National Geographic : 1899 Nov
THE ALASKAN BOUNDARY by Bancroft in his ' History of Alaska " as a " powerful monop oly, firmly established in the favor of the imperial government, many nobles of high rank and several members of the royal family being among its shareholders." The correspondence shows that the Russian negotiators were chiefly concerned to so frame the treaty as to meet the wishes of the representatives of this company, which was in intimate conference with them at St Petersburg. The Hudson's Bay Company is so conspicuous a part of the history of British North America that I need hardly refer to its part in the government and development of that vast region of our continent. At the date of the negotiations it had recently absorbed its rival, the Northwest Company, and it was at the height of its power and influence. It was the only representative of British authority in all the region west and north of the prov ince of Ontario at that date and for several years after the middle of the present century. The British negotiators of the treaty of 1825 were influenced almost entirely in their negotiations by the views and interests of this company. Its representatives were in constant communication with Secretary Canning by personal interviews and by letters; the boundary line which they recommended was accepted and urged by the British gov ernment; and when negotiations were broken off they were not resumed till this company was heard from, and its views were again adopted and pressed.* It is safe to assert that no one understood so well as the officials of these two companies the territorial rights of their respective governments and subjects secured by the treaty. A British vessel in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company, the Dryad, reached the Russian post of Fort Wrangell, destined, as it was alleged, for the British territory in the interior, at the headwaters of the Stikine river. The vessel was detained and not allowed to proceed on its voyage. The British government protested to the Russian government and presented to it a large claim for damages. The Russian government, being hard pressed by the British minister, urged the Russian American Company to come to some settlement with the Hudson's Bay Company, and thereupon the governor of the latter, and one of the direct ors of the former company, with the express authorization of the two governments, met at Hamburg in 1839. As a result of their conferences the Russian American Company agreed to lease * Fur Seal Arbitration Papers, vol. iv, pp. 380, 383, 387, 417, 419, 421, 431.