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Dec. 30, 1828.]
Occupancy of the Oregon River.
[H. OF R.
tain: for she formally surrendered to us the only post we If we have a pretty clear right, or even a color of title to claimed to possess in that country. Nor does she hold that part of the coast, what is there to induce any foreign possession of it against our efforts: for there have no per- Power to take possession of those steril mountains? Can sons come from the United States to occupy it. The Bri- it be the desire to hunt a few badgers? To collect a parcel tish occupy it in no other way than the Asiatics do, and of goat skins? Or even to hunt for beaver and small furs? the French, and the Hollanders, and all other people, And as to a harbor, the thing is next to impracticable. who are there, leading a roaming and unsettled life, with Nature herself has forbidden it; nor can I ever believe that, out any fixed habitation. It is true, that, at the sugges- if the difficulties were overcome, a harbor at the mouth tion of Capt. Mckenzie, a visionary, Great Britain did of the Columbia River would be of any important advanconfer certain rights upon the Northwest or Hudson Con- tage to this country. Of agriculture it is useless to speak, pany; but she claims no right of possession as against us, and, for that is totally out of the question. And are you going by the treaty of 1818, she stipulates that the country shall to call away your citizens from all the sweets of domestic be left open to both parties. Our claims can be fully sub- life, and send them to inhabit immense mountains I was stantiated, and let them be settled by amicable negotiation. going to say, covered with impenetrable forests, but I This is far better than to attempt to maintain them by should say, to mountains without any forests on them, unplanting a colony in that inhospitable region. Such a co- less we are desirous of depriving our citizens of the sweets lony, once planted, must be protected. If you hold out to of civilization, and rendering them savages: for, sir, it is your citizens inducements to leave their homes, in the known to all who have turned over and perused the pages bosom of civilized society, by making to them donations of the great volume of nature, to call a man from the purof land in a distant region, you are bound, when they ac- suits of agriculture and the mechanic arts, to pursue the cept your offer, to protect them in their new possessions, roaming hunter's life, will render him in a few years a and this protection must be sufficient to guard them against savage indeed. Why has it been the settled policy of this the attacks, not only of all foreign Powers, but of a body Government, ever since the year 1785 to attempt the of more than two hundred thousand Indians, who are civilization of our Indian tribes? Why have we occupied wandering in the region beyond the Council Bluffs. It our time in legislation, and spent vast sums of money, to has, indeed, been said that these are nothing but unarmed civilize those savages? And are you now going to make savages, naked, imbecile, and worthy of no consideration. savages of your own citizens? You are going to send But, sir, so it was thought by those who attempted the them where they can only hear of us by accident, unconquest of South America. They too were unacquainted less, indeed, gentlemen intend to establish a series of with the use of fire arms, and ignorant of European tactics. mail routes across the Rocky Mountains. Once send them Yet they made up by their numbers for the want of arms, there, and they are thrown off from this republic for ever. and, like swarms of moschetoes, though individually feeble, Their natural connexion will not be with us. It will be were enabled, from their numbers, to harass their oppo- with the Sandwich Islands. It will be with the Spanish nents; and by coming down in endless multitudes upon a republics of the South. It will be with the highly refined handful of men, however well armed, they succeeded in and civilized inhabitants of the Asiatic coasts. Sir, our utterly exterminating them. A similar fate would threaten citizens can never expect to live in that region by the puryour colony, and before you could render them any effec- suit of agriculture. The country is utterly unfit for it. tual aid, starvation would have destroyed what the enemy Dy gentlemen intend to settle American citizens like the had spared. Besides, Mr. Chairman, look for a moment Northern Scots under McAlpine? To convert them into at the vast expense of planting, arming, and maintaining predatory clans and hordes, who may, when estranged a colony, at such a vast distance from the rest of the re- from us, be the first to harass our Western frontier? If it public. Who has forgotten, or can forget, the expedition could be done, what must the effect be but utterly to destroy once projected to the Yellowstone River? The result of their American feelings? To ally them by habit and attachthat project stands as a beacon before our eyes. But three ment to a foreign Power, and thus to raise up a body of boats ascended the Missouri; they travelled a distance of internal enemies, who, in case of a foreign war, would be six hundred and fifty miles, carried three hundred men, the first to turn against you. It is true that their power and in all but two hundred and twenty tons burthen, and to injure you would be restrained by the intervening this cost the United States two hundred and fifty-tive wastes and deserts over which they must pass, but in heart thousand dollars; that is, eight hundred and fifty dollars and feelings they would be a foreig people. a head. No one, who would not be desirous of preparing If gentlemen think that we have not got land enough, a premature grave for their followers, would think of then it is worthy of consideration for us to look abroad. taking less than four hundred men a distance of between But let gentlemen look at the rast, wide-spreading, ferthree and four thousand miles from the mouth of the Mis: tile valley of the Mississippi; let them reflect upon the souri, to take and hold possession of the country. To send thousands of thousands of acres yet untouched by the less than that number would be totally useless: for we axe of the settler. No, sir, I will never encourage na. have heard it stated that the British have in that country a tive born Americans to leave their country, till I see the body of men more than a thousand strong, besides all the boundary of our twenty-four States and Territories first Indian forces over whom they exert an influence.
