[About this transcript: Items inside italicized square brackets have been added for clarity. Page and chapter numbers are hyper-linked to facsimiles of the original pages, with the kind permission of the 1st-Hand-History Foundation ( www.1st-hand-history.org ).
Marshall, William I. Acquisition of Oregon and the Long Suppressed Evidence about Marcus Whitman, 1911, Vol. I., pages 141-284.]
GOVERNMENTAL ACTION RELATING TO OREGON.
(a) Diplomacy of the Oregon Question.
(b) Congressional Debates and Committee Reports on Oregon.
(c) Executive Action About Oregon.
An absolutely indispensable postulate for the Whitman Saved Oregon Story is that the National Government at Washington was ignorant as to the value of and indifferent concerning the acquisition of Oregon, and that in this they merely reflected the condition of mind of the people of the country; and as the Whitman Legend has been so widely circulated in the past twenty-five years that not merely popular writers caring nothing for truth if fictions would better sell their books, like Coffin in "Building of the Nation," Eva Emery Dye in "McLoughlin and Old Oregon," but some really eminent historians--without investigating original documents themselves--have imposed these fictions on their readers, it seems necessary to present the facts on this phase of the Oregon question in some detail.
Up to 1821 it is almost purely a question of diplomacy, from 1821 to 1831 diplomatic and congressional action were both much in evidence, from 1831 to October, 1843, it was congressional and executive action without diplomacy, and after October, 1843, diplomacy and congressional action were again both active; but diplomacy was the chief factor in the final settlement of the boundary at 49 degrees.
The first diplomatic action in any way affecting the acquisition of Oregon was the Louisiana purchase, in 1803; not that Louisiana ever covered any part of the old Oregon Territory, or anything else west of the summit of the Rocky Mountains, but that the acquisition of the Louisiana Territory carried our possessions to the eastern verge of Oregon, and so gave us as strong a claim by contiguity to that part of Oregon south of 49 degrees as England had by contiguity to that part north of 49 degrees.
It is utterly inconceivable that we should have ever cared to possess Oregon if we had not first acquired the Louisiana Territory.
As we have seen, while negotiations for the purchase of Louisiana were in progress and before it was certain that any part of Louisiana could be bought, Jefferson sent his famous message of
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January 18, 1803, to Congress, recommending that an expedition be fitted out and sent up the Missouri and across the "Stony Mountains," and down the Columbia to the Pacific, and this recommendation was adopted, and $2,500 appropriated, and the expedition actually under way before the news of the cession of Louisiana was received, though when that news arrived the expedition was halted east of the Mississippi till the spring of 1804, that the formal transfer of the territory might be made before the expedition entered it.
The story of this expedition, which forged so strong a link in our chain of title to the Oregon Territory, has already been briefly stated in Chapter III.
When the Astoria expedition was organizing the project was submitted to the National Government, and according to Gallatin, "met with its full approbation and best wishes for its success." (Cf. letter of Albert Gallatin to John J. Astor, dated August 5, 1835, in appendix to Irving's "Astoria.") Astor himself goes much further in his letter to Benton, dated New York, January 29, 1829, saying: "I was promised by the Administration the protection of the Government, and in fact more, but I regret to say, hitherto nothing has been done." (Cf. Benton's Report on the Fur Trade, being No. 67 of Sen. Ex. Doc., 20 Cong., 2d Sess.)
So far as yet appears, however, there are no contemporaneous documents showing any action by our Government in connection with this expedition.
Though the total results of the war of 1812 (prior to the battle of New Orleans, which was fought after the treaty of peace had been signed,) were so unsatisfactory to us that our Government was willing to end it with the Treaty of Ghent, which did not even mention the impressment of our sailors, the right of search, the inciting of Indians to attack our frontiers, nor the Orders in Council, which the President had announced as the causes of the war, yet so far-sighted were the statesmen of that time and so determined to secure for us at least the greater part of the valley of Columbia's River, that on March 22, 1814, James Monroe, Secretary of State under President Madison--not knowing whether or not Astoria had been captured--gave the following instructions to our plenipotentiaries to negotiate the treaty (who were John Quincy Adams, J. A. Bayard, Henry Clay, Jonathan Russell and Albert Gallatin) : "Should a treaty be concluded with Great Britain and a reciprocal restitution of territory be agreed on, you will have it in mind that the United States had in their possession at the commencement of the war a post at the mouth of the river Columbia, which commanded the river, which ought to be comprised in the stipulations should the possession have been wrested from us during the
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war. On no pretext can the British Government set up a claim to territory south of the northern boundary of the United States. It is not believed that they have any claim whatever to territory on the Pacific Ocean. You will, however, be careful should a definition of boundary be attempted, not to countenance in any manner, or in any quarter, a pretension in the British Government to territory south of that line." (Berlin Arbitration, p. 50.) (For the whole subject of Treaty of Ghent, Cf. American State Papers, Foreign Relations, Vol. III., Docs. 209 and 271, and Idem, Vol. IV., Doe. 325.)
The capture of Astoria by the British was not known to our plenipotentiaries at Ghent when the treaty was signed December 24, 1814 (Cf. Greenhow, 1845 Ed., p. 306).
Forty-nine degrees was proposed as the boundary from the Lake of the Woods to the summit of the Stony Mountains, but the British would not grant it unless we would consent to relinquish what we deemed "our rights in the fisheries within the jurisdiction of Great Britain," and so our plenipotentiaries refused to make any concessions on that subject. The treaty said nothing about boundaries, but provided that "all territory, places and possessions whatsoever, taken by either party from the other during the war, or which may be taken after the signing of this treaty, excepting the islands hereinafter mentioned (in the Bay of Fundy) shall be restored without delay."
February 7, 1838, Henry Clay, then Senator from Kentucky, said in a debate on Oregon in the Senate, that he himself had introduced the word possessions in this stipulation for mutual surrender, for the express purpose of securing the restoration of Astoria. (Cf. Cong. Globe, 25th Cong., 2d Sess., p. 169.) Thus began that diplomatic struggle with Great Britain for 49 degrees as our northern boundary to the Pacific, which continued thirty-two years to the Treaty of Washington in 1846.
The unswerving tenacity with which through all those years every administration insisted on that line, constitutes one of the most remarkable chapters in, and one of the most brilliant triumphs of our diplomacy, and although the advocates of the Whitman Legend claim that Webster and Tyler were ready to recede from it, and were only prevented by the opportune arrival of Whitman, we shall see that there is the most positive contemporaneous evidence of the entire falsity of this claim, and that Webster--to use his own precise language, in January and February, 1843, when Whitman (of whose existence even there is no evidence that Webster and Tyler were then aware) was still far west of the Missouri frontier--had "never meditated any line south of 49 degrees as a negotiable boundary line for the United States."
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July 18, 1815, Mr. Monroe, Secretary of State, informed Mr. Baker, the charge d'affaires of Great Britain at Washington, that "the President intended immediately to reoccupy the post at the mouth of the Columbia. . . ." But no measures were adopted for the purpose until September, 1817, when Capt. J. Biddle, commanding the sloop of war Ontario, and Mr. J. B. Prevost were jointly commissioned to proceed in that ship to the mouth of the Columbia and there "to assert the claim, of the United States to the sovereignty of the adjacent country, in a friendly and peaceable manner, and without the employment of force." (Greenhow, Ed. 1845, p. 307.)
The British Plenipotentiary at Washington, being informed of the mission of Biddle and Prevost, protested versus the contemplated action, on the ground that Astoria had not been captured, but bought by the North West Co., and further that "the territory itself was early taken possession of in His Majesty's name and had since been considered as forming part of His Majesty's dominions," though without specifying when or by whom this possession had been taken, nor on what grounds it was claimed as British territory. The matter was referred to London and discussed between the British Foreign Office and Richard Rush, our Minister there, and on his clear and vigorous presentation of our rights in the premises the British Government admitted that we might rightfully claim its restoration, and instructions were issued under which Mr. Prevost, then at Valparaiso, Chile, was offered passage in the British frigate Blossom to the Columbia, and on October 6, 1818, the British flag was hauled down and the United States flag hoisted over Astoria, and the following act of delivery was presented by the British Commissioners: "In obedience to the commands of His Eoyal Highness the Prince Eegent, signified in a dispatch from the Eight Honorable the Earl Bathurst, addressed to the partners or agents of the North West Co., bearing date the 27th of January, 1818, and in obedience to a subsequent order dated the 2Gth of July, from W. H. Sheriff, Esq., captain of His Majesty's ship Andromache, we, the undersigned, do, in conformity to the first article of the Treaty of Ghent, restore to the Government of the United States, through its agent, J. B. Prevost, Esq., the settlement of Fort George on the Columbia River. Given under our hands, in triplicate, at Fort George, Columbia River, this 6th day of October, 1818.
"(Signed) F. HICKEY, "Captain of His Majesty's Ship Blossom.
"J. KEITH, "Of the N. W. Co."
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This restoration formed, as we have already seen and shall see in further examination of the long struggle for the Oregon Territory, a strong link in our chain of title, and the British Government, promptly realizing into what a difficult position it had been placed by Capt. Black's folly in "capturing" Astoria, instead of sailing quietly away when he found it in the undisputed possession of the great Canadian fur company, endeavored to minimize the effect of this restoration by claiming that certain dispatches which the British Foreign Office sent to its own agents, but which those agents did not communicate to our Government, either through Mr. Prevost or any other of its officers, and which were never published till the negotiations of 1826, and in which they claimed that though willing to surrender up the possession to the United States, "they are not prepared to admit the validity of the title of the Government of the United States to this settlement" rendered nugatory the claim of the United States that this entirely unlimited restoration "in conformity to the first article of the Treaty of Ghent" was a recognition of our right to the sovereignty of the country. As though the private opinion of one litigant in a court expressed to his own counsel, but not stated even to the opposing counsel, much less to judge or jury, till eight years afterwards, could affect the title to property delivered without protest or reserve to the other party in pursuance of the judgment of the court! Mr. Prevost made not only an exact report of the restoration ceremonies, but also a brief but very favorable report on the value of the country, saying: "It appeared to me that by exhibiting the importance of the position only, I should not have fulfilled the object of the President, but that it was equally incumbent upon me to present a view of the country, of its inhabitants, of its resources, of its approach, and of its means of defense."
James Keith wrote Prevost October 6, 1818, asking the intentions of the United States Government towards the North West Co., to which Prevost replied under date of October 6, 1818:
"In answer to your note of this morning I have the honor to state that the principal object of the President in sending me thus far was to obtain such information of the place, of its access and of its commercial importance, as might enable him to submit to the consideration of Congress measures for the protection and extension of the establishment."
(All who care to read the whole report, which is valuable, and was often quoted in later congressional reports and in debates in Congress, will find it, with accompanying papers, in Doc. No. 112, Vol. 8, Ex. Papers, 17th Cong., 1st Sess.)
(The document covers thirty-eight pages and it begins with a message of President James Monroe dated April 15, 1822, which
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was read in the House of Representatives April 17, 1822, so that the message is sometimes referred to as the message of April 15th and sometimes as of April 17, 1822.)
May 22, 1818. Albert Gallatin and Richard Rush had been appointed as Envoys Extraordinary and Ministers Plenipotentiary to negotiate a treaty with Great Britain on five subjects, about which proposals had at intervals been passing between the two governments nearly all the time since the Treaty of Ghent was proclaimed and October 20, 1818, only two weeks after the restoration of Astoria, they signed the convention which is generally called the first Treaty of Joint Occupancy of Oregon, though at that time and for nearly a dozen years afterwards the region in question was not generally spoken of as Oregon, but as the "Columbia River Country," or "the northwest coast of America," and is so indexed in "Annals of Congress" and "Debates in Congress" down to 1828-9. Article 1 of the treaty gave us the right to take, cure and dry fish on certain parts of the coast of British America.
Article 2 fixed the boundary between the United States and British America as the 49th parallel of north latitude from the Lake of the Woods westward to the Stony Mountains (the name Rocky Mountains not being commonly used till many years later).
Article 4 extended for 10 years "all the provisions of the Convention of 1S15 to regulate commerce between the United States and the British dominions."
Article 5 provided for submitting to arbitration the claims of the United States for slaves captured by the British in the War of 1812-14.
Each of these provisions doubtless seemed to everybody except a few far-seeing statesmen of more consequence than Article 3, which was as follows:
"Article 3. It is agreed that any country that may be claimed by either party on the northwest coast of America westward of the Stony Mountains shall, together with its harbours, bays and creeks, and the navigation of all rivers within the same, be free and open, for the term of 10 years from the date of the signature of this convention to the vessels, citizens and subjects of the two powers.
"It being well understood that this agreement is not to be construed to the prejudice of any claim which either of the two high contracting powers may have to any part of the said country; nor shall it be taken to affect the claims of any other power or state to any part of said country, the only object of the high contracting parties in that respect being to prevent disputes and differences among themselves." (American State Papers, Foreign
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Relations, Vol. IV., pp. 406-407; or Doc. 306, 15th Congress, 2d
Why our plenipotentiaries did not insist then on the extension of the 49th parallel as our northern boundary to the Pacific is clearly stated by Hon. George Bancroft in the "Memorial of the United States" which he presented to the Emperor William of Germany as the arbitrator of the San Juan Island question, on December 12, 1871, as follows: "On the 29th of October, 1818, the parallel of 49 degrees was adopted as the boundary line between the two countries as far as the Stcmy, or, as we now more commonly call them, the Rocky Mountains.
"From that range of mountains to the Pacific, America, partly from respect to the claims of Spain, was willing to delay for ten years the continuance of the boundary line." (Berlin Arbitration, p. 6.) The negotiations relating to this treaty are often spoken of as of 1817-18, but as we have seen, our plenipotentiaries were not appointed till May 22, 1818, and the first protocol of the negotiations was not presented till August 27, 1818.
No little confusion exists in the public mind as to the grounds advanced by our plenipotentiaries, several of the advocates of the Whitman Saved Oregon fiction (notably Burgess in Chapter XIV. of "The Middle Period") claiming that the main contention was that the Louisiana purchase extended to the Pacific.
None of the statesmen who negotiated about the subject ever attached much importance to the claim that Louisiana extended to the Pacific.
On the day this treaty was signed Messrs. Gallatin and Bush wrote a letter from London to John Q. Adams, Secretary of State, stating the history of the negotiations, and the part relating to Article 3, is as follows:
"3. Columbia River.
"This subject was during the whole negotiation connected by the British Plenipotentiaries with that of the boundary line. They appeared altogether unwilling to agree to this in any shape, unless some arrangement was made with respect to the country westward of the Stony Mountains.
"This induced us to propose an extension of the boundary line due west to the Pacific Ocean. We did not assert that the United States had a perfect right to that country, but insisted that their claim was at least good against Great Britain. The 49th degree of north latitude had, in pursuance of the Treaty of Utrecht, been fixed indefinitely as the line between the northern British Possesssions and those of France, including Louisiana, now a part of our territories. There was no reason why, if the two countries ex-
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tended their claims westward, the same line should not be continued to the Pacific Ocean.
"So far as discovery gave a claim, ours to the whole country on the waters of the Columbia River was indisputable. It had derived its name from that of the American ship commanded by Capt. Gray, who had first discovered and entered its mouth.
"It was first explored from its sources to the ocean by Lewis and Clark, and before the British traders from Canada had reached any of its waters; for it was now ascertained that the river Tacoutche Tesse, discovered by McKenzie, and which he had mistaken for the Columbia, was not a branch of that river, but fell into the sound called the Gulf of Georgia. The settlement at the place called Astoria was also the first permanent settlement made in that quarter." (Am. State Papers, Vol. V., p. 381.)
It is plain that this was not a claim that Louisiana extended to the Pacific, but only an application of the principle of contiguity of territory, making it proper that if the two nations "extended their claims beyond the Stony Mountains," the parallel of 49 degrees (which it was then supposed had been fixed in pursuance of the Treaty of Utrecht as the boundary of Louisiana on the north) should be extended with the extension of their claims.
As to whether any boundary was ever actually run as the Treaty of Utrecht provided should be done (Cf. Greenhow, 2d Ed., Boston, 1845, pp. 140, 281, 436-7-8-9; also George Bancroft's "History of the United States," Vol. III., p. --; also Caleb Cushing's "Treaty of Washington," p. 208; also a lecture on the Oregon Question by Caleb Cushing, delivered in Boston in November, 1845, p. 10; also Gallatin's Letters on the Oregon Question, 1846, p. 20) there certainly seems in these authorities a great preponderance of evidence that as Greenhow says, "If commissioners ever were appointed, there is no evidence that the line was ever run by them," though several treaties were made based on the supposition that commissioners appointed in pursuance of that treaty had fixed 49 degrees as the line.
All doubt upon the question is, however, now ended, and Greenhow's position that "If commissioners were appointed there is no evidence that any line was ever run by them," is proved correct by Chapter XVII. of "The Great Company, Being a History of the Honorable Company of Adventurers Trading Into Hudson's Bay," by Beckles Willson, Toronto, 1890.
Prom this it appears that for several years there was a persistent exchange of letters between the two governments, and finally, September 3, 1719, Daniel Pulteney and Martin Bladen, Lords of Trade, were appointed commissioners by England to meet the Mareschal Comte D'Estrees, and the Abbe Dubois, Minister and
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Secretary of State, who had been appointed commissioners by the French King. Pulteney and Bladen went to Paris, and Sir Bibye Lake, Governor of the Hudson's Bay Co., soon after followed them, and was permitted to take a silent part in the conference.
At the end of six months only three conferences had been held, and nothing having been accomplished, the English Commissioners, thoroughly discouraged, returned to London, and thus ended the only attempt ever made to run the boundary line between the French and English possessions according to Article X. of the Treaty of Utrecht.
In the negotiations of 1818 the British did not claim any exclusive right of sovereignty over any part of the Northwest Coast of America, but only that the whole region was open to settlement by them or by any other civilized nation, and suggested the line of the Columbia as a convenient boundary, to which our plenipotentiaries responded with the offer of the line of 49 degrees to the Pacific.
Of course the British Government knew perfectly well that the line of 49 degrees had never been fixed as the northern boundary of Louisiana "according to the tenth article of the Treaty of Utrecht," but as it was much to their interest to have our negotiators believe that it had been so fixed, they very naturally said nothing about the true state of the case, and, so far as I have been able to ascertain, Beckles Willson's "History of the Great Company" contains the first publication of the facts in the case.
Only forty-six days after this first Treaty of Joint Occupancy was signed, John C. Calhoun, then Secretary of War, sent to the House of Representatives his famous report on "The Trade With the Indians," recommending radical changes in the methods theretofore in use. (This report covers pp. 2455 to 2466 of Vol. II. of Annals of Congress, 15th Cong., 2d Sess.)
On pp. 2462-66 he takes up "The trade with the Indians who occupy the vast region extending west to the Pacific Ocean," and recommends "the formation of a company with sufficient capital to be divided into shares of $100 each, and to be limited to twenty years," and after stating the advantages of such a project, says:
"The mere objection that it would create a monopoly ought not to outweigh so many advantages. The trade with the Indians has never been opened without restrictions to our citizens. Licenses from the Government have at all times been required, and the Government has itself through its factories to a considerable extent monopolized the trade, and by an extension of its capital only might engross the whole of it. All of these provisions, however necessary in the Indian trade, would be absurd in any other branch of commerce.
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"Besides the profit of the trade with the Indians has at all times been confined to a few individuals, and it is highly probable that a greater portion of the community would participate in it by carrying it on in the manner proposed than in any other mode. In fact, absurd as commercial monopoly would be where law and authority exist to repress the mischievous effects which, might spring from unbounded rivalry, and to give to such rivalry salutary consequences, just in the same degree would it be wise and advantageous to carry on the trade under consideration by an incorporated company. A nation discovers its wisdom no less in departing from general maxims where it is no longer wise to adhere to them than in adhering to them in ordinary circumstances. In fact it evinces a greater effort of reason. The first advance of a nation is marked by the establishment of maxims which are deemed universal, but which further experience and reflection teach to be only general, admitting of occasional modifications and exceptions."
He also declares that in this case a monopoly is a necessity if we would compete successfully with the North West Co., which then controlled absolutely the fur trade of the country west of the Stony Mountains, and says "the success of such a company properly conducted scarcely admits of a doubt.
"Our position in regard to this trade, the facility which the navigation of our great and numerous rivers in that quarter would afford, the protection from our military posts would speedily destroy all foreign competition, and would in a few years push our trade to the Pacific Ocean. The most profitable fur and peltry trade in the world would be ours, accompanied with a decided influence over the numerous and warlike tribes inhabiting those extensive regions."
Whether such a company as Calhoun proposed would have succeeded, as he prophesied, in a struggle versus the North West Co., with its many years of experience, and its carefully trained force--most if not all of whose leaders had risen from the ranks through long apprenticeship which had made them adepts of the first rank in every detail of the Indian trade, is by no means certain, but it is certain, as 20 years of subsequent experience fully demonstrated, that successful competition with the North West Co. or the Hudson's Bay Co. (after their consolidation in 1821) was not possible in any other way, and the fact that Calhoun as Secretary of War under Monroe proposed such a measure immediately after joint occupation was agreed on, shows how far-sighted and clear of vision were the members of the first American administration which had been brought face to face with the question of how to secure our claim against the adverse claim of Great
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Britain to what some years later came to be known as the Oregon Territory, but was still generally described either as "The Columbia River" or "The Northwest Coast of America," for it must be remembered that though our negotiators at Ghent were instructed to consent to no claim of Great Britain to territory south of 49 degrees, nothing was said at Ghent about any claim of Great Britain on the Pacific Coast, and the restoration of Astoria was provided for by the insertion by Henry Clay of the word "possessions" in a general provision for mutual restitution of territory, so that 1818 was the first time there was any formal official denial by the British Government of our claim to the valley of the Columbia River.
Whatever might have been the outcome of a struggle between the North West Co. and the Hudson's Bay Co., representing British interests and such an American fur trading monopoly as Calhoun proposed, had the measure been adopted, the spirit of opposition to such monopolies was so determined that not even Calhoun's strong argument, albeit it was plain that in it he was merely the mouthpiece of Monroe's administration, was sufficient to carry the measure through Congress, and so the plan was never tested.
Negotiations had been going on with Spain since 1816 regarding certain claims for indemnity which our citizens had against Spain, and similar claims which Spain advanced on behalf of her citizens against the United States, and certain complaints which Spain made against us for violations of neutrality laws in the wars which Spain was waging upon her revolted American colonies, and concerning the southern and western boundaries of Louisiana, and concerning East and West Florida, which we desired to purchase.
The interests involved were vast in extent, and so complicated with various considerations involving the pride and honor of the two nations that the formulating of a satisfactory treaty was only reached after negotiations whose record covers 506 pages of the Annals of Congress and Appendix (15th Congress, 2d Session, 1818-1819, Vol. II., pp. 1630-2136), or 203 of the large folio pages of American State Papers, Foreign Relations, Vol. IV., pp. 422-625.
February 1, 1819, Don Luis de Onis, the Spanish Minister, wrote Secretary of State J. Q. Adams as follows:
"Upon this view, therefore, of the subject, and considering that the motive for declining to admit my proposal of extending the boundary line from the Missouri to the Columbia and along that river to the Pacific appears to be the wish of the President, to include within the limits of the Union all the branches and rivers emptying into the said river Columbia. I will adapt my proposals
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on this point so as fully to satisfy the essential object, namely, that the boundary line shall as far as possible be natural and clearly defined, and leave no room for dispute to the inhabitants on either side."
The Secretary of State thereupon made a proposition to fix the boundary from the source of the Arkansas River along the 41st parallel of north latitude to the Pacific, to which De Onis responded proposing the 43d parallel, and finally the treaty established the parallel of 42 degrees north latitude as the boundary from the Bocky Mountains to the Pacific.
The treaty ceded us East and West Florida, and we agreed to pay therefor certain claims made for indemnity by our citizens against Spain to an amount not exceeding ($5,000,000) five million dollars, and to release Spain for any responsibility therefor, and in Article 3 Spain defined the south and west boundary of Louisiana as follows: "The boundary line between the two countries west of the Mississippi shall begin on the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of the river Sabine in the sea, continuing north along the western bank of the river to the 32d degree of latitude; thence by a line due north to the degree of latitude where it strikes the Bio Eoxo of Natchitoches, or Red River; then following the course of the Eio Eoxo westward to the degree of longitude 100 west from London and 23 from Washington; then crossing the said Red River, and running thence by a line due north to the river Arkansas; then following the southern bank of the Arkansas to its source in latitude 42 north; and thence by that parallel of latitude to the South Sea. The whole being as laid down in Melish's map of the United States published at Philadelphia, improved to the 1st of January, 1818. But if the source of the Arkansas River shall be found to fall north.or south of latitude 42, then the line shall run from the said source due south or north, as the case may be, till it meets the said parallel of 42, and then along the said parallel to the South Sea; all the islands in the Sabine and the said Red and Arkansas Rivers throughout the course thus described to belong to the United States; but the use of the waters and the navigation of the Sabine to the sea, and of the said Eio Eoxo and Arkansas throughout the extent of the said boundary on their respective banks shall be common to the respective inhabitants of both nations. The two high contracting parties agree to cede and renounce all their rights, claims and pretensions to the territories described by the said line; that is to say, the United States hereby cede to His Catholic Majesty, and renounce forever all their rights, claims and pretensions to the territories lying south and west of the above described line, and in like manner His Catholic Majesty cedes to the said United States all his rights, claims and pretensions to any
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territory east and north of the said line, and for himself, his heirs and successors renounces all claim to the said territories forever."
The treaty provided for a commission to run this boundary line and mark it where needful, but Mexico so soon won her independence that this provision was never carried into effect. This treaty was ratified by the Senate Feb. 24, 1819, and proclaimed by the President Feb. 25, 1819, but for some reason Spain did not ratify till Oct. 24, 1820, and the account of that ratification by Spain, and the concurrence therein of our government, with all the correspondence between the two governments about the subject between Feb. 24, 1819, and Oct. 24, 1820, was communicated to the Senate Feb. 14, 1821, and printed as Doc. 321, 16th Congress, 2d Session, and it covers 53 of the large folio pages of American State Papers, Foreign Relations (Vol. V., pp. 650-703.)
The full text of this "Treaty of Amity, Indemnification and Limits" in Spanish and English is also to be found as Doc. 347, 16th Congress, 2d Session, in American State Papers, Foreign Relations (Vol. V., p. 127, et seq.)
This treaty ceding to us all of Spain's claims to the valley of Columbia's river removed the only cloud on our right to it, and gave us at last a complete title to it on paper.
Had we made and concluded this treaty with Spain, say in 1817, there is no reason to suppose that Monroe's Administration would have consented to any form of Joint Policy about Oregon, but at the very time that the negotiations were progressing in London which resulted in the first, Joint Policy treaty, these negotiations with Spain were in a very critical condition, which explains why our diplomats--not desiring to offend Spain and so fail to obtain the Floridas and a settlement of the south and west boundary of the Louisiana Territory did not claim, at London, that we had "an absolute title" to the Columbia River country, but only that "our title was absolute as against Great Britain."
Within a year after Spain ratified this treaty her dominion was finally overthrown over all the territory contiguous to the boundary therein fixed.
Had the line of 41 degrees which our government proposed west of the Rocky Mountains been adopted, it would have included in our country all the land drained by the southern branches of the Columbia, but the line of 42 degrees left the extreme head waters of a few of the small southerly branches of the Snake River, in what is now Northwestern Utah and Northern Nevada in Spanish Territory.
There has been much discussion as to whether or not the Louisiana Purchase included the Oregon Territory, and several who have taken the affirmative have depended entirely or mainly on this
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treaty to sustain their opinion, but it seems a very weak support for their conclusion.
Had this treaty been negotiated merely to define the limits of Louisiana it would furnish strong if not conclusiye evidence in favor of the contention that Oregon was included in Louisiana. But it was a treaty covering the cession of Florida, the question of claims of Spain versus the United States, of the United States versus Spain for a long term of years, and about various acts which each claimed as wrongful on the part of the other, and of the amount of compensation due for such wrongs, and of payment for the cession of Florida, and for the denning of the limits of all of the territories of the two nations which were then contiguous, and it nowhere declares that the limit fixed is only the limit of the Louisiana Purchase, and I think whoever will read carefully the whole of the negotiations preceding the treaty in so far as they relate to the questions of territory ceded, and limits defined, and compensation to be paid, and will examine with care the instructions given to our negotiators in '23-'24 and '26-'2T, will be satisfied that in the opinion of Monroe and J. Q. Adams, who certainly ought to know the truth about the matter better than any one else, no part of Oregon was included in the Louisiana Purchase.
Consult especially on this point the letter of J. Q. Adams, as Secretary of State under Monroe, to Gallatin and Rush, our Envoys to Great Britain, dated July 22, 1823, in Doe. 417, Vol. V., American State Papers, Foreign Relations, pp. 790-793. The letter covers two folio printed pages, and is devoted to the subject of our title to Oregon, which it declares to depend on Gray's discovery and entrance of the mouth of Columbia River, the exploration of the river from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific by Lewis and Clark, and farther exploration and the occupancy of its valley by the Astor party, the restoration of Astoria by England in accordance with the Treaty of Ghent, and the acquisition of the claims of Spain by this "Treaty of Amity, Limits and Indemnification" (more commonly known as the Florida Treaty), but does not so much as mention the Louisiana Purchase.
After most exasperating delays Spain finally delivered Florida to us on July 17, 1821, and the correspondence relating to it makes 67 more folio pages in American State Papers, Foreign Relations, Vol. V., Doc. 324.
Before the delivery of Florida was made, Dr. Floyd of Virginia began Congressional action on the Oregon question (though the region was not yet called Oregon, but the Columbia River country) by moving on Dec. 19, 1820, for the appointment of a committee of three to "inquire into the settlements on the Pacific Ocean, and the expediency of occupying the Columbia River," and on Jan. 25,
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1821, the committee made a report of 15 pages, accompanied with a bill to authorize "the occupation of the Columbia River and to regulate trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes thereon." The report is No. 45, Reports of Committees, House of Representatives, 16th Congress, 2d Session, 1820-21, and was a very able document, replete with valuable statistics and urging that our government should take possession of the region, and "the fur trade, the Asiatic trade and the preservation of our own territory were the advantages proposed." (For a full account see Annals of Congress, 16th Congress, 2d Session, and Reports of Committees, as above; also Chapter V. of "Benton's Thirty Years' View." (Benton says: "Mr. Ramsay Crooks of New York" (who discovered the South Pass in 1812) "and Mr. Russell Farnham of Massachusetts, who had been in the employment of Mr. John Jacob Astor in founding Astoria . . . had their quarters at the same hotel where Dr. Floyd and I had ours . . . and their conversation full of information upon a new and interesting country was eagerly devoured by the ardent spirit of Floyd." Floyd's Report (p. 11) says: "The practicability of a speedy, safe and easy communication with the Pacific is no longer a matter of doubt or conjecture; from information not to be doubted, the Rocky Mountains at this time in several places is so smooth and open that the labor of 10 men for 20 days would enable a wagon with its usual freight to pass with great facility from the navigable waters of the Missouri to that of the Columbia."
The bill was referred to the committee of the whole House.
July 2,1821, less than six months after Floyd's First Report, and only 15 days before Spain finally executed the treaty of Feb. 22, 1819, fixing 42 degrees as the north boundary of California and the south boundary of the "Columbia River country," an Act of Parliament was passed which resulted in the consolidation of the North West Co., the great Canadian fur company, with its older and wealthier and less enterprising rival, the Hudson's Bay Co.
Of the long contentions, with no little bloodshed--the plots and counter plots, the ruinous expenditure of the resources of both companies, and the resulting demoralization of the Indians, which resulted in the consolidation of these companies, I shall treat somewhat in detail in the chapter on "The Truth About the Relation of the Hudson's Bay Co. to the American Exploration, Occupation and Settlement of Oregon," and it only needs to be said here that though the union was one of equality as to capital and as to treatment of the owners of each company, the North West Co.'s name vanished, and thenceforth the Hudson's Bay Co., which had never before had any posts west of the Stony Mountains, occupied all the North West Co.'s posts, not only in Oregon, but everywhere else west of the Continental Divide, and, as against British subjects, had an
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absolute monopoly of the trade with Indians, over a region larger than the United States then possessed. In Oregon its legal monopoly was only as to British subjects, Americans by the treaty of 1818 having there exactly the same rights as British subjects, but outside of Oregon their monopoly was absolute over all of what is now British America that is situated north and west of the provinces of Quebec and Ontario.
December 10, 1821, at the beginning of the first session of the 17th Congress, Floyd, Baylies and Scott were appointed a committee of the House of Representatives to "inquire into the expediency of occupying the Columbia River and the territory of the United States adjacent thereto, and of regulating the trade with the Indian tribes, and that they have leave to report by bill or otherwise." They reported a bill (p. 744, Annals of Congress, 17th Congress, 1st Session) which was referred to the committee of the whole, and at the 2d Session it was debated with great ability and vigor, the report of the debates covering 60 columns in the House and 5½ columns in the Senate. (Cf. Annals of Congress, 17th Congress, 2d Session, 1822-23.)
Pages 396-409 contain a speech of Floyd of Virginia, in which, after entering fully into the great advantages we should derive by the control of the fur trade, the benefit to the whaling industry then and long after carried on extensively in the Pacific, and the great profits of the China trade, all of which he was sure would be promoted by the passage of the bill, he proceeds to answer the bugbear of the inaccessibility of the Oregon country as follows: "The route to the mouth of the Columbia is easy, safe and expeditious. We all recollect distinctly the delays, dangers and difficulties which attended the merchant on his first opening the trade to Kentucky; in those days much preparation was necessary, and from 30 to 35 days were exhausted in getting to market; his goods were then transported to Fort Pitt (now Pittsburg) or to Wheeling by wagon, creeping on with appalling slowness; if there was a freshet in the Ohio he arrived in season, but sorrow and ruin attended him if his goods did not arrive in time for this advantage, his spring supplies arrived in the fall, and his fall goods detained sometimes until the spring. Even now, an intelligent friend from Tennessee, who usually sits on the other side of the House, tells me that the merchants of Nashville take their wagoners' receipts to deliver their goods at that place in from 30 to 50 days. From Louisville in Kentucky down to New Orleans formerly required a voyage of from 30 to 40 days, and using on the voyage up the river what they called a barge, it required them 90 days to make the trip in what they called good time. Now, however, by steamboat navigation, they make the voyage down in seven days and up in 16 days. This
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I believe is the average voyage between the places. Now, Mr. Chairman, we cannot be mistaken when we apply the same calculations to the route to the mouth of the Oregon, as steamboat navigation we all know to be safe and sure. Wherefore it will take a steamboat 24 clays to arrive at the Falls of the Missouri, thence I allow a wagon 14 days to travel 200 miles to the mouth of Clark's River, thence 7 days to the mouth of the Oregon, making the time necessary for the trip 44 days. To return the boat would reach Clark's Fork in 14 days, double the time she would go down; the wagon would return to the Falls of the Missouri in 13 days, thence the boat would arrive at St. Louis in half the time necessary for her upward voyage, which would be 12 days, making the whole time 39 days. If there were any doubt existing in the mind of any gentleman, surely it might be done away when we recur to the fact of a wagon having already passed from. St. Louis to Santa Fe and returned in the course of the last summer, bringing with it the sum of $10,000 as the profit of the trip." . . . "As to distance, I have already shown that in point of time the mouth of the Oregon or Columbia is not farther distant than Louisville was 30 years ago from New York, or St. Louis was 20 years ago from Philadelphia."
Baylies of Massachusetts, on Dec. 18, 1822, made a strong argument for the bill, and showed that within the recollection of members who heard him. the whole course of westward migration --first to Berkshire County, in Massachusetts, next to the Genessee Valley in New York, then to the eastern side, and later to the western side of the Mississippi Valley--had met with the same opposition and prophecies of disaster. On January 25, 1823, the bill was laid on the table by 76 to 61, that is, a change of eight votes would have passed the bill through the House.
Undoubtedly there was no intention of passing the bill, as it would have been a plain violation of the treaty of 1818 (which did not expire till October 20, 1828), and the real object aimed at was to keep the subject before the public, and inform the nation as to the merits of the case in anticipation of the time when either the expiration of the convention of 1818, or the negotiation of a new treaty in advance of that date should give us the right to occupy the Columbia River country.
Why Floyd chose the Missouri River route and overland to Clark's Fork of the Columbia is evident, when we remember that our fur traders all at this time went up the Missouri, Ashley not leading his first party up the Platte and over the "Stony Mountains," through South Pass into the southeast corner of the Oregon Territory, till the summer of 1824--eighteen months after this speech was made.
Turning to Annals of Congress, 18th Cong., 1 Sess., 1823-24,
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Vol. I., p. 890, we find tliat December 29, 1823, on motion of Mr. Floyd, another select committee on the occupation of the Columbia River was appointed, consisting of Floyd, Gurley, Scott, Hayden, Bassett, Frost and Baylies. They reported a bill January 19, 1824, which was read twice, and referred to the committee of the whole. This bill passed the House by 113 to 57, but as it was in plain* violation of the convention of October 20, 1818, it was finally laid on the table in the Senate by 25 to 14, having served its obvious purpose of keeping alive the interest of the people in the Columbia River country, and spreading before them a great deal of information in the debate on the bill, (the report of which fills 26y2 columns in ''Debates in Congress," not "Benton's Abridgments of Debates," which should never be depended on by any student of American history,) and in the report of the committee made April 15, 1824, commonly known as Moyd's second report. This report (which was made merely to place before the public General Jesup's letter) is to be found on p. 2345 of Vol. II. of "Debates in Congress" for this session, and is very brief, saying in substance that so much had previously been submitted for the information of the country that although the subject was of great importance they now only deemed it necessary to present a view of the difficulties which would probably present themselves in an attempt by us to occupy the country, and the manner in which they can be overcome. To obtain information on these points they had written to Brigadier General T. S. Jesup, Quartermaster General of the army, and his reply they printed, and declared that they had adopted it as part of their report.
Jesup wrote: "I should consider a line of posts extending from Council Bluffs entirely across the continent necessary.
