No. 2
Downing Street
18 March 1852
I have to acknowledge the receipt of your Despatch of the 16th December last, in which you represent the difficulty you have experienced in the Settlement of disputes between the Colonists and the Indians, and request instructions how far the testimony of Indians is to be admitted as evidence in the Law Courts of the Colony.
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With respect to the admission of Indian testimony, my belief is that it is for the general advantage of Justice that all such evidence should be received, leaving it to the tribunals to consider how much value it may really possess. I do not think a distinction between cases in which Colonists are concerned, and those in which natives only are concerned, on principle advisable. Indian testimony may not unfrequently be the onlymeansManuscript image means of ascertaining the truth, if circumstances should ever bring the two races into nearer relations than exist at present. Nor is there any principle of English Law against its admission. The evidence of all persons is receivable in our Courts if they have any mode of solemnly declaring the truth which is held binding among themselves, and any perception of principles of moral right and wrong.
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I have directed the attention of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to the necessity which appears to exist for stationing a Vessel of War off Queen Charlotte's Island, and I have brought the conduct of the Officers of the United States Customs in detaining the Vessels of the Company under the notice of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
I am Sir
Your most obedient Servant
John S. Pakington

People in this document

Douglas, James

Pakington, John Somerset

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Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty

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Haida Gwaii

Vancouver Island