« ForrigeFortsett »
would have been still greater to the United States. But it would be a very poor compensation for the injury which we would sustain, to know that we had a companion in misfortune suffering more than we suffered ourselves. We found Congress putting on the Statute Book a direction to the President that, on the first United States vessel being seized or harassed, or refused the advantages which they said they were entitled to, he, as the executive of that country, should put that Non-intercourse Act into force. That was the condition of things when I went down last Easter to see Mr. Bayard at Washington. If you compare the condition of things to-day with the condition of things that existed then, there is no man, I care not how partisan he may be, who can judicially look at the position of this question then and now without coming to the conclusion that we have emerged from midnight darkness into the light of day under the auspices of this treaty. It may be said : Suppose that the treaty is rejected by the United States Senate-a not impossible contingency -I need not tell the House that one of the advantages we enjoy under British institutions is that we are saved from the extreme and violent antagonisms of party that every fourth year the Presidential election brings about in the United States. Now any man who knows anything of the politics of the United States knows that, however good a measure is, however valuable, however much it commends itself to the judgment of every intelligent statesman in that country, it is a matter almost of honour on the part of the party in opposition to prevent the Government of the day from doing anything that would give them any credit or strengthen their hands in the country ; that on the eve of a presidential election it is next to impossible to induce a Republican majority in the Senate to sanction anything a Democratic Administration has carried through, however valuable that may be. But, Sir, take the very worst contingency: suppose this treaty is rejected by the Senate-what then ? Will we be relegated back to
the position we stood in a year ago ? Not at all. If our efforts, by mutual conciliation, by concessions on both sides, to find a common ground, that we could present to all the parties to this treaty, as an honourable and equitable agreement that might be fairly accepted—if these efforts had failed, if, after three months' negotiations, we had broken up with embittered relations because we found that it was impracticable to get any common ground of meeting on which the Governments of the two countries could agree, there is no question that matters would have stood in a worse position than that in which they stood when we undertook these negotiations. But, Sir, that is not the position. Let the Senate of the United States to-morrow reject this treaty; I trust they will not do so ; I have a hope that there is independent statesmanship enough in the great Republican party of the United States who have the power at their disposal to-day in the United States Senate to allow that sentiment of patriotism to overweigh the party advantages they might hope to obtain by preventing the present Administration from settling this vexed question—but when they remember that for seventy years these questions have been agitated which are now disposed of, they may see that if they should come into power themselves at any early date it would be an advantage to have this vexed question between the two great English-speaking nations of the world at rest, that there may be no renewal of the difficulties which have existed so long a time. But let me take the very worst contingency—that of the rejection of this treaty—and how do we stand? Why, Sir, let me read from a letter of the Secretary of State of the United States, written to the citizens of Boston, who invited him to go there to deliver a speech upon the treaty. In Mr. Bayard's letter of March 26th he says:
“I am convinced that the welfare and true interest of our country and a just and wise treatment of the British American population on our northern frontier alike counsel the adoption
of the treaty. In its initiation, negotiation and conclusion, I can truly say for my associates and myself, no views but those of a single-minded patriotic intent have been allowed place or expression, nor can a trace or suggestion of partisanship be justly alleged. The sole and difficult question to which the treaty relates, the fishery rights, of one nation in the jurisdictional waters of another, began with the first dawn of our recognised independent existence as a nation, and ever since has conspicuously presented itself at intervals exciting bitter controversy, and never been satisfactory or pre-eminently disposed of. Meanwhile, the surrounding circumstances have importantly changed in advance with rapid and vast growth. The treaty of 1818 remains unaffected in its terms by seventy years of such material progress and development on this continent, as we of to-day are the witnesses. Unless the treaty of 1818 shall be wholly abrogated and recurrence necessarily had to the dangerous status that John Quincy Adams so ably but unavailingly discussed with the Earl of Bathurst, in 1815, and which had resisted all efforts of negotiation and at Ghent in the year previous, it is manifest that a joint and equitable construction in consonance with their existing relations and mutual needs must be agreed upon between Great Britain and the United States, and this, I affirm, is done by the present treaty."