"A post should be established at the Mandan village, because there the Missouri approaches within a short distance of the British territory, and it would have the effect of holding in check the Hudson's Bay and North West Cos., and controlling the Rickarees, Mandans, etc. ... A post at or near the head of navigation on the Missouri would control the Blackfeet Indians, protect our traders, enable us to remove those of the British companies from our territories, etc. ... On the latter river" (i. e., the Columbia) "and its tributaries there should be at least three posts.
"They would afford protection to our traders, and on the expiration of the privileges granted to British subjects to trade on the waters of the Columbia, would enable us to remove them from our territory, and to secure the whole to our own citizens."
These declarations about using the troops on the Missouri to "immediately remove the British traders from our territories," and to use them to remove the British traders in the Columbia River
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country "on the expiration of the privileges granted them" (i. e., after October 20, 1828), were the things to which the British plenipotentiaries objected, as stated by Rush (on p. 556, Vol. V., Am. State Papers on For. Rel.). They also objected to the Monroe Doctrine as applied to the non-colonization of the northwest coast by them. Jesup says further that "the expenses of the posts might be greatly diminished by cultivating as at Council Bluffs, and building mills and keeping cattle for labor and for subsistence," and urges that operations should commence at once, saying: "The British companies are wealthy and powerful; their establishments extend from Hudson's Bay and Lake Superior to the Pacific, many of them within our territory. It is not to be supposed they would surrender those advantages without a struggle, and though they should not engage in hostilities themselves, they might render all the Indians in that extensive region hostile. . . . That the route from the Council Bluffs is practicable has been proved by the enterprise of more than one of our citizens. It, no doubt, presents difficulties, but difficulties are not impossibilities. We have only to refer to the pages of our history to learn that many operations, infinitely more arduous, have been accomplished by Americans. The inarch of Arnold to Quebec, or of Gen. Clark to Vincennes, during the Revolutionary war, exceeded greatly in fatigue, privation, difficulty and danger the proposed operation, and I believe I may say without fear of contradiction that the detachment might be supplied, during the whole route, with less difficulty than in the war of 1756 was experienced in supplying the forces operating under Gen. Washington and Gen. Braddock, versus the French and English on the Ohio."
In that brief sentence, "difficulties are not impossibilities," is the key to the whole question of a wagon road to Oregon, and in this letter, written in April, 1824, is everything of any importance about establishing a line of posts to Oregon, and having them raise provisions and stock, which the advocates of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story have for years urged as proof of Whitman's great ability and foresight, because 19½ years later, in a letter to the Secretary of War, he enclosed a draft of a bill, which Mxon and Mowry say was for the "Organization of Oregon," though, in fact, from beginning to end it said nothing about "the organization of Oregon," and was by him properly entitled "A bill to promote safe intercourse with the Territory of Oregon, to suppress violent acts of aggression on the part of certain Indian tribes west of the Indian Territory, ISTeocho, better protect the revenue, for the transportation of the mail, and for other purposes" (Cf. for this letter and draft of the bill, Tr. Oregon Pioneer Association, 1891, pp. 69-78, where it first appeared in print without the false claim of Nixon
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and Mowry that it suggested a plan for the "Organization of Oregon.") Jesup in 1824, clearly recognizes (what all our statesmen perfectly well understood) the unwillingness of the British to surrender Oregon, the hold the Hudson's Bay Co. had upon its fur trade--then its only valuable resource--the need of a line of posts, and the possibility of cultivating, and grazing about them, to subsist their garrisons, and his letter did not contain the various impracticable crochets of Whitman's scheme, which were so patent to the Government that his letter and draft of a bill were promptly pigeon-holed in the archives of the War Department, and, so far as can be ascertained, never even read by any one for more than forty years thereafter, till some advocates of the Whitman Legend looking in vain for any proof in the archives of the Government that any act of Whitman's had in any way affected governmental action about Oregon unearthed this letter, somewhere about 1885; while it is certain that not a single one of his recommendations was ever even submitted in a bill for discussion in Congress, much less enacted into law. There is much of interest in the extended debate on this bill in the second session of the 18th Congress, but space will only permit the following extracts:
December 30, 1824, Floyd, after describing some easier passes than those over which Lewis and Clark went, which had been found by later adventurers, continues: "Through these you pass with ease and safety, so much so that I have the most perfect confidence that even now a wagon with the usual freight could be taken from this capital to the mouth of the Columbia. Besides these passes there is still another, which, though longer to the upper part of that river, is yet better, where even the feeble difficulties there encountered are here almost annihilated. This route, pursued by many now engaged in that trade, holds its course from Missouri up the Kansas River, continuing some distance up the Republican fork of that river, then falling on to the river Platte; thence entirely up that river to its source, where the Oregon or Rocky Mountains sink into a bed of sand, without water or timber, for the space of sixty miles smooth and level."
This fairly accurate description of the route up the Platte Valley and across the Stony Mountains, and over the South Pass into the Oregon Territory, given in Congress in December, 1824, only a few weeks after news had reached St. Louis of Ashley's success in leading the first party of fur traders from the States by that route to the Great Salt Lake and back to Missouri, shows how speedily the National Government was informed of the discoveries of the fur traders in exploring the Rocky Mountain regions, while the fact that it was not till the summer and autumn of 1824 that Ashley thus rediscovered the South Pass (the discovery of which
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by Eamsay, Crooks and Company in 1812 had not then been published) shows why Jesup, in his letter written in April, 1824, proposed a line of posts and the sending of troops up the Missouri, and thence across the Stony Mountains and down dark's Fork of the Columbia.
Benton's great speech, March 1, 1825, on this bill in the Senate, at the very end of this second session of the 18th Congress, I prefer to discuss in connection with his opposition to the treaty of August 6, 1827, renewing the third section of the treaty of 1818.
Before taking up the action of the 19th and 20th Congresses on this question, it seems best to return to the field of diplomacy and consider the negotiations of 1823-24 with both Russia and Great Britain.
It was at first hoped by our Government that there might be joint negotiations between the United States and Great Britain with Russia, but it soon became evident that Great Britain was unwilling to unite with us, and so that effort was abandoned and each nation negotiated separately with Russia.
The result of our negotiations with Russia was the treaty of April 5, 1824, Article 3 of which is as follows: "It is moreover agreed that hereafter there shall not be formed by the citizens of the United States or under the authority of said States, any establishment upon the northwest coast of America, nor on any of the islands adjacent, to the north of 54 degrees and 40 minutes of north latitude; and that in the same manner there shall be none formed by Russian subjects or under the authority of Russia south of the same parallel." (Cf. Vol. V., Am. State Papers, For. Rel., Doc. No. 384.) This fixed finally the utmost northern limit of what soon after came to be called the Oregon Territory at 54 degrees and 40 minutes.
No agreement could be arrived at with Great Britain as to a boundary for our territory on the northwest coast, but the record of the negotiations shows that very substantial progress was made in that direction by the offer of Great Britain to surrender all claim to more than four-fifths of the territory south of 49 degrees, by offering us the line of 49 degrees from the "Stony Mountains to the most northeasterly branch of the Columbia, known as McGillivray's River"--and thence that stream and the Columbia--to the Pacific, thus limiting the real contest from this time on to that part of what is now the State of Washington, which is north and west of the Columbia River.
Another very interesting and important feature of these negotiations is that at the very beginning of them, in two letters of Secretary of State John Q. Adams, dated July 22, 1823, one addressed to Henry Middleton, our Minister to Russia, and the other
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to Richard Rush, our Minister to London, was the first statement of so much of the Monroe Doctrine as declared the American continents no longer open to colonization by European governments.
As no advocate of the Whitman myth has ever stated those points with any such clearness and detail as to inform his readers of the great importance of these negotiations, and their significance as showing the inflexible determination of our Government in 1824--twelve years before the Whitman Mission was established, and not only at a time when not a single American citizen was residing at any point in the Oregon Territory, but eight years before the first overland migration under Wyth went there--to insist on no line south of 49 degrees as the northern boundary of our territory on the Pacific, it seems necessary to quote from the official record of this negotiation at some length.
Am. State Papers, For. Rel., Vol. V., Doc. 384, contains "Correspondence and Convention with Russia Relative to Navigation and Trade on the Northwest Coast of America, Communicated to the Senate December 15, 1824," covering pp. 432 to 471. Pages 436-7 contain "Letter of instructions to Henry Middleton, our Minister to Russia, from John Q. Adams, Secretary of State, dated Washington, July 22, 1823, from which the following are extracts: (P. 436) "So far as prior discovery can constitute a foundation of right, the papers which I have referred to prove that it belongs to the United States so far as 49 degrees north latitude, by the transfer to them of the rights of Spain. There is, however, no part of the globe where the mere fact of discovery could be held to give weaker claims than on the northwest coast." . . . (p. 437) "The right of the United States from the 42d to the 49th parallel of latitude on the Pacific Ocean we consider as unquestionable, being founded, first on the acquisition by the treaty of February 22, 1819, of all the rights of Spain; second, by the discovery of the Columbia River, first from the sea, at its mouth, and then by land by Lewis and Clark; and third, by the settlement at its mouth in 1811.
"This territory is to the United States of an importance which no possession in North America can be of to any European nation, not only as it is but the continuity of their possessions from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, but as it offers their inhabitants the means of establishing hereafter water communications from the one to the other."
(P. 445) Among the papers communicated with the foregoing letter of instructions is "(No. 3 k.) Observations on the claim of Russia to territorial possessions on the continent of North America." (pp. 443 to 446 inc.)
On p. 445 Mr. Adams wrote: "The only object of present interest for which all these settlements on the northwest coast have
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been made, whether by Russians, English or Americans, has been to traffic with the natives for furs and for the China market.
"This trade has, in point of fact, not only been enjoyed by the citizens of the United States, but has been prosecuted by them to a greater extent than by all the others together.
"It has been combined with a trade in sandal wood from the Sandwich Islands to China; and during the long wars in which Europe was involved, from 1790 to 1815, it was left almost entirely to them.
"In 1818 a Russian settlement was made at Atool, one of the Sandwich Islands, and another near the coast of California, within a few leagues of San Francisco, the most northern Spanish settlement.
"If the motive of these establishments was to lay the foundation for an exclusive territorial claim of Russia to the northwest coast, down to the very borders of California, and founded thereon to assert exclusive rights of trading with the natives of the northwest coast, and to navigation and fishery in the Pacific Ocean, it is time for the nations whose rights and interests are affected by this project effectually to interpose.
"There can perhaps be no better time for saying frankly and explicitly to the Russian Government that the future peace of the world, and the interest of Russia herself, cannot be promoted by Russian settlements upon any part of the American continent.
"With the exception of the British establishments north of the United States the remainder of both the American continents must henceforth be left in the management of American hands. It cannot possibly be the purpose of Russia to form extensive colonial establishments in America.
"The new American republics will be as impatient of a Russian neighbor as the United States."
Of this Doc. 384, Papers V., and Nos. 11 and 12, pp. 469-471, are about negotiations with Great Britain resulting from the negotiations with Russia. No. 11 is a letter of Richard Rush to J. Q. Adams, Secretary of State, dated London, December 19, 1823, in which he reports a conversation with Mr. Canning, in which he had told Mr. Canning that "the United States were willing to stipulate to make no settlements north of the 51st degree of north latitude on that coast, provided Great Britain stipulated to make none south of the 51st degree or north of 55 degrees, and Russia to make none south of 55 degrees ... we were willing to forbear all settlements north of 51 degrees, as that limit might be sufficient to give us the benefit of all the waters of the Columbia River."
Doc. 396, pp. 510-582, contains the "Correspondence with Great Britain on the Various Topics of Discussion between the United
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States and Great Britain (in 1823-24), communicated to the Senate January 20, 1825."
The sixth of these topics was "The North West Coast of America."
For some reason J. Q. Adams' letter of instructions to Richard Rush, of July 22, 1823, was not printed with the other papers in Doc. 396, but January 31, 1826, (Adams having become President) in response to a resolution of the House, he sent a brief message enclosing this letter, and it appears as Doc. 417, of Vol. V., pp. 790-793.
It is especially interesting and valuable for its statement of the Monroe Doctrine, because if any man ever knew exactly the grounds on which we claimed "the Columbia River country" (for it was not yet called Oregon) it was J. Q. Adams, and he in this letter stated those grounds with great precision, as follows (p. 791) (after reciting the restoration of Astoria, on October 6, 1818) : "The right of the United States to the Columbia River, and to the interior territory washed by its waters, rests upon its discovery from the sea and nomination by a citizen of the United States, upon its exploration to the sea by Capts. Lewis and Clark; upon the settlement of Astoria made under the protection of the United States and thus restored to them in 1818, and upon the subsequent acquisition of all the rights of Spain, the only European power which prior to the discovery of the river had any pretensions to territorial rights on the northwest coast of America."
(P. 792) . . . "It is not imaginable that in the present condition of the world any European nation should entertain the project of settling a colony on the northwest coast of America; that the United States should form establishments there with views of absolute territorial rights and inland communication is not only to be expected, but is pointed out by the finger of nature, and has been for years a subject of serious deliberation in Congress.
"A plan has for several sessions been before them for establishing a territorial government on the borders of the Columbia River.
"It will undoubtedly be resumed at their next session, and even if then again postponed, there cannot be a doubt that, in the course of a very few years, it must be carried into effect. As yet, however, the only useful purpose to which the northwest coast of America has been or can be made subservient to the settlements of civilized men are the fisheries on its adjoining seas and trade with the aboriginal inhabitants of the country. These have hitherto been enjoyed in common by the people of the United States and by the British and Russian nations.
"The Spanish, Portugese and French nations have also parti-
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cipated in them hitherto, without other annoyance than that which resulted from the exclusive territorial claims of Spain so long as they were insisted on by her. . . .
"Previous to the restoration of the settlement at the mouth of the Columbia River in 1818, and again upon the first introduction in Congress of the plan for constituting a territorial government there, some disposition was manifested by Sir Charles Bagot and Mr. Canning to dispute the right of the United States to that establishment; and some vague intimation was given of British claims on the northwest coast. The restoration of the place and the convention of 1818 .were considered as a final disposal of Mr. Bagot's objections, and Mr. Canning declined committing to paper those which he had intimated in conversation." ... "A necessary consequence of this state of things will be that the American continents, henceforth, will no longer be subject to colonization.
"Occupied by civilized independent nations, they will be accessible to Europeans, and to each other, on that footing alone, and the Pacific Ocean, in every part of it, will remain open to the navigation of all nations in like manner with the Atlantic. ....
(P. 793) "Mr. Middleton is authorized by his instructions to propose an article of similar import" (i. e., to the 3d Article of the convention of October 20, 1818, for Joint Occupancy of Oregon) "to be inserted in a joint convention between the United States, Great Britain and Russia for a term of ten years from its signature. You are authorized to make the same proposal to the British Government, and with a view to draw a definite line of demarcation for the future, to stipulate that no settlement shall hereafter be made on the northwest coast, or on any of the islands thereto adjoining, by Russian subjects, south of latitude 55 degrees; by citizens of the United States, north of latitude 51 degrees, or by British subjects either south of 51 degrees or north of 55 degrees. I mention the latitude of 51 degrees as the bound within which we are willing to limit the future settlement of the United States, because it is not to be doubted that the Columbia River branches as far north as 51 degrees, although it is most probably not the Tacoutche Tesse of Mackenzie. As, however, the line already runs in latitude 49 degrees to the Stony Mountains, should it be earnestly insisted upon by Great Britain, we will consent to carry it in continuance on the same parallel to the sea."
Eeturning now to Doc. 396, we find Rush's statement respecting the negotiations on pp. 553-558. On p. 556 he says the British plenipotentiaries complained of Gen. Jesup's letter in a report of a select committee of the House of Representatives "adopted in April last," and he goes on: "Yet I was bound xmequivocally to reassert, and so I requested the British plenipotentiaries would
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consider me as doing, the full and exclusive sovereignty of the United States over the whole of the territory beyond the Rocky Mountains washed by the river Columbia, in manner and extent as I had stated, subject, of course, to whatever conventional arrangements they may have formed with regard to it with other powers. Their title to this whole country they considered as not to be shaken. It had often been proclaimed in the legislative discussions of the nation and was otherwise public before the world."
At the 12th Conference, April 2, 1824, Rush proposed to continue the Convention of 1818 for ten years more, but with stipulation that during that term no settlement should be made by citizens of the United States north of the 51st degree or by British subjects south of the 51st or north of the 55th degree, on either the main land or any of the islands thereunto adjoining.
At the 20th Conference, June 29, 1824, the British plenipotentiaries offered 49 degrees to the most northeastern branch of the Columbia, and thence down the middle of that stream to the Pacific.
"The American plenipotentiary in remarking upon this boundary declared his utter inability to accede to it; but finding that the line offered in his former proposal was considered wholly inadmissible by the British plenipotentiaries, said that, in the hope of adjusting the question, he would so far vary his former line to the south as to consent that it should be the 49th instead of the 51st degree of north latitude."
The British negotiators being unwilling to accept this last offer of Bush, the negotiations of 1823-24 with Great Britain terminated, with no extension of our northern boundary west of the Stony Mountains, but with these two important gains for us, that the Monroe Doctrine had been announced and that Great Britain, by the offering of 49 degrees from the Stony Mountains to the northeastern branch of the Columbia and thence down the middle of the stream to the ocean, had finally relinquished all claim to the territory south and east of that stream, and so left in dispute, after 1824, only about 58,000 square miles, being that part of the present State of Washington north and west of the Columbia, and comprising a little less than one-third of the "Columbia River country" or the Old Oregon territory south of 49 degrees.
There is the most abundant evidence in later negotiations and in the debates in Congress that this was the general understanding of the statesmen of both nations, as will appear hereinafter by abundant citation of authorities.
So certain were the British of this that, as appears in the "Copy of a Document Found Among the Papers of the Late Dr. John McLoughlin" (published in Tr. Oregon Pioneer Association, 1880,
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and quoted herein in full in Chapter VII.), "The Hudson's Bay Co. officially informed him in 1825 that in no event could the British claim extend south of the Columbia, and that he so informed the few Canadian employes of the company, who on finishing their term of service wished to settle in the Willamette Valley, instead of being returned to Canada, as provided by their contracts with the company."
Am. State Papers, For. Rel., Vol. V., pp. 245-250, contains President Monroe's Message to the 18th Congress at its 1st session, date December 2, 1823; in which (on p. 246), after stating that, at the request of the Russian Emperor, our Minister to St. Petersburg and the British Minister there have been empowered to arrange an amicable settlement of the respective rights and interests of Russia and the United States and Russia and England on the northwest coast of America, the whole of the famous Monroe Doctrine was stated to all the world, its non-colonization part being as follows : "In the discussions to which this interest (i. e., the title to the Oregon Territory) has given rise, and in the arrangements by which they may terminate, the occasion has been judged proper for asserting as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the American Continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European power."
At the first session of the 19th Congress a select committee was appointed on "so much of the President's message as respects the establishment of a military post at the mouth of the Columbia River and the more perfect exploring of the northwest coast of America," of which Baylies of Massachusetts was chairman, and it made two unanimous reports, commonly known as Baylies first and second reports. The first (No. 35, Vol. I., Repts. of Coms. H. of R., 1st Sess., 19th Cong., p. 26) was made January 16, 1826.
The second (No. 213, Repts. of Coms. H. of E., 19th Cong., 1st Sess., Vol. II., p. 22) was made May 15, 1826. These reports were repeatedly referred to and quoted not only by Representatives and Senators in debates in later years from 1828 to 1843, but also in other committee reports to both houses of Congress, and in newspaper and magazine articles.
Those who still labor under the delusion that our National Government and the people of the country were ignorant of the fertility of the soil, the geniality and healthfulness of the climate, and the great resources in timber and fish of the Columbia River country, till the missionaries furnished information on those points in their letters (the first of which were not received in the States till 1835), and that as late as March, 1843, the Government and the
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Nation in general were ignorant about Oregon and indifferent to its acquisition till Whitman informed them about it, are respectfully invited to peruse the following extracts from these two unanimous reports, unanimously adopted by the House of Representatives in January and May, 1826, more than ten years before Whitman and Spalding established their mission, and more than eight years before the Methodist Mission was established. (Rept. No. 35) After describing in very favorable terms the country between the Cascade Mountains and the Pacific, it speaks thus (on pp. 3 and 4) of the region between the Cascade Mountains and the Rocky Mountains--the very region in which the Whitman-Spalding-Eells mission stations were established in 1836-38:
"Beyond and between this chain and the Rocky Mountains the country for several hundred miles in length, and about fifty wide, is described by Lewis and Clark as a high, level plain, in all its parts extremely fertile. 'Nearly the whole of this widespread tract' (say they) 'is covered with a profusion of grass and plants, which were at this time' (May 16) 'as high as the knee. Amongst them are a variety of esculent plants and roots, acquired' (p. 4) 'without much difficulty, and yielding not only a nutritious, but a very agreeable food. The air is pure and dry, the climate quite as mild if not milder than the same parallels of latitude in the Atlantic States, and must be equally healthy. In short, this district affords many advantages to settlers, and if properly cultivated would yield every object necessary for the subsistence and comfort of civilized man. . . .'
"(P. 16) As to subsistence, the great variety and abundance of game, both beasts and birds, and the prodigious quantities of the finest and most nutritious species of fish that throng the waters of this noble river, can leave no doubt on that subject, even if supplies from home were wholly withheld. We learn from Lewis and Clark that the multitudes of salmon in the Oregon are inconceivable, and they ascend to its remotest sources, to the very ridge of the dividing mountains. . .
"(P. 20) The great but undeveloped capacities of this region on the northwest coast for trade must be obvious to every one who inspects its map.
"A vast river, with its tributaries and branches, waters its whole extent through seven degrees of latitude, and even penetrates beyond into the territories of other nations.
"It abounds in excellent timber, and in spars equal to those of New Zealand, unsurpassed by any in the world. Its waters are navigable for vessels through half its extent, and for boats (saving a few short portages) through half the remainder.
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"The water power for moving manufacturing machinery is unequaled and commences where the navigation terminates.
"It is bounded on the south by a country which abounds in cattle and wheat, the two great sources of subsistence for a new colony, and which can be reached by sea in less than ten days. . .
"On one side it approaches a country where coal in prodigious quantities has already been discovered, and, on the other, the borders of a sea, which, for a space of 76 degrees, is seldom ruffled by a storm, and which, in all probability, can be traversed in every direction by steamboats.
"These advantages, great as they now are, will be trifling in comparison to what they will be whenever a water communication between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, through the isthmus dividing North and South America shall have been effected. Of the practicability of this communication there is no doubt. If Humboldt is to be believed the expense at one place would not exceed that of the Delaware and Chesapeake canal. . Should it be done, a revolution in commerce will be effected, greater Jhan any since the discovery of America; by which both the power and the objects of its action will be more than doubled. The Indian commerce of Europe will pass through the Americas, and more commercial wealth will be borne upon the ample bosom of the Pacific than ever was wafted over the waves of the Atlantic in the proudest days of the commercial greatness of Spain, Portugal, France, Holland and England.
"If it were given to a civilized, commercial and manufacturing people where to choose their place of rest, the world affords no position equal to this, and it requires no prophetic spirit to foresee the wealth and grandeur of that fortunate race whose happy destiny shall have placed their ancestors in this beautiful region."
(Rept. No. 213) On p. 2 they describe the remarkable journey of Samuel Adams Ruddock, Who, in 1821, with a party of fur traders went from the Missouri frontier up the Platte some 200 miles, thence southwest to Santa Fe, New Mexico, thence northwest to the head of the Willamette (or Multnomah) River, and down the Columbia, reaching the mouth of the Columbia August 1, 1821, seventy-nine days after leaving the Missouri River at Council Bluffs.
After describing (on p. 10) the founding of Astoria (on p. 13) the report says: "The American title is founded on occupation, strengthened (as the committee believe) by purchase, by prior discovery of the river, and its exploration from some of its sources in the Rocky Mountains to the Ocean. Great Britain can have no title so strong as this. This occupation, it is true, was not authorized originally by the Government of the United States, but they
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subsequently sanctioned it by demanding and receiving the surrender of the Fort; and the posts of the United Northwest and Hudson's Bay Co., for all national and legal purposes, are now, and have been for several years, in the possession of the United States."
(P. 20) "After a careful examination of the British claim, the committee have unanimously come to the conclusion that it is wholly unfounded, and that the navigators of Great Britain were not the original discoverers of any part of the region which is included between the Mexican and Russian boundaries. Nevertheless, the minute examination which has been made by them of parts of this coast ought, perhaps, to secure to the nation who patronized them something more than could be claimed as a positive right; but we think the offer of Mr. Rush to continue the boundary along the 49th parallel of latitude from the Rocky Mountains to the ocean was as great a concession as would be compatible with our interests, our honor, or our rights."
Then discussing for something more than a page Great Britain's policy of world-wide dominion, the report continues (p. 21) as follows : "What then remains to enable her to encompass the globe ? Columbia River and De Fuca's Strait. Possessed of these she will soon plant her standards on every island in the Pacific. Except the Columbia there is no river which opens far into the interior on the whole western shore of the Pacific Ocean. There is no secure port or naval station from 39 degrees to 46 degrees. The possession of these waters will give her command of the North Pacific, enable her to control the commerce and policy of Mexico, Central America and South America.
"These rich nations will be her commercial colonies.
"She will then gather to herself all nations and her ambition will span the earth. The committee entertain no disposition to risk controversy with Great Britain on a question of doubtful right; neither have they any disposition, in defense of an incontestable right, to avoid it."
In the 2d session of the 19th Congress no action was taken on the Columbia River country, because the negotiations with Great Britain which resulted in the treaty of August 6, 1827, were then in progress. The correspondence relating to these negotiations is in Ex. Doc., H. of R., Vol. V., 20th Cong., 1st Sess., Doc. No. 199, and also in Am. State Papers, For. Rel., Vol. VI., Doc. No. 458. I quote from Doc. 458.
It began with a letter from George Canning of the British Foreign Office to Rufus King, then our Minister to England, dated April 20, 1826, announcing the desire of Great Britain to reopen negotiations on the title to the northwest coast of America, and
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ended August 7, 1827, with a letter from Albert Gallatin to Henry Clay, Secretary of State.
Remembering not only the very brilliant intellect and the intense Americanism of each of the three men who conducted all of this negotiation, John Quincy Adams, as President, Henry Clay, as Secretary of State, and Albert Gallatin (who had been associated with Rush in the negotiations of 1818, and who was sent, as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to England, on purpose to carry on this negotiation in London), but also that they were the leading three of the five men who negotiated for us the Treaty of Ghent, and by the word "possessions" in its first article secured to us the restoration of Astoria, it goes without saying that all our interests would be carefully safeguarded, and that the negotiations would show a full acquaintance with every phase of the subject.
The outcome of these negotiations was the convention signed August 6, 1827, which in its first article continued in force indefinitely the 3d Article of the Convention of October 20, 1818, making the territory and waters claimed by both' the United States and Great Britain westward of the Stony Mountains "free and open to the vessels, citizens and subjects of the two powers;" but in its 2d Article provided that either party might after October 20, 1828, at any time terminate the treaty by giving the other party twelve months' notice; and its 3d Article provided that "nothing contained in this convention, or in the 3d Article of the convention of the 20th of October, 1818, hereby continued in force, shall be construed to impair, or in any manner affect, the claims which either of the contracting parties may have to any part of the country westward of the Stony or Rocky Mountains."
The significant change in this third article is that the reservation of "the claims of any other power or state," which was inserted in the 3d Article of the Convention of 1818, was omitted, as we had bought the Spanish claim in February, 1819, and limited the Russian claims at 54 deg. and 40 min. by the treaty of April 5-17, 1824.
The following extracts from the correspondence show how thoroughly our negotiators understood the value of the Oregon Territory to us, and how carefully they guarded our interests, and with what unswerving tenacity they adhered to the line of 49 degrees as the utmost we would concede to Great Britain. Three times within less than two months Gallatin was instructed by the President that 49 degrees from the Stony Mountains to the Pacific Ocean was our "ultimatum," that precise word being used in one case, and expressions equivalent to it the other two times, as follows: H. Clay, Secretary of State, on June 19, 1826, wrote a letter of in-
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structions to A. Gallatin, in which, after declaring that "it is not thought necessary to add much to the argument advanced on this point in the instructions given to Mr. Rush" (i. e., in 1823) "(a copy of which is herewith communicated), and that which was employed by him in the course of his negotiation to support our title as derived from prior discovery and settlement at the mouth of the Columbia, and from the treaty with Spain concluded on the 22d of February, 1819, he said:
"That argument is believed to have conclusively established our title on both grounds. Nor is it conceived that Great Britain has or can make out even a colorable title to any portion of the Northwest Coast. . . You are then authorized to propose the annulment of the third article of the Convention of 1818, and the extension of the line on the parallel of 49 degrees from the eastern side of the Stony Mountains, where it now terminates, to the Pacific Ocean, as the permanent boundary between the territories of the two powers in that quarter. This is our ultimatum, and you may announce it. We can consent to no other line more favorable to Great Britain."
Only four days later, June 23, 1826, Clay again wrote to Gallatin as follows: "Mr. Crook's information adds little to what was previously possessed. If the land on the Northwest Coast between the mouth of the Columbia and the parallel of 49 degrees be bad, and therefore we should lose but little in relinquishing it, the same consideration will apply to the British. The President cannot consent to vary the line proposed in your instructions."
August 9, 1826, Mr. Clay again wrote to Mr. Gallatin as follows: "The President cannot consent that the boundary between the territories of the two powers on the Northwest Coast should be south of 49 degrees.
"The British Government has not been committed by a positive rejection of a line on the parallel of 49 degrees; but if it had been its pride may take refuge in the offer which for the first time you are to propose of a right in common with us to the navigation of the Columbia River."
Although this "ultimatum" letter of Clay seemed so important to Congress that, as we shall see later, the Senate and the House of Representatives by unanimous votes ordered it printed in 25,000 copies of four reports in 1838, 1839, 1842, and January, 1843, no advocate of the Whitman Saved Oregon tale has ever even alluded to the letter, nor to anything else of vital significance in this great negotiation as showing how thoroughly every phase of the subject was discussed, and how inflexibly Adams, Clay and Gallatin stood for our rights to the Oregon Territory south of 49 degrees.
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The following extracts from Gallatin's letters to Clay are so very significant of the real position of the parties that it seems to me essential that they should be quoted, and I only regret that space will not permit quoting much more from them.
Under date of London, November 16, 1826: "Mr. Huskisson, amongst the reasons for taking up that subject" (i. e., the northwest boundary), "first mentioned that it had for several sessions occupied the attention of Congress, and that it was not possible to foresee the effect which the measures they might adopt would have on the question and on the friendly relations of the two countries. In a subsequent part of the conversation he said that the joint occupancy would cease in 1828 unless renewed; and that the removal of any settlement made by British subjects would be considered as an act of aggression.
"This having been already intimated in the course of the negotiations of 1824, I asked whether he would consider as an aggression the removal of such British subjects from Astoria, or such other of our settlements as were directed to be restored by the Treaty of Ghent.
"To which it was answered that these were considered as in our possession. Mr. Addington added that the British had removed from Astoria to the opposite side of the river, where I understood they had now a fort called Vancouver.
"Protocol of seventh Conference of the British and American plenipotentiaries held December 19, 1826.
"Present Mr. Gallatin and Mr. Addington."
In the course of his argument Mr. Gallatin said: "If the present state of occupancy is urged on the part of Great Britain, the probability of the manner in which the territory west of the Rocky Mountains must be settled belongs essentially to the subject.
"Under whatever nominal sovereignty that country may be placed, and whatever its ultimate destinies may be, it is nearly reduced to a certainty that it will be almost exclusively peopled by the surplus population of the United States.
"The distance from Great Britain and the expense incident to emigration forbid the expectation of any being practicable from that quarter but on a comparatively small scale."
Under date of London, December 22, 1826: "Mr. Huskisson, in the course of the discussion, several times repeated that there was no intention on the part of Great Britain to colonize the country. They have certainly no other immediate object than that of protecting the North West Co. in her fur trade.
"In every other respect the question appeared to be with them rather one of national pride than anything else. Not only from them, but from several other distinct quarters, it is certain that
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that pride was sorely wounded by that part of the late President's message which declared that America was no longer open to European colonization.
"This was new doctrine and was considered as dictatorial, and as hinting, too, with no favorable intentions to the existing British colonies. Those parts of the second report of a committee of the House of Representatives at the last session of Congress, (that is Baylies' second report) to which I have alluded in a former dispatch, gave great, fresh and additional offense, awakening anew the feelings which had been excited by the former passage in the President's message.
"I think it not improbable that we might have come to an arrangement had it not been for these causes. The North West Company is also very inimical, and has no inconsiderable weight."
Under date of June 27, 1827: "The British plenipotentiary desired to insert in the protocol a declaration that neither party should establish any military posts in the Oregon Territory. 'Great Britain,' they said, 'had no wish to establish such posts and would do it only in self defense.' . . . 'There was no intention on the part of Great Britain to colonize the country, or to impede the progress of our settlements.' ... 'It appeared from that exposition that Great Britain denied, indeed, their' (i. e., the United States') 'exclusive right to any part of the territory in question, but made no exclusive claim herself, and considered it open to the first occupant.'
"Although the United States asserted and would not abandon her exclusive right, yet, in fact, the country must necessarily become ultimately theirs, even according to the British doctrine. In that view of the subject all that the United States declared to be hers, viz., the preservation of peace until (if no arrangement should previously take place) the whole country was occupied; and I had myself no doxibt that it would be entirely occupied and settled by citizens of the United States."
Under date of July 10, 1827: "Whatever change may hereafter take place in the views of the British Government concerning that country, I may with confidence say that there is not at present any wish to colonize it; that they view it rather with indifference; that they do not believe that it will when once settled long remain either a British colony or a part of the United States; that they do not think it therefore a matter of great importance whether it shall receive its inhabitants from Great Britain, Canada or the United States; and that they are willing to let the settlement of the country take its natural course."
August 7, 1827: "But in addition to the reasons which were assigned in the course of the negotiation in favor of continuing it"
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(i. e., joint occupancy) "in force, there is still one peculiar to the United States. They claim exclusive sovereignty over a territory a considerable portion of which is occupied by British traders whom they could not dispossess without engaging in a war, and whom from their distance and other causes they are not at this time prepared to remove.
"It is certainly more eligible that those persons should remain on the territory of the United States by virtue of a compact and with their consent, than in defiance of their, authority."
After stating that the British from their system of government could govern the Oregon country in its then condition by a monopolistic trading company, Gallatin continues: "But in order to attain the same ends the United States would be obliged to resort to different means. The establishment of an exclusive company appeared incompatible with their habits and institutions. They could not govern the country and preserve the peace through that medium."
Benton bitterly opposed the ratification of this treaty of August 6, 1827, but could only rally against it six other Senators (only one of whom, Cobb of Georgia, was from a seaboard State)--the vote being 31 for and 7 against, with no record of the opinions of the eight Senators who did not vote.
Fifteen years later Benton opposed with equally bitter invective the ratification of the Ashburton treaty, largely because it had not included a settlement of the Oregon question, and could only rally 9 against to 39 for it, with no record of the opinions of the two Senators who did not vote.
The injunction of secrecy seems not to have been removed from the discussion of the 1827 treaty, but in Appendix to Congressional Globe, 3d Sess., 27th Cong., pp. 1-26, will be found Benton's speech (covering 76 columns) against the Ashburton Treaty, delivered in secret session of the Senate, August 18, 1842; the injunction of secrecy having been removed.
So overwhelmingly was the judgment of the Senate against Benton on both of these treaties, that on each the friends of ratification could have granted leaves of absence to as many as were required to ratify and then have had remaining three more than the two-thirds necessary to ratify; or, in other words, instead of having merely twice as many in favor of ratifying as were opposed to it, they had in each case three more than four times as many as voted against ratification.
It is doubtful if any other politician in our history ever succeeded in acquiring so widespread a reputation as a chief factor in accomplishing a great national work, upon which his real influence was never decisive, as Benton acquired in connection with
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the Oregon acquisition, by merely writing newspaper articles and incessantly making speeches about it, though of the real construction work which secured us Oregon he not only did absolutely nothing, but bitterly opposed what such statesmen as Madison, Monroe, J. Q. Adams, Albert Gallatin, Richard Rush and Henry Clay did do, which secured us Oregon without war and without expense.
A very ambitious young lawyer, already well experienced in politics, Benton, at 35, migrated in 1817 from Tennessee to St. Louis, in the then Territory of Missouri, which it was certain must soon be admitted as a State.
The Convention of 1818 about "the Columbia River country" had been ratified unanimously by the Senate, but St. Louis being then the headquarters of the fur trade, Benton was astute enough to see that a violent opposition to that convention, on the ground that "the Columbia River country" was ours, and that we should never have made a convention allowing the British fur traders the same rights there as our own traders had, would be so very popular as to land him in the position he coveted of Senator from Missouri ; and so in the St. Louis Enquirer he attacked it with utmost vehemence of language, declaring that it should not have been made, and that it would result in the British acquiring the Valley of the Columbia.
That in the judgment of all our statesmen who ever negotiated on the Oregon question that treaty was the best that could then be made, that its renewal in 1827 was equally wise, that the omission of Oregon from the Ashburton treaty was also equally wise, and that the treaty of 1818 and its renewal in 1827 by their very terms made it impossible (in the opinion of such men as Albert Gallatin, George Bancroft, Edw. Everett, James Buchanan, John C. Calhoun, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren and many other of our ablest statesmen) that Great Britain by founding trading posts or establishing settlements could, while those treaties remained in force, in the least degree strengthen her claims to any part of the Columbia River country; that every British diplomat who negotiated with us on the question, from Huskisson and Canning in 1823 to Pakenham in 184446, had tacitly endorsed the correctness of this position by never making any claim that anything done by Great Britain subsequent to October 20, 1818, had in any way affected the title to any part of the region in dispute; and that Lord Aberdeen (head of the British Foreign Office from 1841 till after the treaty of 1846 was concluded) explicitly assented to the correctness of our position on this policy--all this counted for naught with Benton.
