John Quincy Adams instruction on northeast boundary, 1823
Item Contributed by
Maine Historical Society
Secretary of State John Quincy Adams wrote instructions to Richard Rush, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary from the U.S. to Great Britain, specifying the government's position on the northeast boundary between Maine and Canada.
He refers to the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812, and the provisions it made for resolving the boundary, and the previous efforts that had been made to try to set the Maine boundary and others. He noted the many disagreements between the two sides.
Because the two sides cannot agree on the map to be used, much less the boundaries, Adams proposes direct negotiation rather than placing the issue before a neutral arbitrator.
Adams wrote, "The difference between the Commissioners with regard to the North West Angle of Nova Scotia is of more than one hundred miles and embraces a territory of more than ten thousand square miles." He also noted that, "The general Map produced by each side is totally discredited by the other."
Suggesting how complex the boundary issue had become, Adams wrote, "There are upwards of thirty folio volumes of Manuscripts, all in the english Language, containing the Journals of the commissioners– the proceedings of the Surveyors and geographers the observations and calculations of the Astronomers – and the Arguments of the Agents."