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project, including also a provision for the certain and final adjustment of the limits in dispute, is now before the British Government for its consideration;" that the President has not thought it advisable to communicate this counter project to Congress, yet we have his assurance, on which the most confident reliance may be placed, that it is of such a character as will, should it be accepted, finally settle the question. This proposition was officially communicated to that Government during the last summer.
Mr. Fox, the British minister, in his note of the 24th of January last, doubtless with a perfect knowledge of the nature of the project which had been submitted by the American Government to that of Great Britain, assures Mr. Forsyth that he not only preserves the hope, but he entertains the firm belief, that if the duty of negotiating the boundary question be left in the hands of the two national Governments, to whom alone of rights it belongs, the difficulty of conducting the negotiation to an amicable issue will not be found so great as has been by many persons apprehended." In his subsequent note of March 13, 1840, he states that he has been instructed to declare, "that Her Majesty's Government are only waiting for the detailed report of the British commissioners recently employed to survey the disputed territory, which report, it was believed, would be completed and delivered to Her Majesty's Government by the end of the present month (March) in order to transmit to the Government of the United States a reply to their last proposal upon the subject of the boundary question." Thus we may reasonably expect that this reply will be received by the President during the present month (April) or early in May.
While such is the condition of the principal negotiation, the committee have deemed it inexpedient, at this time, to report upon the subordinate though important question in relation to the temporary occupation of the disputed territory. They trust that the answer of the British Government may be of such a character as to render a report upon this latter subject unnecessary. In any event, they have every reason to believe that the state of suspense will be of short duration.
The committee, ever since this embarrassing and exciting question has been first presented for their consideration, have been anxious that the Government of the United States shall constantly preserve itself in the right, and hitherto this desire has been fully accomplished. The territorial rights of Maine have been uniformly asserted, and a firm determination to maintain them has been invariably evinced; though this has been done in an amicable spirit. So far as the committee can exercise any influence over the subject, they are resolved that if war should be the result, which they confidently hope may not be the case, this war shall be rendered inevitable by the conduct of the British Government. They have believed this to be the surest mode of uniting every American heart and every American arm in defense of the just rights of the country.
It is but justice to remark that the executive branch of the Government from the beginning has been uniformly guided by the same spirit, and has thus far pursued a firm, consistent, and prudent course throughout the whole negotiation with Great Britain.
While the committee can perceive no just cause at the present moment for anticipating hostilities between the two countries, they
would not be understood as expressing the opinion that their country should not be prepared to meet any emergency. The question of the peace or war may, in a great degree, depend upon the answers of the British Government now speedily expected.
TWENTY-NINTH CONGRESS, SPECIAL SESSION.
March 12, 1845.
On resolution offered by Mr. Archer as to negotiations with Mexico for adjustment of boundary between Mexico and Texas.
Resolved, That the President of the United States be, and he is hereby, requested to institute negotiations with the Government of Mexico for the adjustment or readjustment on just and liberal terms of the boundaries and territorial limits between the two countries conformably to the recent action of Congress and to what he may deem the best interests of the United States; and also for the adjustment of all such matters as the existing relations between the United States and Mexico may require.
(Ex. Jour., vol. 6, pp. 425, 427, 434.)
THIRTY-SECOND CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION.
August 20, 1852.
[Senate Report No. 345.]
Mr. Mason made the following report:
The Committee on Foreign Relations, to whom was referred the message of the President of the United States of the 26th of July last, communicating a report from the Secretary of the Interior in relation to fixing the initial point in the boundary line between the United States and Mexico, in compliance with a resolution of the Senate of June 27, 1852, have had the same under consideration, and now respectfully report:
The committee have given to the subject that full consideration which its importance demands, and have only to regret that they can in no manner agree with the Secretary of the Interior, either in the construction he has placed upon the fifth article of the treaty with Mexico, or in the action of his Department resulting from such construction.
The fifth article of the treaty concluded at Guadalupe Hidalgo, on the 2d day of February, 1848, is as follows:
The boundary line between the two Republics shall commence in the Gulf of Mexico, three leagues from land, opposite the mouth of the Rio Grande, otherwise called the Rio Bravo del Norte, or opposite the mouth of its deepest branch, if it should have more than one branch emptying directly into the sea; from thence up the middle of that river, following the deepest channel, when it has not more than one, to the point where it strikes the southern boundary of New Mexico; thence westwardly, along the whole southern boundary of New Mexico (which runs north of the town called Paso), to its western termination; thence northward along the western line of New Mexico until it intersects the first branch of the river Gila (or, if it should not inter
sect any branch of that river, then to the point on the said line nearest to such branch, and thence in a direct line to the same); thence down the middle of the said branch ̧ and of the said river until it empties into the Rio Colorado; thence across the Rio Colorado, following the division line between Upper and Lower California, to the Pacific Ocean.
