No. 39
9 September 1858
1. I have to acknowledge the receipt of your Despatch No. 2 of the 1st of July last, 1 and observe with feelings of indiscribable satisfaction that Her Majesty's Government approve of the measures which I conceived it necessary to resort to, in order to assert the dominion of theCrownManuscript image Crown over the gold Districts of Fraser's River, and the rights of the Crown over the precious metals.
2. The measures subsequently taken with the view of introducing public order and Government into the gold regions and reported to you in my later communications, being part of the same general system, will therefore I feel assured also meet with the support of Her Majesty's Government.
3. The latter like the initiatory measures, were introduced under the pressure of necessity, without adequate means, and therefore necessarily imperfect, but in adopting them we had solely the great object in view of protecting British interests, anddevelopingManuscript image developing the resources of the gold regions.
4. It was necessary for that purpose, that we should maintain a proper control over the mixed multitude that have literally forced an entrance into the British Possessions; That Americans and other foreigners, should on certain conditions, be admitted into the gold regions; That stocks of food should be thrown into those Districts; that for want of British ships, Foreign vessels should as a temporary arrangement, be allowed under a sufferance 2 renewable at the close of each voyage, to navigate the inland waters of Fraser's River, for the purpose of supplying the Miners with food and clothing;thatManuscript image that roads should be opened to render the gold districts accessible to the miner and to the merchant; that Courts of Law should be established and Officers appointed for the administration of Justice, the punishment of offences, and the protection of life and property; and that the powerful native Indian Tribes who inhabit the gold Regions should be at once conciliated and placed under proper restraint.
5. All this I have attempted to do, and I trust that Her Majesty's Government will see, in those attempts only a profound desire on my part to promote the interests of the Empire without any admixture of other motives.
6. I have duly weighed the important communications madeinManuscript image in your despatch respecting the views of Her Majesty's Government on this country, and I will use every means in my power to carry them fully into effect.
7. I understand from those instructions that you do not deem it advisable to compel the miners to take out Mining Licences for the present; and that no obstacle whatever is to be opposed to their resort to Fraser's River; that the national right to navigate Fraser's River, is a question which Her Majesty's Government deems it proper to reserve; and that you enjoin caution and delicacy in dealing with those manifest cases of international relationship and feeling, which are certain to arise, and which but for the exercise oftemperManuscript image temper and discretion may easily lead to serious complications between two neighbouring and powerful states; and that finally, I am directed to exercise whatever influence and power I may possess, in the manner best calculated to give development to the country and to advance Imperial interests.
8. I have to inform Her Majesty's Government, that as a general rule, the taking out of Licences by the miners of Fraser's River, has not yet been enforced except to the extent of levying on each miner, leaving Victoria for the gold diggings the sum of Five dollars, for one months mining licence in advance.
9. The Manuscript image
9. The object of that payment was to assert the rights of the Crown, and at the same time, to form a fund to meet the current expenses of the Government, and my reason for not sooner enforcing the taking out of licences, was the fact that I have no direct authority from Her Majesty's Government, to impose taxes in the Fraser's River District; as my Commissions from the Crown 3 extend only to the Colony of Vancouver's Island and to Queen Charlotte's Islands, and I moreover felt satisfied of the inability of the miners to pay the tax, during the high stage of Fraser's River, when the auriferous Bars were inundated, and the miners consequently lying idle and entirely out of employment.
10. The River is nowfallingManuscript image falling rapidly and the miners in many places are doing well and are able to bear the tax, though as a general rule, the great body of the mining population are still unemployed, or barely making money enough to pay for their living. We shall therefore in consequence of your recommendation, grant them a further respite until their mining claims become more productive, and they can afford to pay the regular licence duty for digging gold.
11. As there is however no other means open to me of raising a revenue for defraying the expense of the Officers and Police employed on Fraser's River, and of opening roads and other necessary expenses connected with that country, and being moreoverexceedinglyManuscript image exceedingly anxious to avoid drawing on the Imperial Treasury and to make the country bear as much as possible its own burdens, I established a regulation before my departure from Vancouver's Island with the consent of the Agents of the Hudson's Bay Company, authorizing the importation of foreign goods of all kinds into Fraser's River, at an ad-valorem duty of 10 per cent, to be levied at Victoria, the proceeds of which are to be exclusively applied to the service of Her Majesty's Government, and to meet the expense of governing Fraser's River. 4 This course appears in all respects advisable, the duty being a fair and equitable tax, easily collected and bearing equally on the consumers, I therefore trust it will meet with the approval of Her Majesty's Government.
