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Prepared in the Office of the U. S. Coast and (icodctic Snrvri/. Trcasiiri/ Department . 
Umtki) Statks and Kx(;i,isi[ T'ounpahy Claims. 

MAr^ No. 1, 



Thus we wish to retain, and 
the English Companies wish 
to acquire. — Count Sessdrode. 



A. B. (Harvard) 

Member of the Philadelphia Bar 

The American Philosophical Society 

The American Historical Association, etc. 

Author of "The Brooke Family of Whitchurch, Hampshire, England' 

"The Alabama Arbitration," etc. 


(First Edition, Cloth Binding) 

Read at the Annual Meeting of The Franklin Institute, January 15th, 1902. 
AND Reprinted from the "Journal of The Franklin Institlte" 
FOR March, 1902 


Press of Allen, Lane and Scott 




Copyright, 1902, by 



> CJL 



At the end of May, 1898, the United States and 
Great Britain agreed to appoint an Anglo-American 
Joint High Commission to consider and arrange 
upon a basis more favorable to both sides, such 
important problems as the regulations of the North 
Atlantic fisheries, commercial reciprocity, and the 
Behring Sea fishery question. Soon after, " For the 
first time a statement was presented by the British 
Government to the Government of the United States 
on the 1st of August, 1898, developing the fact that 
a difference of views existed respecting the pro- 
visions of the treaty of 1825" between the United 
States and the English Empire, concerning the 
meaning of the Alaska frontier, as defined in the 
Anglo-Russian treaty of 1825;^ and on August 23d 

;S the British Government clainK'd- that the eastern 

^ Tlie Alaskan Boundary, by the Hon. John W. Foster : T?ie National Geo- 

graphic Marjazine, November, 1899: Washington, page 45.3. Mr. Foster, 
the able author of this article, was Secretary of State, 1892-93, in tlie 
Harrison Adminstration, and has been from the beginning one of the 
United States members of the Joint High Commission. 

'^See map Xo. 1. In collecting maps on the subject of the Ala.«kan 
frontier, I have received kind aid from Mr. P. Lee Phillips, chief of the 
Map Division of the Library of Congress, and Mr. Tittman and Mr. 
Andrew Braid, of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey Otlice, 
at Washington, D. C. 


boundary of Alaska should run from the extremity 
of Prince of Wales Island at fifty-four degrees forty 
minutes, along the estuary marked on recent maps 
as Pearse Canal, up to the top of the Portland 
Canal, from there straight to the coast, and then 
along the mountains on the mainland nearest to 
the shore and across all the sinuosities of the sea 
that advance into the continent up to Mount Saint 

By the treaty negotiated at Saint Petersburg 
and signed there on Februar}'- 16/28, 1825,'* the 
Muscovite and the British Empires agreed in 
Articles III. and IV. of that treaty upon the fol- 
lowing divisional line between their respective 
North American possessions. 

" Article III. 

''The line of demarcation between the posses- 
sions of the High Contracting Parties upon the 
coast of the continent and the islands of America 
to the northwest, shall be drawn in the manner 
following : 

" Commencing from the southernmost point of 
the island called Prince of Wales Island, which 
point lies in the parallel of fifty-four degrees 
forty minutes north latitude, and between the one 

' 77je Alaskan Boundary, by the Hon. John W. Foster : The National 
Geographic Magazine, November, 1899: Washington, page 455. 

* Fur Seal ArhUraUon : Washington, Government Printing Office, 
1895 ; Volume IV., pages 42-43. 


hundred and thirty-first and the one hundred and 
thirty-third degree of west longitude (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 f(^l- 
low 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 lon- 
gitude (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 pro- 
longation as far as the Frozen Ocean, shall form 
the limit between the Russian and British Posses- 
sions on the continent of America to the north- 

" Article IV. 

''With reference to the line of demarcation laid 
down in the preceding Article, it is understood : 

'' First. That the island called Prince of AVales 
Island shall belong wholly to Russia. 

" Second. That, wherever the summit of the 
mountains which extend in a direction parallel to 
the coast, from the fifty-sixth degree of north lati- 
tude to the point of intersection of the one hun- 
dred 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 be- 
long to Russia, as above mentioned, shall be formed 
by a line parallel to the windings [_siniwsiiis] of the 
coast, and which shall never exceed the distance 
of ten marine leagues therefrom."^ 

* Owing to the importance of the French text, which the British 
Government in its printed argument in the Bering Sea Seal Fisheries 
Case {Fur Seal Arbitration, Volume IV., page 500) recognized as the 
official version, and the fact that French is the diplomatic language of 
the world, which was probably much more the case in 1825 than to-day, 
the French version is given here. 

" Article III. 

" La ligne de demarcation entre les possessions des Hautes Parties 
Contractantes sur la cote du continent et les lies de I'Amt^rique nord- 
ouest, sera tracee ainsi qu'il suit: 

" A partir du point le plus meridional de I'ile dite Prince of Wales 
lequel point se trouve sous le parallele du 54« degre 40 minutes de lati- 
tude nord, et entre le 131<^ et le ISS*^ degre de longitude ouest (meridien 
de Greenwich), la dite ligne remontera au nord le long de la passe dite 
Portland Channel, jusqu'au point de la terre ferme oCi elle atteint le 
56** degre de latitude nord ; de ce dernier point la ligne de demarcation 
suivra la crete des montagnes situees parallelement a la cote, jusqu'au 
point d'intersection du 14P degre de longitude ouest (mSme meridien), 
et, finalement, du dit point d'intersection, la meme ligne meridienne 
de 141^ degr6 formera, dans son prolongement jusqu'a, la Mer Glaciale ; 
la limite entre les possessions Russes et Britanniques sur le continent de 
I'Am^rique nord-ouest. 

" Article IV. 

" II est entendu, par rapport a la ligne de demarcation d^termin^e 
dans I'Article pr6c(''dent : 

" 1". Que I'ile dite Prince of Wales appartiendra toute entiere a la 

" 2°. Que partout ou la crete des montagnes qui s'etendent dans une 
direction parallele a, la cote depuis le 56" degr6 de latitude nord au 
point d'intersection du 141* degr6 de longitude ouest, se trouveroit il la 
distance de plus de 10 lieues marines de I'occ^'an, la limite entre les 
possessions Britanni(jues et la lisiere de cote mentionnee ci-dessus comme 
devant apj)artenir a la Russie, sera formee par une ligne parallele aux 
sinuosites de la cote, et (jui ne jjoura jamais en etre ^loignde que de 10 
lieues marines." 


