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notion of co-operation entertained by the American Government extended to the territorial, as well as maritime, division of the question. Mr. Canning had never contemplated such an union, and was indisposed to consent to it: but when the territorial pretensions of the United States, as Assignees of Spain, under the Treaty of Washington, turned out to be nearly as inadmissible as those, advanced by the Russian Ukase, the inexpediency of a joint negotiation so far as territory was concerned, became no longer doubtful; for, as has been already stated, our convention with the United States in 1818, settled the question for the then succeeding ten years, so that it had at this period (1824–25) of these negotiations some years to run.
To have thrown that convention loose would have been wantonly to have added to the embarrassments of the question, which so far as we were at that moment concerned had reference only to Russia. But independently of these considerations, there was betrayed on the part of the United States a secret partiality for the Russian side of the question, ill adapted for the purposes of joint negotiation. Mr. Canning therefore resolved to deal separately with Russia, so far at least as related to the arrangement of limits.
With respect to the maritime part of the question, a circumstance which occurred about the same time led to a similar conclusion.
In the Speech of the President of the United States at the opening of Congress in December 1823, it was laid down as a principle, that the United States prohibited any further attempt by European Powers at colonization in America. This novel and extraordinary doctrine at first seemed intended as a set-off against the equally untenable propositions on the subject of maritime rights put forth by Russia in Her Ukase of 1821. But, the mere fact of the President having put it forth, no longer left Great Britain and the United States upon the same footing with regard to Russia ; and therefore furnished a conclusive reason for our not mixing ourselves in a negotiation between two Parties, whose opposite pretensions were so extravagant in their several ways, “as to be the subject, not so much “ of practical adjustment, as of reciprocal dis66 avowal.”
It was for these reasons that Mr. Canning instructed Sir Charles Bagot, our ambassador in Russia, to treat alone with the Imperial Government.
The principal object of the negotiation was to obtain a recorded disavowal from Russia of the maritime pretensions advanced in the Ukase. And then (but this was a secondary consideration) to settle some line of demarcation between the respective territories of the two countries, the settlement of which would furnish
the Russian Government with a fitting opportunity for making the disavowal in question.
On the first point the Russian Ministers professed to entertain no difficulty; all therefore that it was necessary to do was to decide upon the mode of dividing the territory. For this end it was agreed, as the basis on which the negotiation should be conducted, that the claims of strict right should be provisionally waived by both Parties, and that the adjustment should be made upon the sole principle of their mutual convenience. That, of Great Britain, on the one hand, required the posts on the Continent belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company, the embouchures of such rivers as afforded an outlet for the British trade into the Pacifick, and the two banks of the Mackenzie River; on the other, that of Russia induced Her to wish to secure to Herself Her Fisheries upon the islands and shores of the North-West Coast, and the posts which she might have already established on them. Notwithstanding that upon this basis there seemed little probability of any difficulties arising, the first propositions brought forward by Sir Charles were not accepted by Russia, and His Excellency was compelled to apply to His Government for a more extended discretion.
Shortly after Sir Charles had for this purpose suspended the negotiations, the American Mini
ster, Mr. Middleton, succeeded in bringing those, with which he was charged, to a termination. By the first and second articles of the convention thus concluded, it was mutually agreed that the navigation of the Pacifick Ocean should be free to both parties, as well as that both should possess the right of approaching the coasts, upon points which had not then been occupied, for the purpose of trading with the natives; but that on any point where there existed a Russian establishment, the citizens of the United States should not approach, without the permission of the Governor or Commander. By Article 4., however, this restriction was wholly suspended for ten years, during which time the subjects of both Powers were to have uninterrupted access for the
purpose of trade (excepting in arms and ammunition) to their respective possessions.
By Article 3. Russia bound herself not to form any establishment lower than 54° 40' North, and the United States not higher than that parallel of latitude.
The boundaries desired by Russia beyond what Sir Charles had been authorized to agree to, did not in any way materially affect the interests of this Country. He was therefore instructed to consent, with some trifling modifications, to the line of demarcation for which Russia contended. But in return for this concession on the part of Great Britain, certain points as to the navigation of Behring's Straits, and as to privileges of trading, were to be stipulated for, which had not been contemplated in former discussions, but nevertheless were not considered to be of a nature at all unfavourable to Russian interests. Upon these points, however, the negotiation was broken off. Whether the complaints of the Russian Company against the convention with America made the Plenipotentiaries more difficult to please, or whatever else might be the cause, they remained inflexible; and Sir Charles Bagot, who was about to return to England, was allowed to quit St. Petersburgh, in the beginning of September 1824, without the conclusion of
any definitive arrangement. This, however, was not a state of things with which Great Britain could remain contented. The indefinite postponement of an adjustment of the territorial limits was a matter of little moment; but the settlement of the maritime part of the question She could not submit much longer to defer.
Mr. Stratford Canning was therefore sent, shortly after Sir Charles Bagot's return, on a special mission to St. Petersburgh for the purpose of bringing to a speedy conclusion these long protracted discussions.
Mr. Stratford Canning was instructed to propose such alterations as were in accordance with those views of Russia, which were reasonable. If, however, the Russian Plenipotentiaries should