Send filled up.
When these are overflowing with a dense the lightest pieces of artillery that you can procure, and population, let us extend our settlements to the base of send with them provisions to support the garrison for the Rocky Mountains, and then, when our country will twelve months, and the expense will not amount to less hold no more, there may be some plausible reason for setthan one million two hundred thousand dollars--an ex-lling the Oregon territory. But that is a day which I be. pense which never will be repaid by those imaginary ben- lieve will never come. Sir, it seems to be the decree of efits with which gentlemen had amused themselves and nature herself, that the Rocky Mountains shall be the westthe House. Believing this, I am utterly opposed to the ern boundary of this republic. She has interposed a couriwhole project.
try of four hundred miles in extent, of the most barren, steBut I have other reasons for my hostility to this bill. If ril character—a country without timber and without wayou are to take possession of this Oregon country from ter-a country wholly unfit for the occupation of civilized fear that, if you do not, some other Power will, why does man : while above and beyond it those mountains rcar not the same argument apply to the whole of that vast and their snowy and impassable tops, many hundred feet fertile region which extends to the west of Louisiana, higher than the summits of the Council Bluffs. They Arkansas, and Missouri—a region certainly far more ac- stand like an immense Chinese wall
, and must forever, and cessible and far more valuable? But this is a vain fear. Seffectually, guard us from all attacks from that quarter.
H. OF R.]
Occupancy of the Oregon River.
(Dec. 30, 1828.
Should any foreign Power ever be so senseless at to take erecting a new Government, having free institutions, and, possession of the Oregon, they can never injure the Unit- from its origin, being naturally disposed to aid the mother ed States on that side.
country, and remain attached to it by ties of friendship But, admitting it were possible for us to settle a colony, and alliance. Sir, if there are any gentlemen in this as gentlemen propose, what will be the result? The House who please themselves with such a visionary pros country must first be settled by a band of hardy and adventu- pect, they would do well to read once more Æsop's fable of rous poneers. The next step will be to erect it into a terri- the frozen adder. The simple farmer brought it home, and tory, and then you will be called on to erect this territory warmed it in his bosom and before his fire ; but it had no into a State ; and what then? It can be but a few years be sooner come to life, than it flew about his house and stung fore such a State must, by its own weight, fall off from this his family. Sir, I am not remarkably timid, but I fear confederacy. You have no practical means to connect such a project. I wish to see no separate governments such a State with the rest of the republic. No Delegate nurtured by our care. Let us expend that care in im. or Representative can come thence to this House, and re-provements at home. Let us make our public lands acturn again, within twelve months. Let his journey avecessible to all. Let us throw open to our citizens our own rage twenty-five miles a day, which is a very liberal allow- fertile and happy regions. There they will find a faro ance, and it will take him three hundred and sixty-eight rable theatre for the pursuit of agriculture and the me. days to come here and return. His mileage will amount chanic arts; while every social blessing will follow in their to near four thousand dollars, and be paid to him for train. But such a theatre can never be found, and nerer no other service but travelling, as no time will be left will be created, in that wild region of fancy, which seems for legislation. Such a Representative could never know to present itself to the advocates of this bill