The negotiations (hat resulted in tlie treaty of 
1825 were originated ))y Jin Ukase issued in 1821 by 
the Emperor Alexander the First, in w hich, in addi- 
tion to claiming exclusive jurisdiction for Russia in 
the waters of Behring Sea and a large part of the 
northern part of the Pacific Ocean, he extended also 
the territorial claims of Russia from the fifty-fifth de- 
gree, as claimed by the Ukase of 1799 issued Vjy the 
Emperor Paul, down to the fifty-first degree of north 
latitude. The United States and Great Britain both 
protested against the pretensions of sovereignty as- 
serted in the Ukase of 1821. In 1824 the United 
States and the Russian Governments signed a treaty 
in which, among other things, they agreed on the 
parallel of fifty-four degrees and forty minutes as 
the divisional line between their respective terri- 
torial claims : all below that line Russia agreed to 
leave to the United States to contest with Great 
Britain, and all above it the United- States consented 
to leave to Russia to dispute witli England. 

Meanwhile, the course of negotiations between 
Russia and England did not progress as smoothly ; 
but finally, in February 1825, nearly a year after the 
signing of the -Russo- American Treaty, the Russian 
and the English plenipotentiaries signed the treaty 
containing the two articles above quoted. l-'<»r more 
than half a century the British Emi)ire nevt-r eon- 
tested the interpretation openly proclaimed by both 
the Muscovite and the United States Governments 


that under those two Articles, first Russia and 
later — after the cession of Russian America or 
Alaska in 1867 to the American Union — the United 
States were entitled to a strip of territory (lisiere) 
on the mainland from the Portland Channel or 
Canal in the south up to Mount Saint Elias in the 
north so as to cut off absolutely the British poses- 
sions from access to the sea above the point of fift}?"- 
four degrees forty minutes. In August 1898, for the 
first time, the British Empire formally claimed at 
the Quebec Conference that the proper reading of 
those two articles entitled Canada to the upper part 
of most or all of the fiords between the Portland 
Canal and Mount Saint Elias.'' 

A review of the negotiations during the years 1822, 
1823, 1824 and 1825 between Count Nesselrode and 
M. de Poletica in behalf of Russia, and first of Sir 
Charles Bagot and afterwards of Mr. Stratford Can- 
ning, later Lord Stratford de Redclifie, for Great Brit- 
ain, shows clearly that the agreement finally reached 
as embodied in the treaty of 1825 was to exclude the 
British North American territory from all access to 
the sea above the point of fifty-four degrees fort}'' 
minutes. From the very inception of the negotia- 
tions, the Russians insisted upon the possession for 
Russia of a strip or lisihe on the mainland from the 
Portland Canal up to Mount Saint Elias expressly 

' TTie Alaskan Boundanj by tin; Hon. John W. Foster: The National 
Geographic Magazine, November, 1899, WaHliiiigton, page 453. 


to shut off England from access to the sea at all 
points north of the Portland Canal. Sir Charles 
Bagot, on behalf of England, fought strenuously to 
keep open a free access to the sea as far north aljove 
the line of fifty-four degrees forty niinutcs as pos- 
sible.^ First he proposed tliat the line of territorial 
demarcation between the two countries should i-un 
" through Chatham Strait to the head of Lynn 
Canal, thence northwest to the 140th degree of 
longitude west of Greenwich, and thence along that 
degree of longitude to the Polar Sea."* To this 
Count Nesselrode and M. de Poletica replied with 
a contre-projet in which they proposed that the 
frontier line, beginning at the southern end of 
Prince of Wales Island, should ascend the Port- 
land Canal up to the mountains, that then from 
that point it should follow the mountains parallel 
to the sinuosities of the coast up to the one hun- 
dred and thirty-ninth degree of longitude west 
from Greenwich, and then follow that degree of 
longitude to the north.^ 

At the next conference Sir Charles Bagot gave 
Count Nesselrode and M. de Poletica a written modi- 
fication of his first proposition. In this new pro- 
posal he first stated that the frontier that they de- 
manded would deprive Great Britain of sovereignty 

' See map No. 2. 

* Fur Seal Arbitration, Volume IV., page 424. 

^ jFar Seal ArhUration, Volume IV., page 427. 

J'nixtrdl in /he (>ffi<-i of Un' I'. S. (hast iind HkkIiIIi- Siirrii/. Tridxiir)/ Dijinrliiicnt. 
Sir C. I>a(. Ill's Tiikkk Pkoi-osicd Boindakiics, 1824. 

MAI^ No. 2. 


over all the mises and small bays tliat lie between 
the fifty-sixth degree and the fifty-fourth degree 
forty ^° minutes of latitude ; that owing to tlie prox- 
imity of these fiords and estuaries to the interior 
posts of the Hudson's Bay Company, they would 
be of essential importance to the commerce of that 
Company ; while on the other hand, the Russian 
American Company had posts neither on the main- 
land between those degrees of latitude, nor even on 
the neighboring islands. Sir Charles proposed that 
the line of separation should pass through "the mid- 
dle of the canal that separates Prince of Wales Island 
and Duke of York Island from all the islands situa- 
ted to the north of the said islands until it [the line] 
touches the mainland." Then advancing in the same 
direction to the east for ten marine leagues, the line 
should then ascend towards the north and north- 
west, at a distance of ten marine leagues from the 
shore, following the sinuosities of the coast up to 
the one hundred and fortieth degree of longitude 
west from Greenwich and then up to tlie north." 
At the next conference the Russian plenipoten- 
tiaries again insisted upon their original proposal 
that the frontier line should ascend the Portland 
Canal and then follow the mountains bordering 
the coast line. 

I ° In the American edition, Fur Seal Arbitration, Volume IV., page 428 
"45^ " is printed; this is probably a typographical error for "40'." 

II Fur Seal Arbitration, Volume IV., page 428. 


Sir Charles Bagot then brought forward a third 
boundary line that, passing up Duke of Clarence 
Sound and then running from west to east along the 
strait separating Prince of Wales Island and Duke 
of York Island to the north, should then advance 
to the north and the north-west in the way already 

But again the Russian diplomats insisted on their 
original proposition. On April 17th, 1824, Count 
Nesselrode addressed to Count Lieven, the Russian 
Ambassador at London, a long and exhaustive review 
of the -negotiations with Sir Charles Bagot, and in- 
structed Count Lieven to press the Russian views 
upon the English Cabinet. In that communication, 
after speaking of Russia's declaration at the begin- 
ning of the negotiations that she would not insist 
upon the claim to the territory down to the fifty- 
first degree put forward in the Ukase of 1821, and 
that she would be content to maintain the limits 
assigned to Russian America by the Ukase of 1799, 
he went on to say " that consequently the line of 
the fifty-fifth degree of north latitude, would con- 
stitute upon the south the frontier of the States 
of His Imperial Majesty, that upon the continent 
and towards the east, this frontier could run along 
the mountains that follow the sinuosities of the 
coast up to Mount Saint Elias, and that from that 

' * Pur Seal Arbitration, Volume IV., page 430. 


point up to the Arctic Ocean we would fix the 
limits of the respective possessions according to 
the line of the one hundred and fortiotli degree of 
longitude west from Greenwich. 

