Front Page Titles (by Subject) GALLATIN TO HENRY CLAY. - The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2
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GALLATIN TO HENRY CLAY. - Albert Gallatin, The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2 
The Writings of Albert Gallatin, ed. Henry Adams (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1879). 3 vols.
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GALLATIN TO HENRY CLAY.
London, 6th March, 1827.
* * * * * * * * * *
The delay which Mr. Huskisson’s indisposition has occasioned in our negotiations is very vexatious. On my suggestion he has assented that Mr. Addington and myself should try to arrange some of the details of the North-East boundary; and we have already had two informal conversations on the subject. I find him extremely unmanageable, not from ignorance, for he has well studied the details, but because he has imbibed all the prejudices and zeal of the British agents and provincial authorities on that question. His object is clearly not that the parties should have a fair trial before the arbiter, but to take every advantage he can possibly gain.
From a thorough investigation of that subject, I am enabled to say that the only point on which the British may give us infinite trouble, create interminable delays, and induce any sovereign to decline making a decision, is that which relates to the topography of the country. Is the character, the nature of the ground which divides the sources of the northern tributary streams of the river St. John’s from those of the waters of the river St. Lawrence, and along which our line runs, or of the ground which divides the sources of the southern tributary streams of the St. John’s from those of the waters of the Penobscot, and along which the British line runs, such as to come within the treaty designation of highlands? This, if raised, and it has been raised on both sides, is the interminable question. Mr. Commissioner Van Ness saw it in its true light, and rested his decision on this, that it was not the nature of the ground, but the position of the highlands, respectively contended for, which was alone to be taken into consideration.
This admits that the two contending lines may both be considered as being generally highlands, leaving as the only question at issue, “Which are the highlands meant by the treaty?” And it is to that point that we must try to bring the British government to assent, if we mean to obtain a decision. The first act of the arbiter, if under such circumstances we can find any sovereign to act as such, will otherwise be to demand an actual survey of both lines, with the elevations, sections, &c., both of the lines and of the adjacent country. For you must know that after four years and forty thousand dollars expended in making what has been called surveys, none have been actually made but that of the line extending north from the river St. Croix, of one of the branches of the Connecticut, and six or seven portages (two or three miles in length each) between the sources of the St. John’s and either the Penobscot or the St. Lawrence. But the relative position of those portages and the courses of all the rivers, as delineated in the various plans and maps reported by the commission and in your possession, are merely conjectural. They were all guessed at, by walking over the ground, estimating the distances, and taking the courses very incorrectly; but the distances are not measured; the chain was not used. And as to the hills or ridges delineated on those maps, they were not even walked over, but seen, as it is said, from the summit of three or four detached mountains, the position of only one of which (Mars Hill) is ascertained.
With such materials, what I have proposed is, that we should agree to make in concert a general map on the plan stated in the enclosed paper, filling the blanks, so far as relates to the river-courses, in the best manner we could, taking the conjectural plans of our surveyors where they agree, and where they did not agree, in such manner as will not affect the question any way.
This proposal, in its general terms, has been acceded to. I meet, of course, with difficulties and cavils at every step, but hope, nevertheless, to succeed in having a map agreed on, on both sides, which will represent all the water-courses, portages, &c., the north line from the source of the St. Croix, the two boundarylines respectively contended for, and will indeed be complete in every respect, the presumed hills and ridges only excepted. This will, at all events, be a considerable point gained, by reducing the number of contested facts. If we cannot agree to expunge, as I wish it to be done, the imaginary delineation of ridges, then we must have two maps, as contemplated in that case in the enclosed paper, but which will differ in no respects than as relates to the said presumed ridges.
If we can even obtain nothing more, I think that the argument may be managed on our part in such manner as to prevent the necessity of further surveys; but this will be a subsequent consideration. On the subject of evidence other than that of the surveys, there ought to be no difficulty; but I apprehend that, unless checked by his government, Mr. Addington’s views in that respect will be found, I use the word with reluctance, very unfair.
The whole subject is extremely complex and difficult. The intrinsic difficulties I think I can now manage, having devoted two entire months to that object, in the course of which I have obtained some valuable additional facts; but I cannot answer for the disposition necessary to meet from the other party in order to come to a favorable result.
I had the honor to receive your despatch No. 17, and have taken the steps necessary to obtain the information you want on the subject of patents.
I have the honor, &c.
This government regularly receives from their minister at Washington all the documents printed by order of Congress. None are sent to me, and, unless printed in the newspapers transmitted, I am left without the necessary information.
(Paper enclosed in the above.)
One general plan or map of the country, exhibiting all the actual surveys of both parties, to be made under the joint direction of the plenipotentiaries. If, in the progress of the work, some points of difference should arise on which the plenipotentiaries could not agree, then two separate maps to be made, noting in the margin of each the points of difference. The said map or two maps, as the case may be, to be laid before the arbiter in lieu of all the general maps, surveys, plans, and reports of the several surveyors and assistants employed on both sides under the late commission.