*No. 32. [35]

Mr. McLane to Mr. Buchanan.

Sir: Although it is well understood here that in the present posture of the Oregon question my connection with it must be in a great degree informal, the Earl of Aberdeen occasionally makes it a subject of conversation.Lord Aberdeen would have taken Mr. Buchanan’s offer as the basis of negotiations.

At his request, I have recently had an interview with him, when he put in my hand, to read, two dispatches from Mr. Pakennam, one in explanation of his rejection without reference to his government of the President’s proposition; the other containing a statement of his subsequent attempts to induce you to allow the President’s proposition [Page 42] to stand as the basis of further negotiation, or to have some assurance of the answer which a new proposition from the British government would receive. * * * The principal object of Lord Aberdeen in seeking the interview, appeared to me to be to point out the embarrassment in which he thought the President’s withdrawal of his proposition had placed this government. It was quite evident, indeed he expressly said, that he was not prepared to accept the President’s proposition, but desired only to make it the basis of further negotiation and modified propositions from this government, which he would have done, notwithstanding the rejection of it by Mr. Pakenham, if it had not been withdrawn by direction of the President.

* * * Although I am quite sure that the Earl of Aberdeen has no idea at present of accepting the compromise contained in the President’s proposition, it would not surprise me if an arrangement upon that basis should prove acceptable to large and important classes in this country, indeed complained of principally by the Hudson’s Bay Company, and those in its interest.

That the ministry would find it difficult and hazardous to prefer war to such a settlement may well be imagined, although you may assume it to be certain that when war becomes inevitable it will receive the undivided support of the British people.

I believe the government and people here are quite prepared for the re-assertion in the message of the President’s opinions expressed in his inaugural address, and, perhaps, for a recommendation *by him to terminate the joint occupation in the manner provided by the existing treaty.[36]

And I also think that unless the recommendation in the message should be such as to discourage further negotiation, and to manifest a determination to insist upon our whole right, they would not lead to any immediate measures upon the part of this government, or materially add to the embarrassment in which the relations between the two countries appear to be at present involved. * * * * *


James Buchanan, Esq., Secretary of State.