American Historical Documents, 10001904. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
Webster-Ashburton Treaty with Great Britain
[The purpose of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty was to settle various outstanding questions between Great Britain and the United States, mainly concerned with boundary lines. With the exception of the Oregon line, most of the frontier between Canada and the United States was defined by this agreement. The boundary west of the Rocky Mountains was decided in 1846.]
Treaty between the United States of America and Her Britannic Majesty Relative to Boundaries, Suppression of the Slave-Trade, and Extradition of Criminals, Concluded at Washington, August 9, 1842; Ratification Advised by Senate, August 20, 1842; Ratified by President, August 22, 1842; Ratifications Exchanged at London, October 13, 1842; Proclaimed, November 10, 1842.
WHEREAS certain portions of the line of boundary between the United States of America and the British dominions in North America, described in the second article of the treaty of peace of 1783, have not yet been ascertained and determined, notwithstanding the repeated attempts which have been heretofore made for that purpose; and whereas it is now thought to be for the interest of both parties, that, avoiding further discussion of their respective rights, arising in this respect under the said treaty, they should agree on a conventional line in said portions of the said boundary, such as may be convenient to both parties, with such equivalents and compensations as are deemed just and reasonable; and whereas, by the treaty concluded at Ghent on the 24th day of December, 1814, between the United States and His Britannic Majesty, an article was agreed to and inserted of the following tenor, viz.: Art. 10. Whereas the traffic in slaves is irreconcilable with the principles of humanity and justice; and whereas both His Majesty and the United States are desirous of continuing their efforts to promote its entire abolition, it is hereby agreed that both the contracting parties shall use their best endeavors to accomplish so desirable an object; and whereas, notwithstanding the laws which have at various times been passed by the two Governments, and the efforts made to suppress it, that criminal traffic is still prosecuted and carried on; and whereas the United States of America and Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland are determined that, so far as may be in their power, it shall be effectually abolished; and whereas it is found expedient, for the better administration of justice and the prevention of crime within the territories and jurisdiction of the two parties respectively, that persons committing the crimes hereinafter enumerated, and being fugitives from justice, should, under certain circumstances, be reciprocally delivered up: The United States of America and Her Britannic Majesty, having resolved to treat on these several subjects, have for that purpose appointed their respective Plenipotentiaries to negotiate and conclude a treaty, that is to say:
The President of the United States has, on his part, furnished with full powers Daniel Webster, Secretary of State of the United States, and Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland has, on her part, appointed the Right Honorable Alexander Lord Ashburton, a peer of the said United Kingdom, a member of Her Majestys Most Honorable Privy Council, and Her Majestys Minister Plenipotentiary on a special mission to the United States;
It is hereby agreed and declared that the line of boundary shall be as follows: Beginning at the monument at the source of the river St. Croix as designated and agreed to by the Commissioners under the fifth article of the treaty by 1794, between the Governments of the United States and Great Britain; thence, north, following the exploring line run and marked by the surveyors of the two Governments in the years 1817 and 1818, under the fifth article of the treaty of Ghent, to its intersection with the river St. John, and to the middle of the channel thereof; thence, up the middle of the main channel of the said river St. John, to the mouth of the river St. Francis; thence, up the middle of the channel of the said river St. Francis, and of the lakes through which it flows, to the outlet of the Lake Pohenagamook; thence, southwesterly, in a straight line, to a point on the northwest branch of the river St. John, which point shall be ten miles distant from the main branch of St. John, in a straight line, and in the nearest direction; but if the said point shall be found to be less than seven miles from the nearest point of the summit or crest of the highlands that divide those rivers which empty themselves into the river Saint Lawrence from those which fall into the river Saint John, then the said point shall be made to recede down the said northwest branch of the river St. John, to a point seven miles in a straight line from the said summit or crest; thence, in a straight line in a course about south, eight degrees west, to the point where the parallel of latitude of 46° 25' north intersects the southwest branch of the St. Johns; thence, southerly, by the said branch, to the source thereof in the highlands at the Metjarmette portage; thence, down along the said highlands which divide the waters which empty themselves into the river Saint Lawrence from those which fall into the Atlantic Ocean, to the head of Halls Stream; thence, down the middle of said stream, till the line thus run intersects the old line of boundary surveyed and marked by Valentine and Collins, previously to the year 1774, as the 45th degree of north latitude, and which has been known and understood to be the line of actual division between the States of New York and Vermont on one side, and the British province of Canada on the other; and from said point of intersection, west, along the said dividing line, as heretofore known and understood, to the Iroquois or St. Lawrence River.
