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Message of the President of the United States, communicating, in compliance with a resolution of the… Nugent, John 1859

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Array  The University of British Columbia Library
COLLECTION WM^^mmt&im:M lattummimmmmmmmBSuSimm^mm    35th Congress,
2d Session.
Ex. Doc,
No.   29,
In compliance with a resolution of the Senate, the report of' the special
agent of the United States, recently sent to Vancouver s Island and
British Columbia.
January 31, 1859.—Beferred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
February 17, 1859.—Ordered to be printed.
To the Senate of the United States :
In compliance with the resolution of the Senate of the 25th instant,
I transmit a copy of the report of the special agent of the United
States recently sent to Vancouver's Island and British Columbia.
Washington, January 29, 1859.
Washington, January 8, 1859.
Sir : In accordance with your letter of instructions, dated August
2, 1858, I proceeded, without unnecessary loss'of time, to Victoria,
Vancouver's Island, where I arrived on the 20th of September, having
been detained twelve days at San Francisco, awaiting' the departure
of a steamer. On my arrival, I found that a large number of those
who had gone to the Frazer river mines, had left on their return to
California, having become dissatisfied with the country and the
prospect; and that, of those who remained, by far the greater number
were merely waiting to realize sufficient to defray their expenses back
to their homes. It was still likely, however, that a considerable number would remain, both on Vancouver's Island and throughout the
mining region of Frazer river, during the winter, if not longer ;• and
I addressed myself to the accomplishment, in regard to them, of the
objects of the mission with which I had been honored by the President
of the United States.
The chief purpose of the special agency entrusted to me I understood to be, to infuse among the citizens of the United States, temporarily resident in the vicinity of Frazer river, a spirit of subordination
to the colonial authorities, and of respect for the laws of Great Britain,,—
and, at the same time, by such representations to the governor of VANCOUVERS  ISLAND  AND  BRITISH  COLUMBIA.
Vancouver's Island as circumstances would suggest, to endeavor to
obtain from that functionary the abrogation of the rigorous system of
exactions theretofore pursued, and the adoption for the future of such a
policy towards Americans as would not be inconsistent with their
rights as the citizens of a friendly power, and would, furthermore,
tend to promote among them feelings of kindness and good will
towards the government and the subjects of Great Britain. Some such
intervention by the United States was deemed necessary, for the
reason that much exasperation was alleged to exist among those of
our citizens, then making their way to the Frazer river mines, against
the servants of the Hudson's Bay Company and the authorities of
Vancouver's Island, in consequence of the onerous exactions to which
they were said to have been subjected by those officials. The numerous
complaints of such exactions that had already reached the government
of the United States, as early as June last, were in that month brought
to the notice of Lord Malmesbury by Mr. Dallas, our minister at
London ; and, from the declarations of his lordship in reply, of the
favorable disposition of the British government, as well as from
repeated assurances of Lord Napier, the British minister at Washington, to the same effect,—assurances of the sincerity of which no doubt
was entertained,—the hope was indulged that the rigor of the exactions
previously practiced would, upon proper representations of their
iDJustice, be abated, and that the work of conciliation would be one
of no difficult accomplishment.
In addition to these duties, my instructions contemplated that I
should furnish your department with all needful and attainable information touching the newly discovered mines on Frazer river; the
emigration of American citizens thereto ; and other kindred subjects.
It is scarcely necessary to advert to the history of the Frazer river
excitement; how, in April and May of last year, the people of California, and of Oregon and Washington Territories, were startled by
rumors industriously circulated of fabulous gold discoveries on Frazer
river ; how, day alter day, steamers and sailing vessels left the port
of San Francisco for Victoria, crowded to excess: many of them
carrying three times the number of passengers allowed by law ; how
thousands, who were then in prosperous circumstances in California,
dazzled by the prospect of immediately acquiring immense wealth,
abandoned their occupations, both professional and manual, and
selling off their mining claims and other possessions at a great sacri-
fic3, threw themselves into the mad crowd who were thronging with
eager steps to the new gold fields. It is understood that twenty-
three thpusand men left the port of San Francisco for Frazer river,
and that some eight thousand more went overland, from the northern
counties of California, and from the Territories of Oregon and Washington, by way of the Dalles and Fort Kamloops.
Some estimate the number as much greater; but it is safe to assert
that the emigration to Vancouver's Island and British Columbia
during the gold excitement,—the bulk of it during the months of May,
June, and July,—was not under thirty thousand, and may have reached
thirty-three thousand.
The number remaining there at present probably does not exceed VANCOUVER S  ISLAND AND  BRITISH  COLUMBIA. 3
three thousand.    The causes which produced this general and rapid
abandonment of the colonies, I shall presently endeavor to explain.
The first body of gold seekers found their way to Frazer river from
Victoria in canoes, skiffs, and whale-boats, American steamers being
at that time jealously excluded from the river. Numbers perished in
these hazardous voyages ; many*were lost in the mazes of the archipelago that stretches from Discovery island to the edge of the Gulf of
Georgia; and many more in attempting to cross that stormy and
dangerous Gulf, dangerous even for strong and large steamers, from
the peculiarity of its currents, and from other causes.
At length Mr. Douglas, governor of Vancouver's Island, and chief
factor of the Hudson's Bay Company, was induced to permit, on certain conditions, and on the payment of a certain sum for each trip,
the navigation of the river by American bottoms, reserving to himself
the right to withdraw this permission whenever boats owned by
British subjects could be provided for the transportation of passengers
and freight. A number of steamers (tbe Sea Bird, the Surprise, the
Umatilla, the Maria, the Enterprize, and others) immediately commenced running between Victoria and the different points on Frazer
river, and by these means the emigrants were enabled to spread themselves over the gold regions on the river and its tributaries.
The failure of their quest has been already chronicled through the
press. Some, it is true, without experience in mining operations, became disgusted, and left without giving the mines a fair trial; but the
great majority of the emigrants were men who had gained a thorough
knowledge of mining by years of experience in California, and whom
no hardships or discomforts could deter from the prosecution of their
purpose. These men have penetrated into every accessible portion of
the gold fields, from the mouth of the river up to the Canoe country,
down Thompson river, from Fort Kamloops to its mouth, and up
Bridge river nearly to its source, and have prospected every spot
where gold is supposed to exist.
It is true that gold has been found everywhere, but, for the most
part, diffused in such small quantities as not to reward the labor of
digging for it. Some idea may be formed of the unsatisfactory yield
of the mines when it is considered that, notwithstanding the immense
numbers of people precipitated upon Frazer river and the adjacent
country, the entire yield from May till October, inclusive, did not
much exceed half a million of dollars.
There are some five or six bars on the river, between Fort Hope
and Fort Yale, (Santa Clara bar, Texas bar, Emory's bar, Hill's bar,
and one or two others,) that yield well; and on Bridge river, and at
the forks of Frazer and Thompson's rivers, good* diggings have been
found;—but in the whole region hitherto prospected, there are not
eligible placers more than enough to give remunerative employment to
about fifteen hundred miners.
What discoveries may be the result of future researches to the northward and eastward of the present gold region can be, for the present,
only matter of vague speculation. Hitherto, no gold-bearing quartz
ledge of any extent has been found, and but little coarse gold. The
bulk of that washed out is exceedingly fine dust, f Some considerable 4
portion is of the description known as scale gold. The coarse gold
specimens that I have seen were found not in the rriain river but in
its small tributaries. From the extreme fineness of the gold, it requires elaborate care in amalgamation, and the use of a large quantity
of quicksilver.
In consequence of the hazards of the trip from Victoria to the various points on the river attainable by steamboats—the navigation of
Frazer river being extremely difficult and perilous—the prices of
freight were enormous. From Victoria to Fort Hope, situated on
Frazer river, one hundred miles above its mouth, forty dollars per
ton, and, a)s the river became low, and the difficulty and danger increased, fifty dollars per ton was charged. From Fort Hope to Fort
Yale, a distance of sixteen miles, which could only be performed in
canoes, the freight was twenty dollars per ton, and above that point,
the river not being navigable even far canoes for upwards of two hundred miles, provisions were packed generally on men's backs to the
various diggings and prospecting grounds above.
The cost of provisions being so greatly enhanced by the labor and
expense of transportation, the scant yield that in most cases rewarded
the labors of the miner, even when he found gold, except in the most
favored spots, scarcely sufficed for his support; while thousands
spent all the means they had brought with them from California in
prospecting without any remuneration whatever from the soil.
It will be seen, from the above, that the deposits of gold in the
Frazer river region do not offer any weighty inducement for emigration from any portion of the United States.
The country is still less attractive in an agricultural point of view.
Towards the coast its features are rocks, mountains, and a dense
growth of fir trees. The few patches of open land one meets with
are fitter for pasturage than the plow. Around Fort Kami oops,
on Thompson's river, there is a prairie of some extent, and among
the mountains are minute strips of valley land, but these latter are
generally so difficult of access as to be almost unavailable for farming
purposes. There is at present no land under cultivation by white
men in the colony, except, perhaps, a small strip in the immediate
vicinity of Fort Kamloops. Eastward, towards the base of the Kocky
Mountains, the country is more open, but the climate is more unfavorable to agricultural pursuits than on the coast.
