17th April 1867
My Lord,
It is but right that I should mention that considerable excitement exists here on account of the cession of the Russian North American Territories to the United States.AllManuscript image All the American merchants and public house keepers hoisted their national flag yesterday in honor of the event and the English feel somewhat despondent as to their future condition.
2. In time of peace I think it will be rather advantageous to us to have the United States on both sides of British Columbia. Victoria will be a sort of half way port between San Francisco andSitkaManuscript image Sitka. There is I fear no doubt that the having the United States North and South of us will tend to strengthen the American sympathies felt by a considerable number of persons in Victoria. On the mainland, though I believe half the population is alien, much good feeling prevails and political excitement is scarcely to be found.
3. Possibly under the peculiar circumstances in which the Colony will be placed theLordsManuscript image Lords of the Treasury may be induced to mitigate in some degree the rigour with which in financial matters British Columbia has been treated. The making the Colony pay ten thousand seven hundred pounds (£10,700) for the useless buildings erected by the Royal Engineers, and the causing it to bear the total expense of the suppression of an Indian insurrection created much ill feeling at the time and the financial conditionofManuscript image of the Colony has, since these payments were made, been anything but satisfactory. I may mention that all the principal Public Officers have now been four months without salary. I myself have an overdrawn account at the Bank of British Columbia upon which interest at the rate of eighteen per cent per annum is charged.
4. I am well aware that a new principle inColonizationManuscript image Colonization was attempted here and that it was intended that British Columbia should, from its earliest days, be self supporting. Its natural resources were greatly overvalued by my predecessor and the local correspondent of the "Times" and now instead of the population steadily increasing there is considerable emigration from the Colony. When I say that the resources were greatly overvalued I do not in any way mean to say that were we nearertoManuscript image to England or in an insular position there would not be abundant attractions to immigrants but unfortunately our future political destiny seems unsettled, and we have to compete for population with California one of the richest Countries in the world, highly favoured by nature and by the Government of the United States. We have two competing towns here, living in a continual state of irritation against each other,whileManuscript image while in California the great resources of the State are concentrated in San Francisco, which has become at least as attractive to the lower classes as any of the great cities of the Eastern States.
5. Then the exuberant confidence of the Americans in the future, depresses the minds of the English inhabitants of this Colony, and the greater number of Miners and others who periodically resort to thisplaceManuscript image place are aliens. It is believed by many that but little interest is felt in England as regards British Columbia.
6. I think it really would be good policy and good economy if some pecuniary assistance was granted, either in the repayment of the ten thousand seven hundred pounds (£10,700) charged for the Engineers huts or of the eighteen thousand pounds (£18,000), more or less, which the Chilicoten expedition cost, the payment bytheManuscript image the Mother Country of the Governor's Salary, or by showing in some manner that Her Majesty's Government feel some sort of interest in this far portion of Her dominions.
7. The mere fact that Sitka, with all its disadvantages of climate, soil and hostile natives, is now attracting attention and enterprise through the Pacific States and Colonies, shews that the American flag has certain charms for the unattachedpopulationManuscript image population of this coast.
8. I send a sample of the Articles which are appearing in all the newspapers of British Columbia, Oregon and California, [newspaper clipping as follows:]
The Sitka fever has commenced to rage in this locality, and, no doubt exists in quite a virulent form at San Francisco. Already visions of a great metropolis in the Polar regions and dreams of sudden wealth by a rise in town lots begin to form the day dreams of speculative citizens, and anxious inquiries are made as to when, a steamer by means of which they may visit the locality and prospect for "rich strikes," will arrive. The owners of the New World have been approached with an offer for the trip, express themselves in favor of accepting it should a sufficient number of passengers offer.
I have the honor to be,
My Lord,
Your most obedient
humble Servant
Frederick Seymour
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
CC 17 June
Manuscript image
I think with Governor Seymour, and always did think, that the Treasury behaved with undue and short-sighted rigor in forcing British Columbia to pay for the huts built by that great sham the Royal Engineer Garrison of the Colony. But to get repayment must be out of the question.
As to Governor's salary, my own private opinion has always been that whilst all other civil grants to Colonies should be progressively curtailed and got rid of as soon as possible, it is by no means unreasonable that in all except the largest and richest Colonies the Imperial Parliament should be asked to provide the salary of the Governor, who is the connecting link between this Country and the Colony. He is in a large measure an Imperial Officer, and may therefore not unreasonably be paid from Imperial funds.
TFE 19 June
Manuscript image
I cannot agree with this; unless the whole Empire, incg Colonies will consent to pay for our Court at home. The outskirts of Empire must pay for their vice courts, or all pay for all.
The Engineers I thought only a part of the folly of B. Columbia but the service was something. But the Yankees will only think us green if we try to un-yankee them by paying these expenses.
CBA 20/6
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft reply, Buckingham to Seymour, Confidential, 24 June 1867 acknowledging receipt of Seymour’s despatch regarding the “state of public feeling in colony” following the US purchase of the Russian North American territory.