No. 1, Stekin Territories
17 November 1862
I have the honour to acknowledge Your Grace's Despatch No 134 of the 26th July last, enclosing an Order in Council providing for the Government and temporary administrationofManuscript image of Justice in those parts of Her Majesty's Dominions which are declared and set forth by that Instrument as constituting the Stekin Territories, with Copies of the Acts of Parliament on which the Order in Council is founded.
2. Your Grace anticipates that the powers conveyed by the Order in Council will enable me to deal satisfactorily with any amount of population by which these Territories are at present likely to be occupied, and if that should not be the case, Your Grace requestsmeManuscript image me to report any difficulties in which I may find myself involved, and to offer any suggestions that may occur to me respecting the most effectual and practicable mode of dealing with those difficulties.
3. In obedience to those instructions, I beg to submit that the Order in Council restricts my power of legislation to two areas, namely: the disposal of Lands, and the occupation of the Gold-fields; and to Fees as the sole source of Revenue.
4. It is almost certainthatManuscript image that Fees, which must of necessity be levied directly on Miners and other occupants of the Gold-fields, and which, from their nature, are especially odious and difficult to collect, will not yield a sufficient revenue to meet the ordinary and necessary expences of Government, for a great part of which I should therefore be compelled to draw on the funds of the Imperial Government.
5. This latter course being inconsistent with the avowed Colonial policy of Her Majesty's Government, IwouldManuscript image would take the liberty of suggesting that Customs Regulations and Rates of Duty on Imports should be established for the Stekin Territories, as the readiest means of procuring a revenue equal to the cost of the civil expenditure.
6. Should that resource prove insufficient, other taxes might be imposed, of such a nature, however, as would fall primarily on the Capitalist and Merchant, and not directly on the Miner, who under no circumstancesisManuscript image is a cheerful contributor to the public revenue, and not infrequently is, from absolute poverty, utterly incapable of meeting the smallest payment.
7. Should these suggestions meet with the approval and sanction of Her Majesty's Government, it will be necessary to enlarge the powers conferred by the Order in Council, and distinctly to authorize me to impose and levy Customs Duties and all other taxes that may be found proper and expedientasManuscript image as means of revenue.
8. I would also beg to suggest as a measure that would materially simplify and lighten the duties devolving on me, that the Laws now in force in British Columbia should be extended, as far as they are applicable, to the Stekin Territories; and finally in case of my being compelled by a stern necessity to proceed without legal sanction, that Her Majesty's Government may send a confirmation of all my public acts, orauthorizeManuscript image authorize the issue of a Proclamation indemnifying me and my Officers for Acts done before the establishment of any legitimate authority in the Stekin Territories.
In other respects the Order in Council will, I conceive, meet the objects proposed.
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke,
Your Grace's most obedient
and humble Servant
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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VJ 15 Jan
Mr Fortescue
The Order in Council provides 1. for the extension of the Law of England to the Stekin Territories, 2. for the Trial of Offences committed therein, 3. for the establishment of Gold-field regulations by authy of the Govr, 4. for the imposition of fees upon miners, and fines on persons breaking the regulations.
Gov. Douglas requires 1. authority to impose import duties, 2. the extension of the Law of B. Columbia to Stikeen, 3. indemnity to himself & his Officers for anything he may do under pressure of a stern necessity.
1. The first of these involves the creation of a Customs Establishment—to be paid of course in the first instance from Imperial Funds.
2. The second is a very rough kind of suggestion & may be good. But I doubt whetherManuscript image the Crown could enact prospectively that all laws passed by the B. Columbia Legre (i.e. by Mr Douglas) shd be in force in the Stikeen, and whether it wd do any good merely to extend to Stikeen the existing Law.
3. The third is out of the question. No Officer shd be indemnified for illegal acts in advance. If he is to resort to arbitrary power, he should do so under the apprehension that if he outsteps the necessity he will be left to take the consequences.
On the whole therefore, as the whole B. Columbian question is under consideration, I should be inclined to make no present change, but to settle the whole together.
It is very possible that the true exit from the difficulty is by annexing the Stekeen to B. Columbia by Act of Parlt.
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Duke of Newcastle
I have little doubt that the whole Territory W. of the Rocky Mts. ought to be annexed to B. Columbia.
CF 2 Feb
I am inclined to think so, but I will consider it further when I prepare a Minute for the future Govr of B. Columbia.
N 4