Nor did the fact that Bush and Gallatin both pointed out that we could not expect to remove the Hudson's Bay Co. by force in
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1823, nor in 1827, and that it was therefore better for us to continue the joint occupancy condition till the unequaled and majestic westward movement of our population should so change the then existing conditions as to make it desirable for us to insist on immediately fixing our boundary at 49 degrees, and so acquiring the right coincidently with the development of the unquestionable power to take undisputed control of the Oregon country, in the slightest degree affect Benton's constant clamor for immediately abrogating the treaty and taking possession of the country; and in the later years of the struggle from insisting that in contemptuous disregard of our own freely executed treaty obligations we should, by granting lands to settlers and assuming full control of Oregon, do that which the "correspondence" in Doc. 458 shows it was distinctly agreed by both parties in 1826-27 should not be done by either, without first giving the twelve months' notice required to abrogate the treaty.
Benton was never intrusted with any share in conducting any negotiations about Oregon, nor was he made chairman of either of the special committees of the Senate on Oregon, which in 1838 and 1842 made extensive and very valuable reports on Oregon, though as chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs he made a report on the fur trade in February, 1829, which, like Calhoun's in 1818, was chiefly connected with Oregon matters, as, indeed, any valuable report on the fur trade in those days must have been.
He was also chairman of the Military Committee of the Senate in January, 1831, when it reported back President Jackson's message enclosing the letters of Ashley, Smith, Sublette and Jackson, Major Pilcher and Lewis Cass and Gen. William Clark, with a recommendation that the documents be printed and 1,500 copies extra be furnished for the use of the Senate.
But when all proper deductions have been made from the greatly exaggerated reputation of Benton as a chief factor in securing Oregon, these indisputable facts remain: That he was always, after 1818 (three years before the commencement of his term as United States Senator from Missouri), an extremely ardent if sometimes not a specially wise friend of Oregon; that he not only never uttered or wrote a single sentence depreciatory of the value of Oregon to the United States, but uniformly used the most extravagant language about the soil, the climate, the fisheries and the commercial possibilities of the Oregon Territory, and the immense importance of our asserting our title to it and occupying it,' and that the steadfastness and persistence with which upon every possible occasion he thus spoke and wrote about it from 181S to> 1846 made him an important factor, though by no means the chief one in securing Oregon to us.
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Like Jefferson, and Jackson, and probably a large majority of the members of his party, Benton for a quarter of a century after he began his open and constant advocacy of the acquisition of Oregon did not expect that it would permanently remain a part of the United States, but expected that when, by migration overland from the States it should become populous, it would separate from us and establish a new republic on the Pacific, with the Rocky Mountains as a natural boundary between the two nations.
This view often expressed by him (the last time, as far as I have been able to learn, in the Senate, August 18, 1842) did not, however, in the least diminish the intensity of his conviction, nor the ardor of his speech in favor of the right of the United States to the Oregon Territory and the duty resting upon us to assert that right and drive the British out, and occupy and settle it ourselves.
One looks in vain through his "Thirty Years' View" and his "Abridgment of Debates in Congress" for any intimation that he had ever held any such opinion about the final destiny of Oregon, he having carefully "abridged out" of the debates all the things he wished he had not uttered, and with equal care omitted to include in the field of vision of his "Thirty Years' View" anything which showed that he was not as wise at the beginning, or the middle of his career, as at the end.
Personally, outside of politics, Benton was probity itself, but like many politicians he had two codes of honesty, one to be followed in matters outside of politics and another and very different one inside of politics, the consequence of which is that his "Thirty Years' View" and his "Abridgment of the Debates in Congress" are both so intensely partisan, and so often distort the history they ostensibly illuminate that no careful student dares depend on them about any matter affecting the political struggles which filled so much of Benton's life, or on any other matter on which he had seen occasion to change his opinions with the lapse of years.
In view of this record of Benton's uniform and enthusiastic advocacy of the acquisition of Oregon from 1818 to 1846, and his persistent denunciations of Great Britain's claims to it, one would suppose that not even the most reckless of the myth-loving advocates of the Whitman Legend, seeking to find support for the indispensable postulate of that story that our leading statesmen were ignorant about Oregon and indifferent to its fate, and even anxious that it should be yielded up to England, would have the hardihood to misquote Benton's great speech of 1825 and represent him as one of those who derided Oregon and was rather anxious than otherwise that it should be yielded to Great Britain. Yet precisely that has happened.
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In this, as in most of the misquotations by which the public has been completely befogged about the Oregon acquisition, Barrows' "Oregon" seems to have been the "original sinner," with Nixon's "How Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon" as a close second.
In his chapter entitled "Is Oregon Worth Saving?" after some four pages packed full of misstatements of facts and several quotations from the Edinburgh Review and the London Examiner, which are so ingeniously garbled as to convey to the minds of his readers the precise opposite of the ideas •which the articles honestly quoted would convey, Barrows (on p. 193) continues as follows: "Their" (i. e., the Hudson's Bay Co.'s) "trappers and traders, in a gossipy way, were undervaluing Oregon, as the stately quarterlies were doing in a more dignified manner. This depreciating view of that country came to possess our own literature and popular speech. Captain William Sturgis, who had trafficked on the Northwest Coast and at the English posts there, uses this language in a lecture before the Mercantile Library Association of Boston, two years after the arrival of Whitman: 'Bather than have new States formed beyond the Rocky Mountains, to be added to our present Union, it would be a lesser evil, as far as that Unioa is concerned, if the unoccupied portion of the Oregon Territory should sink into Symmes' Hole, leaving the western base of those mountains and the borders of the Pacific Ocean one and the same.'"
The plain meaning and purpose of this paragraph is that in this statement Sturgis was merely echoing the general sentiment of the American public concerning the Oregon Territory, and (not being able to get hold of a copy of Sturgis' lecture) for some years after I became fully satisfied that that was untrue, I assumed that Barrows had quoted fairly in this instance, and that Sturgis had made the statement quoted, supposing that in that opinion he was in accord with the general sentiment of his countrymen. But finding in the Wisconsin State Historical Society's splendid library a copy of Sturgis' lecture, it was speedily evident that Barrows had deliberately deceived his readers in this quotation.
Sturgis' lecture was delivered January 22, 1845, avowedly to combat the "54 deg. 40 min. or fight" craze, and to persuade the American people that we should be satisfied with 49 degrees as the northern boundary of Oregon, and referring to pp. 37, 42 and 44 of the "Berlin Arbitration," we find that "it exercised quite an influence" on some leading English statesmen.
On p. 22 of Sturgis' lecture he says: "Our Government, on the contrary, seeks the acquisition of the region west of the Rocky Mountains as an extension of the territory of the United States, to be used hereafter in the same manner as any other portion of our territory for the formation of new States; for this purpose the
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country south of the 49th parallel of latitude is most conveniently situated. Being the portion best adapted to agriculture and (p. 23} manufacturing purposes, it might be reasonably expected that we should be content with this division, but I am not quite sure that our Government will so readily accede to it. The people of this country are both covetous and ambitious in regard to territory. They covet and are ready to grasp at all that lies upon their borders, are ambitious of extending their empire from sea to sea, from the shores of the Atlantic to the borders of the Pacific.
"I do not participate in this feeling and have little sympathy with those who cherish it. Settlements scattered over a vast extent of territory--very likely to be badly governed in time of peace and certain to present remote and exposed points to be defended in times of war--will not, in my belief, add to the power or promote the prosperity of the United States."
Then, after quoting from Presidents Jackson and Jefferson, Mr. Sturgis goes on (p. 24) as follows: "I will add as my own views, that rather than have new States formed beyond the Rocky Mountains to be added to our present Union, it would be a lesser evil so far as that Union is concerned if the unoccupied portion of the Oregon Territory should sink into Symmes' Hole, leaving the western base of those mountains and the borders of the Pacific one and the same. But as this consummation, however devoutly it may be wished, can hardly be expected, I deem it very desirable that the question of boundary (p. 25) should be speedily adjusted, and that the limits of the rights of each party be so closely established and defined as to prevent all danger of collision hereafter. In this opinion I doubt not that the distinguished statesmen, Messrs. Pakenham and Calhoun, who now have charge of the negotiation, will cordially concur; and it seems to me that each party will attain their object, and justice be done to both, by adopting as the boundary a continuation of the parallel of 49 degrees across the Rocky Mountains to tidewater, say to the middle of the Gulf of Georgia, thence by the northern most navigable passage (not north of 49 degrees) to the Straits of Juan de Fuca, and down the middle of those straits to the Pacific Ocean, the navigation of the Gulf of Georgia and the Straits of Juan de Fuca to be forever free to both parties; all the islands and other territory lying south and east of this line to belong to us, and all north and west to Great Britain. ... (P. 27) Very different and conflicting representations have been made by different writers in regard to the general aspect of the whole territory, and its adaptation to agricultural purposes; some have described it as a perfect paradise, while by others it has been represented as wild and sterile. According to my observation both are exaggerated. (P. 28) The
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climate, however, is altogether milder and the winter less severe than on this side of the continent, and more nearly resembles the climate of Europe."
Could human ingenuity more completely mislead the readers of a book as to the true opinion of the American Government and people about the value of Oregon than Barrows did in this garbled quotation from Sturgis' lecture?
The very next sentence on p. 193 of Barrows' "Oregon," after this garbled quotation from Sturgis' lecture, is the following: "A similar view of Oregon's value probably led Benton to make that remarkable utterance in 1825: 'The ridge of the Rocky Mountains may be named without offense as presenting a convenient, natural and everlasting boundary. Along the back of this ridge the western limits of this Republic should be drawn, and the statue of the fabled god Terminus should be raised upon its highest peak never to be thrown down.'"
But when we turn to the speech of Benton, from which these two brief sentences are taken, we find it covers 14 pages of the "Debates in Congress" (not Benton's Abridgment, but the full official Debates in Congress), 18th Congress, 2d Session, Vol. 1, pp. 699-713, and is an impassioned plea for the immediate occupation of Oregon, and that instead of any depreciatory view of Oregon, it expressed a higher opinion of it than any candid and well-informed resident of that Territory would today say is fully justified by the facts, as appears from the following, which Barrows does not quote: "It is a country too great and too desirable to remain longer without civilized inhabitants. ... In extent, soil and climate it is superior to the old thirteen United States."
Then (immediately following the two sentences which Barrows quotes) Benton goes on as follows: "In planting the seeds of a new power on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, it should be well understood that when strong enough to take care of itself the new government should separate from the mother empire as the child separates from the parent at the age of maturity. The heights of the Rocky Mountains should divide their possessions, and the mother Republic would find herself indemnified for her cares and expenses about the infant power in the use of a port on the Pacific Ocean, the protection of her interests in that sea, the enjoyment of the fur trade, the control of the Indians, the exclusion of a monarchy from her border, the frustration of the hostile schemes of Great Britain, and above all in the erection of a new republic composed of her children, speaking her language, inheriting her principles, devoted to liberty and equality, and ready to stand by her side against the combined powers of the Old World. Gentlemen may think this is looking rather deep into the chapter of
182 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
futurity, but the contrary is the fact. The view I take is both near and clear. Within a century from this day a population greater than that of the present United States will exist on the western side of the Rocky Mountains."
Plainly then, instead of "similar view of Oregon's value" causing Benton to utter this sentiment about the western boundary of the United States being the crest of the Rocky Mountains, it was his belief (in which doubtless all sensible men even now will agree with him), that, as the world then looked, when the first mile of railroad had not been built, when the telegraph was not even dreamed of, and the successful application of steam to ocean navigation was a very doubtful problem, the government by the United States of colonies on the Pacific Coast when they should become populous from, the migration thither of our citizens, would be impossible. Benton continued to hold this view certainly as late as August 18, 1842, for in that part of his famous speech against the Ashburton treaty which denounced it because it did not settle the Oregon boundary, he most vehemently reiterates all these sentiments of his speech of March 1, 1825. (Cf. App. to Cong. Globe, 27th Cong., 3d Sess., pp. 1-26.) Just when and why he changed his opinions (not on the immense value of the Oregon Territory to the United States, and the duty of the Government to at once occupy and colonize it--for on that his opinions were constant from 1818 [i. e.} before he entered public life] down to the date of the treaty of 1846--and Gato was no more persistently insistent that Carthage should be destroyed than Benton was during all those years that we should occupy Oregon; but as to the possibility of our continuing to hold it after we should have populated it enough for statehood) it seems impossible certainly to determine. But in his two long speeches in the Senate on the great debate on Oregon in 1842-3, the first on January 12, 1843, and the second on February 2, 1843, he says nothing about Oregon ever separating from the United States, so that the time of the change would seem to have been between August 18, 1842, and January 12, 1843, but I know of no clue as to the cause. (Cf. App. to Cong. Globe, 27th Cong., 3d Sess., pp. 74-78 and 116-117.)
Nixon is so delighted with these two sentences that Barrows misquotes from Benton, that he not only quotes them on p. 40 of his "How Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon," at the beginning of his attempt to show what he is pleased to call (on p. 41) "the educating power of the Hudson's Bay Co. on the United States, and the ignorance of our statesmen as to the extent and value of the territory" (i. e., the Oregon Territory), but quotes them twice more on pp. 170 and 186, of course with no reference to the rest of Benton's speech, or the place where his readers can find it, and
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utterly oblivious of the fact that the only "ignorance" displayed in the matter is his own total ignorance concerning the real position of Benton and all our other leading statesmen from 1814 to 1846 on the Oregon question.
Having carefully compared every quotation in Barrow's "Oregon" and Nixon's "How Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon" with the original book, Government document, magazine or newspaper to which it is credited--so far as any such source really exists, for some of their alleged quotations are pure fabrications, never having appeared in the sources from which they are claimed to have been quoted--I can assure the reader that on any important disputed point there is not in either book from title page to finis a single quotation that is not as false and misleading as these two from Sturgis' lecture and from Benton's 1825 speech.
Beturning now to the record of governmental action on the Oregon question. The Senate having ratified the Convention of August 6, 1827, during the first session of the 20th Congress, it was proclaimed May 15, 1828. (Cf. Doc. 492, Am. State Papers, For. Rel., Vol. VI., p. 1000.)
The Senate, in the first session of the 20th Congress, 1827-8, having debated every phase of the Oregon question in executive sessions during the discussions on the ratification of the second Treaty of Joint Occupancy, did not take the subject up again for any extended discussion till the second session of the 25th Congress, 1837-38, though in the mean time two reports were made to it--Benton's on the Fur Trade, February 9, 1829, and the report of the Military Committee, January 26, 1831, which were very valuable--the latter especially so.
No record of Benton's report is to be found in the official report of "Debates in Congress," but turning to the "Journal of the Senate" we find (p. 47) that on December 23, 1828, on motion of Mr. Benton (chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs), and by unanimous consent, it was "Resolved: That the Committee on Indian Affairs be instructed to inquire into the present condition of the fur trade within the limits of the United States, and to report what measures, if any, are necessary to the safe and successful prosecution of that trade by citizens of the United States."
February 9, 1829, (p. 111) "Mr. Benton, from the Committee on Indian Affairs, who were instructed by a resolution of the Senate on the 23d of December last to inquire into the present condition of the fur trade, made a report, accompanied by a bill for the encouragement of the fur trade, which was read, and ordered that it pass to a second reading, and that the report be printed."
The bill provided only for a duty on foreign furs imported into this country, but no legislation was effected, as the same com-
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plaints were made as to the disabilities under which the fur trade suffered in the letters of the Rocky Mountain Fur Co. and of Major Pilcher, and of Gen. William Clark and Hon. Lewis Cass, in Sen. Ex. Doc. 39, date January 26, 1831.
The report is No. 37, Sen. Ex. Doc., 20th Cong., 2d Sess., and covers 19 pages.
Benton wrote only about two pages of the report, the rest being extracts from a message of Gov. Miller of Missouri to the General Assembly of that State, dated November, 1828; a memorial of the General Assembly of Missouri to Congress, dated December 1828; a statement by Senator Benton to the Committee on Indian Affairs, and letters as follows: One each from Thomas L. McKenney, Commissioner of Indian Affairs; John Jacob Astor, Hon. C. C. Cambreling, and one signed by Gen. William Clark of Missouri and Gov. Lewis Cass of Michigan, and two from W. H. Ashley, the whole concluding with a page from the "History of the Fur Trade" (London, 1801) by Alex McKenzie, the sturdy Scotchman, long a leader of the "North Westers," who was the first white man to go overland in North America to the Arctic Ocean, which he reached in 1789, and the first to cross North America north of Mexico, reaching the Pacific July 22, 1793, in latitude 52 deg. 20 min. and 48 sec.
The committee urge that the joint occupancy treaty be terminated and a boundary line established, and the traders of both nations confined to their own respective territories, and suggested three things as necessary for the prosperity of the fur trade, viz.:
"(1) A reduction of duty on the blankets, shrouds and scarlet cloths used in the trade.
"(2) A drawback of duties upon these articles when carried into the Indian countries for the purposes of trade.
"(3) A duty on foreign furs."
The letters published in the report endorsed its conclusions and recommendations.
McKenzie seems to have been the first to suggest the consolidation of the North West Co. and the Hudson's Bay Co. (Gf. p. 408 of his "Journal of a Voyage Through the Northwest Continent of America") as a means of monopolizing that trade in British North America and in the Columbia River country, and as a necessary part of that plan urges (in the page which Benton quotes from him) that the British should insist on having the line between their North American possessions and the United States so run as to insure them the control of the Columbia, as being the only stream on the Pacific Coast by which it would be possible to obtain the cheap transit of goods from the interior of the mountain regions to the ocean.
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To this extract from McKenzie Benton appends the following characteristic note: "(N. B. This is the origin of all the British claims on the Columbia, of all the robberies and murders now going on there, of the 500 men killed and the $500,000 worth of property plundered from them in the last twenty years.) T. H. B."
This false accusation that the recommendations by McKenzie were the origin of all the British claims to territory on the Columbia, and of all the losses of life and property by our citizens engaged in the fur trade in and beyond the Rocky Mountains, were constantly reiterated by Benton to the end of the Oregon controversy in 1846.
The "Memoirs of John Quincy Adams" (Vol. XI., p. 37, under date of December 10, 1841), say of Caleb Cushing, what might quite as appropriately have been written of Benton, as follows:
"Cushing thought that inflammatory declamation against England upon all possible topics was the short cut to popularity, and he speechified accordingly."
Though the Senate did not care to farther debate the Oregon question at the second session of the 20th Congress, it was taken up in the House and debated vigorously and at great length, the report filling 85 columns, or one-tenth of the whole volume of the official report of "Debates in Congress," being more space than was accorded to Oregon in any other session till the third session of the 27th Congress, 1842-43.
This great debate, in which the sentiment was as overwhelmingly in favor of the great value of Oregon to us, and of our duty to hold it at least up to 49 degrees, as it was at every other session which discussed the subject, has either been ignored or misrepresented by every advocate of the Whitman Legend, since a fair presentation of it would utterly overthrow that fundamental postulate of the Legend, that as late as 1843 our Government and people were ignorant about and indifferent as to the political destiny of Oregon, and that it was the establishment of missions to the Oregon Indians in 1834 by the Methodist and 1836 by the American Board which wakened the nation to an appreciation of the value of Oregon.
The fact is that as early as the autumn of 1828, before there was a mile of railroad on this continent, and five years before there was any move to send any missionaries to Oregon, and eight years before Whitman established his mission there, there was such widespread interest in Oregon that in regions as widely separated as Massachusetts, Ohio and Louisiana there was a wholly inexplicable craze to migrate to Oregon, there being organizations from Boston, New Orleans and Ohio seeking grants of large tracts of land in Oregon from this second session of the 20th Congress.
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The Massachusetts Association undoubtedly was mainly the result of the untiring efforts of Hall J. Kelly, ever since 1817, to start a migration to Oregon, but I have never been able to discover what caused the New Orleans and the Ohio organizations.
Barrows is chiefly responsible for the widespread opinion that the nation was indifferent about Oregon, and his treatment of this great debate is a fair sample of the disingenuous treatment he gives to the whole subject.
On p. 76 of his "Oregon" he says: "This renewal of the arrangement of 1818 was confirmed by Congress, but immediately a great and protracted debate arose in that body. A bill was reported in the House authorizing the President to survey the territory west of the mountains between the parallels of forty-two and fifty-four forty, occupy the same by military posts and garrisons and extend the laws of the United States over it. The bill was lost, and very little interest on the subject showed itself again in Congress for many years."
To the ordinary mind it would seem evident that if there was that profound ignorance about Oregon till Whitman reached the States in 1843 which his book continually asserts, "a great and protracted debate about it" in Congress in 1828-29 would not have occurred, but such self-stultifications as that are common in this most worthless and misleading book, whose success in completely deceiving the public about the whole history of the Oregon acquisition does little credit to the historians who, without investigating original sources, accepted it as authority, and copied its shameful slanders alike of American statesmen and of the Hudson's Bay Co., and its garbled and fabricated quotations, and printed them even in our school histories, till the circulation of my manuscripts in 1895 and 1900 drove these fictions out of all of them whose authors cared to have their books accurate.
Perhaps the most striking example of the pernicious influence of Barrows on a really great historian, who had accepted him as authority without investigation, is seen in McMaster's treatment of this debate, in Vol. V. of his "History of the People of the United States," pp. 477-83, as follows: "The debate which followed richly deserves to be read, as a fine illustration of how little the men of that day understood the marvelous growth of their country, which in less than twenty years was to found two States in the region they did not think worth having."
To support this assertion that "the men of that day" did not think Oregon "worth having," McMaster quotes 84 lines, or nearly three pages, from the speeches of Mitchell of Tennessee and Bates of Missouri, although their speeches only covered one-fifth of the report of the discussion; and from the speeches of those who fa-
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 187
vored the acquisition of Oregon (though some of the ablest of them opposed the pending bill as in violation of the treaty of 1827), he only quotes 11 lines, or, counting his own abstracts of their speeches with the quotations he makes from them, he only prints 20 lines from those who favored the Oregon acquisition, and does not name a single one of them!
But Mitchell and Bates were two absolute political nonentities, both having been repudiated by their constituencies at the elections the preceding autumn--Mitchell after two terms and Bates at the end of one term as Representatives in Congress--and but for these ridiculous speeches on Oregon, resurrected to seem to support the Whitman Legend, they would both have rested forever in the political oblivion to which those who knew them best had consigned them in the autumn of 1828, for neither of them ever again was able to achieve an election to any office as important as Member of Congress, though a whole generation afterwards Lincoln, in 1861, finding it desirable to have a Cabinet officer from a border State, called Bates, who was a good lawyer, into his Cabinet as Attorney-General, where he served two and a third years. These two men from whom McMaster quotes nearly three pages to support the theory that "the men of that day did not think Oregon worth having," served therefore an aggregate of eight and one-third years in positions as important as or more important than a Representative in Congress; and the name of neither one is associated with the initiation of any measure of the slighest consequence in our political, or economical, or social condition.
But the men who in this same debate favored the acquisition of Oregon included two who were subsequently Presidents, Polk and Buchanan; two who were subsequently Secretaries of State, Buchanan and Everett; two who were subsequently Speakers of the House, Taylor of New York for 3 years and Polk of Tennessee for 4 years; two who were subsequently Senators, Buchanan for 12 years, and Everett for 1 year, when ill health compelled his resignation; two who were subsequently Ministers to England, Buchanan for 3 years and Everett for 4 years; three who were subsequently Governors, Everett of Massachusetts for 4 years, Ployd of Virginia for 4 years, Polk of Tennessee for 2 years; and three who were subsequently Ministers to Russia, Buchanan for 2 years, Cambreling for 4 years, and Ingersoll of Connecticut for 2 years when he resigned.
In the list were also the following elected over and over again to the House: Buchanan, Pa., 10 years; Cambreling, N. Y., 18 years; Drayton, S. C., 8 years; Everett, Mass., 10 years; Gurley, La., 8 years; Floyd, Va., 12 years; Ingersoll, Conn., 8 years; Beed, Mass, (from his long service often called "the life member"), 24
188 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
years; Storrs, N. Y., 10 years; Strong, N. Y., 10 years; Taylor, N. Y., 20 years; Polk, Tenn., 14 years.
Against the aggregate of eight and one-third years of service of Mitchell and Bates in public stations as important as or more important than Representative, those of whom McMaster does not mention one name, and from whose speeches he only quotes and abstracts less than one-quarter of what he quotes from Bates and Mitchell, served as Representatives, Senators, Secretaries of State, •Presidents, Ministers to England and Russia and Governors of States an aggregate of more than 200 years.
These plainly were the strong men of the House--the men whose speeches showed whether or not the "men of that day thought Orgon worth having."
Let us see what a few of them said, as stated in "Debates in Congress," 20th Cong., 2d Sess.:
Gurley of Louisiana (p.145) "He was decidedly opposed to the exploration of the country before the occupation of it, as was suggested by the gentlemen from Missouri and New York. They should be simultaneous. He could see no possible object in it unless we were prepared to surrender it if it did not equal our expectations, which he presumed all would disdain.
"If it was as barren as the deserts of Siberia we should never surrender it, and he would do nothing that could he so construed, as would necessarily be such a proposition. He said we could not surrender the territory if we would.
"We were already committed on this subject, having long since made and published to the world that no foreign power should plant a colony on this continent. We could not, therefore, without violating our own honor, truth and sincerity voluntarily surrender this territory to any foreign power."
Cambreling of New York (p. 171): "But, sir, it is vain to talk of surrendering the country beyond the Rocky Mountains. The gentleman from Missouri asks 'If we will fight for it.' Yes, sir, if it was as frightful in every feature as that gentleman has described it; if it was barren as the Arabian sands; nay, sir, if it was bleak and desolate as an iceberg, the American people would never yield it, they would never allow themselves to be dispossessed of it by the Hudson's Bay Co.; they would never surrender it to Great Britain.
"They ought not. A people who would be governed by such a policy--who would not go to war in defense of the national dominion and honor--should withdraw from the society of nations."
Drayton of South Carolina (p. 142) "The British settlers in what I shall term the territory of Oregon (for the want of a known appellation distinguishing the territory upon the northwest coast
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 189
of America in dispute between Great Britain and ourselves) are already protected." ... (p. 143, 1st col.) "Prom the distance of the territory of Oregon, and from the natural barriers and obstacles by land which are interposed between it and the United States, I have never dreamed of its becoming a State.
"I believe it will never be organized as a territory. I much doubt the benefits of possessing it; but we have it, and whether we be influenced by national honor and policy or less meritorious motives, we shall never voluntarily relinquish it; it will never be yielded, should the title be found to be in us, but to superior physical power. Considering ourselves as rightfully entitled to the country, we should conduct ourselves towards it as wise and politic sovereigns; as such we ought, in the most economical and efficient manner which is practicable, to secure its adherence to us, to protect, in their persons and in their property, those of our citizens who inhabit it, or who may occasionally resort to it in the pursuit of their lawful occupations, and to derive from it all the advantages we can. The measures which I have advocated will, it seems to me, produce these results. I am, therefore, for adopting them."
Ingersoll of Connecticut (p. 188) "But, when, although he entertained these opinions, still, when the question was put and turn it as you may, it will come to this, whether we shall surrender this vast territory into the hands of the British or maintain our own jurisdiction there, he was ready to give a positive and decisive answer. It should not with his consent go into the hands of a foreign power."
Buchanan (p. 12(5) "He was not unfriendly to the bill, but thought its language ought to be studied with care lest the nation should inadvertently compromise its own rights. He disliked the feature in the amendment which proposed a monopoly 'to one company of forty miles square; and believing that the subject required more mature consideration moved that the committee rise, and it rose accordingly."
Everett of Massachusetts (p. 126) "Mr. Edw. Everett stated that in that part of the country from which he came there was an association of 3,000 individuals, respectable farmers and industrious artisans, who stood ready to embark in this enterprise, so soon as the permission and protection of the Government should be secured to them, and expressed a doubt whether an exclusive grant of forty miles square to the Louisiana company would have a just and proper bearing upon other settlers equally enterprising and meritorious."
Polk of Tennessee (pp. 129-32) showed that he had carefully studied the record of the negotiations of 1826-7 and urged caution,
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lest the bill then proposed by Floyd of Virginia, as chairman of the committee on the Oregon Territory, should conflict with the treaty of August 6, 1827, and so involve us in war with Great Britain and perhaps result in loss of the whole territory in dispute. On p. 130 he says that in the discussion of the question between Mr. Gallatin and the British plenipotentiaries in 1827 the question of exclusive occupancy was taken up. "Mr. Gallatin, our Minister, in a letter dated at London, June 27, 1827, addressed to his Government, gives the views entertained by the respective parties. He says: 'The British plenipotentiaries had it in contemplation to insert in the protocol a declaration purporting either, that, according to their understanding of the agreement, either party had a right to take military possession of the country, or, that, if the United States did establish any military posts in the country Great Britain would do the same.' They preferred the first mode, as the other might be construed by the United States as having the appearance of a threat. Great Britain, they said, had no wish to establish such posts, and would do it only in self-defense."
"Again they say, as stated by Mr. Gallatin in the same letter, 'Occasional disturbances between the traders of the two countries might be overlooked; but any question connected with the flag of either power would be of a serious nature, and might commit them in a most inconvenient and dangerous manner.' " (P. 132, col. 1) "We ought, he said, to pause before we pass this bill; not that he would, for a moment, think of abandoning our title (for he believed it to be the better one), or of permitting any foreign power to become the owner of the country.
"We should not act now; but as the question of title is left to future adjustment by negotiation, until we ascertain that there is no hope for regulating it by the Executive, let us postpone any measure on the subject. In the meantime, he would not permit Great Britain, or any other power, to take exclusive possession of it. By delay we can lose nothing. By acting now, we may hazard much."
Early in the debate Floyd (pp. 125-129) "Adverted to a petition now before Congress of a company of persons in New Orleans offering to commence a colony at their own expense; on the leader of which company, a former schoolfellow of his own, he bestowed the highest praise."
Gurley of Louisiana moved as an amendment to the bill that the New Orleans Co. be granted forty miles square of land.
The next day this amendment of Gurley's was modified by striking out that part of it which provided that our Government should extinguish the Indian title to forty miles square of land in favor of John M. Bradford and his associates (a company of ad-
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venturers proposing to set out from New Orleans); and also by inserting the names of Paul and J. Kelley (doubtless meant for Hall J. Kelley) and his associates (a similar company from Massachusetts) ; and Albert Town and his associates (a company from Ohio), as entitled to the permission granted by the bill for the erection of a fort on certain conditions.
Later Floyd said: (p. 192) "On all occasions the Government seem to have taken upon themselves to think for the people; and in all instances have been behind the enterprise of private individuals--so true is it they perceive their own interests long before Government can be prevailed upon to co-operate, or permit them to pursue what would seem to be manifest to all. At an early day Britain attempted to arrest this wave of emigration, which was rolling to the West; and by proclamation prohibited any from settling beyond the Alleghany Mountains, which was at that time a part of Louisiana, according to the claims of the French King. Nor was private enterprise more successful in obtaining the approbation of Government in the settlement of Tennessee. Gov. Sevier, one of their most enterprising and respectable citizens, was outlawed for making the attempt.
"It is true that all the western part of Virginia, which at that day comprised the country on the southern bank of the Ohio River from its mouth to the Great Kanawha, was settled by private enterprise, and was approved by that State, which has always acted with liberality to her citizens. Even this Government, hardly released from British rule, thought, or acted as though it thought, the people ought to be directed and controlled in the pursuit of happiness^ as they attempted to arrest or prevent the settlement of Boone's Lick, the finest and most fertile portion of the State of Missouri. The result was a complete failure. The people in the pursuit in their own way persisted, disregarding these efforts, and did that which all now acknowledge would have been injurious to the country to have failed to do."
Richardson of Massachusetts (one of the committee who reported the bill), (on p. 138) said: "But the descriptions given yesterday by gentlemen (i. e., Bates and Mitchell) on the opposite . side, of the Oregon Territory have almost shaken my confidence in the correctness of the judgment I had formed. They have described the territory as a region of desolation, the river unnavigable, the whole claim as worse than worthless, and, as it would seem, even reproachful to its author.
"How are these contradictory statements to be accounted for? Those who have navigated the river and traversed the region from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific have represented the country as luxuriant and beautiful.
192 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
"Sir, I am old enough to remember having read the speeches in Congress on the question of the acquisition of Louisiana, when that question was pending. The most horrible pictures of that country were drawn in Congress and spread before the Union to deter the Government from the acquisition.
"And, sir, I have read accounts published by foreign travelers, and which were spread through Europe, describing the whole of the United States as country fit to be inhabited by none but wild beasts and savages. Of such accounts there were latent causes which time has unfolded. Before the face of the world events have contradicted those accounts. Surely the statements of gentlemen on all sides of what they have not seen are to be received with caution."
As the provisions of the bill plainly violated the terms of the treaty of 1827, it is evident that it was not designed that it should be enacted, but only that as a part of the campaign of education and stimulation about Oregon it should be thoroughly debated, and the fact that our Government--like that of Great Britain-- could not grant land to any one in Oregon while that treaty remained in force, should be so emphasized that those infected with the Oregon migration fever even at that early date, might understand that although our Government was inflexibly determined to hold Oregon, at least as far north as 49 degrees, it could grant no title to lands in Oregon until that treaty should be abrogated and a boundary line should be established between Oregon and the British possessions on the north of it.
The bill was finally defeated by 75 to 99.
It is an amusing commentary on the claims made by Benton and L. G. Taylor and some others that Oregon was saved to the United States by the action of Western and Southern men against the indifference about or the opposition to its acquisition of the statesmen from the Northeastern States, and especially New England, that in this, the most extensive and thorough debate ever had on Oregon prior to that of the winter of 1842-3 in the Senate, the only two Representatives who denounced Oregon worthless and inaccessible were Mitchell of Tennessee and Bates of Missouri, while of the fourteen who declared in most emphatic terms its great value and insisted that we owned it, and sooner or later would certainly assert our title to it, and maintain that title at all hazards, three--Everett, Reed and Richardson represented Massachusetts districts; one--Ingersoll, a Connecticut district; and four-- Cambreling, Storrs, Strong and Taylor represented New York districts, while Gurley, though representing a Louisiana district, was born and reared in Connecticut and graduated from Yale College, and Strong was also a native of Connecticut.
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Ten years passed before there was another considerable debate on and committee report about Oregon in the House of Representatives.
In the first session of the 21st Congress there was no discussion about Oregon, but early in the session a resolution was passed requesting the President to transmit any information in his possession respecting the British establishments on the Columbia and the state of the fur trade.
January 24, 1831, Jackson wrote a very brief message, transmitting letters of Gen. W. H. Ashley, Maj. Joshua L. Pilcher, Smith, Sublette and Jackson, or the Rocky Mountain Fur Co., and Lewis Cass and Gen. William Clark. January 25, 1831, it was read and referred to the Committee on Military Affairs, and January 26 it was reported back from that committee, and 1,500 copies ordered printed besides the usual number for the use of the Senate. It is Sen. Ex. Doc. No. 39, Vol. I., 21st Cong., 1st Sess. (p. 34), and with its descriptions of Ashley's method of conducting his fur trading expeditions, and Pilcher's simple, straightforward and graphic story of his remarkable explorations, and his descriptions of passes over the Continental Divide by which wagons could be easily driven, into the Oregon Territory; and the Rocky Mountain Fur Co.'s recital of their extensive operations and explorations (with from 80 to 100 men divided into small parties) of "all the country beyond the Rocky Mountains from the Gulf of California to the mouth of the Columbia," and the story of their successful experiment in driving 10 five-mule wagons and two Dearborns or light wagons from St. Louis to the foot of the South Pass and back to St. Louis, between April 10 and October 10, 1830, and their declaration-- based not on conjecture, but on the knowledge derived from their own explorations--that they could have driven the wagons to the Great Falls of the Columbia if they had cared to do it, make this one of the most valuable documents ever printed concerning the Rocky Mountain and Pacific regions, and one which is still and must ever be full of interest to all who care to know the true history of the development of the region beyond the Missouri.
I have quoted from it at some length in Chapter V., and must quote more from it in Chapter VII., and will only say here that it was repeatedly referred to and its essential portions not only reprinted in later Government reports and in debates in Congress, but also in newspapers and magazine articles.
On the 1st of August, 1831, Jackson's Administration took up again the diplomatic phase of the question, but England not caring to settle the matter then, no farther offer was made by our Government to negotiate upon it for more than a dozen years thereafter
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The only record I have found of this 1831 effort is on pp. 29-30 of Sen. Ex. Doc. 489, 29th Cong., 1st Sess., in a letter from James Buchanan, Secretary of State, to Louis McLane, then our Minister to England, dated July 12, 1845, in a resume of the diplomacy of the Oregon question up to that time, as follows: "The next notice of this question will be found under the administration of General Jackson. It is contained in the instructions of Mr. Livingston (Secretary of State), to Mr. Van Buren (our Minister to England), dated on the 1st of August, 1831. . . . After stating that the term of joint occupation was indefinitely continued for the purpose, in the language of the treaty, 'of giving time to mature measures which shall have for their object a more definite settlement of the claims of each party to the said territory,' they go on to remark that 'this subject, then, is open for discussion; and until the rights of the parties can be settled by negotiation, ours can suffer nothing by delay.3 From the 1st of August, 1831, the date of Mr. Livingston's instructions to Mr. Van Buren, until the 9th of October, 1843, no further notice of the Oregon question was taken in any instructions from this department. On that day Mr. Upshur, then the Secretary of State under Mr. Tyler's administration, addressed instructions to Mr. Everett on that subject."
But as we shall speedily see there was abundance of executive and Congressional action in these twelve years to acquire and disseminate far and wide, not only in this country, but in England also, full and very valuable information about Oregon, and to inform not only our own citizens, but the English people and Government as well, that we were determined at all hazards to hold Oregon as far north as the 49th degree.
May 21, 1831, Capt. B. L. E. Bonneville wrote to Maj. Gen. Alex. Macomb, commanding the United States Army, asking leave of absence for his famous expedition to the Rocky Mountains, partly for fur trading and trapping and partly for geographical exploration, and observation of the British and American trading establishments beyond the Rocky Mountains. (Cf. Bonneville's [unpublished] Application for Furlough in War Dept. archives.)
