The Labrador Boundary


Privy Council Documents


Volume XII


Contents








9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Lord Sumner.

Sir John Simon.





p. 867

identify nearly all these places. Nobody can read that book through and imagine that Labrador has anything to do with it.
I want very briefly to give what I understand to be the historical situation. My friend, Mr. Geoffrion, in his very interesting argument, of course, quite correctly said that what the King was dealing with, especially in the summer of 1763, was the security of our ancient Colonies, that was the real trouble. Then you had these well-established Colonies, 13 of them, along the Atlantic seaboard, and their security was very seriously threatened. The thing that was threatening their security was the Pontiac rebellion—Pontiac was the name of an Indian Chief, the head of it—to which my learned friend, Mr. Geoffrion, also referred as a matter of history in the Shorthand Note at page 664, line 30. It is not for me to appraise Mr. Geoffrion's statement on the subject of Canadian history, naturally he knows a great deal more about it than I know, but, as I understand it, he quite correctly described the Pontiac rebellion in that passage in the Shorthand Notes at page 664 as a rebellion in the west and round the Great Lakes. My friend said in his part of the world it was school history, you can well understand it would be. It was a rebellion which started after the Treaty of Paris and before the Proclamation of October, that is to say, it broke out in the Spring and Summer of 1763. It is quite elaborately and most interestingly dealt with in Dr. Parkman's book, including a most terrible story of a massacre which took place in the last chapter of the first volume, one of the most frightful pieces of reading of a historical kind, outside the story of the Indian mutiny, I have ever heard of—it was a terrible business—and the conspiracy of Pontiac from which it broke out shows it, I think, quite clearly to be a conspiracy which was confined to the area between the ancient colonies and the Mississippi, it had nothing to do with the Labrador Peninsula at all, absolutely nothing.
The story may be put in a few sentences like this, and I have got my learned Mr. Monckton to check me ; he has read the book, and so have I ; I believe I am making an impartial summary or synopsis of what I learn in this and similar authorities.

Viscount HALDANE : Has the book been published in England ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, my Lord, it is published by Macmillans. Dr. Parkman, of course, is a very well known Canadian historian—my friend corrects me, it ought to be American historian, but I think you would describe the book as a standard book for students of the period. Your Lordships might be interested perhaps just to handle the volume. (Same handed in.) This is the story in the briefest outline. During the fighting between the French and the English in North America between 1755 and 1760, in the seven years war, there were very important Indian tribes that sided with the British and there were other tribes that sided with the French. The Hurons, the Abenakis, several of the Algonquin tribes supported the French ; the Iroquois, for example, supported the English.

p. 868

Viscount FINLAY : The Six nations were the Iroquois.

Sir JOHN SIMON : They were the Iroquois ; it included six nations. Viscount FINLAY : They were steadily English.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Their names were the Mohawks, the Cayugas, the Senecas, the Onondagas, the Oneidas and the Tuscaroras, those were the six nations ; there was also a con- federacy further west. It was a point in the British policy in North America in the Seven Years' War that they should do their utmost to keep these very important and amalgamated Indian tribes in the Indian country friendly to us ; on the other hand, after victory was won, of course, that did not mean you drove everybody with French sympathies out of Canada,, it only meant that French Imperialism in North America came to an end ; you had all over this area French Canadians resentful, as they naturally were, at the defeat of the flag and King, who were engaged in telling the Indians that the British, it is quite true, had won, but the British would betray them, and these tribes who had been dependent upon and associated with the British—I think I am using the language of one of the documents, of the Proclamation indeed—would find that they had been betrayed. That was the story of the French who did everything they could, not unnaturally, to encourage that view. So after the final defeat of the French in 1760 the English began to take possession of the area where the French had had their forts, and, of course, as far as the English advanced into this Indian country and took possession of the forts, the impression was further created in the minds of these Indian tribes in the interior that they were going to lose from the new conqueror what they had been promised. The French had erected their forts, and the most important forts you will see in Dr. Parkman's book were these, they were Fort Presqu' Isle on Lake Erie, Fort Detroit which is between Lake Huron and Lake Erie, of course —they called it Detroit, it meant straits—and there was a fort with a most astonishing name and the scene of a most appalling massacre, Fort Michillimackinac, between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The Indians looked with great suspicion on the cession by the French King to the English of this immense area, everything to the east of the Mississippi, because not unnaturally and I should think with some justice the Indians considered the country belonged neither to the French nor to the English, but to themselves. And between 1760 and 1763 an Indian Chief called Pontiac, who was an influential Chief of the Ottawas, prepared a revolt. Two and a half months after the Treaty of Paris was signed —it was signed you see in February—on the 27th of April 763 this Chief Pontiac held a council of the Indians near Fort Detroit, and in May 1763 the rising took place. It was one of the most formidable dangers from which the British Empire ever suffered at the hands of native races. Observe how this chimes in with my chronology. That was in May 1763, the thing had broken out. The influence of Sir

