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several instances have occurred of the seizure of such vessels, and the massacre of their whole crews, in this manner.*
All the islands in the Pacific, and every part of the north-west coasts of America, were visited by the vessels of the United States in the course of these voyages. Their principal places of resort were the Sandwich Islands, where they obtained fresh provisions, and occasionally seamen from among the natives; and the mouth of the Columbia, Nootka Sound, and Queen Charlotte's Island, in which they traded with the Indians for furs. They occasionally touched at the ports of California, where they were, however, viewed with great distrust by the Spanish authorities; and they generally made the tour of the Russian settlements, which derived from the Americans, in this way, the greater part of their supplies of European manufactures, ammunition, sugar, wines, and spirits, in exchange for peltries. The furs were, as before, sold in Canton, at prices not high, though sufficient to encourage a moderate importation ; but they seldom formed the whole cargo of the vessels arriving there, the remainder being composed of sandal-wood, and pearl and tortoise shells.
The Sandwich Islands fell in succession under the authority of Tamahamaha, who displayed admirable sagacity in his mode of conducting the government, amid all the dangers and difficulties arising from internal opposition and the constant presence of strangers of various nations. Like the present pacha of Egypt, he was not only the political chief, but also the chief merchant of his territories : in his minor commercial operations he was generally 1799.)
* In 1805, the ship Atahualpa, of Rhode Island, was attacked by tne savages in Millbank Sound, and her captain, mate, and six seamen, were killed; after which the other seamen succeeded in repelling the assailants and saving the vessel. In March, 1803, the ship Boston, of Boston, while lying at Nootka Sound, was attacked by Maquinna and his followers, who obtained possession of her, and put to death all on board, with the exception of two men, who, after remaining in slavery four years, effected their escape. In the same manner, the ship Tonquin was, in June, 1811, seized by the natives, at the entrance of the Strait of Fuca, and her whole crew murdered in a moment, as will be hereafter more particularly related; and other instances of a similar nature might be cited.
The account of the capture of the Boston, by John R. Jewitt, the armorer of the ship, contains many curious details respecting the country around Nootka Sound, and its inhabitants, as observed by the author during his residence there, from 1803 to 1807. This little work has been frequently reprinted, and, though seldom found in libraries, is much read by boys and seamen in the United States. It presents the last notices which have been found on record of Maquinna, for whom Jewitt appears to have entertained a great admiration.
RUSSIAN AMERICAN COMPANY ESTABLISHED.
successful; but when he ventured to extend the scale of his speculations, by sending vessels laden with sandal-wood to Canton, he was, as he asserted, always cheated by those to whom he committed the management of the business.
In California, the Franciscan missionaries were proceeding steadily in their course, and the number of their converts was daily increasing. The government appears to have been liberal in the appropriation of funds for their use; but, in Spanish America, a long time always elapsed between the issue of an order for supplies and their delivery, and a large proportion of the amount originally ordered was generally subtracted before it reached those for whose use it was designed. Soldiers, whose terms had expired, were also, in some cases, allowed to remain in the country; and the commandants permitted a little contraband trade with the Americans, who introduced manufactured articles in return for hides.
In the mean time, the Russians of Northern Asia, though excluded from the ports of China, continued their commerce with that empire, as also with Europe, as formerly, by means of caravans passing over land; the communications being conducted principally by a company established at Irkutsk, the great mart of that part of the world. The fur trade of the northernmost coasts of the Pacific was monopolized by the association, formed in 1781, under the direction of Schelikof and Gollikof, which was protected by the empress Catharine, and endowed with many important privileges. After the death of Catharine, in 1794, her son and successor, Paul, at first determined to put an end to the association, on account of the alleged cruelty of its agents towards the natives of the American coasts : he was, however, induced to change his resolution ; and, a
a union having been effected, in 1798, between the two companies above mentioned, a decree was issued, on the 8th of July of the following year, conceding to them, under the title of the Russian American Company, the entire use and control, for twenty years, of all the coasts of America on the Pacific, from the 55th degree of north latitude to Bering's Strait, together with the adjacent islands, including the Kurile and the Aleutian groups, all of which were claimed as having been discovered by Russians. The company was also authorized to explore, and bring under subjection to the imperial crown, any other territories in America not previously attached to the dominions of some civilized nation; with the express provision that the natives of all these countries should be treated with kindness, and, if possible, be converted to the
Greek Catholic faith. These privileges were confirmed and increased by the emperor Alexander, whose chief minister of state, Count Romanzoff, was a zealous promoter of all that could tend to advance the power and interests of Russia in the Pacific; and the company still enjoys the favor of the government, its charter baving been renewed by successive decrees in 1821 and 1839.
