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States. Southern boundry is, then, fixed and certain. As to the northern one, it was settled at 54 degrees and 40 minutes, by a treaty between the United States and Russia, dated 17th April, 1824, by which it was agreed that there should not be formed by the citizens of the United States, or under the authority of the same, any establishment upon the northwest coast of America, nor in any of the islands adjacent, to the north of 54 degrees and 40 minutes of north latitude; and, in like manner, none by Russia or her subjects south of the same parallel of latitude.
By virtue of these treaties, Russia on the north, Mexico on the South, and the United States on the east, are all agreed and well satisfied as to the boundaries of the Oregon country, Great Britain alone asserts or pretends any title to it, or any part of it, adverse to that of the United States.
Before we enter upon any examination of her title, we respectfully beg leave to submit our views on another question presented to our consideration. It is contended that the passage of the bill now reported would be inconsistent with the actual relations of the two governments defined by the convention of the 20th October, 1818. The 3d article is as follows:
“Art. 3. It is agreed that any country that may be claimed by either party on the northwestern 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 said country; nor shall it be taken to affect the claim 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.”
The provisions of this article were indefinitely extended by the convention of 1827—with, however, an agreement that it should be competent for either, at any time after the 20th October, 1828, on giving due notice of twelve months to the other contracting party, to annul and abrogate said convention. The first remark which the committee will submit on the provisions of the 3d article of the convention of 1718, is, that they do not refer to the possession of the territory at all. That possession had always been in the United States until the war of
1812. It was then lost by conquest; but it was fully restored by the treaty of peace, and the formal surrender of it to the United States under that treaty. It was only the right of entering into the country-into its bays and harbors—for the mere purposes of such trade and commerce as was then carried on in that region, that was secured to the subjects of Great Britain. The same rights might have been extended to any of the ports, bays, and rivers of the Atlantic; but if extended in the precise words of the convention of 1818, who would have thought that Great Britain would have been admitted to the joint occupancy of Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, the Carolinas, and the other States of the Union ?
If the possession of the territory was in the United States at the time of the convention of 1818-a fact which no one has ever attempted to deny—the provision of the 3d section can only be regarded as a permission to the subjects of Great Britain to participate with ours in the individual rights of trade and commerce enjoyed by our own citizens within the territory. The bill which is now reported does not eject them from the country at all. It does not deprive them of the privilege of entering into the country, its bays and rivers; not at all. But it even guaranties a fuller and more perfect enjoyment of these individual rights, under an organized and well-administered system of laws. From extreme caution, and to exhibit towards Great Britain the most scrupulous regard for all existing stipulatious, which might be supposed to have an application to the subject, the bill proposes a speedy surrender of all British subjects who may be charged with any violation of our laws to the nearest British authorities having jurisdiction over such cases. The permission given to British subjects to participate with our own citizens in the enjoyment of personal or individual rights within the territory, never can be considered as circumscribing the right of the United Sates to establish a proper government for the regulation of all persons inhabiting the country, of which she had the undisputed possession. In this view, the provision for delivering up British subjects to their nearest tribunals could not have been justly required; but the same has been conceded by the committee, on the scrupu: lous principle just adverted to.
As to the twelve months' notice required to be given by the convention of 1827, the committee do not regard that as at all necessary, in order to open the way to such action as is contemplated by this bill. The committee do not know that, for the purpose of organizing such a government as is now contemplated, it is at all important to annul or abrogate that convention. That country is large, and there is evidently room enough for the subjects and citizens of both countries, in the exercise of all their enterprise in trade and commerce. All that will be required of them is to conform to the laws, and to respect the institutions, which we may establish. Doing this, we shall never envy the equal participation in the benefits and advantages to be derived from a well organized system of government. Any possible inconvenience arising from the continuance of the convention of 1827, not now anticipated by the committee, can, and doubtless will, be looked to by the executive, who can at any time abrogate the same, by giving the notice contemplated in it. The giving of that notice, being a matter of treaty stipulation, belongs, perhaps, exclusively to the executive; on whose province there is no occasion and the committee have no inclination to intrude.