All accounts concur in representing the climate as anything but
pleasant. Mr. Dunn, a standard authority on that country, writes of
it as follows:
' \ The climate is very variable, and the transitions are, though
periodically regular, remarkably sudden, if not violent. During the
spring, which lasts from April till June, the weather and face of the
country are delightful. In June there are almost incessant rains,
drifted furiously along by a strong south wind. In July and August
the heat is intense, and the ground, previously saturated with moisture, produces myriads of annoying flies and insects. This heat and
sunshine are succeeded in September by fogs of such palpable darkness
that, until noon, it is seldom possible to distinguish objects at a longer
distance than one hundred yards.   In November the winter sets in VANCOUVER S  ISLAND  AND  BRITISH   COLUMBIA. 5
speedily, freezing the lakes and smaller rivers.    The cold, however,
is not so intense as might be imagined in such a country aad climate."
From a British army officer, formerly in the service of the Hudson's
Bay Company, a gentleman of great intelligence, who has traversed
nearly the whole region comprised within the newly established colony
of British Columbia, I learn that there is no part of the country that
will ever justify farming operations of any magnitude or extent. A large
portion of the Gountry is covered with water, and the rest is broken,
cut up by rocky mountain ridges, and covered with a dense growth of
fir and other timber, valueless as lumber, and unavailable for spars,
for the reason that there is no possibility of conveying it to the coast.
The climate of the southeastern portion of Vancouver's Island is,
for the most part, pleasant and healthful, except for a few of the winter months, during which boisterous winds and cold rains prevail;
but the soil is illy adapted for the growth of cereals.
On the eight or ten square miles of open land in the neighborhood
of Victoria, (the capital and only town of the colony,) there are some
well kept farms, and in the patches of land on different parts of the
coast, covered with Indian villages, the potato is cultivated with success,
and good farms -might be established ; but with the exception of twenty
or twenty-five square miles, which comprise all the clear land of the
island, the remainder, two hundred and seventy miles in length, by
from forty to fifty broad, is a mass of rocks and mountains and sterile
clay, covered with a dense growth of valueless fir and tangled underbrush. Even that portion of woodland which is accessible to the axe
would not justify the labor or expense of clearing, as the soil is too
barren to yield anything like healthy or remunerative crops. Neither
colony, therefore, offered any inducements to our citizens, disappointed
in their mining operations, to settle down in the country with the view
of tilling the soil.
But there is no doubt that, independently of the unpromising character of mining and agricultural operations, the early and rapid abandonment of the colonies by our citizens was induced, in some measure,
by the petty exactions and other annoyances to which they were subjected by the servants of the Hudson's Bay Company and the officers
of the colonial government.
Immediately on my arrival at Victoria I took means to inform
myself as to the various causes of complaint alleged to exist, with a
view to making such representations to Governor Douglas as might
lead to their removal. I found in force a number of restrictions on
mining and commercial pursuits, that operated as very irksome burdens, not simply by reason of the amounts exacted in the shape of
taxes and other imposts, but because they were known to be exacted
without authority of law. I shall proceed to rotice these taxes in
I have already said that, at an early stage of the Frazer river excitement, Governor Douglas gave permission for the navigation of the
river by American steamers. From the following document, which is
a copy of the original agreement, it would appear that the permission
was given by him as factor of the Hudson's Bay Company, and not as
governor of Vancouver's Island.
imsjOmBEmm 6
Copy of agreement.
The agents of the Hudson's Bay Company agree to license one or
more steamers to ply from Victoria to and on Frazer river, on the
following terms :
1. To receive and transport no goods to, on, or from Frazer river,
except the goods of the Hudson's Bay Company, or such as they may
permit to be shipped, and that for the transport of such goods that the
freight do not exceed the following rates, viz :
Victoria to Langley, $10 per ton of 2,000 pounds or 40 feet measurement.
Langley to Fort Hope, $10 per ton of 2,000 pounds or 40 feet measurement.
Fort Hope to Fort Yale, $g per ton-of 2,000 pounds.
Beturn rates to be in the same scale.
2. To carry no passengers to or on Frazer river who have not taken
out a mining license and permit from the government of Vancouver's
Island, and one month's advance thereon.
3. To pay head money to the Hudson's Bay Company ^at the rate of
two dollars for each passenger proceeding into Frazer, or taking passage from Langley upwards ; a settlement to be made at the end of
each trip, and an officer of the Hudson's Bay Company to be received
on board without charge, to attend to such business if required by the
Hudson's Bay Company.
4. That all vessels plying to or on the river be commanded and
owned by British subjects.
5. That permits on said terms will be continued until expiry of
the company's license to trade, in the month of May, 1859.
It will be perceived that this license is given by the agents of the
Hudson's Bay Company to ply to and on Frazer river. By what right ?
Great Britain had tite right to exclude our steamers from the waters
of Frazer river; but if Great Britain did not choose to assert that right,
how could the Hudson's Bay Company's servants claim to make conditions with our people, and charge toll for the privilege of entering ?
Admitting that they had the right of exclusive trade with the Indians,
that did not give them control of the navigation of the river.
The conditions show, in a remarkably strong light, the grasping
spirit that animated these officials. While other traders, Bri ish and
American, were paying forty and fifty dollars per ton freight to Foit
Hope, they exacted of the steamboat owners, as one of the conditions
of opening the river, that they should carry the freight of the company for twenty dollars per ton, thus securing to themselves a large
advantage over other merchants trading on the river.
Another very remarkable condition is th&t contained in Article 2d:
Every person leaving Victoria for Frazer river, no matter what his
business, was compelled to pay Hve dollars for a license to mine. Of
course, under this regulation, the tax was extorted from a great VANCOUVER S ISLAND AND BRITISH COLUMBIA. 7
many of our citizens who never visited the river with any intention of
I have seen a number of affidavits made by American citizens, setting
forth the fact that they had visited Frazer river with no intention of
mining ; had never mined, and yet had been compelled to take out a
mining license. The enforcement of the pre-payment, at Victoria, of
this mining tax was abandoned a short time previous to my departure
from the colony in November ; but for a long time it was rigidly exacted, and a file of marines from the British vessel-of-war at the
mouth of the river, was called into requisition, when it became necessary to enforce compliance on the part of a set of rebellious passengers.*
The third article requires the payment of two dollars head-money
to the Hudson's Bay company, by every person entering the Frazer
river country. I never could learn why this tax was collected, except
that the Hudson's Bay company were the temporary possessors of the
land, and they chose to exact this tribute from strangers on entering it.
The fourth article had neither truth nor substance, and was never
intended to have any effect. The steamboat owners with whom the
agreement was made were American citizens, the boats were American
bottoms, sailing all the time under the American flag, and were so
declared to be by their owners. The agents of the Hudson's Bay
company said the article was a mere matter of form, and so it was
The following is a copy of the sufferance taken out by steamboats
(for each trip) under the above agreement:
No. 580.—General Sufferance.
Port Victoria, Vancouver's Island.
These are to certify to all whom it doth concern, that sufferance for
this present voyage is granted On the conditions annexed to Captain
Wright, to proceed on a voyage to Frazer river with steamer. Enterprise and cargo, as per manifest, and that the said Captain Wright
hath here entered and cleared his boat according to law.
Given under my hand at Victoria, V. I., this 18th day of October,
1858. - •'  . ''I.'.:     JH^|*'    W        '   CHAS. A. ANGELO.
|lj Deputy Collector.
"* We would most earnestly impress on all persons about proceeding to the mines
the necessity of obtaining licenses to mine from the proper officers at this port, as it
will save them much time, annoyance, and may be serious trouble. Mr. Purser Welch, of
the steamer Surprise, informs us that on his last trip up some fifty of the passengers, mostly
Irishmen, refused to buy licenses* and expressed their determination to disregard the law in
this respect. When off Point Roberts, just at the mouth of Frazer river, the Surprise was
ordered alongside of H. B. Majesty's war steamer Satellite, boarded by her officers, and the
fact of the contumacy of the refractory ascertained, when a file of marines was stationed on
board and each passenger obliged to show his/ license under penalty of being put ashore.
These prompt measures brought the rebellious to terms, and they were very glad to be allowed to purchase their licenses and proceed on their journey. We trust all persons arriving
in the country will cheerfully obey the laws, as it is their duty, and because we are satisfied
such obedience on their part will not only conduce to their own but the public good.— Victoria
(V. I.) Gazette of Jane 30, 1858. 8
For each sufferaneelfor a steamboat the sum of twelve dollars was
exacted ; and for each sufferance for a canoe, and every other description of boat entering the river, the sum of six dollars. It will be
seen that by a remarkable confusion of jurisdictions, this sufferance
tax is collected by the collector of the port of Victoria, an officer of the
colonial government.
