Mr. Everett to Mr. Upshur.
Sir: I had a long and important conversation with Lord Aberdeen on the 29th ultimo, which I now beg leave to report to you confidentially for the information of the President.Mr. Everett and Lord Aberdeen discuss the boundary.
I have observed to you in a former communication that, though the negotiation relative to the Oregon boundary had, in consequence of the recall of Mr. Fox and the appointment of Mr. Pakenham, been transferred to Washington, I should use my best efforts to produce such an impression on Lord Aberdeen’s mind, as to the prominent points of the question, as might have a favorable influence in the preparation of the [Page 31]instructions to be given to Mr. Pakenham. With this end in view I had, in a former interview, as I have already informed you, gone over the ground generally in support of our claim, particularly urging, and as I thought with some effect, the reasonableness of the terms on which the United States have uniformly offered to adjust the boundary. In my interview with Lord Aberdeen on the 29th I pursued the same line of argument.
* * * * * * *
I first made some remarks on the claim of the United States, as the representatives of Spain, to an extension on the northwestern coast of America, originally indefinite, and limited only by the compacts with Russia, to which Spain and the United States are parties. * * * * * *
Passing from this topic I urged with all the force in my power the extreme reasonableness of the proposal of the United States to run the line on the forty-ninth parallel to the sea, on the grounds of extension ol contiguous territory; of giving to each power the tract due west of its acknowledged territory; and on the ground that in a final appropriation of a region at present unappropriated (assuming for the sake of argument that Oregon territory is in that condition) that the United States certainly were entitled, besides their own share, to two other shares, in the right of France and Spain, whose title they had combined with their own. * * * * * *
After considerable discussion of these points, Lord Aberdeen finally said that these were grounds which, in the main result, had been long ago taken by the United States, and rejected by England; that the question was quite different from what it would have been if now presented for the first time; and that it was impossible for the present ministry to accept what had been rejected in 1824 and 1826; that they did not suppose that we, any more than themselves, could now agree to terms which we had declined then; and that, consequently, there must be concession on both sides; that they were willing to act on this principle, and that we must do the same.
I regarded this observation, now made to me for the first time, although the Oregon boundary since my residence in England has been the subject of very frequent conversation between Lord Aberdeen and myself, as very important. I told Lord Aberdeen that I thought it would be very difficult for the United States to make any modification of their former proposal, except in one point, which I did certainly regard as very important to England, if she entertained any views to the future settlement of the country. I thought the President might be induced so far to depart from the forty-ninth parallel as to leave the whole of Quadra and Vancouver’s Island to England, whereas that line of latitude would give us the southern extremity of that island, and consequently, the command of the straits of Fuca on both sides. If the country is to be occupied by a dense population, as there is no reason to doubt would one day be the case, this would he a valuable concession to England, without implying a great sacrifice on our part. I observed, I was not authorized to say this would be agreed to; I could only *say I thought and wished it might be. I then pointed out on a map the extent of this concession, and Lord Aberdeen said he would take it into consideration.Mr. Everett points out on a map the deflection from 49° that would leave Vancouver to Great Britain.
He then asked me if I was confident of the accuracy of the statement which I had made relative to the offer in 1826, on the part of Great Britain, to give us a port within the straits of Fuca, with an adjacent territory. * * * * * * *
I accordingly considered his inquiry to proceed from some anxiety lest [Page 32]I should be mistaken, and a wish to have the fact established that they had then offered us a territory north of Columbia, in order now to facilitate the way for an abandonment of the Columbia as the boundary.
I may be in an error in this view of the subject; but it is the result of the closest consideration I have been able to give it, that the present government, though of course determined not to make any discreditable sacrifice of what they consider their rights, are really willing to agree to reasonable terms of settlement. * * * *
I spoke with considerable earnestness in reprobation of the conduct of the Hudson’s Bay Company in multiplying and pushing their posts far to the south of the Columbia, and said I trusted that the government would not allow itself to be embarrassed by this circumstance. Fair warning had been given to the company in 1818, that no settlements after that date should prejudice the rights of either party. He said he did not consider the existence of those settlements as a very serious matter, but the navigation of the Columbia was a serious one. * * *
A. P. Upshur, Esq., Secretary of State.