'' In order not to cut Prince of Wales Island, 
which according to this arrangement should Ijelong 
to Russia, we proposed to carry the southern frontier 
of our domains to the fifty-fourth degree fortieth 
minute of latitude and to make it reach the coast 
•of the continent at the Portland Canal whose mouth 
opening on the ocean is at the height of Prince of 
Wales Island and whose origin is in the lands be- 
tween the fifty-fifth degree and fifty-sixth degree 
•of latitude." 

Russia, by limitins; her demands to those set forth 
in the Ukase of 1799, simply defended claims against 
wdiich, for over twenty years, neither England nor 
any other power had over made a protest. England, 
•on the contrary, sought to establish her right to ter- 
ritory which she had thus passively recognized as 
Russian, and Avhich lay beyond any of her settle- 
ments. Count Nesselrode contrasted the policy of the 
two states in the pithy sentence: "Thus we wish to 
•.retain, and the English Companies wish to actpiire." 

The negotiators were thu> brought face to face 
with their rival claims. The Russians insisted, on 
the one hand, tliat they must have possession of a 
lisib^e or strip of territory on the mainland in order 
to support the Russian establishments on the islands 


and to prevent the Hudson's Bay Company from 
having access to the sea and forming posts and settle- 
ments upon the coast line opposite to the Russian 
Islands ; while Sir Charles Bagot maintained, on the 
other hand, that Great Britain must have such part 
of the coast and inlets north of fifty-four degrees 
forty minutes as would enable the English Com- 
panies and the settlements back from the coast to 
have free access to the fiords and estuaries opening 
into the ocean. 

After a few months, Mr, George Canning, the 
English Foreign Secretary, instructed Sir Charles 
Bagot to agree to the Portland Canal as part of the 
frontier line ; but with the reservation, first, that the 
eastern line of demarcation should be so defined as 
to guard against any possibility, owing to subsequent 
geographical discoveries, that it could be drawn at 
a greater distance from the coast than ten marine 
leagues, and second, that the harbor of Novo-Arch- 
angelsk (now Sitka) and the rivers and creeks on 
the continent should remain open forever to British 

During the course of the new negotiations be- 
tween Count Nesselrode and M. de Poletica in 
behalf of Russia, and of Sir Charles Bagot for 
England, the second of these two points was the 
main object of discussion. Sir Charles was unable 
to conclude a treaty witli the Russian diplomats, 
for the latter refused to agree to open forever the 


port of Novo-Archangelsk to British commerce. 
Neither were they willing to grant to the subjects 
of England the right forever to navigate and trade 
along the coast of the lisicre that it was proposed 
Russia should have. The British Ambassador, 
realizing that it was impossible for him to nego- 
tiate a treaty in accordance with his instructions, 
soon thereafter left Saint Petersburg. 

In the latter part of the year 1824, Great Britain 
appointed Mr. Stratford Canning, later Lord Strat- 
ford de Kedcliffe, one of the ablest of her diplomats, 
to continue the negotiations left unfinished between 
Sir Charles Bagot, and Count Nesselrode and M. de 
Poletica. When Canning took up the negotiations, 
Great Britain had receded from all contentions ex- 
cept as to the width of -the lisiere. In his instruc- 
tions he received power to arrange for a line of 
demarcation that should run along the crest of the 
mountains, except where the mountains were more 
than ten marine leagues from the shore, in which 
case the frontier should follow, at a distance of ten 
marine leagues inland, the sinuosities of the shore. 
AMth these new instructions, Stratford Canning was 
able to conclude a treaty to which Sir Charles Bagot 
could not have agreed. And on the lG/28 of Feb- 
ruary 1825, Stratford Canning on beliulf of Great 
Britain and Count Nesselrode and M. de Poletica for 
Russia, signed a treaty definitely dividing Canada 
and Russian America. 


George Canning, towards the end of his instruc- 
tions to Stratford Canning, showed what was the 
chief motive of England in the pending negotia- 
tions with Russia. He Avrote : 

" It remains only in recapitulation, to remind 
you of the origin and principles of this whole ne- 
gotiation. ; 

" It is not on our part, essentially a negotiation 
about limits. 

" It is a demand of the repeal of an offensive and 
unjustifiable arrogation of exclusive jurisdiction over 
an ocean of unmeasured extent ; but a demand qual- 
ified and mitigated in its manner, in order that its 
justice may be acknowledged and satisfied without 
soreness or humiliation on the part of Russia. 

" We negotiate about territory to cover the re- 
monstrance upon principle. 

" But any attempt to take undue advantage of 
this voluntary facility, we must oppose." ^'^ 

Til us the cliief concern of the English Govern- 
ment was to <)l)t;\in from that of Russia an official 
disclaimer of the assertion in tlie Ukase of 1821 that 
the waters of Behring Sea and parts of the northern 
Pacific were exclusively Russian waters. Russia 
would not assent to formally recognize the riglit of 
Englisli ships freely to navigate those seas, unless 
the boundary question was also arranged, and settled 

' ^ Fur Seal Arbitration, Volume IV., i)agc 448. 


SO as to insure to Russia an nnl>r()ken Hsu re from tlio 
Portland Canal up to Mount Saint Elias. And on 
this last point, England, after a long and .-tuMtorn 
resistance, finally yielded. 

Much of the trouble that the negotiators of the 
Anglo-Muscovite treaty of 1825 had in agreeing upon 
the eastern boundary of the lisiere was due to a lack 
of knowledge respecting the mountains along the 
northwest American coast. According to Vancou- 
ver's chart and other available information a moun- 
tain range ran along the coast not far from the sea. 
When Stratford Canning and Count Nesselrode and 
M. de Poletica finally agreed upon the mountain 
divide as the frontier between the two nations, Can- 
ning, acting upon instructions from his cousin, George 
Canning, who was British Secretary of Foreign Af- 
fairs, insisted that should tlie summit of the moun- 
tains prove to be, at any point, more than ten marine 
leagues from the shore, then the line of demarcation 
should be drawn parallel to the sinuosities of the 
shore at a distance of ten marine leagues. This ten 
league limit to the eastward was inserted on pur[)ose, 
as George Canning stated in liis instructions to Strat- 
ford Canning to guard England against a possibility 
of having her territory pushed back to the eastward 
a hundred miles or more from the sea in ease the 
crest of the mountains was found in reality to lie far 
back from the coast instead of close to it as was then 


Thus a review of the negotiations that culminated 
in the Anglo-Muscovite treat}^ of 1825 shows clearly 
that the negotiators of that treaty intended to include 
within the Russian territory a lisiere on the main- 
land, stretching from the Portland Canal in the south 
up to Mount Saint Elias in the north, and extending 
between those points far enough inland to exclude 
the English possessions absolutely from access to the 
coast line above fifty-four degrees forty minutes. 

