The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

Volume XII


12 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.


Sir John Simon.

12 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Sir John Simon.

12 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

12 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

12 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

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or not it is a little interesting to speculate. The British soldiers from this island had to do the whole thing ; the Colonials did not help the least bit.
Then there is an account of how various people, including Colonel Bouquet, whom my friend incidentally mentioned—a most gallant and a very famous Officer—did their very best to overthrow this revolt ; and the revolt did end in 1764; but nobody can read that chapter, I think, without being impressed by the fact that the view taken that Labrador was the Indian country or a place where the Indian disturbances were, is what I venture humbly to call unhistoric and fantastic ; it has nothing to do with it.

Viscount HALDANE : What strikes me very much was their reckless and easy way of going on. They were leaving the vast territory of Labrador to be defended by an Admiral ; I think that is very extraordinary.

Sir JOHN SIMON : That is a consideration which it is very important to bear in mind. Of course, if your Lordships will consider, as a matter of fact Labrador, so far as it was not a perfectly frozen wilderness, was very effectively surrounded on every side by British organisation.
Lord Haldane was asking me the other day about these Commissions to the two Commissioners for Indian Affairs. Your Lordships remember I said there was one for what was called the Southern Area and one for the Northern Area, and if your Lordships would kindly take this additional bundle of new documents which you had the other day, you will find the necessary documents in the additional bundle are Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7.

Lord WARRINGTON : Johnson was a famous General, was he not ; he took a very active part in the Seven Years' War ?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, he did. He was Sir William Johnson, Baronet, and he lived at a place called Johnson Hall, which was on the River Mohawk, which runs into the Hudson. I am not quite sure whether it is marked on the map or not.
The first of these documents is a document of the 17th February, 1756; it is therefore before the victory of Wolfe. It is the Commission to Johnson, and in it he is described as "Colonel," later on he was called "Agent and Superintendent." This is the first document in the bundle, No. 1. It is a document of 1756, and therefore before the Wolfe victory : “We, reposing especial trust and confidence in your loyalty, courage and good conduct, do by these Presents constitute and appoint you to be Colonel of our faithful Subjects and Allies the Six United Nations of Indians and their Confederates, and you are to observe and follow such orders and directions from time to time, as you shall receive from our Commander-in-Chief of our Forces in North America now and for the time being or any other your Superior Officer according

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to the rules and discipline of War.” Then he gets a salary. Then at the bottom of the page your Lordships will see in the last three or four lines the corresponding appointment, which was a month or two later, of Edmund Atkin. He was appointed to be " Our Agent for the Superintendent of the Affairs of our faithful Allies the several Nations of Indians inhabiting the Frontiers of our Colonies of Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia." That is the southern one. On the next page, Document No. 2, which is the day before the Commission to Mr. Atkin, you see the recommendation by the Lords of Trade, Lord Halifax and others, to the Secretary of State, addressed to Henry Fox : " Sir, It appearing to us to be of great importance in the present conjuncture That a proper person should be appointed by His Majesty to manage and conduct the Affairs of the several Nations of Indians upon the Frontiers of His Majesty's Colonies of Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia, by which means his Majesty's interests among the said Nations may be better cultivated and improved, and the said Indians be engaged to join His Majesty's troops in such operations as may be undertaken for the defence and security of His Majesty's Colonies against the common enemy. We beg leave to desire you will move His Majesty that Edmund Atkin, Esq., may be appointed Agent and Superintendent." That is why on the following day Atkin was appointed.
Now that gives you the two Indian Areas, one the Southern Area, which as you see is the Colonies of Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia (I will give you the map in a moment which shows where they are), and the other, which is called the Northern Area, which for the moment is only traceable as being the area of the Six United Nations of Indians and their Confederates.

Viscount HALDANE : He is called " Agent and Superintendent."

Sir. JOHN SIMON : At first Sir William Johnson was called " Colonel," but very shortly afterwards he was called " Agent and Superintendent."

Viscount HALDANE : He was a Colonel in the Army, seconded possibly to that position.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, my Lord.

Viscount HALDANE : He was primarily an army officer ?

Sir John SIMON : He was undoubtedly. Now will your Lord-ships just take the third document. Document No. 3 is a document of March, 1761. It really merely illustrates a familiar constitutional fact, that upon the demise of the Crown, it was necessarry to appoint people over again, as it was until recent Statutes modified that general rule. George II has died, and so the Lords of Trade are saying this : “Sir William Johnson, baronet, having been appointed by His late Majesty to be Agent for the Affairs of the Six United Nations of Indians and their Confederates in the Northern Parts of America, and appearing

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to us to be well qualified for that station, We desire you will be pleased to move His Majesty that the said Sir William Johnson may be con- tinued in the said Office by His Majesty's Royal Appointment.”
Consequently, on the next page, Document No. 4, you get the fresh Commission signed W. Pitt : " George the Third, etc., To Our trusted and well beloved William Johnson, Bart., Greeting. We, reposing especial trust and confidence in your loyalty fidelity and ability, do by these Presents constitute and appoint you to be our sole Agent for and Superintendent of the Affairs of our faithful Subjects and Allies the Six United Nations of Indians and their Confederates in the Northern Parts of North America."

