475 North America

Private
H Bay He
Mar 4th 1848
Printed for Parlt
10 Aug/48 (PP 619) 
My Dear Lord,
No 10

 
I have to acknowledge the rect of your private letter of the 25th Feb; which came with Mr Hawes' official Letter of the same date. I certainly understood in the conference I had with Your Lordship on the subject of Colonizing the Territory No of 49, that you considered my proposition too large, and I expected a modification of it from your Lordship, but I am quite ready to admit that I was in error in this expectation. I shall therefore briefly state why I asked for so extensive a Grant. 
In considering the subject I did not see how the Territory west of the Rocky Mountains could properly be separated into parts for the purpose of Colonization. If I had confined myself to the Islands West of the Continent or to Vancouver's Island alone, then other settlements might have been made on the Main Land or on some of the Islands, under a different Authority, & the want of Unity in the ruling power would probably have been attended with some diversity of purpose and conflict of Interests, real or apparent, which it was desirable to avoid as tending to impede the object in view. 
Then again the Company, by their Licence of Exclusive Trade from the Crown, which has still more than Eleven years to run, have had virtual possession of all this Territory for nearly thirty years. It is studded from end to end with their trading posts, and they have acquired great influence with the Natives, which I thought a matter well worthy of consideration in any plan that might be formed for colonizing the country. After much reflection, and looking at the question in its various bearings, I was convinced that a Grant having Colonization for its object should, in order to carry out that object effectually, comprehend the whole of the Territory West of the Rocky Mountains
This was the extent of the Grant which I had originally intended to propose should be given to the Comp; but it was suggested to me that, in the event of such a grant being obtained, the Territory lying East of the Rocky Mountains, & No of the Company's Territories, which may be considered as a sort of debateable land, would be in an isolated position, there being no access to it except through the Company's territories, or by way of the Rocky Mountains through the Country comprehended in the grant proposed. 
Under these Circumstances, and as it formed part of the Territories over which the Royal licence of Exclusive Trade extended, I thought it best that it should be included in the Grant, but really caring very little whether it were so or not. 
I am very glad to learn that your Lordship is exceedingly Anxious for the Colonization of Vancouver's Island. I have no doubt that your Lordship as a statesman must feel the importance of a Settlement on this part of the Pacific, where Great Britain has none, and the Americans, having one already on the Wallamette, are proposing to take measures of establishing another on the opposite side of the Straits to Vancouver's Island, and are building large Steamers for communication with the district. I shall not occupy Your Lordship's time by offering my views of the Nationality of the object any further than to say they are in accordance with those of your Lordship. 
Such being the Case, the Company would accept of any Grant, even for the Island of Vancouver alone, to effect the object, but for the reasons I have given I think you will be of opinion with me, that it should be more extensive. By the Charter of the H B Comp. power is given to them to appoint & establish Governors & all other officers to govern these Territories and a Council for the several respective places where the Comp. have plantations, factories, Colonies &c and to judge all persons who shall live under them in all Causes whether Civil or Criminal &c &c; all which rights are recognised by the Acts of 1 & 2 Geo 4 Cap 66, so that at once, by making such a Grant, all the powers of Jurisdiction vested in the Comp. would come into operation over the whole Territory. As the Company have officers at Vancouver who are competent to hold temporarily the situations of Governors & of Councillors, no new Legislative measures would be in the first instance at all necessary, and any subsequent one that might be found requisite would be arranged with the settlers or other persons who might be disposed to associate together for the purpose of bringing Land into cultivation, working Mines of Coal, or whatever Else the Country might produce. 
Thus the Hudsons Bay Comp. having an Allotment of Land for the purposes of their Fur Trade might, as they now do in the Columbia, Cut Timber, catch and preserve Salmon, & export the same to the Sandwich Islands. The Puget Sound Association, in the same way, might cultivate land either in connection with their Establishments at Nisqually & the Cowlitz, or (in the Event of the Americans taking these lands under the Treaty) transfer all their farming operations to Vancouver Island, or take up the working of Coal, and, if there were any probability of profit, convey it to Panama & other places as proposed in the pospectus I enclosed in my last. 
The Hudsons Bay Company would not desire to derive any pecuniary benefit from Grants for these purposes, as the proceeds of all such Grants would be applicable only to the objects of Colonization. The security of their property from American aggression would be the advantage they would expect to derive from the contemplated plan. 
I fear, my Lord, you will think me very prolix, as my proposition lies in a Nutshell. 
Great Britain has a Territory bounded on the South principally by the 49th parallel of Latitude (the boundary between it and the United States); on the West by the Pacific Ocean, from 49° to 54°, and thence to 60° by a Strip of Russian Territory (20 leagues in breadth and following the sinuosities of the Coast); from 60° to the Polar Sea in about 70° likewise by Russian Territory; on the No by the Polar Sea; and on the East by the Atlantic Ocean. A large portion of this has been granted to the Hudsons Bay Comp., in which they can Establish Colonies, Governments, Courts of Justice &c &c, and over the whole of the remainder (with the Exception of Canada) by a Grant from the Crown under an Act of Parliament they enjoy the Exclusive rights of Trade. I propose that the privileges which they possess under the Grant of Rupert's Land should be extended over the whole Territory in question. Your Lordship may feel a difficulty, (however Expedient it may be) under the present feeling in favour of Free Trade, to make so extensive a Grant to any Company, though the Hudsons Bay Company did virtually possess, in addition to what they have asked for, the Exclusive right of Trade over all the disputed territory west of the Rocky Mountains from the Lat of 42° — the Mexican Boundary — to 49°; but I think this feeling may be met by an Agreement on their part to relinquish to the Country, at the Expiration of their present Licence of Exclusive Trade, all advantages derived from the Colonization of those parts not within the original Grant to the Hudsons Bay Comp., without receiving any Compensation on that acct, beyond the Cost Value of any improvements which at the time of such relinquishment might have been Effected, as was proposed with respect to the limited Grant referred to in Mr Hawes' Letter of the 14 Decr. Indeed as far as I am concerned (and I think the Comp. would concur if any great National benefit could be Expected from it) I would be willing to relinquish the whole of the Territory held under the Charter on Similar terms to those which it is proposed the East India Comp. shall receive on the Expiration of their Charter, namely, securing to the Proprietors an Interest on their Capital of Ten per Ct
I have the honor to be
My Dear Lord
very Sincerely Yours
J H Pelly
To The R Honble The Earl Grey
   &c     &c     &c
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Merivale
See 471. N.A.  
ABd
7/3/48.
HM
March 7
Let me see this again with the other papers when the draft of the answer to the official letter is ready. —  
G.
7/
Draft annexed.
 
ABd
9/3.
Other documents included in the file
  • Draft, Hawes to Pelly, 13 March 1848, advising that Grey felt the grant should be confined to Vancouver Island, and inviting him to submit a proposal for such a grant. 
  • See Lord Greys Minute on 475 N.A. sent herewith.  
    ABd
 
Footnotes
  1. This minute entry was likely made by Blackwood.
Public Offices document:
Pelly to Grey, 4 March 1848, National Archives of the UK, 475, CO 305/1. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871. Ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria: University of Victoria. http://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/getDoc.htm?id=V485HB04.scx. Accessed 10 December 2018. 

Last modified: 11:56:49, 4/12/2018