National Geographic : 1899 Nov
THE ALASKAN BOUNDARY Evarts consented to accept it as a provisional line, without preju dice to the rights of the parties when the permanent boundary came to be fixed.* The foregoing citations show that whenever the British govern ment or those holding interests under it have had occasion to express their views as to the strip of territory secured to Russia under the treaty of 1825 they have made it plain that they re garded it as an unbroken strip on the mainland following around the inlets of the sea, and that the interior waters enclosed in such strip were Russian or American territorial waters. When, in 1822, the Duke of Wellington was about to depart as the British plenipotentiary to the International Congress of Verona, he carried with him an instruction from Secretary Can ning to bring the protest of his government against the ukase of 1821 to the attention of the Russian plenipotentiaries at that congress. After obtaining the opinion of the great English lawyer, Lord Stowell, he wrote: " Enlightened statesmen and jurists have long held as insignificant all titles of territory that are not founded on actual occupation, and that title is, in the opinion of the most esteemed writers on public law, to be established by practical use." t There is no claim or pretense that the British authorities or subjects ever occupied any of the territory now in dispute ex cept under the lease cited, or ever exercised or attempted to exercise any acts of sovereignty over the strip or waters enclosed by it. On the other hand, let us examine the acts of occupation and sovereignty exercised by Russia and the United States. First, we have seen that very soon after the treaty of 1825 the Russian government published a map claiming the strip of ter ritory and all the interior waters of the sea enclosed by it. Second, the Russian American Company established forts and trading posts within the strip. Third, by virtue of the lease cited, which was a recognized assertion of its sovereignty, it temporarily transferred these forts and posts to the British com pany. Fourth, at the termination of the extended lease it re entered and took possession and remained in possession till the cession of Alaska to the United States. Fifth, it received the allegiance of the native Indians inhabiting' the strip, and exer cised control and supervision over them. Sixth, immediately after the cession in 1867 the Department of State of the United * U. S . Foreign Relations, 1878, pp. 339, 346. t For Seal Papers, etc., vol. 4, p. 388.