Sir Edward Thornton to Mr. Davis.
Sir: The Governor General of Canada has communicated to me a copy of a letter addressed to the Canadian government by the lieutenant governor of the province of Manitoba, in which he states that a small force has been sent to the Hudson’s Bay fort at Pembina, for the protection of boats coming down the Red River with goods. At the time he wrote (September 29th,) the force was encamped about a half a mile to the north of the fort.
Lieutenant Governor Archibald goes on to say that it appears that about the year 1850, the present General (then Captain) Pope, under authority from the United States Government, took observations to fix the exact spot where the forty-ninth parallel of latitude crossed the Red River, and after spending several days on this service, erected a post on the bank of the river to mark the spot.
This post is about a quarter of a mile to the south of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s fort, and is still standing.
Some time about 1860, the people of Pembina erected another post on the river about a mile to the north of the first post.
A man from the Red River Settlement had put up a house close to the boundary line, and was carrying on a trade in whisky which was. smuggled into the village of Pembina, and this post was put up and the local authorities claimed jurisdiction to it so as to drive the party away. It was known by the name of the Whisky post.
Last spring a corps of engineers were sent out by the United States Government to lay off a military reserve in the neighborhood of the boundary line, and a series of observations was made to fix the parallel. Eventually they put up a post which is about half way between the original post and the so-called “Whisky post,” but at such a point as to [Page 404]throw the Hudson’s Bay Company’s fort into the territory of the United States.
Whether the post which was erected last spring is on the forty-ninth parallel or not, can easily be verified; but, in the mean time it would be very desirable that the small force now in that neighborhood should remain there for the protection of persons and the security of the mails. The only shelter, however, which they can find is in the Hudson’s Bay Company’s fort. The Governor General has therefore forwarded a request from the Canadian government that I would confer with the Secretary of State as to the expediency of allowing the boundary line which was run by Captain Pope to be considered as the boundary for the present, until the real boundary is ascertained and finally settled, so that the Hudson’s Bay post may be used as a shelter during the winter$ for they consider that it is in the interests of the inhabitants on both sides of the line that order should be preserved on the frontier, which result can best be obtained by a body of troops of both nations being stationed in its vicinity.
I have therefore the honor to ask that this proposal may be taken into consideration, and to express a hope that the Government of the United States will view it favorably.