« ForrigeFortsett »
the most friendly and conciliatory spirit in the earnest endeavour to effect a mutually satisfactory arrangement, and to remove any causes of complaint which may exist on either side.
Whilst I have judged it advisable thus in the first place to refer to the questions of the Atlantic coastal fisheries, it is not the wish of Her Majesty's Government that the discussions of the plenipotentiaries should necessarily be confined to that point alone, but full liberty is given to you to enter upon the consideration of any questions which may bear upon the issues involved, and to discuss and treat for any equivalents, whether by means of tariff concessions or otherwise, which the United States' plenipotentiaries may be authorised to consider as a means of settlement.
The question of the seal fisheries in the Behring Seas, the nature of which will be explained in a separate dispatch, has not been specifically included in the terms of reference; but you will understand that if the United States plenipotentiaries should be authorised to discuss that subject, it would come within the terms of the reference, and that you have full power and authority to treat for a settlement of the points involved, in any manner which may seem advisable, whether by a direct discussion at the present conference, or by a reference to a subsequent conference to adjust that particular question.
If the Government of Newfoundland depute an Agent to attend at Washington during the conference, you will avail yourselves of his advice and assistance in any matters concerning Newfoundland, which may arise in the course of the discussions.
The negotiations occupied several months. We had no sooner got to work than Bayard's attitude underwent a complete change, and the scope of our discussions became greatly restricted. Simultaneously the leading American newspapers attacked me personally, asserting that there was no hope of a treaty being negotiated while I was so exigeant in my demands on behalf of Canada.
No progress was made for weeks, and Mr. Chamberlain and I were negotiating in diplomatic parlance for the best ground to break up on when an idea occurred to me which I lost no time in communicating to my colleague. I advised him to write to Mr. Bayard a letter asking for a private interview at the Bayard home, and then and there to tell the American diplomat of the anxiety of the British Government to negotiate a treaty. I further suggested that my colleague should submit two or three points, stating that if the United States agreed to them he would go down to Ottawa to endeavour to obtain the agreement and consent of the Dominion Government thereto, and thus avert the breaking off of the negotiations.
Mr. Chamberlain had the private interview with Mr. Bayard, who looked on the proposition with favour and who lost no time in obtaining the concurrence of President Cleveland. This disposed of a very unpleasant situation. Negotiations were resumed after the Christmas holidays, and a treaty, settling the dispute over the Atlantic fisheries, was signed by the plenipotentiaries of both countries.
The treaty was sent to the Senate by President Cleveland with the declaration that it was a fair and just settlement of the question, together with
a modus vivendi offered by the British plenipotentiaries to provide for the interim pending the ratification of the treaty by Congress and the Dominion House of Commons. The United States Senate having a Republican majority, which was unwilling to give the Democratic party any advantage in the impending presidential election, rejected the treaty.
“We cannot allow the Democrats to take credit for settling so important a dispute," a leading Republican senator told me at the time in justifying the attitude taken by his party.
I consider withal that the British won a great diplomatic victory, as the treaty and modus vivendi provided that everything that the United States had declared to be theirs by right, under the treaty of 1818, was to be enjoyed for a quid pro quo. I returned to Ottawa and carried the treaty through the House of Commons by a unanimous vote, and an Act giving effect to the modus vivendi was also passed.
This last mentioned measure, based on the modus vivendi, gave American fishermen certain privileges, such as buying bait in Canadian harbours and buying supplies and the transhipment of fish caught outside the three-mile limit. The modus vivendi, despite the rejection of the treaty by the United States Senate, served an admirable purpose by removing all feeling and all bickering between the two countries in regard to the Atlantic fisheries.
It was renewed by Canada from year to year, and only became inoperative years afterwards when The Hague tribunal arbitrated the question of the interpretation of the treaty of 1818 and effected a
lasting settlement. Sir A. B. Aylesworth, Minister of Justice in the Laurier administration, represented Canada at the arbitration and afterwards in the House of Commons declared that the basis of settlement of the question was the treaty we negotiated at Washington in 1888. It should also not be forgotten that although defeated in the presidential election, President Cleveland polled 100,000 more votes than his successful opponent, Benjamin Harrison, who, in his subsequent address, declared “the modus vivendi had removed all irritation between Canada and the United States."
The British feeling on the matter of the proposed treaty, and the cordial relations that existed between the plenipotentiaries themselves, are represented by the following letters written at the conclusion of the Conference :
Government House, Ottawa,
February 22, 1888. DEAR SIR CHARLES,—I have been confined to the house by a cold and sore throat, or I should have endeavoured to see you ere now and to congratulate you on your return and on the success of your mission. I was sorry to see that you too had been on the sick list.
The enclosed telegram from Mr. Chamberlain has just come in. Will you give me your opinion as soon as possible ? I cannot help thinking that it will be a serious misfortune to us to have the full protocols entirely withheld. We had the best of the argument all through, and some of the speeches of the United States Plenipotentiaries contained very valuable admissions to which it may
hereafter become necessary to refer when questions of interpretation arise, as they are sure to do.
On the other hand, it may be desirable that for the present we should be content with a formal protocol, for the reasons urged by Mr. Bayard. I should, however, be sorry to part with the right of insisting at a later stage upon the production of the fuller record.
You have, I have no doubt, seen the President's message and his construction of the provisions clause. He has not left us long in doubt upon this point.
I shall be at home all the morning in case you should desire to see me.--I am, dear Sir Charles, yours sincerely,
Finance Department, Ottawa, Canada,
February 24th, 1888. DEAR LORD LANSDOWNE,–I was very sorry to learn that you, like myself, had been suffering from a severe cold. I regret I was unable to answer your kind letter of the 22nd instant in person, and to thank you for your much valued congratulations on the success of my mission. I am still unable to write except by the aid of my private secretary.
Immediately upon the receipt of your letter I requested Sir John Macdonald and the Minister of Justice to see you in regard to Mr. Chamberlain's message, and I explained to them my views in reference thereto. Sir John called to see me yesterday and told me what you had done.
I quite concur with your Lordship in the opinion that it might be well to have the more extended protocols for future reference, but in the meantime