National Geographic : 1899 Nov
THE ALASKAN BOUNDARY With this instruction in his possession Sir Charles Bagot, at the outset of the negotiations, in response to the Russian demand " for a strip of territory (lisiere) upon the mainland "which would be " parallel to the sinuosities of the coast," * proposed that the eastern line of this strip should run " always at a distance of 10 marine leagues from the shore as far as the 1400 of longitude." t Russia suggested that the line should " run along the mountains which follow the sinuosities of the coast." t When the second negotiations were resumed Secretary Canning sent Mr Bagot a draft of a treaty in which it was provided that this line should " be carried along the coast in a direction parallel to the sinuosi ties and at and within the seaward base of the mountains by which it is bounded." I In explanation the Secretary said, if pressed by Russia Mr Bagot might substitute the summit of the moun tains if a limit to the east was fixed beyond which the line should not go. The British draft proposal of "the seaward base of the mountains " was rejected by Russia, and its counter-draft was that the line " shall not be wider on the continent than 10 ma rine leagues." II But Sir Charles Bagot's attention was so occupied with the other points of the treaty that the matter of the width of the strip did not receive serious consideration until the final stage of the negotiations was undertaken by Sir Stratford Canning, and as Great Britain had by that time receded from all the other contentions, it only remained for him to adjust the eastern line of the strip of the mainland which was to be held by Russia. In his draft of treaty it was proposed that the line should follow the crest of the mountains, provided that if the crest of the mountains should be more than ten marine leagues from the ocean the line should follow the sinuosities of the coast, so that it should at no point be more than ten leagues from the coast. This was in accordance with his instructions. The Russian negotiators objected to the proviso and insisted that the crest of the mountains should be the invariable line, arguing that the natural frontier was the mountains following the coast. Much of the difficulty in reaching an agreement on this point grew out of the imperfect geographic knowledge of the period. views) it might, perhaps, be sufficient at present to settle a boundary on the coast only and the country 50 or 100 miles inland, leaving the rest of the country to the north of that point and to the west of the range of the mountains, which separate the waters which flow into the Pacific from those which flow to the east and north, open to the traders of both nations." * Ib., 427. t Ib., 428. Ib., 399. Ib., 435. I[ Ib., 441. Ib., 447.