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“But I happened to be making an exploration of the archipelago at the time Captain Pickett arrived, and for several days after he landed I was anchored in this harbour; and I soon saw that it was going to produce great excitement, unless managed with great discretion.
“Before I saw Captain Pickett's instructions, I did not suppose it possible that any collision could arise between the United States and the English troops, and I took it for granted that his duties would be confined to the objects specified hereinbefore. While the boundary line still remains unsettled, and the commission appointed to determine the boundary line still existed, I did not suppose any resistance would be made by Captain Pickett to the landing of the British troops, if they thought proper, as a matter of protection to English subjects on the island, to station a force on the island. It did not seem to me, under present circumstances, that we should be justified in going to the extent of refusing to allow them to land troops for peaceable purposes. I found that Captain Pickett had different views, derived from your instructions, which he confidentially showed to me. I perceived that they were susceptible of the interpretation he gave them, though they were not directly mandatory on the subject; and supposing it possible, if not probable, that you might have received instructions from the War Department for the occupation of the island, I felt a delicacy in interfering further in the matter, lest I might be disturbing plans well considered by you, and determined on by the Government. At the same time, as I had no intimation on the subject from the State Department, I felt considerably troubled lest there might be some misunderstanding.
“I was called upon officially by my colleague, Captain Prevost, the British Commissioner for the settlement of the water boundary, to take steps individually, or in concert with him, to protest against the armed occupation of the island, it being intimated that British troops would be landed. As I did not consider it my duty as Commissioner to interfere with the operations of the military forces of either Government, I
declined to take the steps indicated. Thus far no serious results have followed from the presence of troops on the island; but there is a good deal of excitement among the authorities of Vancouver's Island, and, doubtless, a great deal of mortification; and, if I may be permitted to advise, I would recommend caution, so as to prevent, if possible, any collision, which, I think, under no circumstances ought to be allowed to occur.
“ However certain may be your conviction that the boundary line according to the treaty should run down the Canal de Haro—and I have never hesitated, when asked, to say that such is the ground I have taken as Commissioner, and that in this, I believe, I will be supported by the Government-still the question has not been authoritatively decided; and unless you have some intimation from the War Department which has governed your actions, I fear that the decided action you have taken in declaring the island American territory may somewhat embarrass the question. I shall be greatly relieved to learn that you have some authority from the Government for the decisive step you have taken, though I do not pretend to ask or desire the information in my official capacity. I thought it possible, if you had no directions from home, that you might be in error on some point regarding the joint commission, and therefore have taken the liberty of letting you know that it still exists, notwithstanding the slow progress made in settling the boundary question.
“I presume Colonel Casey has fully informed you of everything that has taken place since my arrival, and therefore I need say nothing further.
"Hoping you will excuse the liberty I have taken in writing you thus freely, I am, my dear General, very respectfully and truly, your obedient servant,
" ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL. " Brigadier-General W. S. Harney,
“ United States Army.”
(1) American State Papers, p. 169.
“ Head-quarters, Department of Oregon,
“Fort Vancouver, W.T., August 16, 1859. “MY DEAR SIR,—Your communication of the 14th instant has just been received, and I hasten to place you in possession of the facts connected with the occupation of San Juan Island by some of the troops of my command. This step would have been taken before, but I was informed you were en route to Washington.
“I enclose for your information a copy of a protest issued by Governor Douglas, Commander-in-chief of the island of Vancouver, to the occupation of San Juan Island, and claiming the sovereignty of said island for the crown of Great Britain ; also a copy of my letter to Governor Douglas in reply to his protest.
“You will perceive that in my reply to Governor Douglas, I charge the British authorities of Vancouver's Island with having violated the right of American citizens on the island of San Juan in such a manner and by such means as to leave me no other alternative than to occupy the island for the protection of American interests. In assuming this responsibility I was careful to state distinctly and fully to Governor Douglas the position of my troops on the island of San Juan, and I reiterate to you that the relative claims of the two countries has had nothing to do in the assignment of the troops in question. The British authorities chose to violate treaty stipulations made in good faith, and maintained by the United States in good faith, by attempting to arrest an American citizen on San Juan Island, to carry him to Victoria to be tried by British laws. To prevent a repetition of this outrage, until the Government of the United States could be apprised of it, I have placed troops on the island, with such orders as I have deemed necessary to effect this object.
“ With the question of the boundary between the United States and Great Britain, I disclaim having done anything with respect to it in occupying San Juan Island.
“Great Britain has no sovereignty over American citizens on San Juan Island, and every attempt made by her authorities to advance such claims I shall resist until further orders from the President, to whom I have submitted the whole matter; in the meantime, I hope the labours of your joint commission will be prosecuted amicably and successfully, for I assure you that no one is more desirous of facilitating your labours than myself. “I am, sir, with high respect, your obedient servant,
“W. S. HARNEY,
“ Brigadier-General Commanding. “ Archibald Campbell, Esq.,
“ United States Commissioner,
“ Harbour, San Juan Island, Puget's Sound.”
The General, it appears, intended this as a disclaimer of any intention on his part to assert any sovereignty, on behalf of the United States, in respect of the island of San Juan. It may be considered that such disclaimer came somewhat late, and was inconsistent with the tenor of former letters or despatches written by him.
On the 18th of August, General Harney sent the following despatch to General Winfield Scott, Commander-in-chief of the United States army, and being at that time in Washington.(1)
“ Head-quarters, Department of Oregon,
“ Fort Vancouver, W.T., August 18, 1859. “SIR,—Since my report of the 8th instant to the AdjutantGeneral, a copy of which was sent to your office, with accompanying papers, I have received the enclosed correspondence from Lieutenant-Colonel Casey, commanding on San Juan Island, as a record of the events which have occurred at that place; in addition to which I have the honour to report, for the information of the General-in-chief, my own action, based
(1) American State Papers, p. 162.
on the above correspondence, as shown by the enclosed copies to Lieutenant-Colonel Casey and Commissioner Campbell, and also a copy of a communication from his Excellency Governor Gholson, of Washington Territory, containing an assurance of a cordial response by the people of this Territory, whenever it may be necessary to apply for their assistance.
“I enclose a list of the fleet and forces of Her Britannic Majesty on service in Puget Sound, which have been made use of to threaten my command occupying San Juan Island. This armament, it will be seen, contains five vessels of war, 167 guns, 2,140 men, some 600 of which are marines and engineer troops; and when it is known that this force has been employed from the 27th day of July until the 10th day of August—the day on which Colonel Casey with reinforcements reached the island-in using every means in its power, except opening fire, to intimidate one company of infantry but sixty strong, the conviction will be universal that the cause which this large armament had been called upon to maintain must be totally deficient of right, justice, and integrity.
“ The senior officer of these British ships of war threatening to land an overpowering force upon Captain Pickett, he nobly replied that whether they landed fifty or five thousand men his conduct would not be affected by it, that he would open his fire, and, if compelled, take to the woods fighting; and so satisfied were the British officers that such would be his course, that they hesitated in putting their threat into execution. For the cool judgment, ability, and gallantry which distinguished Captain Pickett in his command on San Juan Island, I most respectfully offer his name to the President of the United States for his notice, by the preferment of a brevet, to date from the commencement of his services on San Juan Island.
“On the 14th August Colonel Casey had five companies with him on the island, and was busy placing in position eight 32-pounders, taken from the steamer Massachusetts, by my orders. By this time four companies more have joined him, making in all nine companies-say five hundred men. These,