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with the plenipotentiary of the United States at London, on the subject of the claims of the respective parties to territories on the north-west side of America, insisted that Meares, on this occasion, discovered the great River Columbia, which actually enters the Pacific at Deception Bay, and cited, in proof of their assertion, the very parts of his narrative above extracted.*
On his way back to Nootka, Meares visited the two large bays, called by the natives Clyoquot and Nittinat, and by himself Port Cox and Port Effingham, situated a little north-west of the entrance of Fuca's Strait, where, he declares in his Memorial to Parliament, “ he obtained from Wicanish, the chief of the surrounding districts, in consequence of considerable presents, the promise of a free and exclusive trade with the natives of the district, as also permission to build any storehouses or other edifices which he might judge necessary; and he also acquired the same privileges of exclusive trade from Tatooche, the chief of the country bordering upon the Strait of Fuca, and purchased from him a tract of land within the said strait, which one of his officers took possession of, in the king's name, calling the same Tatooche, in honor of the chief.” These purchases and cessions of territory are not, however, in any manner noticed, either in the documents annexed to the Memorial, or in the narrative of the voyage, which is most tediously minute as to the circumstances of Mr. Meares's interviews with those chiefs.
At the end of July, Meares returned to Nootka Sound, where the Iphigenia soon after arrived from the northern coasts, laden with furs. The small vessel, which had been begun at Friendly Cove, was then launched, and received the name of the North-West America ; and Meares, considering the season as not too far advanced for a voyage across the Pacific, transferred to the Felice all the furs which had been collected, and sailed in her, on the 28th of September, for China, leaving directions that the Iphigenia and the North-West America should proceed to the Sandwich Islands for the winter, and return in the following spring to Nootka, where he would rejoin them.
Before the departure of Meares from Nootka, two other vessels entered the sound, whose voyages merit particular attention.
Immediately after the recognition of the independence of the United States of America, the citizens of that republic resumed the
" See British statement, among the Proofs and Illustrations, in the latter part of this volume, letter H.
whale and seal fishery around Cape Horn, which they had carried on before the revolution, and also engaged in the direct trade with India and China. In the latter countries, however, they labored under great disadvantages, from the inferiority in value of the articles carried thither to those brought back by them, in consequence of which they were obliged to take out large quantities of specie, in order to obtain full homeward cargoes. With the view of obviating this inequality, some merchants of Boston, in 1787, formed an association for the purpose of combining the fur trade of the North Pacific with the China trade, as attempted by the King George's Sound Company of London; and in such an enterprise they certainly had reason to anticipate success, as, with industry and nautical skill unsurpassed by any other nation, the Americans were free from the restrictions imposed on British subjects by the charters of the South Sea and East India Companies.*
In prosecution of this scheme, the ship Columbia, of two hundred and twenty tons, and the sloop Washington, of ninety tons, were fitted out at Boston in the summer of 1787, and laden with blankets, knives, iron bars, copper pans, and other articles proper for the trade with the Indians on the north-west coasts. The Columbia was commanded by John Kendrick, to whom was intrusted the
The first American citizens who engaged in the whaling and sealing business around Cape Horn, after the peace of 1783, were the Nantucket men, as will be hereafter more particularly stated.
The first American vessel which entered the port of Canton was the ship Empress of China, from New York, commanded by Daniel Parker, with Samuel Shaw as supercargo: she arrived in China in the latter part of the summer of 1784, and returned to New York in May of the following year. Mr. Shaw was appointed consul of the United States at Canton in January, 1796; and, on the 31st of December of the same year, he addressed to his government, from Canton, an interesting memoir on the state of commerce at that place, which still remains, with many other communications from him, unpublished, in the archives of the Department of State at Washington. In 1787, not less than five American vessels were employed in the trade with China; among them were the Canton, under Captain Thomas Truxton, who afterwards distinguished himself in the naval service of his country, and the old frigate Alliance, so celebrated during the war of the revolution, which had been sold by order of Congress, and fitted out as a trading vessel, under the command of John Reed. The Alliance entered Canton on the 29th of December, 1787; and her arrival at that season caused much astonishment, as it had been previously considered impossible for a vessel to sail from the Cape of Good Hope to China between October and April, on account of the violence of the winds, blowing constantly, during that period, from the north-east. Reed, however, had steered eastward from the Cape of Good Hope, to the southern extremity of Van Dieman's Land, around the east coasts of which island, and of New Holland, he sailed into the China Sea; and the course thus pointed out by him has been since often taken, especially by American vessels.