Thus far, the taxes imposed were—
For mining licenses, renewable at the end of each month....... $5 00
Head-money from each person  2 00
Sufferance for a steamboat for each trip  12 00
Sufferance for each canoe and other boat  6 00
From canoes and other small boats passing up the river these
imposts were collected in this wise : A hermaphrodite brig, named
the Becovery, formerly owned by the Hudson's Bay Company, but
afterwards put in commission and commanded by a lieutenant in the
British navy, was stationed above the mouth of the river, and by her
every boat passing up was hailed and ordered alongside.
If the passengers were so unfortunate as not to have means to pay
mining license, head-money, and sufferance tax, their watches, pistols,
knives, or other personal effects, were held in pledge for payment. In
the absence of such personal effects, bags of flour, beans and coffee,
harns, and other provisions were retained, and I have been assured
that the deck of the brig was covered with those articles. It is but
just to add that the officers immediately charged with the peribrmance
of this unpleasant service acted with all gentleness, and humanity
compatible with their orders, and that they endeavored, by every
means in their power, to mitigate the rigor of these amercements.
In addition to the taxes above enumerated, a duty of ten per cent,,
ad valorem was imposed on all goods imported into the Frazer river
country. It is almost unnecessary to say that this duty is wholly
unauthorized by any existing law. Latterly it was pretended that
it was levied for the behoof of the government, but the fact that it
was collected by Mr. Finlayson, the financial agent of the Hudson's
Bay Company, and not by the collector of the port, in addition to
other circumstances, would lead to the belief that it was imposed by
the company and for their own benefit.- A letter is in existence from
Mr. Finlayson to Mr. G. B. Wright, a contractor on the flarrison
Lillooett trail, in which that gentleman promises that the goods imported by Mr. Wright up Frazer river, for the subsistence and clothing
of his men, shall not be charged with this duty of ten per cent, as
long as the license of the company shall continue in existence, but
that after its expiration they will have no control in the matter. If
the duty had not been imposed by the company, they certainly would
have had no power to remit it in Mr. Wright's case. I shall be
enabled in a few days to furnish a certified copy of this letter.
The following is a copy of the permit granted on the payment of
| Permit.
Permission is hereby given to the northwest boundary commission
of the United States to import the following packages of merchandise
into Frazer river:
Marks.—George B. Boberts for Alexander C. Anderson, collector.
Contents.—Two thousand pounds barley.
JP*Wpv • -■-    f->|   BOBEKT FINLAYgON,
Hudson's Bay Company.
To the revenue officer of Frazer river.
Victoria, V. /., September 2, 1858.
Appended to this report is an affidavit of W. G. Eason, esq., now
resident of Victoria, setting forth the payment of the duty on the
above mentioned shipment of barley, and the refusal of Mr. Finlayson to receipt for the same. I likewise append a statement from the
books of G. A. Beynolds & Co., merchants in Victoria, showing the
amount of duties paid by that firm for a portion of the month of September, 1858. p|
Having informed myself concerning these Various imposts, I waited
upon Governor Douglas, in accordance with your instructions, and
represented the various causes of complaint urged by our citizens. From
the friendly intentions expressed by the British government, and the
earnest disposition manifested by Lord Napier, the British minister,
to co-operate with the government of the United States in such mutual offices of kindness and conciliation as would soften any feeling
of exasperation that might have previously existed on the part of our
people then on Frazer river and Vancouver's Island, against the local
authorities,—and from what I was led to believe was the tenor of the
instructions sent to Governor Douglas, simultaneously with my departure for Frazer river,—I apprehended no difficulty in inducing, on the
part of that functionary, such an abatement of the rigor of the previous exactions as would allay*:the existing discontent, and would secure,
for the future, harmony and good feeling. I regret to state that
neither the instructions sent out, nor the earnest and courteous remonstrances which I deemed it my duty to address to his excellency,
against the injustice, the impolicy and illegality of those exactions,
were efficacious in producing more than the partial and inconsiderable
modification I have before mentioned.
Governor Douglas, it is true, expressed the most friendly dispositions; but .when pressed upon the subject of an abatement of the restrictions on mining and trading operations, remarked that there was
nothing to prevent the Americans going elsewhere if they were dissatisfied with their treatment in the two colonies.
As an apology for the imposition of those onerous taxes he alleged
the necessity of protecting the miners from the Indians. The only
protection ever afforded against the Indians was by the appointment
of a few special constables, a force not likely to be very efficient in an 10
Indian war. It is needless to say that the miners were compelled to
protect themselves. At first the Indians were extremely hostile, from
causes which I shall hereafter allude to. The miners, being in a strange
land, and unwilling to embroil themselves, forbore, for a long time,
from resisting the outrages perpetrated by the savages; but their forbearance the Indians regarded as cowardice; murders were committed;
day after day the headless trunks of murdered miners came floating
down the river. Bands of men were then organized who went out
to the rancherias, met the Indians and chastised,them. They then
made treaties with them, and peace prevailed ever after. Individual
instances of indiscretion and hot blood there may have been among
the Americans in these troubles; but the unanimous testimony of all
parties, both English and American, goes to show that those engaged
in the difficulties exhibited exemplary forbearance before they struck
a blow. Since that time there has been no necessity for the employment of special constables in Indian warfare.
But the grievances of which our citizens complained were not confined to the exactions practiced upon them. Numerous complaints
reached me, of outrages committed by the subordinate officers of the
Hudson's Bay Company, of dishonest dealings by the Commissioner of
Public Lands, and of flagrant bias, according as their prejudices
tended, on the part of the courts. The probity of the judges in pecuniary matters was unimpeached, but it was evident in many cases that
their national prejudices carried them far out of the path of justice.
Indeed, it is not too much to say that the courts, from the peculiarity
of their constitution and the eccentricity of their action, were the
merest travesties of judicial tribunals. Their pure unsophisticated
ignorance of law was only equalled by the vehement bigotry that
characterized their proceedings in many cases.
Where circumstances permitted, I directed the complaints of our
citizens to be sworn to; in some eases, where the abuses occurred in
remote parts of the interior, this mode of authentication was impracticable. At the request of the aggrieved parties I lay some of these
cases before you, with this report, for the action of the government
Among them will be found one of a man who makes affidavit
that he had declared his intentions to become a citizen of the United
States; that he had built and stocked a store at Fort Langley; had
hoisted the American flag on his house on the fourth of July in honor
of his adopted country; was arrested some days afterwards for this
offence, put in irons, brought down to Victoria, tried on a trumped-up
charge of selling liquor to Indians, convicted, and thrown into prison,
where he was kept for nearly two months, being fed on bread and
water for a portion of the time. The affidavit and other papers are
furnished herewith. ^
There will be found mother case of an American citizen who was
unmercifully beaten by an agent of the Hudson's Bay Company at
Nanaimo, assisted by a number of half breeds, the agent being intoxicated at the time. The man beaten was Andrew McKenzie, the
assaulting party was a man named Stewart, an agent of the Hudson's
Bay Company and a colonial magistrate. McKenzie swore information against.Stewart, but the court would not entertain the complaint VANCOUVER S ISLAND AND BRITISH COLUMBIA.
or issue process, for the reason that Nanaimo was out of its jurisdiction. The day previous, the same court had entertained a complaint
against MeKenzie, and had him arrested on a charge of uttering
threatening language, the offence being alleged to have been committed at this very same place, Nanaimo, which next day the judge
declared was out of his jurisdiction. On the first day^when the complaint was entertained, it was that of a British sufefeet against an
American. On the next day, when the complaint was not entertained, the case was of an American citizen against a British subject.
1 Another case will be found to be that of a ditch company at Santa
Clara bar, on Frazer river, who had, with great labor and expense,
constructed a ditch conveying water to their claim ; when, as they were
about to reap the fruits of their enterprise, the commissioner of crown
lands, who had been previously given an interest by another party,
prevented them from using the water, and gave the privilege to the
party with whom he himself was connected. Another, from a company on Texas bar, complains of a similar piece of knavery and oppression. Another memorial was received from Hills' bar, signed by
one hundred miners, and complaining of similar outrages on the part
of the same functionary.
Numberless complaints of this character poured in on me from day
to day^ more or less meB$torious, but all of them proving a most
grasping and avaricious spirit on the part of the petty authorities of
the plaoe, or else a studied determination to disgust the Americans
with the country. The§e things continued up to the time of my departure ; ancka few days before leaving Victoria, having been apprised
of the existence of a very embittered feeling on tike part of our citizens,
engendered by these many acts of injustice, I deemed it my duty to
issue an address to the Americans residing in Vancouver's Island and
British Columbia, putting them in possession of the views of their
government in regard to their rights |md standing in those colonies;
admonishing them to commit no violation of law, and to be obedient
to the authorities ; at the same time admitting the numerous abuses
that existed, but pledging to them the intervention of their own government for the redress of their grievances and the protection of their
rights* This address I subjoin from the Victoria Gazette, of November
13,1858. -|     f^§-    #        |v '.;     -..'   •■   ;.-/      ^       -
To the citizens of the United States in Vancouver's Island a»S British
Columbia:  ■/•
Having received from citizens of the United States mining and
trading on Frazer river and in its vicinity, a number of letters complaining of acts of injustice and oppression at the hands of the colonial
authorities, and being on the eve of my departure to lay my report
before the government at Washington, I take this public method of
apprising American citizens sojourning in Vancouver's Island and
British Columbia of the views of our government in regard to their
rights and standing in these colonies.
