No. 30.


Mr. Buchanan to Mr. Pakenham.

* * Such a proposition as that which has been made never would have been authorized by the President had this been a new question.Mr. Buchanan withdraws his offer.

Upon his accession to office he found the present negotiation pending. It had been instituted in the spirit and upon the principle of compromise. Its object, as avowed by the negotiators, was not to demand the whole territory in dispute for either country; but, in the language of the first protocol, “to treat of the respective claims of the two countries to the Oregon territory, with a view to *establish a permanent boundary between them westward of the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.”[33]

Placed in this position, and considering that Presidents Monroe and Adams had, on former occasions, offered to divide the territory in dispute by the forty-ninth parallel of latitude, he felt it his duty not at once abruptly to arrest the negotiation, but so far to yield his own opinion as once more to make a similar offer.

Not only respect for the conduct of his predecessors, but a sincere and anxious desire to promote peace and harmony between the two countries, influenced him to pursue this course. The Oregon question presents the only intervening cloud which intercepts the prospect of a long career of mutual friendship and beneficial commerce between the two nations, and this cloud he desired to remove.

These are the reasons which actuated the President to offer a proposition so liberal to Great Britain.

And how has this proposition been received by the British plenipotentiary? It has been rejected without even a reference to his own government. Nay, more; the British plenipotentiary, to use his own language, “trusts that the American plenipotentiary will be prepared to offer some further proposal for the settlement of the Oregon question, more consistent with fairness and equity, and with the reasonable expectations of the British government.”

Under such circumstances, the undersigned is instructed by the President to say that he owes it to his own country, and a just appreciation of her title to the Oregon territory, to withdraw the proposition to the British government which had been made under his direction; and it is hereby accordingly withdrawn.

In taking this necessary step, the President still cherishes the hope that this long pending controversy may yet be finally adjusted in such a manner as not to disturb the peace or interrupt the harmony now so happily subsisting between the two nations.

* * * * * * *


Right Hon. Bichard Pakenham, &c., &c., &c.