The treaty was drawn in French, and an English 
copy was also prepared. In the French version, the 
language of diplomacy,^'' it is said that the inland 
frontier of the lisiere shall be a line drawn "paral- 
lele aux sinuosites [" windings " in the English ver- 
sion] de la cote." The meaning of the phrase is made 
absolutely clear by the use of the word sinuosith. 
Littre, who Avas a member of VAcademie Frangaise, 
defines in his Dictionnaire de la Langue Frangaise, sin- 
uosites as meaning: *' Quality de ce qui est sinueux. 
Cette riviere fait beaucoup de sinuosites. II allait 
dans une chaloupe avec deux ingenieurs cotoyer les 
deux royaumes de Danemark et de Suede, pour 
mesurer toutes les sinuosites, Font. Czar Pierre. Les 
jeunes Deliens se melerent avec eux [les Ath^niens] 
pour figurer les sinuosites du labyrinthe de Crete, 

^ * Fur Seal Arbitration, Volume IV., page 500, et seq. 

Prindpes du Droit des Gem par Alphonse Rivier : Paris, 1896, Vol- 
ume II., page 19. 

Jntrodwtion to the sfudj/ of International Law by Theodore D. AVool- 
sey : New York, 188S, (iftli edition, page 270. 


Barthel, Anach. ch. 76.'"'' Webster defines sinuosity 
to mean ; " 1. The quality of being sinuous, or bend- 
ing in and out. 2. A series of bends and turns in 
arches or other irregular figures ; a series of wind- 
ings. ' A line of coast certainly amounting with its 
sinuosities, to more than 700 miles.' S. Smith."'® 

Thus the use of the word sinuosites, independently 
of all other evidence, shows that the negotiators of 
the treaty meant to include within the Russian 
lisiere the whole of the Lynn Canal and all other 
fiords above the Portland Canal. 

Aside, however, from the manifest intent of the 
negotiators as thus revealed, the meaning and under- 
standing of both the British and the Russians as to 
the definite frontier for which they arranged between 
their respective Empires in the treaty of 1825 is con- 
clusively proved; first, by the overwhelming multi- 
tude of maps of the best cartographers of the vari- 
ous leading powers of the Avorld, including those of 
England and Canada, in sustaining the boundary 
always claimed in the beginning by Russia and after- 
wards by the United States ; second, by the acts of 
the British and the Canadian authorities until well 
towards the close of the nineteenth century. 

In the year 1825, shortly after the treaty defin- 
ing the frontier between Russian and British North 

1* Littr6, Paris, Hachette et Cie, 1873. 

"^^ An American Dictionary of the English Language, revised by Profes- 
sors Goodrich and Porter of Yale: Springfield, Mass., 187G. 

/f. PaAu- tUnnef- 


• -»■ "^ ■» '■.;- X\ .v,W "'^ /"'^ 


iir-aii-cAf .1 

Imi'khfal KfHsiAN M.M' : " Dki>.se pak M. hi: Kki-sicxstkun, Contki^-Amikai, * * * 
iMiMiK )'\i{ oiMiiiic Die S\ Ma.ikstk I m I'Ki;! A Saint Peteksbuukg, 1827." 

MAP No. 3. 


America became known, A. Briie, one of the lead- 
ing French cartographers, published at Paris a map 
entitled: "Carte de I'Amerique Septentriouale; Re- 
digee par A. Brue, Geographe du Koi ; Atlas Uni- 
versel, pi. 38." On this map Brue drew the bound- 
ary of Russian America on the continent from the 
top of the Portland Canal at the distance of ten 
marine leagues from tide water round all the sin- 
uosities up to the one hundred and forty-first de- 
gree of longitude, and then along that meridian 
to the north. Two years later, in 1827, the cele- 
brated Russian Admiral and navigator, A. J. 
de Krusenstern, published at Saint Petersburg, 
''par ordre de Sa Majeste Imperiale," a "Carte 
Generale de I'Ocean Pacifique, Hemisphere Boreal."^' 
Krusenstern drew on the mainland the frontier of 
Russian America from the top of the Portland Canal 
round the sinuosities of the shore at a distance 
of ten marine leagues from tide water up to the 
one hundred and forty-first degree of longitude and 
then northward along that meridian. Along the line 
of the one hundred and forty-first degree is inscribed, 
"Limites des Possessions Russes et Anglaises d' apres 
le Traite de 1825." Two years later, in 1829, there 
appeared at Saint Petersburg a map of the eastern 
extremity of Siberia and the north west coast of 
America. This was map " No. 58" (b) " of the "Atlas 

1 ' See map No. 3. 

( .m;ti; (iKM 

AiF Dki-ut 'r(ii'<.(;i;\i'iii(;i|.: .MiMTAiin:." 

MAP No. 4. 

TllK AI.ASKO-CA.NADIA.N I- i;( )N 11 i;i;. '21 

Geographique do rKni|)ii-(' dr \{\\<>\{\" etc.. tlint 
was prepared by Kunelionary PiadisclieU". (Jii tliis 
map, Piadischetf' drew the Russo-Britisli frontier 
from Mount Saint Elias down to the top of llic Tort- 
land Canal and then along that sinuosity down to 
the sea at fifty-four degrees lorly niiimlcs,'' llicreby 
shutting off Britain from aeeess to the sen nhove 
fifty-four degrees forty minutes.''' 

The British Government made no protest against 
the way Krusenstern and Piadiseheff had marked 
the boundary. On the contrary, a few years later, 
in 1831, a map was prepared by Joseph Bouchette, 
Jr., "Deputy Surveyor General oi" the Province of 
Lower Canada," and published the same year at 
London by James Wyld, geographer to the King, 
and "with His Majesty's most gracious and special 
permission most humbly and gratefully dedicated 

^ 8 Map " No. 60" (a) " of the atlas is entitleil, " Carte Uenerale de TEin- 
pire de Riissie," etc. Tliis is a map of the whole Kiis^ian Empire in 1S'_".», 
and in the left hand lower corner the boundary of the liussian American 
lisiere is given as on map " No. 58." Charles Sumner used this general maj) 
of the Empire, " No. GO," in preparing his speech in support of tlie pur- 
chase of Alaska in 1867. The copy that he used is now in the Harvard 
Library. The reproduction of map " No. 58 " in this iiaper (see map No. 4) 
was made from a copy of riadischefl"s Atlas now in tlie possession of the 
writer that belonged to Prince Alexander of Hesse, the brother of the 
Empress Alexander the Second of Russia. The titles and nomenclature of 
the Atlas are given both in Russian and French. The French title is : Atlas 
Gcogmphique de VEmplre de Rassic, du Boijaiiinc de I'ulugue tt da Grand 
DucM de Finlande * * * par le Fonclionnuirc de la G' Clime Piadis- 
eheff, employe au Depot Topographique militairf dutis VEtnl-Major de -SVi 
Majeste Impiriale : Commence en 1820 et termini en 1827, revu el corrige en 
^^See map No. 4. 

^ ■^■''- 



Canadian Map ok 1881: " Compilku * * * jjy Joseimi Bouciikttk, Jk. 
Dei'uty Surveyor General of the Province ok Lower Canada." 