. the existing wants of his constituents, if he means to There is another consideration which induces me to opspend any time in legislation. He must reside at Wash- pose this measure. Admit that you shall succeed in ington, and so his State will be always twelve months' planting the proposed colony. After you have planted ahead of him, let him propose what laws he may. If it it, you will be compelled to protect it against war, famine, is to be a territory, it must have a territorial Governor , and pestilence. You must protect it against war with that and how is such a Governor to come here to settle his ac- great body of armed hunters who are there prosecuting counts? As Governor of such a territory, he will be the fur trade, and the wretched Indian hordes. Will you surrounded by two hundred thousand Indians, with be able to sit coolly by, and see the blood of your fellow whom he must transact business and hold treaties, and for citizens streaming from every pore, and attempt to lend this he must be furnished with immense sums of money : them no assistance? Sir, it is impossible. The spirit of but the money so sent might as well be thrown into the this nation forbids it ; and we must attempt their aid, cost bottom of the sea. But gentlemen may say, he can come what it may. I say you must defend them against famine. by sca, No doubt he call; but to do so, he will have to How will they be situated ? Among mountains, covered, double Cape Horn, or else lie must take the route through through the winter, with masses of snow, which nothing Behring's Straits, and around by the North Pole, and so, could thaw but the endless torrents and floods of rain through Baffin's Bay and Davis's Straits, to Washington. which fall there in the spring and early part of the sumIf he likes neither of these routes, he has but one other mer. Then these valleys are perfectly inundated ; all the to choose, which is the overland journey of four thousand works of man are swept away; and when the waters seven hundred and five miles.
have at length subsided, the remaining season is so short It is a good rule, when we would look into futurity, that there is no time to bring any thing to perfectes first to turn our eyes back upon the past. Look only at you will therefore be compelled to furnish these people the Yellowstone expedition. It was compelled to stop with provisions, by vessels going round Cape Horn ; and before it had reached one-third of its destined course, and after such a voyage, half the provisions would be putrid even to accomplish that third, it cost our Treasury eight hun- when they get there. Sir, they will suffer by famine, dred and fifty dollars for every man who composed the par- and famine will quickly bring pestilence in its rear. ty. A colony at such a distance would cost, for its first settle-barren soil, an inclement sky, the want of all things, will ment, an immense sum of money, and the expense and bur- soon reduce these people to a situation in which pesti then would increase like a revolving snow-ball, every year ; lence will take what war and famine have left, and you will and all this for what? For the protection of the fur see a destruction of human life unparalleled in the antrade. And what is our revenue from the fur trade ? nals of history. It may be asked how I arrive at the opinNothing: No, sir, let those restless spirits who can. ion I have expressed of the sterility of this region. On not be contented to cultivate their native soil-who love that point I call the attention of the committee to the renot the face of dame terræ, and are never happy under marks of that very intelligent officer, Major Long, in the any government-always restless under the least re. 2d volume of his report, page 350. [Here Mr. M. read straint-let such beings go to Oregon, or any where else, the following extracts:] but let them go at their own risk. Let this Government He says: “On approaching the mountains, no other have nothing to do in the matter. Let it hold out no in- change is observable in the general aspect of the country, ducements. Let it grant no boons for such wild and except that the isolated knobs and table lands, above al. reckless emigrations. Sir, if you owned a territory in luded to, become more frequent, and more distinctly the remotest corner of Asia, and you would but pro- marked; the bluffs by which the valleys and water courclaim that you would furnish the means of emigration to ses are bounded, present greater abundance of rocks: all who wished to go there, there is a portion of our po- stones lie in greater profusion upon the surface, and the pulation who would instantly leave this " land of the free soil becomes more steril. If to the characteristics abore and home of the brave,” to seek their fortune in the estimated, we add that of an almost complete destitution ends of the earth.. I may be thought to draw too dark a of wood land, (for not more than the one-thousandth part of picture of the citizens of the United States. I thank the section can be said to possess a timber growth) we God it is a picture that suits but few ; but there are a few shall have a pretty correct idea of the general aspect of in this republic, who would avoid the restraints of civili- the country.” zation at any hazard, and on any ternis.
