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From this it appears that the northwestern limits of the Louisiana purchase can no longer be a matter of discussion; but although the United States certainly did not purchase Oregon as a part of Louisiana, it is no less certain that that great area west of the Rocky Mountains fell into their hands as a direct consequence of such purchase.
The second addition to the territory of the United States consisted of the Floridas, purchased from Spain on February 22, 1819. From the date of the Louisiana purchase, in 1803, the territory bounded by the Mississippi River on the west, the Perdido on the east, the parallel of 31° on the north, and the Gulf on the south had been in dispute between the two countries. During a part of this time it had been practically in the possession of the United States.
The clause quoted above from the treaty of San Ildefonso was interpreted by Jefferson and others in this country to mean the inclusion of West Florida. Their reasoning was this: In 1800 Spain owned West Florida; West Florida was once a part of Louisiana; in 1800 Spain receded Louisiana to France; she therefore receded West Florida with it.
Spain, however, held that this was merely a treaty of recession, by which she gave back to France what France had given to her in 1762. Since in 1762 she did not own West Florida, she could not, therefore, have receded it to France.
As to this matter, Marbois, the French plenipotentiary, was very positive in stating that West Florida formed no part of the Louisiana purchase, and that the southeastern boundary of the latter was the river Iberville and Lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain.
Immediately after the Louisiana purchase the claim was made by the United States that it included most of West Florida, and also a part of the Texas coast, but this was not entertained by Spain. In 1810 a revolution was effected in that part of West Florida lying west of Pearl River, and application was made for annexation to the United States. The governor of Louisiana, under instructions from Washington, at once took possession, but immediately a counter revolution was organized against him, which was put down by force of arms, and in 1812 this part of West Florida was annexed to the State of Louisiana. Meantime, the insurrection spread eastward in West Florida, and, although put down by Spanish authorities, the movement received the sympathy of the United States, which passed a secret act authorizing the President, under certain specified contingencies, to use force in taking possession of the Floridas. In 1812 that portion of West Florida lying between Perdido and Pearl rivers was annexed to the Territory of Mississippi.
This purchase settled these conflicting claims.
The following is the clause in the treaty with Spain ceding the Floridas which defines the cession:
Art. 2. His Catholic Majesty cedes to the United States, in full property and sovereignty, all the territories which belong to him, situated to the eastward of the Mississippi, known by the name of East and West Florida, the adjacent islands dependent upon said province, etc.
A further article in this treaty defines the boundary between the United States and the Spanish possessions in the Southwest 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 that river, to the thirty-second degree of latitude, thence by a line due north to the degree of latitude where it strikes the Rio Roxo of Nachitoches, or Red River; then following the course of the Rio Roxo to the degree of longitude 100 west from London, or about 23° west of Washington; then crossing the said Rio Roxo and running thence, by a line due north, to the river Arkansas; thence, following the course of 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 latitude 42, and thence 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 rivers Roxo and Arkansas throughout the extent of the said boundary on their respective banks shall be common to the respective inhabitants of both nations.
The next acquisition of territory was that of the Republic of Texas, which was admitted as a State on December 29, 1845. The area which Texas brought into the Union was limited as follows, as defined by the Republic of Texas, December 19, 1836: :
Beginning at the mouth of the Sabine River and running west along the Gulf of Mexico three leagues from land to the mouth of the Rio Grande, thence up the principal stream of that river to its source, thence due north to the forty-second degree of north latitude, thence along the boundary line as defined in the treaty between Spain and the United States to the beginning.
FIRST MEXICAN CESSION.
In 1848 a further addition was made to our territory by the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. This added to the country the area of California, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico, while the Gadsden purchase, which was effected in 1853, added the remainder of Arizona and another part of New Mexico.
The treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo was concluded February 2, 1848, and proclaimed July 4, 1848. The clauses in it defining our acquisition of territory are as follows:
ARTICLE V. The boundary line between the two Republics shall commence in the Gulf of Mexico, three leagues from land, opposite the mouth of the Rio Grande,
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otherwise called the Rio Bravo del Norte, or opposite the mouth of its deepest branch, if it should have more than one branch emptying into the sea; from thence up the middle of that river, following the deepest channel where it has more than one, to the point where it strikes the southern boundary of New Mexico; thence westwardly along the whole southern boundary of New Mexico (which runs north of the town called Paso) to its western termination; thence northward along the western line of New Mexico until it intersects the first branch of the river Gila (or if it should not intersect any branch of that river, then to the point on the said line nearest to such branch, and thence in a direct line to the same); thence down the middle of the said branch and of the said river until it empties into the Rio Colorado; thence across the Rio Colorado, following the division line between Upper and Lower California, to the Pacific Ocean.
The southern and western limits of New Mexico, mentioned in this article, are those laid down in the map entitled “Map of the United Mexican States as organized and defined by various acts of the Congress of said Republic, and constructed according to the best authorities. Revised edition. Published at New York in 1847, by J. Disturnell;" of which map a copy is added to this treaty, bearing the signatures and seals of the undersigned plenipotentiaries. And in order to preclude all difficulty in tracing upon the ground the limit separating Upper from Lower California, it is agreed that the said limit shall consist of a straight line drawn from the middle of the Rio Gila, where it unites with the Colorado, to a point on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, distant one marine league due south of the southernmost point of the port of San Diego, according to the plan of said port made in the year 1782 by Don Juan Pautoja, second sailing master of the spanish fleet, and published at Madrid in the year 1802, in the atlas to the voyage of the schooners Sutil and Mexicana; of which plan a copy is hereunto added, signed, and sealed by the respective plenipotentiaries.
Much difficulty followed in the interpretation of this treaty. A joint commission of the two Governments was formed, consisting of a commissioner and a chief surveyor from each. They were instructed that any decision upon the interpretation of the treaty must be agreed to unanimously. The most important question coming before the commission for decision concerned the location and extent of the south boundary of New Mexico. Here, unfortunately, the Disturnell map left room for broad difference in opinion. The town called Paso is incorrectly located upon the map to the extent of nearly half a degree of latitude, or, in other words, the parallels of latitude are misplaced to this extent, so that if the position of the south boundary of New Mexico be accepted with reference to the nearest parallel of latitude, it is half a degree farther north than it would be if its position were measured from the town of Paso.
In the absence of the chief surveyor the other three members of the commission, including Mr. J. R. Bartlett, United States commissioner, agreed to accept the position of the south boundary of New Mexico as shown by the projection lines of the map; to run a line in this latitude 3 degrees west from the Rio Grande, and from the end of this line to run north until a branch of Gila River was intersected. In accordance with this decision a durable monument was erected on the bank of the Rio Grande, in latitude 32° 22', and the line was run a degree and a balf to the westward. At this time the chief surveyor arrived, learned what had been done, and made a vigorous protest against this interpretation of the map. This protest, backed by Major Emory, the chief astronomer, caused a sudden stoppage of the work of running the line and the repudiation of the agreement by the United States Government. Negotiations followed, but no agreement was reached until in 1853 the whole matter was taken out of court by the Gadsden purchase.
Subsequently, on December 30, 1853, a second purchase was made of Mexico, consisting of the strip of land lying south of the Gila River in New Mexico and Arizona. The boundaries as established by this, known as the Gadsden purchase, were as follows:
ARTICLE I. The Mexican Republic agrees to designate the following as her true limits with the United States for the future: Retaining the same dividing line between the two Californias as already defined and established according to the fifth article of the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, the limits between the two Republics shall be as follows: Beginning in the Gulf of Mexico, three leagues from land, opposite the mouth of the Rio Grande, as provided in the fifth article of the treaty of GuadalupeHidalgo; thence, as defined in the said article, up the middle of that river to the point where the parallel of 31° 47' north latitude crosses the same; thence due west one hundred miles; thence south to the parallel of 31° 20' north latitude; thence along the said parallel of 31° 20' to the one hundred and eleventh meridian of longitude west of Greenwich; thence in a straight line to a point on the Colorado River twenty English miles below the junction of the Gila and Colorado rivers; thence up the middle of the said river Colorado until it intersects the present line between the United States and Mexico.