August 3, 1831, Gen. Macomb wrote him that his application had been submitted to the War Department and approved, and leave of absence granted him until October, 1833, and after enumerating many things which it was desired he should observe and report to the Government, he concluded with "in short, every information which you may conceive would be useful to the Government," (Cf. App. to Irving's Bonneville.)
May 1, 1832, with 110 men and 20 wagons, he set out from the Missouri frontier. Unforeseen delay caused him to overstay his furlough, and he did not reach the frontier settlements of Missouri
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 195
on his return till August 22, 1835, and meanwhile, as very full dispatches which he had confided to Mr. Cerre in 1833 had failed to reach Washington, by the order of President Jackson his name was stricken from the army rolls, and it was with very considerable difficulty that he secured its restoration. He subsequently was in command of Fort Vancouver, after the United States Government took the old Hudson's Bay Co. post there as a military reservation, and served faithfully in the civil war, rising to be Colonel and Brevet Brigadier General, and remained an army officer till his death, June 12, 1878, after being an officer in the army 62½ years.
We have already learned that he developed the first transcontinental wagon road from where the Rocky Mountain Fur Co. stopped, in 1830, at the east end of the South Pass, by driving his twenty loaded wagons through that broad, grassy valley over the summit of the Continental Divide and into the Oregon Territory some sixty miles to Green River.
Irving's "Bonneville" (published in both New York and London in 1837, as his "Astoria" had been in 1836)--and ever since one of the most widely read books of western travel and adventure--stimulated interest in and determination to hold Oregon in all parts of our land, as "Astoria" had done.
Bonneville's unpublished dispatches, and still more his personal interviews, undoubtedly gave much valuable information about the operations of the Hudson's Bay Co., the face of the country, the resources and the climate of Eastern Oregon--for he did not get as far west as the Cascades, turning back from the Columbia at a point about midway between Fort Walla Walla and the Dalles. (Cf. Bonneville, Chapter 46.)
No sooner had Bonneville reported in Washington than President Jackson determined to have a report from a competent man of the then existing conditions in Western Oregon, and selected Lieut. William A. Slacum of the Navy for the task, and (for some reason unknown), issued through the State, and not the Navy Department, the following letter of instructions to him:
"State Dept, Washington, Nov. 11, 1835.
"Lieut. William A. Slacum,
"Sir: Having understood that you are about to visit the Pacific Ocean the President has determined to avail himself of the opportunity thus afforded to obtain some specific authentic information in regard to the inhabitants of the country in the neighborhood of the Oregon or Columbia River. In the belief that you will willingly lend your services in the prosecution of this object, I now give you, by the President's direction, such general instructions as
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may be necessary for yonr guidance in the execution of the proposed commission.
"Upon your arrival on the northwest coast of America you will embrace the earliest opportunity to proceed to and up the river Oregon, by such conveyances as may be thought to offer the greatest facility for attaining the end in view.
"You will, from time to time, as they occur in your progress, stop at the different settlements of whites on the coast of the United States, and on the banks of the river, and also at the various Indian villages on the banks or in the immediate neighborhood of that river; ascertain as nearly as possible the population of each; the relative number of whites (distinguishing the nations to which they belong) and aborigines; the jurisdiction the whites acknowledge; the sentiments entertained by all in respect to the United States and to the two European powers having possessions in that region; and, generally, endeavor to obtain all such information, political, physical, statistical and geographical as may prove useful or interesting to this Government. For this purpose it is recommended that you should whilst employed on this service keep a journal in which to note down whatever may strike you as worthy of observation, and by the aid of which you will be enabled, when the journey is completed, to make a full and accurate report to the Department of all the information you may have collected in regard to the country and its inhabitants.
"Your necessary and reasonable traveling expenses will be paid from the beginning of your journey from the coast of the Pacific to the Columbia River and till your return to this city.
"(Signed) JOHN FORSYTH,
"Secretary of State."
Slacum's report is to be found in Sen. Ex. Doc. 24, 25th Cong., 2d Sess., Vol. I. (p. 31), read December 18, 183T, and ordered printed and referred to Committee on Foreign Relations, consisting of Buchanan, Clay, Tallmadge, Rivers and King of Alabama.
He left Guaymas, Mexico, June 1, 1836, had much difficulty in reaching the Sandwich Islands, but arrived there November 5, 1836, and cliartered the brig Loriot, and on November 24 set sail for the Columbia River, and arrived there December 22, 1836.
On the 10th of February, 1837, he sailed out of the Columbia and towards Bodega and the Russian Settlement in California.
His "Report" proper begins on p. 3 of his memorial, and is dated "American Brig Loriot, off San Bias, March 26, 1837," and is very valuable and was repeatedly quoted in later committee reports to both the Senate and the House, and referred to in debates in both Houses as of the highest value.
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Its most important parts are: (1) The account of the formation of the company which went to California and purchased a large band of cattle. (2) The statements concerning the agricultural and stock raising value of the Oregon country. (3) The enthusiastic argument for our insisting on holding the Puget Sound region, as follows:
(P. 12) "In the course of conversation with Mr. Lee, Young and other settlers, I found that nothing was wanting to insure comfort, wealth and every happiness to the people of this most beautiful country but the possession of neat cattle, all of those in the country being owned by the Hudson's Bay Co., who refuse to sell them under any circumstances whatever. I then proposed to give as many of the settlers as chose to embark in the Loriot a free passage to California, where they might procure cattle at |3.00 a head."
(P. 13) "I advanced Mr. Lee $500. This sum, added to the contributions of the settlers, produced $1,600, a sum sufficient to purchase 500 head of cattle in California." . . . "At a public meeting that took place at 'Camp Maud De Sable' on the subject of the expedition to California the liveliest interest appeared to be felt when I told the 'Canadians' that, although they were located within the territorial limits of the United States, their pre-emption rights would doubtless be secured to them when our Government should take possession of the country."
It is plain that without this initiative by Slacum there would have been no cattle company, and as appears from the "Copy of a Document by Dr. McLoughlin, 'He subscribed in behalf of the Hudson's Bay Co. for one-half the stock of the cattle company.'"
Yet the writers who seek to make it appear that everything good in the early settlement of Oregon was due to the Methodist and American Board missionaries ascribe this entire project to Rev. Jason Lee, and those of them who are most malignant towards the Hudson's Bay Co. accuse that company of having bitterly opposed the cattle company, Gray even going so far as to accuse the Hudson's Bay Co. of inciting the Rogue River Indians "to destroy the expedition." (Cf. Gray's "History of Oregon," p. 156; Spalding's pamphlet, [Sen. Ex. Doc. No. 37, 41st Cong., 3d Sess.], P- 75.)
(P. 16 "I consider the Willhamet" (Willamette) "the finest grazing country in the world. Here there are no droughts, as on the pampas of Buenos Ayres or the plains of California, whilst the lands abound with richer grasses, both in winter and summer."
(P. 17) "It may be fairly estimated that the valleys of the rivers certainly within the limits of the United States (exclusive of the Columbia and Willamette) contain at least 14,000,000 acres
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of land of first quality, equal to the best lands of Missouri or Illinois. ... I beg leave to call your attention to the topography of Pugitt's Sound,' and urge in the most earnest manner that this point should never be abandoned. If the United States claim, as I hope they ever will, at least as far as 49 degrees of north latitude, running due west from the 'Lake of the Woods' on the above parallel we shall take in Tugitt's Sound.' In a military point of view, it is of the highest importance to the United States. . . . I hope our claim to 54 degrees of north latitude will never be abandoned; at all events, we should never give up Pugitt's Sound, nor permit the free navigation of the Columbia, unless, indeed, a fair equivalent was offered, such as the free navigation of the St. Lawrence."
It is a very significant fact that less than eight months after this earnest plea by this naval officer for holding on to the Puget's Sound region was read in Congress, the Navy Department, on August 11, 1838, in its "instructions" to Lieut. Charles Wilkes, when setting sail in command of by far the most extensive exploring expedition this Government lias ever sent out, consisting of six ships and nearly 600 men, specifically directed him to spend six months of the three years that it was then supposed would be required for the whole exploration, as follows: "Thence" (i. e., from the Sandwich Islands in April) "you will direct your course to the northwest coast of America, making such surveys and examinations, first of the territory of the United States on the seaboard and of the Columbia River, and afterwards along the coast of California, with special reference to the Bay of San Francisco, as you can accomplish by the month of October following."
How faithfully Wilkes carried out these instructions in the summer of 1841 and of what great value not only Congress but the nation at large deemed his "Special Report" of his work in Oregon, filed in the Navy Department June 13, 1842, we shall see a little later, but we must first consider what was done about Oregon in the Senate and House of Representatives in 1838-1842.
At the first (or special) session of the 25th Congress the House of Representatives, on October 9, and the Senate, on October 16, 1837, unanimously adopted resolutions requesting the President: "If not incompatible with the public interests, to communicate to each body at the next session of Congress information as to whether any, and if so, what portion of the territory of the United States west of the Rocky Mountains and bordering on the Pacific Ocean is in the possession of any foreign power, and if so, in what way, by what authority and how long such possession or occupancy has been kept." The Senate resolution also asked that there should be communicated any correspondence between our Government and
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any foreign Government relative to the occupation of said territory.
These resolutions were referred to the State Department for a report, and December 22, 1837, to the Senate, and December 26, 1837, to the House of Representatives, President Van Buren sent two line messages of transmittal of the two reports of John Forsyth, Secretary of State, in response to these resolutions. To each body the Report stated that the Astoria establishment had passed into the hands of the British North West Co. by sale of Astor's interest, during the war of 1812, and on the consolidation of that company with the Hudson's Bay Co. it had passed to and remained in possession of that company, and that its retention by them, and the establishment of other trading posts by them within the Oregon Territory was not deemed incompatible with the provisions of the treaties of 1818 and 1827. The Senate was also informed that no correspondence had been had on the occupation of the said territory with any foreign government since the convention of August 6, 1827, was made. (Cf. Messages and Papers of the Presidents. Richardson, Vol. Ill, pp. 397-8.)
At the second session of the 25th Congress (December 11, 1837, to July 9, 1838), on February 7, 1838, Senator Lewis F. Linn of Missouri introduced a bill to establish Oregon Territory. (Cf. Cong. Globe, p. 168.)
This was debated by Clay of Kentucky, Buchanan of Pennsylvania, Linn and Benton of Missouri and Lyon of ------, and in the course of the debate Clay declared (p. 169) that he had introduced the word "possessions" into the Treaty of Ghent for the purpose of securing (as it did) the restoration of Astoria to the United States.
February 13, 1838, the Senate unanimously adopted a. motion calling on the Secretary of War to send to the Senate all information in his Department relating to the Oregon Territory and to have a map of the territory made for the use of the Senate. (Cong. Globe, p. 179.)
June 6, 1838, Linn, as chairman of the Select Committee on the Oregon Territory, presented a report (Sen. Ex. Doc. 470, 25th Cong., 2d Sess.) covering 23 pages, with a copy of the famous Ultimatum Map.
It begins with: "The attention of the Government has been, on several occasions, called to this important subject by bills and resolutions, through able and elaborate reports from committees of Congress, and in various Executive communications."
On the question of our right to the Oregon Territory it says: (p. 3) "This question has been so ably argued by the late Governor Floyd, who was the first to urge on Congress the use and
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occupation of the Oregon Territory, by Mr. F. Baylies, in two reports to the House of Representatives, and in the diplomatic correspondence of our Government with Great Britain, and in various other public documents, as to make it unnecessary for us to go at large into this subject."
On p. 2 it quotes in full the letter of instructions from the State Department to Lieut. Slacum (as hereinbefore given), and on later pages quotes freely from Slacum's Report, not forgetting to include (on p. 10) his eulogy of Puget's Sound (hereinbefore quoted), and from the Reports of Lewis and Clark, and J. B. Prevost, and from Irving's "Astoria," and also quotes (pp. 20-23) Gray's "Log Book of the Columbia," May 7-21, 1792.
On p. 31, after briefly reciting that Col. Dodge, between May 29 and September 16, 1835, had marched three companies of the Second Regiment of Dragoons (with two pieces of artillery and two wagon loads of flour, and 25 head of beef cattle), from Fort Leavenworth up the Platte River to the Rocky Mountains, and after a month's stay there had continued south to the Arkansas River, and thence back to Leavenworth, a distance of 1,600 miles, and had only lost one man on the whole trip, the report continues: "Col. Dodge is decidedly of the opinion that an army could march with ease from our western confines to the Pacific Ocean, taking with it all its artillery, munitions of war and provisions."
On p. 11, speaking of the Continental Divide, it says: "This line of continuous mountains, when viewed at a distance, everywhere seems impassable; the mind shrinks or recoils from such frowning and forbidding obstacles. But within ten or fifteen years passes of such gentle ascent have been discovered that loaded wagons easily traverse them."
Though the 23 pages of text is valuable, it contains absolutely nothing new, and the chief importance of this report is that it is the first one of four Congressional reports on Oregon to use the map prepared by the War Department "for use of the Senate" in accordance with its unanimous resolution of February 13, 1838.
Of this, and Slacum's Chart of the Columbia (which was also used) the committee said: (P. 19) "The map of the Territory of Oregon, and chart of the Columbia River, which accompany this report, are believed to be the most correct, and furnish the most recent and authentic information, of any yet published, and were prepared by Colonel Abert, of the Topographical Bureau, with much care and labor. The chart was made by Mr. Slacum, after his recent visit to Oregon."
This map showed our line as 49 degrees through to the Pacific, and bore, in plain type out in the "Pacific Ocean," where no boundary line, or mountain chain, or stream, or anything else in the
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 201
slightest degree obscured it, the following legend: "The prolongation of the 49th parallel from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific has been assumed as the northern boundary of the United States possessions on the Northwest Coast, in consequence of the following extract from the Hon. H. Clay's letter to Mr. Gallatin, dated June 19, 1826 (see Doc. 199, 20th Cong., 1st Sess., H. of B.): 'You are authorized to propose the annulment of the third article of the Convention of 1818, and the extension of the line on the parallel of 49 degrees from the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains where it now terminates to the Pacific Ocean as the permanent boundary between the two powers in that quarter. This is our ultimatum, and you may so announce it.'"
Of this, which may properly be called the "Ultimatum Map" of Oregon, Congress ordered 20,000 copies in three other Reports, viz.: 10,000 in Cushing's Report (1839); 5,000 in Pendleton's first Beport (May, 1842) ; and 5,000 in Pendleton's second Report (January, 1843).
As these were "besides the usual number for the use of Congress" (which was 1,500 copies) the entire number on the four Reports was about 26,000.
How was it possible for our Government more emphatically to announce to all the world its inflexible determination to adhere to its ultimatum of 1826, and insist on 49 degrees as the northern boundary of Oregon, than by thus publishing, in four Reports--in 1838, 1839, 1842 and 1843 (all unanimous by the committees, and all unanimously adopted by the Senate or the House)--26,000 copies of this "ultimatum map," a map not published by some irresponsible publisher, but prepared by the War Department at the unanimous request of the Senate, which is a part of the treaty making power in our Government?
No advocate of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story seems ever to have heard of our 1826 "ultimatum instructions" to Gallatin hereinbefore quoted, nor of this "Ultimatum Map," and, so far as I have been able to ascertain, I am the first writer on Oregon history who has mentioned either President Adams' "Ultimatum instructions" to Gallatin in 1826, or this "Ultimatum Map" of 1838-1843.
At this second session of the 25th Congress the Message of President Van Buren of December 26, 1837, relating to Oregon was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, of which Caleb Cushing of Massachusetts (one of the ablest lawyers of the land) was a member (Cf. Cong. Globe, 25th Cong., 2d Sess., p. 401), and May 17, 1838, Cushing delivered a very able speech covering 12½ columns. (Cf. App. to Cong. Globe, 25th Cong., 2d Sess., p. 565, for verbatim report of this speech.) In this speech he appealed to
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ex-President John Q. Adams, then a member of the House, for confirmation of the accuracy of his statements of the facts as to our right to Oregon, characterizing Mr. Adams as "A living record of the diplomatic history of the country."
In this speech (App., p. 567, 2d col.) Cushing said: "Mr. Astor offered to renew his enterprises on the Columbia, provided the Government would establish a military post there with the most trifling force, even a lieutenant's command; needing only the countenance and flag of the United States. If his advice had been adopted the question would have been settled then before the Hudson's Bay Co. had struck root in the Territory."
No report on Oregon was made to the House at this session, but at the third session Cushing, from the Committee on Foreign Affairs, on January 4, 1839, made a report of 51 pages, of which, on motion of John Q. Adams, 10,000 extra copies were ordered printed (a number fully equivalent to 50,000 copies at the present time), and on February 16, 1839, he made a supplemental report of 61 pages, of which also 10,000 copies were ordered printed.
The two were printed together as "Report No. 101, House of. Representatives, 25th Cong., 3d Sess.," with the "Ultimatum Map." It discusses all phases of the Oregon question very thoroughly, for few men in America had so carefully studied that question or written so much upon it as Cushing. In the North American Review-- then by far the most influential magazine published in the United States, and the only one which exercised any influence on opinion in England--he had published three long articles on the Northwest Coast of America: October, 1828 (36 pp.); January, 1837 (37 pp.); January, 1839 (34 pp.); and these were followed January, 1840, by an article of 70 pp.
On p. 15 of his Report, discussing the various (and as the English diplomats and writers had claimed conflicting) grounds under which the United States claimed Oregon, he says: "Though their several claims" (i. e., under Capt. Gray's discovery; the Louisiana Purchase; the explorations of Lewis and Clark; the Astoria settlement, and the Florida Purchase) "conflicted with each other originally, they acquired mutual strength in the same hands; as if three persons claim the same estate, one by deed or devise, another by inheritance, and a third by possession, the union of all in one person by purchase or otherwise would result in the best of titles."
On p. 16 he gives the following splendid description of the resistless westward movement of our population: "Who shall undertake to define the limits of the expansibility of the United States ? Does it not flow westward with the never ceasing advance of a rising tide of the sea? Along a line of more than a thousand miles
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from the Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, perpetually moves forward the westward frontier of the United States.
"Here, stretched along the whole length of this line, is the vanguard as it were of the onward march of the Anglo-American race, advancing, it has been calculated, at the average rate of about one-half a degree of longitude each succeeding year. Occasionally an obstacle presents itself, in some unproductive region of country or some Indian tribe; the column is checked; its wings incline towards each other; it breaks; but it speedily reunites again beyond the obstacle, and resumes its forward progress, ever facing, and approaching nearer and nearer to the remotest regions of the West. This movement goes on with the predestined certainty and the unerring precision of the great works of Providence, rather than as an act of feeble man. Another generation may see the settlements of our people diffused over the Pacific slope of the Rocky Mountains. It is idle to suppose any new colony to be sent out by Great Britain will or can establish itself in the far "West, ultimately to stand in competition with this great movement of the population and power of the United States."
As to the unanimity with which all our leading statesmen had supported our claim to Oregon, this Report says: (on p. 22) "The committee beg leave to subjoin, that in the course of this Report they have not undertaken to raise any novel pretensions in behalf of the United States. They have relied on the grounds of right alleged by every American statesman who has had occasion to examine the subject from the time of Mr. Jefferson to the present day; referring more especially to the instructions, correspondence and despatches of Mr. Monroe, Mr. Adams, Mr. Rush, Mr. Clay, Mr. Gallatin and Mr. Lawrence and the reports of Mr. Floyd, Mr. Baylies and Mr. Linn, and superadding only such further illustrations, facts and arguments as the personal research of the committee has brought to their knowledge."
It quotes fully from the previous reports of Baylies, Linn and Slacnm, including Slacum's enthusiastic endorsement of the Puget's Sound region (which Linn had quoted), and N. J. Wyeth's Memoir; also the Memorial of 36 settlers in the Willamette; also a letter from J. K. Paulding, Secretary of the Navy, stating that he had directed "the commander of the squadron in the Pacific to employ a sloop of war in making a close and accurate survey of this part of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with a view to ascertain its advantages as a station or harbor for ships of war over the Columbia;" also a. letter from Rev. Mr. Tracy of Lynn, Mass., containing an exposition of the views and objects of the "Oregon Provisional Emigration Society" formed in August, 1836, and having for its object the planting of Christian American Settlements in Ore-
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gon, and enclosing a copy of the Oregonian, a monthly periodical devoted to the interests of the society, and saying that "Not less than 200 men will compose our first migrating company."
At this third session of the 25th Congress in the Senate on December 11, 1838, Linn introduced a hill for the occupation of the Columbia or Oregon Territory, which was read twice and referred to a Select Committee consisting of Linn (chairman), John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay and Franklin Pierce. (Cf. Cong. Globe, p. 22.)
January 28, 1839, Linn reported a bill for the occupation of Oregon, which after brief debate was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, of which James Buchanan was chairman and H. Clay a member.
Twenty-sixth Cong., 1st Sess., December 9, 1839, to July 21, 1840. December 18, 1839, Linn "Introduced a joint resolution declaring that our title to the Oregon was indisputable, and will never be abandoned," and that the Government should give the requisite twelve months' notice that we desired to terminate the Convention of August 6, 1827, for extending the laws of the United States over Oregon, for raising soldiers to protect immigrants to Oregon; and for giving 640 acres of land in Oregon to each white male of 18 years of age, resident of the Territory, who would live on and cultivate it for five years. January 8, 1840, these resolutions were referred to a Select Committee consisting of Linn, Walker, Preston, Pierce and Sevier.
By far the most important action on the Oregon question of this session of Congress was the publication of the first or Government edition of "Greenhow's History," as Sen. Ex. Doc. No. 174, 26th Cong., 1st Sess.--a document of immense significance in this discussion, and of which no advocate of the Whitman Saved Oregon Legend seems ever to have heard, till my manuscripts with their criticisms of Barrows, and Nixon, and Craighead for omitting to mention this--caused Mowry and M. Eells in 1901 to mention its existence, but without quoting from it or otherwise giving their readers any idea of its importance.
It is the only official history of any of our territorial acquisitions which our Government has ever printed while the title was still in dispute, and the account of its origin given in its preface is full of interest when we remember not only that the Senate Select Committee on Oregon adopted it as their report, but that the Senate unanimously accepted the report and ordered 2,500 copies of it printed in addition to the usual number--which was a very liberal number for the time. It was also immediately published in New York City, and also in London by Wiley and Putnam, as a book for general sale, without a word of change except striking off from the title page the fact that it was a Government docu-
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ment. The English charged that the publication of the London edition was paid for by the United States Government, and undoubtedly some of the Secret Service fund was used for that purpose. The work covered 228 pages, with a map and a good index, and was highly commended not only by Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, but also by the Edinburgh Review. Its preface begins as follows:
"The following correspondence between the chairman of the Committee of the Senate on the Oregon Territory and the Secretary of State, together with extracts from the Journal of the Senate, will serve to show the circumstances under which this Memoir has been written and published:
"Washington, January 25, 1840.
"Sir: I am informed that your department is in possession of much information relating to the Territory of Oregon, its geography, resources, and the title of the United States to the same. If consistent with your duty, I would be pleased to be put in possession of such papers and documents as you may think proper to send me, requesting that you will mark such as you would rather not have printed or made public.
"Your obedient servant,
"L. F. LINN, "Chairman of the Select Committee on the Territory of Oregon.
"Hon. John Forsyth, Secretary of State."
"Answer. "Department of State,
"Washington, January 25, 1840.
"Sir: I have had the honor to receive your letter of this day's date, asking for information relative to the Territory of Oregon, its geography, and resources, and the title of the United States to the same. Mr. Greenhow, the translator and librarian of this department, has been for some time past, by my direction, employed in collecting and arranging historical information on the subject of the northwestern coasts of America; I send you the result of his labors, and submit it to the discretion of the committee to be printed or not, as they may think most advisable. Not having had the leisure to compare the statements in the Memoir with the various works and documents upon which they are founded, I can vouch for the zeal, industry and good faith of Mr. Greenhow, by whom they were prepared.
"I am, sir, your most obedient servant,
"Hon. Lewis F. Linn, "Secretary of State. "Senator of the United States."
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"Prom the Journal of the Senate of the United States:
"Monday, February 10, 1840. On motion of Mr. Linn, 'Ordered, that a History of the Northwest Coast of North America and the adjacent territories, communicated to the Select Committee on the Oregon Territory, be printed, with the accompanying map, and that two thousand five hundred copies, in addition to the usual number, be printed for the use of the Senate."
How perfectly well known were the facts about the easy accessibility of the Oregon Territory by wagon and its value for agriculture and grazing will be apparent from the following extracts from this Government Edition of Greenhow.
(P. 12) "Near the place of union of these chains is a remarkable depression of the Rocky Mountains, called the Southern Pass, affording a short and easy route for carriages, between the headwaters of the south branch of the Platte, on the east, and those of the Colorado, in the west; from which latter is another pass through the mountains, northward, to the Lewis River. There are other depressions on the great chain farther north, between the Yellowstone, on the one side, and the Salmon River and Flathead branches of the Columbia, on the other; but they offer much greater difficulties to the traveler than the Southern Pass, which is, and will probably continue to be, the principal avenue of communication between the United States and the territories of the Far West."
Instead of misinformation from English sources, Mr. Greenhow copies mostly from the sturdy American, Nathaniel J. Wyeth (who in 1S32 had led out the first party of American settlers to Oregon), as follows:
(P. 15) After describing "the Multnomah or Wallamet" as flowing for more than 200 miles "through a valley which is said to be the most delightful and fertile spot in North America," and going on to speak of all of Oregon west of the Cascade Mountains, he continues: "'This country,' says Mr. Wyeth, 'is well calculated for wheat, barley, oats, rye, pease, apples, potatoes, and all the roots cultivated in the northern States of the Union; Indian corn does not succeed well, and is an unprofitable crop. The yield of wheat, with very poor cultivation, is about fifteen bushels of the best quality to the acre. Horses and neat cattle succeed tolerably well; the winter being mild, they are enabled to subsist upon the produce of the open fields. Hogs live and multiply, but cannot be made fat on the range of the country. The agriculture of this region must always suffer from the extreme dryness of the summer. The products which ripen earliest sustain the least damage, hut those which come late are often injured.3
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"Of the soil of this region the same acute observer says: 'The uplands are tolerably good, but the cost of clearing the enormous growth of timber on them would be beyond their worth; it is too thick and heavy to allow of crops being obtained by girdling the trees, and it must be removed or burnt; the labor of which is beyond the conception of those acquainted only with the forests of the United States. There are, however, prairies sufficiently numerous and extensive for the cultivation of the next century, which, being chiefly on the second bottoms of rivers, are extremely fertile and above inundation.'"
On p. 16, after a general description of Middle Oregon (i. e., the region between the Cascade Mountains and the Blue Mountains), he continues: "Few attempts at cultivation have been made in this region, and they have not been, upon9 the whole, successful. Wyeth conceives that 'the agriculture of this territory must always be limited to the wants of a pastoral people, and to the immediate vicinity of the streams and mountains; and irrigation must be resorted to if a large population is to be supported in it. This country, which affords little prospect for the tiller of the soil, is perhaps one of the best for grazing in the world. It has been much underrated by travelers who have only passed by the Columbia, the land along which is a collection of sand and rocks, and almost without vegetation; but a few miles from the Columbia, towards the hills and mountains, the prairies open wide, covered with a low grass of a most nutritious kind, which remains good throughout the year. In September there are slight rains, at which time the grass starts; and in October and November there is a good coat of green grass, which remains so until the ensuing summer; and about June it is ripe in the lower plains, and, drying without being wet, is like made hay; in this state it remains until the autumn rains again revive it. The herdsman in this extensive valley (of more than one hundred and fifty miles in width) could at all times keep his animals in good grass, by approaching the mountains in summer, on the declivities of which almost any climate may be had; and the dry grass of the country is at all times excellent. It is in this section of the country that all the horses are reared for the supply of the Indians and traders in the interior. It is not uncommon that one Indian owns some hundreds of them. I think this section, for producing hides, tallow and beef, is superior to any part of North America; for, with equal facilities for raising the animals, the weather in winter, when the grass is best, and consequently the best time to fatten the animals, is cold enough to salt meat, which is not the case in Upper California. There is no question that sheep might be raised to any extent, in a climate so dry and sufficiently warm and where very little rain
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or snow falls.' . . . (p. 199) The first emigrations from the United States for the purpose of settlement, without any special commercial views, in the countries of the Columbia, appear to have been made in 1832. Two years afterward a small colony of Americans was established on the Wallamet, about seventy miles from its mouth, under the direction of Mr. Jason Lee and other Methodist clergymen; and since that period the number of citizens of the United States permanently residing beyond the Rocky Mountains has been much increased. With regard to the condition of these settlements no information has been recently obtained. In 1837 they were all prospering; and it may be supposed that they are continuing to do well, inasmuch as a large number of emigrants sailed for the Columbia from New York in the autumn of last year, under the superintendence of one of the founders of the Wallamet colony; and other persons are said to be now in that city preparing for a similar expedition.
"It is not, however, by means of such long and dangerous voyages that citizens of the United States are to effect settlements in Northwest America; and it will doubtless be the care of their Government to render smoother and more secure the routes across the continent to those countries lying entirely within the undisputed limits of the Republic. In the possession of these routes the Americans have infinite advantages over the British, and all other nations, for occupying the regions in question; and nothing more is required to render the journey through them safe and easy than the establishment of a few posts, at convenient distances apart, on a line between the Missouri and the passes of the Rocky Mountains, which may serve as forts to overawe the savages, and as caravan-series for the repose, and possibly even for the supply, of travelers. When this has been done, the American settlements on the Columbia will soon acquire that degree of extent and stability which will render nugatory all claims on the part of other nations to the possession of those countries.
"Within the last five or six years the Government as well as the people of the United States have begun to devote their attention seriously to matters connected with the northwest regions of this continent. Numerous petitions have been presented, and motions have been made and discussed, in both Houses of the Federal Legislature, for the annulment of the existing arrangement with Great Britain, the military occupation of those territories, and the extension of American jurisdiction over them; and the Executive has been sedulously engaged in collecting the information which may be necessary in order to place the subject in a proper light, and to render movements effective at the proper time. These proceedings are all so recent, and so well known, that details respect-
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 209
ing them would be needless. Suffice it to say, that no resolution has been taken on any of the plans proposed; and that the position of the American Government with regard to the territories claimed for the United States on the Pacific continues as fixed by its conventions with Great Britain, Russia and Mexico.
"The writer has now completed the task assigned to him.
"He has, as he conceives, demonstrated that the titles of the United States to the possession of the regions drained by the river Columbia, derived from priority of discovery and priority of occupation, are as yet stronger and more consistent with the principles of national right than those of any other Power, from whatsoever source derived. That those regions must be eventually possessed by the people of the United States only, no one acquainted with the progress of settlement in the Mississippi Valley during the last fifteen years will be inclined to question; but that Great Britain will, by every means in her power, evade the recognition of the American claims, and oppose the establishment of an American population on the shores of the Pacific, may be confidently expected, from the disposition evinced by her Government in all its recent discussions with the United States."
This first edition of Greenhow is to be found bound in with all the other Senate Executive Documents of the first session of the 26th Congress.
Greenhow revised and much enlarged the book and in 1845 a second edition was published by Little & Brown of Boston, and John Murray of London, (499 pp. with a map).
From this later edition the things I have quoted from the first edition about the easy accessibility of Oregon by wagons over the low passes of the Rocky Mountains and the account of the first wagons to the Rocky Mountains in 1S30 (Greenhow gives the date as 1829, but 1830 is the correct year), and the infinite advantages we had over the British in facilities for settling Oregon overland on account of these easy passes are omitted, because the rapid progress of events in developing the overland wagon road had made any farther publication of these things unnecessary.
Dr. W. Mowry and Rev. M. Eells, having been driven by my criticisms to mention the 1840 edition, the following is the treatment they accord to it (Mowry's "Marcus Whitman," p. 190):
"In 1840 the Senate ordered 'Greenhow's Memoir, Historical and Political, on the Northwest Coast of North America,' to be printed and directed that 2,500 extra copies should be struck off for distribution by the Senate.
"This order passed the Senate February 10, 1840. The memoir contained 228 pages of valuable information concerning our title to Oregon and concerning the value of that country."
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Not a word does he print about the New York and London editions of 1840, and not a word does he quote showing the origin of the hook, or about the position of its scholarly and accomplished author as for years translator and librarian of our State Department, nor does he give his readers any idea that this Government edition contained matter of most vital significance concerning and utterly destructive of the theory that our people as late as the spring of 1843 thought Oregon inaccessible by wagons. Quite as disingenuous is M. Eells' treatment of the subject.
In his "Reply" (p. 15) he quotes from Prof. Bourne's Legend of Marcus Whitman the following sentence: "Greenhow's exhaustive history was being distributed as a public document early in 1843 (p. 85) but (80) he says Greenhow's preface was 'dated February 1844'," then Mr. Eells prints the following footnote:
"The fact was that the preface was thus dated, and the book published in 1845, but a smaller edition of less than half the size, not the exhaustive history, had been circulated as a public document."
Not a word has Rev. M. Eells ever written to inform his readers about this Government edition of Greenhow, except this evidently intended to be a disparaging criticism of it, as "less than half the size" of the 1845 edition.
Not the least intimation does he anywhere give of the peculiarity of its origin, as prepared by special direction of the Secretary of State, and by him turned over to a Committee on Oregon consisting of Linn, Calhoun, Clay and Franklin Pierce, and by them unanimously reported to the Senate, and unanimously adopted by the Senate, and not only published as a Government document, but immediately published unchanged in New York and London as a book for general sale, and so furnished not only in all parts of this country, but also in England, more than three years before Whitman could have reached the East full information as to the fertility of soil and the geniality of climate of Oregon and its easy accessibility by wagon from the States--the very things about which it is an essential postulate of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story that the people and the National Government were profoundly ignorant when Whitman reached the States more than three years after this Government edition of Greenhow was published. This is only one of scores of examples in his "Reply" of Rev. M. Eells' very curious ideas of the "candor" and "fairness" and "earnest search" for "the truth of history wherever found" which he claims have animated him at all times.
At the second session of the 26th Congress, December 17, 1840, to March 3, 1841, nothing was done about Oregon in the House of Representatives.
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In the Senate December 31, 1840, Linn gave notice of introduction of a joint resolution relating to Oregon, and January 8, 1841, he introduced his bill for the occupation of Oregon, which was referred to a Special Committee consisting of Linn, Walker, Pierce, Preston and Sevier.
In the Appendix to the Congressional Globe for this session, pp. 105-106, Linn's speech is given in full, followed by copy of bill which provides for a line of military posts from Fort Leavenworth to the Rocky Mountains and for donating 1,000 acres of land instead of 640 to every white male 18 years of age and upwards who will cultivate and use the same for five consecutive years. "Mr. Linn said that when this bill was before the Senate for discussion during the last and preceding session of Congress, his political friends, as well as opponents, earnestly pressed him to forbear urging the subject to a final vote, as it might prove embarrassing at that time in the settlement of the long pending and important question of the northeastern boundary. ... He had been censured in letters received from gentlemen residing in all parts of the Union for not having pressed his bill to a final decision, which delay was caused by the opinion of others that it might be considered as a new element of discord pending the settlement of the northeastern boundary."
Twenty-seventh Congress, first (or special) session, May 31 to September 13, 1841. In the Senate, Monday, August 2, 1841 (Congressional Globe, p. 276), Mr. King of Alabama presented petition of citizens of Alabama wishing to migrate to Oregon by way of the Isthmus and asking that arrangements may be made by the Government to protect them under the laws of the United States when they reach there.
"Mr. King said many of the memorialists were personally known to him and were men of worth."
On same day (Globe, p. 278,) Mr. Linn submitted a resolution on Oregon as follows: "Eesolved, that the President of the United States be requested to give the notice to the British Government which the treaty of 1827 between the two Governments requires in order to put an end to the treaty for the joint occupation of the territory of Oregon west of the Rocky Mountains, and which territory is now possessed and used by the Hudson's Bay Co. to the ruin of the American Indian and fur trade in that quarter, and conflicting with our inland commerce with the internal provinces of Mexico."
This resolution was discussed briefly by Linn, Benton, Sevier and Preston, August 12, (Globe, p. 325,) and by Benton during the whole morning August 17, (Globe, p. 341,) and, on August 21, after being amended so as to direct the Committee on Foreign Relations
212 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
to inquire into the expediency of requesting the President to give the notice, the amended resolution was referred to the Foreign Relations Committee.
Second session of 27th Congress, December 6, 1841, to August 31, 1842. President Tyler in his Message at the beginning of this session said (speaking of the report of John C. Spencer, Secretary of War), "I recommend particularly to your consideration that portion of the Secretary's report which proposes the establishment of a chain of military posts from Council Bluffs to some point on the Pacific Ocean within our limits. The benefits thereby destined to accrue to our citizens engaged in the fur trade over that wilderness region, added to the importance of cultivating friendly relations with savage tribes inhabiting it, and, at the same time, of giving protection to our frontier settlements, and of establishing the means of safe intercourse between the American settlements at the mouth of the Columbia River and those on this side of the Rocky Mountains, would seem to suggest the importance of carrying into effect the recommendations upon this head with as little delay as may be practicable."
Only ten days later, December 16, 1841, Linn introduced his bill for the occupation and settlement of Oregon, and the granting of land to settlers there, and it was referred to a special committee of five. (Congressional Q-lote, p. 22.)
April 13 and 15. Linn spoke at length on the bill, and said: "There could be no dispute about the right of the United States to all the region south of the Columbia River, a right which Great Britain had fully conceded. The only question was as to the right of the United States to the territory north of the Columbia River." (Congressional Glole, p. 426.)
August 3, 1842. Linn said: "Besides this bundle of memorials praying Congress to take steps to assert our title to the Territory and to enact measures to encourage emigration, he said the Legislatures of two or three States had passed resolutions asking Congress to assert our rights to the country we claimed on the Western Ocean, and to take such steps as the urgency of the case seemed to demand. He had also in his possession hundreds upon liundreds of letters, from every quarter of the Union, making anxious inquiries as to what was likely to be done by Congress relative to this long agitated and long deferred question." (Congressional Globe, p. 336.)
