صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

" The noble lord has spoken at great length of a map recently discorered. He seems to think that that map, so discovered, affords conclusive evidence of the justice of the British claims. Now, Sir, in the first place, let me observe to the noble lord, that contemporary maps may be — where the words of the treaty referred to by them are in themselves doubtful — they may be evidence of the intentions of those who framed them, but the treaty must be executed according to the words contained in it. Even if the map were sustained by the partics, it could not contravene the words of the treaty."

And Lord Brougham followed out the same idea in his speech in the House of Lords, when he said:

"But the map does not tally with the description given. Suppose you had an account, in writing, that the Thames, as is the fact, forms the boundary of the counties of Surrey and Middlesex; and suppose you found a map, or chart, or plan connected with that description, on which a red line through Piccadilly was drawn as a boundary - I should not take it; I should go down to the river; because the red line is only to be regarded if the words do not speak for themselves, or the language is ambiguous. And the same is the case here, more or less."

Now, Mr. Chairman, it is only after these explicit denials of the idea, that maps, under whatever circumstances they may have been found, are to be taken as conclusive evidence as to the justice of claims resting on the descriptions of a treaty, that Lord Brougham and Sir Robert Peel proceed to disclose the fact of the discovery of the map of George the Third; and that, only in the way of set-off to the map which is supposed to have . belonged to Dr. Franklin. They do, indeed, speak somewhat largely and roundly as to the effect which the production of this map of George the Third might have had on the settlement of the boundary question, in case maps were to be taken as con. clusive evidence. But having expressly denied that they were to be so taken, -having rejected and ridiculed the idea of the red lines of a map being allowed to control the black letters of a treaty description,- their language, however round, admits of no such construction as has been given to it by the honorable gentleman who has just taken his seat.

Sir, there is no evidence whatever, in my judgment, of bad faith on the part of the British government in these speeches of the Prime Minister and Lord Brougham. I do not profess to be deeply versed in the science of political morals or interna. . tional obligation; but I should say that the principles of com..

mon honesty and common sense would lead to this conclusion. If a government, after having set up a claim of any sort, should find in its own possession conclusive evidence, evidence conclusive upon its own conscience, that the claim was unfounded, it would be bound, in all honor and in all justice, to disclose the evi. dence and abandon the claim. But if the evidence fall short of de. monstration,- if reasonable and conscientious doubts still rest upon the question, - if there be ground enough left for maintain. ing the claim at all, — it would be the height of absurdity in such a government, and a piece of most gratuitous generosity to their opponent, to make such a disclosure. Why, Sir, the circum. stances of the case we are considering furnish the best possible illustration that the position I have taken is the only sound or safe one. Here were maps in the secret possession of each government at the same moment, which were believed by each respectively to present formidable testimony against its own claim, and the production of either of which, singly, might have seriously affected the final settlement of the disputed boundary. Now, suppose Mr. Webster had disclosed to Lord Ashburton the map which was then believed to have belonged to Dr. Franklin, and the consequence had been a much larger relinquishment of territory, on our part, than has actually taken place:- Or, suppose Sir Robert Peel had sent over to Mr. Webster the map of George the Third, and had consented, upon the strength of it, to a line less favorable to his own country. What would the government which obtained the advantage under such circumstances have thought of the diplomacy and statesmanship of its antagonist? And even if both governments had shown their hands, and exhibited their maps simultaneously, what would have been produced but a mutual laugh at each other, and a laugh of all the world at both! And the laugh, certainly, would not have been diminished, if it had afterwards proved that the recently discovered map of Mr. Jay, the only map which we now know certainly to have been in the possession of the negotiators of 1783, was materially different from both the other two. Well, Sir, did Mr. Webster say for himself, on this subject, that "he confessed he did not think it a very urgent duty, on his part, to go to Lord Ashburton and tell him that he had found a bit of doubtful evidence in Paris, out of which he might, perhaps, make something to the prejudice of our claims, and from which he could set up higher claims for himself, or obscure the whole matter still further.” And no less well, in my judgment, did Lord Brougham " deny that a negotiator, in carrying on a con. troversy, as representing his own country with a foreign country, is bound to disclose to the other party whatever he may know that tells against his own country and for the opposite party ; any more than an advocate is bound to tell the court all that he deems to make against his own client and for his adversary." A just nation, like a just man, will never set up a claim which it knows to have no foundation ; but both nations and individu. als may withhold from an opposite party, (except where they are under question upon oath,) any evidence which would weaken a claim which they believe to be well sounded, without subjecting themselves to any rightful impeachment of their honor or good faith.