In the year following a commission was appointed for surveying and marking this line, under the United States commissioner, Maj. W. H. Emory. The line was run and marked in the year 1855, and the report was transmitted in the following year.
As settlement increased in the territory which this line traverses, the fact was developed that the line was insufficiently marked. Some of the monuments had disappeared, and in many places there were great extents of country in which no monuments had ever been placed, so that the necessity became apparent for rerunning and marking of the line. For this purpose a commission was created in 1891, the United States members of which were Col. J. W. Barlow and Capt. D. D. Gaillard, Corps of Engineers, U. S. A., and Mr. A. T. Mosman, of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey. Under this commission the line was recovered from the original monuments as far as possible, and between these monuments was rerun and fully and durably marked. The report, with maps, profiles, and illustrations of the monuments, was published in 1899.
Alaska was purchased from Russia, the treaty of purchase having been signed on March 30, 1867, and proclaimed June 20, 1867. The
boundaries of the territory are described in the accompanying quotation from the treaty:
Commencing from the southernmost point of the island called Prince of Wales Island, which point lies in the parallel of 54° 40'' north latitude, and between the one hundred and thirty-first and one hundred and thirty-third degree of west longitụde (meridian, of Greenwich), the said line shall ascend to the north along the channel called Portland Channel as far as the point of the continent where it strikes the fifty-sixth degree of north latitude; from this last-mentioned point the line of demarcation shall follow the summit of the mountains situated parallel to the coast as far as the point of intersection of the one hundred and forty-first degree of west longitude (of the same meridian); and, finally, from the said point of intersection the said meridian line of the one hundred and forty-first degree in its prolongation as far as the Frozen Ocean.
IV. With reference to the line of demarcation laid down in the preceding article it is understood
1st. That the island called Prince of Wales Island shall belong wholly to Russia (now, by this cession, to the United States).
2d. That whenever the summit of the mountains which extend in a direction parallel to the coast from the fifty-sixth degree of north latitude to the point of intersection of the one hundred and forty-first degree of west longitude shall prove to be at the distance of more than ten marine leagues from the ocean, the limit between the British Possessions and the line of coast which is to belong to Russia, as above mentioned (that is to say, the limit to the possessions ceded by this convention), shall be formed by a line parallel to the winding of the coast, and which shall never exceed the distance of ten marine leagues therefrom.
The western limit within which the territories and dominion conveyed are contained passes through a point in Behring's Straits on the parallel of 65° 30' north latitude at its intersection by the meridian which passes midway between the islands of Krusenstern or Ignalook and the island of Ratmanoff or Noonerbook, and proceeds due north without limitation into the same Frozen Ocean.
The same western limit, beginning at the same initial point, proceeds thence in a course nearly southwest through Behring's Straits and Behring's Sea, so as to pass midway between the northwest point of the island of Saint Lawrence and the southeast point of Cape Choukotski to the meridian of one hundred and seventy-two west longitude; thence from the intersection of that meridian in a south westerly direction, so as to pass midway between the island of Attore and the Copper Island of the Kormandorski couplet or group, in the North Pacific Ocean, to the meridian of one hundred and ninety-three degrees west longitude, so as to include in the territory conveyed the whole of the Aleutian Islands west of that meridian.
The consideration paid for Alaska was $7,200,000 in gold.
There is no possibility of a misinterpretation of the language of the above treaty concerning the portion of the boundary running along the one hundred and forty-first meridian from the shores of the Arctic Ocean to the neighborhood of the coast near Mount St. Elias, and in recent years points upon this boundary, notably at the crossing of the Yukon, have been established by the United States and Canadian surveyors by astronomic means and marked.
Concerning the remaining portion of the boundary, however, from the neighborhood of Mount St. Elias southeastward to the mouth of Portland Canal, question has been raised in recent years by Canadian authorities,