National Geographic : 1899 Mar
86 ORIGINAL TERRITORY OF THE UNITED STATES States by massing to the westward the Spanish, the Indians, and the English, leaving the territory of the colonies only a narrow fringe pendant to the broad snowy mantle of the Dominion of Canada, torn from its own shoulders in 1763, and perhaps with the dim hope of its ultimate recovery amidst the strange inter national vicissitudes that attend defeat and victory. Regarding the fisheries as " a great nursery for seamen," and seeing in them a school for ultimate supremacy on the ocean, France joined England in seeking to deprive the colonies of their hereditary rights on the banks of Newfoundland and in the Gulf of St Law rence. The keen vision of Vergennes foreknew the future strug gle for the Mississippi valley and the possession of the Far West, and, faithful to Spain, he ridiculed " the extravagance of the American views and pretentions," and called the demands of John Jay "a delirium not to be seriously refuted." Happily for their country,the American commissioners saw a way to peace without sacrificing the interests of their people, and although threatened with a vote of censure in Congress for their independent action and disregard of French counsel, they were brave and wise enough to maintain every just demand. The Treaty of Versailles not only acknowledged the independence of the United States, secured the rights of the fisheries, and opened the free navigation of the Mississippi, but it confirmed substantially the American claims in the matter of boundaries and won a vast territorial empire for the United States. 11 It was one of the greatest victories in the history of diplomacy and laid the foundation of the nation's greatness. The Great Lakes and the Mississippi became American highways, and the path to the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific was opened to American enter prise. The peace was received " with a burst of approbation " in the United States, and the refrain was taken up " No pent-up Utica confines our powers, The whole unbounded continent is ours." The completeness of the victory was resented by Spain, com pelled to take Florida in place of Gibraltar, and regretted by France, which got nothing at all. The baffled Aranda wrote to his King: "This Federal Republic is born a pigmy. A day will come when it will be a giant-even a colossus-formidable to these countries. Liberty of conscience, the facility of estab lishing a new population on immense lands, as well as the ad 11See map of the Original Public Domain, 1787.