No. 4
1 February 1858
The Governor and Directors of the Hudson's Bay Company have communicated to me the draft of a letter which they propose to address to you as Agent for the Company, instructing you as to the course which ought to be taken in the event of an immigration of the Mormons from the Territory of Utah into British Territory on the North West Coast of America.
Her Majesty's Government have expressed to the Governor and Directors their concurrence in the instructions conveyed in that Despatch. But although it is possible that the apprehended immigration may not take place they are of opinion that you should be furnished as an Officer of the Crown with a more distinct impression of their own views on the subject.
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Many of these Mormons are British Subjects by birth, although they may by their own act have rendered themselves for some time past subjects to obligations of Citizenship towards another power. Others are Citizens of a friendly republic: and although they may (from public information) be regarded as rebels flying from legitimate authority, there is no reason, on this account, why they should be subjected to different treatment from other political exiles.
Should they apply for admission to occupy any portion of the North Western Territory peacefully and as a community or in scattered communities: you will remember that the soil of this territory belongs to the Crown subject only to such rights as may be recognized in the Indian Tribes (who are not authorized to part with the soil without permission of theManuscript image Crown) and to the trading rights of the Company.
Her Majesty's Government are not prepared at present to exercise the right reserved to them in the Company's license of forming a Colony in these parts. Least of all would they exercise that right in favour of refugees who have defied both the Authorities of their Country and the usage of Christian and Civilized life.
No rights of occupation whatever are therefore to be granted to them.
If however Individuals or families, flying from Utah, should peacefully apply for admission into Vancouver's Island, the case is different. Much must be left to your discretion, and to that of your advisors in the Colony. Of course no parties must be allowed to use the British Territory as a refuge from which they are to engage in acts of aggression against the Government of the United States. The acquisitionManuscript image of land for purposes of settlement under the ordinary rules (and subject of course to the law of the Island as to naturalization) is not in the view of Her Majesty's Government to be refused, merely because the parties applying have been members of that territorial community against which the arms of the United States Government are now directed. But this can only take place on the supposition that such immigrants submit themselves entirely to the laws of England, as retained in the Colonial community over which you preside.
Polygamy is not tolerated by those laws: and if any attempt should be made to continue the disgraceful scandals of that system, I rely on the good will of the Legislature and authorities to devise means by which such abuses may be effectually suppressed.
I have etc.
People in this document

Douglas, James

Labouchere, Henry

Organizations in this document

Hudson's Bay Company

Places in this document

North-West Territory (1825)

Vancouver Island

Labouchere, Henry to Douglas, James 1 February 1858, CO 410:1, 120. 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/V587004.html.

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