Private
No 35
1644 N American

My Dear Lord
I enclose for your Lordships Information an Copy Extract of a despatch recd by last Mail from Sir Geoe Simpson dated June 24/48 Sir Geoe has returned to Montreal from the Interior and brings a favourable Acct of the state of the Country at Red River
I am
My Dear Lord
Yours truly
JH Pelly
H B He
Aug 22/48
The Rt Honble The Earl Grey &c &c &c
Minutes by CO staff
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Regr & put by
I have thanked Sir J. Pelly privately. —
G. 23/8
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Sir George Simpson to Hudson's Bay Company, from Norway House, 24 June 1848, reporting events surrounding the seige of the Whitman mission and the initial settlement of Mormons at Great Salt Lake.
Documents enclosed with the main document (transcribed)
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In 1644 N. America
231
Received C.D. August 24 1848

Extract of a Despatch
received from Sir George Simpson dated
Norway House June 24th 1848

Public Record Office

I am deeply concerned to say that that part of the Country (on the Columbia) has been in a very unhealthy state, arising from dysentery, typhus fever and measles, introduced by large bodies of immigrants from the United States who came to the Willamette last season, occasioning a fearful mortality among the natives, with much loss of life and suffering among our own people, about 20 of our servants having died, principally at Fort Vancouver.
The loss of life from these causes among the tribes situated between the Cascades and the upper part of the Columbia has been very great, and one of those tribes, the Cayuses, in the neighbourhood of Walla Walla. Supposing that Dr. Whitman, who superintended the mission of Wailatpu, about 30 miles from our past of Walla Walla, was instrumental in introducing these pestilences among them, as a punishment for some offence they had previouslyManuscript image committed, in the month of December massacred that uniformed gentleman, his wife and and nine (9) other grown up persons belonging to the mission: and, with the assistance of their allies the Nez Percis, made prisoners of 64 men, women and children, the remaining inmates of Dr. Whitman’s and another American mission, on the Clearwater River under the charge of Mr. Spalding. -
Information of these alarming proceedings having been conveyed to the Board of Management, they became apprehensive of danger to our establishment of Walla Walla, and Chief Factor Ogden proceeded from Vancouver to its relief, with the double object of affording protection to our own past, and of rescuing the unfortunate captives.
On arrival at Walla Walla, however, it was found that the natives, did not manifest any hostility toward our people, on the contrary, that they showed a friendly disposition even while engaged in the massacre at Wailatpu, having protected two of the children of Chief Trader Manson, who were there at school and conveyed themManuscript image safely to Walla Walla when they were placed under the care of Mr. McBean, the gentleman in charge. Chief Factor Ogden next directed his attention to the American Captives, and after much negotiation succeeded in obtaining their release, by ransom to an amount not exceeding £100 The object of the Indian in taking these people prisoners, was to hold them as hostages, with a view to their own protection, being apprehensive that strong measures of retaliation would be adopted by the Provisional Government.
Mr. Ogden, however, could give no pledge to that effect, and I am concerned to say that a war of extermination as been commenced upon these unfortunate people under the direction of the Provisional Government. A force of 400 men, was raised as early as possible, and despatched under a violent and injudicious leader named Gilliam, who has had several skirmishes with the natives, in which a few lives have been last on both sides, but no decisive engagement had taken place up to our latest advices.
There is no question, however,Manuscript image that the Americans will, in the end, glut their revenge upon the wretched Indians, although, from their want of discipline and means, it will require a length of time to effect the work of destruction.
The Board of Management when called upon by the Provisional Government to afford their assistance to punish the natives, very wisely determined on maintaining a strict neutrality declining to make a loan of $100,000 required by the Government for the purpose of carrying on the war; but supplied them with provisions to the amount of $1800 on the personal security of the Governor (Abernethy) and two members of the legislature.
For further information as to details on this subject, I beg to refer to the accompanying copy of the despatch from the Board of Management dated 16th March, and of the correspondence therein referred to.
