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the United States, I have the honour to state for your information that by such authority invested in me I placed a military command upon the island of San Juan, to protect the American citizens residing on that island from the insult and indignities which the British authorities of Vancouver's Island, and the establishment of the Hudson's Bay Company, recently offered them, by sending a British ship of war from Vancouver's Island to convey the chief factor of the Hudson's Bay Company to San Juan, for the purpose of seizing an American citizen and forcibly transporting him to Vancouver's Island, to be tried by British laws.
“I have reported this attempted outrage to my Government, and they will doubtless seek the proper redress from the British Government. In the meantime I have the honour to inform your Excellency I shall not permit a repetition of that insult, and shall retain a command on San Juan Island, to protect its citizens, in the name of the United States, until I receive further orders from my Government.
“I have the honour to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
«W. S. HARNEY, “Brigadier-General United States Army, Commanding. “ His Excellency James Douglas, C.B., Governor of
“ Vancouver's Island, &c., Vice-Admiral of the same.”
To this communication the Governor replied on the 13th of August, 1859, in the following terms :(1)“ Government House, Victoria, Vancouver's Island,
“ August 13, 1859. “SIR, On the evening of the 10th inst. I had the honour of receiving your despatch, dated Fort Vancouver, August 6, 1859.
“2. In reply thereto I must thank you for the frank and straightforward manner in which you communicate to me your reasons for occupying the island of San Juan, on the Haro
(1) American State Papers, p. 171.
Archipelago, with a portion of the military forces of the United States under your command.
“3. I am glad to find that you have done so under your general instructions from the President of the United States as military commander of the Department of Oregon, and not by direct authority from the Cabinet at Washington.
“4. You state that the reasons which induced you to take that course, are the insults and indignities which the British authorities of Vancouver's Island, and the establishment of the Hudson's Bay Company, have recently offered to American citizens residing on the Island of San Juan, by sending a British ship of war from Vancouver's Island to convey the chief factor of the Hudson's Bay Company to San Juan for the purpose of seizing an American citizen, and transporting him to Vancouver's Island to be tried by British laws.
“5. I will explain, for your information, that the agents of the Hudson's Bay Company hold no official position in Vancouver's Island, nor exercise any official power or authority, and are as entirely distinct from the officers of the Executive Government as are any other inhabitants of Vancouver's Island.
“6. To the reported outrage on an American citizen, I beg to give the most unhesitating and unqualified denial. None of Her Majesty's ships have ever been sent to convey the chief factor, or any officer of the Hudson's Bay Company, to San Juan, for the purpose of seizing an American citizen, nor has any attempt ever been made to seize an American citizen and to transport him forcibly to Vancouver's Island for trial, as represented by you.
“7. Up to a very recent period but one American citizen has been resident on San Juan ; about the commencement of the present year a few American citizens began to'squat’ upon the island, and upon one occasion a complaint was made to me by a British subject of some wrong committed against his property by an American citizen ; but 10 attention was paid to that complaint, out of consideration and respect to the friendly Government to which the alleged offender belonged, and whose citizens, I think it cannot be denied, have always been treated with marked attention by all the British authorities in those parts. With reference to San Juan in particular, I have always acted with the utmost caution, to prevent, so far as might lie in my power, any ill-feeling arising from collisions between British subjects and American citizens, and have, in that respect, cordially endeavoured to carry out the views of the United States Government as expressed in a despatch from Mr. Marcy, dated 17th July, 1855, to Her Majesty's Minister at Washington, a copy of which I herewith enclose for your information, as I presume that the document cannot be in your possession.
“8. Following the dignified policy recommended by that despatch, I should, in any well-grounded case of complaint against an American citizen, have referred the matter to the federal authorities in Washington Territory, well assured that if wrong had been committed reparation would have followed.
“9. I deeply regret that you did not communicate with me for information upon the subject of the alleged grievance ; you would then have learned how unfounded was the complaint, and the grave action you have adopted might have been avoided. I also deeply regret that you did not mention the matter verbally to me when I had the pleasure of seeing you at Victoria last month, for a few words from me would, I am sure, have removed from your mind any erroneous impressions, and you would have ascertained personally from me how anxious I have ever been to co-operate to the utmost of my power with the officers of the United States Government in any measures which might be mutually beneficial to the citizens of the two countries,
“10. Having given you a distinct and emphatic denial of the circumstances which you allege induced you to occupy the island of San Juan with United States troops, having shown you that the reasons you assign do not exist, and having endeavoured to assure you of my readiness on all occasions to act for the protection of American citizens and for the promo
tion of their welfare, I must call upon you, sir, if not as a matter of right, at least as a matter of justice and of humanity, to withdraw the troops now quartered upon the island of San Juan, for those troops are not required for the protection of American citizens against British authorities ; and the continuance of those troops upon an island, the sovereignty of which is in dispute, not only is a marked discourtesy to a friendly Government, but complicates to an undue degree the settlement in an amicable manner of the question of sovereignty, and is also calculated to provoke a collision between the military forces of two friendly nations in a distant part of the world. “I have the honour to be, sir, “Your most obedient servant,
"JAMES DOUGLAS. “ Brigadier-General W. S. Harney, “Commanding the troops in the Department of Oregon.”
General Harney replied as follows :(1)—
“Fort Vancouver, W.T., August 24, 1859. “SIR,—I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 13th instant, which came to me by mail this morning. The copy of Mr. Marcy's despatch of the 17th July, 1855, to Her Majesty's Minister at Washington, stated to be in your communication enclosed, was not received. This, I presume, was an accidental omission in the transmission of your letter.
“It was with pleasure I received from your Excellency a prompt disavowal of any intention on the part of the British authorities of Vancouver's Island to commit any aggression upon the rights of American citizens residing on San Juan Island, and I desire to communicate to you that I shall forward this despatch by the first opportunity to the President of the United States, to enable him to consider it in connection with all the facts duly reported to him attending the occupation
(1) American State Papers, p. 173.
of San Juan Island by a portion of the troops under my command.
“Your Excellency has been pleased to express how anxious you have ever been to co-operate with the officers of the United States Government in any measures which might be materially beneficial to the citizens of the two countries, and your regret is signified that communication with you on the subject of the occupation of San Juan Island had not been sought during my late agreeable visit to your Excellency at Victoria.
“I beg to offer in reply that I have cordially reciprocated the sentiments of friendship and goodwill you have manifested towards American interests from the period of my service with this command. In that time I have, on two different occasions, notified the Government of the United States of your acts affecting our citizens in terms of commendation and praise, as assurances of a proper appreciation of the confidence reposed by my Government in that of Her Majesty. On my late visit to Victoria I was without knowledge that any occurrence had taken place on San Juan Island to outrage the feelings of its inhabitants, else I should then have informed your Excellency what I conceived it became incumbent for me to do under such circumstances.
“ The explanation your Excellency has advanced, while it serves to remove the impression at first created of a direct action on the part of the British authorities of Vancouver's Island in the recent occurrences on San Juan Island against the rights of our citizens, does not expose any evidence of a preventive nature to a repetition of the acts which have caused so serious a misunderstanding in the minds of the American people on San Juan Island; nor has the course which events have taken since the occupation of the island by the troops of my command been of such character as to reassure those people, could the contents of your despatch be announced to them.
" From what has taken place I do not feel myself qualified to withdraw the present command from San Juan Island until