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Canada and Canadian Defence: Appendix 2

Appendix II

As To Rouse's Point,
At The Northern End of Lake Champlain.

Extracts from Lake George and Lake Champlain, by W. Max Reid (New York, 1910), p. 332:

"I am indebted to State Historian Victor Hugo Paltsitts for the following valuable information, which he derived from an examination of Professor John Bassett Moore's History and Digest of the International Arbitrations to which the United States has been a Party, vol. i. (Washington, 1898), pp. 80, 104–5, 106, 112, 119, 127, 135–6, 150–1:

"After the Treaty of Ghent, Great Britain and the United States appointed Commissioners for surveying and exploring the boundaries between the United States and Canada. It was during the life of this joint Commission that most surprising differences arose over the 45th parallel of north latitude.1

"In the autumn of 1818 Dr. Tiarks and Mr. Hassler, then the British and American astronomers, discovered, apparently to the consternation of both of them, that just east of Lake Champlain the true parallel lay about three-fourths of a mile south of the 'old line,' which was surveyed in the preceding century.

"Less than half a mile to the south of this line lay the fort at Rouse Point, which had been constructed by the United States at a cost of a million dollars, and which was believed to be of great strategic value;1 and near by was a new work in course of construction; so it seemed that both forts were in British territory.

"There was no doubt as to the fact—the old line was in part erroneous. The British and American Commissioners disagreed, and adjourned in 1821, subject to the pleasure of their respective Governments. . . .

"As now known, they referred the matter to King William of the Netherlands, who on January 10, 1831, rendered his award as arbitrator, including the following opinion—viz.:

"'That in determining the latitude of places it is customary to follow the principle of the observed latitude; and that the Government of the United States of America has erected certain fortifications at the place called Rouse Point under the impression that the ground formed part of their territory—an impression sufficiently authorized by the circumstance that the line had until then been reputed to correspond with the 45th degree of north latitude:

"'We are of opinion that it would be suitable to proceed to fresh operations to measure the observed latitude, in order to mark out the boundary from the River Connecticut along the parallel of the 45th degree of north latitude to the River St. Lawrence, named in the treaties Iroquois or Catarqui—in such manner, however, that in all cases, at the place called Rouse Point, the territory of the United States of America shall extend to the fort erected at that place, and shall include said fort and its kilometrical radius (rayon kilométrique).'

"In effect, the arbitrator held2 that the 45th parallel of north latitude should be determined by the customary principle of observed latitude, without regard to prior surveys, but expressed the opinion that the United States should be left in the possession of the fort at Rouse Point. This opinion was actually accepted by the Ashburton Treaty of 1842."

Mr. Max Reid also gives the following extract from "The Northern Traveller" (published by A. T. Godrich, New York, 1826), p. 186:

"Rouse Point.

"There is a village by this name, on the western side, and a mile beyond it is.

"The fort, which is a kind of large castle, is built of hewn stone, with perpendicular walls and three tiers of embrasures. It stands at the end of a low point, and was built to command the passage of the lake during the last war. On running the line of the United States and Canada, the Commissioners at first fixed the boundary a little south of this place, so as to bring the fort within the limits of the latter;1 but, in consequence of the line agreed on by the treaty coming to near Quebec, it was determined that an arrangement should be made for the benefit of both parties, and the boundary has been left in its former place. An opening through the woods, like a road, marks the place, about half a mile north of the fort."

Mr. Reid also gives the following extract from French's Gazetteer of 1860:

"Rouse Point is named from Jacques Rouse, a Canadian who settled here in 1753. A bridge a mile long here crosses the lake. A floating draw of 300 feet, opened and shut by steam, admits the passage of vessels.

"About one mile north of the village, upon the banks of the lake, Fort Montgomery is situated. This fort commands the entrance to the lake. It was begun soon after the war of 1812, but in 1818 it was found to be within the limits of Canada, and the work abandoned. It became known as 'Fort Blunder,' but by the Webster Treaty1 of 1842 it was ceded again to the United States. Work upon it has been resumed, and it is estimated that the completed works will cost $600,000, of which $275,000 has already been expended."

1 Along which a portion of the boundary, as defined in 1783, ran at this point (see p. 24). On early maps the lines of latitude were not always accurately laid down, and thus do not agree. For instance, in Jeffery's map of 1775 the 45th parallel north latitude is drawn four miles north of Rouse's Point; in Claude J. Gauthier's of 1776, less than half a mile north of it; in Arrowsmith's, of February 15, 1842, a little to the south of it. In all modern maps it is drawn to the north of it.—C.W.R.

1 And necessarily is so to the United States in relation to naval ascendancy on Lake Champlain.—C.W.R.

2 The award of the King of the Netherlands was not accepted by the United States, so the matter still continued open until the Ashburton Treaty of 1842.—C.W.R.

1 I.e., Canada.

1 In which Lord Ashburton represented Great Britain.

[Public Domain mark] Copyright/Licence: This work was published in 1922 or earlier. It has therefore entered the public domain in the United States.