I need scarcely say that the government of the United States expects
of its own citizens abroad a decent conformity with local regulations,
WmmmmmmaiUiSUmBS&i! JbSL 12
Vancouver's island and British Columbia.
obedience to the laws of the countries they visit, and a proper show
of respect for the authorities by whom those laws are administered.
This is exacted of strangers visiting the different States of the Union,
who are amenable to punishment for a violation of the laws of those
States or of the United States, as are American citizens for infraction
of the laws of such foreign countries as they may enter in the pursuit of
pleasure or of business. Such of our citizens, therefore, as have taken
up their temporary residence in British Columbia or Vancouver's
Island are subjeei, like all other residents, to the laws of the colonies
of Great Britain, and are liable, like all others, to the penalties meted
out by those laws to persons properly convicted of their violation.
I am aware that an elaborate attempt to impress these facts upon
my fellow-citizens in these colonies would be superfluous. Their
sobriety of deportment, their decent observance of all the proprieties
of life in the midst of privations and annoyances of no common degree, and their obedience to the law under very trying provocations to
its infringement—although they may not have gained for them such
liberal treatment as was due to that forbearance and good conduct—
have nevertheless commanded the respect of the strangers among
whom they are cast, and cannot fail to be subjects of pride and gratu-
lation to their own government.
Considering the circumstances attending the recent settlement of
these colonies, it was scarcely to be expected that a well regulated
government could be at once built up out of the chaotic elements suddenly thrown together in such confusion. Mueh was to be pardoned
to the inexperience of an executive hitherto dealing for the most part
with savages, and possibly unprepared by previous training for the
more refined exigencies imposed by governmental relations with a
white population. .Much of the cause of complaints that haverarisen
was to some extent excusable, because due to the unlicensed rudeness
of the subordinate officers of the Hudson's Bay Company and the colonial government, who, by reason of their long isolation from civilized
society and their habitual intercourse with Indians, had unlearned
most of the finer traits of humanity and were scarcely accountable
for a grossness of conduet that had become to them a second nature ;
and, lastly, much was to be excused in the ignorance and want of
tone of courts organized out of such crude and unfit materials as those,
the only ones that were at hand on the sudden influx of the strangers.
In some instances, no doubt, these courts have fallen short of even
the limited expectations justified by the peculiar circumstances of
their construction and the strange constituents of which they were
composed. But it is not to be doubted that the British government
will, without unnecessary delay, provide remedies for the evils and
abuses arising from this condition of things—evils and abuses affecting not alone the prosperity of its own subjects, but the rights of
citizens of a foreign and friendly power.
The forbearance, in the mean time, of the citizens of the United
States, their quiet observance of the laws under any aggressions on
their rights of which they may have to complain, will not alone have
its reward in the consciousness of having done credit to their country,
a country whose institutions are based upon that all-pervading love of VANCOUVER'S  ISLAND  AND  BRITISH  COLOMBIA.
order, and that spirit of obedience to the law which distinguishes its
citizens, but it will, moreover, entitle them to the active intervention
of their own government for the redress of their grievances and for
the protection of their rights.    That the government of the United
States, upon proper cause being shown, after recourse shall have been
had in vain to the tribunals, against aj^ts of oppression or injustice,
will so intervene for the redress and protection of its citizens in British
Columbia and Vancouver's Island, I am authorized and instructed to
give them the most emphatic assurance.    If wrong be done them, let
them appeal to the courts.    It is to be hoped they will obtain justice;
but should those tribunals, unfortunately, be too impotent, too ignorant,
or too corrupt to administer the law with impartiality and firmness, our citizens may reckon with certainty upon the prompt and
efficient interference of their own government in their behalf.   The best
guarantee I can furnish them of the certainty of such interposition
will be found in the subjoined declaration by the honorable Lewis
Cass, Secretary of State of the United States, in a recent despatch to
our minister in Nicaragua, enunciating clearly and vigorously the
views of our government in respect to the ^rights of our citizens
visiting foreign countries :
" The United States believe it to be their duty, and they mean to
execute it, to watch over the persons and property of their citizens
visiting foreign countries, and to intervene for their protection when
such action is justified by existing circumstances and by the law of
nations. Wherever her citizens may go through the habitable globe,
when they encounter injustice they may appeal to the government of
their country, and the appeal will be examined into, with a view to
suqh action on their behalf as it may be proper to take. It is impossible to define in advance and with precision those cases in which the
national power may be exerted for their relief, or to what extent relief
shall be afforded. Circumstances as they arise must prescribe the
rule of action. In countries where well defined and established laws
are in operation, and where their administration is committed to able
and independent judges, cases will rarely occur where such intervention will be necessary. But these elements of confidence and security
are not everywhere found ; and where that is unfortunately the case,
the United States are called upon to be more vigilant in watching
over their citizens, and to interpose efficiently for their protection
when they are subjected to tortuous proceedings by the direct action of
the government, or by its indisposition, or inability to discharge its
It is unnecessary for me to make any further or more pointed application of this declaration, to the circumstances of American citizens
in these colonies. Their own intelligence and prudence will enable
them so to guard their conduct that they shall never forfeit that
provident and fatherly care and protection which it promises, and
which the government of the United States has both the ability
and the will to exercise over all its children, in whatever part of the
world they may be.
'       t    f   .J- . • < JOHN NUGENT,
Special Agent of the United States.
Victoria, Vancouver's Island, Nov. 13, 1858. 14
From what has gone before, it will not be denied that my remarks
concerning the executive were founded in justice; as to the courts,
their partiality was almost inconceivable. The animus with which
they dealt out law to American citizens will be best understood from a
letter appended to this report from Captain William Webster, now in
this city, from which it will be seen that the chief justice of the colony
of Vancouver's Island, Mr. Cameron, once so far forgot himself on
one occasion as to say in open court that the only further.punishment
he thought should be inflicted on a person named Munro, convicted
of perjury, who had been in prison for three months, was " to send
him to the other side," (Washington Territory,) " where all rogues and
villains should be sent, where they belonged, and should remain."
Among the Hudson's Bay Company's people, there are some gentlemen of high character and respectability. Mr. McKay, Mr. McTavish,
Mr. McLean, and the agent at Fort Yale, whose name I forget, have
exhibited marked courtesy and kindness towards Americans ; but
that my strictures upon the generality of the subordinate officers,
to whom they were intended to apply, were not too severe will be ad-
mitfel, when I state on the authority of Colonel Snowden, a citizen
of Yuba county, in California, that he learned from several Indian
chiefs, that they and their people were led to believe by the representations of the Hudson's Bay Company's servants, that the Americans
were coming there to rob them of their cattle, of their food, and
their squaws; and were advised by those same evil minded individuals to commence a war of extermination against our citizens;
and furthermore, when I state that one of the guns captured from the
hands of an Indian in October last, in one of Colonel Wright's
Indian fights in Washington Territory, was a British musket of the
date of 1857, which arm cduld not have found its way into the heart
of our Indian territory, except through the emissaries of the Hudson's
Bay Company; and that nunrbers of similar weapons were furnished
to the Indians in the war against our troops not the slightest doubt
is entertained. My information in regard to this fact is derived from
a number of army officers, fresh from the battle-fields of Washington
Territory, and personally cognizant of the matter; among them,
Lieutenant Morgan, now stationed at Old Point Comfort, Lieutenant
Tyjer, I believe on leave, and within a few hours' reach of this place,
and Captain Fletcher, on leave, and within telegraphic communication in Virginia. I will further state that there is evidence now in
the Department of State, that after a disastrous battle fought in
Washington Territory, during the last year, with the Spokanes and
other Indians, the mules, horses, accoutrements, and other property
of the United States which fell into the hands of the savages, were
subsequently purchased from them by the agents of the Hudson's Bay
Company, at Colville, and other places; that this property bore the
marks and brands of theiUnited States, and was known .to the purchasers to have been plundered by the Indians, who were then in a state
of rebellion against our government.
But that they did not confine themselves simply to receiving this
stolen property, but absolutely supplied the Indians then in the field
against our troops with ammunition and arms, is abundantly proved VANCOUVER S ISLAND  AND  BRITISH COLUMBIA.
by the testimony of army officers and others. Mr. John Owen, special
Indian agent to the Flathead nation, Washington Territory, wiites
from Colville valley, on the 11th of July, 1858, as follows : (I quote
from the report of the Secretary of the Interior, pages 618, 619, 620.)
" I arrived at Fort Colville in company with the Hudson's Bay
Company's " brigade," on the 4th instant. I met at Colville the
Cceur d'Alene chief, with some ten othfers of the same tribe. They
came well mounted, on United States horses and mules ; they are
offering the mules for sale ; some were bought by tfee Hudson's Bay
Company. I told tm? gentleman in charge that I had no orders to
stop it, but I did not think it right to furnish a market for stolen
horses to the enemy."
