Croix shall be drawn "directly north." In relation to this expression
no possible doubt can arise. It is neither susceptible of more than a
single meaning nor does it require illustration from any extrinsic
source. The undersigned, therefore, do not consider that so much of the
argument of Messrs. Mudge and Featherstonhaugh as attempts to show that
this line ought to be drawn in any other direction than due north
requires any reply on the part of the United States. Admitting that the
words had been originally used as a mistranslation of terms in the Latin
grant of James I to Sir William Alexander, the misconception was equally
shared by both parties to the treaty of 1783; and it will be shown
hereafter that this misconception, if any, had its origin in British
official papers. Were it capable of proof beyond all possibility of
denial that the limit of the grant to Sir William Alexander was intended
to be a line drawn toward the northwest instead of the north it would
not affect the question. So far as that grant was used by American
negotiators to illustrate the position of the northwest angle of Nova
Scotia it would have failed to fulfill the object, but such failure in
illustration does not involve the nullity of the treaty itself.

That the translation which has hitherto been universally received as
correct of the terms in the grant to Sir William Alexander is the true
one, and that the new construction which is now attempted to be put upon
it is inaccurate, will be shown in another place,[45] where will also be
exhibited an error committed in rendering the sense of another part of
that instrument. The consideration of the correctness or incorrectness
of the several translations can form no part of the present argument.
While, therefore, it is denied that Messrs. Mudge and Featherstonhaugh
have succeeded in showing that the grant to Sir William Alexander has
been mistranslated, it is maintained that an error in the translation of
this document can have no effect in setting aside the simple and
positive terms of the treaty of 1783. That treaty and its confirmation
in the treaty of Ghent must be admitted to be null and void before that
line can be drawn in any other direction than "due north."

[Footnote 45: See Note V, pp. 143-147.]


The term northwest angle of Nova Scotia was used in the secret
instructions of Congress and is adopted in the treaty of 1783. In the
instructions it is named without any explanation, as if it were a point
perfectly well known. In one sense it was so, for although it never had
been marked by a monument, nor perhaps visited by the foot of man, its
position could be laid down upon a map; nay, was so on many existing
maps, and the directions for finding it on the ground were clear and
explicit. These directions are to be found in the royal proclamation of
October, 1763, and in the commission to Montague Wilmot, governor of
Nova Scotia, of cotemporaneous date. Any uncertainty in regard to the
position of this angle which may have existed in relation to the meaning
of the first of these instruments is removed by the act of Parliament of
1774, commonly called the Quebec act.

Before citing these instruments it will be proper to refer to the
circumstances under which the two first were issued.

Great Britain, after a successful war, found herself in possession of
the whole eastern side of the continent of North America. So much of
this as lay to the south of the St. Lawrence and the forty-fifth
parallel of north latitude had been previously made the subject of
charters from the British Crown under a claim of right from priority of
discovery.[46] The possession of this wide tract was not uncontested,
and various other European nations had attempted to found settlements
within the limits of the British charters. In such cases it was held as
a matter of law that where the occupation or defense of the territory
granted had been neglected the right had ceased, and the country, when
recovered by conquest or restored by treaty, was again vested in the
Crown, to be made the subject of new grants or governed as a royal
colony. Thus, when the settlements made by the Dutch and Swedes, which
by the fortune of war had become wholly vested in Holland, were reduced,
the Crown exercised its rights by conveying them to the Duke of York,
although covered in a great part, if not wholly, by previous charters;
and when these countries were again occupied by the Dutch and restored
by the treaty of Breda it was thought necessary that the title of the
Duke of York should be restored by a fresh grant. In both of these
charters to that prince was included the Province of Sagadahock, within
whose chartered limits was comprised the territory at present in
dispute. This Province, confined on the sea between the rivers St. Croix
and Kennebec, had for its opposite limits the St. Lawrence, or, as the
grant expresses it, "extending from the river of Kenebeque and so upward
by the shortest course to the river Canada northward." The shortest
course from the source of the Kennebec to the St. Lawrence is by the
present Kennebec road. This grant therefore covered the whole space
along the St. Lawrence from about the mouth of the Chaudiere River[47]
to the eastern limit of the grant to Sir William Alexander. By the
accession of James II, or, as some maintain, by the act of attainder, it
matters not which, this Province reverted to the Crown, and was by it
granted, in 1691, to the colony of Massachusetts. In the same charter
Nova Scotia also was included. This has been called a war grant, as in
fact it was, and the colony of Massachusetts speedily availed themselves
of it by conquering the whole of the territory conveyed except the
island of Cape Breton. The latter, too, fell before the unassisted arms
of the New England Provinces in 1745, at a time when Great Britain was
too deeply engaged in the contest of a civil war to give aid either in
money or in men to her transatlantic possessions.

