No. 60
23rd August 1864
Sir
I have the honor to inform you that with the advice and concurrence of my Executive Council I have given a Free Pardon to an Indian named How-a-matcha convicted of the murder of another Native at the late Sessions.  
The accompanying letters from the Chief Justice and Mr Sebright Green
(a
(a respectable Solicitor) wil explain the circumstances of this case.  
I thought it a fitting opportunity of declaring the policy I intended to pursue in regard to the Indian population, and with this view had all within reach assembled on the occasion of How-a-matcha's liberation.  
I enclose a copy of my address, which was interpreted and fully explained to them, and the chiefs in return expressed their satisfaction with all I had said.  
I will shortly report upon
the
the general condition of the Indian population. It is imperatively necessary that measures should be taken to prevent them from being further demoralized, and I have had such measures for some time under consideration.  
I have the honor to be
Sir
Your very obedient Servant
A.E. Kennedy
Governor
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Elliot
Sir Jas. Douglas' conduct, according to Mr Green's representation, does not appear in a very good light.  
Acke rect expressing Mr Cardwell's hope that the clemency of the Governor will have a beneficial effect upon the Indians?  
ABd
20 Oct
I think that on this subject there has been a great deal of mismanagement and erroneous judgment in the Colony. One Indian, after being convicted of murdering another in Nov. 1861, had his captial punishment remitted, and we need not be surprised to find that another Indian has now committed a like crime. The Governor has absolutely set him free with no punishment at all, and has published an address to all the Indians telling them so, although he warns them that on the next occasion death will be inflicted.  
The reason for mercy in both cases seems to have been that it has been the practice of the Indians, whenever one murder has occurred, to retaliate on any member whom they can catch of the offending Tribe, which obviously must lead to an endless series of murders and countermurders. This I should have thought precisely the reason for not showing mercy, but for making the Indians aware,
by
by making an example as well as by exhortation, that this abominable practice can no longer be suffered now that they are under British rule. The Indians are quite capable of understanding the necessity of conforming to the laws of their Sovereign; and I have myself heard from the lips of the first Judge who administered justice amongst them at Minesota how readily they understood and obeyed the American law on this point. Indeed you will find that one of the injured Chiefs at Vancouver began by asking whether he could get any justice from our authorities. If they refuse it under the name of showing clemency, it is no wonder that these poor Indians should continue to exact their own retribution for the slaughter of their relatives.  
I
I think that something should be said to strengthen Governor Kennedy's professed intention of inflicting the punishment of death on the occasion of any future Indian murder, and to prevent a repetition of a course which seems to me very little consistent with the real interests of humanity.  
TFE
27 Octr
I entirely agree in the spirit of the foregoing remarks. Whether in the first instance the extreme penalty shd have been carried into execution is a matter in which I should have been willing to rely a good deal on an able Governor, like Mr Kennedy, much accustomed to [Aursits?]. But his absolute release seems to me incomprehensible.  
Write to Governor that the importance of giving the Indians to understand the necessity of conforming to Christian laws must not for a moment be lost sight of: & that I should wish some further explanation of the reasons which induced him to set this Prisoner at liberty.  
That I have great confidence in his judgment & his experience in the management of Criminals, but that I should have thought, even if he had felt it was right so far to defer to the Judge & Jury as not to carry the extreme penalty into execution, he would have inflicted some punishment, exemplary in itself, & likely to be regarded as an earnest of the more complete execution of our Law in future cases.  
EC
28
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
  • Chief Justice David Cameron to Kennedy, 12 August 1864, describing the case of How-a-matcha, and supporting the jury's recommendation for mercy, with explanation.  
  • But the clemency has not had the effect of deterring a repetition of
    the crime.  
    ABd
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
    *
  • Sebright Green to Acting Colonial Secretary Henry Wakeford, 1 August 1864, reporting on an earlier, and possibly related, case in which Douglas, when applied to for justice, apparently declined to "interfere," saying he "must leave the Indians to settle the matter themselves."  
  • "The Governor's Address to the Indians, Victoria, August 22nd, 1864."  
  • Petition of Skiloweet, an elderly Indian serving a four-year sentence for manslaughter, asking to be allowed to return to his tribe, 11 August 1864, witnessed by A. Theakston, Assistant Gaoler, with an additional note of explanation by Horace Smith, Superintendent of Police.  
Other documents included in the file
  • Draft reply, Cardwell to Kennedy, No. 55, 29 October 1864.  
 
Despatch to London:
Kennedy to Cardwell, 23 August 1864, National Archives of the UK, 9624, CO 305/23. 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=V64160.scx. Accessed 21 November 2018. 

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