National Geographic : 1899 Nov
THE ALASKAN BOUNDARY clearly establish three facts as the result of the negotiations: first, that Russia was to have a continuous strip of territory on the mainland around all the inlets or arms of the sea. Sir Charles Bagot fully understood this, and hence his repeated efforts to push the southern boundary of Russia as far north as possible, so that the Hudson's Bay Company might come down to tidewater with its trading posts, recognizing that this could not be done in front of the Russian line. The purpose for which the strip was estab lished would be defeated if it was to be broken in any part of its course by inlets or arms of the sea extending into British terri tory. Second, with the strip of territory so established, all the interior waters of the ocean above its southern limit became Russian, and would be inaccessible to British ships and traders except by express license. It was because the Russian negotia tors refused to make this license perpetual that the negotiations were a second time broken off, and only renewed when Great Britain yielded on this point. Third, the strip of territory was to be 10 marine leagues wide in all its extent, unless inside of that limit a chain of mountains existed which constituted a nat ural boundary or watershed between the two countries. The "seaward base " proposed by Great Britain was rejected, and there is no indication that isolated peaks were to constitute the line. A fourth fact, not material to explain the treaty, is apparent from the record of the negotiations, and especially Secretary Can ning's instructions of January 15, 1824, already cited,* to wit, that while the British government sought to restrict the limits of Rus sian territory as much as possible, it was prepared in return for the revocation of the ukase of 1821, if Russia was persistent, to accept an east line of the strip distant from the ocean 100 miles, and to have the line to the Arctic ocean drawn along the 1350 of longitude, thus giving to Russia a strip more than three times as wide as she obtained and the whole of the Yukon gold dis tricts. We come now to the provisions of the treaty, and I confine my examination to those respecting which there are existing differences. Article III, in delineating the first section of the boundary, provides that "commencing from the southernmost point of the island called Prince of Wales Island, which lies in the parallel of 54° 40' north latitude, . . . the said [bound ary] line shall ascend to the north along the channel called * Ib., 415-420.