No. 41
22 August 1859
I beg to communicate for the information of Her Majesty's Government that the Island of San Juan is still occupied by detachments of United States Troops, the force now assembled there being about four hundred men, with eight 32 pounder Guns, Several field pieces, and a large quantityManuscript imagequantity of military stores; besides a number of labourers and artificers who are to be Employed in erecting barracks for those troops; their occupation of the island has therefore assumed an unmistakable character of permanence.
2. On our part we maintain Mr De Courcy on the Island as resident Magistrate, and Her Majesty's Ship "Satellite" with a complement re-inforced by the addition of fifty four Supernumerary Marines, is anchored in the offing, for the protection of British Subjects; but none of Her Majesty's Troops have been landed there.
3. EveryManuscript image3. Every precaution has been taken on our part to avert the danger of collision, and conflicts are not expected to occur, unless the rights of British Subjects should be violated by attempts on behalf of the United States to levy taxes on their property, or otherwise to spoil or oppress them.
4. I confess with regret that my views differ essentially from those expressed by Rear Admiral Baynes, in reference to the maintenance of Her Majesty's rights to the Island of San Juan.
5. Rear Admiral Baynes is opposed to the landing of troops on San Juan, as was intended by me, because heManuscript imagehe believes they would have been resisted on landing by the Troops of the United States, while I had no fears of any such result. Our respective views are fully explained in a correspondence with him on the subject, which is herewith forwarded.
6. The measures which I deemed it necessary to take in order to hold San Juan against the encroachments of the United States are therein set forth, and my opinion, on the subject, remains unaltered. I feel assured that a bold and resolute stand, as I proposed in the first instance, would have nipped their project in the bud,Manuscript imagebud, increased the influence and dignity of this Government, and prevented collisions, which a policy of concession may precipitate. I think the letter from General Harney, giving his reasons for occupying San Juan will add force to that opinion, as it shews that the project was undertaken in a spirit of levity and with a want of consideration hardly consistent with a settled and pre-arranged purpose.
7. Had we at once assumed that dignified attitude, Her Majesty's Government would moreover, have been placed in a much better position
Possession on either side confers of course a better position.
than they now willManuscript imagewill be for dealing firmly with the question of the disputed Territory.
I have etc.
Minutes by CO staff
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Copy to For: Office.
ABd 10 Octr
TFE 10 Oct
Acke. Refer to despatch of last Mail as conveying opinion of H.M. Govt & point out that the fact of overwhelming force of B. Navy as compared with U.S. troops removed any possibility of misunderstanding as to reasons for adopting the moderate course of remonstrance instead of resort to force.
N 12
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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R.L. Baynes to Douglas, 13 August 1859, advising that he had cancelled the orders under which Captain Hornby was acting.
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Baynes to Hornby, 13 August 1859, cancelling his existing orders and instructing him to "strictly avoid all interference" with the U.S. troops and "by every means in your power prevent the risk of a collision taking place."
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Douglas to Baynes, 15 August 1859, stating that he had no objection to the cancellation of the orders, as they had been previously revoked, but expressing his convictions as to how the situation should have been handled.
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Baynes to Douglas, 13 August 1859, explaining why he felt it was unadvisable to land British troops on San Juan.
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Douglas to Baynes, 17 August 1859, arguing in support of the course of action originally proposed, and pointing out that the natives were likely to ally themselves with the British in the event of a serious collision.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Elliot to E. Hammond, Foreign Office, 22 October 1859, forwarding copy of the despatch and enclosures.
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 18, 21 October 1859, acknowledging earlier correspondence on the occupation of the Island of San Juan,, and noting no change in Government's former instructions on the matter.