The Labrador Boundary


Privy Council Documents


Volume XII


Contents








12 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

12 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

12 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

12 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

12 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount
Haldane.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount
Haldane.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Finlay.




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come to this passage : " The giving all possible redress to the complaints of the Indians in respect to encroachments of their lands and a steady and uniform attention to a faithful execution of whatever shall be agreed upon for that salutary purpose "—this document is inspired by the notion of standing by your contract which you have made with the Indian tribes—" is a consideration of very great importance."
Then at the bottom of the page there is a reference which I shall have to fill up. "In a plan for the management of Indians affairs prepared by this Board in 1764 the fixing a boundary between the settlements of your Majesty's subjects and the Indian country was proposed to be established by compact with the Indians as essentially necessary to the gaining their good will and affection, and to preserving the tranquility of the colonies." I will refer to that in a moment, if I may. " This plan having been communicated to the superintendents "—that is to say, Sir William Johnson and the southern superintendent—" they have in consequence thereof, made the proposition of such a boundary line an object of their particular attention and of negotiation and discussion with the several tribes of Indians interested therein. In the southern district a boundary line has not only been established by actual treaties with the Creeks, Cherokees and Chactaws, but has also as far as relates to the provinces of North and South Carolina, been marked out by actual surveys and has had the happy effect to restore peace and quiet to these colonies. In the Northern district, the proposition appears to have been received by the Indians with the strongest marks of approbation and satisfaction ; and a line of separation was in 1765 suggested by them, in which Sir William Johnson acquiesced, declaring at the same time that he would not finally ratify it without your Majesty's further directions."
A very remarkable passage follows which makes the thing really quite plain. " The Paper (Appendix A) contains a description of the several lines as agreed upon in the negotiations to which we refer ; and to the end, your Majesty may have a more perfect view of them, we have annexed to such description a map (Appendix B) in which we have endeavoured to trace those lines out, with as much accuracy as the general maps of America will admit of." Bound up with this, in the Record Office, is the map. I hand to your Lordships copies of the map. This is the whole map ; it is not an extract, but the whole thing. The first thing that strikes one about the map is this. As this is the whole map it was thought necessary to draw for this purpose, where is Labrador ? The answer is that Labrador is off the map altogether.

Lord WARRINGTON : There is the boundary shown that goes through Quebec.
Sir JOHN SIMON : Oh yes, my Lord. There is a bit of Quebec, but where is Labrador ? If this part of the world had anything to do with my green area, you would expect to find it included in this map. But it by no means stops there. They trace the line. Reading at the

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middle of page 4, we have this : “Your Majesty will be pleased to observe that, although on the one hand the settlements in the new established Colonies to the South are confined to very narrow limits“—would your Lordships notice how the yellow line, and to some extent the brown line which runs round some distance from the sea in West Florida and East Florida, loaves a comparatively narrow strip ; they are reserving to the Indians whatever is inside the line ; so that in Florida apparently what is left for settlement is a comparatively narrow strip. Then they go on and say, observing that, “yet, on the other hand, the middle colonies (whose state of population requires a greater extent) have room to spread much beyond what they have hitherto been allowed.” That means he has now drawn this dotted line rather behind the height of land. The red line and the light blue line are really cutting back into the interior to some extent. This is all the result of treaties made with different tribes of Indians, which are executed by the Indian chiefs.

Viscount HALDANE : Not necessarily with the whole of the Indians.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Oh, no. Only one at a time. You cannot treat Indian tribes as though they were settled upon a given spot of earth, in the sense in which a modern civilised community of Europe may have settled.

Viscount HALDANE : We know there were numbers away to the north-west.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Oh certainly. I hope your Lordship does not think I am stressing this too much, but it seems to me so important that we should appreciate what the Proclamation of 1763 may fairly deal with. Then he goes on to say : “and that upon the whole one uniform and complete line will be formed between the Indians and those antient colonies, whose limits not being confined to the westward have occasioned that extensive settlement, which, being made without the consent of the Indians and before any line was settled, produced the evil complained of.” Your Lordships remember George Washington's letter which I read the other day. “In comparing the map with the description in writing as taken from the Treaties with the Indians, your Majesty will observe that the boundary line with the six Nations and their allies is made upon the map to terminate at that part of the Ohio where it receives the Connahway River, instead of continuing it down the Ohio to the Cherokee River, and up that river to its source, as described in the Treaty,”—the Treaty is the Treaty with the Six Nations— “the reason for which is, that although the six Nations may have pretensions to the dominion of the country on the south side of the Ohio lower down than the Connahway River ; yet in fact it is more occupied by the Cherokees and other independent tribes, as their hunting ground and, therefore, the making any settlements beyond the Connahway River, or at least beyond a line drawn from the mouth of it to

