The Labrador Boundary


Privy Council Documents


Volume XII


Contents








8 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

8 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

8 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Lord
Warrington

Sir John Simon

8 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

8 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.





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dated the 15th of this instant, setting forth, in obedience to His Majesty's Commands signified to him by the Earl of Egremont, one of His Majesty's Principal Secretarys of State, they have prepared the draught of a Commission appointing Thomas Graves, Esqre., to be Governor and Commander in Chief of the Island of Newfoundland and all the coast of Labrador from the entrance of Hudson's Streights to the River St. John's which discharges itself into the sea nearly opposite the West end of the island of Anticosti, including that island, with any other small islands on the said Coast of Labrador, and also the islands of Madelaines in the Gulph of St. Lawrence, His Majesty this day ”–that is to say the 30th March–“ took the said Representation ”–that is the representation of the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations”– together with the said draught of a Commission into his royal consideration, and was pleased with the advice of His Privy Council to approve the said draught, and to order as it is hereby ordered that the Right Honourable the Earl of Egremont, one of His Majesty's Principal Secretary's of State do cause a warrant to be prepared for His Majesty's royal signature in order to pass the said draught of a commission under the Great Seal.’ Then follows a similar one about the instructions. Your Lordships see this clears up two points, which, I quite agree, at the moment were a little doubtful. In the first place it brings the Commission and the Instructions together. The documents which are before your Lordships, the Commission, which is at page 149, of the first volume, and the Instructions, which are in the second volume at page 391, would appear to bear different date, but the explanation is, those are merely the drafts, and they being both ready in draft on one and the same day, namely, the 30th March, 1763, they are both brought before the King in Council and there are two Orders–in–Council, consecutive Orders–in–Council, made which record that they are approved by and with the advice of the Privy Council. That is one thing that it does ; it brings the two things together in point of date. I might observe on this, it is rather an interesting sidelight, that although the Order–in–Council was, as you see, or the Orders–in–Council were those made on the 30th March, 1763, they did not in fact issue the Commission and Instructions for nearly another month, and though I am not able to assert this from anything I have read, I venture respectfully to suggest as a probable explanation, that the salary of the Governor began as from the moment when the Commission was issued, and as he did not in fact leave this country until, I think, the 2nd May, it was not until the 25th April, if I remember the date rightly, that the document was passed under the Great Seal, which shows that the principles of national economy had not been entirely forgotten in the year 1763. That is one thing it does. Now the other thing, which is perhaps more important, is this : I venture to think that this additional Order–in–Council does establish, I trust it establishes quite clearly, and conclusively, that the Proclamation of the 7th October is not the operative document or the root of title, and perhaps I might use the next few minutes to point out to your Lordships what I am

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afraid at a little later date I must develop–I wish to point out as clearly as ever I can, what it is which the Proclamation of the 7th October, 1763, was primarily directed to do. It consists, as your Lordships have noticed, very largely of recitals ; but the object of the Proclamation of the 7th October, 1763, was to secure a publication to the Tribes of Indians in the Indian country, who had been the Allies of George the Second's Army till 1760, and had been dependent upon and associated with George the Third's Army, with the British–in order to issue to them in the most formal and effective shape the assurance that what Britain was now going to do, after the War had ended in the triumph of British arms, was not going to involve the appropriation for private purposes of the Indian country. The rest of the document is mere recital, and (as I will, I think, establish to your Lordships quite clearly when we come to deal with it more in detail) the reason why this document of the 7th October, 1763, was issued, was in order to give in the most effective and solemn way the assurance that the Indian country, which I will establish to your Lordships is a perfectly well understood conception, was not going to be purloined from those tribes of Indians who had been our allies, and who had fought on our side. And the reason for that (I shall have to go into this again rather more in detail, but I mention it now), is this : Your Lordships know, no doubt, the history very well, but I must still, I am sorry to say, and I hope in rather more polite terms, insist that the view to the contrary put up forensically for the Dominion of Canada is woefully inconsistent with the true historical view. The reason is this : in the year 1763, the persons who were responsible for our Colonial government were in a state of very acute anxiety, because after defeating the French, after Wolfe and others had defeated the French, they were in the gravest possible danger of finding there was going to be another and a much more terrible danger develop, namely,a tremendous and successful Indian War. It is very much as though, after having defeated the Boers, you were threatened with a Kaffir rebellion, and the history of the year 1763 really is that these statesmen and counsellors of George III, and I daresay the King himself, were in a position of most acute anxiety because the French, who had been defeated, were going about in the Indian country (places for example like Fort Detroit, which was in the Great Lakes, or like Fort Pitt, which is now Pittsburg, all this area which was round the Great Lakes), and they were spreading the suggestion amongst the Indians there that these Indians who had been dependent upon Britain and associated with Britain were going to be betrayed. As your Lordships no doubt will remember, there was as a matter of fact a most fearfully dangerous development in the heart of America on that account. There was the Indian revolt and there was the Pontiac War about which Dr. Parkman has written two volumes which I read recently, which describes the whole story ; the reason why on the 7th of October, 1763, the authorities here were so anxious to issue this Proclamation, was not because by the Proclamation they were defining the character of the jurisdiction of the Governor, which did not matter

