No. 9
Victoria Vancouver's Island
10th April 1856
Sir
Since I had the honor of addressing you on the 1st of March last, in respect to the war, which the United States are now carrying on against the native Indian Tribes in American Oregon, repeated applications for supplies of clothing and munitions of war, have been made upon me by Mr Stevens Governor of Washington Territory as may be observed by
reference
reference to the copies of his letters to me, which are herewith transmitted for your information.  
The security offered by Governor Stevens for the payment of those supplies was not of such a nature as to induce the Agents of the Hudson's Bay Company, or any other party here, to advance the necessary funds, and it was therefore out of my power to meet his views on a very extensive scale. However as a mark of courteous sympathy I purchased and sent a quantity of ammunition and clothing to the amount of 3465 dollars, with my own private funds, leaving the payment for his settlement in any manner that will secure me from loss. Should there be any difficulty in the re-payment of the loan so made, I presume that Her Majesty's Government, will use their influence in protecting my
interests
interests in that particular instance, *
*
If requisite this might be done perhaps through the Foreign Office.  
ABd
seeing that it was owing to my official position, as the representative of Her Majesty in this Colony, that I was required to succour a Christian people in their peculiarly distressed circumstances, an act of kindness, which they moreover may have it in their power, on some future occasion, to return with interest.  
I will take the liberty of drawing your attention more particularly to Governor Steven's communication No 5 dated 17th February, respecting the visits of the Northern Indians, inhabiting the British coast, to the American Settlements in Puget's Sound. The periodical migration of those wild hordes is without question a source of disquiet and a national grievance.  
Their presence inspired general terror and not without cause, as there is no restraining principle in their minds, and they have no scruples
about
about committing acts of murder or rapine, whenever there is a prospect of escaping with impunity.  
They are accused, and probably with justice, of having committed many crimes in American Oregon, which I can only regret, without having the power of preventing, or of punishing the criminals; who do not live within the jurisdiction of this Colony.  
It is not improbable that the United States, may, sooner or later make a demand for satisfaction, in consequence of their depredations, in which case I conceive Her Majesty's Government, will have to take one of two courses, either to compel those savages to remain in their own country, or to permit the United States to levy war upon them, within the British frontiers.  
Those points certainly involve grave questions of national
right
right, and may lead to serious discussion with the United States.  
It may also be observed on the same subject, that the northern Indians are attracted to the American settlements entirely by the hope of gain, and provided a respectable naval force is maintained in Puget's Sound, to prevent plundering, and the inhabitants are careful not to employ them as labourers, I may venture to predict, that with the removal of the powerful incentive, which takes them thither, their visits to Puget's Sound will soon entirely cease. **
**
Copy to Hudson's Bay Co.  
ABd
 
The aspect of affairs in American Oregon, so far as respects the Indian war, is not materially altered since my last report. The Americans have taken the field in force, and with considerable means, but are constantly eluded by the rapid and dextrous movements of the natives, who perfectly understand the advantages
of
of Parthian warfare, and deal their blows with merciless severity on the undefended settlements, which exhibit a striking picture of the horrors of Indian war.  
Many of the Northern Tribes, who lately visited this part of the Colony have since the date of my last communication, left the settlements, and returned to their own country, and the excitement among the Colonists, in respect to the danger of being attacked by those savages has subsided.  
One riot only occurred during the great concourse of Indians at this place, and that arose out of a gambling quarrel among themselves, and ended rather seriously for the parties concerned, one man having been killed in the affray, and many severely wounded. I made it a point to call both parties to account for the disturbance, and
took
took advantage of the circumstances to urge their immediate departure from the Colony, and they, accordingly left a few days afterwards.  
In all other respects the Indians have been quiet and well behaved, and have given no cause of complaint. The number of those Indians in the settlements though much reduced is still considerable, but their movements are vigilantly watched, and the outlying dwellings are regularly visited by parties of militia, and otherwise every thing in my power is done, that can tend to promote the safety and comfort of the people.  
I have the honor to be Sir
Your most obedient humble Servant
James Douglas
Governor

The Right Honble Henry Labouchere Esqre
Her Majesty's principal Secretary of State
For the Colonial Department.
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Merivale
Would you send the whole or only the latter portion of this desph &c to the H.B.Co.  
ABd
2 July
The whole, I think?
 
HM
Jy 4
The foreign office shd be fully informed as to the state of affairs, which may possibly lead to negotiations with the U. States.  
JB
July 5
HL
7
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
  • 1. Isaac I. Stevens to Douglas, 7 February 1856, asking him to furnish supplies of "powder, lead, sugar, coffee, pork, clothing, candles, soap, tea" for the volunteer troops as required by Commissary and Quartermaster R.S. Robinson.  
  • 2. Robinson to Douglas, 6 March 1856, requesting supplies of "Clothing, Ammunition, Sugar, Coffee, &c."  
  • 3. Douglas to Stevens, 6 March 1856, stating that the Hudson's Bay Company and other merchants were unwilling to furnish supplies for scrip, and suggesting he and recommending he draw bills of exchange on the United States treasury for the supplies required.  
  • 4. Douglas to Stevens, 7 March 1856, advising that he had purchased some "sugar, coffee, and the Number of Blankets wanted, with a supply of Gunpowder and Lead, out of my own private funds, . . . with a view of meeting your pressing necessities, leaving the payment for your settlement, in any manner, that will secure me from loss."  
  • 5. Stevens to Douglas, 17 February 1856, advising he had received reports that the Haida, Bella Bella, and Tsimpsian would dispatch 16 war canoes south as soon as the winter breaks, "five of which will attack Bellingham Bay." He requests Douglas "keep one of your Steamers plying in the vicinity of these Indians . . . communicate any information you may learn of their movements."  
  • 6. Douglas to Stevens, 6 March 1856, advising of the movements of certain tribes, but suggesting there was little appearance of their having hostile designs against the settlements.  
 
Despatch to London:
Douglas to Labouchere, 10 April 1856, National Archives of the UK, 5814, CO 305/7. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871. Ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria: University of Victoria. http://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/getDoc.htm?id=V56009.scx. Accessed 18 November 2017. 

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