No. 18.

[Private and confidential.]

Mr. Everett to Mr. Upshur.

Hon. A. P. Upshur: * * *

I had a long and, upon the whole, quite a satisfactory conversation with Lord Aberdeen at his dwelling-house on the 6th instant. He was on a visit to Windsor Castle, from which he wrote me a note requesting me to call upon him at Argyll House (his town residence,) and I believe he came to London principally for the purpose of holding this interview. He returned to the castle to dinner. He told me that he had communicated to Mr. Fox, by the steamer of the 4th, that his successor was appointed. * * He then led the way to a free and desultory but general and comprehensive conversation on the Oregon question, observing in the outset that it was chiefly in the hope of putting this question in a favorable train of adjustment that Mr. Fox had been recalled and Mr. Pakenham appointed. * * * Lord Aberdeen assented also *to my remark that the numerous stations which the Hudson’s Bay Company had estalished south of the forty-ninth degree of north latitude since the year 1818, though they might and unquestionably would embarrass the British government in reference to that company, and through them in reference to public opinion, ought not to prejudice the claims of the United States. This I think a very important point, to be firmly kept in view. * * * In offering the forty-ninth degree of latitude as the boundary we make a very fair, equitable, and liberal offer, an offer founded on the obvious and natural principles of distribution; while they, in refusing this offer and insisting on the Columbia River, proceed upon no such principle, but simply insist upon a boundary very favorable to themselves. Our offer, I said, proceeded on the old principle of the [Page 30]English charters of running northern and southern boundaries from sea to sea. If it be objected by Lord A. (as it was) that lines of latitude were arbitrary and might be very unnatural and inconvenient boundaries, I told him that this circumstance was as likely to be in their favor as ours; that lines of latitude had the advantage that they could always be ascertained by men of science; and that, in point of fact, the forty-ninth degree had proved a very convenient line for 1,000 miles. In fact the part of the boundary running on the parallel is the only part in reference to which no controversy has arisen or is to be feared. Another natural and obvious principle, I observed, connected with this, but not identical, was the extension of contiguous territory. * * *Mr. Everett argues for the parallel of 49°.[18]

This train of remark produced an obvious effect upon Lord Aberdeen, and after making some inquiry as to the course which things would probably take in Congress during the approaching session, in reference to this subject, and expressing a strong hope that no step would be taken by either House to embarrass the two governments in the negotiation, he said, if this can be avoided, “I do not think we shall have much difficulty;” and this remark he repeated. As not a syllable fell from me authorizing the expectation that the United States would be induced to run the line below the forty-ninth degree, I considered that remark, twice made, coupled with the tenor of my own observation on the reasonableness of that boundary, as authorizing the inference that Mr. Pakenham would be instructed to assent to it. The main difficulty in the way of this will be that the forty-ninth degree has twice been offered by the United States, or rather thrice, and declined by England. Lord *Aberdeen on former occasions has admitted as much. To meet this difficulty, it may deserve the President’s consideration whether he would not agree to give up the southern extremity of Quadra and Vancouver’s Island (which the forty-ninth degree would leave within our boundary) on condition that the entrance of the straits of Juan de Fuca should at all times be left open and free to the United States, with a free navigation between that island and the main land, and a free outlet to the north. * *Lord Aberdeen thinks there will not be much difficulty in settling the boundary.[19]Mr. Everett suggests that a deflection from 49° would leave to Great Britain the whole of Vancover Island.

If there is any reliance in appearance and professions, Mr. Pakenham will go to America with the best feelings for an honorable adjustment of the matter in discussion.