MAP No. 5. 


* =^= =^ to His Most Excellent Majesty King Will- 
iam IVth '=' ■'' '•^- compiled from the latest and 
most approved astronomical observations, authori- 
ties, and recent surveys."'-" It reaffirmed the Ijound- 
ary as given upon Krusenstern's Imperial map. 
Again in a " Narrative of a Journey Round the 
World, during the years 1841 and 1842, by Sir 
George Simpson, Governor-in-chief of the Hudson's 
Bay Company's Territories in North America" pulj- 
. lished at London in 1847,"^ a map in volume one, 

'showing the author's route, gives the line of de- 
marcation between the Russian and the English ter- 
ritories as it Avas laid down l:)y Krusenstern in his 
map of 1827:'' 

Ten years later, in 1857, an investigation into the 
affairs of the Hudson's Bay Company was held by 

.a special committee of the House of Commons. At 
that investigation. Sir George Simpson, who was 
examined, presented a map of the territory in (jues- 
tion, and, speaking for the Company, said : ''There 
is a margin of coast, marked yellow on the map, 
from 54° 40' up to Cross Sound which we have 
rented from the Russian Company."-^ This map 
shows that the strip of land on the continent 

-°See map Xo. 5. ■« 

2' London; llonry Cullnirn, 1S47: there is a copy in the British Mu- 

^^ See map No. 0. 
2^ See map Xo. 7. 

iM.\p IN "Narrative of a Journey Round the Woki. 
BY Sir George Simpson, London, 1847. 

MAP No. 6. 


extended far enough inland to include all the 
sinuosities of the coast so as to exclude, accord- 
ing to the United States claims, the British terri- 
tory altogether from any outlet upon salt water 
above fifty-four degrees forty minutes. 

Again, in 18G7, about the time of the sale b}^ 
Russia to the United States of Russian America — 
to which William H. Seward gave the name of 
Alaska'^— " Black's General Atlas of the World" 
was published at Edinburgh. In the introduction 
of this work, the following description of Russian 
America is given : 

" Russian America comprehends the N. W. portion 
of the continent, with the adjacent islands, extend- 
ing from Behring Strait the meridian of Mount 
St. Elias (about 141° W.), and from that mountain 
southward along the Maritime chain of hills till it 
touches the coast about 54° 40'." 

Then, on three maps of this atlas, "The World," 
No. 2, '^ The World on Mercator's Projection," No. 3, 
and " North America," No. 39, the Russian territory 
from Mount Saint Elias down to the end of the 
Portland Canal at fifty-four degrees forty minutes is 
marked so as to include within the Muscovite pos- 

^* Seward at Washington as Senator and Secretary of State, hy Frederick 
W. Seward : New York, 1S91, Volume III., page 369. 

Concerning the sale of Alaska by Russia to the United States, see 
Speech of Hon. Charles Sumner of Massadtuselts, on the cession of Russian- 
America to the United Stales; 1S67, passim; and The Alabama Arbitration, 
by Thomas Williiii: Balch. Pliihulelphia. 1900, pages 24-38. 


'^ir or Oif/u»'«"" 

^%-. Tt^. 




'^ V. 






Mai' i)i- tiik IIidson's I'.ay Comi-any: " Ohdkiuod hv riii: IIoisk of Commons to itic i-kintki) 

I'Aht July and llrri Aidi.sT, 1857." Tuk Ri'ssian TicinnrouY, which is Dakkkk than 

THE Canadian in thih Keproouction, is Coi.oued Yici.i.ow on the Ohkhnai^ Map. 

MAP No. 7. 


sessions all the fiords and estuaries alnuL; ihe coast 
and thus cutting oif tlic Britisli territory entirely 
from all access to tide water aljove tii"ty-l"our degrees 
forty minutes. In addition there is given a small 
map marked at the tup, " .^u})plementary sketch 
map, Black's General Atlas, for plate 41," and at the 
bottom, " United States after Cession of Russian- 
America, April 1867, Coloured Blue." On this 
sketch map the territory i)urchas(_'d l)y the United 
States is marked, " Formerly Russian America," and 
like the rest of the United States, is colored hhie. 
And the boundary of the new territory of Alaska 
is given as upon the other three maps of this Atlas, 
Nos. 2, 3 and 39, already cited, according to Brue's 
map of 1825, and Krusenstern's map of 1827, and 
the Canadian and the English mai)s already refei'red 
to, and in accordance with the territorial claim tliat 
Russia and the United States have always main- 
tained and acted u})on. 

Many other maps can be mentioned in addition to 
those above quoted against Britain's recent claim. 
For examples, Petermann's map in the Mittheilungen 
of April, 18G9; Thomas Devine's map prepared and 
printed in 1877 at Toronto by order of the Canadian 
Government; Alexander Keith Johnston's maj) of 
^' North America" in his Handy Royal Atlas of Modern 
Geography published at Edinburgh and London, in 
1881; E. Andriveau-Goujon's map of '' I'Amerique 
du Nord," puhlislied at Paris in 1SS7. and finally 


the wall map (1897) of the " United States " by 
Edward Stanford,-^ an important map maker of 
London to-day, give to Alaska the limits ahvays 
claimed since 1825 by Russia and the United States. 
Some maps — for example, "The World " by James 
Gardner, published in 1825 and dedicated ''To His 
Most Gracious Majesty George the IVth"; '' Nord 
America, Entworfen und gezeichnet von C. F. Wei- 
land," 1826 ; and a " Carte Physique et Politique par 
A. H. Brue," 1827 — bring the Russian boundary on 
the mainland from Mount Saint Elias down only to 
a point about half way opposite Prince of Wales 
Island at about fifty-six degrees and then along the 
fiords so as to include all of Prince of Wales Island 
in the Russian Territory, instead of carrying the 
frontier to the top of the Portland Canal and then 
down to the sea at about fifty-four degrees and forty 
minutes. But for all the territory above the point 
on the continent about half way opposite Prince of 
Wales Island up to the one hundred and forty-first 
degree west from Greenwich, these maps give the 
divisional line between the Muscovite and the Brit- 
ish territories far enough inland and around the 
sinuosities of the coast so as to cut off the British 
territory from all contact with tide water. Besides, 
Weiland, in a map of 1843 corrected liis error in liis 
map of 1826, in stopping a little short of the Port- 

2* The United States: London ; published by Edward Stanford, 26 and 
27 Cockspur St., Charing Cross, S. W., 15th July, 1897. 


land Canal in marking the Russo-Canadian bound- 
ary; and in Brue's maps of 1833 and 1839 tlie divi- 
sional line is given as it was marked on his map of 
1825. Gardner's map is overwhelmed by the multi- 
tude of English and Canadian maps — governmental 
and private — that followed Krusenstern's delineation 
of the line of demarcation. And additional proof of 
how far south the negotiators of the treaty of 1825 
intended that the Russian lisihe should extend 
when they used the phrase, " la dite ligne remontera 
au nord le long de la passe dite Portland Channel, 
jusqu'au point de la tei're ferme ou elle atteint le 
56® degre de latitute nord," is clearly shown by 
Vancouver's chart upon which he inscribed the 
name ''Portland Canal." '-*^ 

Probably the most important English map as 
showing what the best geographers of the British 
Government thought, until very recently, was the 
true boundary, is the British "Admiralty Chart 
No. 787," giving the North-west coast of America 
from " Cape Corrientes, Mexico to Kadiak Island," 
prepared in 1876 by F. J. Evans, R. N., published 
in 1877 and corrected up to April, 1898}'^ On this 
Chart of the British Admiralty, the frontier of 
the United States descends the one hundred and 

'^^ A Chart showing part of the Coast of N. W. America with the tracks of 
His Majesty's Sloop Discorerij and Armed Tender Chatham commanded by 
George Vancouver: London, 1798. 

