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XIV. NOTICES OF NEW KS. SYDNEY SMITH's FRAGMENTS; LONG-
THIS NUMBER CONTAINS SEVEN SPEETS.
THE OREGON QUESTION. THE OREGON is a tract of country on of lofty mountains. The shores are the western side of the new world, bold and high ; in many parts, mounprincipally watered by the river Oregon, tains rising immediately from the sea. or Columbia, and its tributaries. It ex- Up to the 48th parallel there are few tends from 42 degrees of north latitude, inlets, or islands, but further north there to 54 degrees and 40 minutes, and are thousands of islands, and a net-work from the Pacific eastward, five or of bays and peninsulas. The valleys six hundred miles, to the ridges of of the interior are generally narrow. the Rocky or Oregon mountains. The The climate is drier and milder by many name is taken from the river which, degrees than on the Atlantic side in the long before its actual discovery, had same latitudes. Of the soil, different been supposed to exist beyond the accounts have been given, some repremountains, and which was first called senting it as fertile, and others as of the Oregon by Jonathan Carver of little value. The most valuable portion Connecticut, who travelled in the interi- of it undoubtedly lies south of the river, or of the continent in 1766. How he though by far the best part of the got the name, or whether he invented it territory, for its harbors and maritime himself, it is impossible, at the present advantages, lies around the strait of day, to determine. The stream was not Fuca. To us as a trading power on actually seen till 1792, many persons the Pacific, these are invaluable. until then believing it to be fabulous. Until within a few years there have The name, however, remained, and is been but scanty settlements ; a few now not only applied to the country trading posts and missionary stations. from which its waters are gathered, But the tide of American emigration but, as the name of the river itself, is has lately set in that direction, and no
thing but some fatal misstep on our part, “ Married to immortal verse,” can prevent its habitable portions being in
occupied in a few years by our country" The continuous woods
men, and a vast trade thence carried on Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no
over all the Pacific. sound,
This country is claimed by America* Save his own dashings.”
as belonging exclusively to ber; while
England claims, not an exclusive right This country is traversed by ridges in any part of it, but a right to occupy
*We use the words “ America” and “ American” in a national sense only, using another designation for the continent, whenever we have occasion to mention it.
and settle it, in common with America 3. That the discovery of a river is and other nations.
deemed the discovery of its course and The discussion between the two gov- branches, and of the country drained by. ernments has grown to be an angry it. one; and if we were to judge by the 4. That all treaties and engagements late declarations of the English minis- between governments, of an executory try, there remains no arbitrament but nature, are annulled by a subsequent the sword. It is difficult, however, to believe that the government of Great With these rules before us, let us exBritain can seriously think of pushing amine the questions of fact. The first their pretensions to the extent of a war, settlements in the new world were all while we are confident that our gov- made on its eastern shores. The Pacific ernment, in maintaining the rights ocean was discovered by Balboa at of America, will see the proprie- Panama in 1513. No person, however, ty of discussing them with moderation ventured to the north west coast as far as well as firmness, doing no act to as Oregon till 1543, when Ferrelo, a pilot provoke, and sedulously abstaining from in the service of Spain, penetrated to even the appearance of disregarding the the latitude of 43. Thirty-six years obligation of treaties. But while it afterwards, Drake made his famous does this, it has also a duty to perform voyage round the world, and it is mainto Americans. It is time that the inso- tained by the English government that lence of Englishmen, now become he sailed as high on this coast as 48 ; but almost habitual, were rebuked. Let us while one account of his voyage has it indeed be just ; let us appear just; and 48, the other has it 43; and there is good let England and consequences take reason to think that this last account is care of themselves.
the true one. The discrepancy in the That we may present a concise as two accounts destroys their value as well as a just view of the real merits of evidence, and no reasonable person this question of the Oregon, we shall en- would think of resting any title upon deavor to condense into as small a
them. Drake did not land on any as possible the grounds, both of fact, part of this coast, and from that and of public law, on which our rights period for about two hundred years no are founded. In doing this we shall Englishman visited it. The Spaniards, strive to omit nothing material to however, visited it several times, once the inquiry.
more at least during the sixteenth What are the rules of public law, by century, twice in the seventeenth, and which the question of right, in this case, three times in the eighteenth, before the is to be judged? They are these : time of Cook's voyage. In 1778 that
1. That in respect to newly discov- great navigator sailed along the coast, ered countries, the first discoverer has particularly examining the upper parts the prior right to occupy, provided he near the 47th and 48th parallels and stopdoes 60 within a reasonable time. ping at Nootka Sound. Afterwards the What is a reasonable time depends coast was frequently visited by the vessels upon the nature of the country, the of the different maritime nations. The uses to which it may be applied, and river remained undiscovered. Vancouver the wants of mankind in respect to it. passed along the shore in 1792, examinIf, for example, it were a rich Wested it and concluded that there was no India island, the first discoverer could river. Capt. Gray, an American, in the not rightfully prevent other nations from American ship Columbia, however, disoccupying and cultivating it if he did not covered it on the 11th of May, 1792, and see fit soon to do so himself. If on the sailed into it a considerable distance. other hand it were a remote barren Its existence had been previously susisland, there would be no necessity of pected, as we have already mentioned, immediate occupation.
and Heceta, a Spanish navigator, had 2. That is the first discoverer does in 1775 run along the shore, and on the not occupy within this reasonable time, 15th of August, at six in the evening, he is deemed to have abandoned his arrived opposite a bay in the latitude of right, and the next discoverer stands as 46 degrees 17 minutes, “where the if he had been the first, and so on currents and eddies were so strong that though any number of discoverers. notwithstanding a press of sail it was