I repeat, Mr. Chairman, that this attempt to destroy the confidence of the American people in the fairness of the British government, and to produce the impression that they have dishonestly deprived us of a portion of our territory, and are now openly chuckling over the success of an avowed fraud, cannot be too strongly reprobated. The direct tendency of such a course is to create an exasperated popular feeling towards Great Britain, which will forbid the settlement of any future dispute with that power, except by the sword; which will henceforth acknowledge the validity of no red lines, but those which shall have been run with blood; and which will lead inevitably, and at no distant day, to war for Oregon. I trust that this is not the design of the Chairman of the Committee of Foreign Affairs.

But the honorable gentleman has not been content with charg. ing fraud upon the British Government in relation to the late treaty. He has told us that this treaty was accomplished and consummated against the unanimous sentiment of the people of Maine. Sir, I should like to know where the honorable gentleman has found the evidence of this unanimous sentiment of the people of Maine against the treaty of Washington. The Com. missioners of Maine were on the spot during the whole period

of its negotiation. They prepared, it is true, a somewhat elaborate argument against relinquishing any part of their territorial claim. But what did they do afterwards? How did they conclude that argument? They gave their formal and unani. mous assent to the arrangement which Mr. Webster and Lord Ashburton had agreed on. They signed the treaty. What pre. tence, then, is there for the assertion, that Maine was dismem. bered against the unanimous sentiment of her people?

MR. INGERSOLL (Mr. W. yielding the floor for explanation) re. marked, that he was sorry this matter was gone into, but the gentleman from Massachusetts provoked him to say (he did not mean any thing offensive) that he (Mr. I.) had in his place, from day to day, been informed by a gentleman from Maine, no longer a member of this House, that all that had been brought about by tricks, practised on the Maine Commissioners, such as were attempted to be practised upon Senators at the other end of the Capitol.

MR. WINTHROP. And neither do I mean any thing offen. sive; but I must be permitted to say, that I believe Mr. Webster to be quite as incapable of tricks, as the honorable gentleman himself, and that I demand some better evidence of the fact than the private whispers which the gentleman has retailed. Why has not the person who gave this information made it public before this time, upon his own responsibility ? If the Maine Commissioners were tricked into an assent to the treaty, why have they not found it out themselves, and disclosed the circumstances ? Sir, I deny the whole allegation. This effort to array an opposition against the treaty of Washington, in reference to the Maine boundary, is all an afterthought. At the time it was negotiated, it met with a very general, if not an unanimous, assent in both the States which were interested in the question ; in Maine no less than in Massachusetts. And even to this day, all attempts which have been made to get up a public sentiment against the treaty, have signally failed. That treaty was ratified by a vote of five sixths of the Senate; and I have not the slightest belief that some of the Senators who voted against it, (if any of them,) would have dared to take the responsibility of defeating it, if their votes would have produced such a result. There is no way of securing an impunity in regard to any public measure, more easy and obvious, than to vote against it when you are certain that your vote will not prevent its adoption. If the measure turns out to be acceptable to the country, nobody will care who voted against it; while, if it proves to be unpopular in any quarter, you are at full liberty to unite in denouncing it. This is a political trick, (to borrow the gentleman's term,) which is often played by aspiring politi. cians. Whether it will account for any part of the opposition to the treaty of Washington, others can judge as well as myself. Whether it will or not, however, is of very little importance. The treaty has commended itself so entirely to the approbation of the American people, that the liberty of finding fault with it has proved utterly worthless. The negotiators are out with all the honors, and there is no chance for tricks to tell. In the whole records of diplomacy, American or European, there can not be found a negotiation which has been hailed with more undivided satisfaction by those who were interested in its results, than this has been by the people of the United States. Its influence will not soon be lost on the civilized world. It will stand on the pages of history, as a noble example of what may be accomplished by the honest arts of Peace, and will impress with the force of conviction on the nations of the earth, the lesson which they have been so long in learning, that war is not the only resort, or the best resort, for settling international disputes, but that true honor may be maintained, real interest secured, just pride preserved, without the sacrifice of a single life, or the libation of one drop of blood !

The honorable gentleman has alluded to Mr. Calhoun, and has expressed his gratification that he has accepted the appointment of Secretary of State. Has he forgotten that one of the ablest speeches made in the Senate of the United States, in support of the late treaty, was made by this distinguished states. man of South Carolina ? Has he forgotten, too, that the crown. ' ing glory of that treaty, in Mr. Calhoun's estimation, was that it would establish " a permanent amity and peace” between Great Britain and the United States? “A kind Providence (said Mr. Calhoun) has cast our lot on a portion of the globe

« السابقةمتابعة »