to Mr. Phelps.
Washington, February 8, 1887.
Sir: I have to acknowledge your dispatch of the 27th ultimo, No. 423, which was accompanied by a copy of the note to you of the late Lord Iddesleigh, under date of December 16, 1886, and also one from Sir Julian Pauncefote, dated January 14, 1887, and also a copy of your note to the Marquis of Salisbury under date of January 26 ultimo.
I desire to express my entire satisfaction with the position correctly assumed and admirably and logically sustained by you in this relation.
Your telegrams of the 5th instant and of yesterday, with reference to the same question, have been received.
As part of the general case, and as bearing with unusual clearness upon the Canadian claims of construction of the convention of 1818, I transmit herewith copies of a note† from Sir Lionel West, dated the 28th ultimo, inclosing a dispatch from Lord Lansdowne, governor-general of Canada, to Mr. Stanhope, dated November 9, 1886, which is accompanied by reports of the committee of the privy council for Canada, and of Mr. Thompson, the minister of justice at Ottawa.
It may be noted that this reply of the British minister at this capital to my note to him of May 20, 1886, is dated on the 28th ultimo, giving some eight months for the completion of the circuit of correspondence.
At page 15 of the printed inclosure and in the last paragraph will be found the explicit avowal of claim by the Canadian Government to [Page 462] employ the convention of 1818 as an instrument of interference with, the exercise of open-sea fishing by citizens of the United States, and to give it such a construction as will enable the fishermen of the provinces better to compete at less “disadvantage in the markets of the United States” in the pursuit of the deep-sea fisheries.
At the outset of this discussion, in my note to Sir Lionel West, of May 10, 1886, I said:
The question, therefore, arises whether such a construction is admissible as would convert the treaty of 1818 from being an instrumentality for the protection of the inshore fisheries along the described parts of the British American coasts into a pretext or means of obstructing the business of deep-sea fishing by citizens of the United States, and of interrupting and destroying the commercial intercourse that since the treaty of 1818, and independent of any treaty whatever, has grown up and now exists under the concurrent and friendly laws and mercantile regulations of the respective countries.
When I wrote this I hardly expected that the motives I suggested, rather than imputed, would be admitted by the authorities of the provinces, and was entirely unprepared for a distinct avowal thereof, not only as regards the obstruction of deep-sea fishing operations by our fishermen, but also in respect of their independent commercial intercourse, yet it will be seen that the Canadian minister of justice avers that it is “most prejudicial” to the interests of the provinces “that United States fishermen should be permitted to come into their harbors on any pretext.”
The correspondence now sent to you, together with others relating to the same subject that has taken place since the President’s message of December 8, communicating the same to Congress, will be laid before Congress without delay, and will assist the two houses materially in the legislation proposed for the security of the rights of American fishing vessels under treaty and international law and comity.
I am, etc.,