p. 869

William Johnson—I gave your Lordship his name—who was the Administrator for Indian Affairs in the northern half, prevented five—of the six nations from joining in the revolt, but the sixth nation, the Senecas, did so as well as a great many of the tribes further west. Sir William Johnson conducted his operations from a place which was called Johnson Hall, I think—probably you will find it on that map—which is, as a matter of fact, on the River Mohawk which runs into the River Hudson in New York State. You will find it in Dr. Parkman's book, you will see Johnson Hall on the River Mohawk running into the River Hudson. He had been appointed on the 14th May, 1756, therefore he was just in time to use his influence and he seems to have had great influence. By the end of June, 1763, you can imagine the reason, why King George and his Secretary of State were a little anxious to know what was the right thing to do with the Indian country. Fort Presqu'Isle and Fort Michillimackinac as well as two other important forts, Fort Ouatanon and Fort Miamis which were to the west, had fallen into the hands of the Indians. Fort Detroit and Fort Pitt, which is now Pitts-burg further south, were besieged by the Indians, the revolt was still at its height and Fort Detroit was still invested at the time of the Proclamation. Now the question is, that being the situation, that being the news which was coming home here—of course, not as rapidly as it would come to-day, still it was reaching here steadily in a stream from the interior of the British North American continent—what was the position, what was the policy ? Why, of course, their position was this, they said : "We have beaten the French who after all are civilised people and gentlemen ; now we are threatened with a much worse affair than that, we are threatened with a tremendous and overwhelming revolt, we must do everything in our power to stop it."
I humbly submit that if anybody went to Lord Egremont, or George III, or the Lords of Trade in July, 1763, and said "What are we to do about these pusillanimous aborigines in the interior of Labrador ?" they would have regarded him as talking perfect nonsense. The conclusion is this. The rebellion was not finally crushed until 1765, though the flame had died down, and it was almost over in 1761. You will find in Dr. Packman's book (the first volume, page 176) he points out the thing that most contributed to the growing discontent of these Indians was the intrusion of settlers from these ancient Colonies beyond the mountains and into their lands. And indeed it is quite plain if you look at it, that there was a very sharp conflict of view between the Home Country here, thinking perhaps of Imperial security, and the view taken by many persons of high character in the Dominion itself. I happen to have here—and it has interested me very much—the second volume of the Writings of George Washington. The title is : "The Writings of George Washington," collected and edited by Worthington Chauncy Ford, published by Putnam in America. I read that in 1767 George Washington is writing from Mount Vernon to a correspondent, and he is using this language with reference to the policy of the Home Government, which was trying to prevent the settlers on the Coast Colonies from passing into the Indian country. He says : "The other

p. 870

matter just now hinted at and which I proposed in my last, to join you in attempting to secure some of the most valuable lands in the King's part "—as you might say in the Royaume du Roy, where the radical title is in the King—" which I think may be accomplished after a while, notwithstanding the Proclamation "—he thinks if he waits a bit the Proclamation of the 7th October, 1763, is not likely to be maintained— "hat restrains it at present, and prohibits the settling of them at all; for I can never look upon that Proclamation in any other light (but this I say between ourselves) than as a temporary expedient to quiet the minds of the Indians, and must fall, of course, in a few years, especially when these Indians are consenting to our occupying the lands." That is page 220 of the second volume of this collection of the Writings of George Washington.

