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WEBSTER-ASABURTON TREATY WITH GREAT BRITAIN, 1846.
ARTICLE I. From the point on the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude, where the boundary laid down in existing treaties and conventions between the United States and Great Britain terminates, the line of boundary between the territories of the United States and those of Her Britannic Majesty shall be continued westward along the said forty-ninth parallel of north latitude to the middle of the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver's Island, and thence southerly through the middle of the said channel, and of Fuca's Straits to the Pacific Ocean: Provided, however, That the navigation of the whole of the said channel and straits south of the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude remain free and open to both parties.
ARTICLE II. From the point at which the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude shall be found to intersect the great northern branch of the Columbia River, the navigation of the said branch shall be free and open to the Hudson's Bay Company, and to all British subjects trading with the same, to the point where the said branch meets the main stream of the Columbia, and thence down the said main stream to the ocean, with free access into and through the said river or rivers, it being understood that all the usual portages along the line thus described shall, in like manner, be free and open. In navigating the said river, or rivers, British subjects, with their goods and produce, shall be treated on the same footing as citizens of the United States; it being, however, always understood that nothing in this article shall be construed as preventing, or intending to prevent, the Government of the United States from making any regulations respecting the navigation of the said river or rivers not inconsistent with the present treaty.
The above treaty extended the line westward from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific along the forty-ninth parallel of latitude. This settled the northern boundary with the exception of the islands and passages in the straits of Georgia and of Juan de Fuca, the English claiming that the boundary should properly run through the Rosario Strait, the most eastern passage, while the United States claimed that it should naturally follow the Strait of Haro.
This matter was finally settled by a reference to the Emperor of Germany as an arbitrator, who decided it in favor of the United States on the 21st of October, 1872, thus finally disposing of our boundary with Great Britain.
ADDITIONS TO THE TERRITORY OF THE UNITED STATES.
The entire basin of the Mississippi, with much of the coast region of the Gulf of Mexico, which was subsequently known as the territory of Louisiana, was originally claimed by France by virtue of discovery and, occupation.
In 1712 France made a grant to Antoine de Crozat of the exclusive right to the trade of this region. As this grant makes the first, and, indeed, the only statement of the limits of this vast region, as they were understood by France, a portion of it is here introduced.
We have by these presents signed with our hand, authorized, and do authorize the said Sieur Crozat to carry on exclusively the trade in all the territories by us possessed, and bounded by New Mexico and by those of the English in Carolina, all the establishments, ports, harbors, rivers, and especially the port and harbor of Dauphin Island, formerly called Massacre Island, the river St. Louis, formerly called the Mississippi, from the seashore to the Illinois, together with the river St. Philip, formerly called the Missouries River, and the St. Jerome, formerly called the Wabash (the Ohio), with all the countries, territories, lakes in the land, and the rivers emptying directly or indirectly into that part of the river St. Louis. All the said territories, countries, rivers, streams, and islands we will to be and remain comprised under the name of the government of Louisiana, which shall be dependent on the General Government of New France and remain subordinate to it, and we will, moreover, that all the territories which we possess on this side of the Illinois be united, as far as need be, to the General Government of New France and form a part thereof, reserving to ourself, nevertheless, to increase, if we judge proper, the extent of the government of the said country of Louisiana.
From this it appears that Louisiana was regarded by France as comprising the drainage basin of the Mississippi at least as far north as the mouth of the Illinois, with those of all its branches which enter it below this point, including the Missouri, but excluding that portion in the southwest claimed by Spain. It is, moreover, certain that the area now comprised in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho was not included.
Crozat surrendered this grant in 1717.
On November 3, 1762, France ceded this region to Spain, defining it only as the province of Louisiana. A few months later, on February 10, 1763, by the treaty of peace between Great Britain, France, and Spain, the western boundary of the former's possessions in the New World was placed in the center of the Mississippi River, thus reducing the area of Louisiana by the portion east of the Mississippi River. Thus by these two treaties France disposed of her possessions in North America, dividing them between Great Britain and Spain. The limit set between their possessions was given as the Mississippi, the river Iberville, and lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain.
Great Britain then proceeded to subdivide her share of this territory. The area south of a meridian through the mouth of Yazoo River and west of Apalachicola River she called West Florida; the region east thereof and south of the present north boundary of Florida received the name of East Florida. For the following twenty years, i. e., up to 1783, these boundaries and names remained undisturbed. In the latter year, by the treaty of peace with the United States at the close of the Revolution, Great Britain reduced the area of West Florida by the cession of that portion north of the thirty-first parallel to the United States. In the same year she gave East Florida and what remained of West Florida to Spain, and in Spain's possession they remained until ceded to the United States in 1819.
Meantime, in 1800, by the secret treaty of San Ildefonso, Spain promised to return Louisiana to France. In the language of the treaty, she pledged herself to return to France the “Province of Louisiana, with the same extent it now has in the hands of Spain, and
that it had when Spain possessed it, and such as it should be after the treaties subsequently entered into between Spain and other States."
Immediately after this transfer became known, on November 30, 1802, measures were set on foot by President Jefferson for securing in some way free access to the sea by way of the Mississippi River. Circumstances favored this negotiation. Bonaparte was at that time in almost daily expectation of a declaration of war by Great Britain, in which case the first act of the latter would be to seize the mouth of the Mississippi, and with it the province of Louisiana. Under these circumstances Bonaparte offered to sell the province to the United States, and the offer was promptly accepted. The consideration was 60,000,000 francs and the assumption by the United States of the “French spoliation claims,” which were estimated to amount to $3,750,000.
The treaty of cession, which bears date April 30, 1803, describes the territory only as being the same as ceded by Spain to France by the treaty of San Ildefonso.
From this it appears that the territory sold to the United States comprised that part of the drainage basin of the Mississippi which lies west of the course of the river, with the exception of such parts as were then held by Spain. The wånt of precise definition of limits in the treaty was not objected to by the American commissioners, as they probably foresaw that this very indefiniteness might prove of service to the United States in future negotiations with other powers. In fact, the claim of the United States to the area now comprised in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho in the negotiations with Great Britain regarding the northwestern boundary was ostensibly based not only upon prior occupation and upon purchase from Spain, but also upon the alleged fact that this area formed part of the Louisiana purchase. That this claim was baseless is shown not only by what has been already detailed regarding the limits of the purchase, but also by the direct testimony of the French plenipotentiary, M. Barbé Marbois. Some twenty years after the purchase he published a work upon Louisiana, in which he detailed at some length the negotiations which preceded the purchase, and, referring to this question, said: “The shores of the western ocean were certainly not comprised in the cession, but already the United States are established there."
There is also contained in this work a map of the country between the Mississippi and the Pacific, on which the extent of Louisiana to the westward is indicated by a line drawn on the one hundred and tenth meridian, which is not far from the western limit of the drainage basin of the Mississippi in Wyoming and Montana. That part of the country now comprised in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, which, it has been claimed, formed part of the purchase, bears the following legend: “Territories and countries occupied by the United States, following the treaty of cession of Louisiana."