*^ See Map No. 8. 



• Uki 



_ - 6 GKAltAM ( © » . . ^ - 

I'.uni.sM AnMiiJ.M.TY Cjiakt, ruuLisHKO Junk 21st, 1877, undkk tiik .Sii'KiaMKNDKNci': of Capj 
F. J. Evans, R. N., Hyduograpiier, and Corrected to April, 1898. 


MAI^ No. 8. 

thp: alasko-canadian frontier. 31 

forty-first degree of longitude west from Greenwicli, 
and then advancing on the continent but ])assing 
round the sinuosities of the coast so as to give a con- 
tinuous lisiere of territory cutting off the Dominion 
of Canada from all contact with any of the fiords or 
sinuosities that bulge into the continent between 
Mount Saint Elias and the Portland Canal, the 
frontier is drawn to the head of the Portland 
Canal at about fifty-six degrees, and then down 
that sinuosity, striking Dixon's Entrance at fifty- 
four degrees forty minutes. Thus the British Ad- 
miralty itself uj)holds the territorial claims held, and 
maintained by hotli the Russian and the United States 

The English and the Canadian Governments, 
through their official representatives, have again 
and again recognized the claim of Russia down to 
1867, and since then that of the United States 
that the area of Russian America or Alaska com- 
prises an unbroken strip of territory on the con- 
tinent, extending from Mount Saint Elias in the 
north to the Portland Canal in the south ; that 
this strip of land encircles all the sinuosities of the 
shore; and that by this strip the Dominion of 
Canada is cut off from all contact with the in- 

2*1 bought the copy of this chart, from whiili Map No. 8 is reproduced, 
at Edward Stanford's, 2() and 27 Cockspur, Cliaring Cross, S. W., London, 
in September, 1901, showing that up to that date at least, the British 
Admiralty agreed with the United States as to the frontier. 


dentations of the sea along the north west coast of 
the continent between the Portland Canal at about 
fifty-four degrees forty minutes north latitude and 
Mount Saint Elias. From these numerous official 
acts a few are presented here. 

In 1857 a '-'Select Committee"-'' of the House of 
Commons of the British Parliament was appointed 
" to consider the state of those British Possessions in 
North America which are under the Administration 
of the Hudson's Bay Company, or over which they 
possess a License to Trade." The Committee con- 
sisted of nineteen members in all, among whom 
were Mr. Secretary Labouchere, the chairman, Lord 
John Russell, Lord Stanley, Mr. Edward Ellice, a 
native of Canada and a Director of the Hudson's 
Bay Company, Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Roebuck and Sir 
John Pakington. The Committee examined, among 
others, Sir George Simpson, who for thirty-seven 
years was the governor of the territories of the 

2 3 Parliamentary Papers, 1857. 
Accounts a — Rep. XV. 
Report from tlie Select Committee on the Hudson's Bay Company to- 
gether with the proceedings of the Committee, minutes of evidence, Ap- 
pendix and Index. Ordered, by the House of Commons, to be printed 
31 July and 11 August, 1857. 

Second Session, 1857. 

Veneris, 8° die maii, 1857. 
Ordered, That a Select Committee be appointed "to consider the 
state of those British Possessions in North America which are under the 
Administration of the Hudson's Bay Company, or over which they pos- 
sess a License to Trade," (i>agc II.). 


Hudson's Bay Company. Part of Sir George Simp- 
son's testimony was as follows : 

'' 1026. Besides 3^our own territory, I think you 
administer a portion of the territory which belongs 
to Russia, under some arrangement with the Russian 
Company? — There is a margin of coast marked 
yellow in the map ^° from 54° 40' up to Cross Sound, 
which we have rented from the Russian American 
Company for a term of years. 

" 1027. Is that the whole of that strip ?— The strip 
goes to Mount Saint Elias. 

" 1028. Where does it begin ?— Near Fort Simp- 
son, in latitude 54° ; it runs up to Mount Saint Elias, 
which is further north. 

" 1029. Is it the w^hole of that strip which is^ 
included between the British territory and the sea? 
— We have only rented the part between Fort Simp- 
son and Cross Sound. 

'' 1030. What is the date of that arrangement? — 
That arrangement, I think, was entered into about 

"1031. What are the terms upon which it was 
made; do you pay a rent for that Land? — The 
British territory runs along inland from the coast 
about 30 miles ; the Russian territory runs along 
the coast ; we have the right of navigation tlu'ough 
the rivers to hunt the interior country. A misun- 

3 "See map No. 7. 


derstanding existed upon that point in the first 
instance ; we were about to establish a post upon one 
of the rivers, which led to very serious difficulties 
between the Russian-American Company and our- 
selves ; we had a long correspondence, and, to guard 
against the recurrence of these difficulties, it was 
agreed that we should lease this margin of coast, 
and pay them a rent ; the rent, in the first instance, 
in otters ; I think we gave 2,000 otters a year ; it is 
now converted into money ; we give, I think, 1500£ 
a year." 

It will be observed from the foregoing questions 
and the replies of Sir George Simpson, that the 
Hudson's Bay Company in 1839 recognized by an 
official act, to wit, a lease of Russian territory, that 
Russia had a lisiere on the continent from Mount 
Saint Elias almost down to Fort Simpson, and that 
owing to this strip of land the British territory was 
pushed back about thirt}^ miles " inland from the 
coast." In addition it will be noted that Sir George 
Simpson in describing the positions and extent of 
the land rented by his Company from the Russian 
company, referred to a map''^ that he showed the com- 
mittee, and upon which the lisiere belonging to 
Russia was marked so as to include the sinuosities 
of the coast, the Lynn Canal and all the other fiords 
above fifty-four degrees forty minutes, entirely, and 

" ^ See map No. 7. 


SO cutting off the British territory absolutely from 
all contact with tide water. 

