No. 246.

Mr. Davis to Sir Edward Thornton,

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 4th instant, touching the discovery made last spring by a corps of the engineers of the army of the United States, as the result of a series of observations that the 49th parallel of latitude, when correctly run, throws the Hudson’s Bay Company’s fort into the territory of the United States.

Your excellency is also pleased to inform me that in 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 49th parallel of latitude crosses the Red River, and that, after spending several days on this service, he erected a post on the bank of the river to mark this spot, which post is about a quarter of a mile to the south of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s fort, and you propose to allow 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.

I am directed by the President, to whom this proposition has been submitted, to say that he has no information other than that contained in your letter, as to the observations said to have been made by Captain Pope in 1850, and as to their result. Without waiting, however, to ascertain whether those alleged acts were or were not done under instructions, he directs me to say that this Government will not for the present object to the occupation by her Majesty’s subjects of the territory near Pembina, of which the sovereignty is thrown in doubt by the result of the observations of last spring.

It is, as you correctly remark, easy to verify whether the post which [Page 405]was erected last spring is on the 49th parallel or not, and the interest of both countries would seem to call for an early settlement of the question by a joint survey before further emigration into that country, and by jointly fixing upon the surface of the ground monuments to mark the line of the boundary which may be established.

Until Congress shall make an appropriation for that purpose, this Government will not be in a position to propose to her Majesty’s government the establishment of such a commission. This department will endeavor, at the earliest possible day, to obtain from the War Department an estimate of the probable expense to the United States of such a commission with a view of submitting the estimates to Congress at the coming session and of asking for an appropriation for the purpose indicated. It is hoped that her Majesty’s government, if not already empowered, will take similar steps so that so much of the land boundary to the west of the Lake of the Woods, between the United States and the dominions of her Majesty, as has not been already fixed, may be determined and marked by permanent monuments upon the surface of the ground, beginning with the Red River country.

J. C. B. DAVIS, Acting Secretary.