[Footnote 46: Sebastian Cabot, in the employ of Henry VII, discovered
the continent of North America 24th June, 1497, and explored it from
Hudsons Bay to Florida in 1498. Columbus discovered South America 1st
August, 1498, while the voyage of Vespucci, whose name has been given to
the continent, was not performed until 1499.--HUMBOLDT.]

[Footnote 47: See Note VI, p. 147.]

The colony of Massachusetts, therefore, could not be charged with any
want of energy in asserting her chartered rights to the territory in
question. It is, in fact, due to her exertions that both Nova Scotia
and New Brunswick came at so early a period into the possession of the
British Crown. In 1654 the French settlements as far as Port Royal, at
the head of the Bay of Fundy, were reduced by Major Sedgwick, but by the
treaty of Breda they were restored to France.

In 1690 Sir William Phips, governor of Massachusetts, with a force
of 700 men, raised in that colony, again conquered the country, and
although on his return the French dislodged the garrison possession
was forthwith resumed by an expedition under Colonel Church. Acadie,
however, or Nova Scotia, was ceded again to France by the treaty of
Ryswick. After several spirited but unsuccessful attempts during the War
of the Succession, General Nicholson, with a force of five regiments,
four of which were levied in Massachusetts, reduced Port Royal, and by
its capitulation the present Provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
were permanently annexed to the British Crown.[48] Finally the militia
of Massachusetts, during the War of 1776, took possession of the
territory, and occupied it until the date of the treaty of 1783. This
occupation was not limited by the St. Croix, or even by the St. John,
but included the whole of the southern part of New Brunswick, while the
peninsula of Nova Scotia was only preserved to Great Britain by the
fortification of the isthmus which unites it to the mainland.[49]

[Footnote 48: Haliburton's History, Vol. I, pp. 83-87.]

[Footnote 49: Haliburton's History, Vol. I, pp. 244-289.]

The recession of Acadie, or Nova Scotia, to France by the treaty of
Ryswick divested Massachusetts only of the territory granted her in the
charter of 1691 under the latter name. Her war title to Sagadahock was
confirmed by a conquest with her own unaided arms; and even the cession
of Nova Scotia was a manifest injustice to her, as she was at the moment
in full possession of it. It, however, suited the purpose of Great
Britain to barter this part of the conquest of that colony for objects
of more immediate interest.

Admitting that England did convey a part or the whole of Sagadahock to
France under the vague name of Acadie or Nova Scotia,[50] the conquest
by Massachusetts in 1710 renewed her rights to this much at least, and
although the Crown appropriated to itself the lion's share of the spoils
by making Nova Scotia a royal province, it did not attempt to disturb
her possession of Sagadahock. So far from so doing, the commission of
the royal governors was limited to the west by the St. Croix, although
it was stated in a saving clause that the Province of Nova Scotia
extended of right to the Penobscot. From that time until the breaking
out of the Revolutionary War, a space of more than sixty years, the
Province of Sagadahock was left in the undisturbed possession of
Massachusetts under the charter of 1691.

[Footnote 50: See Note VII, pp. 147, 148.]

In defiance of this charter the French proceeded to occupy the right
bank of the St. Lawrence, which at the time of the capture of Quebec and
the cession in the treaty of 1763 was partially held by settlements of
Canadians. The Crown therefore acted upon the principle that the right
of Massachusetts to the right bank of the St. Lawrence had thus become
void, and proceeded by proclamation to form the possessions of France on
both banks of the St. Lawrence into a royal colony under the name of the
Province of Quebec.

This was not done without a decided opposition on the part of
Massachusetts, but any decision in respect to her claims was rendered
needless by the breaking out of the War of Independence. It is only
proper to remark that this opposition was in fact made and that her
claim to the right bank of the St. Lawrence was only abandoned by the
treaty of 1783. The country of which it was intended to divest her by
the proclamation of 1763 is described in a letter of her agent, Mr.
Mauduit, to the general court of that colony as "the narrow tract of
land which lies beyond the sources of all your rivers and is watered
by those which run into the St. Lawrence."

