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Queen Charlotte's Sound and the Straits of Georgia, has cut off the smaller islands from the quasi mainland of Vancouver's Island.
I venture to submit, then, that the cluster of islands called the Haro Archipelago are natural appendages of the last-mentioned island.
If we turn to the second principle, viz., the principle of utility or fitness, all the evidence is in favour of the claim of Great Britain. If the Haro Archipelago is to pass into the possession of the United States, not only would the possession of Vancouver's Island be rendered useless to her, but she would be virtually cut off from her other territories on the Pacific coast of America. San Juan Island fortified by the United States would indeed be thorn in the side” of Vancouver's Island and of British Columbia ; fortified by Great Britain she would threaten no commerce of the United States, and would blockade no passage from one part of her territory to another.
In this chapter we shall enter upon other and more warlike scenes, in which the chief actors are BrigadierGeneral W. S. Harney, United States Army, in command of the United States Military Department of Oregon; Lieutenant-Colonel Silas Casey, of the Ninth United States Infantry; and Captain George E. Pickett of that regiment. The Brigadier had been employed in what is termed in the Western States “suppressing” Indians, and had won great renown and popularity among the wild settlers and squatters of the West, towards whom he had long acted the part of a patron and protector.
The wild guerilla warfare in which he had been engaged, consisting chiefly in destroying companies of Indians whenever met with, had evidently caused him to forget the lessons in international law which he learnt at West Point, and he appears to have considered that a British colony might be “improved off the face of the earth” as easily, and with as little ceremony, as a tribe of Indians might be “suppressed.”
That this blunt and fearless soldier, with his two comrades, did not plunge two great nations into a terrible war is due to the forbearance and tact displayed by Mr. (now Sir James) Douglas, Governor of Vancouver's Island, by the captains of Her Majesty's
ships on the Pacific station, and by Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott, commander-in-chief of the United
The mode in which the far West is prepared for civilisation is familiar to all readers of Cooper's novels, which, although overdrawn, afford some idea of it. How the hardy squatter penetrates, rifle and axe on shoulder, into the recesses of the forests ; how he builds his bark huts, and makes the little clearing in which he plants a few potatoes and sows a little Indian maize; how, when civilisation presses upon them, he sells his hut and clearing, and disappears again into the forest. These worthies lead a happy and reckless life; they often adopt companions from among the Indian women, and their children, halfbreeds, take to the life their fathers led before them.
Men of this stamp would appear to be eminently unfitted for life in a respectable and civilised colony, and might be most unpleasant neighbours. The Hudson's Bay Company had established a settlement on the Island of San Juan, () having a stock of 5,000 sheep, and a number of horses, cattle, and pigs, and had by occupation gained a right to the soil thereof. The island itself has been always considered to be and treated as within the jurisdiction of the Governor of Vancouver's Island. Certain squatters had, however, at various times attempted to establish themselves in the island, and it was the current belief in the colony of Victoria, when I was out there, that these attempts had been made with an ulterior object, at the insti
(1) American State Papers, p. 261.
gation of the authorities of Washington Territory. Complaints were made to the British Governor, and Lord Lyons, then British Minister at Washington, received instructions from home, and on the 12th of May, 1859, he wrote to Mr. Cass, United States Secretary of State, as follows: (1)
“SIR,-Her Majesty's Government have received information that attempts have been recently made by citizens of the United States to establish themselves on the Island of San Juan, in the Gulf of Georgia. It appears that this is not the first time that similar practices have been resorted to by the citizens of the United States, and representations on the subject have more than once been addressed by this Mission to the Cabinet of Washington.
“I have to-day received instructions from Her Majesty's principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to lose no time in calling the attention of the Government of the United States to this matter, and in requesting that any such unauthorised proceedings on the part of American citizens may be discountenanced by the neighbouring authorities of the United States.
“ The question as to whether the island of San Juan shall ultimately appertain to Great Britain or the United States, depends upon the solution to be arrived at in regard to the boundary line between their respective territories under the Oregon treaty of 1846. Commissioners have been appointed by the two parties to ascertain how that line is to be run in conformity with the treaty. These commissioners have not been able to come to an agreement on the subject. It therefore remains for the two Governments to enter into direct communication with each other for the settlement of a question which very closely affects the good understanding between them.
“Her Majesty's Government have deferred taking any step consequent on the disagreement of the commissioners,
(") American State Papers, p. 218.
until they should be in possession of the result of a survey, which they thought it necessary to institute, of the various channels into which the lower part of the Gulf of Georgia is divided by the numerous islands with which it is studded.
They have now received the report of the British surveyor, and I am directed to acquaint the Government of the United States that instructions will shortly be sent to me to communicate with them in the hope of arriving at a satisfactory settlement on the subject. And I am desired to add, that Her Majesty's Government are sure that the Cabinet at Washington would regret as much as themselves that any local collision should arise in the interval which would tend to em bitter a discussion, which might otherwise be conducted with cordiality and goodwill. Her Majesty's Government trusts, therefore, that citizens of the United States will be restrained, as far as the institutions of this Government admit of their being so, from attempts to settle by unauthorised acts of violence a question which there will probably be little difficulty in arranging by amicable communication between the two Governments.
“ I have the honour to be, with the highest consideration, sir, your most obedient, humble servant,
" LYONS. “ Hon. Lewis Cass, &c., &c."
One of the squatters (*) upon the island of San Juan was a man named Lyman A. Cutler, who claimed to be a citizen of the United States, and he had partially enclosed a small patch of land, which he had planted with potatoes. (?)
On or about the 15th of June, 1859, he shot, in the forest adjoining his house, a valuable hog belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company, which he alleged to have trespassed on the unenclosed ground he had taken possession of.
(") American State Papers, p. 183.
(*) Idem, p. 260.