August 31, 1842. Linn made a long speech on his Oregon bill (printed in full in Appendix to Congressional Globe, 27th Cong., 2d Sess., p. 736), in which he said: "The preamble to the bill reads thus: 'Whereas, the title of the United States to the Territory of Oregon is certain and will not be abandoned.' This declaration
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was important to the citizens of the United States who reside in the Territory, now amounting to 1,500 or 2,000 persons. To many on the road to the Territory and to thousands who were preparing to move to that region it was an assurance that although upon the extremest verge of this republic the Government of the United States would not abandon them to any foreign power. . . .
"Hitherto the British Government -- or rather its agents, the Hudson's Bay Co.--have had unlimited control over the Territory and its resources.
"The committee unanimously instructed their chairman to report this bill back to the Senate with the recommendation that it pass. It was then placed in its order on the calendar, but before it came up for consideration as a special order Lord Ashburton arrived from England to enter upon a negotiation touching all points of dispute between the two countries--boundaries as well as others--Oregon as well as Maine.
"In that posture of affairs it was considered on all hands indelicate (not to say unwise) to press the bill to a decision whilst these negotiations were pending. They are now over, and a treaty is published to the world in which it seems that the question of the Oregon Territory has been referred to some more remote or auspicious period for ultimate decision. He said he was confident that there were majorities in both Houses of Congress in favor of this bill; and he felt equally certain that it would have passed this session but for the arrival of Lord Ashburton, and the pending of the negotiations which terminated a short period since. He would deem it his imperative duty at an early day of the coming session to bring in the same bill and press it to a final decision."
At this session there was no debate on Oregon in the House of Representatives, but on May 31, 1842, the Military Committee of the House, to whom had been referred so much of the President's Message as relates to the establishment of a chain of military posts from Council Bluffs to the Pacific Coast, submitted a report covering 64 pages, with the "Ultimatum Map," of which 5,000 copies "besides the usual number" were ordered printed.
It is No. 830, Reports of Committees, House of Representatives, 27th Cong., 2d Sess., and is commonly called Pendleton's first Report--N. G. Pendleton of Ohio being chairman of the committee.
The first 24 pages contain a statement of the voyages of discovery of Spanish and British navigators and our seamen along the northwest coast of America and the origin and grounds of our claims to Oregon.
Of Lieut. Charles Wilkes' explorations of Oregon (April to October, 1841), this report says (p. 24): "The report of Lieut. Wilkes, based upon actual observation and surveys by competent
214 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
officers, will certainly give more recent, probably more accurate, information than any now within reach of the committee upon the several points involved in this inquiry. In the mean time, the committee presents for the consideration of the House the following geographical and statistical account, selected and abridged from the Memoirs of Messrs. Wyeth, Slacuin, Kelly and Greenhow. The three former gentlemen visited the territory and give us the results of their own observations in clear and concise narratives. As their observations were made at different periods, and their accounts prepared without concert, we may with great confidence receive and act upon those facts and opinions wherein they agree. The points of difference between them on matters of importance are very few, and these will be noted as they occur. Mr. Greenhow's Memoir carries internal evidence of the diligence and fidelity with which he performed the duty assigned to him."
Undoubtedly had this committee expected that Lieut. Wilkes' fleet would drop anchor in New York harbor on June 10, 1842, and that June 13, 1842 (only two weeks after this report was presented to the House of Representatives), Lieut. Wilkes would file in the Navy Department his very enthusiastic "Special Report" on Oregon, they would have held back this report till they could have incorporated in it the essential parts of that "Special Report" of Wilkes, as they did in a second edition of this report in January, 3843.
The rest of the report to p. 56 is filled with this "Account compiled from Wyeth, Kelly, Slacum and Greenhow," and with statistics about the whale fishery--then a very important industry in the North Pacific--and with letters from the Secretary of War, J. J. Abert, Colonel of Corps of Topographical Engineers, and J. G. Totten, Colonel and Chief Engineer, and N. Towson, Paymaster General, and George Gibson, Commissary General of Subsistence, as to cost, etc., of establishing and maintaining a line of military posts to the Pacific, and a draft of a bill for the establishing of such posts.
This is followed by an Appendix consisting of six pages of Extracts from the Journal of Capt Spaulding of the ship Lausanne, which carried out the great reinforcement to the Methodist Mission in 1839-40 (upon which I shall comment in the next chapter) ; and a letter from Mr. H. A. Pierce, of Boston, to Senator Linn, dated May 1, 1842; and a letter from Thomas E. Bond, Secretary of the Methodist Missionary Society, dated New York, January 22, 1842, in which he wrote (p. 63) : "I fear we are not possessed of any information that will be of any material use to your committee." "The mission families now contain some 68 persons, men, women and children; but a considerable proportion are not
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of the ministry proper, and are employed in mechanical and agricultural labors necessary to the mission. . . ." (p. 64). He then gives a brief statement of the stations occupied by the mission, but it furnishes no information not already well known to the public and the Government, and continues:
"It will occur to you and to the committee, that missionaries among savages, so far from home, and at a point from which they have so few opportunities to write to their friends or to their church authorities, would not be likely to deal in statistics, further than immediately connected with the duties assigned them; and hence, as we have not directed their attention to the country with any political or commercial objects, we would not be likely to come into possession of much information on such subjects. They all agree in representing the Indian tribes inhabiting the country as far more degraded and destitute than those in our borders; yet nowhere have our missionary efforts among savages been more successful. Indeed, the very misery of these people seconds the preaching and advice of the missionaries."
Yet only two years after the date of this letter, this mission, which Mr. Bond declared to be among the most successful they had ever established among savages, was abandoned. He concludes with, "I am sorry I can be of so little use to the committee; but any inquiries which you may suggest I will forward to the missionaries in Oregon, who I am sure will readily furnish the Government with any information in their power, and which might be useful on a subsequent occasion."
Having written this letter, which contains absolutely nothing of the slightest importance about Oregon which was not already well known to the Government, and to the public--he held it till April 11, 1842, and then enclosed it with the following brief note:
"New York, April 11, 1842.
"Sir: I have delayed to return the enclosed letter, with the expectation of being able to add to it some important information from Oregon; but our latest despatches from Mr. Lee afford nothing which could be of use to you. I regret that my letter is so defective; but such as it is, you are authorized to make such use of it as you may think proper.
"I am, Sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
"THOMAS E. BOND.
"Hon. N. G. Pendleton."
Neither in this, nor any other committee report about Oregon while the A. B. C. F. Mission to Oregon existed, was there any intimation that any member of any such committee had sought for
216 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
or received any information from any official of the American Board about anything in Oregon, or had received from Marcus Whitman or any other of the American Board missionaries there any information that in the least degree affected the political destinies of any part of the Oregon Territory.
The Ashburton treaty was negotiated and ratified during this second session of the 27th Congress.
The letter of Edw. Everett, our Minister to England, to D. Webster, Secretary of State, announcing the appointment of Lord Ashburton as Special Plenipotentiary was dated London, December 31, 1841. Ashburton arrived April 4, 1842 (Cf. Webster's Works, Vol. V., p. 98).
Informal negotiations went on till June 13, 1842 (the very day Lieut. Wilkes filed his Special Report on Oregon in the Navy Department), when a letter from Ashburton to Webster opened the formal negotiations, which eventuated, August 9, 1842, in the signing of the Treaty of Washington, or the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, which was submitted to the Senate August 11, 1842, by President Tyler with a message which was written by Secretary D. Webster. (Cf. on this, note on p. 347, Vol. VII., Webster's Works.)
The treaty was debated very vigorously, Benton offering four amendments, which were rejected by votes of more than 3 to 1, and on August 20, 1842, it was ratified by 39 to 9; the full membership of the Senate being 50. Yet Prof. H. W. Parker, D. D., in Homilectic Review for July, 1901, in an article designed to bolster up the Whitman Legend on "How Oregon was Saved to the United States," says: "Daniel Webster was no fool. His unpopular Ashburton treaty of 1842 must have quickened his caution."
Certainly we ought to be thankful to the Rev. Doctor for modestly announcing to the world that "Daniel Webster was no fool," and that "The Ashburton Treaty was unpopular."
They are both as important, and the last one as trustworthy, as any and everything else in the article in which they~"appear.
The injunction of secrecy on the Senate's action on this treaty was removed by vote of the Senate, and the whole published in the Congressional Globe, 27 Cong., 3d Sess.--the general report at the beginning of the volume and the leading speeches in the Appendix.
Both Benton and Buchanan opposed its ratification and denounced it with special bitterness because of its failure to include the Oregon boundary.
Ashburton came over with "specific and detailed instructions" to treat on the Oregon boundary, as well as the other subjects of difference between the two Governments, and this fact was published by our Government as early as December, 1845 (Cf. p. 139 of
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Ex. Doc. No. 2, 29th Cong., 1st Seas., being correspondence accompanying President Folk's Annual Message), yet Barrows--with his usual ignorance of everything of any real importance about the diplomacy of the Oregon question--declares twice that Ashburton was not authorized to treat on the Oregon boundary, and this has been copied by some of the really able historians who have accepted Barrows for an authority; thus Prof. J. W. Burgess, in Chapter XIV. of his "Middle Period," says: "Mr. Webster sounded Lord Ashburton on the Oregon question and found that the Queen's agent had received no power to deal with the matter."
(Cf. Barrows' "Oregon," p. 185) "Indeed, the two negotiators had paused at the Rocky Mountains, because, as the President stated, any attempts to carry the line farther would not offer hopeful results. It does not appear, moreover, that the Secretary was under any executive instructions to go into the Pacific side of the business, and certainly Lord Ashburton was not."
(Ibid. pp. 232-3) "First, Oregon was not a matter of negotiation between Ashburton and Webster. . . . Indeed, Lord Ashburton was not prepared, by his papers of instruction, to take up the question and was not authorized to do it."
What these specific and detailed instructions were, and why the Oregon boundary was not made a subject of negotiation, and Webster's determined stand for 49 degrees to the Pacific, and the utter demolition of the Whitman Saved Oregon Legend resulting from a statement of these facts, will appear a little later in considering the action of the third session of the 27th Congress.
Third session, 27th Congress, December 5, 1842, to March 4, 1843. President Tyler's second Annual Message, sent to this session of Congress December 7, 1842, says: "It would have furnished additional cause for congratulation if the treaty could have embraced all subjects calculated in future to lead to a misunderstanding between the two Governments.
"The territory of the United States commonly called the Oregon Territory, lying on the Pacific Ocean north of the 42d degree of latitude, to a portion of which Great Britain lays claim, begins to attract the attention of our fellow citizens; and the tide of population which has reclaimed what was so lately an unbroken wilderness in more contiguous regions is preparing to flow over those vast districts which stretch from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. In advance of the acquirement of individual rights to these lands, sound policy dictates that every effort should be resorted to by the two Governments to settle their respective claims.
"It became manifest at an early hour of the late negotiations that any attempt, for the time being, satisfactorily to determine those rights would lead to a protracted discussion, which might
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embrace in its failure other more pressing'matters, and the Executive did not regard it as proper to waive all the advantages of an honorable adjustment of other difficulties of great magnitude and importance because this not so immediately pressing stood in the way.
"Although the difficulty referred to may not for several years to come involve the peace of the two countries, yet I shall not delay to urge on Great Britain the importance of its early settlement."
December 22, 1842, the Senate passed Linn's resolution calling on the President for the "informal communications" between Webster and Ashburton on the Oregon boundary and the reasons why that subject was not included in the Ashburton treaty.
To this the President replied as follows, in a message dated December 23, 1842:
"To the Senate of the United States: I have received the resolution of the 22d inst, requesting me to inform the Senate of the nature and extent of the informal communications which took place between the American Secretary of State and the British Special Minister, during the late negotiations in Washington City upon the subject of the claims of the United States and Great Britain to the territory west of the Rocky Mountains; and also to inform the Senate what were the reasons which prevented any agreement upon the subject at present, and which made it expedient (query, inexpedient?) to include this subject among the subjects of formal negotiation.
"In my message to Congress at the commencement of the present session, in adverting to the territory of the United States on the Pacific Ocean north of the 42d degree of north latitude, a part of which is claimed by Great Britain, I remarked that, in advance of the acquirement of individual right to these lands, sound policy dictated that every effort should be resorted to by the two Governments to settle their respective claims; and also stated that I should not delay to urge on Great Britain the importance of an early settlement.
"Measures have been already taken, in pursuance of the purpose thus expressed, and under the circumstances I do not deem it consistent with the public interest to fnake any communication on the subject."
Forthwith Benton, (in the great debate on Linn's Oregon bill, which began in December, 1842, and ended February 3, 1843, by the passage of the bill in the Senate by 24 to 22,) denounced Tyler and Webster, and declared that the President's refusal to furnish the Senate with the report of the informal communications with Ashburton on the Oregon boundary, and the reasons why it was
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not deemed wise to attempt to include that subject in the Ashburton treaty, was because its disclosure would disgrace the Administration, by showing that the President and his Secretary of State were recreant to our national interests and ready to sacrifice our national honor on the question of the Oregon boundary, and were willing to yield--not all of Oregon, for even Benton dared not claim that--but that part north and west of the Columbia, by making the Columbia the boundary line, instead of 49 degrees to the Pacific.
Undoubtedly vague recollections of newspaper accounts of this wholly unwarranted accusation of Benton against Webster and Tyler suggested to Spalding's unbalanced and naturally very imaginative mind the basis on which he built up his mythical account of the interview of Marcus Whitman with Webster and Tyler.
To Benton's baseless partisan accusation the President could not with propriety reply, nor could Webster answer it in person on the floor of the Senate, but fortunately for the establishment of the truth of history in this matter he found a way to crush this slander into the dust of oblivion, where it remained forgotten of men till 23 years afterward Spalding and Gray resurrected it to support the "Whitman Saved Oregon" story. If the reader will turn to the Congressional Glol)e, 27th Congress, 3d Session, he will find in the Senate Proceedings for Wednesday, January 18, 1843, pp. 171 and 172, a speech by Senator Choate on the Oregon Territory, and in it on p. 172, first column, occurs the following: "In commenting upon the speech of the Senator from Missouri (Mr. Benton), who had preceded him in the discussion when the subject was last up, he took occasion to remove an erroneous impression which he conceived was calculated to do great injustice to a distinguished man (Mr. Webster) who could not there defend himself: He alluded to the fears expressed by the Senator from Missouri that the President's message declining to furnish the correspondence or informal communications relative to the pending negotiation about the Oregon Territory implied grounds for concluding that propositions had been made by our Secretary of State which the Administration was ashamed or afraid to avow; that, in fact, the rumor must be correct which had got abroad that a proposition had been made or entertained, by the Secretary of State, to settle down upon the Columbia River as the boundary line. Now, he was glad to have it in his power to undeceive the Senator, and to assure him, which he did from authority--for he had been requested by the Secretary himself to do it for him--that he never either made or entertained a proposition to admit of any line south of the 49th parallel of latitude as a negotiable boundary line for the territory of the United States. After Mr. Choate had
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considerably more at large and in his own words (the purpose of which it is only attempted to give in this sketch) fully explained this matter, he next turned to so much of the remarks of the Senator from Missouri as condemned the late treaty with Great Britain in relation to the northeastern boundary line."
IMd, Appendix, pp. 222-229, contains a verbatim report of another speech by Ohoate delivered February 3, 1843, and on p. 223, 3d column, he says: "I desired chiefly to assure the Senator and the Senate that the apprehension intimated by him that a disclosure of these informal communications would disgrace the American Secretary, by showing that he had offered a boundary line south of the parallel of 49, is totally unfounded. He would be glad to hear me say that I am authorized and desired to declare that in no communication, formal or informal, was such an offer made, and that none such was ever meditated."
As we have seen, the fact that Ashburton came over with "specific and detailed instructions" to treat on Oregon was declared by Lord Aberdeen, head of the British Foreign Office, in a letter to Mr. H. S. Fox, British Minister at Washington, published by our Government among the documents accompanying President Folk's first Annual Message, but precisely why Oregon was not included in the Ashburton treaty could not be stated with due regard to the diplomatic proprieties, either by Ohoate in 1843, or Webster in his great speech in defense of the Ashburton treaty in 1846, nor (in 1851) by Everett, his life-long friend (and our Minister to England in Tyler's Administration), in his brief biography of Webster, in which all he says on this point is, "Had he supposed an arrangement could have been effected on this basis" (i. e., 49th degree to the coast) "with Lord Ashburton, he would gladly have included it in the treaty of Washington" (Cf. Webster's Works, Vol. I., Intro., p. 148), because Ashburton's instructions from the British Foreign Office were not published till 1871-2 (in Berlin Arbitration, pp. 218-19). These instructions directed Ashburton to offer us: (1st) The line of the Columbia River from its mouth to the Snake River, and thence due east to the summit of the Rockies. This would have given us about nine-fourteenths of the territory south of 49 degrees. If he could not secure that line he was authorized (2d) to renew the offer made us in 1824, and again in 1827 by England, of the line of 49 degrees from the summit of the Rocky Mountains to the most northeastern branch of the Columbia, and thence the river to the Pacific. (3d) If he could not secure this line (which would have surrendered to us considerably more than four-fifths of all the territory south of 49 degrees), he was positively forbidden to accept of the line of 49 degrees to
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the coast, which we had always insisted upon, and as early as 1826 had announced to England as "our ultimatum."
Until the writer found these "specific and detailed instructions" to Lord Ashburton he often wondered why Webster did not "authorize and request Choate to say that no proposition for a line south of 49 degrees" had been received by him, but as soon as these instructions were found it was evident why "received" was not used. Nothing is plainer than that in those informal communications Ashburton proposed one or both of the lines he was authorized to offer, and when Webster met the propositions with the offer of our "ultimatum of 1826," Ashburton informed him that his instructions would not allow him to accept that line, and so they attempted no formal negotiations on Oregon, though both of them would gladly have settled it if it had been possible. Webster therefore could not truthfully say that no such proposition had been "received," but only that he had not made, nor entertained, nor meditated, any proposition to admit any line south of 49 degrees as a negotiable line for the United States.
In view of the fact that these explicit statements of Webster's inflexible adherence to our "ultimatum" of 49 degrees to the Pacific were made when Whitman (of whose existence even there is no evidence that Webster or Tyler were then aware) was riding over the prairies of what is now Kansas, what becomes of that fundamental postulate of the "Whitman Saved Oregon" fiction that Webster was ready to trade off Oregon on account of his deplorable ignorance about it, when that great patriotic hero, Marcus Whitman, arrived in the nick of time to dispel the ignorance and save Oregon, Barrows assuring us (p. 188) that "If Dr. Whitman could have created all the circumstances and ordained his own time, his arrival in Washington could not have been more apt for seizing the conditions of things and saving Oregon. Its destiny he had brought over on his own saddle, and now held it in his solitary hand." Such stilly stuff do alleged historians write when instead of studying contemporaneous authorities to know the truth they evolve what they call history from their imaginations!
Choate's statements which he was "authorized and requested to make by Webster" agree exactly with all Webster's subsequent course on the Oregon question, as hereinafter stated.
Benton on this as on many another occasion could not refrain from making unwarranted accusations against the British in general and the Hudson's Bay Co. in particular, and as was his wont, being from Missouri--a State which in the event of a war with England was by its geographical position secure against any English army getting anywhere near its borders--he made light of any possibility of injury to us if war should result from our wantonly
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and inexcusably breaking the treaty of 1827, and "made the Eagle scream" after the following fashion:
"No one defended the title of the British to one inch square of the valley of the Oregon. ... He undertook to show that their possession of the valley of the Columbia was intrustive and tortious; a trespass and a fraud upon our pre-existing possession of the same river; and a wrong and aggression which the Government of the United States should resist and repulse. . . . And now what has been the conduct of the British under this article? (i, e., the 3d article of the treaties of 1818 and 1827.)
"They have crossed the 49th degree, come down upon the Columbia, taken possession of it from the head to the mouth, fortified it and colonized it, monopolized the fur trade, driven all our traders across the mountains, killed more than a thousand of them (by their Indians) and used the Columbia as a free port, through which they bring goods free of duty into our territories, up into the Rocky Mountains, and across them. This is what they have done by their agent, the Hudson's Bay Co. In its own name, and by an Act of Parliament immediately after the Convention, the British Government has extended its jurisdiction over the whole country, taking no notice at all of our claims, and subjecting all our citizens and their property to British judges, British courts and appeals to Canada. . . . They have taken possession of our claimed territory, of our harbor, our river, colonized the country and killed and expelled our traders. . . . Our traders, left to contend single-handed against the organized Hudson's Bay Co., against their Indians, against their free goods, have all been driven in--forced not only out of the valley of the Columbia, but out of the Rocky Mountains, and ruin has overtaken many of them. Even the strong and rich company of Mr. Ohoteau can no longer approach the Rocky Mountains. The Hudson's Bay Co. are the masters there. Every American that approaches that region does so at the peril of his life. Many were killed there this summer. . . and now, if after all this, any proposition has been made by our Government to give up the north bank of the Columbia, I for one shall not fail to brand such a proposition with the name of treason. . . . We fear war! As if the fear of war ever kept if off. We fear war while Great Britain is systematically preparing for war with us. All her encroachments upon us show that she is preparing for this result. She is preparing for war, and the late treaty (the Ashburton treaty) is the largest of her preparations. . . . As a nation Great Britain despises and hates our nation. . . . There may be individual Englishmen who have regard for individual Americans, but as it concerns nation and nation they despise and hate us! They want war with us, and count upon its
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being short and triumphant. ... We should count upon expelling them from our continent, giving freedom to Ireland and aiding the English people to reform their government . Sooner or later the war will come, for Great Britain is determined upon it, and we should roll back the thunder upon her own shores.
"Thirty thousand friends of Ireland landed on her coast, and forming the rallying point for a million of patriots, would make 'the devoted island' free, and shake Old England to her center. These are my sentiments, and I neither dissemble nor deny them. Peace is our policy. War is the policy of England, and war with us is now her favorite policy. Let it come rather than dishonor!
"The man is alive and with a beard on his face, (though it may not be I) who will see an American army in Ireland, and an American general in the streets of London." (Cf. Appendix to Congressional Globe, 27th Cong., 3d Sess., pp. 74-78, Jan. 12, 1843.)
It is doubtful if in all the hundreds of thousands of pages of the official reports of debates in Congress there is to be found a worse and a more mischievous specimen of demagogic rant than this, which was evidently uttered not to influence votes in the Senate on the pending bill, but as pure "buncombe" to strengthen his hold on the voters of Missouri, the headquarters of the fur trade.
He well knew that the presence of the Hudson's Bay Co. in Oregon was not "intrusive, and tortious, a trespass and a fraud. . . a wrong and an aggression," hut that they were there by precisely the same right that our citizens were, viz., by virtue of two freely executed treaties, that of October 20, 1818, and August 6, 1S27, negotiated by some of the most patriotic, and able, and skilled in diplomacy of all the men who have ever been numbered among our Presidents, Secretaries of State, and Ministers to England, and that the treaty of 1818 was unanimously ratified by the Senate, and that of 1827--after he himself had opposed it with utmost bitterness--so commended itself to the judgment of the Senate that it was ratified by 31 to 7.
He also knew that as both those treaties made it impossible for Great Britain to strengthen her claims to any part of Oregon by establishing trading posts or founding settlements therein, while they remained in force, there was no motive for any attempt at colonization of Oregon by Great Britain, and that the Hudson's Bay Co. had not "taken possession of the Columbia," nor "fortified," nor "colonized it," nor "driven all our traders across the mountains," and he equally well knew that whenever our Government chose to end the "joint policy" towards Oregon, it could by simply giving twelve months' notice abrogate the treaty. He well knew that what had so seriously damaged the fur trade--that there was no annual rendezvous of American fur traders after 1838--was
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not any wrongful act of the Hudson's Bay Co., but the extensive substitution at that time of silk for beaver fur in making hats, which reduced the value of beaver skins to about one-quarter of what it had previously been, and he equally well knew that the Hudson's Bay Co. had not killed, or caused to be killed, 1,000, or 100, or 10, or 1 of our fur traders.
He also knew that the Hudson's Bay Co. had a perfect right to use "the Columbia as a free port," since neither Government had established or could have established any custom house there while the treaty of "joint policy" remained in force, and he equally well knew that the Act of Parliament to which he referred was only intended to apply to British subjects, and had never been applied to any American citizen, and that while it had been a most salutary check on any tendency to lawlessness among the Hudson's Bay Co.'s employes scattered over that vast wilderness, hundreds of miles from any organized government, not a single American citizen had ever suffered any injury from it, and that no honest American ever had the slightest reason to fear anything from its enforcement.
When he said that "every American that approaches that region does so at the peril of his life," he well knew that as chairman of the Military Committee of the Senate, in January, 1831, he had reported and the Senate had printed in Ex. Doc. No. 39 the letters of his two friends, Jedediah S. Smith, and Josiah Pilcher, the first American fur traders who, so far as known, had encountered the Hudson's Bay Co.'s officers and employes at their posts in the Oregon Territory, and that both of them had written in the warmest terms of the kindness and courtesy with which they had been received and treated by them, and Pilcher, at the end of his letter, had explicitly denied the accusation that the Hudson's Bay Co. excited the Indians to kill and rob our citizens."
Instead of his statement that "every American that approaches that region does so at the peril of his life" being true, he well knew that small parties of Americans had been going to Oregon to explore, or to establish missions, or to begin farming settlements each year since 1832 (except 1833 and 1837), and that every one of them had reported that they had been most courteously and kindly received, and most hospitably treated at each and every one of the Hudson's Bay Co.'s posts which they had visited, and had been helped to establish themselves in Oregon as missionaries or settlers, or to explore the territory and learn of its resources and possibilities, and he very well knew that among those sent by the National Government expressly to explore Oregon, and to report everything about it that our Government ought to know, were
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Lieut. W. A. Slacum of the Navy, sent by President Jackson in 1835, and whose report was read in the Senate in 1837, and Lieut. Charles Wilkes of the Navy, who from April to October, 1841, "with a sloop of war, a brig of war, two launches, ten boats and upwards of 300 men" had made a much more extensive exploration of Oregon by both land and water than any other single expedition has ever made even to this day, and had filed a Special Report on Oregon in the Navy Department June 13, 1842, and that both, of these officers had not only gratefully acknowledged their obligations to the Hudson's Bay Co. for the kindest treatment accorded to themselves, but had explicitly declared that all honest Americans in Oregon had been assisted by the Hudson's Bay Co. (Cf. p. 197 ante and Chapter VII. infra for Slacum's, and for Wilkes' Reports.)
Soon after the war of 1812 our Government had bought land at Rouse's Point (which is by far the best place to protect the entrance to Lake Champlain), and had expended about |200,000 in fortifying it, it being south of what had then always been accepted as the location of the parallel of 45 degrees north latitude, and so well within our territory; but in 1818 a joint commission of American and British officers surveyed the boundary, and found that the parallel of 45 degrees north latitude instead of being north of our works at Eouse's Point is about two miles south of them, and that consequently our fort belonged to Great Britain (Cf. Gallatin to Clay, date London, October 30, 1826, being No. 17, Doc. No. 458, Am. State Papers, For. Rel., Vol. VI.) ; and as one of the most important provisions of the Ashburton treaty changed the boundary between Vermont and New York, and Canada, from the true location of 45 degrees north latitude to the line where 45 degrees had been supposed to be prior to 1818, for the express purpose of restoring to us our fortifications at Rouse's Point, and as all this was thoroughly discussed when the Ashburton treaty was before the Senate in August, 1842, and as Benton took a very active part in the debate on the ratification of that treaty, and most virulently opposed it, it is simply impossible to imagine that he really believed his assertion that "Great Britain is systematically preparing for" war with us. ... and the late treaty is the largest of her preparations."
Language fails with which to fittingly characterize the folly of Benton's talk about our sending "30,000 Mends of Ireland to Ireland" in the event of a war with Great Britain, and about an "American army in Ireland," and an "American general in the streets of London."
Had this speech been delivered by some beardless and inexperienced youth, anxious to make a reputation as a "stump speaker,"
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at a frontier barbecue in all the heat and fury of a closely contested political campaign, it might justly be cited as a most ridiculous sample of "spread eagle" bombast.
But this, it must be remembered, was uttered not "on the stump" by a foolish "boy orator," in the heat and fury of a political campaign, but by Benton within two months of his 61st birthday, in what should have been a serious and rational debate on a great public question--in the United States Senate, one of the most dignified legislative bodies in the world--and when Benton had been a Senator 22 years.
Though this speech seems to have been hailed with rapture in "Pike County," Missouri, and in other "rooral deestricts" of that then extreme frontier State as evidence of the possession by Benton of such fearless and transcendent statesmanship, and such dauntless patriotism as insured his re-election for another six years to the Senate, and though he was evidently so proud of it at the time as to revise it, and furnished it for publication in full in the Appendix to the Cong. Globe, he carefully abridged every word of it out of his "Abridgment of Debates in Congress," and failed to bring any of it into his field of vision in his "Thirty Years' View."
The report of the great debate on Linn's bill fills 165 columns of the Cong. Globe and its Appendix, 3d Sess., 27th Cong., and of a total membership of 50 Senators 27 took part, including almost every great name of both parties.
The slavery question was not yet much entangled with Oregon affairs, nor did it become so to any considerable extent till after the treaty of 1846 had settled the Oregon boundary, and the attempt had been made, in 1846, to pass the Wilmot Proviso.
Repeatedly during the debate it was declared alike by the friends and the opponents of the bill that the Senate was unanimous in the opinion that our title to Oregon, at least as far north as 49 degrees, was incontestable--even McDuffle said this--while Benton said "No one defended the title of the British to one square inch of the valley of the Oregon," and the chief opposition to the bill was from Senators who were warm friends of the Oregon acquisition, but who held that several of the provisions of Linn's bill were such, plain violations of the treaty of 1827 that to enact them into law without first giving the requisite 12 months' notice of our desire to abrogate that treaty would be such a wanton and inexcusable affront to Great Britain as to provoke a war, which might imperil our chance of holding any of Oregon.
On February 3, 1843, by a vote of 24 to 22, the Senate passed the bill, and of the four absentees it was stated that two favored and two opposed the bill.
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But when we come to analyze the vote we find that of the 22 Senators voting against the bill nine had declared in the course of the debate that they would gladly support it, if its provisions in violation of the treaty of 1827 were stricken out, so that without knowing why the 13 others who voted against it were opposed to it, or for what reason two of the absentees were opposed to it, it is certain that (24 and 9 and 2) equal 35, or one more than two-thirds of the whole Senate were ready on February 3, 1843, to vote for any bill about Oregon that we had a right to pass without first abrogating the treaty.
The number and character of the Senators who took part in the debate and the fact that only four Senators were absent on the final vote is proof of the great and general interest of the people in the Oregon question.
But one Senator--McDuffie of South Carolina--spoke disparagingly of the value of Oregon, and he had then been a Senator only 22 days, having been elected to fill four years of an unexpired term, and he was never able to achieve a re-election and was so inconsequential a figure in our national history that but for the quotation of some extracts from this unwise speech of his on Oregon by the advocates of the Whitman Legend, in their futile attempts to make it appear that "our leading statesmen were constantly deriding Oregon," it is doubtful if one person in 20,000 of our population outside of the Oarolmas and Georgia would ever have known that such a person as McDuffie ever sat as a Senator from South Carolina.
The instructions to Lieut. Wilkes to explore "our territory on the seaboard and the Columbia River," etc., have already been quoted. April 28, 1841, Wilkes with part of his squadron sighted the mouth of the Columbia, and "with a sloop of war, a brig of war, two launches, ten boats and upwards of 300 men" (Cf. Wilkes' testimony in Hudson's Bay Co. and Puget's Sound Co. vs. the United States, Vol. VIII., p. 228), and he was diligently engaged till October 10, 1841, in a far more extensive exploration of the Oregon Territory by land and water than has ever been made by any other one party even to this day, surveying and mapping the Puget's Sound country and the navigable part of the Columbia River, sending a party overland east from Puget Sound to the Columbia River and back to Puget Sound through the center of north Oregon, the only part of the territory which was really in dispute with Great Britain, and another party up the Willamette Valley overland to San Francisco, and visiting all the Hudson's Bay Co.'s permanent posts south of 49 degrees except Boise and Hall, and all the mission stations of the A. B. C. F. M. and the Methodists. Sailing away from the Columbia October 10, 1841, on November
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24, 1841, Wilkes sent dispatch No. 98 from Honolulu to the Navy Department, and in that he explains that he has not made the full report he intended to send on the condition, value, etc., of the Oregon Territory for lack of time to fully digest the great mass of matter he has obtained so as to prepare such an accurate and concise report as is desirable; and announces his intention to do so immediately on his return to New York; and says, on p. 2 of this dispatch, "This course is also necessary, as many inquiries would naturally arise to the fair understanding of the subject that would render verbal information of much importance to its full comprehension. Having been well aware of the little information in possession of the Government relative to the northern section of this country, including the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with its extensive sounds and inlets, I thought it proper, from its vast importance in the settlement of the boundary question, though not embraced in my instruction, to devote a large portion of my time to a thorough survey and examination, without, however, overlooking or neglecting any part of that which was distinctly embraced in them."
Wilkes reached New York June 10, 1842, and June 13, 1842, filed this promised report, covering 44 closely written foolscap pages, in the Navy Department. It has never been published in full, though "demanded" by the House of Representatives, and though a resolution equally peremptory was offered in the Senate by Linn, but subsequently withdrawn, as appears from the following: (Cf. Journal of the House of Representatives, 27th Cong., 3d Sess., January 13, 1843) "Mr. Pendleton, from the Committee on Military Affairs, reported the following resolution: Eesolved, That the Secretary of the Navy be required to furnish to this House a copy of the report heretofore made to him by Lieut. Wilkes relative to the examination of the Oregon Territory. The resolution was read and agreed to."
Id. January 24. "On motion of Mr. Pendleton from the Committee on Military Affairs, it was ordered that extracts from the report of Lieut. Wilkes to the Secretary of the Navy of the examination of the Oregon Territory, and communicated to the Military Committee by Mr. Wilkes with the permission of the Secretary of the Navy, be printed with the report heretofore made by said committee on the Oregon Territory."
Id. February 1. "On motion of Mr. Pendleton from the Committee on Military Affairs it was
"Eesolved, That the resolution heretofore adopted, requesting the Secretary of the Navy to furnish to the House of Representatives a copy of Lieut. Wilkes' report on the Oregon Territory, be rescinded."
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Senate Journal, 27th Cong., 3d Bess., Jan. 3, 1843, page 67, Linn submitted a resolution to print report of Lieut. Wilkes to Secretary of Navy relating to the Territory of Oregon, and on January 5, on Linn's motion, it was laid on the table.
Beading these records, and conjecturing that this Special Report must have contained things which in the then existing condition of the Oregon question the Government deemed it impolitic to publish, I went to Washington in March, 1887, and carefully examined this and all the other unpublished dispatches from Lieut. Wilkes, and found that it contained the following matter which it was not proper then to print, viz.: (1) An earnest argument for 54 deg. 40 min. instead of 49 degrees. (A similar argument was also in dispatch No. 98 from Honolulu.) (2) That the officers of the Hudson's Bay Co. would be much averse to any war on account of their flocks and herds and investments in farming operations. (3) Information as to the strategic value of Walla Walla.
The following extracts from the 14 pages which were taken from this Special Report of Wilkes and published in the second edition of the Report of the Military Committee of the House of Representatives (Repts. of Com. No. 31, H. of R., 27th Cong., 3d Sess.), commonly known as Pendleton's Second Report in January, 1843, will show how enthusiastic Wilkes was as to the value of Oregon. Of Puget's Sound he says: "No part of the world affords finer inland sounds, or a greater number of harbors than can be found here, capable of receiving the largest class of vessels, and without a danger in them that is not visible. Prom the rise and fall of the tides (18 feet) all facilities are afforded for the erection of works for a great maritime nation."
Of the Oregon Territory generally he says: "In comparison with our own country I should say that the labor required in this territory for subsistence and to acquire wealth is in the proportion of one to three, or in other words, a man must work three times as long in the States to gain a like competence."
Of the Hudson's Bay Co.'s posts, which various advocates of the "Whitman Saved Oregon" fiction represent as strong forts, he says: "All the posts of the Hudson's Bay Co. are small settlements, consisting of a palisade or picket with bastions at their corners around the stores and houses of the Company sufficient to protect them against Indians, but in no way to be considered as forts, and would not count in any war which might arise between the nations." . . . "To conclude: Few portions of the globe, in my opinion, are to be found so rich in soil, diversified in surface or capable of being so easily rendered the happy abode of an industrious and civilized community. For beauty of scenery and salubrity of climate it is not surpassed. It is peculiarly adapted for
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an agricultural and pastoral people, and no portion of the world beyond the tropics is to be found that will yield so readily to the wants of man with moderate labor."
Could anything be printed that would more greatly stimulate migration to Oregon than such statements as these, coming from the commander of the greatest national exploring expedition our country has ever sent out, whose progress around the world had been watched with the intensest interest by the whole people from 1838 to 1842?
How closely the progress of the expedition was watched and reported may be judged from the following two articles from Niles' Register, May 7, 1842, p. 150: "Exploring Expedition. The Washington correspondent of the New York Commercial Advertiser gives the following information: 'Dispatches were received overland a fortnight since from the exploring expedition. . . . The researches and surveys made by them on the northwest coast (i. e., the Oregon Territory) are of such value as will more than compensate the nation for the whole cost of the expedition.'"
June 25, 1842, p. 261: Nearly two and a half columns are devoted to an account of the "South Sea Exploring Expedition." "The Expedition have also examined and surveyed a large portion of the Oregon Territory, a part of the Upper California, including the Columbia and Sacramento Rivers with their various tributaries. Several exploring parties from the squadron have explored, examined and fixed those portions of the Oregon Territory least known. A map of the Territory, embracing its rivers, sounds, harbors, coasts, forts, etc., has been prepared, which will furnish the Government with a mass of valuable information relative to our possessions on the northwest coast and the whole of Oregon."