The southern and western limits of New Mexico mentioned in this article are those laid down in the map entitled "Map of the United Mexican States, as organized and defined by various acts of the Congress of said Republic, and constructed according to the best authorities. Revised edition, published at New York in 1847, by J. Disturnell." Of which map a copy is added to this treaty, bearing the signatures and seals of the undersigned plenipotentiaries. And, in order to preclude all difficulty in tracing upon the ground the limit separating Upper from Lower California, it is agreed that the said limit shall consist of a straight line drawn from the middle of the Rio Gila, where it unites with the Colorado, to a point on the coast of the Pacific Ocean distant one marine league due south of the southernmost point of San Diego, according to the plan of said port made in the year 1782 by Don Juan Pantoja, second sailing master of the Spanish fleet, and published at Madrid in the year 1802, in the atlas to the voyage of the schooners Sutil and Mexicana, of which plan a copy is hereunto added, signed and sealed by the respective plenipotentiaries.
In order to designate the boundary line with due precision upon authoritative maps, and to establish upon the ground landmarks which shall show the limits of both Republics, as described in the present article, the two Governments shall each appoint a commissioner and a surveyor, who, before the expiration of one year from the date of the exchange of ratifications of this treaty, shall meet at the port of San Diego and proceed to run and mark the said boundary in its whole course to the mouth of the Rio Bravo del Norte. They shall keep journals and make out plans of their operations, and the result agreed upon by them shall be deemed a part of this treaty, and shall have the same force as if it were inserted therein. The two Governments will amicably agree regarding what may be necessary to these persons, and also as to their respective escorts, should such be necessary.
The boundary line established by this article shall be religiously respected by each of the two Republics, and no change shall ever be made therein, except by the express and free consent of both nations, lawfully given by the General Government of each in conformity with its own Constitution."
From the plain language of the treaty in reference to the southern and western boundaries of New Mexico, the committee would suppose there could be no room for misunderstanding or doubt.
By the treaty the southern and western boundaries of New Mexico are established as boundaries of the United States, and to render such boundaries definite, it declares that "the southern and western limits of New Mexico mentioned in this article are those laid down in the map," etc., "of which map a copy is added to this treaty," etc. Whether these be the true and actual boundaries of New Mexico the treaty does not undertake to declare, but it does declare, by description not thought susceptible of misinterpretation, what the boundaries are which are prescribed by the treaty, or, to use its language, that are "mentioned in this article," and they are those "laid down in the map."
The committee, then, safely determine that the officers charged with the duty of tracing these lines upon the ground, in their examination to find them were strictly confined to the boundaries of the treaty map. They are not at liberty to inquire whether the map is correct or incorrect, or whether the boundaries therein laid down were the true boundaries or no. It is sufficient that the treaty adopted them.
The "initial" point (as it is termed in the report of the Secretary of the Interior) is the point on the treaty map where the southern boundary of New Mexico is intersected by the Rio Grande, and measurement by the scale shows that this point of intersection is about 8 miles north of the town called Paso. We nowhere find in the treaty these boundaries referred to parallels of latitude. The only
description given of them is that they are to be taken as "laid down" on the map, and that the southern boundary "runs north of the town called Paso."
The commissioners on the part of Mexico who signed the treaty, it is to be presumed, knew the site of these boundaries on the ground and their position north of El Paso, to which as a monument they were directly referred. They doubtless also knew (as is now assumed) that the town of Paso may not have been placed on the map in its proper latitude, and thus, although the entire map is annexed to the treaty, yet reference to it is strictly confined to the boundaries as there laid down, without reference at all to latitude or longitude.
The Secretary says in his report that "after protracted discussions between the commissioners they finally agreed that the true point of intersection was in latitude 32° 22′, and proceeded at once to mark it by a suitable monument as the initial point from which the line should be run westward." How they so determined the Secretary does not inform us, but a reference to the treaty map will show that the southern boundary of New Mexico is there erroneously laid down on the parallel of 32° 22'.
This would seem to afford the key to the construction adopted by the commissioners. They referred to the treaty map and, finding the southern boundary traced on this imaginary line, adopted the parallel of latitude in lieu of a well-defined limit plainly marked on the map, and agreed on that parallel as the true boundary.