Notwithstanding the judicious determination of the Board of Management to take no part in the hostilities, I am exceedingly apprehensive that we shall become more or less involved in them andManuscript image get into difficulties both with the Americans and natives. We have already very narrowly escaped doing so, as regards the former, a plan having been formed to supply themselves by force with ammunitions of war and provisions from Fort Vancouver, but Chief Factor Douglas, (Chief Factor Ogden being absent at Walla Walla.) having had private information of this intention on the part of Colonel Gilliam, opened a communication with the authorities upon the subject, and being at the same time prepared to make a determined resistance, this lawless proceeding was abandoned -
At the post of Walla Walla however by direction of Colonel Gilliam in forcible possession was taken of two barrels of gunpowder, and I regret to say that no other opposition than a simple protest was offered by Mr. McBean, the Clark in charge to this robbery. As regards the Indians it is probable that, the circumstances of our having got the hostages out of their hands; of Thomas McKay, late Clerk in the Service, and several of our retired Servants havingManuscript image joined the volunteer corps; of the American having obtained provisions from us to carry on the war; and of their being permitted to take the powder without resistance, may lead them to suppose that, although not actually in the field, we are in league with the Americans against them, and I am very apprehensive that this may draw upon our establishments of Walla Walla, Fort Hall, Colvile & Okanagan, which are in a very defenceless state, their hostility.
It is possible, however, that those establishments may not be attacked, but even should that fortunately be the case, there is no question that, pending the hostilities, the trade of those posts will be ruined, as the natives cannot during such excitement, give attention to the collection of Furs. We have, therefore, suggested to the Board of Management that, if the war be protracted, the posts of Walla Walla and Fort Hall be temporarily abandoned.
In the present disturbed state of the country, we shall be exceedingly anxious while we have further advice from the Columbia; I have, therefore, requested the BoardManuscript image of Management to report from time to time by every channel of communication.
Besides an influx of about 3000 immigrants to the Columnbia proper during the past year, a large body of people, known as the Mormons, driven out from the United States on account of their religious tenets, have seated themselves down to the number of 3000, in the the neighbourhood of the Great Salt Lake in the Smoke Country, where they are forming a City.
This party may be considered as the pioneers of the Sect, amounting to about 20,000 in all, 1000 more being expected at their new settlement this season.
By the accompanying copy of letter from John Smith their president, you will observe they are desirous of obtaining supplies from us, but there appears a disinclination on the part of the Board of Management to meet their application.
From the numbers and organisation of these people, it is evident they will become very formidable and, in due time, be in a condition to give law to Oregon; it is, therefore, highly desirableManuscript image that we should conciliate them by every proper means within our power and to that end, I have suggested to the Board of Management that, we should provide them with a few supplies from time to time, for which we have reason to believe they have the means of paying in money.
Agriculture however, will be their principal occupation but situated so far in the interior, it is impossible that they can form an export trade, or do more than obtain a bare subsistence, and as they are not likely to remain satisfied with that state of in action. I am very apprehensive they may follow up their original intention before leaving Wisconsin and direct their steps to Vancouver Island, from where it would be quite impossible for us, even if assisted by the natives to dislodge them.
The persecution they have experienced in the United States has given rise to a feeling of hostility on their minds towards their countrymen while, on the contrary, it is said they are favourably disposed to British interests, so that they might hereafterManuscript image become useful partisans in the event of difficulties with the U. States.
Herewith I forward for your information an extract from a private letter to me from Chief Trader Richard Grant, dated Fort Hall 31st Decr 1847, by which it would appear that the Mormons have been in communication with H. M. Government with a view to settling on Vancouver Island, and that they consider their application as having been favourably received.
Pelly, John Henry to Grey, George 22 August 1848, CO 305:1, no. 1644, 229. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/V485HB09.html.

Last modified: 2020-12-02 13:40:34 -0800 (Wed, 02 Dec 2020) (SVN revision: 5008)