No. 24
7 May 1860
I have the honor to forward for the information of your Grace Copy of a letter with its enclosures which I have received from Rear Admiral Baynes informing me that Captain Hunt had been superseded in CommandManuscript imageCommand of the United States Troops on the Island of San Juan, by Captain Pickett; and transmitting a Copy of that Officers instructions from General Harney the General Commanding the Department of Oregon.
2. Your Grace's attention will naturally be attracted by the extraordinary character of those instructions, and you will be surprised to observe that the General Commanding declares he isManuscript imageis not cognizant of any arrangement having been made by the Government of the United States and Great Britain for the joint military occupation of the Island of San Juan; and it is also worthy of remark that he alludes to the Civil Jurisdiction of the Territory of Washington as being in force within the Island of San Juan, and all the other islands in the Canal De Arro, which is in other words asserting the sovereignty of the United States over the disputed TerritoryManuscript imageTerritory.
3. In taking up that position the "General Commanding" apparently overlooks the fact, that the Legislative action of any mere dependency of the United States can have no force or effect for or against international questions, which were agitated before that dependency had an existence as an integral portion of the United States.
4. The mischievous tendency of these assumptions must beManuscript imagebe apparent to your Grace: as cases involving the security of British rights and interests may at any time be brought under the notice of the Military Officer in Command of the British Detachment on San Juan, and just protection must be accorded to British Subjects, even though that act of duty should be followed by the deplorable results anticipated by the "General Commanding"; but over which—thoughManuscript imagethough in this I am expressing a view the opposite of his own—he clearly possesses the most perfect power of control. If the "General Commanding" really does anticipate disastrous consequences from the measures he is now taking, he may perhaps be able to explain why the established status as heretofore existing on the Island of San Juan, in consequence of the understanding with Lieutenant General Scott, and which is agreeableManuscript imageagreeable to both Governments, is now by his act, and without any apparent necessity disturbed.
5. Your Grace will observe that the "General Commanding" declares in his instructions that no orders were left with him by Lieutenant General Scott to accede to a joint military occupation of San Juan, and that the Government of the United States have not delegated to him any authority to offer or accept such occupation.
6. In that case though practicallyManuscript imagepractically wrong he is nevertheless technically right in saying that no convention for the joint occupation of San Juan has been agreed to by the Government of the United States. I have therefore by this mail forwarded the whole correspondence to Lord Lyons, and have submitted to his Lordship that no time should be lost in placing General Harney in possession of the real views and intentions of his own Government, whose action by his proceeding he virtually ignores.
7. It Manuscript image
7. It has occurred to me that possibly no definite arrangement has really been made, and no Convention entered into by the two Governments for a joint occupation of San Juan. I have consequently taken the liberty of also submitting to Lord Lyons that measures should be at once instituted for arranging the basis upon which the disputed territory is to be held until the question of Title is finally settled.
8. Probably Manuscript image
8. Probably the easiest solution of the difficulty is to continue the joint military occupation of the Island as heretofore established; that basis being acceptable to both Governments and—next to the entire removal of the Troops of both Powers—the best arrangement for preventing complications.
9. In carrying out that measure I would suggest that the Civil Magistrates on both sides shouldManuscript imageshould be wholly withdrawn, for their presence would only serve to embarrass the Military Commanders; they can render them no real assistance in the discharge of their duties, as no civil jurisdiction can properly exist within the Territory so long as it remains in dispute.
10. When some such measure is arranged, it will not be discretionary with the local Officers of either Government, to disturb the established status of the disputed Territory;Manuscript imageTerritory; and to defeat the evident desire of both Governments to maintain amicable relations.
11. I will only further remark in reference to this subject, that, impressed as we are with the conviction that General Harney is acting in this matter without authority from his Government, we do not deem it necessary to make any change in the instructions issued to Captain Bazalgette, Commanding the detachmentManuscript imagedetachment of Royal Marines, now occupying the Island of San Juan; he will continue to act in good faith, and in the most friendly spirit; but your Grace will readily perceive that notwithstanding the best intentions on our part, the most serious complications may suddenly arise out of the present state of affairs.
I have etc.
Minutes by CO staff
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ABd 26 June
TFE 29 June
Without the enclosures, which they have sent to us in 6479.
CF July 2
N 4
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Rear Admiral R.L. Baynes to Douglas, 4 May 1860, forwarding copy of a letter from Captain George Bazalgette, commander of British forces on San Juan.
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Bazalgette to Baynes, 3 May 1860, advising that Captain G.E. Pickett had replaced Captain Hunt as the commander of U.S. forces on the island, and enclosing related correspondence.
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Pickett to Bazalgette, 30 April 1860, advising he had assumed command, and enclosing an extract from his letter of instructions.
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Extract from Pickett's instructions, dated Fort Vancouver, Washington Territory, 10 April 1860, signed by A. Pleasonton, Captain 2nd Dragoons.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Elliot to E. Hammond, Foreign Office, 11 July 1860, forwarding copy of the despatch and a packet from Douglas addressed to Lord Lyons.
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Draft reply, Fortescue to Douglas, No. 29, 31 July 1860.
Minutes by CO staff
For Mr F's signre. [An?] important subject [—men?] transmission.
Douglas, James to Pelham-Clinton, Henry Pelham Fiennes 7 May 1860, CO 305:14, no. 6347, 264. 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/V60024.html.

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