It is assigned by him as a reason why the Province of Massachusetts
should assent to the boundary assigned to the Province of Quebec by the
proclamation that "it would not be of any great consequence to you"
(Massachusetts), "but is absolutely necessary to the Crown to preserve
the continuity of the Province of Quebec." The part of the Province of
Quebec whose continuity with the rest of that colony was to be preserved
is evidently the district of Gaspe, of which Nova Scotia, a royal
colony, was divested by the same proclamation. For this continuity no
more was necessary than a road along the St. Lawrence itself, and the
reason would have been absurd if applied to any country lying beyond
the streams which fall into that river, for up to the present day no
communication between parts of Canada exists through any part of the
disputed territory. The narrow territory thus advised to be relinquished
extends, according to the views of Messrs. Mudge and Featherstonhaugh,
from the Great Falls of the St. John to Quebec, a distance in a straight
line of 160 miles. It has a figure not far from triangular, of which
this line is the perpendicular and the shore of the St. Lawrence from
the Chaudiere to the Metis the base. It contains about 16,000 square
miles. It would have been a perversion of language in Mr. Mauduit to
describe this to his employers as a narrow tract. But the space whose
cession he really intended to advise is in every sense a narrow tract,
for its length along the St. Lawrence is about 200 miles, and its
average breadth to the sources of the streams 30. It contains 6,000
square miles, and is described by him in a manner that leaves no
question as to its extent being "watered by streams" which "run into the
St. Lawrence." It therefore did not include any country watered by
streams which run into the St. John.

It is believed that this is the first instance in which the term
_narrow_ has ever been applied to a triangle almost right angled and
nearly isosceles, and it is not a little remarkable that this very
expression was relied upon in the statement to the King of the
Netherlands as one of the strongest proofs of the justice of the
American claim.

Admitting, however, for the sake of argument, that the Crown did demand
this territory, and that the mere advice of an agent without powers was
binding on Massachusetts, the fact would have no direct bearing upon the
point under consideration. The relinquishment by Massachusetts of the
whole of the territory west of the meridian of the St. Croix would not
have changed the position of the northwest angle of Nova Scotia, nor the
title of the United States collectively under the treaty of 1783 to a
boundary to be drawn from that angle, however it might have affected the
right of property of that State to the lands within it.

And here it is to be remarked that the Government of the United States
is two-fold--that of the individual States and that of the Federal
Union. It would be possible, therefore, that all right of property in
unseated lands within a State's jurisdiction might be in the General
Government, and this is in fact the case in all the new States. Even had
Massachusetts divested herself of the title (which she has not) the
treaty of 1783 would have vested it in the Confederation. She had at
least a color of title, under which the Confederation claimed to the
boundaries of Nova Scotia on the east and to the southern limits of the
Province of Quebec on the north, and this claim was allowed by Great
Britain in the treaty of 1783 in terms which are at least admitted to be
identical in meaning with those of the proclamation creating the latter

[Footnote 51: Report of Messrs. Featherstonhaugh and Mudge, p. 6.]

To illustrate the subject further:

Of the seventeen British colonies in North America, thirteen succeeded
in asserting their independence; the two Floridas were conquered and
ceded to Spain; while of her magnificent American domain only Quebec and
Nova Scotia were left to Great Britain. The thirteen colonies, now
independent States, claimed all that part of the continent to the
eastward of the Mississippi and north of the bounds of Florida which was
not contained within the limits of the last-named colonies, and this
claim was fully admitted by the boundary agreed to in the treaty of
1783. Within the limits thus assigned it was well known that there were
conflicting claims to parts which had more than once been covered by
royal charters; it was even possible that there were portions of the
wide territory the right to which was asserted by the United States and
admitted by Great Britain that had not been covered by any royal grant;
but the jurisdiction in respect to disputed rights and the title to land
not conveyed forever ceased to be in the British Crown--first by a
successful assertion of independence in arms, and finally by the
positive terms of a solemn treaty.

If it should be admitted, for argument's sake, that the claim of
Massachusetts, as inherited by the State of Maine, to the disputed
territory is unfounded, it is a circumstance that can not enter into
a discussion between Great Britain and the United States of America.
Massachusetts did claim, under at least the color of a title, not merely
to "the highlands," but to the St. Lawrence itself, and the claim was
admitted as far as the former by the treaty of 1783. If it should
hereafter appear that this claim can not be maintained, the territory
which is not covered by her title, if within the boundary of the treaty
of 1783, can not revert to Great Britain, which has ceded its rights to
the thirteen independent States, but to the latter in their confederate
capacity, and is thus the property of the whole Union. As well might
Great Britain set up a claim to the States of Alabama and Mississippi,
which, although claimed by the State of Georgia, were found not to be
covered by its royal charter, as to any part of the territory contained
within the line defined by the treaty of 1783, under pretense that the
rights of Massachusetts are not indefeasible.

While, therefore, it is maintained that whether the title of
Massachusetts be valid or not is immaterial to the present question,
it may be further urged that not even the shadow of a pretense existed
for divesting her of her rights by the proclamation of 1763, except to

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