Viscount HALDANE : You observe the Commission is not to the Commander-in-Chief.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, my Lord, and that enables me to answer a question which my learned friend, Mr. Macmillan, asked me when the Board last sat. I refer to the fact that there seems at any rate at the time to have been a suggestion that the Commander-in-Chief in North America might take this matter under his control. My friend asked whether there was any Commission, as suggested, to show it. We have checked that. There was a Commission to the Commander-in-Chief in 1759, the ordinary military Commission ; there was another one in 1761, and then when General Amherst withdrew, General Gage took his place in 1764. But in none of these three cases was the scheme carried out which had been suggested of giving to the Commander-in-Chief this special duty.

Viscount HALDANE : They took an Officer in the Army.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, my Lord. Then I would like your Lordships to turn to Document No. 7 of this bundle, which is the Commission to John Stuart. John Stuart succeeded Edmund Atkin, in the southern area. This Commission is dated 5th January, 17 62. " We reposing special trust and confidence in your loyalty, fidelity and ability do by these presents constitute and appoint you to be our agent for and superintendent of the Affairs of our faithful allies, the several nations of Indians inhabiting the frontiers of our Colonies of Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia."

Lord WARRINGTON: The first man has the Iroquois, the Six Nations, and the other man has the other tribes.
Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes. Your Lordships will remember that in Mitchell's map, which is the British Museum map of 1755, you find in very big letters " Six Nations or Iroquois." It is over the area to the east of the Mississippi to the south, running up to the Great Lakes, and then on its eastern side coming to the hinterland of t he Ancient Colonies. So that for the moment it is pretty plain the sort of areas that are being

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dealt with. But it does not stop there. It was thought desirable as a matter of public policy to try and get the same definite understanding with the Indians in question. The gentleman who has helped me so much, Mr. Hardy, who is so familiar with the Record Office, has actually got here in the building a specimen of the treaties made with the Indians. It is a most remarkable document in which their signatures or attestations took the form of totems.
If your Lordships will now turn to the rather long document, No. 19, you will see that the Lords of Trade had a specific recommendation to make about this. I am afraid I must trouble the Board to read several portions of this document. It is a most remarkable document. It is dated 7th March, 1768. In order to save your Lordships' time, perhaps I might indicate the passages which are material ; it would take a very long time to read it all. Taking document No. 19 would your Lordships please notice the paragraph about the middle of the first page : "Whereupon we humbly beg leave to represent to your Majesty, That the subject matter to which these papers refer, and the Questions arising thereupon, stated to us in the Earl of Shelburne's letter, appear to us to lead to a consideration of no less consequence and importance, than what system it may be now proper for your Majesty to pursue with respect to that vast and extensive country in North America which on account of the Indian War raging within it was made by the Proclamation of the 7th of October, 1763, the object of mere provisional arrangements."

Viscount HALDANE : This is in 1768.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, my Lord. This is reviewing it at a later date, but the document contains passages which I think are useful to read. It is an identification of the area dealt with in the Proclamation of the 7th October, 1763, as being the area within which the Indian war was raging. I am going to come to quite a precise map, but I think that is a fair comment to make first of all. At the very bottom of the same page your Lordships will catch this phrase : “and, although the unfavourable impressions left upon the minds of the Indians by the event of the War, and the representations of the French that we meant to extirpate them, did for some time involve us in a war with them, that rendered necessary the continuance of a large military establishment, yet, that war being happily ended, and Treaties of Peace and Friendship, to which all the various Tribes have acceded”—it was quite a definite thing— “having been finally concluded, it is now become of immediate importance to examine, how far the alteration which has thus taken place in the State of your Majesty's Dominion in North America, may require or admit of any proportional alteration in the system by which that part of your Majesty's Service is to be carried on for the future.” Then they say : “The parts of the Service to which we are more immediately called upon by the Earl of Shelburne's letter to give our attention, are, First,
6 B

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the present civil establishments regarding the Indians ; Secondly, the disposition of the troops for Indian purposes ; and lastly the establish- ment of certain new Colonies.” That last branch is an interesting piece of history. There were people at home who thought the best way to deal with this subject at the end of the Indian war was to plant new plantations and colonies in the interior, like the states in the Middle West, for example. It was a policy which was rejected, but it was a view.
On that same page there is a reference to the Superintendents of Indian Affairs just above the middle of the page. “In considering this question it may be proper to observe that the institution of Superintendents for the Affairs of Indians appears to have been a measure originally adopted principally with a view to counteract the designs of the French in 1754”—and so on. I do not think there is anything else on that page which is of importance.
Then on page 3 they say : “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 that still rankled in the minds of the Indians and influenced their conduct, were the encroachments made upon lands which they claimed as their property”—there can be no doubt at all that that is penetration from the Ancient Colonies— “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 the Proclamation in Volume I, page 153.

Viscount FINLAY : " Indian Traders and their servants " means persons trading with the Indians ?

Sir JOHN SIMON: I think so. It is just like one says " an East Indian Merchant." One does not mean by that a merchant with a coloured skin, but a man who deals with the East Indies. This is really an exposition of the true meaning of the Proclamation, and it is from the very same persons who recommended the Proclamation. It was induced by these causes. " 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, which very prudently restrained all persons from trading with the Indians without licence, and forbad, by the strongest pro- hibitions, all settlement beyond the limits therein described as the Boundary of the Indian hunting ground "—I have already called your Lordships' attention to the fact that the document had given a boundary --" putting both their commerce and property under the protection of officers acting under your Majesty's immediate authority and making their intervention necessary in every transaction with those Indians."
Then I leave out the short paragraph in the middle of the page, and


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