Alaskan Boundary Dispute 1898–1903


Map Code: Ax2308

The Klondike Gold Rush of 1896–98 suddenly made the border between northwestern Canada (then part of the British Empire) and the United States (by then independent and in possession of Alaska after its purchase from Russia in 1867), highly contentious. In addition, there were disagreements concerning the sovereignty of the numerous off-shore islands in the region. The existing borderlines had been somewhat vaguely drawn up on the basis of maps and descriptions provided by British naval captain George Vancouver, which had proved in certain respects to be ambiguous and inaccurate. A tribunal manned by three American and three British officials was therefore appointed to resolve the dispute, and in 1903 they drew up the Hay–Herbert Treaty along the lines of a compromise. The compromise, however, disappointed the Canadians by denying them maritime access to the gold fields and led them to accuse the British of betrayal. This in turn subsequently fuelled anti-British, pro-independence movements in Canada, especially in the predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec.

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