And in page 361, of the same work, after speaking of But it may be said that the erection of such a colony is that tract of table lands between the Council Bluffs and a valuable object, even on the admission that, when ar- the Rocky Mountains, he says: “In regard to this extenrived at maturity, it will ask to be separated from this sive section of country, we do not hesitate in giving the republic ; that, by planting it, we shall be the means of opinion, that it is almost wholly unfit for cultivation, and,
Occupancy of the Oregon River.
(H. of R.
of course, uninhabitable by a people depending upon of any infraction of the terms of that convention by Engagriculture for their subsistence. Although tracts of fer- land, that gentlemen should urge this Government, with tile land, considerably extensive, are occasionally to be so little notice, to take a new stand in relation to the Oremet with, yet the scarcity of wood and water, almost uni-gon River. Gentlemen who called on Congress to take formly prevalent, will prove an insuperable obstacle in such a step, were surely bound to bring forward some the way of settling the country. This objection rests not good reason in support of it. In his judgment, it was reaonly against the immediate section under consideration, son enough for voting against such a bill as this, that all but applies, with equal propriety, to a much larger portion things respecting the territory in question are now preof the country. Agreeably to the best intelligence that cisely in the same situation as they have been for twelve can be had concerning the country, both northward and years past. If gentlemen have any new information on southward of the section, and especially from the infer- the subject, if they can lay new and important facts beences deducible from the account given by Lewis and fore this Committee, Mr. G. said he was prepared to give Clarke, of the country situated between the Missouri and them all the attention they deserved. If they went to show the Rocky Mountains, above the river Platte, the vast re- that our trade in those seas called for new and additional gion commencing near the sources of the Sabine, Trinity, protection, he should be willing to accord it; but as now Brasis, and Colorado, and extending northwardly to the informed, he was inclined to believe that, so far as the 49° of north latitude, by which the United States' territo- mercantile interest in New England was concerned, the ry is limited in that directi is throughout of a similar people were perfectly satisfied with the existing state of character. The whole of this region seems peculiarly things. It was impossible they should be so with the proadapted as a range for buffaloes, wild goats, and other ject contained in this bill. wild game, incalculable multitudes of which find ample As to the Columbia River itself, it was well known to pasturage and subsistence upon it. This region, however, be a stream of the most difficult, hazardous, and impracviewed as a frontier, may prove of infinite importance to ticable navigation; and the coast at its mouth was a region the United States, inasmuch as it is calculated to serve as of storms and tempests--a rocky, iron-bound coast--the a barrier to prevent too great an extension of our popu- dread and terror of the mariner. To talk of a fort in lation westward, and secure us against the machinations such a region, for the protection of our commerce, was or incursions of an enemy that might otherwise be dispos- idie. If any fort was to be erected there, instead of being ed to annoy us in that quarter."
at the mouth of Columbia River, its true position was in These remarks apply not only to the valley of the Ore- 48° or 49° north, in what was called the Sound, or Straits gon, but to our immense region of the continent, contain- of St. John de Fuca. There, there was, indeed, a good ing little short of 300,000 square miles. And shall we go harbor; but, as to Columbia River, he was told by one of about to plant a colony at such a distance, in such a coun- the most intelligent navigators he had ever known, and try, at such an expense, and in the face of such dangers who was experimentally acquainted with the navigation and ditficulties, merely because a few restless spirits, who of that entire region, that there was no harbor of more can be contented no where, come and desire it at our dangerous entrance. Great difficulty was almost always hands? God forbid! Can it be pretended that there is experienced, either in entering or in leaving it; and vesany necessity for such a colony? There is no such neces- sels had been lost in the attempt. So far, therefore, as sity. If the settlement was on this side of the Rocky this fort was intended for the protection of our trade by Mountains, I would not complain. But if a company of sea, the project must fail entirely. For the fur trade, no hunters want to establish themselves far beyond our limits such fort was needed. The committee had witnessed a for the sake of getting furs, let them do it, but tax not decided opposition, in the representative of that interest, your Government to aid them in their schemes.