Viscount HALDANE : What was the date ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : The letter is written on the 21st September, 1767, the Proclamation to which he refers being, of course, the Proclamation of the 7th October, 1763. I could give your Lordships other indications which show that the Colonists in the Ancient Colonies of the King did not at all like this Imperial policy which secured the interior for the natives.

Viscount HALDANE : I think Lord Egremont died in August, 1763, and then Lord Halifax took up ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, that is quite right. If your Lordships will take my new documents, and look at Document No. 19, you will find a sidelight of the same sort. It is a very long and extremely illuminating document. It is the representation of the Lords of Trade to the Principal Secretary of State, and if I may take one example of what it says, I would ask your Lordships to look at page 3 of the document. The Lords of Trade are writing a tremendously long account of what is to be done, and they say at the top of page 3 : "To maintain a good correspondence with the Indians is undoubtedly an object of great importance ; and upon a careful examination into the state of Indian affairs after the conclusion of peace, it appears that the two principal causes of the discontent which still rankled in the minds of the Indians and influenced their conduct, were the encroachments made upon lands which they claimed as their property and the abuses committed by Indian traders and their servants. The necessity, which appeared in the then state of our interests with the Indians of making some immediate provision against these two causes of their discontent induced the Proclamation of October, 1763." That is a very long report made by the Lords of Trade to the Principal Secretary of State in March, 1768. There is a great deal in it which throws light on the subject, and there is a great deal to the same effect as I have read.

p. 871

Lord SUMNER : It is interesting that the arrangements of 1763 were only provisional arrangements adapted to the exigencies of the time.

Sir JOHN SIMON : George Washington was right, my Lord.

Viscount FINLAY : The process of absorption went on all the same.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, my Lord. Indeed, as your Lordship remembers, we only have to come to 1774 when my small slate coloured lozenge of Quebec is enlarged to take in the whole of the yellow, when—though I quite see that it is not necessarily contradicting the policy of keeping the new area free for the Indians—there was, as a matter of fact, a steady pressure on these uncivilised people, which ended, as such things always do end, in the survival, I trust, of the fittest, but certainly of those who are best provided with guns and ammunition.

Viscount FINLAY : Unfortunately the measures which the Indians took were rather vile.

Sir JOHN SIMON : They were of the most appalling character. There are passages in Parkman which show the amazing violence and treachery which they displayed. The conclusion I reach, therefore, is this. It is obvious that the reservation, which was recommended by the Lords of Trade, and which is incorporated in the Proclamation, is an attempt to keep "the several nations or tribes of Indians with whom we are connected"—that is the language of the Proclamation— "satisfied that they would not be encroached upon." If your Lordships will look at the first Volume, page 156, and observe the language of the Proclamation, it becomes plain that the "said Indians" is merely a phrase which is intended to go back to a description of the particular Indians that were most immediately affected. On page 156, taking the paragraph beginning at line 22, which had been suggested to be against me, it does not say " Indians," but it says "the said Indians." The paragraph reads : "And we do further declare it to be our Royal will and pleasure, for the present as aforesaid, to reserve under our sovereignty, protection, and dominion, for the use of the said Indians, all the land and territories not included within the limits of our said three new governments," etc. Where do you get the previous reference to " Indians " there ? You get it higher up on the page, at line 5 : "And whereas it is just and reasonable, and essential to our interests and the security of our colonies, that the several nations or tribes of Indians with whom we are connected, and who live under our protection,"—that is a way of describing the forces that had at first been our allies, and had afterwards rebelled— "should not be molested or disturbed in the possession of such parts of our dominions and territories as, not having been ceded to or purchased by us, are reserved to them, or any of them, as their hunting-grounds." My respectful submission is that this historical matter, setting

[1927lab]




Partnered Projects Government and Politics - Table of Contents Site Map Search Heritage Web Site Home