*T* f* ^P 2(* 2K ^ *K *fc *J* 5jC
The Hudson's Bay Company's train, some two hundred head of horses,
starts in a few days for Fort Hopey for the year's outfit. I think
they are to bring some two thousand pounds of powder, with a proportionate quantity of ball. This, as a matter of course, will find its
way into the hostile camp, or at least a large portion of it. The trade
in ammunition might be stopped here, but as the gentleman in charge
told me, we could not prevent the company from trading at Fort Forty-
nine, which is another post, some thirty miles above Colville, on the
right bank of the river and across the line."
Mr. Nesmith, superintendent of Indian affairs for Oregon and Washington Territories, to whose notice these facts were brought, writes to
the special agent as follows. His letter, dated August 2, 1858, is to
be found on pages 623, 624 of the report of the Secretary of the
" You are also requested to warn the officer in charge of the Hudson's Bay Company*s post at Colville to desist from encouraging the
Indians in stealing and marauding by purchasing from them the
property captured or stolen from the government or citizens of the
United States. You will also warn him against supplying the Indians
with arms and ammunition, and communicate such acts of the kind as
may come to your knowledge to the commanding officer of the column
now approaching Colville. If the officers of the Hudson's Bay Company have knowingly become the recipients of stolen property, they
areas guilty as the thief who stole it, which, together with their furnishing arms and ammunition to murder our people, should stamp them
with infamy and cause their expulsion from American soil. It is
hoped that the military will take steps to prevent a repetition of the
outrages complained of."
The subjoined- extract from a letter published in the Washington
Union of October 31, 1858, from Doctor F. Perkins, of Oregon, will
furnish further corroboration of theabove charges :
" We remained at Fort Colville four days, and during that time
thirty of the Cceur d'Alenes, with their head chief, were occupying a
room in the fort. It will be remembered that these were the very
ones who had defeated Colonel Steptoe; and they had with them a
great number of American ' U. S. D.'mules and horses, which were
sold to the chief of the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Colville,
for a small nominal price; he thus furnishing a market for stolen 16
goods, knowing them to be such, and that they had been taken at
Colonel Steptoe's defeat. While we were at Fort Colville, every night
the Indians would have their scalp dance, with their drums beating
and war-whoops sounding. They did exactly as they pleased there,
and would go into the kitchen and take smut off of the kettles to black
their faces, which is a well known sign of hostility, indicating war to
the knife In connexion with this subject, I will mention that the
chief in charge at Fort Colville made the remark that if the United
States government would not allow him to sell the Indians ammunition
there, he would do it at Fort Forty-nine, which is three miles north
of the line in the British possessions. Heretofore there has been a
very small amount*of ammunition sent up from Fort Hope to Fort
Colville for the winter ; but this year it amounts to five hundred pounds
of powder, nearly double the amount sent any previous year. Where
the Indians have procured the ammunition with which they have fought
Colonel Steptoe and the whites I do not pretend to say ; but the fact that
the Hudson's Bay Company have sent up so much more than usual this
year, when they have no more call for %t than before, is suggestive, and
every man can draw his own deductions how this ammunition is to be
During my stay at Victoria, I was informed by the city marshal
that a number of American citizens, Abraham Doran, William Johnson, William Harris, Wesley Cooper, Hulen Miles, and a negro named
William Hurley, accused of various offences against the law, were
about to be sent to trial without counsel. With the exception of the
crown solicitor, (prosecuting attorney) the only members of the bar
in the colony were American citizens, and these were not allowed to
practice in the courts. I addressed a note to Governor Douglas, requesting him, under these circumstances, to interpose and cause counsel to be assigned to the accused from among the members of the
American bar present, as the denial of counsel would operate as a great
hardship and injustice. While the governor was holding the matter
under advisement, the prisoners were tried, and with one exception, I
believe, convicted. Afterwards I was informed by a note from his
excellency that the application could not be granted, as the rules of
the court forbade anybody practicing before it who was not a subject of
the British crown. I regret to be obliged to characterize this as a mere
subterfuge ; that it was such will appear from the fact that the gentleman who then held the office of crown solicitor had been a member
of the San Francisco bar for two years. fe
My correspondence with Governor Douglas on this question is
furnished herewith.
From all these petty exactions and oppressions, these, denials of
justice and evidences of rampant prejudice, the conclusion is irresistible that whatever may have been the disposition of the British
government, the feeling of the colonial officials and of the servants of
the Hudson's Bay Company was aught but friendly towards our people.
Their conduct was the less excusable, for the reason that the citizens
of the United States visiting the colonies, comported themselves,
throughout, with the most remarkable sobriety and decorum.\ All the
colonial officials, including Governor Douglas, many times expressed VANCOUVER S ISLAND A|?D BRITISH COLUMBIA.
their surprise at the utter absence of any riotous or disorderly spirit
among the miners. Even breaches of the peace of the most trivial
character were of very rare occurrence; and, by everybody, the warmest
praises were volunteered on the invariably quiet and orderly conduct
that was observed. I would here remark that from the officers of the
navy stationed near Victoria, and from the English gentlemen residing on Vancouver's Island, the Americans received nought but
courtesy, kindness, and attention, from first to last; and by none
have I heard the acts of the Hudson's Bay Company's servants more
strongly censured than by subjects of Great Britain who have long
resided on the island, and who are cognizant of the many abuses
practiced by the company and its agents.
If the unkind and unfriendly acts upon which I have commented
above, originated from jealousy of the advent of the Americans, or
from fear of their eventually laying claim to the country, such jealousy and such apprehensions were wholly gratuitous. The Americans, it is true, were in sufficient force any time within the first six
months to make successful any movement on their part towards the
seizure of the colonies, which the fears of the authorities may have
suggested as possible ; but they entered the country with no marauding propensities ; and furthermore, setting aside their indisposition
to disturb the peaceful and friendly relations subsisting between their
own country and Great Britain, the two colonies of Vancouver's Island
and British Columbia really offered no inducements sufficient to render
them worthy of even a temporary struggle. It is true that, in all
probability, both will eventually cease to be under European control.
Their ultimate accession to the American possessions on the Pacific
coast is scarcely problematical—but in the mean time their intrinsic
value either of locality, soil, climate, or productions, does not warrant
any effort on the part of the American government or the American
people towards their immediate acquisition.
As national possessions these colonies are to us but of little value.
As I have already stated, Vancouver's Island—two hundred and
seventy miles long and forty to fifty miles broad—contains, as far as I
could learn, not more than some twenty or twenty-five miles of open
land, and that not of the first quality. It has one town, Victoria,
very prettily situated, filled with a highly intelligent and enterprising
American population, and destined to be a place of some consequence.
But the chief value of the island consists of the harbor of Esquimalt,
which has capacity for a whole navy, and where vessels can lie
perfectly secure from every wind that blows. Soke harbor is small,
but very secure. Around the Cowichin villages is an extensive plain
of good land, and the coal beds of Nanaimo are of good quality. So
much for Vancouver's Island. Further explorations of the interior of
the island may in time lead to the discovery of more Taluable
resources, although this is not probable. British Columbia has little
to recommend it, except the forests of spars contiguous to the coast.
The town of Fort Langley, thirty-five miles from the mouth of Frazer
river, contains about eighty inhabitants. Fort Hope, some sixty-five
miles above, contains about two hundred inhabitants, and as the head
of winter navigation will probably be the depot of ..winter supplies for
Ex. Doc. 29: 2 18
the miners above.    Fort Yale, sixteen miles above Fort Hope, is a
bustling town of some five or six hundred inhabitants.    It is just below
the point where the river ceases to be navigable even for canoes, and
is a place of considerable trade.    The river, even below Fort Yale, is
full of rapids, eddies, and^ander currents, and its navigation is at all
times attended with difficulty and danger.    I do not regard the gold
fields of the colony hitherto prospected as valuable.    Gold will be
found over the whole country; but it is not extravagant to say that,
every ounce hitherto taken out of the Frazer river gold diggings has
cost much more than an ounce to obtain it, not to mention the immense
number of lives lost in the whirlpools of that treacherous stream.    As
national possessions,  then,  with   the exception of  the harbor  of
Esquimalt, these colonies are, as I have stated, to us comparatively
valueless.    It is true that the gold fields of Frazer river, although
they will cease to command the attention of our citizens, will attract
emigrants from England ; besides, a number of Americans will continue in mercantile pursuits in Victoria, and the great bulk of the
mining population still on Frazer  river is likewise American.    I
respectfully suggest in this connexion the necessity of appointing a consul to reside at Victoria, whose functions should extend over Vancouver's Island and British Columbia.    The interests of our citizens in
that quarter imperatively demand the presence of a commercial agent.
The gold excitement caused a number of small towns to spring up
in4 Washington Territory, contiguous to Frazer river and the mines.
