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for the inhabitants thereof to take, dry, and cure fish on certain coasts, bays, harbours, and creeks of His Britannic Majesty's dominions in America, it is agreed between the High Contracting Parties that the inhabitants of the said United States shall have, for ever, in common with the subjects of His Britannic Majesty, the liberty to take fish of every kind, on that part of the southern coast of Newfoundland, which extends from Cape Ray to the Rameau Islands, on the western and northern coast of Newfoundland, from the said Cape Ray to the Quirpon Islands, on the shores of the Magdalen Islands, and also on the coasts, bays, harbours, and creeks, from Mount Joly on the southern coast of Labrador, to and through the Straits of Belle Isle, and thence northwardly indefinitely along the coast, without prejudice, however, to any of the exclusive rights of the Hudson Bay Company : and that the American fishermen shall also have liberty, for ever, to dry and cure fish in any of the unsettled bays, harbours, and creeks of the southern part of the coast of Newfoundland hereabove described, and of the coast of Labrador; but so soon as the same, or any portion thereof, shall be settled, it shall not be lawful for the said fishermen to dry or cure fish at such portions so settled, without previous agreement for such purpose, with the inhabitants, proprietors, or possessors of the ground.
And the United States hereby renounce for ever any liberty heretofore enjoyed or claimed by the inhabitants thereof, to take,
dry, or cure fish, on or within three marine miles, of any of the coasts, bays, creeks, or harbours of His Britannic Majesty's dominions in America, not included within the above mentioned limits; provided, however, that the American fishermen shall be admitted to enter such bays or harbours, for the purpose of shelter and of repairing damages therein, of purchasing wood, and of obtaining water, and for no other purpose whatever. But they shall be under such restrictions as may be necessary to prevent their taking, drying, or curing fish therein, or in any other manner whatever abusing the privileges hereby reserved to them.”
Under these circumstances, numerous seizures of American fishing vessels have subsequently been effected by the Canadian authorities for infraction of the terms of the Convention and of their municipal law and customs regulations.
The enclosed confidential correspondence will place you in full possession of the various points which have consequently arisen in diplomatic correspondence between the two Governments, and I do not desire to enter upon them in detail in the present instructions, nor to prescribe any particular mode of treating them, it being the wish of Her Majesty's Government that a full and frank discussion of the issue involved may lead to an amicable settlement in such manner as may seem most expedient, and having due regard to the interests and wishes of the British Colonies concerned.
Her Majesty's Government feel confident that the discussions on this behalf will be conducted in
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
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