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a pin, but because they were faced with the most terrific danger of the smash–up of British sovereignty in the heart of North America, after the French had been beaten, by the Indian tribes. And when my friend Mr. Geoffrion in the course of his interesting sketch was saying that in his country it was all school history and everybody knew it, when he was representing to your Lordships the other day how the French had made friends with a certain number of Indians of Tadoussac and the like, he was perfectly right, but he was arguing my case. What happened was, the French, as it turns out very short–sightedly, made friends with a certain number of the tribes about there, with the result that they threw the great mass of the warlike Indian tribes into the arms of the British. And it was the central point of British policy from 1756, from the beginning of the Seven Years War right down to 1763, to give such assurances to these very powerful tribes of warlike Indians, capable of the most appalling enormities, in the heart of America, as would save the Empire which they had just won from the French.
That is the real reason, of course, why the Proclamation was issued ; and that is the reason why the Lords of Trade, in the document I shall have again to ask your attention to, describe the Indian country as they do. They describe the Indian country, you remember, as being that country which is bounded on the one hand by the Mississippi, and Hudson's Bay, and the boundary of the original Province of Quebec, and bounded on the other hand by His Majesty's ancient Colonies, which means the thirteen colonies which were on the Atlantic seaboard ; and inside that area there was enough combustible material to throw the whole of British North America into a terrible conflagration ; and the idea that these kindly people, be they many or be they few–I notice that one of the Governors of Newfoundland who is not quite so good at English spelling as he probably was in other respects, describes them as – pusillanimous ”–which he spells in an extraordinary way–the idea that these poor people were the people who were causing all the principal statesmen of our Mother Country here in Whitehall and Downing Street to issue this Proclamation, is, I say quite deliberately, one of the most astonishing misunderstandings of Canadian history of which one would have thought anyone could have been capable.

Viscount FINLAY : At what page is the Proclamation ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : The Proclamation, at which we shall have to look a little in detail later, is in the first Volume at page 153.

Lord WTARRINGTON : And I suppose, too, the match which might have set fire to all this explosive material, or one of the matches, was the possible encroachment by our settlers on Indian land.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes. It is a very interesting and curious thing that though the undoubted British policy here at home in the 60's of the 18th century was all in favour of discouraging the appropriation of land, say behind the Alleghanies and the like, the view that was taken