South of Point Boberts and close to the 49th parallel, a town called
Semiamo was laid out, on the little bay of that name, from which there
is a road leading to Fort Langley, a distance of seventeen miles ; and
on Bellingham bay the towns of Sehome and Whatcom were established.    From this latter point a trail was cut, with great labor and
expense, to intersect the trail to Fort Hope.    A number of the immigrants entered the country overland, having come by way of the Dalles
of the  Columbia, thence taking the trail to  Fort Kamloops, and
from that point proceeding down Thompson's river to the forks.    I
herewith present a map of the Frazer river country, with manuscript
lines and notes, which will give a better idea of it than any of those
published.    I could not learn that any overland expedition from the
States or Territories east of the Bocky mountains had reached that
country previous to my departure.
During my stay in Victoria, a number of American citizens who had
come down from Frazer river, utterly destitute, without food, clothing,
or any prospect of employment, or means to leave the country, applied to me for relief. Being without authority to contract for sending them to their homes, but not deeming it consistent either with
humanity or proper national pride to suffer them to starve in a foreign
land, as they would have done had they remained on the island, I
appealed to the liberality of the agents of the Pacific Mail Steamship
Company, and those gentlemen, with most praiseworthy readiness,
acceded to my request to convey a number of the most destitute to San
Francisco, agreeing, at the same time, to depend upon the justice ot
Congress for remuneration. A memorandum of the number of destitute citizens sent home by the company's steamers, as well as a copy
of my correspondence with the company's agents, at San Francisco
will be found appended to this report. In this connexion I take great
pleasure in mentioning the humanity and kindness of Captain Lubbock, of the steamer | Maria," and Captain Wright, of the "Enterprise,' to numbers of destitute citizens who had no means to pay for
a passage from the mines down to Victoria. A large number were
taken down by those gentlemen without charge. Through the liberality of Mr. Garrison a number were likewise taken down from Victoria to San Francisco on the steamship " Cortes."
I have already noticed the importance to the British government of
the harbor of Esquimalt, on the southern end of Vancouver's Island.
That its value is beginning to be appreciated by that power is already-
shown by the recent concentration at that point of quite a formidable
squadron, and by the preparations said to be in progress for the construction of forts and other means of defence. Simultaneously with
these movements and, indeed, somewhat in advance of them, the Russian
government has been, for some time, engaged in fortifying the mouth of
the Amoor. For several months past vessels from above have been arriving at that point laden with heavy guns, powder, shot and shell and
other materials for the construction of fortifications. It is evident that
both powers look upon these points as very valuable as naval stations
and as possibly of gieat importance in other points of view in the event
of a European war. In this connexion I beg to be permitted to call
attention to the fact that on our whole coast, north of San Francisco
there is no harbor affording a safe anchorage for vessels during the
southerly gales that prevail in the winter months.
By the construction of a breakwater at Cresent City a very safe and
commodious harbor can be obtained, and, considering the very great
importance of a safe port on the coast, the expense of the necessary
works would be but trivial. I need not say that the want of a-secure
harbor on their coast is a great check to the prosperity of the people
of the nothern counties of California, and that their numbers and the
vast resources of that portion of the State entitle them to consideration at the hands of the general government. But among the islands
stretching from the Strait of Rosario to the Canal de Haro there are
a number of fine harbors, which, from their capacity and safety leave
us nothing to regret in having yielded Vancouver's Island. San Juan
an island fourteen or fifteen miles long by about seven miles wide has
two excellent harbors ; and Lopez island, opposite and separated from
it by a channel of not more than a mile wide, has another fine harbor
perfectly land-locked and safe at all times.
Both islands possess a fine soil, plenty of timber and of running
water, abundance of pasture land, and the whole group is famous as
a fishing station.
The present condition of this group of islands I shall briefly describe. They are claimed by Washington Territory as a part of
Whatcom county; and, at the same time, are claimed by the officers of
the British government as belonging to the possessions of that power on
the Pacific. They have already been the subject of some controversy
between the American and British commissioners for running the
boundary line, and the matter has been referred by those gentlemen 20
to their respective governments.    A few words will explain the nature
of the dispute.
The treaty of June 15,1846, stipulates as follows: Article 1. " From
the point of the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude, where the
boundary laid down in existing treaties and conventions between Great
Britain and the United States terminates, the line of boundary between the territories of her Britannic Majesty and those of the United
States shall be continued westward along the 49th parallel of north
latitude to the middle of the channel which separates the continent from
Vancouver's Island ; and thence southerly through the middle of the
said channel and of Fuca Straits to the Pacificocean: Provided, however,
that the navigation of the said channel and straits south of the forty-
ninth parallel of north latitude remain free and open to both parties."
There are two channels between the continent and Vancouver's
Island, both leading out into the Straits of Fuca. The Strait of Rosa-
rio, a narrow channel nearest to the mainland, and the Canal de Haro,
which, besides beirig the beaten track, is much wider, has greater
average depth of water, and is nearer to Vancouver's Island. It is
claimed on the part of Great Britain that the Strait of Rosario, being
the channel nearest to the mainland, is that contemplated by the
treaty ; but a very slight consideration of the circumstances under
which the line was run, as well as of the wording of the article above
quoted, will show that this position is wholly untenable. In the first
place, the only reason why the boundary line was caused to deflect
from the forty-ninth parallel before it reached the Pacific ocean was
to avoid the southern end of Vancouver's Island, on which there was
then a British settlement. The intendment of the article was merely
to save to Great Britain the island of Vancouver, and consequently the
nearest channel to Vancouver was undoubtedly that through the
middle of which the treaty contemplated the line should run. Again,
the islands bordering on the continent belong to the continent, unless
otherwise stipulated ; but there is no stipulation except as to Vancouver's Island; neither was there any reason existing at that time
why there should be, as none of the islands in dispute were then occupied by subjects of Great Britain.
It does not, of course, become me in this place to enter into an
elaborate argument of this question. My purpose is simply to call
attention to the design apparently entertained by Great Britain, on
the shallowest possible pretext, to deprive the people cf the United
States of possessions clearly theirs, and the importance of which to
them, as well as to the government of the United States, can scarcely
be over estimated.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,
ft §H;1     ■; -if'JOHN. NUGENT,
Special Agent of the United States.
Hon. Lewis Cass, Secretary of State.
Victoria, Vancouver's Island,
Wm'' *j     ft ^ '% October 6, 1358.
^he undersigned, special agent of the United States, has the honor
to'state to his excellency Governor Douglas that he is informed there VANCOUVER S  ISLAND  AND  BRITISH COLUMBIA.
are six American citizens now in the prison of the fort awaiting trial
on various charges ; that these persons are denied the benefit of counsel, for the reason that no member of the American bar is permitted
to practice in the courts of this colony, and the only British subject
who practices in the courts is the crown solicitor, whose duty it is to
prosecute the accused ; that the prisoners are men ignorant of law,
and therefore unable to present a proper defence ; and that, from these
causes, the accused may suffer great hardship and injustice.
In view of the above facts, the undersigned begs that his excellency
Governor Douglas will so far interpose, to promote the ends of justice,
as to cause counsel to be assigned to the accused from among the members of the American bar resident in Victoria ; and further to provide
that a similar course be observed in all such cases hereafter occurring,
until the arrival of persons qualified, by reason of being British subjects, to practice in the courts. |fc
The undersigned has the honor to be, &c, &c, &c, his excellency's
obedient servant,
■ # , •;* .        "    \     .        JOHN NUGENT,
Special Agent of the United States.
His Excellency Governor Douglas.
Victoria, Vancouver's Island.
Sir: I am directed by his excellency the governor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 6th instant, requesting his
excellency's attention to the case of certain American citizens now
in prison at this place on various charges, and who are deprived of
the benefit of counsel, for the reason that no member of the American
bar is permitted to practice in the courts of Vancouver's Island ; and
further desiring that his excellency will so far interpose to promote
the ends of justice as to cause counsel to be assigned to the accused
from among the members of the American bar resident in Victoria,
and to provide that a similar course be taken in all such cases
I am also directed by his excellency to assure you of his desire to
take into favorable consideration the proposition in your letter ; and
at the same time, while admitting the hardship of the cases referred
to, to state his opinion that the constitutional law of England does
not invest him as governor with authority to alter or suspend the
established rules of the law courts of the colony.
As this, however, is a question of great public importance, his excellency will submit it for the consideration of the law officers of the
colony, and will communicate to Mr. Nugent their decision as soon
as received.
1 have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
John Nugent, Esq.,
Special Agent of the United States, (See, dtc.} &c. 22
Government House, Victoria,
Vancouver's Island, October 14, 1858.
Sir : With reference to the communication which I had the honor
of addressing you by his excellency's instructions on the 8th instant,
I am directed by the governor to transmit for your information copy
of a communication received from the crown solicitor of Vancouver's
Island, showing that, in his opinion, no power is vested in the executive to cause counsel from among the members of the American bar
resident in Victoria to be assigned to parties accused of offences and
awaiting trial in the courts of Vancouver's Island.
The governor further desires me to state to you that the courts have
no objection whatever to allow persons in custody to receive assistance
from members of the American bar, or others who may be willing to
aid them in preparing for their defence.
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
John Nugent, Esq.,
Special Agent for the United States.
Copy of a letter from George Pearlces, esq., crown solicitorand attorney?
to Governor Douglas, dated Saturday morning, October 10, 1858.
