No. 12
Downing Street
22d October 1853
I have received your Despatch of the 9th December last in which you submit three questions of considerable importance, the first relative to the Sovereignty of certain Islands in the Arro Archipelago, the second respecting the encroachment of theManuscript image Americans on the British fishing grounds on the West Coast of Van Couver's Island, and the third relative to the Trade carried on by the Americans with the Indians of that Island.
1st As you have promised a further report upon the first of these topics I must postpone the consideration of it until that report arrives; but I must request you to send me the information of which you are in possession with as little delay as possible. In theManuscript image meanwhile I wish to observe to you that a disputed question of Sovereignty over distant Countries is a matter of such delicacy and importance that it can only be dealt with on the most accurate representation of facts. Whatever information therefore you are able to supply me with, I must impress upon you the necessity of satisfying yourself that it is derived from substantial and trustworthy sources. I perceive you state that it was your intention to assert the Sovereignty ofManuscript image Great Britain to all the Islands in the Canal de Arro situated to the Eastward of Strawberry Bay. I shall wish to be informed how this assertion of the Sovereignty of this Country over these Islands has been met by the Americans, and also what steps they have taken to support the claim they have set up on the part of the United States.
2ndly As regards the alleged encroachments of the Americans on the fishing grounds it is unquestionable that noManuscript image foreigners are legally entitled to fish upon or within three Miles of the Coasts of Van Couver's Island, and that they may be interrupted and compelled to depart if they persist in doing so. But upon this point also I am obliged to ask you for more definite information. I should wish to know for what length of time the Americans have been fishing on the Coasts in Question, and in what situations, and whether, as you state that you have called upon the CommandersManuscript image of the Vessels of War lately on the Coast to arrest their encroachments, those Officers have succeeded in doing so.
3rdly With regard to the third subject the traffic of the Americans with Indians you are of course aware that the Hudson's Bay Company are legally entitled to this trade to the exclusion of all other persons whether British or Foreign. You are therefore clearly at liberty to take such steps as may have the effect ofManuscript image punishing persons who infringe their rights. But I am of opinion that it would be prudent previously to issue a proclamation warning all persons against the consequences of such an infringement of the Hudson's Bay Company's rights, and also apprizing foreigners that they are precluded from fishing within three Miles of the Shore.
I have the honor to be Sir,
Your Most obedient Humble Servant

People in this document

Douglas, James

Pelham-Clinton, Henry Pelham Fiennes

Organizations in this document

Hudson's Bay Company

Places in this document

San Juan Islands

Strawberry Bay

Vancouver Island