As one of the absolutely indispensable postulates of the Whitman Legend is that until Dr. Whitman--an unknown man of no special intellectual ability and who up to that time had never written so much as one short sentence expressing the least interest in or concern about the political destinies of any part of the old Oregon Territory--arrived in Washington (according to the Whitman Legend on March 3, but, in fact, not earlier than late in March, or more likely about April 10 or 12, 1843)--our Government and the people of the country at large were deplorably ignorant about Oregon and had been deceived by the Hudson's Bay Co. into thinking it worthless and inaccessible; all the advocates of that legend, from Gray to Mowry, either malign Wilkes or utterly ignore his work, and not a single one of them--Gray, Rev. M. Eells, Barrows, Nixon, Craighead, Mowry, Mrs. Dye, Laurie, Hallock, Edwards or Penrose--has ever allowed any one to know anything from their writings about the extent and value of Wilkes' explorations, or
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that he reached Washington and filed this report June 13, 1842, or that Tyler's Administration had had before it not only this Special Report, but also his other dispatches about Oregon and had had opportunities for daily interviews with Wilkes and the other officers of his expedition (who had seen very much more of and knew vastly more about Oregon than Whitman or any other missionary did) for nine months before Whitman could by any possibility have reached Washington. Several of them, notably Gray and Mrs. Dye, do not hesitate to malign him.
Thus Gray, p. 204 (writing in 1870), said: "To the disgrace of the leader of that squadron, the general impression of all the early settlers of this country is to the present day that he understood and tasted the "qualities of Dr. McLoughlin's liquors, and received the polite attentions of the gentlemen of the Hudson's Bay Co. with far more pleasure than he looked into or regarded the wants of this infant settlement of his countrymen."
Mrs. Eva Emery Dye repeats and enlarges this shameless slander (pp. 176-7, "McLoughlin and Old Oregon") in a purely imaginary dialogue between Lieut. Wilkes and George Abernethy (the Methodist mission steward) as follows:
"'Do you advise us to establish a government?' he asked.
" 'Not yet,' said the Commodore. 'Wait! The British interest already feels itself threatened by the presence of this exploring squadron. Any action on your part may precipitate trouble, in which case you are too few and too far away to be properly supported. Wait till your numbers augment.'
" 'Dr. McLoughlin's wine has affected his judgment,' said the men of the mission.
"In the purple twilight Commodore Wilkes walked in the fields of wheat. The crescent moon hung over Mount Hood. 'A lovely land,' he murmured; 'charming by day, enchanting by night. Tell me, what do you Americans think of the Hudson's Bay Co.?'
" 'The Hudson's Bay Co. is Great Britain's instrumentality for securing Oregon,' was the answer.
" 'But,' urged the Commodore, 'the missionaries have received untold favors from the Hudson's Bay Co., and if they are gentlemen it is their duty to return them.'
"The missionary faced about in the Commodore's path. 'Return them? Certainly. I will exchange favors with Dr. McLoughlin or any other man or set of men, but I will not sell my country for it.'"
Wilkes was almost angry with this "blunt missionary." It is quite safe to say that for not one sentence of this dialogue can Mrs. Dye produce any better authority than her own exuberant fancy and her overweening ambition to write "a taking book," with-
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out the least care whether it was true or false. There is not the remotest probability that either "George Abernethy, the mission steward," or any other missionary, "blunt" or otherwise, ever would have dared when conversing with Lieut. Wilkes to imply that Wilkes had said anything which meant that he would "sell his country," or that any advice he had given if followed would cause the said missionary or any one else to "sell his country," and equally destitute of any probability is the statement she puts in Wilkes' mouth that "The British interest already feels itself threatened by the presence of this exploring squadron." There is not a hint of any such idea in any of Wilkes' unpublished dispatches nor in his Special Report, nor in his great five volume Report published in 1845, nor in his testimony in 1866 in the great case of the Hudson's Bay Co. and the Puget Sound Agricultural Go. vs. the United States, and it plainly is another mere creature of Mrs. Dye's extravagant fancy.
Equally preposterous is the plain implication of this imagined dialogue that this Methodist mission steward, who had only been in Oregon eleven months when Wilkes' squadron reached there, was a more patriotic man than Lieut. Charles Wilkes.
Reynolds of Illinois had introduced a bill identical with Linn's bill (No. 771), House of Representatives), and it, with various memorials and proceedings of public meetings praying for the adoption of suitable measures by Congress for the occupation and settlement of the Oregon Territory, had been referred to a select committee consisting of Reynolds of Illinois, Miller of Missouri, Dawson of Louisiana, Cross of Arkansas, and Kennedy of Indiana.
February 9, 1843, this committee made a report of eight pages (No. 157, Repts. of Coms., House of Representatives, 27th Cong., 3d Sess., Vol. II.), in which they say: "The claim of the United States to the tract of country called the Oregon Territory . . . is founded upon discovery, occupancy and treaty. It has not been questioned by any power but Great Britain; and it is not to the knowledge of the committee doubted or disputed by any American statesman.
"This claim has been so often and ably investigated and asserted, and so fully established by the executive department of this Government, and by reports of committees, and in debates in both branches of Congress, that the committee have not considered it necessary for any useful purpose to enter into any farther argument in support of its validity or justice." . . . "In conclusion, the committee beg leave to remark, that in their opinion those persons mislead themselves who believe that this territory, under suitable legislation by Congress, will not, like the new States that have sprung up in the Mississippi valley, rise rapidly into agri-
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cultural, commercial and political importance." When Linn's bill was sent over from the Senate, it, with Reynold's bill, was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, of which that brilliant statesman and "living record of the diplomatic history of our country," ex-President John Quincy Adams, was chairman, and Feb. 16, 1843, his diary reads (Cf. Memoirs of J. Q. Adams, Vol. XI., p. 321): "When the Committee on Foreign Affairs was called, I reported the bill from the Senate for the occupation of the Oregon Territory and for other purposes, and the same bill reported by Reynolds of Illinois in the House, without amendments, and with the opinion of the committee that neither of them ought to pass. They were then, at my motion, referred, without opposition, to the committee of the whole on the state of the Union," and thus ended the action of the 27th Congress, 3d Session, on the Oregon question.
Four Presidents had built strong and deep the foundations on which our claims to Oregon rested, viz.:
First, Thomas Jefferson (a) by buying the Louisiana Territory in 1803, and so giving us a claim by contiguity of territory along the whole east line of Oregon, as far north as 49 degrees (which was then and long after supposed to have been fixed as the boundary between the Hudson's Bay Co.'s territories and the French provinces in America, in conformity with the tenth article of the Treaty of Utrecht, in 1713, though it is now established that this belief [on which several treaties were based] was erroneous, and that although commissioners were appointed by France and England according to the stipulations of that treaty, they did nothing and no such line was ever run).
(b) By originating and sending out the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1803-1806), and so adding to our claim by priority of discovery of the mouth of the river, by Gray, in 1792, a claim by priority of exploration of the whole breadth of its basin, from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific.
Second, James Madison (who had been Secretary of State under Jefferson), (a) by favoring the Astoria Expedition (1810-1813), which added to our claims by priority of discovery and exploration a claim by priority of actual occupancy.
(b) By instructing our commissioners to negotiate the Treaty of Ghent, that they should insist on the restoration of Astoria in any treaty of peace.
Third, James Monroe (who had been one of the commissioners who negotiated the purchase of the Louisiana Territory, and, as Secretary of State under Madison, had sent the instructions to our Commissioners to negotiate the Treaty of Ghent), (a) by insisting on and securing the restoration of Astoria, October 0, 1818.
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(b) By negotiating the treaty of October 20, 1818, with Great Britain, being the first Treaty of Joint Policy toward Oregon (though more commonly called the first Treaty of Joint Occupancy), with a provision that made it impossible that while it remained in force Great Britain could either strengthen her claims or weaken ours to any part of Oregon, either by establishing trading posts or making settlements.
(c) By making the treaty of February 22, 1819, with Spain, which not only ceded us Florida, and defined the south and west boundaries of the Louisiana Territory, but also fixed the northern boundary of California (never before defined) at 42 degrees north latitude, and ceded to us all her claims north of that line.
(d) By negotiating the treaty with Russia of April 5, 1824, which fixed the south line of Russian America (now Alaska), at 54 deg. and 40 min., and so defined the north boundary of the Oregon Territory, as the treaty of 1819 had its south boundary.
(e) By the negotiations of 1823-24 with Great Britain on the Oregon question, resulting in no treaty, but in the course of which Great Britain, for the first time, offered us the line of 49 degrees to the most northeasterly branch of the Columbia, and thence the river to the ocean, which was, and was understood to be by all well informed statesmen in both countries, an abandonment by Great Britain of all claims to any territory south and east of the Columbia, and so left really in dispute, after 1824, only about 58,000 square miles, being that part of the present State of Washington north and west of the Columbia.
(f) By the announcement July 22, 1823, to both Great Britain and Russia, of the first form of the Monroe Doctrine, in the statement that the American continents were not thenceforth to be open to colonization by any European power.
The fuller form of the Monroe Doctrine was stated in Monroe's Annual Message December 2, 1823. Though called the Monroe Doctrine it is altogether probable that John Q. Adams is entitled to quite as much credit for formulating it as Monroe.
Fourth, John Quincy Adams--far and away the ablest American diplomat of those days (who had acted as Monroe's most efficient Secretary of State in all these negotiations--1818 to 1824, inclusive)--and who had been one of our Commissioners to negotiate the Treaty of Ghent; and who, as President, directed every step of the negotiations of 1826-27, which resulted in the second Treaty of Joint Policy (or Joint Occupancy), signed August 6, 1827, in which again our rights were so safeguarded that while it remained in force Great Britain could not, by any settlements or trading posts, strengthen her claims to any part of Oregon. Early in these negotiations Great Britain again offered to make the line 49 degrees to
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 235
the most northeasterly branch of the Columbia, and thence the river to the ocean, which was immediately refused by our plenipotentiary, Albert Gallatin, who again offered the line on which all these Presidents had always insisted of 49 degrees to the coast, with the instruction by direct order of President Adams, that that line was "our ultimatum."
It is altogether probable that the services of John Quincy Adams in securing Oregon to us were at least as great as those of any other statesman, with the possible exception of Jefferson, and not a sentence is to be found in any of his state papers, or in his speeches in Congress, or in his voluminous correspondence, and his full and minute diary, which indicates that he ever entertained for an instant any thought that we should recede from the "ultimatum" of 49 degrees as the most favorable line we could ever concede to Great Britain for the northern boundary of Oregon.
There can be no question therefore that his adverse report on Linn's bill, and Reynolds' bill, was due, not to indifference as to the political destiny of the Oregon Territory, nor to ignorance as to its value to us, but to his conviction--based on a more complete knowledge than any other man possessed of every detail of the various negotiations with France, Spain, Russia and Great Britain which had affected our title to Oregon--that these bills ought not to be passed, because they plainly violated our obligations, freely entered into in times of profound peace, in the treaties of 1818 and 1827.
It has seemed necessary to quote very fully from the proceedings of the 27th Congress (and especially its second and third sessions), because while they have no connection with the origin and purpose of Whitman's ride, the quotations herein made most indisputably establish that there was not the slightest need of Whitman to inform the Government about the value of Oregon to the United States, nor to stimulate President Tyler and Daniel Webster to insist on holding it as far north as 49 degrees, and that he--knowing absolutely nothing of the region really in dispute (except the farms and gardens of Fort Vancouver), could not have furnished any information of the slightest value to an administration which, for more than nine months before he could by any possibility have reached Washington, had had opportunities for daily interviews with Wilkes and the other officers of his expedition, who from personal explorations and surveys knew the value of the region really in dispute, and particularly of what, as the world then looked, was immeasurably its most important part--the Puget Sound country-- far better than Whitman or any other missionary to the Oregon Indians did then, or for many years thereafter.
The records of the earlier diplomatic negotiations, and Congressional debates, and reports of Congressional committees, and Gov-
236 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
eminent explorers and agents, are only to be found in a few large libraries, and the vital facts about them have been for a generation past so suppressed and misstated by the advocates of the Whitman Legend that it has seemed needful to quote from them extensively; but as the reports of the later negotiations and Congressional debates, and committee reports and reports of Government explorers and agents are in hundreds of libraries in all parts of the land, and as concerning events after the spring of 1.843, there was no special inducement to misstate Governmental action by even the most myth-loving advocates of the "Whitman Saved Oregon" Story, there is no necessity for such extensive quotations from what is so easily accessible to all who care to go thoroughly into the subject, and consequently the later governmental action will be presented more briefly, but with such references to original sources as will enable the reader to follow the matter up as fully as inclination and leisure may impel.
The "Oregon jingoes" who followed Benton's lead continually insisted, not only during the campaign which resulted in the election of James K Polk over Henry Glay as President, but as late as January and February, 1845, that it was imperatively necessary for the United States to immediately proceed to occupy Oregon with settlers, and to encourage them to go there by passing Linn's bill granting 640 acres of land to any male over 18 years of age who would settle and live on it for five years, subsequently amended (by Linn's successor in the Senate, D. R. Atchison), by providing a grant of 160 acres additional to the wife (in case the settler should be a married man), and 160 acres more for each child under 18 years of age that he might have when he settled on the land, and 160 acres more for each child he might have during the five years before his title would be completed. (Cf. for Atchison's amended bill, Cong. Globe, 28th Cong., 1st Sess., p. 56, date December 21, 1843.)
Under these provisions a family having 8 children would have received 2,080 acres, one of 10 children 2,400 acres, and one of 12 children 2,720 acres.
One of the arguments they most persistently advanced for the urgent necessity of immediate action by our Government was that we could never hope by negotiation with England to secure a satisfactory boundary line, because she was entirely satisfied to let things remain indefinitely as they were under the treaties of 1818 and 1827, since she was receiving all the benefits resulting from their provision for what was commonly called the Joint Occupancy of Oregon, (but might much more properly be called the Joint Policy of the two governments toward Oregon), and under that provision was really in absolute control of the Oregon Territory, and
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 237
"by means of the Hudson's Bay Co. was colonizing it, establishing forts in it to defend it against American troops, occupying all its eligible sites for mills and towns, building mills, and cutting and marketing all the best of its timber south of the Columbia, so that when the boundary should be established at the Columbia we would have to buy our ship timber from her, making game laws in it, constantly irritating and annoying the Indians south of the Columbia so as to make them hostile, and favoring and humoring those north of the Columbia so as to make them friendly, and in all possible ways oppressing Americans who went to Oregon to settle." (Cf. in Cong. Globe, 1st and 2d Sess., 28th Cong., and Appendix to 1st Sess., speeches of Senators Benton, Buchanan, William Alien of Ohio, D. E. Atchison of Missouri, and in the House of Bepresentatives of Stephen A. Douglass, John Wentworth and J. A. McOlernand of Illinois, Alexander Duncan of Ohio, Kennedy of Indiana, Gary of Maine, and others.) The facts are:
First. The English were not and never had been "in absolute control of Oregon."
Second. They were not colonizing it. In the autumn of 1843 the entire number of British settlers (who were all ex-employes of the Hudson's Bay Co., whose term of service had expired), was less than 50--less than two a year for all the years the Hudson's Bay Co. and its predecessor in interest, the North West Co., had been in Oregon. (Cf. Nesmith's Address., Tr. Or. Pioneer Association 1875, p. 56.)
Third. As to "forts to defend Oregon against Americans," there were none, but, as stated by Lieut. Wilkes in his Special Report of June 13, 1842, they were all mere Indian trading posts, "but in no way to be considered as forts." (Cf. "Pendleton's Second Report," being Report No. 31, 27th Cong., 3d Sess., p. 75, quoted on p. 229, ante.)
Fourth. Instead of occupying all its eligible sites for mills, factories and towns, the Hudson's Bay Co. had saw and grist mills about six miles above Vancouver, and also at Colvile, about 500 miles northeast on the Columbia; and Dr. John McLoughlin, on his own account, had laid claim to a mill and town site at the Falls of the Willamette, where Oregon City now is; and they had trading posts on sites where three considerable towns and one very small one have since been built, viz.: Vancouver and Walla Walla (now Wallula), in Washington, and Astoria and Oregon City, in Oregon (the last named not opened till 1844 or 1845); that is, on the
292,000 square miles of the old Oregon Territory, between 1813 and 1844, they had actually occupied three millsites and four townsites, no one of the townsites being one on which a great city has been built to this day.
238 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
Fifth. All the timber they cut and marketed during the whole time they occupied Oregon was not the one millionth part of the timber then standing there, and not the one hundred thousandth part of the timber that grew there during that time.
Sixth. They no more made "game laws" in Oregon than they made laws establishing castes like those of India, or laws of primogeniture like those of England.
Seventh. Their treatment of the Indians was exactly the same south and north of the Columbia, and was such as to receive the highest praise from American missionaries, settlers, explorers and government agents.
Eighth. In no way did they oppress any well-behaved American who went to settle in Oregon, or who visited the Territory for pleasure or as an explorer.
The absolutely indisputable proof of the seventh and eighth propositions is stated herein in chapter No. VII. on the "Truth About the Relation of the Hudson's Bay Co. to the American Exploration, Occupation and Settlement of Oregon."
False as are all these premises of the "Oregon jingoes," equally false is their conclusion that England was perfectly content to let matters rest indefinitely under the treaty of 1827, because she was obtaining all the benefits of that treaty, and constantly strengthening her claims to Oregon.
The very opposite was the case. The English Government could not strengthen its claims to any part of Oregon while that treaty continued in force, and, alarmed by the continuous discussion in Congress from 1838 onwards, and the widespread fever from Massachusetts to Missouri, and from Wisconsin to Louisiana, to migrate to Oregon, and the prompt rejection by Webster (in the informal conferences preceding the formal negotiations for the Webster-Ashburton treaty) of any line south of 49 degrees as a negotiable boundary line for the United States, with the rapidly increasing agitation for 54 deg. 40 min. and the great activity of the American press, which, as the Edinburgh Review said, in July, 1843 (p. 100): "Teems with publications on the subject;" the English Government, instead of "being content to let matters rest indefinitely under the treaty of 1827," only five days after the completion of the Ashburton treaty urged our Government to renew negotiations for the settlement of the Oregon boundary, perceiving plainly enough that unless it was speedily done there was danger that they might not be able to secure a line so favorable even as the 49th degree.
Note:--The principal of these American publications about Oregon were: Irving's "Astoria" (1836) and "Bonneville" (1837) (both immediately republished in England, and widely read in both countries); Lieut. Slacum's Report (Sen. Ex. Doc. No. 24, 25th
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 239
Cong., 2d Sess., Dec. 18, 183T); Rev. Samuel Parker's "Journal of a Tour Beyond the Rocky Mountains" (1838) ; Linn's Report (No. 470, Vol. V., Sen. Doc., 25th Cong., 2d Sess., June 6, 1838, with the Ultimatum Map) ; Townsend's "Narrative of a Journey Across the Rocky Mountains to the Columbia" (1839), which was immediately republished in London.
Cushing's Report and Supplemental Report (p. 112) (No. 101, Reports of Coms., House of Representatives, 25th Cong., 3d Sess., February 16, 1839, with the Ultimatum Map). Of this Report
10,000 copies were ordered printed "in addition to the usual number."
Greenhow's "History of Oregon and California," first or Government Edition, 228 pages, with map and index, of which 2,500 copies "in addition to the usual number" were ordered printed by the Senate February 10, 1840, (as Sen. Ex. Doc. No. 174, Vol. IV., 26th Cong., 1st Sess.). It was also immediately reprinted in both New York and London, as a book for general sale, with no change except striking off from the title page the fact that it was a Government document, and doubtless the United States Secret Service fund paid the expenses of the London edition.
Thomas J. Farnham's "Travels in the Great Western Prairies, the Anahuac and Rocky Mountains and in the Oregon Territory," (1st Edition, Poughkeepsie, N. Y., 1841).
Pendleton's First Report or Report of the Military Committee, House of Representatives (No. 830, Reports of Coms., House of Representatives, Vol. IV., 27th Cong., 2d Sess. [64 pp.], with the Ultimatum Map), of which 5,000 copies "in addition to the usual number" were ordered printed May 27, 1842.
Pendleton's Second Report, No. 31, Reports Coms., House of Bepresentatives, 27th Cong., 3d Sess., p. 78 (with the Ultimatum Map), being the First Report (No. 830, 27th Cong., 2d Sess.) with 14 pp. of extracts from Lieut Wilkes' Special Report added, and 5,000 copies ordered printed January 4, 1843.
Caleb Cushing's four long articles in North American Review, October, 1828 (36 pp.), January, 1837 (37 pp.), January, 1839 (34 pp.), and January, 1840 (70 pp.); article in Hunt's Merchants' Magazine for April, 1842 (then a very widely circulated and influential publication), on "Oregon Territory;" copied in full in Niles' Eegister for May 21, 1842. (Besides these there were almost innumerable newspaper articles.)
Doc. No. 2, of Vol. I., of House Ex. Docs., 29th Cong., 1st Sess., 1845-46, is President Folk's first Annual Message, date December 2, 1845 (this is also Sen. Ex. Doc. No. 1, 29th Cong., 1st Sess., and it is also printed in App. to Cong. Globe, 29th Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 1-37), and among accompanying documents is "Correspondence with the British Minister in Relation to Oregon," covering pp. 138-192,
240 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
inclusive. On p. 139 is first a letter to D. Webster, Secretary of State, from H. S. Fox, British Minister to the United States, dated Washington, November 15, 1842, announcing the desire of the British Government, now that the northeast boundary was settled, to take up the Oregon boundary, and enclosing the following extract from a letter of Lord Aberdeen to Mr. Fox:
"Foreign Office, Oct. 18, 1842.
"Sir: The ratifications of the treaty, concluded on the 9th of August" (i. e., the Ashburton Treaty, W. I. M.) "between Great Britain and the United States, were exchanged by me, on the 13th inst, with the Minister of the United States accredited to the court of Her Majesty.
"The more important question of the disputed boundary between Her Majesty's North American provinces and the United States being thus settled, and the feelings which have been mutually produced in the people of both countries being evidently favorable, and indicative of a general desire to continue on the best footing with each other, it has appeared to Her Majesty's Government that both parties would act wisely in availing themselves of so auspicious a moment to endeavor to bring to a settlement the only remaining subject of territorial difference, which, although not so hazardous as that of the northeast boundary, is nevertheless, even at this moment, not without risk to the good understanding between the two countries, and may, in course of time, be attended with the same description of danger to their mutual peace as the question which has recently been adjusted. I speak of the line of boundary west of the Rocky Mountains.
"You are aware that Lord Ashburton was furnished with specific and detailed instructions with respect to the treatment of this point of difference between the two Governments in the general negotiations with which he was intrusted, and which he has brought to a satisfactory issue. For reasons which it is not necessary here to state at length, that point, after having been made the subject of conference with the American Secretary of State, was not further pressed. The main ground alleged by his lordship (p. 140) for abstaining from proposing to carry on the discussion with respect to the northwest boundary was the apprehension lest, by so doing, the settlement of the far more important matter of the northeast boundary should be impeded or exposed to the hazard of failure.
"This ground of apprehension now no longer exists; and Her Majesty's Government, therefore, being anxious to endeavor to remove, so far as depends on them, all cause, however remote, of even contingent risk to the good understanding now so happily restored between two countries which ought never to be at variance with
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 241
each other, have determined to propose to the Government of the United States to meet them in an endeavor to adjust by treaty the unsettled question of boundary west of the Rocky Mountains. On the receipt of this dispatch, therefore, I have to desire that you will propose to Mr. Webster to move the President to furnish the United States Minister at this court with such instructions as will enable him to enter upon the negotiation of this matter with such person as may be appointed by Her Majesty for that object, and you will assure him, at the same time, that we are prepared to proceed to the consideration of it in a perfect spirit of fairness, and to adjust it on a basis of equitable compromise.
"I am, with great truth and regard, sir, your most obedient, humble servant. "ABEEDEEN.
"H. S. Fox, Esq., etc., etc."
Page 140, immediately following above, is: "Mr. Webster to Mr. Pox:"
"Department of State.
"Washington, Nov. 25, 1842.
"Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 15th inst. upon the question of the Oregon or northwest boundary, with an extract of a dispatch recently addressed to you on the subject by the Earl of Aberdeen, explanatory of the wishes of Her Majesty's Government--both of which I laid before the President a few days afterwards.
"He directed me to say that he concurred entirely in the expediency of making the question respecting the Oregon Territory a subject of immediate attention and negotiation between the two Governments. He had already formed the purpose of expressing this opinion in his message to Congress, and at no distant day a communication will be made to the Minister of the United States in London.
"I pray you to accept the renewed assurance of my distinguished consideration.
"H. S. Fox, Esq., etc., etc., etc."
Two dispatches of Edw. Everett, then our Minister to England, to Daniel Webster, Secretary of State, quoted by George Bancroft in Berlin Arbitration (p. 27), are to the same purport, as follows:
"London, Oct. 10, 1842.
"Sir: Lord Aberdeen, in the conference which ensued after the exchange of the ratifications, observed that his only subject of re-
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gret in connection with the treaty was, that the boundary between the two countries on the Pacific Ocean had not been provided for; and expressed a strong wish that I might receive instructions on that subject.
"Daniel Webster, Esq., "Secretary of State."
"London, November 18, 1842.
"Sir: On arriving at the Foreign Office I was told that Lord Aberdeen wished to see me, and was conducted to his room. He informed me that he wished to read me a copy of a dispatch which he had addressed to Mr. Fox, directing him to make known to the President the strong desire of Her Majesty's Government to engage, without delay, in a negotiation for the settlement of the boundary between the two countries on the Pacific Ocean, and his wish that instructions should be sent to me for that purpose. In the conversation which ensued, he dwelt with great earnestness on the danger to the good understanding between the two countries so happily established by the treaty of Washington to be apprehended from leaving this question in its present unsettled state.
"Daniel Webster, Esq., "Secretary of State."
Returning to Doc. 2. On p. 141 is a letter from Mr. Upshur to Mr. Pakenham, date February 26, 1844, replying to his of February 24, 1844, and making an appointment to meet Mr. Pakenham "tomorrow at 11 o'clock a. m. at the Department of State to confer with him on the Oregon question," and another letter of Mr. Pakenham to Mr. Calhoun, dated July 22, 1844, and referring to this appointment, and to Mr. Upshur's death within a few days of the date of Mr. Pakenham's note of February 24, 1844, and asking for a renewal of the negotiations, which last letter marks the beginning of the negotiations of 1844-45-46 on the Oregon boundary question, and is followed by the protocols of that negotiation, the first one dated August 23, 1844.
How did it happen that when both Governments were agreed in October and November, 1842, to make the Oregon question "a subject of immediate attention," no formal negotiations were had on the subject till August 23, 1844?
The answer is readily found in a little study of easily accessible authorities.
All of President Harrison's Cabinet, after his death on April 4, 1841, continued to serve under Tyler until September 11, 1841,
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when, except Daniel Webster, they all resigned because President Tyler had vetoed a bill passed by Congress re-establishing the United States Bank; but Webster remained Secretary of State, in order to settle the northeastern boundary, which was accomplished August 9, 1842, by the Webster-Ashburton treaty.
He then desired to retire from a position which was far from pleasant to him, as he was one of the greatest leaders of the Whig party, and President Tyler had been "read out" of that party, on account of his veto of the bank bill; and in order to furnish him a position congenial to his tastes and suited to his talents, it was proposed to send Edw. Everett, then Minister to England, as Minister or Commissioner to China (where we had not before had a Minister), and then send Webster as Minister to England, where it was expected that he would succeed in settling the question of the Oregon boundary satisfactorily.
But after considerable correspondence, Everett declined to accept the China mission, and Caleb Cushing was sent instead, and negotiated the first treaty ever made between the United States and China.
As Webster could not honorably displace his life-long friend Everett without finding him some other place satisfactory to Mm, and as no such place was open, Webster resigned on May 8, 1843, and returned to private life till re-elected to the Senate, where his new term began March 4, 1845.
In those days of no telegraphs, and few railroads and ocean steamers, correspondence about this matter took much time, and while it was going on no such delicate and difficult negotiation as that about the Oregon boundary could prudently be begun, nor could it be, after Webster resigned, till a new Secretary of State should be installed and given time to become familiar with the routine of the office.
After Webster's resignation, Hugh S. Legare, the Attorney General, acted as Secretary of State ad interim from May 9, 1843, to June 20, 1843, when he died suddenly. Then William S. Derrick (Chief Clerk) acted as Secretary of State ad interim, June 21 to June 23, 1843. Then Abel P. Upshur, Secretary of the Navy, acted as Secretary of State ad interim from June 24 to July 23, 1843, and on July 24 he was duly commissioned as Secretary of State.
Less than a month afterwards Mr. Everett wrote Mr. Upshur as follows: (Cf. Berlin Arbitration, p. 28.)
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"London, Aug. 17, 1843.
"Dear Sir: When Lord Aberdeen spoke of instructing Mr. Fox on the Oregon question, he added an expression of his regret that the negotiation should fall into his hands. He has on many occasions expressed a wish that I should be charged with the negotiation. Could I hope to bring it to a successful issue, it would of course be very agreeable; but it seems to me out of the question to carry on such a negotiation anywhere but at Washington.
"Hon. A. P. Upshur."
Immediately following this, on p. 28, is "Mr. Upshur to Mr. Everett":
"Department of State, "Washington, Oct. 9, 1843. "Sir:
"The President directs that you take an early occasion to bring again to the attention of Her Majesty's government the subject of the claims of the two countries respectively to the territory west of the Rocky Mountains. The difficulties which the conflicting claims of Russia to a portion of this territory have heretofore interposed are now happily removed by the treaty of April, 1824, which defines the limits within which that power engages to restrict its settlement; so that the questions now to be settled rest exclusively between Great Britain and the United States.
"The offer of the 49th parallel of latitude, although it has once been rejected, may be again tendered, together with the right of navigating the Columbia upon equitable terms. Beyond this the President is not now prepared to go.
"You will receive herewith the necessary powers to negotiate upon the subject. If, however, the British Government prefers that the negotiation shall be conducted in Washington, that arrangement will be perfectly agreeable to the President.
"A. P. UPSHUR.
"Edward Everett, Esq."
Immediately following this (on pp. 28-9) is "Mr. Everett to Mr. Upshur:
"London, Nov. 2, 1843.
"Sir: By the steamer of the 16th October, I had the honor to receive your dispatch No. 62, inclosing a full power from the Presi-
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 245
dent to treat with this Government for the adjustment of the Oregon boundary, and containing your instructions on that subject. I lost no time in applying for an interview with Lord Aberdeen, and saw him the first day of his return to town. On apprising him of the disposition of the President to open a negotiation on this subject at London, Lord Aberdeen informed me that such an arrangement would have been altogether agreeable to him if somewhat earlier made, and reminded me that he had very often, in the course of the last winter, expressed the wish that the President would authorize me to treat on the subject. He had, however, lately come to a conclusion and taken a step that made it necessary to treat upon the subject at Washington: this was the recall of Mr. Fox and the appointment of a successor. Among the grounds for adopting this measure was the belief that there would be decided advantage in putting the management of this subject into new hands, and consequently that had been and would be assigned as a leading reason for the contemplated change. This course, he said, had not been resolved upon till they had entirely given up the expectation that I should be authorized to treat on this subject.
"A. P. Upshur, Esq.,
"Secretary of State."
Immediately following this, on p. 29, is another dispatch from Mr. Everett to Mr. Upshur, dated London, November 14, 1843, showing that the British Foreign Office lost no time in recalling Mr. Fox and commissioning Hon. Richard Pakenham as Minister at Washington, for in it Everett says that on the 6th inst. Lord Aberdeen (head of the British Foreign Office from September 2, 1841, to July 6, 1846), had requested him to call at Argyll House, Lord Aberdeen's town residence; and that he had done so, and had had "a long and upon the whole satisfactory conversation with Lord Aberdeen," in the course of which "he told me that he had communicated to Mr. Fox, by the steamer of the 4th, that his successor was appointed."
Pakenham arrived in New York February 12, 1844, on the British sloop of war Vestal, of 26 guns, in 27 days from Plymouth, England. (Cf. Niles' Register, Feb. 17, 1844.)
Returning now to House Ex. Doc. 2, 29th Cong., 1st Sess. On p. 140, under date February 24, 1844, Mr. Pakenham wrote to Mr. Upshur that he had been instructed "to lose no time in entering into communication with the Secretary of State of the United States upon the subject of Oregon, because "Upon no subject of difference between the two Governments was the British Govern-
246 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
merit more anxious to come to an early and satisfactory arrangement than that relating to the Oregon or Columbia territory," and asking for an appointment to begin negotiations.
Idem (p. 141) Mr. Upshur replied to Mr. Pakenham, under date of February 26, 1844, saying: "The undersigned has the honor to inform Mr. Pakenham that he will receive him for that purpose, at the Department of State, tomorrow at 11 a. m."
At last then it seemed as though negotiations would speedily be fully entered upon, but on February 28, 1844, Mr. Upshur, with Mr. Gilnier, Secretary of the Navy, and several others, were instantly killed by the explosion of a great gun called the Peacemaker on board the United States ship of war Princeton.
Thus again our State Department was vacant, and although that brilliant statesman John C. Oalhoun was nominated and confirmed Secretary of State March 6, 1844, and entered upon the duties of the office April 1, 1844, Mr. Pakenham, appreciating the necessity of allowing the new Secretary to become well wonted to his office before attempting to carry on any negotiation about so important, and delicate, and complicated a subject as the Oregon boundary, did not address him upon it till he wrote the following letter:
"Washington, July 22, 1844.
"Sir: In the archives of the Department of State will be found a note which I had the honor to address, on the 24th February last, to the late Mr. Upshur, expressing the desire of Her Majesty's Government to conclude with the Government of the United States a satisfactory arrangement respecting the boundary of the Oregon or Columbia territory.
"The lamented death of Mr. Upshur, which occurred within a few days after the date of that note, the interval which took place between that event and the appointment of a successor, and the urgency and importance of various matters which offered themselves to your attention immediately after your accession to office, sufficiently explain why it has not hitherto been in the power of your Government, sir, to attend to the important matter to which I refer.
"But the session of Congress having been brought to a close, and the present being the season of the year when the least public business is usually transacted, it occurs to me that you may now feel at leisure to proceed to the consideration of that subject. At all events, it becomes my duty to recall it to your recollection, and to repeat the earnest desire of Her Majesty's Government, that a question on which so much interest is felt in' both countries should
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 247
be disposed of at the earliest moment consistent with the convenience of the Government of the United States.
"I have the honor to be, with high consideration, sir, your obedient servant,
"B. PAKENHAM. "Hon. John C. Calhoun, etc."
To this Mr. Galhoun replied as follows:
"Department of State.
"Washington, August 22, 1844.
"Sir: The various subjects which necessarily claimed my attention on entering on the duties of my office have heretofore, as you justly suppose in your note of the 22d of July last, prevented me from appointing a time to confer with you, and enter on the negotiations in reference to the Oregon territory.
"These have, at length, been dispatched, and, in reply to the note which you did me the honor to address to me of the date above mentioned, I have to inform you that I am now ready to enter on the negotiation, and for that purpose propose a conference tomorrow at 1 o'clock p. m., at the Department of State, if perfectly convenient to you; but, if not, at any other (place) which it may suit your convenience to appoint.
"The Government of the United States participates in the anxious desire of that of Great Britain, that the subject may be early and satisfactorily arranged.
"I have the honor to be, with high consideration, sir, your obedient servant,
"J. C. CALHOUN.
"The Bight Hon. B. Pakenham, etc., etc., etc."
To this Mr. Pakenham replied as follows,:
"Washington, Aug. 22, 1844.
"Sir: I have had the honor to receive your note of this morning date, in which you signify your readiness to enter on the negotiation in reference to the Oregon territory, proposing to me to meet you in conference on that subject tomorrow at 1 o'clock.
"In reply, I have the honor to acquaint you that I shall have great pleasure in waiting on you, at the Department of State, at the hour proposed.
"Be pleased to accept the assurance of any distinguished consideration.
ĞE. PAKENHAM. "Hon. John C. Calhoun, etc., etc., etc."
248 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
And thus, at last, almost two years after Lord Aberdeen had expressed the desire of England to "immediately take it up and settle it speedily," the final negotiation for the settlement of the Oregon boundary line was really started.
This matter has been stated thus fully because one of the persistent contentions of various advocates of the Whitman Legend has been that President Tyler promised Whitman, in March, 1843, that there should be no farther negotiations about Oregon till he should have time to lead a migration there with wagons. (Cf. Extract from a lecture by Kev. H. H. Spalding in Sen. Ex. Doc. No. 37, 41st Cong., 3d Sess. (p. 22); Gray's "History of Oregon" (p. 290); Rev. M. Eells' "Indian Missions" (p. 174); Kev. M. Bells' "Reply to Prof. Bourne" (pp. 94-5) ; Mrs. Eva Emery Dye's "McLoughlin and Old Oregon" (p. 235) ; Craighead's "Story of Marcus Whitman" (p. 67); Nixon's "How Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon" (p. 130); Mowry's "Marcus Whitman and the Early Days of Oregon" (p. 171).
There is not the slightest probability that Whitman ever had any interview with President Tyler and Secretary Webster. (Cf. Chapter VII., Part 2, infra.) Upshur's dispatch to Mr. Webster, August 9, 1843 (which would unquestionably have resulted in reopening formal negotiations on the Oregon boundary in November, 1843, in London, had not the British Government, tired of the long delay, resolved to recall Mr. Henry S. Pox [their Minister at Washington from October 2, 1835, to December 14, 1843] and transfer the negotiation to Washington), is conclusive proof that there was no agreement by President Tyler to delay negotiations on the Oregon boundary till news should be received of the arrival of the 1843 migration, for the news of the arrival of that migration at Fort Hall was not received at St. Louis till November 30, 1843 (when the 11 men sent back from Fort Hall by Fremont arrived there, having lost the letters sent by Fremont, but having brought through and left at Weston, Mo., for publication some letters from the migration). (Cf. for the sending back of these men on September 22, 1843, p. 162 of Fremont's First and Second Exploring Expeditions, being Sen. Ex. Doc. 174, 28th Cong., 2d Sess.; for the arrival of the party at St. Louis, the extract from St. Louis Gazette, quoted in Niles' Register December 16, 1843.)