It is moreover agreed, that from the place where the joint Commissioners terminated their labors under the sixth article of the treaty of Ghent, to wit, at a point in the Neebish Channel, near Muddy Lake, the line shall run into and along the ship-channel between Saint Joseph and St. Tammany Islands, to the division of the channel at or near the head of St. Josephs Island; thence, turning eastwardly and northwardly around the lower end of St. Georges or Sugar Island, and following the middle of the channel which divides St. Georges from St. Josephs Island; thence up the east Neebish Channel, nearest to St. Georges Island, through the middle of Lake George; thence west of Jonas Island, into St. Marys River, to a point in the middle of that river, about one mile above St. Georges or Sugar Island, so as to appropriate and assign the said island to the United States; thence, adopting the line traced on the maps by the Commissioners, thro the river St. Mary and Lake Superior, to a point north of Ile Royale, in said lake, one hundred yards to the north and east of Ile Chapeau, which last-mentioned island lies near the northeastern point of Ile Royale, where the line marked by the Commissioners terminates; and from the last mentioned point, southwesterly, through the middle of the sound between Ile Royale and the northwestern main land, to the mouth of Pigeon River, and up the said river, to and through the north and south Fowl Lakes, to the lakes of the height of land between Lake Superior and the Lake of the Woods; thence, along the water communication to Lake Saisaginage, and through that lake; thence, to and through Cypress Lake, Lac du Bois Blanc, Lac La Croix, Little Vermilion Lake, and Lake Namecan and through the several smaller lakes, straits, or streams, connecting the lakes here mentioned, to that point in Lac La Pluie, or Rainy Lake, at the Chaudiere Falls, from which the Commissioners traced the line to the most northwestern point of the Lake of the Woods; thence, along the said line, to the said most northwestern point, being in latitude 49° 23' 55" north and in longitude 95° 14' 38" west from the observatory at Greenwich; thence, according to existing treaties, due south to its intersection with the 49th parallel of north latitude, and along that parallel to the Rocky Mountains. It being understood that all the water communications and all the usual portages along the line from Lake Superior to the Lake of the Woods, and also Grand Portage, from the shore of Lake Superior to the Pigeon River, as now actually used, shall be free and open to the use of the citizens and subjects of both countries.
In order to promote the interests and encourage the industry of all the inhabitants of the countries watered by the river St. John and its tributaries, whether living within the State of Maine or the province of New Brunswick, it is agreed that, where, by the provisions of the present treaty, the river St. John is declared to be the line of boundary, the navigation of the said river shall be free and open to both parties, and shall in no way be obstructed by either; that all the produce of the forest, in logs, lumber, timber, boards, staves or shingles, or of agriculture, not being manufactured, grown on any of those parts of the State of Maine watered by the river of St. John, or by its tributaries, of which fact reasonable evidence shall, if required, be produced, shall have free access into and through the said river and its said tributaries, having their source within the State of Maine, to and from the sea-port at the mouth of the said river St. Johns, and to and round the falls of the said river, either by boats, rafts, or other conveyance; that when within the province of New Brunswick, the said produce shall be dealt with as if it were the produce of the said province; that, in like manner, the inhabitants of the territory of the upper St. John, determined by this treaty to belong to Her Britannic Majesty, shall have free access to and through the river, for their produce, in those parts where the said river runs wholly through the State of Maine; Provided, always, that this agreement shall give no right to either party to interfere with any regulations not inconsistent with the terms of this treaty which governments, respectively, of Maine or of New Brunswick may make respecting the navigation of the said river, where both banks thereof shall belong to the same party.
All grants of land heretofore made by either party, within the limits of the territory which by this treaty falls within the dominions of the other party, shall be held valid, ratified, and confirmed to the persons in possession under such grants, to the same extent as if such territory had by this treaty fallen within the dominions of the party by whom such grants were made; and all equitable possessory claims, arising from a possession and improvement of any lot or parcel of land by the person actually in possession, or by those under whom such person claims, for more than six years before the date of this treaty, shall, in like manner, be deemed valid, and be confirmed and quieted by a release to the persons entitled thereto, of the title to such lot or parcel of land, so described as best to include the improvements made thereon; and in all other respects the two contracting parties agree to deal upon the most liberal principles of equity with the settlers actually dwelling upon the territory falling to them, respectively, which has heretofore been in dispute between them.
