National Geographic : 1899 Nov
THE ALASKAN BOUNDARY there had been a peaceful and undisputed occupation and exer cise of sovereignty for more than seventy years, and that no question respecting this occupation and sovereignty had been raised by the British government until the present commission had been created. They challenged their British colleagues to cite a single instance in history where a subject attended with such circumstances had been submitted to arbitration, and in declining the British proposition they proposed the plan of set tlement which had been framed by Secretary Olney and Sir Julian Pauncefote in 1897. The treaty which these two distin guished statesmen framed so carefully marked the most ad vanced stage yet attained for the peaceful settlement of inter national questions not susceptible of adjustment by diplomatic negotiation. In that convention, drafted with a view to " con secrating by treaty the principle of international arbitration," they provided that all such questions should be submitted to arbitrators and an umpire, except territorial claims. They recognized that territorial questions affected so vitally the sov ereignty and honor of nations that as to them a different method was necessary, and they provided that these should be sub mitted to a tribunal of three judges of the highest standing in each country, and that a binding decision could only be ren dered by a vote of five of the six judges.* The American commissioners embodied this plan in their proposition for the settlement of the Alaskan boundary dispute, with the modifica tion that a binding decision might be rendered by four of the six judges. This proposition was rejected by the British commissioners, and, no other plan being brought forward, the Joint High Com mission adjourned with the understanding that the boundary question should be referred back to the two governments for further diplomatic negotiations. * U. S. Diplomatic Correspondence, 1896, art. vi of treaty, p. 239.