No. 27

[Note in file:]
6358. Despatch, No 27, May 17/57 [54]
"Protection to French Subjects &c"

[Following text is taken from PABC transcripts:] 16th May 1854
My Lord Duke,
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt on the 13th Inst. of your Grace's Despatch No 14 of the 13th January last acknowledging the receipt of my despatch No 9 of the 24th October 1853.
I have also to acknowledge the receipt on the same date of your Grace's letter of the 24th Jany acknowledging the receipt of my letters No 9 and 10 of the 24th November.
I have also the honor to inform your Grace that I received on the same date your Circular Despatch of the 24th February last transmitting copy of a circular instruction addressed to Her Majesty's Diplomatic and Consular Agents abroad directing them to afford protection to French subjects and commerce.
I beg to assure your Grace, that I will not fail to exercise the Powers vested in me as Governor of Vancouver's Island in accordance with those instructions, and to impress on all the authorities acting under my superintendence the duty of affording similar protection to French subjects and commerce, and of co-operating for that purpose with Her Majesty's naval authorities.
Your Grace has further directed me to report to you without delay any measures which I may deem it expedient to take in reference to these instructions. I beg in consequence to submit that Vancouver's Island is at present without any military protection, and that I am not empowered to arm and equip such levies of men, as might be made in the Colony. An irregular force of whites and Indians could be raised here and be made exceedingly useful in harassing and impeding the march of an enemy attempting to leave the sea coast or penetrate into the country. To arm and equip such a force for the protection of the settlements, is a measure which I conceive should be immediately adopted and carried into effect, otherwise the whole country may fall a prey to the first invader or be plundered by any maurauding party that may land upon the coast.
I would therefore earnestly recommend that precautionary steps against invasion, may be immediately resorted to, and if approved by your Grace that I may be empowered to carry the same into effect and to draw on the proper Department to defray the expense attending such measures.
The accompanying Requisition which will probably be found incomplete, will show what I conceive to be necessary for the equipment of any military force raised in the country. A battery with a few heavy Guns to defend the entrance of the harbour would also prove of very decided advantage.
Your Grace will I presume order a detachment from the fleet in the Pacific, to be sent hither for the protection of the colony in addition to the military force raised in the colony itself.
Those defensive measures will involve the erection of Store Houses and Barracks for the accommodation of the Troops, and on the whole lead to a considerable outlay of money, which will not be lost to the country, as long as protection is afforded to the lives and property of H.M. Subjects.
I would further remark in reference to the Earl of Clarendon's communication that a very serious injury might be inflicted on Russia by taking possession of all their settlements on the American coast, north of Queen Charlotte's Islands; they are all upon the sea board and accessible to shipping. Their defences are on a scale merely calculated to cope with savages, and could not be maintained against a regular force of 500 men. The occupation of those settlements may be regarded as an indispensable measure of protection against the piratical vessels of all nations which may seek to prey upon our commerce in the Pacific, and find a refuge there, the enemy will also be deprived by that measure of all their possessions in America, and of a most valuable branch of trade producing a large public revenue, and would thereby sustain a most serious loss.
I beg that your Grace will send me immediate instructions in respect, to the payment of any expenses necessarily incurred in providing for the defense of the Colony, and inform me to what amount I may so apply the public money, and on whom I may draw for the sums required.
I have the honor to be
Your Grace's most obedient humble Servant
James Douglas

His Grace The Right Honble The Duke of Newcastle
Her Majesty's principal Secretary of State
For the Colonial Department