While there have been claims made that information was received in Washington in January, 1844, of the safe arrival at their destination of the 1843 migration, no proof to sustain this wholly improbable claim has been produced, and the earliest news of their arrival that I have been able to find is in the following two extracts from Niles1 Register:
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 249
First Issue of April 13, 1844 (p. 101), "Extracts from a letter dated October 20, 1843, at Wallamette Falls--The population of this country, exclusive of the party of 700 now coming in from the States, has increased at least one-third during the past year." This is credited to the Newburyport Herald, but without date. The date of the letter shows that it must have been written when only those had arrived in the Willamette Valley who left the main body of the migration at Fort Hall, and went ahead with saddle and pack horses.
Second. Issue of April 20, 1844 (p. 113), "The Oregon. The Emigrants." "A letter from the Oregon emigrants was received at Platte City, Mo., on the 2d inst, announcing the safe arrival of the emigrating company, and confirming the intelligence formerly received. A history of the expedition will be published in St. Louis next July."
A very complete record of the final negotiations on the Oregon boundary is to be found in (a) Ex. Doc. No. 2, 29th Cong., 1st Sess., which gives the protocols of the six conferences between Pakenham and Calhoun (our Secretary of State from March 6, 1844, to March 5, 1845), held on August 23, August 26, September 2, September 12, September 20 and September 24, 1844; and the seventh conference between Pakenham and Buchanan (our Secretary of State from March 5, 1845, to March 7, 1S49), held July 16, 1S45; and 46 pages of the "statements" of the respective negotiators which accompanied the protocols.
(b) Sen. Ex. Doc. No. 489, 29th Cong., 1st Sess., which in 51 pages gives the draft of the treaty of 1S46, as submitted to the Senate by the President for their advice as to whether or not it should be accepted; the proceedings of the Senate thereon, ending with a recommendation to the President to accept the treaty, adopted by 38 to 12 on June 12, 1846; the treaty itself, as finally ratified on June 18, 1846, by 41 to 14, with the proceedings of the Senate thereon; and the remainder of the correspondence accompanying the treaty, including that accompanying the Joint Resolution of the two Houses of Congress, approved April 27, 1846, authorizing the President in his discretion to give the twelve months' notice to Great Britain of our desire to abrogate the treaty of 1827, which notice was given by the President on April 28, 1846, and its receipt acknowledged by Lord Aberdeen on May 21, 1846.
(c) "Berlin Arbitration," pp. 27-55. This is specially valuable because it gives the despatches of Mr. Everett to Webster, Upshur and Calhoun, and also some despatches of Mr. McLane to Buchanan which are not given at all in Doc. No. 489, and supplies omitted parts of some of those which are in that document.
250 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
In the negotiations of 1823-24 Great Britain had offered us the line of 49 degrees to the most northeasterly branch of the Columbia, known as McGillivray's River, and thence that stream and the Columbia to the Pacific Ocean, with the navigation of the Columbia perpetually free to both nations. (Cf. Protocol of the 23d Conference, July 23, 1824; Doc. 396, American State Papers, Foreign Relations, Vol. V.) In the negotiations of 1826-7 Great Britain had offered in addition to the above to allow us a territory entirely detached from all our other possessions, embracing the greater part of the peninsula between the waters of Puget's Sound and the Pacific, with a further provision that "No works should at any time be erected at the entrance of the river Columbia, or upon the banks of the same, that might be calculated to impede or hinder the free navigation thereof by the vessels or boats of either party." (Cf. Protocol of Third Conference, Dec. 1, 1826, in Doc. 458, Vol. VI., American State Papers, Foreign Rel.) As we have seen Lord Ashburton came over in 1842, "with specific and detailed instructions" to renew the proposition of 1826, but found Webster and Tyler insistent on "No line south of the 49th degree as a negotiable boundary line for the United States," and as his instructions positively forbade his acceptance of that line, Oregon was left out of the Ashburton treaty.
At the second conference between Pakenham and Calhoun, August 26, 1844, the former renewed the British offer of December 1, 1826, and in addition "To make free to the United States any port or ports which the United States Government might desire either on the main land or on Vancouver's Island, south of latitude 49 degrees." This Mr. Calhoun at once declined. (Cf. House Ex. Doc. 2, 29th Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 143, 144 and 146.)
Mr. Benton ("Thirty Years' View," Vol. II, p. 661) says: "Mr. Calhoun, rejecting the usual arts of diplomacy, which holds in reserve the ultimate and true offer while putting forward fictitious ones for experiment, went at once to his ultimatum, and proposed the continuation of the parallel of the 49th degree of north latitude . . . to the Pacific Ocean. Mr. Pakenham declined this proposition in the part that carried the line to the ocean, but offered to continue it from the summit of the mountains to' the Columbia River, a distance of some 300 miles; and then follow the river to the ocean."
Mr. Benton is entirely in error in saying that Calhoun "went at once to his ultimatum" with an offer of 49 degrees to the Pacific. The records of the negotiation show that neither "at once" nor at any time during this negotiation did Mr. Calhoun offer either 49 degrees to the Pacific, or any other line for a boundary. The rea-
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 251
son for this is easily found by attention to the political conditions of the time.
May 1, 1844, the Whig National Convention had met at Baltimore and unanimously nominated Henry Clay for President and Theodore Frelinghuysen for Vice-President, and adopted a short platform entirely ignoring the questions of Texas and Oregon.
The Southern leaders, who then completely dominated the Democratic party, and who were determined to annex Texas at any cost, knowing well the rising opposition in the North to any farther extension of slavery, saw in far away Oregon a counterpoise to Texas, and knowing that although Oregon had been known for a dozen years or more to be easily enough accessible by wagon, yet its remoteness would not allow of its being peopled rapidly enough to have it admitted as a State for a good many years (as a matter of fact it was not admitted as a State till February 14, 1859), while Texas would come in as a State with two Senators at once (it was admitted December 29, 1845), and a chance of dividing it later into three or four States, with a corresponding number of Senators and Representatives, and that Oregon was so far north of Mason and Dixon's line and the Missouri Compromise line that slavery would never go there, adroitly linked the two together, and in the Democratic National Convention, held at Baltimore May 28, 29 and 30, 1844, having by the two-thirds rule defeated Van Buren, who had 151 out of a total of 266 votes on the first ballot, and in the first seven ballots killed off all the other prominent candidates, on the eighth ballot gave 44 votes to James K. Polk, who had received no votes on the first seven ballots, and on the ninth ballot nominated him--the first of the "dark horses" to make a Presidential race-- and put the following plank into their platform:
"Eesolved: That our title to the whole of the territory of Oregon is clear and unquestionable; that no portion of the same ought to be surrendered to England or apy other power; and that the reoccupation of Oregon and the reannexation of Texas at the earliest practicable period are great American measures, which this convention recommends to the cordial support of the Democracy of the Union."
Oregon first, and thirty-eight words specially to Oregon, and only 4 to Texas! Was ever anything more ingeniously contrived to bamboozle the average voter? "The whole of Oregon" was universally understood to mean Oregon as far north as 54 degrees and 40 minutes, and forthwith began the notorious "fifty-four forty or fight" campaign, which resulted in the election of Polk.
As the Conference between Pakenham and Calhoun began in the midst of this campaign, and ended before the election, it can easily be seen that Calhoun would not make any proposition for
252 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
a definite line, for to have proposed the line of 54= deg. and 40 min. would have certainly resulted in its immediate rejection by Pakenham, while if he had offered 49 degrees amid all the heat and fury of a political campaign in which his own party was shouting for "fifty-four forty or fight," and bitterly denouncing Clay, the Whig nominee for the Presidency, as having "taken the British against the American side" by offering 49 degrees in 1826, he would have greatly strengthened the Whigs and weakened his own party, and though personally he did not favor the "fifty-four forty or fight" policy, and would have been glad to have settled the controversy with 49 degrees as the boundary if there had been no Presidential campaign in progress, he was too intense a partisan to be willing to imperil Polk's election by proposing that line in the most critical period of the 1844 campaign.
Whoever will read in Ex. Doc. No. 2 the statements that passed between these two negotiators, viz., Galhoun to Pakenham, date September 3, 1844; Pakenham to Calhoun, date September 12, 1844; and Calhoun to Pakenham, September 20, 1844; will find them very forceful presentations of the claims of their respective Governments, but presenting nothing new (since the whole subject had been thoroughly gone over by quite as able men in the negotiations of 1823-4 and 1826-7), except a fuller statement than Gallatin made, November 25, 1826, of the fact that by the Third Article of the Treaty of 1818, and by its renewal by the Treaty of 1827, it was impossible that the trading posts and other settlements made in Oregon by the Hudson's Bay Co. could in any degree strengthen the British claim to it (which Benton and the "Oregon jingoes" were constantly asserting they could do), but with no offer by Calhoun of a definite boundary line.
Pakenham's "statement" of September 12, 1844, concludes as follows:
"The undersigned believes that he has now noticed all the arguments advanced by the American plenipotentiary, in order to show that the United States are fairly entitled to the entire region drained by the Columbia river. He sincerely regrets that their views on this subject should differ in so many essential respects.
"It remains for him to request that as the American plenipotentiary declines the proposal offered on the part of Great Britain, he will have the goodness to state what arrangements he is, on the part of the United States, prepared to propose for an equitable adjustment of the question; and more especially that he will have the goodness to define the nature and extent of the claims which, the United States may have to other portions of the territory, to which allusion is made in the concluding part of his statement, as
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 253
it is obvious that no arrangement can be made with respect to a portion of the territory in dispute while a claim is reserved to any portion of the remainder,
"The undersigned, British plenipotentiary, has the honor to renew to the American plenipotentiary the assurance of his high consideration.
"R. PAKENHAM." (Cf. House Ex. Doc. 2, p. 158.)
Mr. Calhoun's reply to this, dated September 20, 1844, is a general discussion of the "statement" of Mr. Pakenham, but the only allusion in it to Mr. Pakenham's request above quoted is the following very vague statement, in its concluding paragraph:
"In reply to the request of the British plenipotentiary, that the undersigned should define the nature and extent of the claims which the United States have to the other portions of the territory, and to which allusion is made in the concluding part of statement A, he has the honor to inform him, in general terms, that they are derived from Spain by the Florida treaty, and are founded on the discoveries and exploration of her navigators; and which they must regard as giving them a right to the extent to which they can be established, unless a better can be opposed.
"J. G. CALHOUN. "The Eight Hon. Richard Pakenham, etc., etc., etc."
(Cf. House Ex. Doc. 2, p. 161.)
Plainly Mr. Calhoun, instead of moving on towards any definite proposition about a boundary line, was merely "marking time," and waiting for the result of the election.
Had Mr. Clay been elected, there is every probability that Mr. Calhoun (who never had endorsed the "fifty-four forty or fight" humbug) would have offered again 49 degrees to the coast, hut when the returns showed Folk's election, very naturally Calhoun, who cared vastly more about Texas than about Oregon, bent his energies towards the annexation of the "Lone Star Repuhlic," and determined to leave Folk's Administration to get out of their "fifty-four forty or fight" dilemma as best they might.
On January 15, 1845, Mr. Pakenham, having received no proposition for a boundary line (though his own proposition had been rejected more than four and a half months before), wrote to Mr. Calhoun that, "Considering on the one hand the impatience which is manifested in the United States for a settlement of this question, and on the other the length of time which would probably be still required to effect a satisfactory adjustment of it between
254 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
the two Governments, it has occurred to Her Majesty's Government that, under such circumstances, no more fair or honorable mode of settling the question could be adopted than that of arbitration.
"This proposition I am accordingly authorized to offer for the consideration of the Government of the United States."
On January 21, 1845, Mr. Calhoun replied, declining to arbitrate, but expressing "the hope that the question may be settled by the negotiation now pending between the two countries" (Cf. House Ex. Doc. 2, p. 162), and with this ended the connection of Oalhoun and the Tyler Administration with the Oregon negotiation.
President Folk's Inaugural Address, March 4, 1845, after discussing the Texas question at length, continued as follows: "Nor will it become in a less degree my duty to assert and maintain by all constitutional means the right of the United States to that portion of our territory which lies beyond the Rocky Mountains.
"Our title to the country of the Oregon is clear and unquestionable, and already are our people preparing to perfect that title by occupying it with their wives and children."
There is here no claim of "fifty-four forty or fight," and a plain opening of a path for retreat from that position; nevertheless, following on the heels of all the fuss and fury of the "fifty-four forty or fight" campaign, and the fiery speeches of the "Oregon jingoes" in both Houses of Congress in the first and second sessions of the 28th Congress, this passage in the Inaugural produced great uneasiness and fear of war in England, where the ability of the average American politicians, when they have carried the election, to split the planks of the platform on which they have merely stood to get the offices into kindling wood for the bonfires over their victory, and to "eat their own words" without even making a wry face over the act is less thoroughly understood than in this country.
Two articles, at this time, in two of the most influential publications in England, the London Examiner and the Edinburgh Review, are very interesting in this connection, as showing the state of England's opinion on the value of Oregon, the folly of going to war about the whole or any part of it, and the view of the fair-minded Englishman as to a proper division of the country between the two nations.
From the Esoaminer article I will quote very fully; but as the Edinburgh Review article is a lengthy review of ten books--including "American State Papers," "Farnham's Travels," "Greenhow's History of Oregon and California" (London Edition); and "Narrative of United States Exploring Expedition," by Lieut. Charles
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 255
Wilkes, 5 vols.--I must summarize it, and only make a few brief quotations from it.
(From London Examiner, April 26, 1845:)
"THE OREGON QUESTION.
"The maximum claim of England and the minimum claim of America is the Columbia; the maximum of America and the minimum of England is the 49th. If each were mad enough to insist on its maximum, collision must ensue.
"The best mode of arrangement would be that which has been offered by England, and, though not accepted, not definitely rejected by America--arbitration. The dispute after all is a mere question of national pride, and the pride of neither nation could be offended by submission to an award. If that award were to give the whole country down to the Mexican frontier to England, America would suffer no real loss. She would only be prevented from wasting her resources and violating her constitution in the acquisition and defense of what must, in effect, be a distant colony.
"If the award were to give the whole territory to America, the value of the monopoly enjoyed by the Hudson's Bay Co. would be a little diminished. But as that monopoly is injurious to the English people, we should not bitterly grieve at an event which would reduce the value of the company's stock one per cent.
"If arbitration be unattainable, the only mode of accommodation is mutual concession, and the terms which we suggest for that mutual concession are those which, if we were arbitrators, we should award, namely, that the boundary line should be the 49th degree until it meets the Pacific, and then the Straits of Fuca to the sea. Our only claim rests on contiguity, and this would give us more than mere contiguity entitles us to. This would give us the whole of Vancouver's Island, and it would give us an abundance of good harbors. It would also give us the country which is best for the purposes for which we use it, the fur trade. The furs to the north of the 49th degree are better and more abundant than those to the south. All balancing, however, of the positive advantages to be obtained by the one nation or by the other on a partition is mere childishness. The interruption of confidence for a single week costs more than the whole country is worth. A mere armament, though followed by accommodation, would cost more than a thousand times its value. What proportion, therefore, does it bear to a war?"
The Edinburgh Revieio article was published in the July, 1845, number and contains about 15,000 words.
256 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
It was so eminently fair that the New York Tribune Almanac for 1846 printed it in full, prefaced by the following paragraph:
"OREGON." "OUR RIGHTFUL NORTHWESTERN BOUNDARY."
"Decidedly the clearest and best account we have seen of the Oregon Boundary controversy is given in the following article from the Edinburgh Review of July last:
"So lucid, so candid, so truthful is it, that the British newspaper press (the London Times especially) denounce it as a virtual surrender of all in dispute that is material, as in truth it is. The boundary proposed by the Review is that proposed and urged by our Government at different times, but always rejected by Great Britain.
"We think the Review demonstrates that it is the proper and just one."
The article discusses the fur trade and the Hudson's Bay Co.'s management of it, and their policy in dealing with the Indians, says that Oregon is of little worth agriculturally, and that for the fur trade (which it thinks the chief value of the country), the part north of 49 degrees is much more valuable than the part south of that parallel, discusses (from the British standpoint of course) the question of title to the country, and declares that neither England nor the United States has a perfect title, and says "The great error of all parties has been the importance attached to Oregon. But, assuming it to be of any value, the Americans cannot toe expected to remain satisfied with an arrangement which, professing to give them equal rights, practically excludes them" (i. e., from the fur trade). It concludes as follows: "And we firmly believe in Mf. Gallatin's prophecy" (in the 1826-7 negotiations), "that under whatever nominal sovereignty Oregon may be placed, whatever its ultimate destinies may be, it will almost exclusively be peopled by the surplus population of the United States. The negotiation for partition is now resumed, and we trust with a fair prospect of success. It is much that the real worthlessness of the country has been established. All that any prudent Englishman or American can wish is, that the controversy should be speedily and honorably settled. A week's interruption of confidence--such, for instance, as followed the reception of Mr. Folk's inaugural speech--costs each party twenty times the value of the matter in dispute.
"The obvious course is to refer the whole question to arbitration. The decision of an arbitrator necessarily saves the honor of each party, and in the present case there is nothing else to contend for. . . ." The earnest plea for arbitration concludes as
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 257
follows: "She" (i. e., the United States) "cannot deny that we honestly believe it to be matter of controversy; and if a fourth negotiation should fail, she is bound by friendship, by prudence, and by regard to the welfare of the whole civilized world to allow it to be settled by arbitration. Our readers have perhaps a right to ask what, in our opinion, the decision of an honest arbitrator would be? We think we have supplied premises from which it may be inferred. We have shown that no nation now possesses any title, perfect or imperfect, by discovery, by settlement, by treaty, or by prescription. We have shown, too, that no nation possesses a perfect title by contiguity; and we have shown that an imperfect title by contiguity to the portion which lies north of the 49th parallel is vested in England and that part which lies south of that parallel in America. We think, therefore, that that parallel ought to be the basis of the boundary; but, as if prolonged indefinitely, it would cut off the southern extremity of Vancouver Island, with little advantage to America, and great injury, if we shall ever occupy that island, to England; we think that it should cease to be the boundary when it reaches the coast, and that from thence the boundary should be the sea. This would give to us the whole of Vancouver's Island, which, if we are absurd enough to plant a colony in the northern Pacific, is the least objectionable seat.
"It possesses excellent ports, a tolerable climate, and some cultivatable soil; an ascertained and defensible frontier, and the command of the important straits, by which to the east and to the south, it is separated from the continent. That its distance from Europe would render it a costly and unprofitable incumbrance, is true; but that objection applies with equal force to every part of Oregon."
Thus these two articles--in two of the most influential periodicals in Great Britain (both written by the famous political economist and philosophical essayist, Nassau W. Senior, and published fourteen and twelve months before the treaty of 1846 was made) --recommend to Great Britain to yield to the American claims and fix the boundary precisely as it was fixed by that treaty.
A favorite contention of Barrows and Mxon and other advocates of the Whitman Legend is that our statesmen and people were constantly deceived by articles published in the interest of the Hudson's Bay Co. in English periodicals, asserting the worthlessness of Oregon, so that we might be induced to yield it up to Great Britain as not worth contending for.
Thus (Mxon "How Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon," p. 192) "In the mean time they" (i. e., the Hudson's Bay Co.) "ran a literary bureau for all it was worth in the disparagement of Oregon
258 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
for all purposes except those of the fur trader. The English press was mainly depended upon for this work, but the best means in reach were used that all these statements should reach the ruling powers and the reading people of the United States.
"The effect of this literary bureau upon American statesmen and the most intelligent class of readers prior to the spring of 1843 is easily seen by the sentiments quoted, and by their published acts, in refusing to legislate for Oregon."
This Hudson's Bay Co.'s "literary bureau" is one of the multitudinous "facts" in Dr. Nixon's book for which "he himself" is "authority"--it never having been discovered by any one else because it only existed in his imagination.
Barrows' "Oregon" (pp. 191-2) asserts what is equally fictitious, and probably the germ out of which Dr. Nixon's fervid fancy evolved this "literary bureau," as follows:
"At the time of the" (alleged) "interview between Whitman and Webster, the most of the information received in the States from the northwest had of necessity, therefore, come in through English channels, and was moulded to Hudson Bay interests. While that country lay as an ob'scure right between the two nations, and the Company saw an advance opening for their trade, it was quite natural that they should diminish temptations to visit it, and weave obstacles between it and a rival on the border. This they did to a successful extent up to the time when Whitman arrived on the Potomac. They had made it quite obvious to the uninformed, says Gray, 'that the whole country was of little value to any one. It would scarcely support the few Indians, much less a large population of settlers.' English volumes of travel and scholarly review articles were teaching the same delusion abroad."
True, Barrows explicitly contradicts this only 29 pages after (on p. 220) and states--what is very rare in his "Oregon"--the exact truth, as follows: "It is not necessary to itemize, for all histories, sketches and travels touching primitive times and the dawn of civilization in that country, came in the line of its discovery and purchase and exploration by the United States." But such self-contradiction is by no means uncommon in Barrows' "Oregon."
Returning now to p. 192, Barrows continues: "So the Edinburgh Review said: (b) 'Only a small proportion of the land is capable of cultivation.' (a) 'West of the Rocky Mountains the desert extends from the Mexican (Californian) border to the Columbia,' and it endeavored to show that the country east of the mountains was (a) 'incapable, probably forever, of fixed settlements' where now are Kansas, Nebraska and Dakota.
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"The British and Foreign Review preached to the same application and conclusion. 'Upon the whole, therefore, the Oregon Territory holds out no great promise as an agricultural field.' The London Examiner was quite pronounced, if not petulant, that the ignorant Americans did not give np a country equal in area to England eight times: 'The whole territory in dispute is not worth twenty thousand pounds to either power.'"
"(Note Vol. LXXXIL, p. 240; also July, 1843, p. 184, British and Foreign Review; January, 1844, p. 21, London Examiner, quoted in Webster's Works in Introd. cxlix.)"
The putting of Vol. LXXXII. in this foot note was deliberately dishonest, as he well knew that few of his readers would ever have a chance to look up that volume and find that it was for July, 1845, and because, to prevent any one from having any excuse for quoting its articles otherwise than by date, the Edinburgh Review has always printed at the top of every page the month and year of its publication.
On p. 194 Barrows continues: "The same article from which we have quoted in the Edinburgh Review thinks that the American colonists in Oregon have been (b) 'misled by the representations of the climate and soil of Oregon, which for party purposes have been spread through the United States.' Then the Review becomes prophetic: (b) 'It seems probable that, in a few years, all that formerly gave life to the country, both the hunter and his prey, will become extinct, and that their place will be supplied by a thin white and half-breed population, scattered along the few fertile valleys, supported by pasture instead of the chase, and gradually degenerating into barbarism, far more offensive than the backwoodsman.' This defamation of Oregon is naturally followed by the English writer with the declaration that (b) 'No nation now possesses any title, perfect or imperfect, by discovery, by settlement, by treaty, or by prescription.'"
As it is impossible to tell from anything in Barrows what he has here quoted from the July, 1843, and what from the July, 1845, Edinburgh Review, I have marked the quotations from the July, 1843, issue with (a), and those from the July, 1845, issue with (b), and I have quoted every word he has quoted from the July, 1845, number.
Yet, immediately following the last sentence quoted by him, the Review goes on (as we have already seen) to declare that "An imperfect title by contiguity to the portion which lies north of the 49th parallel is vested in England, and to that part which lies south of that parallel in America," and then recommends that the boundary should be run on the 49th parallel to the coast and the Straits of Fuca to the ocean.
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Yet this article, thus avowedly written in 1845, to influence England to yield to the American claim, and surrender Oregon up to 49 degrees, is thus garbled and antedated by Barrows and Nixon to deceive their readers into believing that it was published before Whitman's ride to misrepresent the value of Oregon, and so induce the Americans to surrender it to Great Britain.
As English reviews and quarterlies exercised ten thousand times as much influence on English public opinion as on American, and not even Barrows and Nixon pretend that they issued one edition commending Oregon for their English readers, so that they would insist on holding it, and a different one condemning it to deceive their American readers into surrendering it, it would appear evident to ordinary minds that even if their articles had been printed before Whitman's ride, their effect would have been to cause England to be willing to surrender Oregon, rather than go to war for what appeared of so little value.
But what sort of a historical conscience can a writer have, who, like Barrows, not only advances the preposterous theory that American opinion was misled about the value of Oregon "prior to Whitman's arrival on the Potomac," by articles in British reviews and quarterlies; but, finding absolutely nothing of any importance about Oregon in any such publications, prior to 1843, nothing which even his phenomenal ability in misquoting can make even seem to furnish the least support to his theory, deliberately uses for proof that the English publications had deceived our Government and people "up to the time Whitman arrived on the Potomac" (i, e., late in March, or more likely about the middle of April, 1843), such garbled extracts as these, from articles published three months, nine months, two years and three months, four years and three months, and twenty-four years and three months after the time "up to which" they had so succeeded in deceiving our people and statesmen?--for the article from the London Examiner (from which he quotes only fourteen words, with no intimation of its date), was not published till July 24, 1847, and (on p. 196) he quotes thirty-two words from a long article in the Westminster Review (and refrains from giving any information as to its date), which was not published till July, 1867--and had no more connection with the Oregon Question than it had with the Schleswig-Holstein Question, or the Afghanistan Question, or the Transvaal Question, or the Soudan Question.
Dr. Nixon, seeing the absurdity of thus asserting that articles published in English reviews and magazines influenced public opinion here before their publication, coolly changes the date for the London and Foreign Review article from its true date, January, 1844, to "as late as 1840," and that of the London Examiner article
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from July 24, 184:7, to ... "in 1843." (Cf. his "How Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon," p. 47.)
As we have seen, he set out to write that book with the idea that "he himself was authority" for its facts (Cf. the first page of its Preface), and therefore doubtless he deemed it entirely proper that when any real facts obstinately persisted in being irreconcilable with his theories, he, being "himself authority for his facts," had the right to change dates--or anything else--so as to make the kind of "facts" for which "he himself" was willing to be "authority."
The result is that his book is as grotesquely unhistorical as anything ever printed, and to one who knows the true history of the acquisition of Oregon, and the facts about the character and unimportance of Marcus Whitman's life, it is as laughable as a comic almanac.
The article from the British and Foreign Review is fair from the British standpoint, and instead of being designed to deceive Americans about Oregon and so induce them to surrender it to Great Britain, was designed to secure arbitration of the boundary dispute.
The London Examiner article (from which both Barrows and Nixon make the same outrageous misquotation of only fourteen words) I will notice in connection with the origin of the treaty of 1846.
Eeturning now to the official record of the negotiations in House 6x. Doe. No. 2, we find that on July 12, 1845, Mr. James Buchanan, Secretary of State, reopened the Oregon negotiation with Mr. Bichard Pakenham in a long statement beginning: "The undersigned, Secretary of State of the United States, now proceeds to resume the negotiation on the Oregon question, at the point where it was left by his predecessor.
"The British plenipotentiary, in his note to Mr. Calhoun of the 12th September last, 'that as the American plenipotentiary declines the proposal offered on the part of Great Britain, he will have the goodness to state what arrangements he is, on the part of the United States, prepared to propose for an equitable adjustment of the question; and more especially that he will have the goodness to define the nature and extent of the claims which the United States may have to other portions of the territory to which allusion is made in the concluding part of his statement, as it is obvious that no arrangement can be made with respect to a part of the territory in dispute while a claim is reserved to any portion of the remainder.'" This sentence is conclusive proof that Mr. Calhoun had never offered 49 degrees or any other line for a boundary.
After strong argument in favor of the validity of our title to all of Oregon (containing, however, nothing new), (on p. 169) he says that "While the President holds these ideas as to the validity of
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our title " (i. e., to the whole of Oregon), "he finds himself embarrassed by the fact that his predecessors in office have not insisted on the whole of Oregon, but have "uniformly proceeded upon the principle of compromise in all their negotiations. . . .
"In view of these facts, the President has determined to pursue the present negotiation to its conclusion upon the principle of compromise in which it commenced, and to make one more effort to adjust this long-pending controversy. In this determination he trusts that the British Government will recognize his sincere and anxious desire to cultivate the most friendly relations between the two countries, and .to manifest to the world that he is actuated by a spirit of moderation. He has, therefore, instructed the undersigned again to propose to the Government of Great Britain that the Oregon territory shall be divided between the two countries by the 49th parallel of north latitude from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific ocean, offering at the same time to make free to Great Britain any port or ports on Vancouver's Island, south of this parallel, which the British Government may desire."
To this, on July 29, 1845, Mr. Pakenham replied with a long argument as to the claims of the two nations to the Oregon country, and then without referring to the proposition made in Mr. Buchanan's letter of July 12, to his Government for instructions (as it was expected by both Governments that he would do, if not willing himself to accept it), he peremptorily rejected it, in the following language: "After this exposition of the view entertained by the British Government respecting the relative value and importance of the British and American claims, the American plenipotentiary will not be surprised to hear that the undersigned does not feel at liberty to accept the proposal offered by the American plenipotentiary for the settlement of the question. . . . The undersigned, therefore, trusts that the American plenipotentiary will be prepared to offer some further proposal for the settlement of the Oregon question more consistent with fairness and equity, and with the reasonable expectations of the British Government, as defined in the statement marked D, which the undersigned had the honour to present to the American plenipotentiary at the early part of the present negotiation."
To this, on August 30, 1845, Mr. Buchanan replied with a long and vigorous letter, contravening Mr. Pakenham's arguments as to the claims of the British Government to any part of Oregon, , and stating that though convinced of the validity of our title to the whole territory, the President, out of respect for the actions of his predecessors in office, and from "a sincere and anxious desire to promote peace and harmony between the two countries," had so far yielded his own opinion as to again offer 49 degrees as the
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boundary line, and concluded as follows: (p. 192) "And how has this proposition been received by the British plenipotentiary? It has been rejected without even a reference to his own Government. Nay, more; the British plenipotentiary, to use his own language, 'trusts that the American plenipotentiary will be prepared to offer some further proposal for the settlement of the Oregon question more consistent with fairness and equity, and with the reasonable expectations of the British Government.'
"Under such circumstances, the undersigned is instructed by the President to say that he owes it to his own country, and a just appreciation of her title to the Oregon territory, to withdraw the proposition to the British Government which had been made under his direction; and it is hereby accordingly withdrawn.
"In taking this necessary step, the President still cherishes the hope that this long-pending controversy may yet be finally adjusted in such a manner as not to disturb the peace or interrupt the harmony now so happily subsisting between the two nations.
"The undersigned avails himself, etc.
"JAMES BUCHANAN. "Right Hon. Richard Pakenham, etc., etc."
This proved a very embarrassing condition of affairs for the British Foreign Office, which had expected that Mr. Pakenham would have referred to it for instructions any proposition he might receive for a boundary to Oregon; and though not disposed to disgrace Mr. Pakenham by a recall, it did censure him, as witness the following:
"Mr. McLane to Mr. Buchanan.
"London, Oct. 3, 1845.
"I received on the 29th ult. your dispatch No. 9, dated the 13th of September, transmitting a copy of your last note (30th of August, 1845) to Mr. Pakenham, relative to the Oregon question.
"On the day following I was invited by Lord Aberdeen . . . to an interview at his house in Argyll street, which I granted accordingly. The object of the interview, as I had anticipated, related exclusively to the posture in which the negotiations between the two Governments had been placed by your note of the 30th August to Mr. Pakenham, and the withdrawal of the proposition which the President had previously directed.
"Lord Aberdeen not only lamented but censured the rejection of our proposition by Mr. Pakenham, without referring it to his Government. He stated that if Mr. Pakenham had communicated the American proposition to the Government here, as he was expected to have done, he, Lord Aberdeen, would have taken it up as the
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basis of his action, and entertained little doubt that he would have been enabled to propose modifications which might ultimately have resulted in an adjustment mutually satisfactory to both Governments.
"It was quite obvious to me that Lord Aberdeen had become convinced in his own mind, though in what way I do not pretend to conjecture, that the terms which it was his intention ultimately to propose or assent to would be accepted by the President, and that on this account he particularly regretted the interruption in the negotiation without affording an opportunity for that purpose.
"Hon. James Buchanan, "LOUIS McLANE' "Secretary of State."
On page 34 of Sen. Ex. Doc. 489 (which was not made public till after the ratification of the treaty of 1846; when, on August 7, 1846, the injunction of secrecy was removed by unanimous vote of the Senate), Mr. Buchanan wrote to Mr. McLane, on November 5, 1845, concerning the withdrawal of the offer of 49 degrees as follows:
"The President thus took his ground, from which he will not depart. If the British Government have any new proposition to submit it must proceed from them voluntarily, and without any previous invitation or assurance on our part; and then such a proposition will be respectfully considered by the Government of the United States.
"This is the posture on which the negotiation now stands; and unless in the meantime it should be changed by some action on the part of the British Government, the President intends to lay the whole subject before Congress for their consideration."
Accordingly in his first Annual Message, December 2, 1845, the President devoted much space to Oregon, briefly summarizing the history of our negotiations with Great Britain on the Oregon boundary, and transmitting with the message the documents relating to the negotiations under President Tyler's and his own administration, which are in House Ex. Doc. No. 2 and Sen. Ex. Doc. No. 1, 29th Cong., 1st Sess.
Then he continued: "All attempts at compromise having failed, it becomes the duty of Congress to consider what measures it may be proper to adopt for the security and protection of our citizens now inhabiting, or who may hereafter inhabit, Oregon, and for the maintenance of our just title to that territory. In adopting measures for this purpose, care should be taken that nothing be done to violate the stipulations of the convention of 1827, which is still in force. The faith of treaties in their letter and spirit has ever been, and, I trust, will ever be, scrupulously observed by the United
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States. Under that convention a year's notice is required to be given by either party to the otter before the joint occupancy shall terminate, and before either can rightfully assert or exercise exclusive jurisdiction over any portion of the territory. This notice it would, in my judgment, be proper to give; and I recommend that provision be made by law for giving it accordingly, and terminating, in this manner, the convention of the 6th of August, 1827.
"It will become proper for Congress to determine what legislation they can, in the meantime, adopt, without violating this convention."
He then recommends, as things that may properly be done without violating the convention:
1st. "The extension of our laws over American citizens in Oregon, to the same extent as the Act of Parliament of July 2, 1821, had extended British laws over British subjects in Oregon.
2nd. "That provision be made for establishing an Indian agency and such sub-agencies as may be deemed necessary beyond the Rocky Mountains.
3rd. "That a suitable number of stockades and block-house forts be erected along the usual route between our frontier settlements on the Missouri and the Rocky Mountains; and that an adequate force of mounted riflemen be raised to guard and protect them on their journey.
4th. "That a monthly mail to Oregon be established." And it continued as follows: "It is submitted to the wisdom of Congress to determine whether, at their present session, and until after the expiration of the year's notice, any other measures may be adopted, consistently with the convention of 1827, for the security of our rights, and the government and protection of our citizens in Oregon. That it will ultimately be wise and proper to make liberal grants of land to the patriotic pioneers, who, amidst privations and dangers, lead the way through savage tribes inhabiting the vast wilderness intervening between our frontier settlements and Oregon, and who cultivate and are ready to defend the soil, I am fully satisfied. To doubt whether they will obtain such grants as soon as the convention between the United States and Great Britain shall have ceased to exist would be to doubt the justice of Congress; but pending the year's notice it is worthy of consideration whether a stipulation to this effect may be made consistently with the spirit of that convention.
"The recommendations which I have made as to the best manner of securing our rights in Oregon are submitted to Congress with great deference. Should they, in their wisdom, devise any other mode better calculated to accomplish the same object, it shall meet with my hearty concurrence.
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"At the end of the year's notice, should Congress think it proper to make provision for giving that notice, we shall have reached a period when the national rights in Oregon must either be abandoned or firmly established. That they can not be abandoned without a sacrifice of both national honor and interest is too clear to admit of doubt."
There were speedily introduced in Congress a joint resolution authorizing the President to give the twelve months' notice requisite to terminate the treaty of 1827, and bills "to organize and arm the militia of Oregon," "to organize a territorial government for Oregon," "to establish a line of stockade and block-house forts on the route from the frontier settlements of Missouri to the territory of Oregon," and "to protect the rights of American citizens in the territory of Oregon until the termination of the joint occupancy of the same."
On these various measures such a flood of oratory was let loose as rarely has been heard in Congress, no less than 98 Representatives and 34 Senators speaking on them, notwithstanding all the excitement about the beginning of the war with Mexico, on April 24, 1846, and the introduction and passage of the measures needful for carrying on that contest.
In all the scores of thousands of pages of official reports of debates in Congress from the beginning of our national existence to this day, there is little matter that is more drearily uninteresting than the six or seven hundred thousand words of this debate-- threshing over as it does only the same old straw of our title to Oregon, and the records of our negotiations with Great Britain upon it, and of our duties under the treaties of 181S and 1827, from which all the grain had been threshed years before, especially in the great debates of 1824-5, 1828-9, 1842-3, and in the numerous reports of committees to the House and Senate.
None of the bills were enacted into law, but the joint resolution for the abrogation of the treaty of 1827 passed the House by 163 to 54, and, after long debate and amendments making it more conciliatory in tone, and authorizing the President to give the notice at "his discretion," it passed the Senate by 42 to 10, and was approved by President Polk, April 27, 1846. The notice was given on April 28, 1846, and inclosed in a dispatch of same date from Mr. Buchanan to Mr. McLane, by whom it was delivered to Lord Aberdeen on May 21, 1846, and by him acknowledged in a letter to Mr. McLane, dated May 22, 1846, announcing that "In conformity with its tenor, Her Majesty's Government will consider the convention of the 6th of August, 1827, abrogated accordingly from the 21st of May, 1847." (Cf. Sen. Ex. Doc. No. 489, pp. 46-8 and 50.)
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But, already, on May 18,1846, Lord Aberdeen had instructed Mr. Pakenhana to reopen negotiations at Washington and offer us the line suggested first by Mr. Huskisson, the British plenipotentiary, in 1826; and repeatedly suggested by Edward Everett, in November and December, 1843; April, 1844; and February, 1845; and proposed in the London Examiner, April 25, 1845; and the Edinburgh Review of July, 1845; as follows: "You will accordingly propose to the American Secretary of State that the line of demarcation should be continued along the 49th parallel, from the Rocky Mountains to the sea coast, and from thence, in a southerly direction, through the center of King George's Sound and the Straits of Juan de Fuca, to the Pacific Ocean, leaving the whole of Vancouver's Island, with, its ports and harbors, in the possession of Great Britain." (Cf. Berlin Arbitration, p. 52.)
