HC Deb 03 March 1835 vol 26 cc494-5
Mr. Robinson

seeing the right hon. Baronet (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) in his place, begged to embrace the opportunity of asking, whether any progress had been made since the last Session of Parliament in the settlement of the long pending Question of the North American Boundary Line.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that it would be a difficult matter to give the hon. Member an answer on the Boundary question in terms as concise as those in which he had couched his query. It was one of the most important and complicated Questions with which Government had to deal, as it related to the settling of the limits of the State of Maine on the part of the United States, and of the limits of the province of New Brunswick on the part of his Britannic Majesty. The dispute arose out of a treaty made between the two countries so long ago as the year 1783. By that treaty a line was to be drawn, determining the boundaries of Maine and New Brunswick. Certain high lands were supposed to exist between the waters of the St. Lawrence and the Atlantic, and those high lands were to form the boundaries of the two provinces. But those high lands had never been discovered; indeed, it was physically impossible to find them. In consequence of this, a convention was subsequently made between this country and the United States, by which the settlement of these boundaries was left to the arbitration of the King of the Netherlands. Three points were submitted to his arbitration. On two of them the King of the Netherlands had given a decided opinion; but, on the third, he said, that it was impossible for him to give any opinion at all, as the high lands did not exist in the position in which they were supposed to exist in 1783. Under these circumstances, the King of the Netherlands suggested, that an amicable compromise should take place between our Government and that of the United States. The British Government was desirous to stand by the arbitration of the King of the Netherlands with respect to the terms of that compromise; but the United States refused. The United States then suggested, that there should be a new survey. The British Government consented to make that new survey, and to abide by it, provided certain preliminary articles were agreed to. One of them was whether the Bay of Fundy should be considered as a part of the Atlantic Ocean. A despatch had been sent out upon this point in the course of last autumn, but no answer had yet been received to it, the President of the United States having declined to produce any papers on the point, from fear, he supposed, of compromising himself on the subject. The negotiation, however, was still pending. This was the only point now in controversy between the two Powers, an announcement which would give satisfaction to all lovers of peace, who wished well to the commercial interests of both countries. A paper, he repeated, had been transmitted to the American Government in October last, and it was impossible to ascertain yet whether the terms of that paper had been accepted.