26 June 1867
My Lord Duke,
I wish to apologise to Your Grace for the small amount of official information respecting this colony which the mail packet which leaves today will convey.
I have for the last fortnight been engaged on a tour of inspection along the North West Coast & the motion of the vessel was too great, generally, for me to write despatches.
There is nothing of very great moment to report. ThisManuscript image Colony separated by so vast a distance from the Mother Country is gradually being occupied by Citizens of the United States. No English immigration reaches us, & all the public officers whose situations have been abolished under recent changes, return to Europe. There is a systematic agitation going on in this town in favour of annexation to the United States. It is believed that money for its maintainance is provided from San Francisco. As yet, however, nothing has reached me officially on the subject, & should any petition on the subject be handed to me, I will know how to answer it before I transmit the petition to your Grace. On the mainland the question of annexation is notManuscript image mooted, & during a recent journey I made in the interior I was received everywhere with salutes & other expressions of loyalty to the Government I represent.
2. The finances are, I regret to say, in a deplorable condition. The country was greatly over-staffed in the beginning & a reaction has set in. Then, the revenue has suffered greatly from the large importations made into Victoria while still a free port which now pay no duties on transmission to the miners. Another reason for the present despondency is that the Colony was, up to the present time kept alive by loans raised in England, on which we have now to pay heavy interest while receiving absolutely no aid of any kind from theManuscript image Mother country. The miners are doing well & a population is settling down in Cariboo & its neighbourhood.
3. The principle difficulty we have to contend with here is the competition with California, one of the richest countries in the world & the miners & labourers feel but too strongly the attractions which the large town of San Francisco, with its boundless demand for labour offers. Were British Columbia removed from such a dangerous competition it might do well. It has every natural advantage, but under English management it is far from Head Quarters & is kept in a state of commercial quarantine by our republican neighbours. The discrimatory duties in the States are soManuscript image high that our nearest markets for timber are the Australian Colonies & France. The latter country imports spars from hence. We are not prosperous but there is no political agitation & the one paper specially employed to advocate annexation has ceased to exist.
4. Your Grace will be pleased to hear that our Indian population is prosperous & contented. I have had gatherings of the natives for several consecutive years on the Queen's birthday. This year I did not issue any invitations yet upwards of 4,000 attended to congratulate me on my return to the Colony. Some of the Chiefs from the Upper Fraser travelled nearly a thousand miles, to New Westminster & back for the occasion.
5. On my late voyage I found considerable depressionManuscript image existing at the Hudson's Bay Company's trading posts along the coast. The whiskey smugglers from Victoria interfere much with the legitimate trade of the coast. Fort Rupert seemed almost abandoned. Fort Simpson still remains a place of importance.
6. I was much gratified to find at Metlakahtlah under the supervision of Mr Duncan the Indians have made considerable progress in civilization. The "lodges" have become regular houses with glass windows, neat gardens, good furniture. The native police force seems well managed & most of the Indians can read and write. The village asks for no assistance from the Government yet is flourishing in every way. The natives own a schooner, are erectingManuscript image a saw mill, are making roads of some magnitude & possess, under the direction of Mr Duncan a shop far superior to any that the Hudson's Bay Company has yet established. I shall have the honor of reporting more fully to Your Grace on the conditions of Metlakahtlah.
7. Immediately opposite Fort Simpson commences the 30 mile strip of land accorded to Russia by the Convention of 1824 & now sold, or about to be sold to the Government of the United States. As British Columbia runs to the back of this narrow belt as far as 60o North, & as many rivers rich in gold in their upper waters have their entrance to the sea in foreign territory, I thought it well for me to understand the system existing between the RussianManuscript image authorities & ourselves in regard to the peculiar arrangement under which, though the whole natural attractions of the country lie in English territory, the access to them is in the hands of a foreign power. After examining the coast and being entirely satisfied with the relations existing between the Russians and ourselves I called at Sitka; the Chief town of Russian America. I was received with every attention by the Governor Prince Makarantoff & had all facilities given me for seeing the town. The climate is severe, the soil arid & the Americans who have already landed there seem disappointed in their expectations. Some of them knew me by sight & introduced themselves & others. Nothing could be more respectful than their manners & they talked to me freely about their speculations. They are "pre-empting" land underManuscript image the law of the United States, but it seemed to me that the great notion was to buy up the place in every way & then sell to others such rights as they might have acquired. Whatever the nature of the arrangements may be for the transfer of Russian America to the United States, there is on the spot no feeling against the English. The Americans seemed glad to see me & looked upon me as a friend.
There is great fear of the Indians existing among the Russians. The natives are not allowed into the town & guns from every part of it are pointed at the Indian village. There will doubtless soon be a collision between the Americans & the Indians. It will be a serious one as the natives are strong. Already adventurers from the United States have pre-empted the Indian reserve. The nativesManuscript image have all blackened their faces in sign of grief. I imagine that this is on account of the cession of their country to the Americans, but the Russians say that it is owing to two native Chiefs having been killed by our Indians on the Stikeen River.
I shall report fully to Your Grace upon all the matters alluded to in this letter, for which I beg your indulgence.
Mr Birch of the Colonial Office will return to his duties in Downing Street by the next steamer.
I have the honor to be,
My Lord Duke,
Your most obedient
humble Servant
Frederick Seymour
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Elliot
See accompanying memo
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Attached to 8565.
as to debt.
CC 30 Aug