Again he says :
"Conciliation and mutual neighbourly concessions have together done their honourable and honest work in this treaty, paved the way for the relation of comity and mutual advantage.”
Now, Sir, I ask you whether all the time, all the trouble expended in this manner is not amply compensated for by the declaration of the Secretary of State of the United States bearing this tribute and his testimony to this treaty as a fair, equitable, and just interpretation of the treaty of 1818. And what more, Sir ? Let me read from the Message of the President of the United States :
“As a result of such negotiations, a treaty has been agreed upon between Her Britannic Majesty and the United States, concluded and signed in this capital, under my direction and
authority, on the 15th of this February inst., and which I have now the honour to submit to the Senate with the recommendation that it shall receive the consent of that body, as provided in the constitution, in order that the ratifications thereof may be duly exchanged and the treaty carried into effect. The treaty meets my approval, because I believe that it supplies a satisfactory, practical and final adjustment, upon a basis honourable and just to both parties, of the difficult and vexed question to which it relates. A review of the history of this question will show that all formal attempts to arrive at a common interpretation, satisfactory to both parties, of the first article of the treaty of October 20th, 1818, have been unsuccessful and with the lapse of time the difficulty and obscurity have only increased.
' Negotiations in 1854, and again in 1871, ended in both cases in temporary reciprocal arrangement of the tariffs of Canada and Newfoundland and of the United States, and of the payment of the money award by the United States. Under which the real question in difference remained unsettled, in abeyance, and ready to present themselves anew just as soon as the conventional arrangements were abrogated.
“The situation, therefore, remained unimproved by the results of the treaty of 1871, and a grave condition of affairs, presenting almost identically the same features and causes of complaint by the United States against Canadian action and British default in its correction, confronted us in May, 1886, and has continued until the present time.
“The four purposes for which our fishermen under the treaty of 1818 were allowed to enter the bays and harbours of Canada and Newfoundland within the belt of three marine miles are placed under a fair and liberal construction, and their enjoyment secured without such conditions and restrictions as in the past have embarrassed and obstructed them so seriously.
“The enforcement of penalties for fishing or preparing to fish within the inshore and exclusive waters of Canada and Newfoundland is to be accomplished under safeguards against oppressive or arbitrary action, thus protecting the defendant fisherman from punishment in advance of trial, delays, and inconvenience and unnecessary expense.
“The hospitality secured for our vessels in all cases of actual distress, with liberty to unload and sell and tranship their cargoes, is full and liberal.
“ These provisions will secure the substantial enjoyment of the treaty rights for our fishermen under the treaty of 1818, for the contention has been steadily made in the correspondence of the Department of State, and by our Minister at London, and by the American negotiators of the present treaty.
“The treaty now submitted to you has been framed in a spirit of liberal equity and reciprocal benefits, in the conviction that mutual advantage and convenience are the only permanent foundation of peace and friendship between States, and that a beneficial and satisfactory intercourse between the two countries will be established so as to procure perpetual peace and harmony.
“In connection with the treaty herewith submitted, I deem it is also my duty to transmit to the Senate a written offer or arrangement, in the nature of a modus vivendi, tendered on the conclusion of the treaty on the part of the British plenipotentiaries, to secure kindly and peaceful relations during the period that may be required for the consideration of the treaty by the respective Governments and for the enactment of the necessary legislation to carry its provisions into effect if approved.
“ This paper, freely and on their own motion, signed by the British conferees, not only extend advantages to our fishermen, pending the ratification of the treaty, but appears to have been dictated by a friendly and amicable spirit.'
I ask you to contrast that language with the position we occupied a year ago in regard to the great Republic to the south of us. Let the Senate reject the treaty tomorrow, and I ask: What is the changed position of Canada ? Yesterday we stood face to face with a Nonintercourse Bill, sustained by the united action of the Senate and House of Representatives, sustained by almost the whole Press, Republican and Democratic, of the United States, sustained with few exceptions by a prejudiced, irritated, and exasperated people of sixty millions lying on our borders. What, I repeat, is our position to-day? If