Godley to Lytton
29th July 1858
In compliance with your request I submit for your consideration the following hasty observations on the establishment of a British Colony in North Western America.
There are two points of the most fundamental & vital importance, to be especially kept in mind.
1. That the Government should be carried on, from the very beginning, in harmony with & by means of, the people of the Country, and
2. that the Local Government should be made perfectly aware that it must rely upon itself alone; and thatManuscript imagethat this country is not going to supply it with money (except to an extent strictly limited) or with Military Force.
It is obvious that these two positions are intimately connected, & depend upon each other. If the Government is not virtually self Government it must directly or indirectly depend on the armed support of this country; & on the other hand, if we attempt to supply it with the means of acting independently of the people, we shall fail in the end, but in the meantime we shall secure antagonism between the Government & the people.
So far, excellent & according to my own minute drft despatch & prepare and despatch [EBL].
The Governor must therefore immediately, for the purpose ofManuscript imageof securing the consent & concurrence of the people in his measures convene a legislative council. He should have power at once to do this. His council should be elected if possible, & he should have power to cause elections to take place. Some sort of representation, however rude, may be at once established. If however he cannot (for any unforeseen reason, get an elective council at once) he should nominate a legislative council of the leading men among the settlers
Advise the Govr to do this, if settlers be real[l]y there. [EBL].
, the best stump speakers perhaps, in short the men whom the people would send up if they had the power of electing.
Good. Write this. [EBL].
While he is getting his council together, he must organize a police force,
Yes [EBL].
& proclaimManuscript imageproclaim a tariff of customs. To guide him in this, he should be supplied with a suitable tariff, taken say from New Zealand or Australia, to be in force until the legislature changed it.
Can this be supplied to him or a tariff from California but more moderate than that. [EBL].
He must also at once fix on a site for a seaport town, survey it, & sell town lots by auction, at a fixed minimum price. From these two sources he will get more money that he will know what to do with, in six months.
Everything should be prepared for him that can be prepared, e.g. A draft of a very simple political constitution, (with franchise &c defined) for submission to his legislature.
For future despatch to be considered [EBL].
Draft proclamations for forming electoral districts, for offering land for sale, at a price to be fixed here provisionally.
This is good. [EBL].
In short, you should leave as little of the technical work as possible to be done when heManuscript imagehe enters upon his functions. He will have plenty to do besides considering the wording of proclamations, & yet they ought to be well considered. All arrangements made here, including the tariff & land regulations to be of course only provisional, until modified
Lytton has here inserted words to read: adopted or modified.
by the local legislature.
The Governor should take with him only a surveying staff, a legal adviser, perhaps a Secretary, & a Judge. The salaries of these officers should be guaranteed for a limited period, say three years. But of all things the most important is to give the Governor no military force.
This is impracticable [EBL].
I foresee clearly that if we do, we shall be led from one step to another, into a futile attempt to garrison the country permanently, & govern it in spite of the people. [Editor's note: transcription not yet available for the following pages: 109v and 110r. Transcription resumes on page 110v; see image-scan link in right margin.]
Impracticable [EBL].
Manuscript imageIt would be better to send out a Governor from home, thoroughly imbued with the sense of the true position he is to occupy & having this impressed on him personally as well as in written instructions.
Above all, I repeat, send no soldiers. Let one company of Sappers (it is quite enough) go without arms, simply as surveyors & road-makers under a well selected officer as Chief Surveyor, & let it be distinctly understood that the whole expense of employing them must be defrayed by the colony, or they will be ordered home at the expiration of six months.
Another matter worth mentioning is that the Governor should avoid most carefully everything tending to draw a distinction between British subjects & aliens.
Good. Enforce this in despatch [EBL].
The former will be in a minority of one to twenty at leastManuscript imageleast; and any attempt to invest them with exceptional privileges will necessarily fail, besides producing jealousies & quarrels which could hardly fail to involve ourselves.
Good [EBL].
It cannot be too often repeated that this colony will not be worth making or keeping if we are to spend money or use force in keeping it. If the people are allowed the entire management of their own affairs, it will remain British; if they find themselves hampered or controlled, they will make it impossible for us to hold.
Good [EBL].
As regards finance, I would give the Governor credit for a limited sum say £20,000. This & the guarantee of sufficient salaries to the officers I have mentioned should be the entire amount of our pecuniary contribution. I think it will be better to treat the £20,000 (orManuscript image(or whatever sum be fixed upon) as a grant & not a loan. A loan might be repudiated which would involve us in attempts to enforce payment in other words hostile collision, & to send one Regiment there for 6 months would cost more independently of ulterior consequences than twice the amount of the loan.
I foresee in the whole matter great difficulty & danger & if false steps be made at the outset indefinite expense & trouble to this country.
I consider it a serious misfortune that the country is ours at all, but as this cannot be helped, the only thing we have to do is to mix ourselves up with it's concerns as little as possible.
I must entreat your pardon for the rough & hasty mannerManuscript imagemanner in which this Letter is written. I have indeed hardly had time to read it over.
I have the honor to be Sir
Your most obedient Servant
John Robt Godley
[P.S.] The officer commanding the Sappers should be instructed that his men are to be employed solely as surveyors & engineers; & not as police; & that they are to take no part in the affairs of the country, beyond their own special province. [JRG]
The Rt Honble Sir E. Bulwer Lytton Bart. &c &c &c
People in this document

Douglas, James

Godley, John Robert

Lytton, Edward George Earle Bulwer

Organizations in this document

War Office

Places in this document

British Columbia