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12. I Have to observe for the information of Her Majesty's Government that all foreigners and especially American citizens who have visited Fraser's River since the commencement of the gold excitement, have been treated with kindness, and protected by the laws. The rights of the Crown as well as the trading rights secured by statute to the Hudson's Bay Company, have been broadly asserted in my several proclamations, with the object of maintaining British supremancy, by establishing a moral control over the masses of foreigners, who, under the false impression that the country was free and open to all nations, and that we had no military force at our disposal, were rushingdefiantlyManuscript image defiantly, and without ceremony into Her Majesty's Possessions, and we succeeded by that means, in securing respect and obedience to the Laws, at a time when a policy of concession would have been mistaken for weakness and have proved injurious to British interests.
13. I may also remark that the wants of the mining population in Fraser's River, have been abundantly supplied, both in respect of food and the other necessaries of life, as the miners were allowed to carry with them from Victoria an unlimited supply of food, mining tools and clothing, even to the extent of a six month stock for their personal use, so that they are not under the necessity of making purchases from thestoresManuscript image stores of the Hudson's Bay Company, though they frequently do so, in consequence of getting a better quality of goods at a lower price than can be procured from other parties. In short I think I may venture to assert that the Miners as a body are satisfied with the kindness they have received from the authorities since their arrival in the British Territory.
14. Being now engaged in visiting the various Districts of Fraser's River, with the intention of reporting to you on their present state and condition and being exceedingly busy with various matters of detail, I will bring my present despatch to a close after informing youthatManuscript image that the mining population in this quarter continue quiet orderly and submissive to the Laws. 5
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
In par: 11 the Govr states that he has imposed an ad valorem duty of 10 per Cent on the importation of all foreign goods, and asks for approval. I do not know what power he has to impose duties except under legislative enactment.
VJ 29 N
See minute annexed.
TFE 30 Nov
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Lord Carnarvon
The Governor's proceedings appear in themselves discreet. His power to impose duties would be a question for Mr Merivale's consideration on his return to the Office, but I presume that he is supposed to have power, since I understand that it was deliberately resolved not yet to furnish him with a Legislative Council; and it is quite evident that no civilized settlement can be maintained in any part of the World without the existence of some resident Legislative power.
[ TFE ] 1 Decr
P.S. I ought to add that under Clause 2 of the Act of Parliament, an Order in Council was issued empowering the Governor to make Laws.
TFE 1 Dec
C Decr 2
EBL Decr 9
I do not doubt that Govr Douglas has now the power to impose duties. But 10 per cent ad valorem is surely rather high? I should think this requires no answer & may be put by.Manuscript image I have however included it in a general acknowledgement with 12721.
HM D 17
  1. = Lytton to Douglas, 1 July 1858, No. 2, CO 410/1, p. 128.
  2. See note on Douglas to Stanley, 1 July 1858, No. 29, 7833, CO 60/1, p. 75. OMIT?? JH says "OMITTED", but note is there.
  3. = Douglas's. Douglas was appointed governor of Vancouver Island in May 1851, and his commission arrived in late October of that year. He was appointed lieutenant governor of the Queen Charlotte Islands on 9 July 1852. Minutes in Douglas to Pakington, 7 March 1853, No. 4], 5417, CO 305/4, p. 14. Check commission as Vice Admiral?? Source??
  4. = 10% customs duties. Regulation establishing ad valorum duty of 10 per cent?? FIND ??
  5. = Act to Provide for Government of BC. An Act to Provide for the Government of British Columbia, 1858, 21 and 22 Victoria, c. 99, Revised Statutes of British Columbia 1871, Containing Certain Repealed Colonial Laws Useful for Reference, Imperial Statutes Affecting British Columbia, Proclamations, etc. (Victoria: Richard Wolfenden, 1871), Appendix, pp. 101-4. Cf Douglas to Lytton, 11 October 1858, No. 43, 12180, CO 60/1, p. 181?? Clause 2 reads in part It shall be lawful for Her Majesty . . . to authorize and empower such Officer as She may from Time to Time appoint as Governor of British Columbia, to make Provision for the Administration of Justice therein, and generally to make, ordain, and establish all such Laws, Institutions, and Ordinances as may be necessary for the Peace, Order, and good Government of Her Majesty's Subjects and others therein. Not necessary?? OC giving Douglas absolute power.
People in this document

Carnarvon, Earl

Douglas, James

Elliot, Thomas Frederick

Jadis, Vane

Lytton, Edward George Earle Bulwer

Merivale, Herman

Organizations in this document

Hudson's Bay Company

Places in this document

British Columbia

Fraser River

Fraser River District

Haida Gwaii


Vancouver Island