No. 48
30th January 1855
Sir
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Despatch No 4 of the 21st Septr last, which after advising the safe arrival of my Despatches No 10 No 5 and No 28, relative to the contested Territory situated in the Canal de Arro, you are pleased to express the approval of Her Majestys Government of my proceedings with respect to the sovereignty of the Islands in the Canal de Arro, and toauthoriseManuscript image authorise me to continue to treat those Islands, as part of the British Dominions.
Those instructions I shall carry into effect to the best of my ability, and do every thing within the power of my unaided strength, to prevent the encroachment of foreign nations on Her Majesty's Territories.
Since my report No 28, of the 17th of May last, respecting our proceedings relative to the Arro Islands, we have never been free from alarms, and a series of attempts have been made to establish the claim of the United States by the authorities of Washington Territory, which we have on all occasions resisted, and succeeded in defeating.
The most atrocious calumnies were wickedly circulated in the American Papers, with the view of raising an excitement among the people. It was, for example, asserted that I, Her Majesty's Executive officer, had maltreated the United States Collector, and thatIManuscript image I had let loose a horde of northern savages to destroy the defenceless settlements on the American frontier and many other statements equally false and improbable. Those statements were contradicted by American citizens residing in this Colony, who had evidence that I had perilled my own life in protecting the American settlements, against the attacks of a powerful native Tribe, who exasperated by their injustice, to the last degree, were thirsting for revenge. Those groundless reports were therefore not believed, and entirely failed of their object. A detachment of United States Troops was however sent from Puget Sound, with Acting Governor Mason, who landed on the Island of San Juan with them, and a large train of lawless followers; he was there strongly urged, as he afterwards informed me, to take possession of the Island, and of all the British property thereon, and had he beendisposedManuscript image disposed to listen to those violent counsels, something very serious must have taken place.
As it was no attempt was then made to molest our people or property. The United States Revenue Cruizer "Jefferson Davis," was the next and most formidable adversary we had to contend with.
Her Commander Pease, waited upon me with the view, as he stated of avoiding future difficulties, which he assured me was his earnest wish; but he went on to say, that he had received orders to enforce the Revenue Laws of the United States, in every part of their Territory, and however reluctantly, he was in duty bound to obey those orders, hinting also that he wished no British vessels to touch at the Island of San Juan.
I asked him distinctly, if his orders, from Washington, authorised him to seize British vessels, calling at the Arro Islands, and by a few more pointed questions I discovered that he had only the general instructions issued to the commanders of all Revenue vessels, without any specific ordersrelativeManuscript image relative to the Arro Islands. I drew his attention to that circumstance, and strongly advised him to take no hasty measures, which might endanger the peace of the country, and blast his own prospects in life. The American Journals again took up the question of the disputed Islands, and tauntingly asked "will Governor Douglas presume now since the arrival of our revenue cruizer, to land upon the Arro Islands." British vessels nevertheless went and came as usual, and without molestation.
An attempt to establish a claim for the United States, on the Arro Islands, was next made by the Sheriff of a neighbouring American county who on three several occasions has without effect, attempted to levy certain county taxes, on all British property in the Island of San Juan; the most recent attempt having been made on the 24th day of December last.
On all those occasions, the demandwasManuscript image was resisted, and the Sheriff proceeded in the usual manner to give notice of sale for the amount of the taxes claimed, but as we always managed to have a superior force on the ground, he completely failed, in the object intended, and we still remain masters of the field. I now entertain hopes, that those mischievous contests have come to a close, as I cannot conceal from myself, nor do I wish to conceal from you the fact, that we may at any moment be overpowered by a superior force. I hope that such may not be the case, but outnumbered as we are by the American population, who have moreover the support of a well appointed body of Federal troops, and also a Revenue cruizer to protect the coast, and settlements of Washington Territory, the advantage would be altogether on their side, should those disputes take a more serious turn.
We have so far succeeded in maintaining British rights, and IamManuscript image am not a little pleased to be able to report that at this day there is not a single American citizen on any part of the Arro Islands.
Probably our success in that matter is in some measure due to their fear of the northern Indians, who have become the terror of the American settlements.
As an example of the kind of feeling existing among the American population in regard to those really dangerous savages, I transmit herewith copy of a note which I lately received from Mr Stevens Governor of Washington Territory, with my reply, to the same, advising him how to treat those Indians, a matter, of great importance to us, for if they acquire a mastery over the Americans, they may also turn their arms against our settlements.
Having thus briefly reported to you our contests and struggles for the possession of the Arro Islands,andManuscript image and trusting that those may meet with the approval of Her Majesty's Government,
I have the honor to be Sir
Your most obedient humble Servant
James Douglas
Governor

The Right Honble Sir George Grey Bart
Her Majesty's principal Secretary of State
For the Colonial Department.
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Merivale
Foreign Office, enquiring, perhaps, if Lord Clarendon has any instructions that he would wish this Office to give to Govr Douglas on this subject. Adverting to 3936, as well as to the contents of this despatch, it seems to me that the Admy ought to find the means, difficult I admit just now, of stationing a Steam or other Vessel of War permanently off this Settlement. Its presence would serve as a protection against the civilized & uncivilized neighbors who afford the Inhabitants just ground of uneasiness.
ABd 26/4
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Mr Ball
I agree with Mr Blackwood that this despatch furnishes additional reasons to those afforded by that passed on yesterday, for vigilance on the part of the Admiralty in this quarter. But it seems also desirable to call the attention of the Foreign office to the importance of renewing negociations for the settlement of this boundary question. The Bill of Congress for the purpose appears (if we can trust Mr Crampton's information in 7690 annexed) to have fallen through from mere accidental circumstances.
HM Apl 26
I concur.
JB 28 Ap
P 28/4-55
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Colonial Office to Lord Wodehouse, Foreign Office, 2 May 1855, forwarding copy of the despatch for any instructions, and urging the importance of renewing negotiations on the boundary question.
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Isaac I. Stevens to Douglas, 3 January 1855, asking if he might come to Victoria to confer with Douglas and possibly "the northern Indians."
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Douglas to Stevens, 22 January 1855, advising it was unlikely there would be any attack at least until next summer and promising keep him informed of any anticipated hostility against U.S. settlements.
Douglas, James to Grey, George 30 January 1855, CO 305:6, no. 3935, 6. 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/V55048.html.

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