Otway to Under-Secretary of State
March 31, 1869
I have laid before The Earl of Clarendon your letter of the 17th instant, marked Confidential, and I am, in reply, to request that you will state to Earl Granville that there is nothing in the correspondence of this Office to show the precise relative positions of the Naval Commander in Chief and of the Governor of BritishColumbiaManuscript image Columbia in regard to the occupancy of the Island of San Juan.
I am, however, to observe that, by the agreement come to by General Scott and Governor Douglas in 1859, the occupation of the Island of San Juan was to be a joint military occupation, and the arrangements with the United States' Military Commander, for placing the Island in the joint occupation of the detachments of British Marines and UnitedStatesManuscript image States infantry, were undertaken by the then Admiral on the Station, Admiral Baynes, who issued the orders to the Officer of Marines, under which the Officer commanding the British force has since acted, and which were communicated by him to the United States' Commander on the 20th of March 1860. Governor Douglas had originally proposed that it should be a civil occupation, but General Scott objected tothisManuscript image this on the ground that, in that case, the civil magistrate would be under the control of the local Government of Washington Territory, which, for obvious reasons, would be inexpedient, while a military force would be under the direct command of the central Government.
It will be seen from the letter from the Colonial Office of the 19th of March 1861, that the British Civil MagistratewasManuscript image was withdrawn at the suggestion of Governor Douglas in that year.
Moreover, it appears from the papers laid before the Senate, of which a copy was forwarded to you in my letter of the 6th of July 1868, that the civil Authorities of Washington Territory and the district Revenue Officers claim to exercise jurisdiction over the Island, notwithstanding the agreement of 1859, which, although approved by the executive,theyManuscript image they do not consider legally binding on them without the authority of an Act of Congress. Under instructions from the State Department, the United States' military Officers have forcibly resisted these pretensions, and, in 1867, Brevet Major Graves was arrested and put under heavy bonds for this resistance to the civil Jurisdiction of the Territory.
Under these circumstances,LordManuscript image Lord Clarendon considers that it would not be advisable to make any change in the manner in which the British occupancy has hitherto been carried on. The Officer of Marines must necessarily be dependent for many purposes on the Admiral, under whose orders he should remain, while the Governor and the Admiral should act in concert with regard to any political questions that may arise.
If the authority of theGovernorManuscript image Governor of British Columbia over the Island is asserted by the British Government, the local Government of Washington Territory may be further encouraged to assert their Civil Jurisdiction over it, and the agreement of 1859 be disturbed.
I am to suggest that copies of this correspondence should be furnished for the information of the Board of Admiralty.
I am, Sir,
Your most obedient
humble Servant
Arthur Otway
Minutes by CO staff
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Sir F. Rogers
I send you our letter of 19 March 1861 referred & the correspondence.
CC 2 April
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It appears to me that they may be simply sent to the Governor for his guidance observing (to prevent mistake) that it does not seem advisable to HMG for the reasons mentd in the F.O. letter that the Govr of BC shd exercise any jurisdiction in San Juan.
WM 2/4
G 5.4
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Granville to Seymour, Confidential, 10 April 1869.
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Rogers to Secretary to the Admiralty, 12 April 1869, forwarding copy of correspondence regarding the governor's status on San Juan Island.