(Mr. Bates, of Missouri) to the whole plan. This was If these views of the general subject be correct, it is enough for him. If the very people who are engaged in no great matter whether they be directed against the this pursuit, and who ought to be the best judges of their original bill, or either of the amendments. Both the bill own interests, express not only indifference, but actual and amendments ought to meet, and, I trust, will meet, an opposition to the bill, there can surely be no need that the early destiny in this House. After all the examination I nation should take a new attitude with foreign Powers to bave been able to give unto the evidence on this subject, protect them. If the object is to give a Government sancI am compelled to believe that the country on the Oregon tion to the fur trade in that region, all that was necessary River is unfriendly to civilized life; that it can scarce give would be to pass an act authorizing the Missouri Compaa scanty support for the wretched Indians who roam över ny, or the hunters of Michigan, to trade on the Columbia it; and I will never consent, by an act of this Govern-River. At any rate, it will be easy to give to some fur ment, to hold it out as a suitable home for American company the privilege of the trade; and, in so doing, you citizens.
will go as far, and no farther, than Great Britain has done. Mr. GORHAM, of Massachusetts, said, that it had not This would meet the case which his honorable colleague, been his intention to have said a word on this subject; but [Mr. EVERETT) with whom he reluctantly differed in opinsome remarks had fallen from gentlemen, which might in- ion, supposed to exist, viz: that the British fur traders do duce the opinion that that part of the Union which it was now exclude those of the United States, and exercise an his honor in part to represent, had an interest that the exclusive jurisdiction over the country: bill should pass. It was in reply to such a suggestion At the time of the first convention, in 1818, the British that he had risen. It was not very material whether the fur companies had the same establishments and the same question immediately before the House was on the amend- forts which they now have. They continued to have the ment, or on the original bill, as the discussion had been same when the convention was renewed in 1827. By the permitted to take a general range, of which he should convention, Great Britain acknowledges the whole counavail himself. The substantial question for the commit- try as free and open to the subjects and citizens of both tee to determine, he took to be this: Whether any such nations. And will gentlemen say, in the face of such an change bas occurred in the relations of this country to acknowledgment, that the mere possession of the forts England, or to any other portion of the world, as requir- which she before held, is assuming to herself the exclusive ed us to assume a new attitude, and to pursue a different possession and jurisdiction of the Oregon country? If, policy, from what we had hitherto dɔne, in relation to the indeed, these forts had been erected by the British since country on the Northwest Coast of this continent? It seem- the convention, then it might, with some show of argued to him extraordinary, after the recent confirmation of ment, be said that they were pursuing a new course of the convention of 1818, and while no complaints are made policy, which required countervailing measures on our
H. OF R.]
Occupancy of the Oregon River.
(Dec. 30, 1828.
part; but no such thing can be maintained while she only est, much more than any paper constitution, holds them holds the same forts (and these not national forts, but trad together. These are the great elements of the Union; ing posts merely) she has held there for these twelve but these have no place in relation to a country at such a years past; and, by a solemn public instrument, acknow- distance as Oregon; and as the ultimate measure is inledges that she derives no title from them to the jurisdic. practicable, the incipient steps which naturally lead to it, tion of the country.