p. 887

where the Cherokee line now terminates, as marked on the map, would be altogether inconsistent with what has been settled and agreed upon with that nation ; for which reason we think that the line settled with the Southern Indians, and that which remains to be settled with the six Nations ought to be united in the manner we have described.”
Then they say : “Upon the whole it does appear to us, that it will be greatly for your Majesty's interest as well as for the peace, security and advantage of the colonies, that this boundary line should, as speedily as possible, be ratified by your Majesty's authority, and that the superintendents should be instructed and impowered to make treaties in your Majesty's name with the Indians for that purpose.” And at the bottom of the same page your Lordships will catch the phrase : " all transactions in the Indian country." At the time it was a phrase with a connotation.
On page 6 they are making some observations, and one of the observations marked " Secondly " is worth reading. " Secondly, that the confining trade to certain posts and places, which is the spirit and principle of the present system, however expedient and effectual with respect to the Southern Indians, is of doubtful policy with respect to those Indians more particularly connected with New York and Pennsylvania "—that is what they really meant by the northern area—" and that it is evidently disadvantageous, inconvenient, and even dangerous with respect to the much larger body of Indians, who possess the country to the westward," — there were an immense number of them—" and with whom your Majesty's subjects in Quebec in particular do carry on so extensive a commerce."
Then on the next page, page 7, in the middle of the page, there is what I think is a very striking passage, because it is a passage which has nothing to do with the Montagnais, or Nascopies, or Esquimaux. This is what they say : " With respect to the question, How far the present expence, regarding the disposition of troops for Indian purposes, may with propriety and safety be lessened by reducing most of the posts now subsisting and entrusting others of them to the provinces them-selves, we beg leave in the first place in general to represent it to your Majesty as our humble opinion, that it will be in the highest degree expedient to reduce all such posts in the interior country "—your Lord-ships will find the phrase interior country " is quite frequently used as an alternative for the phrase " the Indian country " as are not immediately subservient to the protection of the Indian commerce, and to the defeating of French and Spanish machinations among the Indians, or which, although in some degree useful for these purposes, cannot be maintained, but at an expense disproportioned to the degree of their utility. But before we apply this observation to the particular posts now subsisting, it may be proper to take a cursory view of the interests and situations of the several tribes or bodies of Indians, whose commerce and connection are the objects of whatever establishments it may be thought necessary to continue."
Without wearying your Lordships with reading it all, you may take it—though your Lordships will, of course, check it if you wish—

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that there was nothing whatever about the Montagnais or Nascopies or Esquimaux. This is all a different part of America. You get the thing at a point on page 8, in the third paragraph : " In the Northern district the principal Indians form themselves into two great confederacies ; the one composed of the Six Nations and their Allies and Dependents, the other, called the Western Confederacy, composed of a great variety of powerful tribes, occupying that extensive country, which lies about the Lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior, and to the West and North West." There you have the identification. “The commerce and connection with the first of these bodies of Indians”—that is to say, the Six Nations and so on— “was antecedent to the War, confined chiefly to the province of New York, upon the frontiers of which their principal hunting ground lyes; and the trade was carried on at fortified Truck houses upon the Lake Ontario ; since the Peace a large share of this trade is carried on from Pennsylvania by the Channel of the Ohio, and from thence by Venango and Riviere aux Boeufs into Lake Erie. The commerce and connection with those Indians which form the Western confederacy”—that is the other half of the northern area—“were, both from the situation of the country they occupied, and from the plan pursued by France for securing the dominion of it by posts upon the lakes, altogether. confined to the French in Canada, and is now principally carried on from thence by your Majesty's subjects there, through the Channel of the Ottawa River and by the Lakes. In this state, therefore, of the commerce and connection subsisting between your Majesty's subjects and the Indians in the Northern district and of the channels through which the intercourse is carried on, it does appear to us, that the keeping up military establishments at Detroit, Michilimacinac and Niagara, and the having two, or at most three armed vessels on the Lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan and Superior may be necessary for keeping up and preserving that good correspondence with the Indians, which is essential to the safety, improvement and extension of the trade with them. Of these three establishments that at Detroit, which is the great centre of Indian commerce, situated amongst many numerous tribes of Indians, and where a considerable number of French remain under the Faith of the Treaty of Paris, does appear to us to be by far the most important object.”
Then at the bottom of page 9 they discuss the question as to whether it would be a good plan to establish new colonies in the interior parts of America—which was one proposal at the time—and they recommend against it. On page 10 you will find they are discussing, about the second paragraph, the position of forming inland colonies in America. Then at the bottom of page 10 there is a useful passage as showing how “interior country” is constantly used as the analogue of “Indian country”. You will find this passage : “The same motives, though operating in a less degree, and applying to fewer objects, did, as we humbly conceive, induce the forming the colonies of Georgia, East Florida, and West Florida to the South ; and the making those provisional arrangements in the Proclamation of 1763, by which the

p. 889

interior country was left to the possession of the Indians.” They argue, therefore, against that.
I had also picked out a passage on page 12, the third paragraph, which is as follows : " Such, may it please your Majesty, is the present state of the progress making in the settlement of the northern parts of the sea coast of North America in consequence of what appears to have been the policy adopted by this Kingdom." They mean by " the northern parts of the sea coast of North America " the sea coast of Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and so on, and perhaps even further south than that.
That is the end of it. It is a very long document, but I think it is a most instructive one.

Viscount HALDANE : I see on page 12, there is a statement as to commercial policy. " The encouraging settlements upon the sea coast of North America is founded in the true principles of Commercial Policy." It shows their attention was called to that.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Your Lordship is right. They are arguing against the idea of internal colonies. It was a very hot dispute, and they give a series of reasons which are very interesting to anyone interested in public affairs to-day. They are arguing, for example, that you will get an area which will consume British manufactures, which after all was one of the eighteenth century objects, if you have colonies on the coast ; but if you plant these people right in the interior, where will Birmingham sell its products ?

Viscount HALDANE : There is another reason, and that is that the garrison in the interior cannot be relieved. In fact there were certain troops kept for very many years in Canada. They were there so that they might be useful in case of war about the frontier line.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Of course, your Lordship knows all about this so very well through the public duty you have discharged. Your Lordship no doubt remembers that the 60th Rifles, a very famous and gallant regiment, were originally called the Royal American Regiment.

Viscount HALDANE : They were somewhere in the west of Canada. When did they come back ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : I am afraid, though I have done my best to study some American history for the purpose, I have not carried it up to quite the time of your Lordship's personal recollection.

Viscount FINLAY : What is the history of the line indicated here, partly a red dotted line, and partly uncoloured ? It runs down some distance from the Atlantic and goes down to Florida.

Sir JOHN SIMON : That is what is referred to in the passage from

[1927lab]




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