No. 12
5th May 1857
Sir
1. I herewith transmit for your information copies of a correspondence with His Excellency Isaac I. Stevens Governor of Washington Territory [Marginal note: Nos 1 & 5], on the subject of an apprehended hostile movement of the Northern Indians against the United States Settlements in Puget's Sound.
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2. The alarm which has spread very generally among the inhabitants of those settlements has, it appears, been increased by certain incautious statements made by Mr Griffin the gentleman in command of the Hudson's Bay Company's settlement on the Island of San Juan, in a letter addressed by him to Mr Frost [Marginal note: No 4, 4th April], Collector of the Customs for the United States at Port Townsend of which a copy is forwarded; a letter which induced Mr Olney, to abandon his Post at San Juan.
3. Mr Olney was stationed at San Juan by the United States Authorities, as sub-Collector, with the view, I presume, of tacitly maintaining the claim of the United States,toManuscript image to that portion of Her Majesty's Territories; but, at the same time, without pretending to levy duties, or otherwise exercise any official power or authority, in the disputed Territory.
4. Governor Stevens in his letter appeals to me for information relative to the statements of Mr Griffin, and respecting the reported hostility of the Northern Tribes. On those subjects I have told the simple truth, that Mr Griffin had made no communication to me on the subject of those statements; but I supposed that he had acted from motives of humanity, in advising Mr Olney's retirement, from the Island of San Juan.
5. The presence of the vastnumberManuscript image number of Northern Indians, who have lately swarmed into this Colony, has justly alarmed the people of our own settlements; but there is no present remedy for the evil; except the measures to which I have resorted, for maintaining quiet and order.
6. I have stated in my reply to Governor Stevens [Marginal note: No 5 1t May], that the Northern Indians, do not evince any unfriendliness of disposition, and I have promised to communicate with him, should any thing hereafter appear to the contrary.
7. I trust that the assurance so conveyed in my letter, may serve to allay the fears of the inhabitants of Washington Territory, and to inspire them with greaterconfidenceManuscript image confidence in their own power and resources.
8. The other day a Requisition for aid was made upon me, by the inhabitants of "Soake," (Vancouver's Island), in consequence of the great concourse of Northern Indians at that place. I responded to the call without delay, and returned from thence yesterday in the Hudson's Bay Company's Steamer "Otter", which I made use of for the occasion.
The Indians who caused the alarm have been dispersed, and confidence restored to the people of that Settlement. I advised them to conceal their fears, and to assume on all occasions, a bold countenancewithManuscript image with Indian visitors, in order to impress their rude minds with a feeling of respect, for the power and resources of Government.
I have the honor to be Sir
Your most obedient humble Servant
James Douglas
Governor

The Right Honble Henry Labouchere Esqre
Her Majesty's principal Secretary of State
For the Colonial Department.
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Merivale
Mr Griffin wd seem from these papers to have caused unnecessary alarm at San Juan. Copy to F.O. and H.B.Co?
ABd 13 Juy
Mr Griffin certainly seems to have succeeded in frightening away
the U.S. "man in charge" from the disputed island,Manuscript image which it is to be hoped will soon cease to be disputed, commissioners having been named to terminate this difference. But it seems to me that these continued accounts of gatherings among the Northern tribes do portend possible danger of a very serious cast.
HM Jy 13
CF 15
HL 21
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Merivale to E. Hammond, Foreign Office, 6 August 1857, forwarding copy of the despatch and enclosures.
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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No. 1. Governor Isaac I. Stevens, Washington Territory, to Douglas, 17 April 1857, enclosing Frost to Stevens, with subenclosure Griffin to Frost, and asking if Douglas had received any further information and asking if "in your judgement the presence of Mr Olney at San Juan will be dangerous to him."
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No. 2. Morris H. Frost, United States Collector of Customs, to Stevens, 5 April 1857, enclosing letter from Charles Griffin and warning that 2000 "Northern Indians" were on their way to Victoria,"to have revenge for their people," and that Douglas had advised Griffin to advise Olney to leave the island. Transcribed below.
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No. 3. Commander S. Swartwout to Stevens, 4 April 1857, enclosing a copy of his correspondence with Douglas contradicting the rumours that Indigenous forces were intending to attack American settlements.
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No. 4 Charles John Griffin to Frost, 4 April 1857, reporting that "several large canoes of Northern Indians" had arrieved at Victoria in the past forty-eight hours and strongly advising Olney to leave the island.
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No. 5. Douglas to Stevens, 1 May 1857, advising that he had not before received any similar communication from Griffin, and that "a great number of Northern Indians, in 60 large canoes, have arrived at this place," but remain peaceful. Transcribed below.
Documents enclosed with the main document (transcribed)
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In6440/57
No. 2
Copy of letter from Morris. H. Frost. United States Collector of Customs to Isaac J. Stevens Governor Washington Territory dated Port Townsend 5th April 1857.
Sir,

Accompanying you will please find a copy of a letter I received this day from Charles J. Griffin. Esquire - (Superintendent of the Bellevue Farms on San Juan Island) which was received by the hands of Mr. Olney (of San Juan) the Inspector of Customs for that Island, You will see fromManuscript image from the terror of Mr. Griffin’s letter that the long looked for difficulty with the Northern Indians is approaching.
From what private information I obtain from Mr. Olney, I learn that Captain William Webster of this Territory stopped at San Juan on Friday last on his way to Bellingham Bay, to inform the inhabitants of the intended movement of the Northern Indians. At that time but few of them had arrived at Victoria, and were in noway secret in expressing their intentions. They saw that there were 2000 of them, on their way down from the North, most of which had stopped at Nanaimo, and they were determined to have revenge for their people that had been killedManuscript imagekilled by the Bostons.
On Saturday morning the 4th instant Governor Douglas despatched one Napoleon a half breed, with a letter to Mr. Griffin, in which he reiterated the account given by Captain Webster and advising Mr. Griffin, to advise Olney to leave the Island of San Juan, as his life without doubt would be taken by the Northern Indians. From all the information I can obtain I am fully satisfied that this is no false alarm.
Governor Douglas for the protection of Victoria and the adjoining country has ordered a guard on duty of 150 to 200 men.
I forward this information so as to give you the earliest informationManuscript imageinformation, so that you can make the necessary arrangements to meet the threatened danger when it comes. The Citizens of this place meet tomorrow, to form themselves into a body to keep guard, and to be in readiness in case they should come upon us.
I understand that it was the intention of Commander Lieutenant of the Steamer Massachusetts, when he felt this place last to proceed to California, but I am informed by Mr. Olney, that she was seen near Victoria on Friday last and no doubt weak in which if correct she will hear of the news, and remain with us I hope.
Respectfully yours
.
Should any further information
Douglas, James to Labouchere, Henry 5 May 1857, CO 305:8, no. 6331, 53. 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/V57012.html.

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