I think, are unwise. But some gentlemen scem alarmed at the extension of Mr. RICHARDSON said, it was always with reluctance the jurisdiction of the courts of Upper Canada over this that he occupied a moment of the time of the House; but region, by the British act of Parliament of 1821. Sir, the having been a member of the Committee who reported the British negotiator expressly disavowed to Mr. Gallatin, in bill under consideration, he deemed it his duty to state his the negotiation of 1827, all intention by their Govern- reasons for assenting to it. To settle, in my own judg. ment, in extending the jurisdiction of their courts, to ex ment, the question of right to occupy, as proposed, the ercise it in any way whatever over our citizens in that Oregon river and territory, I examined with care the corterritory. She has many subjects there, among whom it respondence between the Government of the United States is necessary to preserve some responsibility to legal con- and that of Great Britain, relating to that question. The trol. Murders liave been committed there by British sub- evidence in the case led me to the conclusion, that the jects on each other—nay, the disputes between the Fur right of the United States to those possessions was perCompanies of Lord Selkirk and the Northwest Company, fect. After availing myself of all the accounts given of have been pushed into open war, in which men have fal- the river and territory by navigators and travellers of the len on both sides. Great Britain has been, therefore, in most respectable character, I could not doubt the expe. a manner, compelled to extend the jurisdiction of her diency of the proposed occupation. But the descriptions courts over her own subjects in such circumstances, for given yesterday, by gentlemen on the opposite side, of the the punishment of crimes like these; but she disclaims all Oregon river and territory, have almost shaken my conother jurisdiction. The mere bringing of her own sub-fidence in the correctness of the judgment I had formed. jects to account for their offences, involves no claim to They have described the territory as a region of desolathe country, and forms no just cause for the alarm, and fortion, the river unnavigable, the whole claim as worse than the great sensitiveness which has been expressed. We can worthless, and, as it would seem, even reproachful to exercise a siinilar jurisdiction for our own courts, and its author. How are these contradictory statements Great Britain will not complain. Nothing will be easier to be accounted for? Those who have navigated the river than to extend the criminal jurisdiction of the courts of and traversed the regions from the Rocky Mountains to Michigan over our own citizens on the Oregon, in the same the Pacific, have represented the country as luxuriant and manner as Great Britain has done. Where is the difficulty beautiful. Sir, I am old enough to remember having read of such an arrangement? As to matters of contract, they the speeches in Congress on the question of the acquisimay be tried any where. Mr. G. said, he could perceive tion of Louisiana, when that question was pending: The no difficulty in the way of such a plan. But forts without most horrible pictures of that country were drawn in Conjurisdiction, would never defend our citizens.
gress, and spread before the Union, to deter the GovernBefore we set up a territorial government in Oregon, ment from the acquisition. And, sir, I have read accounts we should do well to look at the sixth article of the Florida published by foreign travellers, and which were spread treaty. We claim under Spain all the Northwest Coast through Europe, describing the whole of the United States north of 42°, from Arkansas to the Pacific Ocean. We as a country fit to be inhabited by none but wild beast make this Spanish treaty the strong and prominent ground and savages. Of such accounts there were latent causes, of our claim. For, as to Gray's discovery of the mouth which time has unfolded. Before the face of the world, of the river in 1792, they have an answer ready for us; events have contradicted those accounts. Surely the stateand so they have as to our argument from the bounds of ments of gentlemen on all sides, of what they have not Louisiana: what we mainly rest upon is the Florida treaty. seen, are to be received with caution. Now, in that treaty, there is an express stipulation, that The facts and arguments which induce me to support the inhabitants of the ceded territory are entitled to be the bill, I will give in as few words as practicable. The come citizens of the United States, and may, when suffi- evidence on which this Government rests its claim to the ciently numerous, be admitted into the Union, on a footing Oregon river and territory, demands the first attention. of equality. Now, if we extend our settlements into Ore. This bill proposes to occupy a territory bounded by the gon, as a part of that ceded territory, then we are bound United States in an extent of more than twelve degrees by this stipulation to give the inhabitants some form of ci- of latitude, and spreading, in the same extent, westward, vil government, and ultimately admit them a State. You to the Pacific Ocean, embracing about sixteen degrees of have undertaken to ensure to them the rights of citizens longitude. The contiguity, situation, extent, and resources, of the United States. Suppose it to grow, by the pro- of that territory, render it necessarily an object of great gress of time, into a territory, and at length to increase