In connection with this branch of the subject, the committee will advert to the fact, (as it is now understood to be,) that negotiations are in progress between the United States and Great Britain on the subject of this territory. They conceive that this should make no difference in the action of the committee. They have to act on the subject as it is now presented to them--not as it may be changed or altered hereafter, by any future arrangements between the two countries. If the United States have now the right to the Oregon country-if they have now the sole and undisputed possession of it—if our people have now permanent settlements in it, and every day suffering for the want of properly-organized government to protect the virtuous and restrain the vicious—we ought not to withhold our action, under the possibility of some alteration in the relations of the two countries in that region, at some uncertain and indefinite period. That negotiation can still progress; and any treaty stipulation inconsistent with our legislation, will control it to the extent of such interference. No one, we believe, supposes that the pending negotiations can ever result in the entire loss of the Oregon country. Enough will doubtless remain of it, under any circumstances, to require the extension of our laws in the manner now contemplated. If the present negotiation relates (as the committee apprehend it does) solely to the ascertainment and settlement of the northern boundary of the territory, they can anticipate, from no examination which they have been able to make, any such loss of country in that direction, as will at all affect the propriety of the passage of the bill which is now presented to the House.
There is enough, doubtless, for that negotiation to act upon, without resorting even to the supposition that any portion of our territory south of latitude fifty-four degrees forty minutes north may be lost. We propose the extension of our laws fully up to that latitude, and will now submit the grounds on which we maintain that the United States has a full and indefeasible right and title to that point. We adopt as our own, and submit to the house, the views of a former committee on the question of title; which we believe must carry conviction to every disinterested and impartial mind.
FEBRUARY 4TH. Mr. A. V. Brown supposed it was necessary that he should submit some few remarks in reply to the gentleman from Massachusetts, [Mr. Adams.] The gentleman seemed to think that some days ago he treated him with some degree of rudeness in declining to postpone this bill to a day that he proposed. In reply to a suggestion at the time made by the gentleman, he said that he had no disposition to drive this bill through, but that it was subject to the direction of the members of the House, who could hasten or retard its progress as they pleased. What was the reason the gentleman gave for wishing to postpone it? Why, there was a book which very few had heard of, that gave so much information on this subject that every difficulty would be settled by getting it, and he wanted to delay the action of the House till that book was procured. Why, this book had been published years ago by order of the Senate, and every member of the House could get it by application for it. But it was said there was a new and enlarged edition of it, which gave new lights which were not found in the first edition. But who did not know that the reports made to the House by Mr. Pendleton, and by Mr. Cushing, on this very subject, contained all the information that could be given on it? Indeed, either of them was far more valuable than Mr. Greenhow's book, and could be had by any member that desired, at a moment's warning. Again, the gentleman said that he was satisfied that our title to the country was indispu. table. Why, then, wait for any body's book? The gentleman quoted him as saying that he considered it the duty of the executive only to give the twelve month's notice to end the joint occupancy, and that this House had nothing to do with it. Now, the gentleman did not explain his (Mr. B.’s) position correctly. He did say that the executive was competent to give the notice, without the action of the House, having more information on the subject than they could possibly have; but he did not say the House had no right to give the notice. That was a point which the committee did not touch on in their report, and which he did not make in his remarks of yesterday.
The gentleman from Massachusetts had read a portion of the correspondence between the two countries at a former period, and by examination of the report, part of which had been read, it would be found that the committee had adverted to the same correspondence, and incorporated in their report the material part of that correspondence-or such as they supposed would have a material influence on the question. He wished the gentleman from Massacuhusetts had read a little further than he did of that correspondence. On the 230 page of the report the committee speak as follows:
“ The injustice done to the United States by the double use which Great Britain makes of the Hudson's Bay Company, was strongly urged by Mr. Gallatin, in his conferences with the British ministers on the subject, in 1826 and 1827. The British ministers were not insensible to the force of his objections. And the following passage of Mr. Gallatin's letter of December 20th, 1826, is important in its bearing upon the question of what