Subsequently, in the course of Sir George Simp- 
son's examination, the question of the lease in 1839 
by the Hudson's Bay Company of the Russian lisih-e 
again came up, and the following questions and 
answers were asked and given : 

'' 1732. Chairman. I think you made an arrange- 
ment with the Russian Company by which you hold 
under a lease a portion of their territory ? — Yes. 

" 1733. I believe that arrangement is that you 
hold that strip of country which intervenes between 
your territory and the sea, and that you give them 
1500£ a year for it?— Yes. 

" 1734. What were your objects in making that 
arrangement? — To prevent difficulties existing be- 
tween the Russians and ourselves ; as a peace offering. 

" 1735. What Avas the nature of those difficul- 
ties? — We w^ere desirous of passing through their 
territory, which is inland from the coast about 30 
miles. There is a margin of 30 miles of coast be- 
longing to the Russians. We had the right of navi- 
gating the rivers falling into the ocean, and of set- 
tling the interior country. Difficulties arose between 
us in regard to the trade of the country, and to 
remove all those difficulties we agreed to give them 
an annual allowance. I think, in the first instance, 
2000 otter skins, and afterwards 1500£ a vear. 


'' 1738. During the late war [the Crimean] which 
existed between Russia and EngUmd, I believe that 
some arrangement was made between you and the 
Russians by which you agreed not to molest one 
another? — Yes, such an arrangement Avas made. 

'"1739. By the two companies? — Yes; and Gov- 
ernment confirmed the arrangement. 

" 1740. You agreed that on neither side should 
there be any molestation or interference with the 
trade of the different parties? — Yes. 

" 1741. And I believe that that was strictly 
observed during the whole war ? — Yes. 

"1742. Mr. Bell Which Government confirmed 
the arrangement, the Russian or the English, or 
both ? — Both Governments." 

This additional information shows that the Eng- 
lish Company rented the lisiere from the Russian 
Company, because the lisiere shut off the English 
Company from access to the fiords of the sea that 
advanced into the continent. And further, these 
questions and replies prove that the English Govern- 
ment — by confirming the agreement of the English 
Company with the Russian not to interfere with 
each other while their respective Governments were 
busy waging war in other parts of the world during 
tlie years 1854, 1855 and 1856 — recognized and 
sanctioned tlie cUiim of Russia tliat she had an 
unbroken lisiere on the main land extending far 
enough inland so as to envelop within her own 


domains, the Lynn Canal and all the fiords that 
penetrate into the continent above the Portland 

Some twenty years after the investigation by the 
House of Commons into the affairs of the Hudson's 
Bay Company, the Canadian Government, through 
the intermediary of the British Foreign Office, for- 
mally recognized that the lisiere of Alaska shut off 
Canadian territory from access to the sea. 

It was in 1876, while taking a prisoner named 
Peter Martin, who was condemned in the Cassiar dis- 
trict of British Columbia for some act .committed in 
Canadian territory, from the place where he was con- 
victed to the place where he was to be imprisoned, 
that Canadian constables crossed with the prisoner 
the United States territory lying along the Stickine 
River. They encamped with Martin at a point some 
thirteen miles up the river from its mouth. There 
Martin attempted unsuccessfully to escape, and made 
an assault on an officer. Upon his arrival at Vic- 
toria, the capital of British Columbia, he was tried 
and convicted for his attempted escape and attack 
upon the constable ; and the court sentenced him. 
The Secretary of State, Hamilton Fish, protested 
against this infringement of the territorial sovereignty 
of the United States in the Territory of Alaska. In 
a letter to Sir Edward Thornton, the English Minister 
at Washington, he said : '' I have the honor, there- 
fore, to ask again your attention to the subject and 



to remark that if, as appears admittedly to be the 
fact, the colonial officers in transporting Martin from 
the place at which he was convicted to his place of 
imprisonment, via the Stickine River, did conduct 
him within and through what is the unquestioned 
territory of the United States, a violation of the 
sovereignty of the United States has been committed, 
and the recapture and removal of the prisoner from 
the jurisdiction of the United States to British soil 
is an illegal act, violent and forcible act, which 
cannot justify the subsequent proceedings whereby 
he has been, is or may be restricted of his liberty." 
The transit of the constables with their prisoner, 
Martin, through American territory was not due to 
a mistake on their part, as to the extent of Canadian 
territory, for J. B. Lovell, a Canadian Justice of the 
Peace in the Cassiar district of British Columbia 
wrote to Captain Jocelyn in command at Fort Wran- 
gel, saying : " The absence of any jail here (Glen- 
ora, Cassiar), or secure place of imprisonment neces- 
sitates sending him through as soon as possible, and 
I hope you will excuse the liberty we take in forward- 
ing him through United States territory without spe- 
cial permission." After an investigation into the 
facts of the case, the Dominion Government acknowl- 
edged the justness of Secretary Fish's protest by 
" setting Peter Martin at liberty without further 
delay;" and thus recognized that the Canadian con- 
stables who had Martin in tlieir charge Avhen they 


encamped on the Stickine thirteen miles up from the 
mouth of the river, were on United States soil, and 
so that Canada's jurisdiction in that region did not 
extend to tide water.^^ 

Another recognition by the British Empire that 
the lisiere restricted Canadian sovereignty from con- 
tact with the sea, occurred shortly after the case 
of Peter Martin. 

Owing to a clash between the United States and 
the Canadian customs officials as to the extent of 
their respective jurisdiction on the Stickine River, 
their two Governments agreed in 1878 upon a pro- 
visional boundary line across that river. The Ca- 
nadian Government had sent in March 1877 one 
of its engineer officers, Joseph Hunter, "to exe- 
cute " in the language of Sir Edward Thornton to 
Secretary Evarts ''a survey of a portion of the 
Stickine River, for the purpose of defining the 
boundary line where it crosses that river between the 
Dominion of Canada and the Territory of Alaska." 
This Canadian engineer. Hunter, after measuring 
from Rothsay Point at the mouth of the Stick- 
ine River, a distance ten marine leagues inland, 
determined — in the light of Articles III. and IV. 
of the Anglo-Russian Treaty of February 16/28, 
1825, which two Articles he was instructed ex- 
pressly *'by direction of the minister of the inte- 

^ 2 Papers relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States : Washing- 
ton ; Government Printing Office, 1877, pages 266, 267, 271. 


rior " to consider in locating the boundary — that the 
frontier crossed the Stickine at a point about twenty- 
five miles up the river and almost twenty miles in 
a straight line from the coast. Without consider- 
ing whether, owing to the break in the w^ater shed 
caused by the passage of the Stickine through the 
mountains, the United States territory extends in- 
land to the full extent of thirty miles, Hunter 
decided that the line should cross the river at a 
point twenty miles back from the coast, but still 
far enough back from the mouth of the river to 
shut off Canadian territory from contact in that 
district Avith the sea. He came to this decision, 
because he found that at that point a range of 
mountains, parallel to the coast, crossed the Stickine 
River, and, as he stated expressly in his report to 
his cliief, he acted upon the theory that this moun- 
tain range foUoAved the shore line within the mean- 
ing of the treaty of 1825 as he understood it. In his 
report to his Government he said : '' Having identi- 
fied Rothsay Point on the coast at the delta of the 
Stickine River, a monument was erected thereon, 
from which the survey of the river was commenced, 
and from which luas estimated the ten marine 
leagues referred to in the convention." The Ca- 
nadian Government sent a copy of this report to- 
getlici- with a map explaining it through the Brit- 
ish Foreign Office to Sir Edward Thornton at 
Washington, who communicated it to Secretary 


