Mr. Olney to Sir Julian Pauncefote.

No. 345.]

Excellency: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 6th instant, in which, referring to my communication of the 10th ultimo, relative to the demarcation of the principal points of the one hundred and forty-first meridian boundary line between Alaska and Her Majesty’s dominions, you advert to the approval of a joint resolution of Congress appropriating a sum for the purpose of such demarcation, and inquire whether this Government would favorably entertain the proposal contained in your prior note of the 6th ultimo, namely, the recognition of Mr. Ogilvie’s line of demarcation until the commencement of the joint survey.

The joint resolution approved February 20, 1896, of which I inclose a copy for your perusal, obviously contemplates the permanent marking of convenient points upon the one hundred and forty-first meridian in virtue of a convention to that end, and the appropriation is for that purpose and would not be applicable to the payment of a contributive share by the United States Government to the recent and pending surveys of Mr. Ogilvie for temporary convenience, as proposed by you. Moreover, the inconveniences of a provisional demarcation, expressly declared to be subject to alteration by a final survey yet to be made jointly by the two parties, appears to render such an expedient undesirable, if any other equally practical and expeditious be within reach.

I am not at all satisfied that a joint astronomical survey for the purpose of locating anew and by independent observations convenient points upon the one hundred and forty-first meridian is necessary or desirable.

So far as the recent and existing surveys on either side have progressed they exhibit a close coincidence of results. At one point, as I am informed, the difference between Mr. Ogilvie’s location and that made [Page 292] by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey is only about 6 feet 7 inches. In another point the difference is in the neighborhood of 500 or 600 feet, and at other points even closer coincidence than this latter is expected when the comparison of calculations shall have been worked out.

After careful consideration of the subject I am prepared to make the counter proposition that, by a new convention, the two Governments shall agree upon certain points of the one hundred and forty-first meridian at the intersection of the principal streams, locating the same at points midway between the determinations of the Coast and Geodetic Survey and of Mr. Ogilvie, and providing for the junction of the points so located by convenient joint surveys as occasion may require until the entire line shall in time be established.

Such a proposition would supply a permanent line to be deemed, for all international purposes, coincident with the one hundred and forty-first meridian stipulated under existing treaties, and would require no further immediate arrangement than the dispatch of a joint surveying party to set up monuments at the points so conventionally defined, with perhaps the survey of a traverse line connecting the monuments on the Yukon and Forty Mile Creek, and farther south if need be. All this can be accomplished with ease during the coming season if prompt action be taken to that end.

Should your response be favorable I will be prepared to consider with you forthwith the terms of a suitable convention.

I have, etc.

Richard Olney.