interest to the United States. The right of the United its numbers to the requisite amount, then you cannot re- States to the Oregon river and territory having been strenufuse its admission into the Union as a State. Is there any ously controverted by the British Government, and they man in this House willing to proclaim such a purpose as being now in the actual occupation of that Government, this? We are certainly in no position now to do so. Ac- the measure proposed by this bill requires sound delberacident has given to the existing States some natural bonds tion and a patient examination of facts. The claim set up of union with each other. The different characters of la- by this bill will expose this Government to a controversy bor, together with the different descriptions of geographi- with no other than that of Great Britain. France, Spain, cal advantages, cause the various interests of the States to and Russia, have, by treaty, expressly relinquished their meet and harmonize. The physical position of the entire claims in favor of the United States, and a claim the Spavalley of the Mississippi renders a naval force of primary nish Government had vesting an incontestable right. This importance to its inhabitants; and owing to the peculiar Government is, then, required to establish its right to that character of their labor and industry, the same thing holds river and territory against any claims set up by Great Brigood of all the Southern States. Now, they are furnished tain. It will be my purpose to prove the right of this with this navy by the inhabitants of a poorer country, es- Government to that river and territory against the claim sentially commercial, finding in the carrying of the rich of Great Britain. If I understand the correspondence produce of the South and West, a principal support of between the American and British ministers, relating to their maritime commerce. This mutual relation of inter- this subject, the latter rests the claim of their Government
Dec. 30, 1828.]
Occupancy of the Oregon River.
(H. oy R.
on no other ground than that of a supposed first discovery doubt that he would have availed himself of such facts ? and exploration by their navigators. Admitting British The presumption is irresistible that no facts were known navigators as witnesses, the evidence of first discovery is which could justify, in any degree, a farther extension of in favor of the United States. It is proved by Captain the claims of the British Government. To establish the Vancouver, who was employed by the British Government right by occupation, the law of nations requires that discoon a voyage of discovery, and who visited the Northwest very be followed by actual exploration and settlement. It is Coast in 1792, that Captain Gray, of Boston, a citizen of well known that, in the years 1805 and 1806, an explorathe United States, bearing the flag of his country, first tion was executed, with great toil and hardship, by Capdiscovered the mouth of the Oregon or Columbia River. tains Lewis and Clarke, under the authority, and at the In his journal, Captain Vancouver recorded, on the 27th expense, of the United States. They explored several of April, 1792, that, south of 48° of north latitude, there branches of the Oregon, from the Rocky Mountains to the was no large river, but only small creeks. The next day mouth of the river. They explored the adjacent country he met, at sea, Captain Gray, then commanding the Ame- between those branches, and in numerous places in the rican ship Columbia, who informed him of the mouth of broad basins through which the branches and the main the river, which, for several days, Captain Gray had then, river flow. It is well known, that, in 1810, Mr. Astor, a without success, attempted to enter. On the 11th of May citizen of the United States, fitted out two expeditions, next following, Captain Gray succeeded in entering the one by sea and another by land from the Missouri, for the river which commonly bears the name of his ship, and mouth of the Columbia. The settlement of Astoria was which he ascended upwards of twenty miles. Captain commenced, near the mouth of the river, “before any setVancouver acknowledges that he received from Captain tlement had been made by the British, south of the 49th Gray a rough chart of the river, and a communication of parallel of latitude.” But, I am not in favor of limiting the his discoveries. With these, one of Captain Vancouver's claim of the United States to the 49th parallel of latitude. officers was sent to take a survey of Gray's harbor, and of The United States have an undoubted right to claim as the Columbia river, which he ascended somewhat farther far to the northward as the actual discoveries by Spanish than Captain Gray. Let it be remarked, that Captain Van- navigators had extended. The American minister, Mr. couver mentions, in his journal, “Gray's Harbor,” a place Gallatin, stated to the British minister these facts, which which Gray had previously visited and named. On the are too important to be overlooked, that, “in 1774, Perez, same occasion, we find Captain Vancouver expressing his in the Spanish corvette Santiago, discovered Nootka desire, in these words, that he might “particularly exam- Sound, in latitude 49 deg. 30 min. and sailed to the 55th ine a river and a harbor discovered by Mr. Gray, in the degree, discovering Lougara Island, anci Perez, now callColumbia, between the 46th and 47th degrees of north ed Discon’s Entrance, north of Queen Charlotte Island.” latitude."-Vancouver, vol. 1, p. 415.
