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THE people of the colonies which afterwards became the United States had enjoyed, during the period preceding the Revolution, in common with their fellow colonists of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the right of fishing all along the Atlantic from off New England, where the schools of cod and mackerel were met in the early spring, to the limits of their northward course in the Bay of Fundy or the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the bays and inlets of the coasts. The claim was made by Great Britain during the negotiations at Paris in 1782 that resulted in the recognition of our independence, that the war of the Revolution had canceled that right, but the American commissioners would not agree to such a proposition.

Thus the matter stood down to the declaration of war in 1812, although the right of our fishermen to approach the shores of the British possessions was questioned in many cases, and there were many contentions and frequent collisions between the rival fishermen. After the two governments had agreed to consider terms for peace at Ghent in 1814, the commissioners for Great Britain insisted that, as the treaty of 1783 which recognized American fishing rights had fallen by the declaration of war, his majesty's government would not

renew the privilege of fishing along the Newfoundland banks without some equivalent concession from the United States. It was claimed by them that the liberty enjoyed by the American fishermen was granted by the treaty and when the treaty fell the fishing right fell with it.

The American commissioners denied this, and held that the rights and liberties in the fisheries as acknowledged by the treaty of peace and independence in 1783 belonged permanently to the citizens of the United States, and were no more affected by the War of 1812 than were the boundaries of the country. Taken by surprise and having received no instructions from the President on this subject, but unwilling to give up their position, the Americans proposed to the English commissioners that the stipulation of the treaty of 1783 should be repeated or that the matter should be temporarily laid aside. The latter course was adopted, and so the treaty of Ghent was silent on the subject of the fisheries.

Negotiations were continued, however, and although it was not possible to come to an agreement when the commercial treaty of 1815 was signed, the treaty of 1818 defined the places where it was agreed that American citizens should forever have the right to take fish, naming also specific localities where they might land to cure them, and renouncing the liberty which they had claimed and enjoyed "to take, dry, or cure fish on or within three marine miles of any of the coasts, bays, creeks, or harbors of his Britannic majesty's dominions not included in the above mentioned limits. Provided, however, that the American fishermen shall be permitted to enter such bays or harbors for the purpose of shelter, of repairing damages therein, of purchasing wood, and obtaining water, and for no other purpose whatever."

But the meaning of the "four purposes" defined in the above quotation from the treaty, and what is known as the

"headland theory," have given rise to continual correspondence and discussions, which, beginning soon after the adoption of the treaty of 1818, are still going on. The legislatures of the British colonies adopted many laws declared to be in accordance with the provisions of the agreement, but very much more stringent, and, under these, many American fishing vessels have been seized and sold for alleged violations of the treaty. The British have claimed that the three marine miles specified in the treaty should be computed as three miles from a straight line connecting one headland with another, and should include all the water within such a line even though the shore might be many leagues distant from it. The Americans have insisted that the three-mile limit should be measured by following the actual shore line and that beyond such a parallel three miles from the coast lies the open sea.

Neither side would admit the contention of the other; American vessels continued to be seized; and in 1852 a squadron was sent by the British government to the fishing waters to secure the enforcement of the British statutes; but a respite was secured in 1854 by the adoption of the reciprocity treaty, which, in return for the permission to import certain British-American products free of duty into the United States, granted to American fishermen "the liberty to take fish of every kind, except shellfish, on the seacoasts and shores, and in the bays, harbors, and creeks of Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and the several islands thereunto adjacent, without being restricted to any distance from the shore." Permission was also given to American citizens to land on the coasts in order to cure their fish and dry their nets.

This agreement brought with it a temporary cessation of the discussion, and the fishing fleets of the United States were no

longer interfered with, until the denunciation of the treaty in 1866 by the United States. Then the legislatures of the British colonies enacted stringent laws to prevent the Americans from taking fish along their shores, and the troublesome question again occupied the time of the foreign departments of the two countries. Many protests and counter-protests were filed against the abuse of privileges by the fishermen and against the unwarranted exercise of authority by the officials. With a view to settling these disputes, Sir Edward Thornton proposed to Secretary Fish, in January, 1871, that a joint high commission should take the matter into consideration. The proposition was accepted by the secretary on the condition that the claims of the United States for damages committed by the privateer Alabama during the War of the Rebellion should be submitted to the same commission for adjustment. This commission concluded what is known as the "treaty of Washington," in which it was agreed that for ten years or until either government should give two years' notice of a desire to terminate it, the inhabitants of both countries should have an equal right to engage in the sea fisheries on the Atlantic coast under the same conditions that were provided for in the reciprocity treaty of 1854; fish and fish oil were to be admitted free into each country from the other; and commissioners were to be appointed to determine what amount of money, if any, should be paid to the British government for these privileges accorded to the American fishermen.

Thus again was temporary quiet secured, and the fishermen pursued their perilous calling unmolested by adverse legislation until the season of 1886. The commission which sat at Halifax to determine the amount due the British government for the privilege of fishing in the waters of their American dominion, awarded $5,500,000 as the sum to be paid by the United States. Although the amount was deemed exorbitant

by the people of this country it was paid; but under the instructions of Congress the American minister at London informed the British government on Monday, July 2, 1883, that the fishery articles of the treaty of 1871 would terminate in two years.

The termination of the treaty taking place in the midst of the fishing season, it was agreed between Mr. Bayard, then secretary of state, and Sir Lionel West, the British minister at Washington, that its privileges should be enjoyed throughout the season of 1885. It was declared in the notice issued by Mr. Bayard, however, that this temporary postponement in no way affected the principles involved in the case and did not allow the exemption of fish and fish oil from customs duties.

The President in his annual message recommended the appointment of a joint commission to consider and settle upon a just, equitable, and honorable basis the entire question of the fishing rights of the citizens of the two governments, and Mr. Phelps, the American minister in London, presented his views to the British authorities in order to suggest a basis for negotiations. But the proposition of the President was not favorably acted upon.

When the season of 1886 opened, the New England fishermen followed the fish northward, as usual, and when they reached the Canadian coasts, there was a repetition of the previous troubles with the local authorities. These cases beginning with that of the David J. Adams in May, 1886, were brought to the attention of the British government by Mr. Phelps under the instruction of the secretary of state, and earnest remonstrance was made. But the seizures continued, and on March 3, 1887, Congress passed an act authorizing the President to retaliate by denying Canadian vessels access to the ports of the United States, and prohibiting the importation of their fish. This brought the matter to a crisis, and

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