Our Government had been informed by the dispatch of Mr. McLane to Mr. Buchanan, dated London, April 17, 1846, that the British Government "Would take no further step towards renewing the negotiation until after Congress had finally acted upon the question of notice." (Cf. Berlin Arbitration, p. 49.)
How speedily the Earl of Aberdeen directed this resumption of negotiations only two days after being informally notified of the action of Congress on the question of notice, and without waiting for the formal official notification of that action, appears from the following extract from a long dispatch of Mr. McLane to Mr. Buchanan, dated London, May 18, 1846:
"I received late in the day, on the 15th inst. (Friday), your despatch number twenty-seven, dated the 28th of April, 1846; transmitting a notice for the abrogation of the convention of the 6th of August, 1827. ... I have now to acquaint you that, after the receipt of your despatches on the 15th inst. by the 'Caledonia,' I had a lengthened conference with Lord Aberdeen; on which occasion the resumption of the negotiation for an amicable settlement of the Oregon question, and the nature of the proposition he contemplated submitting for that purpose, formed the subject of a full and free conversation. I have now to state that instructions will be transmitted to Mr. Pakenham by the steamer of tomorrow, to submit a new and further proposition on the part of this Government for a partition of the territory in dispute. . . . 'It must not escape observation, that during the preceding administration of our Government the extension of the line on the 49th parallel to the Strait of Fuca, as now proposed by Lord Aberdeen, was actually suggested by my immediate predecessor' (Edw. Everett), as one he thought his Government might accept." (Cf. Sen. Ex. Doc. 489, 29th Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 17-19.)
(For Everett's repeated suggestions of the line via Straits of
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Fuca Cf. Everett to Upshur, Nov. 14, 1843, Berlin Arbitration, p. 30; Everett to Upshur, Dec. 2, 1843, Id. p. 31; Everett to Aberdeen, Nov. 30, 1843, Id. p. 32; Everett to Nelson, April 1, 1844, Id. p. 33; Everett to Calhoun, Feb. 28, 1845, Id. p. 35.)
President Polk, desiring to shift the responsibility for abandoning 54 deg. 40 min. from his own shoulders to the Senate, on June 10, 1846, sent a message to the Senate beginning as follows: "To the Senate of the United States.
"I lay before the Senate a proposal, in the form of a convention, presented to the Secretary of State on the 6th inst. by the Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Her Britannic Majesty, for the adjustment of the Oregon question, together with a protocol of this proceeding. I submit this proposal to the consideration of the Senate, and request their advice as to the action which, in their judgment, it may be proper to take in reference to it."
Then, after setting forth such reasons as he was willing to avow for taking this course, instead of the usual one of signing a treaty and sending it to the Senate for its ratification (with or without amendment), or its rejection, he continues:
"My opinions and my action on the Oregon question were fully made known to Congress in my annual message of the 2d of December last; and the opinions therein expressed remain unchanged.
"Should the Senate, by the constitutional majority required for the ratification of treaties, advise the acceptance of this proposition, or advise it with such modifications as they may, upon full deliberation, deem proper, I shall conform my action to their advice. Should the Senate, however, decline by such constitutional majority to give such advice, or to express an opinion on the subject, I shall consider it my duty to reject the offer."
After three days' debate, and the rejection of an amendment limiting the right of the Hudson's Bay Co. to navigate the Columbia to the year 1863, on June 12, 1846, by a vote of 38 to 12, the Senate advised the President to accept the proposal of the British Government, and, accordingly, on June 15, 1846, Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Pakenham signed the treaty, and on June 16, 1846, the President sent it to the Senate with a brief message, and after another three days' debate, and the rejection by a vote of 5 yeas to 42 nays of a substitute which Senator E. Hannegan of Indiana offered insisting on our right to the territory to 54 degrees and 40 minutes, on June 18, 1846, by a vote of 42 yeas to 14 nays the Senate ratified the treaty, exactly as it was written in England. (Cf. Doc. 489, pp. 1-9.)
The first article of the treaty fixed the northern boundary of the Oregon territory at 49 degrees north latitude to the middle
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of the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver's Island, and thence southerly through the middle of said channel and of Fuca's Strait to the Pacific.
The second article grants free navigation of the Columbia to the Hudson's Bay Co. and to British subjects trading with it. This right the introduction of steamboat lines and the building of railroads long since made worthless.
The third and fourth articles are as follows:
"Art. 3. In the future appropriation of the territory south of the 49th parallel of north latitude, as provided in the first article of this treaty, the possessory rights of the Hudson's Bay Co. and of all British subjects who may be already in the occupation of land or other property lawfully acquired within the said territory, shall be respected.
"Art. 4. The farms, lands and other property of every description belonging to the Puget's Sound Agricultural Company, on the north side of the Columbia River, shall be confirmed to the said company. In case, however, the situation of those farms and lands should be considered by the United States to be of public and political importance, and the United States Government should signify a desire to obtain possession of the whole or of any part thereof, the property so required shall be transferred to the said Government, at a proper valuation to be agreed upon between the parties."
Although of the 55 Senators voting on the ratification of this treaty 32 were Democrats and 23 Whigs, it was saved from defeat only by the Whig vote, for the yeas included 23 Whigs and only 18 Democrats, and all the 14 nays were Democrats, being the irreconcilable "fifty-four forty or fight" ones.
Benton, who had so long led the "Oregon Jingo" band, seems never to have been carried away by the "fifty-four forty or fight" craze, "He was one of the very few leading Demorcats who, throughout the Presidential campaign, and at all times, was not only satisfied with 49 degrees, but also contended that the American claim to 54 degrees and 40 minutes was wholly unfounded, and the merest pretense." (Cf. "Life and Times of James K. Polk," by John Eobert Irelan, M. D., p. 214.)
Benton himself (in "Thirty Years' View," Vol. II., p. 661) says "Mr. Calhoun showed a manly spirit in proposing the line of 49, as the dominant party in the United States, and the one to which he belonged, were then in a high state of exultation for the boundary of 54 deg. 40 min., and the Presidential canvass, on the Democratic side, was raging upon that cry. The Baltimore Presidential convention had followed a pernicious practice, of recent invention, in laying down a platform of principles on which the can-
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vass was to be conducted, and 54 deg. 40 inin. for the northern boundary of Oregon had been made a canon of political faith, from which there was to be no departure except upon the penalty of political damnation. Mr. Calhoun had braved this penalty, and in doing so had acted up to his public and responsible duty. . . Mr. Buchanan, the new Secretary of State, did me the honor to consult me. I answered him promptly and frankly that I held 49 deg. to be the right line; and that, if the administration made a treaty upon that line, I should support it. This was early in April. . . ."
(Id. p. 677) "The issue was an instructive commentary upon the improvidence of these party platforms, adopted for an electioneering campaign, made into a party watch-word, often fraught with great mischief to the country, and often founded in ignorance or disregard of the public welfare. This Oregon platform was eminently of that character. It was a party platform for the campaign; its architects knew but little of the geography of the northwest coast, or of its diplomatic history. They had never heard of the line of the Treaty of Utrecht, and denied its existence; they had never heard of the multiplied offers of our Government to settle upon that line, and treated the offer now as a novelty and an abandonment of our rights; they had never heard that their 54 deg. 40 min. was no line on the continent, but only a point on an island on the coast, fixed by the Emperor Paul as the southern limit of the charter granted by him to the Russian Fur Company; had never heard of Frazer's River and New Caledonia, which lay between Oregon and their indisputable line, and ignored the existence of that river and province. The pride of consistency made them adhere to these errors; and a desire to destroy Mr. Benton for not joining in the hurrahs for the "whole of Oregon, or none," and for the "immediate annexation of Texas without regard to consequences," lent additional force to the attacks upon Mm. The conduct of the Whigs was patriotic in preferring their country to their party--in preventing a war with Great Britain--and in saving the administration from itself and its friends."
Not only did the Whigs in the Senate save the treaty from defeat, but the course of the Whig papers in allaying the war spirit, and of the Whig leaders, and especially their greatest leader, Daniel Webster, in working constantly for peace during the stormy 10½ months between Pakenham's brusque rejection on July 29,
1845. of Folk's offer through Secretary of State Buchanan of the line of 49 degrees, and the tender by Lord Aberdeen, on June 10,
1846. of the treaty which was ratified, was eminently sane and truly patriotic.
•George T. Curtis, in his "Life of Webster," after speaking of
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the clamor for war on the Oregon question by extremists of both countries, says (p. 257): "On the 7th of November," (1845) "therefore he went into Panueil Hall" (Boston) "and spoke on the subject of Oregon. . . After expressing the opinion that it was a fit subject for compromise and amicable adjustment, and that such an adjustment could be made in a manner perfectly consistent with the honor and the rights of all parties, he indicated the 49th parallel as a natural arrangement, the two countries keeping abreast on that line to the Pacific Ocean."
(P. 258) After giving some extracts from the speech Mr. Gurtis goes on: "A letter which now lies before me, written from Copenhagen on the 24th of December, 1845, informed Mr. Webster that his speech had been translated and published in full, not only in Denmark and in Sweden, but in nearly every language on the Continent. It was considered, out of England, as having settled the question of peace or war.
"But the diplomatic crisis was not passed until some time afterward. On the assembling of Congress in December (1845), President Polk, in his annual message, after having recited the history of the negotiations, and submitting the correspondence, recommended that notice be given for terminating the joint occupation of the territory under the convention of 1827, and that the laws of the United States be extended over our citizens in that country.
"From this point Mr. Webster's influence in the settlement of this controversy involves a public and a private history which must be taken together.
"At about the middle of December he received a private letter from James McGregor, Esq., of Glasgow, a distinguished member of Parliament. In his answer to this letter Mr. Webster suggested the offer by the British Government of the 49th parallel as the boundary. His letter was shown to Lord Aberdeen and the suggestion was acted upon. . ."
The story of this letter to Mr. McGregor and its results is told in some detail in an article in the London Examiner for July 24, 1847; and with that and a brief comment on the atrocious way that Rev. William Barrows in his "Oregon," and Dr. 0. W. Mxon in his "How Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon," have used fourteen words from it to convey to their readers an idea totally opposed to the purpose of the writer of the article, we will conclude the discussion of the adoption of the Treaty of 1846.
On p. 192 of his "Oregon," Barrows (without giving the date of the article--but printing it in such connection that all his readers would suppose it was published before Whitman's ride), says: "The London Examiner was quite pronounced, if not petulant, that
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the ignorant Americans did not give up a country equal in area to England eight times. 'The whole territory in dispute is not worth twenty thousand pounds to either power.'" As usual Barrows blunders on the amount of "territory in dispute," which was not all of the Oregon territory, but only that part north and west of the Columbia, which was about equal in area to England one instead of eight times--Great Britain having offered in 1824 and again in 1827, to make that the line which Barrows himself knows and states on pp. 73 and 75, and again on p. 285.
This, however, is a trivial matter compared with (1) his attempt to create the impression that it was printed prior to Whitman's ride, and (2) his deliberate and most shameless perversion of the article which he pretends to quote. It is quoted verbatim (omitting its title) in the "Works of Daniel Webster," Vol. I., Introduction, p. 149.
From the first paragraph of the article itself it is plainly apparent that it was published, not before Whitman's ride, but after the treaty of 1846 had settled the title to Oregon, and the whole article shows that it was written not to depreciate Oregon, nor to find fault with "ignorant Americans," but to do honor to Mr. McGregor for having helped to cause England to yield to our claim of 49 degrees, and is copied by the editor of Webster's works (who was his life-long friend, Edward Everett), to do honor to Webster, and there is nothing in it which even suggests petulance, and not a word about "ignorant Americans," nor even the least intimation that the Americans ought to have yielded up any part of Oregon south of 49 degrees. Its date, I found after ten years' search, was July 24, 1847.
That the reader may see how shamelessly the reverend historian perverts its meaning, I will copy it in full:
"THE OREGON TERRITORY."
"In reply to the question put to him in reference to the present war establishments of this country and the propriety of applying the principle of arbitration in the settlement of disputes arising among nations, Mr. McGregor, one of the candidates for the representation of Glasgow, took occasion to narrate the following very important and remarkable anecdote in connection with our recent, but now happily terminated differences with the United States on the Oregon question. At the time our ambassador at Washington, the Hon. Mr. Pakenham, refused to negotiate on the 49th parallel of north latitude as the basis of a treaty" (this was July 29th, 1845), "and when by that refusal the danger of a rupture between Great Britain and America became really imminent, Mr. Daniel Webster, formerly Secretary of State to the American Government,
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wrote a letter to Mr. McGregor, in which he strongly deprecated Mr. Pakenham's conduct, which, if persisted in and adopted at home, would to a certainty embroil the two countries, and suggested an equitable compromise, taking the 49th parallel as the basis of an adjustment. Mr. McGregor agreeing entirely with Mr. Webster in the propriety of a mutual giving and taking to avoid a rupture, and the more especially as the whole territory in dispute was not worth £20,000 (pounds) to either power, while the preparations alone for a war would cost a great deal more before the parties could come into actual conflict, communicated the contents of Mr. Webster's letter to Lord John Russell, who at the time was living in the neighborhood of Edinburgh, and in reply received a letter from Lord John, in which he stated his entire accordance with the proposal recommended by Mr. Webster and approved by Mr. McGregor, and requested the latter, as he (Lord John) was not in a position to do it himself, to intimate his opinion to Lord Aberdeen. Mr. McGregor, through Lord Canning, Under Secretary of the Foreign Department, did so, and the result was that the first packet that left England carried out to America the proposition in accordance with the communication already referred to on which the treaty of Oregon was happily concluded. Mr. McGregor may therefore be very justly said to have been the instrument of preserving the peace of the world, and for that alone, if he had no other service to appeal to, he has justly earned the applause and admiration not of his own countrymen only, but of all men who desire to promote the best interests of the human race." To this the editor of "Webster's Works" adds: "Without wishing to detract in any degree from the praise due to Mr. McGregor for his judicious and liberal conduct on this occasion, the main result is exclusively due to his American correspondent."
And from this article, congratulating England for having yielded to the American claim of 49 degrees, Barrows has the face to extract the single sentence, "The whole territory in dispute is not worth 20,000 pounds to either power," and preface it with the barefaced falsehood "The London Examiner was quite pronounced, if not petulant, that the ignorant Americans did not give up a country equal in area to England eight times," and to print it in such a connection as would lead every reader to believe that it was printed prior to March, 1843.
Could there be any lower depth of infamy in misquotation than this?
Dr. O. W. Nixon, on p. 47 of his "How Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon," among the misquotations which he prints as samples of the deceptive work of his (imaginary) "literary bureau" prints this outrageous misquotation as follows:
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"The London Examiner in 1843 wonders that 'Ignorant Americans' were 'disposed to quarrel over a country, the whole in dispute not heing worth to either party twenty thousand pounds.'"
Of course, to one who assures his readers, as Dr. Nixon does, that he himself "Is authority for the facts in this book," it seems entirely proper not only to antedate this article four years, but to insert expressions in it directly contradictory to the whole tenor of the article, so that, as he quotes it, it may support his ridiculous theory of a "literary bureau" to deceive Americans about the value of Oregon, instead of demolishing that theory, as it would do if properly dated and quoted as written.
There were two ambiguities in the Treaty of 1846.
First. There was no definition of the extent of the "possessory rights" of the Hudson's Bay Co., or of the "farms, lands and other property" belonging to the Puget's Sound Agricultural Co.
This resulted in a long contention as to their value, after the United States appropriated these possessions.
Various propositions were made for the payment to the two companies of the value of their claims, and after the subject had been a source of irritation between the two Governments for many years, on July 1, 1863, a treaty was made between Great Britain and the United States providing for the submission of the question to trial before two commissioners, one from each nation, with power to choose an umpire, if needful, their decision to be final and binding.
The taking of evidence began at Victoria, Vancouver Island, August 5, 1865, and ended August 24, 1867. Witnesses were examined in British Columbia, at several places in Oregon, and also in Washington Territory, in Montreal, New York City, Detroit, Mich., Washington, D. C., Cincinnati, O., New Orleans, La., Goldsboro, N. C., the Torrugas, and London, England. The United States called more than 100 witnesses, including almost every prominent army officer that had ever been stationed in Oregon, among them Generals U. S. Grant, Phil Sheridan, Gordon Granger, Alfred Pleasanton, Rufus Ingalls, James A. Hardie, C. G. Augur, David H. Vinton, and Benjamin Alvord, also Admiral Charles Wilkes and Commander Gibson of the United States Navy.
Finally the Commissioners, on September 10, 1869, awarded the Hudson's Bay Co. $450,000, and the Puget Sound Agricultural Company |200,000, which was promptly paid by our Government.
Second. There was no name given (as there should have been) to the "channel which separates Vancouver's Island from the continent," and a few years later, when the Oregon territory had become considerably settled, and the gold discoveries of the Frazer's
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River country and the Kootenay region had drawn many settlers to British Columbia, the British cast covetous eyes on the Island of San Juan, and sought to make it appear that the "channel" meant in the treaty was the Rosario Strait, south and east of San Juan Island, and not what was plainly meant in the Treaty, the Canal de Haro, north and west of San Juan Island.
After long contention about this matter--in 1859 serious enough to somewhat endanger the peaceful relations between the two nations--on May 8, 1871, by Article 34 of the Treaty of Washington, it was agreed by Great Britain and the United States to submit the question to the arbitration of the Emperor William of Germany, his decision to be final and without appeal.
The famous historian, George Bancroft, then past 70 years of age, and a life-long Democrat, was at once nominated by the Republican President, Grant, and unanimously confirmed by an overwhelmingly Republican Senate, as our Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Berlin, distinctly on the ground that he was the one man best qualified, from his full knowledge of every phase of the question, to present our case successfully, as he did. His "Memorial" begins as follows: "The treaty of which the interpretation is referred to Your Majesty's arbitrament was ratified more than a quarter of a century ago. Of the sixteen members of the British Cabinet which framed and presented it for the acceptance of the United States, Sir Robert Peel, Lord Aberdeen and all the rest but one are no more. The British Minister at Washington who signed it is dead. Of American statesmen concerned in it, the Minister at London, the President and Vice-President, the Secretary of State, and every one of the President's constitutional advisers, except one, have passed away. I alone remain, and after finishing the three-score years and ten that are the days of our years, am selected by my country to uphold its rights.
"Six times the United States had received the offer of arbitration on their northwestern boundary, and six times had refused to refer a point where the importance was so great and the right so clear. But when consent was obtained to bring the question before Your Majesty, my country resolved to change its policy, and in the heart of Europe, before a tribunal from which no judgment but a just one can emanate, to explain the solid foundation of our demand, and the principles of moderation and justice by which we have been governed.
"The case involves questions of geography, of history, and of international law; and we are glad that the discussion should be held in the midst of a nation whose sons have been trained in those sciences by a Carl Ritter, a Ranke, and a Heffter.
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"The long-continued controversy has tended to estrange from each other two of the greatest powers in the world, and even menaced, though remotely, a conflict in arms. A want of confidence in the disposition of the British Government has been sinking into the mind of the States of the Union now rising on the Pacific, and might grow into a popular conviction, not easy to be eradicated. After having secured union and tranquility to the people of Germany, and attained a happiness never before allotted by Providence to German warrior or statesman, will it not be to Your Majesty a crowning glory now, in the fullness of years and in the quiet which follows the mighty struggles of a most eventful life, to reconcile the two younger branches of the great Germanic family?" (Cf. Berlin Arbitration, p. 3.)
On October 21, 1872, the Emperor decided as follows:
"Have decreed the following award: Most in accordance with the true interpretations of the Treaty concluded on the 15th of June, 1846, between the Governments of Her Britannic Majesty and the United States of America, is the claim of the Government of the United States that the boundary line between the territories of Her Britannic Majesty and the United States should be drawn through the Haro Channel."
Thus ended the contest for Oregon, 80 years, 5 months, 10 days after the dauntless courage and skillful seamanship of Captain Robert Gray, in the staunch little ship Columbia, entering the mouth of the "Great River of the West," completed the great maritime discoveries which, beginning with Columbus' voyage just three centuries before, had determined the form and discovered the great river systems of North America, and gave us our first claim to the then unnamed region drained by "Columbia's River," as Gray named it.
This contest, the longest, the most interesting, the most remarkable, and the most successful we have ever waged for territory, gave us possession, without war and without any purchase price (except the |650,000 paid the Hudson's Bay Co. and the Puget Sound Agricultural Co. for their "possessory rights"), of about 292,000 square miles, or nearly one-twelfth of our area on this continent, being all for which we had. ever really contended; for the "fifty-four forty or fight" cry was the most transparent "bait for gudgeons" ever put into a national platform to humbug the ignorant voters, and so secure the election of men who had no idea, when they should have won the election, of doing anything else but compromising on 49 degrees.
Considering the flimsy nature of the Spanish title based on mere discovery and the papal bull of Pope Alexander VI., and the "Treaty of Partition of the Ocean" of June 7, 1494, between Spain
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and Portugal, not followed, for more than two and a half centuries, by the least attempt at any permanent occupation, or even any land exploration, compared with the British claim from overland exploration of Alex. McKenzie, in 1793, and occupancy at various points inland and on the coast from 1806 onwards, of the region north of 49 degrees (where no American had ever even attempted to establish trading posts or form settlements), and the claim of Great Britain to that region by contiguity--how could we ever have justified ourselves in going to war for the region between 49 degrees and 54 deg. and 40 min., which, before Folk's election, we had four times offered to yield to Great Britain, viz.: in the negotiations of 1818 and 1823-24 and 1826-27, and in Secretary Upshur's instructions to Everett, on October 9, 1843?
There can be no doubt that the line of the Treaty of 1846 would have been gladly accepted by any administration at Washington from the date of the Louisiana Purchase onward till it was accomplished, 58 years and 7 months from the beginning of our diplomatic struggle for Oregon, in the "Instructions to our Commissioners to negotiate the Treaty of Ghent," to consent to no claim of Great Britain south of 49 degrees, and to insist on including Astoria in any arrangement for mutual restoration of places captured during the war.
As the whole official story of the contest about the San Juan Island question is told in a single easily accessible volume, "The Berlin Arbitration," it is unnecessary to write more about it here.
Before leaving the governmental action on the Oregon acquisition it seems proper to state compactly together the most authoritative portion of the absolutely indisputable evidence in support of the position that according to the very terms of the Treaty of 1818 and its renewal in 1827 no trading posts established or settlements made by the Hudson's Bay Co. or anything else done by Great Britain could strengthen their claim, or weaken ours, to any part of the Oregon territory while those treaties remained in force.
That Benton and the "Oregon jingoes" who followed his lead constantly claimed that Great Britain could thus strengthen her claims and weaken ours, and that she was constantly doing so through operations of the Hudson's Bay Co., is true, and it is also true that an essential postulate of the Whitman Legend is that Great Britain could thus strengthen her claim and was doing it through the Hudson's Bay Co., but we shall find on examination of the text of the treaties that this was impossible, and a careful study of the original text of all the negotiations with Great Britain on the Oregon boundary will show that not only did our Presidents and diplomats who managed those negotiations hold that nothing
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that Great Britain could do while those treaties remained in force could in the least degree strengthen her claims to any part of Oregon, but also that every English diplomat who negotiated on the Oregon boundary tacitly admitted the correctness of this view, as no one of them ever alleged that anything done after October 20, 1818, on sea or land, had in the least degree strengthened the British claim to any part of Oregon, and, as we shall see, Lord Aberdeen, head of the British Foreign Office from September 2, 1841, to July 6, 1846, explicitly assented to the correctness of the American contention that the posts of the Hudson's Bay Co. and the settlements of discharged employes of that company in Oregon could not in any way strengthen the British claim to any part of it.
Let us examine first the treaties themselves.
The third article of the Treaty of 1818 was the only one relating to the Oregon country (though the name Oregon was not commonly applied to it till about ten years later), and it reads as follows:
"Art 3. It is agreed that any country that may be claimed by either party on the northwest coast of America, westward of the Stony Mountains, shall, together with its harbors, bays, and creeks, and the navigation of all rivers within the same, be free and open for the term of ten years from the date of the signature of the present convention, to the vessels, citizens, and subjects, of the two powers; it being well understood that this agreement is not to be construed to the prejudice of any claim which either of the two high contracting parties may have to any part of the said country, nor shall it be taken to affect the claims of any other power or state to any part of the said country; the only object of the high contracting parties, in that respect, being to prevent disputes and differences among themselves."
The Convention of August 9, 1827, reads as follows:
"Art. 1. All the provisions of the third article of the convention concluded between the United States of America and His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, on the 20th of October, 1818, shall be, and they are hereby, further indefinitely extended and continued in force, in the same manner as if all the provisions of the said article were herein specifically recited.
"Art. 2. It shall be competent, however, to either of the contracting parties, in case either should think fit, at any time after the 20th of October, 1828, on giving due notice of twelve months to the other contracting party, to annul and abrogate this convention; and it shall, in such case, be accordingly entirely annulled and abrogated, after the expiration of the said terms of notice.
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"Art. 3. Nothing contained in this convention, or in the third article of the convention of the 20th of October, 1818, hereby continued in force, shall be construed to impair, or in any manner affect, the claims which either of the contracting parties may have to any part of the country westward of the Stony or Rocky Mountains."
The significance of the change in the language of article 3 in this convention, when compared with that of the convention of 1818, will be seen on reading the extracts from John Q. Adams' speeches, with which this chapter concludes.
Albert Gallatin, one of the ablest of all American diplomats, who had negotiated with Richard Rush the first treaty of Joint Policy (signed October 20, 1818), and who, as our plenipotentiary, conducted the negotiations in 1826 and 1827 which resulted in the extension of that joint occupancy by a treaty signed August 6, 1827, wrote a letter dated London, November 25, 1826, to Henry Clay, Secretary of State, describing the progress made in the negotiations up to that time. It is No. 29, of Doc. 458, Vol. VI., American State Papers, Foreign Relations (pp. 652-55), and on p. 653, stating his discussions with the British plenipotentiaries, he writes: "I observed, as relating to the settlements of the British in that quarter:
"1st. That those made subsequent to the convention of 1818 added nothing to the claims of Great Britain, the rights of both parties having been expressly reserved by that convention, which allowed for a joint occupancy."
This statement of the purpose and effect of the joint occupancy treaty was so obviously correct that the British plenipotentiaries --though strenuously contending for the British claims based on alleged priority of discovery and occupation, and traversing as best they could all of our claims to exclusive right based on priority of discovery, and exploration, and occupation, did not attempt to make any reply to this, nor set up any claim based on any settlements made, or new trading posts established subsequent to the convention of 1818.
July 12, 1845, Mr. Buchanan, Secretary of State, wrote to Mr. McLane, our Minister at London, giving a brief historical sketch of the propositions for the adjustment of the Oregon boundary (Cf. Sen. Ex. Doc. 489, 29th Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 27-32), and on p. 29 he said: "The next notice of this question will be found under the administration of General Jackson. It is contained in the instructions of Mr. Livingston to Mr. Van Buren, dated on the 1st of August, 1831, with a copy of which, so far as they relate to this subject, you shall be furnished. From this you will perceive that General Jackson's administration, so far from objecting to the
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occupation of the whole territory by the British in common with ourselves, were entirely satisfied to suffer this state of things to continue. These instructions do not proceed upon the principle of claiming the whole territory for the United States, although they express a strong opinion in favor of our right." After stating that the term of joint occupation was indefinitely continued for the purpose, in the language of the treaty, "of giving time to mature measures which shall have for their object a more definite settlement of the claims of each party to the said territory," they go on to remark that "this subject, then, is open for discussion; and until the rights of the parties can be settled by negotiation, ours can suffer nothing by delay."
So far as I have been able to discover this is all that has ever been printed of these instructions to Van Buren, but this little is sufficient to show that Jackson, and Livingston--and presumably Van Buren--held to the same opinion as Gallatin had expressed four years before.
This position was also vigorously asserted by Bdw. Everett, our Minister to England in Tyler's administration, and assented to by Lord Aberdeen, in November and December, 1843, as follows: "Berlin Arbitration" (p. 29), "No. 18, Mr. Everett to Mr. Upshur (private and confidential), London, November 14, 1843. . . . Lord Aberdeen assented also to my remark that the numerous stations which the Hudson's Bay Co. had established south of the 49th degree of north latitude since the year 1818, though they might and unquestionably would embarrass the British Government in reference to that company, and through them in reference to public opinion, ought not to prejudice the claims of the United States. This I think a very important point to be kept firmly in view."
(Ibid. p. 32.) "No. 19, Mr. Everett to Mr. Upshur (confidential), London, December 2, 1843. . . I spoke with considerable earnestness in reprobation of the conduct of the Hudson's Bay Co. in multiplying and pushing their posts far to the south of the Columbia, and said I trusted that the Government would not allow itself to be embarrassed by this circumstance. Fair warning had been given to the company in 1818 that no settlements after that date should prejudice the rights of either party. He (i. e., Lord Aberdeen) said he did not consider the existence of those settlements as a very serious matter, but the navigation of the Columbia was a serious one."
Precisely similar ground was taken by Hon. John C. Calhoun in his negotiations with Richard Pakenham.
Doc. 2, of Sen. Ex. Doc., Vol. I., 29th Cong., 1st Sess., is President Polk's Message, date December 2, 1845, with accompanying
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documents; and one of these documents is Exhibit "A," presented to Mr. Pakenham at their third conference (September 2, 1844), by Secretary Calhoun, and in it (p. 152), Calhoun says: "Another negotiation was commenced in 1826, which terminated in renewing on the 6th of August, 1827, the third article of the convention of 1818, prior to its expiration. It provided for the indefinite extension of all the provisions of the third article of that convention, and also that either party might terminate it at any time it might think fit, by giving one year's notice after October 20, 1828. It took, however, the precaution of providing expressly that 'nothing contained in this convention or in the third article of the convention of the 20th of October, 1818, hereby continued in force, shall l)e construed to impair or in any manner affect the claims which either of the contracting parties may have to any part of the country westward of the Stony or Rocky Mountains.' That convention is now in force, and has continued to be so since the expiration of that of 1818. By the joint operation of the two, our right to be considered the party in possession, and all the claims we had to the territory, while in our possession, are preserved in as full vigor as they were at the date of its restoration in 1818, without being affected or impaired by the settlements since made by the subjects of Great Britain. Time, indeed, so far from impairing our claims, has greatly strengthened them since that period." (The italics in this extract are Oalhoun's.)
This view of the case Mr. Pakenham did not pretend to attempt to controvert, though traversing all of Mr. Calhoun's other positions. Similarly, Tyler's administration having been succeeded by Folk's, and Oalhoun having been succeeded by James Buchanan as Secretary of State, and the negotiation of the Oregon question with Pakenham continuing, on July 12, 1845, Buchanan addressed a communication to Pakenham--covering pp. 163-169 of this Doc. No. 2--in which he again offered the line of 49 degrees to the Pacific; and, on p. 168, he says: "The title of the United States to the entire region drained by the Columbia River and its branches was perfect and complete before the date of the treaties of joint occupation of October, 1818, and August, 1827, and under the express provisions of those treaties, this title, whilst they endure, can never be impaired by any act of the British Government. In the language of the treaty of 1827, 'nothing contained in this convention, or in the third article of the convention .of 1818 thereby continued in force, shall be construed to impair, or in any manner affect the claims which either of the contracting parties may have to any part of the country westward of the Stony or Rocky Mountains.
"Had not the convention contained this plain provision, which has prevented the respective parties from looking with jealousy on
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the occupation of portions of the territory by the citizens and subjects of each other its chief object, which was to preserve peace and prevent collisions in those distant regions, would have been entirely defeated. It is then manifest that neither the grant of this territory for a term of years, made by Great Britain to the Hudson's Bay Co. in December, 1821, nor the extension of this grant in 1838, nor the settlements, trading posts and forts which have been established by that company under it, can in the slightest degree strengthen the British or impair the American title to any portion of the Oregon Territory. The British claim is no stronger than it was on the 20th of October, 1818, the date of the first convention."
This contention as to the effect of the treaty of joint occupancy was so indisputably correct that Pakenham, though replying vigorously and at length to Buchanan's other positions, and declining the offer of 49 degrees as the boundary to the Pacific--though at the hazard of war--did not even attempt any reply to this.
Greenhow, who was for years Librarian and Translator of the State Department, and therefore thoroughly acquainted with the views of successive Presidents and Secretaries of State, in his "History of Oregon and California" (1845 Ed., p. 354), asserts the same view of the force of the treaty of 1827, as follows: "The advantages of the convention were, in 1827, as in 1818, nearly equal to both nations; but the difference was, on the whole, in favor of the United States. The British might, indeed, derive more profit from the fur trade as carried on by their organized Hudson's Bay Co. than the Americans could expect to obtain by the individual efforts of their citizens; but the value of that trade is much less than is generally supposed; no settlements could be formed in the territory beyond the Bocky Mountains, by which it could acquire a population, while the arrangement subsisted; and the facilities for occupying the territory at a future period, when its occupation by the United States should become expedient, would undoubtedly have increased in a far greater ratio on their part than on that of Great Britain."
George Bancroft (in Berlin Arbitration, p. 139), says: "In that same year, while everything was still fresh in memory, Mr. Buchanan had recorded his interpretation of the treaty in an instruction to Mr. Bancroft, the American Minister at London, who, as his colleague in Washington, had taken part in its negotiation and knew every step of its progress."
Id. (p. 126) Bancroft says: "As to settlements properly so-called, there could be none; for under the British treaty with Spain, and the treaty of non-occupation between the United States and Great Britain, impliedly at least, there could be no grants or holdings of territory by individuals or companies of either party."
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If any man that ever lived knew what was the true meaning and intent of these articles in the treaties of 1818 and 1827, it was John Quincy Adams, who, as Secretary of State under Monroe, wrote the treaty of 1818, and as President in 1827 directed every step of the negotiations which resulted in the treaty of August 6, 1827, and with two extracts from his speeches on Oregon in the House of Representatives on February 9 and April 13, 1846, I will close this exposition of governmental action to secure Oregon. February 9,1846 (Cf. Cong. Globe, p. 340), Mr. Adams said: "And here I beg leave to repeat an idea that I have already expressed before, and that is, that there is a very great misapprehension of the real merits of this case, founded on the misnomer which declares that convention to be a convention of joint occupation. Sir, it is not a convention of joint occupation. It is a convention of non-occupation--a promise on the part of both parties that neither of the parties will occupy the territory for an indefinite space; first for ten years; then until the notice shall be given from one party to the other that the convention shall be terminated" ... (p. 341, 3d col.) "All these titles are imperfect.
"Discovery is therefore no title of itself. The discovery of a river and of land is no title of itself. Exploration conies next. That gives something more of a title. Continuity and contiguity both concur to give a title. They are none of them perfect in themselves. There is nothing complete in the way of title hut actual possession; and that is the only thing we now want, to have a perfect, clear, indisputable and undoubted right to the territory of Oregon. It is possession--it is occupation, if you please. Well, sir, we have made two conventions with Great Britain--one in 1818, one in 1827--by which we have not agreed to anything like joint occupation. Sir, in the days of Sir John Falstaff, so facetiously alluded to by the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Starkweather) the other day, he says 'a captain;' these villains will make the word 'captain' as odious as the word 'occupy,' which was an excellent good word before it was ill-sorted. Now this 'occupation' is as 'odious' in some parts as Sir John Falstaff said the word 'occupy' was in his time after it had been ill-sorted. There is no occupation now. Occupation is the thing we want. Occupation is what I aim for putting an end to that convention for; because it says we shall not occupy that territory."
April 13, 1846 (Cf. Cong. Globe, p. 664), Mr. Adams said: "But in that convention of 1818 it was merely stipulated that we should not make settlements, that is, that we should not occupy, and that same stipulation was binding upon Great Britain as well as upon us. It was not only a total misnomer, but a total perversion of the
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whole question of right, to call that convention a convention of joint occupation--it was a convention of non-occupation.
"And, in making this convention with Great Britain we stipulated formally to reserve the right of 'any third Power'--that is to say the right of Spain, for no other Power but Spain had any claim --and it was reserved in the convention of 1818, as Mr. Adams showed when he was up before" (i. e., on February 9, 1846, p. 342, col. 1, W. I. M.) "from the words of the convention itself. The year after that Spain ceded to us all her right upon the whole of that coast from 42 degrees north. Those rights, then, which we had reserved, by compact with Great Britain in the convention of 1818, were all transferred to us; and when in the year 1827 we came to renew that convention for an indefinite period, it was made in the same form as the convention of 1818, leaving out the reservation and thereby, on the part of Great Britain as well as ourselves, admitting that the United States were entitled to all the claims and pretensions of Spain." Then after discussing the claim of Great Britain that under the Nootka Sound convention she was entitled to at least equal rights with the United States in Oregon he says (p. 664, 2d col.) : "Now in the Nootka Sound convention, the substance of which was the same as our conventions with Great Britain of the year 1818 and the year 1827, the word 'settlement' was included; that was to say, that Spain agreed that the subjects of Great Britain should have the right of navigation, and trading with the savages, and of settlement." . . . (3d col.) "I say that if Great Britain was entitled to make settlements by the treaty of Nootka Sound, in 1790, she has forfeited and abandoned that right by the omission of the word in the conventions of 1818 and 1827. In 1818 the convention was made between us and Great Britain. Great Britain claimed at that time the privileges of the Nootka Sound convention; but she did not choose to claim the right to make settlements for the limited time of ten years. That convention itself excluded it; it left out that word 'settlements,' copying the Nootka Sound convention in all other respects, leaving the country open for navigation, commerce, and trade with the savages. Why did they leave out that word 'settlement'? There was no reason assigned for leaving it out; but if it had been included, we should have had the right of settlement as well as they. They forfeited it; they renounced it by omitting the word 'settlement' in the convention of 1818, and it continues to be omitted to this day. In 1827, when the convention came to be renewed, an indefinite time was assigned instead of ten years; and there again the reservation of rights of any third Power whose rights were reserved before, and the word 'settlement' continued to be omitted: Great Britain having no right under that convention to make any settlements whatever."