No. 16
22nd February 1871
My Lord,
I have the honor to forward for Your Lordship's information a Copy of a Resolution of the Legislative Council requesting, with reference to the appointment of a jointCommissionManuscript image Commission by her Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States to settle all international difficulties, that I will represent to Her Majesty's Government and also to the Government of Canada the great importance of the Island of San Juan to the Dominion of Canada, as well as the undoubted claimsofManuscript image of the Crown to the same; and the desirability of settling the boundaries of the possessions of the United States North of British Columbia; and further that the question of the Fisheries in the Pacific be considered at the same time.
2. Her Majesty's Government are already so fully informed with regard to the Island of San Juan,thatManuscript image that I need not offer any observations on this subject.
3. As regards the other two subjects mentioned in the Resolution, the language and intention of the Council are obscure. The utility is questionable at present of any more precise definition of the boundaries of the United States (late Russian) territories to the North of British Columbia, thanisManuscript image is already laid down in the Convention between Great Britain and Russia of the 28th/16 of February 1825. To run a boundary line and place landmarks along "the summits of the Mountains situated parallel to the Coast as far as the point of intersection of the 141st degree of west longitude" is scarcely practicable. The fourth Article of the Convention, however, provides thatwhenManuscript image when the summit of the mountains shall prove to be at the distance of more than ten marine leagues from the ocean the limit shall be formed "by a line parallel to the windings of the Coast and which shall never exceed the distance of ten marine leagues therefrom." It is to the uncertain character of this line of demarcation that I am led to believe the Resolution of the Council refers.
4.Manuscript image
4. It is not clear what is meant by the Council as "the question of the Fisheries in the Pacific;" for I am not aware than any such question has ever arisen. I am informed, however, that the object aimed at by the Council is that the same rights which may be claimed by, or conceded to the United States in British waters on the Atlantic coast should be conceded to British subjects on the American Coast on thePacificManuscript image Pacific. This appears to me to have been already sufficiently settled by the first Article of the Convention of 1825, supposing that Convention to be still operative. But I observe that the provisions of that Treaty appear to have been temporary, and although continued in force by the later Treaty of 31st December 1858 (12th January 1859) this latter agreement was onlymadeManuscript image made for ten years and further until after twelve months notice should be given of an intention to terminate the same. As the ten years have now expired the terminable character of existing arrangements may render some fresh agreement necessary or expedient.
5. I should add that IwasManuscript image was not aware of the intention to move this Resolution until after it had been passed or I should have endeavoured to secure that the objects of the Council should be more clearly expressed. But, I have not thought it expedient to return it to them for reconsideration lest public discussion here should awaken jealousy and opposition in the neighbouring AmericanterritoriesManuscript image territories which might produce difficulties in any negotiations at Washington.
I have the honor to be,
My Lord,
Your most obedient
Humble Servant
A. Musgrave
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
CC 11/4
Mr Herbert
I suppose we must ask (the F.O.) what answers Lord Granville would suggest should be given to this.
CC 11/4
The San Juan Water Boundary is pointed out in Ld Granville's letter to the High Commissioners as one of the principal subjects which will probably be brought under their notice; & it is stated that copies of all correspondence which has been presented to Parliament respecting this question (amongst others) will be forwarded to them.
I send on a copy of the present Queens' Advocate opinion upon the question how far the U States are bound by the Treaty of 1825. I should be disposed to refer Mr Musgrave Confidentially to the Despatch (Confidential) of 17 Jan/68 in which Sir T. Twiss's opinion was embodied, or to send him aManuscript image Copy of the Despatch, as Govr Seymour's papers were not kept in good order, & this may have been mislaid.
To F.O. as suggested.
HTH 12/4
I wd send Mr M a copy of the despatch abovementioned. I think he has exercised a wise discretion in not referring these resolutions back to the council for the reasons he gives.
EHKH 13/4/71
Send Mr Musgrave Copy of the Despatch to Mr Seymour—& approve his course. In sending Mr Musgrave's despatch to F.O. say that it is unnecessary to make any observations upon the St Juan question, as Lord Granville is fully aware of the importance attached by the Dominion, to which British Columbia is about to be united, to the possession of St. Juan; thatManuscript image it would no doubt be out of the question to undertake to fix with precision the boundary between British Columbia and Alaska, but that it might be desirable to obtain from the U.S. Govt a recognition of the limits laid down by the Treaty of 1825; that as regards the fisheries in the Pacific, it does not seem very clear what is intended, but that if the resolution means an attempt should be made to obtain from the U.S. the right of fishing within U.S. waters on the Pacific Coast, Lord Granville will probably agree with me in thinking that it is very improbable that such a concession could be obtained and that it would not be desirable to introduce any such fresh matter into the negotiations.
Let me see draft.
K April 15/71
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Manuscript image
Resolution of the Legislative Council, 14 February 1871, as per despatch.
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Rogers to Under-Secretary of State, Foreign Office, 20 April 1871, forwarding copy of the despatch and resolution for consideration with regard to the settlement of border disputes in the colony.
Manuscript image
Draft reply, Kimberley to Musgrave, Confidential, 6 May 1871.