William M. Evarts, willi the purpose of obtaining 
his acceptance of this l)()iiii(lary. Mr. Evarts agreed 
to accept it as a provisional line, but witli the reser- 
vation that it should not in any way prejudice 
the rights of the two Governments, whenever a joint 
survey was made to determine the frontier. By this 
voluntary proposal of a provisional boundary across 
the Stickine River, the British and the Canadian 
Governments showed that in 1877 and 1878 they 
considered that Canadian territory above the point 
of fifty-four degrees forty minutes Avas restricted 
by the meaning of Articles III. and IV. of the Anglo- 
Muscovite Treaty of 1825 from access to the sea.^'^ 

The foregoing review of the negotiations that 
resulted in the treaty of 1825, and the subsequent 
acts of the nations concerned in the Alasko-Cana- 
dian frontier, shows clearly that, from the very 
inception of the negotiations, Russia insisted upon 
the absolute possession of a continuous, unbroken 
lisiere on the continent down to the Portland Canal 
for the openly expressed purpose of shutting out 
England from access to the sea above fifty-four 
degrees forty minutes ; and that England finally 
yielded the point. 

During Polk's Administration (1845-49), when the 
United States and Great Britain advanced conHicting 
claims to the territory lying between the Rocky 

^^ Papers relating to the Foreign Relations of the UnUM St<it>'s : Washing- 
ton; Government Printing Office, 1878, page 339. 


Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, now known as 
British Columbia, and the supporters of Polk took 
up the cry of " Fifty-four forty or fight," Russia 
offered her American possessions to the United States 
if they would maintain their claim to the territory 
west of the Rockies up to fifty-four degrees forty 
minutes, the most southern point of Russian America, 
thereby shutting out Britain entirely from access to 
the Pacific Ocean.^"* But owing to the jealousy of the 
Slave Power, our Government yielded all the country 
west of the Rockies and above the forty-ninth degree 
of north latitude, and thus permitted the British 
Empire to obtain an outlet on the Pacific. Not con- 
tent with this successful territorial extension, the 
English Empire, after having allowed without a 
protest for almost three quarters of a century the 
inclusion by the Muscovite and the United States 
Governments within their sovereignty — as is shown 
both by the maps and other official acts of these 
two nations — of all the sinuosities or fiords along 
the coast of the mainland above fifty-four degrees 
forty minutes, the English Empire now lays claim, 
since the discovery of gold in the Klondike, to a 
large and to us most important part of our 
Alaskan domain. The American and the British 
contentions to-day are well expressed by the pithy 

' * Papers relating to Foreign Affairs, accompanying the annual message of the 
President to the second session of the Fortieth Congress : 1S67 : Part I., Wash- 
ington : Government I^rinting Oflice, 1868, page 390. 


sentence in which Count Nesseh-ode over seventy- 
five years ago contrasted the efforts of Russia and 
Britain Avhen they were seeking to agree upon a 
frontier between their American possessions: "Ainsi 
nous voulons conserver, et les Compagnies Angloises 
veulent acquerir." (Thus we wish to retain, and 
the English Companies wish to acquire.) 

Canada wishes, and she has the support of Eng- 
land, to have her claim — that she is entitled to many 
outlets upon tide water above fifty-four degrees forty 
minutes — submitted to the arbitration of third par- 
ties.^ The United States should never consent to any 
such arrangement. If such a plan were adopted and 
a decision were given altogether against Canada, she 
would be no worse off than she has been from 1825 
to the present day, while anything decided in her 
favor would be a clear gain to her. This country, 
on the contrary, cannot by any possibility obtain 
more than she now has, viz., tliat wliich she pur- 

^^A letter by the writer, entitled, "Canada and Alaska" briefly touch- 
ing on the boundary question, was printed in tlie Xew York Xalion, Jan- 
uary 2nd, 1902, and the New York Evening Post January 4th. Another 
letter, also under the same title, written by a gentleman at Ottawa, ap- 
peared in the same papers, January 16th and 18th respectively. Still 
another letter, under the title of " Facts about the Alaskan Boundary '' 
was published in the X<(iioii of January 23rd, and the Evening I'osI, Janii- 
arj' 27th : this communication was written by a gentleman in California, 
evidently eitiier an Englishman or a Canadian. The Hon. William H. 
Dall, of Washington, D. C, followed with a strong letter " The Alaskan 
Boundary," in the Nation, January 30th, and the Evening Post, February 
1st. Then another communication by the writer "Canada and Alaska" 
was given a place in the Nation, February 6th, and the Eveyiing Poxt, 
Febniarv 7th. 


chased from Russia in 1867 and to all of whose rights 
she succeeded ; at the same time the United States 
can lose heavily. For the inclusion in Canadian 
territory of only one port, like Pyramid Harbor or 
Dyea on the Lynn Canal, would greatly lessen for 
the United States the present and future value of the 
Alaskan lisiere. The evidence in the case is over- 
whelmingly on the side of the United States and 
shows that they are entitled, by long, uninterrupted 
occupancy and other rights, to an unbroken strip 
of land on the continent from Mount Saint Elias 
down to the Portland Channel. There is no more 
reason for the United States to allow their right 
to the possession of this unbroken Alaskan lisiere 
to be referred to the decision of foreign judges, 
than would be the case if the British Empire ad- 
vanced a claim to sovereignty over the coast of 
Georgia or the port of Baltimore and proposed that 
this demand should be referred to the judgment 
of subjects of third Powers. For if the claim of 
Canada to Alaskan territory is referred to foreigners 
for settlement, the United States can gain nothing, 
while they will incur the risk of losing territory 
over which the right of sovereignty of Russia and 
then of the United States runs back unchallenged 
for more tlian half of a century. If France ad- 
vanced a claim to the Isle of Wight and then 
asked England to refer her title to the island to 
the arbitration of foreigners, would Great Britain 


consent ? And for the English Empire to advance 
a demand to many outlets upon tide water on the 
northwest coast of America above fifty-four degrees 
forty minutes and then ask the United States to sub- 
mit this claim to the arbitration of the citizens 
of third Powers, is a similar case. Whether the 
frontier should pass over a certain mountain top 
or through a given gorge is a proper subject for 
settlement by a mutual survey. But by no possi- 
bility has Canada any right to territory touching 
tide water above fifty-four degrees forty minutes. 
The United States should never consent to refer 
such a proposition to arbitration. / 

G^J i&M im 

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