1296. N. America

British Museum
June. 30th 1848.
Dear Sir,
I have not troubled you so often on the subject of Vancouvers Island, without being ready to make a definite proposal as to what should be done, in the event of Earl Grey refusing, (as all who are interested in the country most earnestly hope will be the case,) to grant the territory to the Hudsons Bay Coy.
It is my intention in this letter briefly to state, and Earnestly to urge of the consideration of Earl Grey, that proposal.
I am the more anxious to do so, because I have received an intimation that Messers Aspinwall of New York are willing to enter into a contract to take a supply of coal, upon the basis of an arrangement which I proposed to them some time ago (when I anticipated being a Satisfactory arrangement with the Hudsons Bay Coy about the coal.) and which would, I believe, render it possible to work the Mines with profit. Manuscript imageMr Aspinwall being satisfied, as I understand with the evidence offered him that the coal is of a kind suitable for the purposes of Steam Navigation.
On the one hand, then, in bringing this scheme before the public, we can shew that there is every probability of success which the most favorable mercantile Speculation can afford; but, on the other, I am perfectly convinced that it will be impossible to secure the Confidence and support of the public, until it is definitely known what HM Govt intend to do in the matter.
I am quite aware that it is the custom of the Colonial office, not to take the initiative, but to wait until some definite scheme is proposed by parties able to execute the same; but I do hope, that Earl Grey, will consider that a feeling of general insecurity exists, owing to the state of affairs, and that, although there is no want of money at present, there is a great disinclination to invest it, Except upon ample security; and that His Lordship will, for these reasons, and for the urgent political expediency of founding a Colony on the N.W. Coast of America,Manuscript image consent, on the present occasion, to depart from the policy hitherto adopted and to state what the Crown will do with respect to Vancouvers Island. And I hope this, because I assume that there is no real advantage in concealing the policy of the Govt, and that the same terms which Earl Grey would offer to one applicant for the territory, are open to all.
If Earl Grey will promise that, supposing a company of Colonists formed, Consisting of a certain number of persons, and possessing a certain amount of Capital, intending to convey themselves to the Island, and capable of doing so, — a charter of incorporation will in that case be at once granted; by which charter,
(1) Vancouvers Island will be granted to the Company,
(2) A free Municipal System will be guaranteed (if with right to elect their own Govr, so much the better.)
(3) The terms will be specified on which the company is to dispose of land to settlers.
If, I say, Earl Grey would promise this, then there would be positive and practicalManuscript image scheme to lay before the country and I for one believe that there would be no further obstacle to forming the Colony.
The Coals in that case would belong to the Company, and it could Either work them with its own Capital, or borrow Money on what would then be good security, to do so, or let them on lease to be worked by private enterprise.
At any rate you would have a Company on the spot, whose sole interest it would be to colonize the Island as rapidly as possible.
If this is not done, either the Hudsons Bay Coy will have the island, when there will be an End to all Colonization, or else the Country will remain barren, and the Greatest opportunity yet offered for the foundation of a Colony will be lost forever.
In the mean time the United States will be all powerful on those Coasts, and we Shall be unable to Compete with them.
Hoping you will bring this letter under Earl Greys notice at your Earliest Convenience.
I have the honor to be
Dear Sir
Yours very faithfully
James Edward Fitzgerald

Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
ABd 30/6.
Mr Hawes
I think the writer must be told that negociations are still pending with the H.B. Cy
HM June 30
July 1 BH
Before an ansr of this kind is returned I think it wd be desirable that Mr Merivale shd see Mr Fitzgerald & inform him that the only condition upon which the proposed grant will be made to the Compy will be that the power of legislatn will be entrusted to an electgive Assly & that they will be bound to colonize the island — These conditns will I trust avert the danger of abuse wh. he anticipates, & secure the advantage in this enterprize of the capital & means possessed by the Compy, who I am assured will be happy to co-operate with himself & others in this object. —
G. 3/
I have seen Mr Fitzgerald & given him this explanation.
HM Jy 8.
Footnotes
  1. This addressee information appears at the foot of the first page of the despatch.
People in this document

Aspinwall

Blackwood, Arthur Johnstone

FitzGerald, James Edward

Grey, Henry George

Hawes, Benjamin

Merivale, Herman

Organizations in this document

Hudson's Bay Company

Places in this document

New York

Vancouver Island

FitzGerald, James Edward to Merivale, Herman 30 June 1848, CO 305:1, no. 1296, 541. 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/V486F05.html.

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