Sir : The undersigned has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of
your communication of the 8th instant, accompanied by a communication of Mr. Nugent, special agent of the United States.
To the question propounded by your excellency as to the constitutional power of the executive to cause counsel from among the members
of the American bar resident at Victoria to persons accused of crime
and awaiting trial in the courts of this colony, it is submitted :
First. The organization of the judiciary is separate and distinct
from that of the executive; and the appointment of any officer to
discharge functions pertaining to the judiciary not specified by law
would be an encroachment on the part of the executive.
Second. Barristers, attorneys, and solicitors, are made by law officers of the judiciary, having rights and privileges incident to such
office, and amenable and punishable for misconduct after call and
during enrollment.
Third. By act of parliament and order in council organizing the
judiciary of this colony it is expressly provided that the chief justice
shall make rules for the admission of barristers, attorneys, and
solicitors to practice in the respective courts of this colony.
The order referred to gives no authority, even to the judiciary, to
make assignment of counsel to the members of the bar of a foreign
State, but expressly prohibits the appearance of any other person to
act in that capacity, save those so enumerated.
Until recently, prisoners charged with felony were not allowed to
make their defence by counsel, and this not until the 6th and 7th of VANCOUVER S ISLAND AND  BRITISH COLUMBIA.
William the Fourth, when by special statute they were permitted
counsel learned in the law, or by attorneys in the courts where attorneys practice as counsel.
It therefore follows that no power to assign counsel is vested in the
I have the honor to be your excellency's obedient servant,
-' -    -'; v     -       ;.  . jglpf   GEORGE PEARKES,
Crown Solicitor and Attorney.
Hotel de France, |
Victoria, Vancouver's Island, November 3, 1858.
Sir : Indisposition and absence from town have caused your note of
the 14th ultimo to remain unanswered until now.
I am therein advised that your excellency finds it impossible to
interpose, in accordance with the request contained in my note of the
6th ultimo, to cause counsel to be assigned from among the American
members of the bar, .resident in the colony, to American citizens
accused of crime, in the absence of British subjects authorized to practice
in the colonial courts. A former note had assured me of your disposition to the request your most favorable consideration.
That the subject would receive such favorable consideration I had
every reason to expect. The plain dictates of humanity and justice
should forbid that the lives and liberties of people of any nationality
should be jeoparded, simply out of deference to the forms of a crude
forensic etiquette. Still more was I justified in hoping that these
forms would be set aside, when their observance would operate most
harshly and unjustly against citizens of a power on terms of peace
andVamity with the nation whose government you serve, and at a time
when the bonds of friendship which happily subsist between the two
countries are being strengthened and drawn closer day by day.
I need not say that I am greatly disappointed at the conclusion at
which your excellency has arrived^ The consequence of that conclusion
will be that American citizens accused of crime in these colonies will
be, as some have already been, forced to trial without benefit of counsel,
ignorant as they may be of the law, unadvised as to their rights, unacquainted with the rules of evidence or the regulations of the courts,
and denied all those facilities for proving their innocence that in
every well regulated government are afforded to those unfortunates
who find themselves in antagonism to the law. But it is not for its
grave injustice, nor for the manifold hardships it will work, that such
a course is alone to be deplored. It will naturally prove a pregnant
and oft-recurring source of irritation and ill feeling to the Americans
residing in these colonies. It will force them to contrast the treatment
of their countrymen here with the treatment of British subjects in
the United States. They know that there, no foreigner, however
friendless or lowly he may be, how atrocious soever the crime of which
he stands accused, is put upon his trial without counsel to represent
him; and that when he is too poor to command the services of the 24
bar, the court takes merciful cognizance of his condition and assigns
counsel for his defence. It is needless to say that a comparison so
little to the advantage of British colonial, justice and its administration will have a tendency to defeat what I am not permitted to
doubt is the wish of the British government, as it is that of the government of the United States, to promote and foster feelings of cordial
good will between American citizens sojourning in these colonies and
the subjects of her Britannic Majesty.
I regret that your excellency should have taxed the^legal erudition
of the crown solicitor in reference to what is, after all a matter of
simple justice. It needed not that functionary's learned opinion to
prove that the judiciary should be independent of the executive. But
in a colony where, if I may without invidiousness say so, there is
observable so extraordinary a confusion of jurisdictions, in its fiscal,
executive and judicial departments, and where there have been so
many departures from law, involving a most material sacrifice of the
rights of American citizens, it was not unreasonable to indulge the
hope that your excellency, to prevent great wrong aud injustice, and
for the conservation of harmony and kind feeling, would have favored
not a violation of law, but an immaterial deviation from the rules of
an imperfectly organized court.
Disappointed in this hope, I have but to request that your excellency will afford me facilities for obtaining the names of those American citizens accused of crime in the colonies of Vancouver's Island and
British Columbia, within the last six months, who have been forced
to trial without counsel to represent them, and have been convicted,
that I may be enabled to present their case to the government of the
United States for its action.
I have the honor to be your excellency's obedient servant,
• ■■•. ■'$'■■■   <    "••§■'  ;§        ISI  ®       JOHN NUGENT,
Special Agent of the United States.
His Excellency Governor Douglas.
P. S.—The last two notes received from.your excellency were signed
by your secretary, I presume, through inadvertence..*! I beg to call
your attention to this mistake, in order to prevent its recurrence.
Victoria, Vancouver's Island,
November 9, 1858.
Sir : I am desired by his excellency the governor to acknowledge
the receipt of your letter of the 3d instant, and to express his regret
at your late indisposition and his sincere hope that your health is now
His excellency wishes to impress upon you that, with every wish to
accommodate American citizens resident in this colony and in British
Columbia, and to'extend to them every privilege consistent with
British law, as is proved by the very liberal treatment which they
have hitherto received, he finds himself constrained to adhere to the
conclusion already communicated to you respecting the assigning of VANCOUVER S ISLAND  AND BRITISH COLUMBIA.
counsel from among the American members of the bar resident in the
colony to American citizens accused of crime.
If there were no other reasons for limiting/Tihe practice in the courts
of law to members of the bar who are British subjects, duly qualified
for the privilege in conformity with the general custom of all nations,
than that the act which established the judiciary of the colony has determined the special classes of lawyers who are competent to practice
at the bar, his excellency conceives the question is thereby placed
beyond the control of the executive.
For your more particular information upon this point I have the
honor to enclose a copy of such of the rules of court as bear upon the
The power to admit persons eligble to practice in terms of these
rules is given to the chief justice.
His excellency is convinced that you labor under misapprehension
if you suppose, as one portion of your letter would seem to indicate,
that the lives and liberties of people of any nationality are put in
jeopardy out of deference to what you are pleased to term a crude
forensic etiquette ; or that American citizens accused of crime in these
colonies will be or have already been forced to trial with out? benefit
of counsel and unadvised as to their rights.
As you justly observe, the plain dictates of humanity forbid, and
the humane and liberal practice of the courts very carefully prevent,
the possibility of any such deplorable consequences.
With'the view of satisfying you upon this matter, his excellency
would explain : That all persons accused of crimes are tried by jury
trial; that the magistrates who are commissioned to preside at such
trials are gentlemen well known in the community for the respectability and humanity of their characters, and whose sentences are certainly not tinctured with severity ; that on all criminal trials the
accused are allowed every reasonable facility for proving their innocence ; that they are not only permitted but invited to have professional counsel or private friends of their own selection, without regard
to nationality, to advise and assist them before and at their trials;
that the only restriction of professional counsel's privileges is that of
pleading; that this prohibition extends to British subjects equally
with the citizens and subjects of all other nationalities, by reason of
there not being, at the present moment, legal practitioners in the
colonies eligible to practice in the courts—an inconvenience only temporary ; and that tor the same reason the crown, as prosecutor, is
debarred the privilege of counsel to plead against the accused.
You will thus see that American citizens accused of crimes are
treated exactly similar to the subjects of her Majesty.
The gravity of those allegations made by you caused his excellency
so much concern that, in addition to other investigations to ascertain
the truth, he applied to one of the magistrates before spoken of for
exact information, and received an answer, of which a copy is
enclosed for your information.
His excellency feels confident that on your being informed of this
liberal and humane practice of the criminal courts, rendered necessary
by the present unlooked-for circumstances of the country as an unavoidable temporary expedient, you will readily perceive and admit 26
that the contrast which you have drawn between the treatment received by American citizens residing in these colonies and that
received by British subjects in the United States is not grounded on
His excellency is constrained to give a positive denial to your allegation made in another part of your letter, that u there have been
many departures from law, involving a most material sacrifice of the
interests of American citizens."
No such irregularities have occurred, nor is>Jiis excellency aware
of any such consequences as you assert having accrued from a departure from law in any case ; and he is at a loss to conceive to what
you can allude by this general assertion.
His excellency is confident that you cannot allude to the effects of
decisions of the tribunal in civil cases ; for it appears that of the total
number of suitors in the " Supreme Court of Civil Justice" during
the last few months, a large majority has been American citizens—a
conclusive proof that their interests have not been sacrified by "many
departures from law," or they would not continue to invoke justice
before this tribunal.