direction of the expedition; and her mate was Joseph Ingraham, whose name will often appear in the following pages. The master of the Washington was Robert Gray. They were provided with sea letters issued by the federal government, agreeably to a resolution of Congress, and with passports from the state of Massachusetts; and they received letters from the Spanish minister plenipotentiary in the United States, recommending them to the attention of the authorities of his nation on the Pacific coasts. They, moreover, carried out, for distribution at such places as they might visit, a number of small copper coins, then recently issued by the state of Massachusetts, * and likewise medals of copper, struck expressly for the purpose, of one of which a representation is
The two vessels sailed together from Boston on the 30th of September, 1787: thence they proceeded to the Cape Verd Islands, and thence to the Falkland Islands, in each of which places they procured refreshments; and, in January, 1788, they doubled Cape Horn, immediately after which they were separated during a violent gale. The Washington, continuing her course through the Pacific, made the north-west coast in August, 1788, near the 46th degree of latitude, where she was in danger of destruction, having grounded while attempting to enter an opening, which was, most probably, the mouth of the great river afterwards named by Gray the Columbia. She was also attacked there by the savages, who killed one of her men, and wounded the mate ; but she escaped without further injury, and, on the 17th of September, reached Nootka
* Alexander Mackenzie, in July, 1793, found, in the possession of a native of the country east of the Strait of Fuca, a “ halfpenny of the state of Massachusetts Bay, coined in 1787,” which was doubtless one of those taken out by Kendrick and Gray.
Sound, where the Felice and Iphigenia were lying, as already mentioned.* The Columbia did not enter the sound until some days afterwards. She had been seriously injured in the storm which separated her from her consort; and Kendrick was obliged, in consequence, to put into the harbor of the Island of Juan Fernandez, where he was received with great kindness, and aided in refitting his vessel, by Don Blas Gonzales, the commandant of the Spanish garrison. The repairs having been completed, the Columbia continued her voyage, and arrived at Nootka, which had been selected as the place of rendezvous, without further accident, in October.
Soon after the arrival of the Columbia at Nootka, the Iphigenia and North-West America took their departure for the Sandwich Islands, where they remained until the spring of 1789. The two American vessels spent the winter in the sound, where the Columbia also lay during the whole of the following summer, whilst the important events related in the next chapter were in progress.
* Meares, in his narrative, gives the following account of the arrival of the Washington at Nootka Sound:
“ September 17th, 1788.– A sail was seen in the offing. The long-boat was immediately sent to her assistance, which, instead of the British vessel we expected, conveyed into the sound a sloop named the Washington, from Boston, in New England, of about one hundred tons' burthen. Mr. Gray, the master, informed us that he had sailed, in company with his consort, the Columbia, a ship of three hundred tons, in the month of August, 1787, being equipped, under the patronage of Congress, to examine the coast of America, and to open a fur trade between New England and this part of the American continent, in order to provide funds for their China ships, to enable them to return home teas and China goods. The vessels were separated in a heavy gale of wind, in the latitude of 59 south, and had not seen each other since the period of their separation; but, as King George's Sound was the place of rendezvous appointed for them, the Columbia, if she was safe, was every day expected to join her consort at Nootka. Mr. Gray informed me that he had put into an harbor on the coast of New Albion, where he got on shore, and was in danger of being lost on the bar; he was also attacked by the natives, had one man killed, and one of his officers wounded, and thought himself fortunate in having been able to make his escape. This harbor could only admit vessels of small size, and must lie somewhere near the cape to which we had given the name of Cape Lookout."
That this harbor was the mouth of the great rider since called the Columbia, is most probable from its situation, and because there is no evidence or reason to suppose that Gray visited that part of the coast on any other occasion prior to his meeting with Vancouver, on the 29th of April, 1792, as will be related in the eleventh chapter.
1788 AND 1789.
Uneasiness of the Spanish Government at the Proceedings of the Fur Traders in the
North Pacific — Voyage of Observation by Martinez and Haro to the Russian American Settlements — Remonstrances of the Court of Madrid to that of St. Petersburg, against the alleged Encroachments of the latter Power - Martinez and Haro sent by the Viceroy of Mexico to take Possession of Nootka SoundSeizure of British and other Vessels at Nootka by Martinez – Captain Gray, in the Washington, explores the East Coast of Queen Charlotte's Island, and enters the Strait of Fuca - Return of the Columbia to the United States.
Having, in the preceding chapter, presented a sketch of the geographical discoveries effected on the north-west coasts of America, in the interval between the time of Cook's last voyage and the year 1790, we now proceed to relate the important events of a political nature, which occurred on those coasts during the latter part of the same period. These events have been variously represented or rather misrepresented — by the historians to whom reference is usually made for information respecting them ;* and ample proofs will be here offered, that the most essential circumstances have been exhibited in false forms, and under false colors, either designedly, or from indifference and want of research on the part of the authors.
The movements of the fur traders in the North Pacific were, from the beginning, regarded with dissatisfaction and mistrust by the court of Madrid. It was at first proposed to counteract them by monopolizing that branch of commerce; for which object an agent was despatched to California, in 1786, with orders to collect all the
Namely, the histories of England, by Bissett, Miller, Belsham, in which latter the accounts are more fair and more nearly correct than in any other,) Hughes, Wade, and the Pictorial History of England - Schoell's Histoire des Traites de Paix – Brenton's Naval History of Great Britain, last edition — Introduction to the Journal of Galiano and Valdes — History of Maritime and Inland Discovery, by T. D. Cooley – Gifford's Life of William Pitt, &c. In the most recent of these works, namely, the Pictorial History of England, the account is farthest from the truth; the author has evidently not consulted any original evidence on the subject, except, possibly, the Memorial of Meares, or the abstract of that paper in the Annual Register.