Whereas in the course of the controversy respecting the disputed territory on the northeastern boundary, some moneys have been received by the authorities of Her Britannic Majestys province of New Brunswick, with the intention of preventing depredations, on the forests of the said territory, which moneys were to be carried to a fund called the disputed territory fund, the proceeds whereof it was agreed should be hereafter paid over to the parties interested, in the proportions to be determined by a final settlement of boundaries, it is hereby agreed that a correct account of all receipts and payments on the said fund shall be delivered to the Government of the United States within six months after the ratification of this treaty; and the proportion of the amount due thereon to the States of Maine and Massachusetts, and any bonds or securities appertaining thereto shall be paid and delivered over to the Government of the United States; and the Government of the United States agrees to receive for the use of, and pay over to, the States of Maine and Massachusetts, their respective portions of said fund, and further, to pay and satisfy said States, respectively, for all claims for expenses incurred by them in protecting the said heretofore disputed territory and making a survey thereof in 1838; the Government of United States agreeing with the States of Maine and Massachusetts to pay them the further sum of three hundred thousand dollars, in equal moieties, on account of their assent to the line of boundary described in this treaty, and in consideration of the conditions and equivalents received therefore from the Government of Her Britannic Majesty.
It is furthermore understood and agreed that, for the purpose of running and tracing those parts of the line between the source of the St. Croix and the St. Lawrence River which will require to be run and ascertained, and for marking the residue of said line by proper monuments on the land, two Commissioners shall be appointed, one by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate thereof, and one by Her Britannic Majesty; and the said Commissioners shall meet at Bangor, in the State of Maine, on the first day of May next, or as soon thereafter as may be, and shall proceed to mark the line above described, from the source of St. Croix to the river St. John; and shall trace on proper maps the dividing-line along said river and along the river of St. Francis to the outlet of the Lake Pohenagamook; and from the outlet of the said lake they shall ascertain, fix, and mark, by proper and durable monuments on the land, the line described in the first article of this treaty; and the said Commissioners shall make to each of their respective Governments a joint report or declaration, under their hands and seals, designation such line of boundary, and shall accompany such report or declaration with maps, certified by them to be true maps of the new boundary.
It is further agreed that the channels in the river St. Lawrence on both sides of the Long Sault Islands and of Barnhart Island, the channels in the river Detroit on both sides of the island Bois Blanc, and between that Island and both the American and Canadian shores, and all the several channels and passages between the various islands lying near the junction of the river St. Clair with the lake of that name, shall be equally free and open to the ships, vessels, and boats of both parties.
The parties mutually stipulate that each shall prepare, equip, and maintain in service on the coast of Africa a sufficient and adequate squadron or naval force of vessels of suitable numbers and descriptions, to carry in all not less than eighty guns, to enforce, separately and respectively, the laws, rights and obligations of each of the two countries for the suppression of the slave-trade, the said squadrons to be independent of each other, but the two Governments stipulating, nevertheless, to give such orders to the officers commanding their respective forces as shall enable them most effectually to act in concert and co-operation, upon mutual consultation, as exigencies may arise, for the attainment of the true object of this article, copies of all such orders to be communicated by each Government to the other, respectively.
Whereas, notwithstanding all efforts which may be made on the coast of Africa for suppressing the slave-trade, the facilities for carrying on that traffic and avoiding the vigilance of cruisers, by the fraudulent use of flags and other means, are so great, and the temptations for pursuing it, while a market can be found for slaves, so strong, as that the desired result may be long delayed unless all markets be shut against the purchase of African negroes, the parties to this treaty agree that they will unite in all becoming representations and remonstrances with any and all Powers within whose dominions such markets are allowed to exist, and that they will urge upon all such Powers the propriety and duty of closing such markets effectually, at once and forever.
It is agreed that the United States and Her Britannic Majesty shall, upon mutual requisitions by them, or their Ministers, officers, or authorities, respectively made, deliver up to justice all persons who, being charged with the crime of murder, or assault with intent to commit murder, or piracy, or arson, or robbery, or forgery, or the utterance of forged paper, committed within the jurisdiction of either, shall seek an asylum or shall be found within the territories of the other: Provided, that this shall only be done upon such evidence of criminality as, according to the laws of the place where the fugitive or person so charged shall be found, would justify his apprehension and commitment for trial if the crime or offence had there been committed; and the respective judges and other magistrates of the two Governments shall have power, jurisdiction, and authority, upon complaint made under oath, to issue a warrant for the apprehension of the fugitive or person so charged, that he may be brought before such judges or other magistrates, respectively, to the end that the evidence of criminality may be heard and considered; and if, on such hearing, the evidence be deemed sufficient to sustain the charge, it shall be the duty of the examining judge or magistrate to certify the same to the proper executive authority, that a warrant may issue for the surrender of such fugitive. The expense of such apprehension and delivery shall be borne and defrayed by the party who makes the requisition and receives the fugitive.
The eighth article of this treaty shall be in force for five years from the date of the exchange of the ratification, and afterwards until one or the other party shall signify a wish to terminate it. The tenth article shall continue in force until one or the other of the parties shall signify its wish to terminate it, and no longer.