In Answer to your request that his excellency will afford you facilities for obtaining the names of those American citizens accused of
crime in the colonies of Vancouver's Island and British Columbia
within the last six months, who have been forced to trial without
counsel to represent them, and have been convicted, I am to inform
you that it will at all times afford his excellency great pleasure to
supply you with all useful information in his power, and to afford you
every possible facility for collecting such whenever accessible ; but that,
as no such cases as those mentioned in the category you have framed
have occurred in this or in the sister colony, his excellency finds it
impossible to comply with your present request.
On this part of the subject his excellency desires to add that no
distinction of nationality has been made in the cases of persons tried
for crimes committed against the laws of Great Britain in these colonies, and that all such persons have been fairly and impartially tried,
with all the advantages extended to British subjects, and for this
reason he fears it would be impossible to ascertain with any accuracy
the nationality of all the persons who have been "accused of crime
and convicted," and assuredly no return of American citizens "who
have heen forced to trial without counsel, &c," could be obtained, for
the reason that no such cases occurred ; a fact of which the details of
the criminal practice already herein given will satisfy you.
His excellency desires me to inform you thatthe two last letters
which he had the honor to address to you by his private secretary,
alluded to in the postscript to your letter, were not signed by the
secretary by inadvertence, as you presume ; that the usual medium of
official communications is the colonial secretary, and in the absence of
that functionary the governor's private secretary was deputed to sign
the letters referred to in behalf of his excellency ; a course which was
not adopted from any disrespect to you, but in conformity with diplomatic usage, and in which sense his excellency begs you will accept VANCOUVER S ISLAND  AND BRITISH COLUMBIA.
these and any future official communications which he may have the
honor of making to you in that manner.
I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient servant,
Rules of the supreme court of civit justice of the colony of Vancouver's
Island, respecting the admission of practitioners.
There shall be enrolled in the court, to practice therein as barristers, such persons only as shall have been admitted as barristers in
England or Ireland, or advocates of the court of sessions of Scotland,
or to the degree of doctor of civil law at the University of OxfordT
Cambridge, or Dublin.
There shall be enrolled in the court, to practice therein as solicitors,
such persons only as have been admitted to practice as attorneys or
solicitors of any of the courts of record at Westminster or Dublin, or
being proctors admitted to practice in any ecclesiastical court in
England or Ireland, or being writers to the signet in Scotland.
Nothing contained in any of the rules shall be construed to prevent suitors from appearing and acting for themselves, if they shall
so think fit.
Copy of a letter from Augustus Pemberton, Esq., Justice of the PeaceT
{ Commissioner of Police, dfcc, to Governor Douglas.
Victoria, Vancouver's Island,
November 8, 1858.
Sir : In reply to your excellency's communication of this morning,
referring to certain allegations contained in a letter addressed to
you by John Nugent, esq.r special agent for the United States of
America, in which he requests that your excellencyAwill afford him
facilities for obtaining the names of those American citizens accused of
crime in the colonies of Vancouver's Island and British Columbia
within the last six months, who have been forced to trial without
counsel to represent them, and have been convicted, I beg leave to
state that I arn not aware of any such case, the uniform practice
being to allow all criminals, of whatever nation, the assistance of
friends and advisers, whether legal or otherwise, to aid them in their
The only instance in which a crown solicitor has been employed to
conduct a prosecution in court is that of William Hurley, a colored
man, not an American citizen, who was indicted for shooting at
George P. Heap, with intent to do some grievous bodily harm.
Heap is an American citizen. Hurley was assisted by a Mr. Davis,
who was allowed to visit the accused in prison, and to stand by his
side in court, to challenge the jury, and to advise what cross-ques- 28
Vancouver's island and British Columbia,
tions should be put to the witnesses, and what defence should be
taken. But as Mr. Davis was not competent to plead in court, the
crown solicitor refrained from addressing the jury.
The court which presided on this occasion was held under a special
■commission issued by your excellency to three justices of the peace, of
whom I was one.
For my own part, I most solemnly declare that I make no distinction, nor any inquiry, as to the nationality of persons charged with
committing offences against the laws. I deal with each case according
to its own peculiar merits; and the maintenance of peace and order
during a time of great excitement has been a subject of congratulation ; in proof of which I take the following extract from the " Victoria Gazette," November 2, 1858, the editor of which is an American:
u The order that has been maintained here, under circumstances of
grave forebodings, aggravated by the numerical weakness of those
directly pledged to sustain the law, cannot but have a decided tendency
to inspire that confidence upon which is dependent the character of
our future population."
I have the honor to remain your excellency's most obedient humble
His.Excellency James Douglas, Esq.,
Governor of Vancouver's Island and British Columbia.
Note.—I would remark that the facts here denied are notorious
to everybody in Victoria. While Governor Douglas was still holding
my application under advisement, the men were put upon their trial,
convicted, with one exception, and sentenced, some of them to transportation, notwithstanding that Mr. Labatt, an American citizen,
arose in court and requested a postponement of the trials even for a
day until the will of the governor could be known. What Governor
Douglas dwells upon as an act of liberality, permitting counsel or
friends to confer with the accused in prison, was simply their legal
right; but the truth is, they did not enjoy even this right. They
had no legal advice whatever.
Mr. Nugent to Governor Douglas.
Hotel de France, Victoria,
Vancouver's Island, November 12,1858.
Sir: In my note of third of the present month, I had the honor to
call your attention to what I conceived to be a mistake made by your
secretary in signing your two communications of the 8th and 13th
ultimo, respectively, with his own name. In a verbal conversation
had with your excellency on the day on which your last note was dated,
I intimated that I could not receive communications on matters connected with my agency through the medium of your private secretary,
that gentleman being to me officially unknown, Since then, I have
received another note dated November 9, 1858, doubtless dictated by
your excellency, but signed in the same way as the two preceding. Vancouver's island and British Columbia.
Not having been made aware by my government of any circumstance
giving your excellency the prerogative of corresponding with me at
second hand, and only [through a third party, I regret to inform you
that I cannot take notice of the contents of your communication of
the 9th instant; and further, that all written correspondence must
cease between us with this note. I am urged to this step by a sense of
duty alone; and although I would be undoubtedly justified by the
rules of that diplomatic etiquette to which you appeal, in returning
your last communication, I refrain from so doing, because it is my
desire to avoid all appearance of harshness or unkindness; because I
am willing to attribute your excellency's course to a want of conver-
sancy with such matters, rather than to uncivil intention; and because,
in obedience to the spirit of my instructions, I am anxious to maintain, to the end, the amicable relations that have hitherto subsisted
between your excellency and myself.
Lest my official duties should not afford me leisure to call for the
purpose of paying my respects to your excellency previous to my departure, I avail myself of this occasion to bid you farewell.
I have the honor to be your obedient servant,
p*f   "   -" '   ' ■■•"'■   _|-    #.      f^ JOHN NUGENT, :'-1|
Special Agent of the United States.
His Excellency Governor Douglas.
San Francisco, December 22, 1858.
Sir : Enclosed please find copy of a letter addressed to us by Captain
W. L. Dall, which furnishes statement of the number of passengers
transported from Victoria to San Francisco, by your request.
We trust you may succeed in getting a bill through Congress which
will remunerate the company for the service.
We are, respectfully,
Hon. John Nugent,
United States Commissioner, &c, &c, Washington.
San Francisco, December 22, 1858.
Gentlemen: The Hon. John Nugent, United States Commissioner
to British Columbia, went passenger with me from San Francisco to
Victoria, and on the passage up suggested that he might find some
Americans in destitute circumstances, wishing to return to their
homes in the United States, and desired permission to furnish passage
to such as were destitute, that they might be able to reach San Francisco ; at the same time he wished it understood that he had no
authority from the federal government to make any contract for transportation, but promised he would notify the State Department of what
had been done by the Pacific Mail Steamship Company in the way of
transportation, and exert his influence to have the service proparly
paid for.
As I had your consent to make some arrangement of this kind, I 30
told him his written request to our agent at Victoria, or myself, would
entitle the bearer to a steerage passage. Neither Mr. Nugent or
myself ever supposed there would be occasion to extend this privilege
to many.
The Northerner, in October, brought down ten passengers, and the
Panama, November 2, seventy-four, and Panama, November 22,
forty-one, making in all one hundred and twenty-five passengers
furnished transportation, which, at twenty dollars each, the usual
price, amounts to twenty-five hundred dollars.
The persons thus relieved were in very destitute circumstances, and,
really, had not some way been found to enable them to return to their
homes, I do not know where they would have found food or shelter.
Yours, respectfully,
Messrs. Forbes & Babcock,
Agents Pacific Mail Steamship Company.
I certify that the number of passengers above mentioned, one hundred and twenty-five, were brought down from Victoria to San Francisco, free of charge, on board the Pacific Mail Steamship Company's
steamers, at my request; and that the usual rate of steerage passage,
during October and November, 1858, was twenty dollars.
H 111''   I 1JN0. NUGENT,    '
Special Agent of the United States.
Washington, D. C, January 24, 1858.      


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