In forming a new and arbitrary boundary between contiguous States it is not unusual, for greater certainty, to adopt a parallel of latitude; but to ascertain an existing boundary as "laid down" on an ordinary map a resort to the parallel of latitude to which it may be there assigned would, in the opinion of the committee, furnish a most unsafe guide. Parallels of latitude and degrees of longitude are mere imaginary lines, and within the latitude or longitude of any point indicated on ordinary maps can be safely assumed, unless fixed by actual observation.
Disturnell's map, which is made a part of the treaty, seems to have accurately delineated this northern boundary when it is referred to undoubted monuments on the ground and to the natural features of the country, yet it may not be correctly placed in reference to the parallel of latitude. The town of Paso, a monument of two hundred years' standing, is placed by this map at the distance of 8 miles from the southern boundary of New Mexico and La Salinera, or the Saline, about 6 miles. An examination upon the ground, as the committee is informed, shows this saline (a natural formation of salt by evaporation covering some acres in extent) to be at the correct map distance from the town of Paso.
But that the boundary on Disturnell's map is correctly placed in reference to the town of Paso is now conclusively shown by reference to the decrees of the Government of Mexico fixing them so late in the year 1824.
Under the Spanish rule the province of Chihuahua was divided from that of New Mexico by the parallel of 31°. In the year 1824 Chihuahua was formed into a State and admitted into the Federal Union, and by a decree of July 27 in the same year the boundary between that State and the province (or Territory) of New Mexico was fixed as it now remains. The State of Chihuahua lies south of New Mexico,
so that the southern boundary of the latter is the northern boundary of the former, and that boundary, as fixed by the decree, is a right line. from "east to west, drawn from the town called Paso del Norte, with the jurisdiction it has always possessed," etc. It is manifest, then, that this boundary line ran either from the town of Paso or from some point north of it as far as the jurisdiction of Paso extended. What limit was assigned to that jurisdiction we are not informed, but as the determinate point of the decree was the town itself the jurisdiction, it is not to be presumed, extended far beyond it.
The committee thus are satisfied that the treaty has correctly fixed the southern boundary of New Mexico and that it is to be found, as there laid down, at the distance of about 8 miles north of the town of Paso. But, be this as it may, the terms of the treaty are too clear for any doubt that, whether right or wrong, the boundary of the United States is to be governed by the lines marked on the treaty map at the distance by the map scale they are found "north of Paso," and by nothing else. Yet, plain as all this is, the Secretary informs us that the boundary commissioners have adopted a parallel of latitude for this southern boundary which, it is found, will throw the line just 34 miles farther to the north, thus losing to the United States a tract of country 34 miles wide by a mean length of 172 miles, comprising 5,480 square miles, or about 3,507,200 acres. But, important as the question thus presented is in reference to territory, it is, in the opinion of the committee, of far greater importance in another aspect.
It is confidently believed that the most practicable route for a railroad across to the Pacific in this part of our territory will be found down the valley of the Gila or the depressions near it; and explorations so far have clearly indicated that if the path or a route is taken north of the town of Paso the more difficult and impracticable the country is presented by reason of its mountainous character.
It appears, further, from the report of the Secretary that when this parallel of 32° 22' was agreed on by the two commissioners the surveyor, Mr. A. B. Gray, was not present, and, of course, not assenting; and that when he arrived he dissented from the agreement; that on being informed of such dissent by a letter of the 31st of October, 1851, the Secretary requested him to sign the agreement; that on the 4th of November, four days after this request, Mr. Gray was recalled by the Secretary and Bvt. Maj. William H. Emory appointed in his place, to whom a like request was directed. Thus, unless Major Emory has assented to this line, it has not been agreed to by the American surveyor.
The Secretary declares as his opinion that by the terms of the treaty this Government is committed to the line of 32° 22′ by the act of the American commissioner alone, and that the assent of the surveyor was not necessary to give it validity. His language is:
But I am of opinion that, according to the true intent and meaning of the treaty, the diplomatic power is confided to the commissioners alone, and that the surveyors are mere ministerial agents to run and mark the line as agreed on by the commissioners. This opinion is founded not only upon a consideration of the appropriate functions of commissioners and surveyors, but upon the general usage in such cases and the construction which has been uniformly given to this treaty by both Governments from the time of its ratification until the difficulty arose in regard to the initial point on the Rio Grande. The instructions of this Government, and I doubt not those from the Government of Mexico also, have always been given to the commissioners alone, and not to the commissioners and surveyors conjointly.