“ In 1775, Quadra, in the Spanish schooner Felicidad, To that time Cape Disappointment had been unknown of which Maurelle was pilot, discovered various parts beto Captain Vancouver; and, using his own words, he men-tween the 55th and 58th degrees, and explored the coast tions " Cape Disappointment, which forms the north point from 42 to 54 degrees, landing at several places, imposing of entrance into Columbia River, so named by Mr. Gray." names on some, and not being at any time hardly more --ib. p. 418, 419. That distinguished navigator was 100 than ten leagues from the shore." And the treaty ratified honest and ingenuous to deny to Captain Gray the honor between the United States and Spain, in 1819, contains and the right of first discovery of the Columbia River. an express renunciation, in favor of the United States, of
if, previous to Captain Vancouver's visiting the coast, "all the rights, claims, and pretensions, of Spain, to any Meares, or any other British navigator, had made discovery territories north of the parallel of latitude running from of the Columbia River, is it to be presumed that Captain the source of the Arkansas river to the South Sea,” as the Vancouver would have been unadvised of the fact? Would Pacific is called by the Spaniards. Now, the British Gothe British Government, if the Columbia River had been vernment, to maintain its claim, must prove a discovery of discovered by its navigators, have permitted that fact to those parts of the coast antecedent to their discovery by be unknown to the world? The truth is reluctantly con- the Spanish. This the British Government has not atfessed by the British ministers, in these terms: “It must, tempted to do. The only color of ground that I can find indeed, be admitted, that Mr. Gray, finding himself in the for the British claim to the disputed parts of the Oregon, bay formed by the discharge of the waters of the Colum- is in the fact, that, previous to the cession of those parts bia Riverinto the Pacific, was the first to ascertain that this by Spain, the Spanish Government had consented that, bay formed the outlet of a great river—a discovery which between it and the British Government “the sovereignty had escaped Lieut. Meares, when, in 1773, four years be- should remain in abeyance.”—Doc. 199, p. 53, State pap. fore, he entered the same bay.”-_5th vol. State Papers, 1st sess. 20th Congress. Doc. 199, p. 55.
After examining all the sources of evidence to which I Thus, the direct testimony of Captain Vancouver, a could find access, I am satisfied of the right of this GoBritish navigator of the most respectable character, whose vernment to the extent of territory claimed by the bill. testimony is confirmed by various collateral evidence, to-Admitting the right of sovereignty, as claimed by the bill, gether with the admission of the British ministers, and the to be established, this question next presses upon the atabsence of all proof to the contrary, establish the fact, intention of the Committee: Is it expedient now to pass this my judgment, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the right, bill? To settle this question, a comparison of the value by discovery, to the Oregon or Columbia River, is vested in of the possession claimed, with the cost of the enterprise, the United States. Even Mr. McKenzie, the distinguished ought to be made. The territory of Oregon is nearly projector of British plans in North America, proposes to his eight hundred miles square ; or, in other words, its area Government a line of posts, approaching no nearer to the contains not less than six hundred and forty thousand Oregon River than the parallel of the 48th degree of square miles. Captains Lewis and Clarke describe the north latitude. He stated to his Government, using his branches of the Oregon as passing through extensive baown words, " that the fur trade of North America might sins of land, resembling the table lands in South America. becommanded from latitude 48 degrees to the North Pole.” The great basin of the Oregon proper is nearly nine hunThis proposed line of posts would leave the mouth of the dred miles in length, and four hundred miles in mean Oregon at least one degree and forty minutes to the south breadth. Is that country, as has been repeatedly asserted of that line. Had the keen-sighted British agent been in on this floor, of no value? What is the testimony of the possession of any facts authorizing a line of posts farther most impartial witnesses, who, with their own eyes, have south, and on the border of the Columbia, can any one seen the country, and in circumstances by no means flat