[Equte?] to Under-Secretary of State
September 20 1866
I have laid before Lord Stanley your letter of the 15th instant on the subject of a salute fired by direction of the American Consul in Vancouver's Island on the anniversary of the independence of the United States; and I am directed to state to you, in reply, for the information of the Earl of Carnarvon, that Lord Stanley does not see why the Agents of the United States should notbeManuscript image be entitled to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of their country as an independent nation in the same manner as The Queen's birthday is celebrated by the Agents of Great Britain.
Independence Day is kept all over the United States and Lord Stanley thinks that after ninety years have elapsed since the events which led to its institution took place, it would be unreasonable to regard its celebration as offensive to this country.
I am,
Your most obedient
humble Servant
[E.C. Equie?]
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
Inform the Govr of the views of H.M. Govt on this point. (I conclude that Lord Stanley's opinion shd be accepted as that of H.M. Govt.) A communication shd be addressed to Hong Kong if not to all Governors.
ABd 21 Sep
Forwarded for consideration.
TFE 21/9
Ld Carnarvon
I have no doubt you will accept Ld Stanley's opinion & ansr both Govrs "not considered case for interference."
The persistence of the US Consul at VCI after Kennedy's refusal of leave asked for, would be graver, but the Consul seems of no character—& Kennedy is leaving.
CBA 22/9
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This letter from the F.O. is singularly inaccurate in it's references to the case and the questions contained in ours of the 15th. The offence of the U.S. Consul was not [that] he celebrated the National Anniversary—for this cd be no cause of annoyance to us as the writer of the F.O. letter seems to imagine—but that he celebrated it 1st by the discharge of artillery, wh I believe is not "the manner in which the Queen's birthday is celebrated by the Queen's Agents:" 2nd that he did so in direct violation of the Govrs authority. It is not to the point that Independance day is kept all over the U.S. by such discharges of artillery, for the essence of this transaction is that it occurred in the Colony within 1/2 mile of the Public Offices.
This must be pointed out to the F.O. stating at the same time that in myManuscript image opinion the Consuls act was a breach of courtesy and good taste rather [than] any serious cause for complaints, that though thinking it right to give Ld Stanley the opportunity of expressing any opn on the issue of any instructions to Col. Govrs I am quite content to leave the matter as it stands.
In replying it sd be borne in mind that no objection of course exists to the celebration of a national anniversary by the discharge of guns from a Govt ship: but this was done by private & unauthorised persons on board a private boat.
The dft will require care.
C 25 Sep
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Mr Graham has put in my hands 9055 V.C.I.
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Lord Carnarvon
I should think the Consul's case wd be this. He would say
I never heard that there was any law in V.C. Island (nor does the Govr positively state that there is one) wh prevents any man from firing any number of guns he likes on his own property or from a vessel belonging to or hired by him.
I had the intention of firing these guns from some spot, a boat, a ship wh I could procure for the occasion, but shd have preferred Beacon hill (I suppose public property) if the Govr wd have let me have it for the purpose. But the Govr wd not let me have it and therefore I recurred to my original intention of firing from a hired vessel. I was not called to take any notice of his refusal to give "an official sanction" (wh refusal was no doubt very natural) toManuscript image a proceeding with which he had no power to interfere "officially" in one way or the other. In fact his refusal to give an "official sanction" almost implied that personally he had no objection.
I do not see how this could be answered on the papers as they stand.
I shd be inclined to instruct the Govr that there is no objection to the Celebration of the American anniversary by any means in themselves harmless. And that the Govr may properly give a countenance or facility to such celebrations as he wd be justified in giving to the celebration of the Birthday of any Foreign Soveriegn by the subjects of that Sovereign. That if the means adopted by Americans are contrary to law, as he supposes, he shdManuscript image after due notice impose the law for their prevention—if they are not contrary to law but are so calculated to cause danger or inconvenience as to justify Legislative prohibition he shd procure the passing of a Law prohibiting the inconvenient or dangerous practices not of course with reference to the U.S. but generally as matter of municipal regulation. If the mode of celebration, though objectionable & inconvenient is yet not illegal nor so inconvenient as to justify legislative interference he shd use his influence with the U.S. Consul in order to discountenance such practices, and in case his remonstrances, are unheeded shd report what had passed to the S. of State.
But if the mode of celebration whether by firing guns or otherwise is not inconvenient dangerous or illegal, but only is viewed with dislike by certain British subjects, he wd act most prudently in refusing to interfereManuscript image with the American mode of celebrating their holiday, and taking any opportunity wh may occur to him to discountenance any hostile feeling to that demonstration on the part of the English Colonists.
I shd be inclined to draft an instruction somewhat in this sense & send it for concurrence to the F.O.
FR 26/9
It appears to me that while it is desirable not to encourage "Americanizing" practices in our Colonies, it is quite as desirable to prevent an antagonistic policy betn British & Americans wh will prevent the American from amalgamating & becoming what I fancy they tend to become—good average subjects.
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There is gt force in Sir F. Rogers' remarks, especially in his concluding paragraph. 1st therefore dft a desp: to the Govr in the sense of the min. 2. dft a letter to the F.O. forwarding to them for their information the desp: to the Govr.
The letter to the F.O. may begin by expressing my concurrence in Ld Stanley's opn that every facility sd be given to American citizens to celebrate their national Anniversary & the same latitude as is accorded to the "Queen's Agents" elsewhere. But that such celebration sd be in accordance with the laws of the Colony & the usages elsewhere recognised and that the alleged offence of the Consul consists not in the celebration of such anniversary but in the unauthorised discharge of artillery from a private vessel, by private persons in a part of the Colony wh is said to be inconvenienced.
That it is of course quite competentManuscript image for the Americans to keep Independence day by salvos of artillery all over the U.S. but that the gist of the alleged offence on the part of the Consul is that it occurred in the Colony, within 1/2 mile of the Public Offices.
That the act of the Consul was in my opinion a breach of good taste rather than a cause of serious complaint & that I propose to write the enclosed desp. to the Govr on the subject.
Then add a sentence on the general importance of maintaining harmony & good will between H.M. subjects & any Americans resident in the Colony much in the sense of Sir F. Rogers' min.
C 27 Sep
Other documents included in the file
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Rogers to Foreign Office, 9 October 1866, forwarding draft of a despatch intended for the governor and explaining in detail that while there was no intention to disallow independence celebrations, such activities should be conducted "in accordance with the laws of the Colony and usages elsewhere recognized."
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Draft reply, Carnarvon to Officer Administering the Government, Confidential, 1 January 1867.
Minutes by CO staff
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Not to be despatched until the F.O. shall have ansd the Letter addressed to them on this subject.
ABd 2 Oct