No. 21.

* * * I deem it very desirable that the question of boundary should be speedily adjusted, and that the limits and the rights of each party be so clearly established and defined as to prevent all danger of collision hereafter.Views of Mr. Sturgis.

In this opinion I doubt not that the distinguished statesmen, Messrs. Pakenham and Calhoun, who now have charge of the negotiation, will cordially concur; and it seems to me that each party will attain their object, and justice be done to both, by adopting as the boundary a continuation of the parallel of 49° across the Rocky Mountains, to tidewater, say to the middle of the Gulf of Georgia; thence by the northernmost navigable passage (not north of 49°) to the Straits of Juan de Fuca, and down the middle of those straits to the Pacific Ocean; the navigation of the Gulf of Georgia and the Straits of Juan de Fuca to be forever free to both parties—all the islands and other territory lying south and east of this line to belong to the United States, and all north and west to Great Britain. By this arrangement we should yield to Great *Britain the portion of Quadra and Vancouver’s Island that lies south of latitude 49°, which, in a territorial point of view, is of too little importance to deserve a moments’ consideration; and both parties would secure, for a considerable extent, a well-defined natural boundary, about which there could hereafter be no doubt or dispute. Will Great Britain accede to this? I think she will. Up to the close of the last negotiation, in 1827, the free navigation of the Columbia was declared to be indispensable to Great Britain, by the British commissioners; but subsequent developments will probably render the British less pertinacious upon this point. The “summary” presented by the commissioners in 1827 shows that the Columbia was then supposed to be the most convenient, in fact the only, navigable channel of communication between the ocean and most of the numerous establishments of the Hudson Bay Company, west of the Rocky Mountains. Within a few years past, however, several rivers of considerable magnitude have been explored from the interior to the seas into which they empty, north of latitude 49°. These are “Frazer’s River,” which disembogues about that parallel; the river called by Harmon the “Nachaottatain,” [Page 35]in about the latitude 53°; “Simpson’s River,” a little north of latitude 55°; and “Stickene River,” in 55° 50′. All these would be within the British territory, or are so situated that the British, by their convention with Russia, would have the right of navigating them; and they would afford convenient communication with most of their establishments north of 49°; and if this adjustment should be made they would retain none south of that line. I should be reluctant to cede to Great Britain the free navigation of the Columbia, for there are serious objections to giving to any nation the unlimited right of using a stream where it flows wholly through the territories of another. For obvious reasons the exercise of such a right must endanger the harmony and peace of the parties; and, especially at such a remote point, would be a fruitful cause of jealousy, and very likely to occasion collision. But Great Britain will not relinquish the right to the free navigation and use of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, if she retains the territory north of 49°. The use of these straits would, in fact, be indispensable to her, for through them is the only convenient access to a considerable portion of this territory. * * * * * *[25]