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by many Colonists in the old Colonies of Britain–the view indeed which was taken by George Washington himself–was the exact contrary ; and what was really happening was that while people here were looking at the thing from the Imperial point of view, and were saying : “ We must make a Proclamation which will secure that the people in the Indian country round the Great Lakes, at the back of the ancient Colonies, will believe that Britain is not going to despoil them of their lands,” there was at the same time a very active movement going on inside the ancient Colonies of Britain, in which the distinguished name of George Washington oddly enough appears, in which he is extremely indignant at this British policy, so that one almost begins to suspect that it was not only the tax on tea, but possibly some other thing too, that caused a feeling of resentment in the breasts of some very estimable people in the Ancient Colonies of Britain. All this has nothing in the world to do, with the greatest respect, with this green area ; and the idea that at that time of day, in 1760, Whitehall was in a state of the most tremendous excitement and alarm on account of the Nippiscans or Montagnais is really a thing which it is difficult to describe in reasonable and moderate terms. The whole story is a perfectly different story, and though I will not delay about it now, I, of course, will substitute chapter and verse for mere bold assertion ; still, I must make entirely good my point, and I venture to think I can make absolutely good that “ the said Indians,” in the Proclamation, the Indians who are dependent people and associated with British arms, are not the people in Labrador at all, but are people who are in the heart of the Continent. If your Lordships would remind yourselves for a moment, or would turn to look at the map which we last put up on the screen, your Lordships will appreciate, of course, that the yellow area there, and more particularly the yellow area round the Great Lakes, was the centre of the Indian country. It is so described on the maps of the time. That is the area where you had Indians who were round the Great Lakes and to the West thereof, and the real anxiety of Britain was how to calm the population living there, and to assure them that they were not going to lose their property ; and that was why in 1763 the Lords of Trade urged that Quebec should be limited to the comparatively small slate–coloured lozenge, whereas, apparently, George III, or the Secretary of State, was at one time rather disposed to think that you ought to include the whole section. And observe what the particular reason was why the Lords of Trade resisted the King's view, and finally carried their point. Their reason was this ; you will remember they said : “ If we were to do what you suggest, we should give some colour to the idea that Britain has acquired this Indian territory in virtue of its conquest of the French, whereas,” they said, “this Indian territory is territory which is ours, not in virtue of any cession from the French at all, but in virtue of the various Treaties and bargains and purchases which we have entered into with different Indian tribes.” Now comes the Dominion of Canada, and, through the mouths of my learned friends, Mr. Macmillan and Mr. Geoffrion, they want to persuade you that when the Lords of Trade were saying that,

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they were talking about the area which they themselves admit was ceded by the French, which was not the subject of any sort of Treaty with any Indian tribes, and which, therefore, by its very description, could not possibly be what the Lords of Trade were talking about.I want at some period to make that point good, by a certain number of definite references, because I quite realise that reference is one thing and assertion is another; but I listened with great attention, of course, to the way in which this case on the Indian territory has been presented on the other side, and it is obviously my duty to the Colony of Newfoundland to do anything I can to present a different and, as we think, a truer view. Let me just add this: running through the whole argument, even of my learned friend Mr. Macmillan, who very seldom allows any fallacy to lurk, there appears to be a fallacy. He argues as though he had to resist some proposition which suggests that there were, or were not, some natives in this green area. I agree I used an expression about “ two or three Esquimeaux,” and I did not observe his own wise practice of moderation in statement. No doubt that was putting it much too low. But that is not the point. The question here is not an ethnological question, it is a geographical question. The question is not whether if you had searched North America in 1763 you would not have found Montagnais or Algonquins, or whatever they are, specimens of that race, living a miserable life in some wigwam and starving every winter ; that is not the question, the question is not an ethnological question, the question is a geographical question : what is the area in respect of which it was felt so important, by the statesman of 1763, to offer an assurance in the most formal shape to those who conceived they had an interest in it ? And there cannot be the slightest doubt, when one examines the documents, that, if that is the question, there is a great deal of material to indicate that “ the Indian country” would include no doubt a great deal more to the West than is there marked, but it would indicate, in substance, the yellow, or at any rate the main part of the yellow, round the Great Lakes, that might or might not run up into what I call the corridor, but there is not, as far as I have been able to read it, the smallest grounds for saying the green area was affected at all. As a matter of fact, people at that time knew very little about it, and the people who were living there were not people who were likely to give any trouble. Therefore, it is no answer to my case to say that you propose to establish by references to the Census, some of which I notice were very hastily dropped by Mr. Geoffrion–we will have the Census back and look at it in a minute–it is no good to say : By reference to the Census I will show there were so many families in the green area. I do not care. What I want is the answer to the geographical question : What is it that the Lords of Trade are talking about ? and when I find what they are talking about I shall be able to appreciate whether or not this Proclamation damages my case in the least. There is one general consideration, which is this, and again there is a second fallacy which seems to me to lie behind a great deal of the argument for the Dominion ; they talked as though including some Indian Reserve inside the boundaries of

[1927lab]




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