Under these advantageous circumstances, combined with great skill and energy in the management of its affairs, and aided by the constant increase of facilities for communication throughout the empire, the Russian American Company prospered, and its establishments soon extended over the whole of the Aleutian Archipelago, and thence eastward along the coast and islands of the American continent, to the distance of more than a thousand miles. In 1803, the most eastern of these establishments was on Norfolk Sound, the Port Guadelupe of the Spaniards, near the 56th degree of latitude, at the southern entrance of the passage which separates Mount San Jacinto or Edgecumb from the largest island of King George III.'s Archipelago. This settlement, founded in 1799, was destroyed, in 1803, by the natives of the country, with the assistance, as it is said, of some seamen who had deserted from an American vessel; but another was formed there in 1805, which received the name of New Archangel of Sitca, and has ever since been the capital of Russian America. The other principal establishments of the company were in Unalashka and Kodiak, and on the shores of Cook's Inlet, Prince William's Sound, and Admiralty or Bering's Bay. In 1806, preparations were made for occupying the mouth of the Columbia River ; but the plan was abandoned, although that spot, and the whole region north of it, was then, and for some time after continued to be, represented, on the maps published by the company, as within the limits of its rightful possessions.
The population of each of these establishments consisted principally of natives of America, brought by the Russians from other and distant parts of the coast; between whom and the people of the surrounding country there were no ties of kindred or language, and there could be little community of feelings or interests. The Aleutian Islands and Kodiak furnished the greater number of these forced emigrants, and also a large proportion of the crews of the vessels employed in the service of the company. The Russians were enlisted in Kamtchatka and Siberia, for a term of years : they entered as Promuschleniks, or adventurers, and were employed, according to the will of their superiors, as soldiers, sailors, hunters,
GOVERNMENT OF RUSSIAN AMERICA.
fishermen, or mechanics; in the best of which situations their lot was more wretched than that of any other class of human beings within the pale of civilization, or, indeed, of any other class of persons whatsoever, except the natives of the American coasts, whom they assisted in keeping under subjection. Under such circumstances, it will be easily believed that “none but vagabonds and adventurers ever entered the company's service as Promuschleniks ;” that “it was their invariable destiny to pass a life of wretchedness in America ;” that “ few had the good fortune ever to touch Russian ground again, and very few to attain the object of their wishes by returning to Europe."*
The government of Russian America was arranged on a plan even more despotic than that of the other parts of the empire. The general superintendence of the affairs of the company was in the hands of a Directory, residing at St. Petersburg, by which all the regulations and appointments were made, and all questions were decided, with the approval, however, of the imperial department of commerce. All the territories belonging to the company, and all persons and things in them, were placed under the control of a chief agent or governor, residing at Kodiak or Sitca, from whose orders there was no appeal, except to the Directory: in like manner, each district or group of settlements was ruled by an inferior agent, accountable directly to the governor-general; and each factory or settlement was commanded by an overseer, chosen from among the Promuschleniks, who possessed the right to punish, to a certain extent, those within the circle of his authority.
The regulations for the government of these territories were, like those of the Spanish Council of the Indies, generally just and humane; but the enforcement of them, as in Spanish America, was intrusted, for some time, to men with whom justice and humanity were subordinate to expediency. The first chief agent was Alexander Baranof, who had accompanied Schelikof in his expedition in 1783, and was the superintendent of the settlements at Kodiak and Cook's Inlet when Vancouver visited those places in 1794. He was a shrewd, bold, enterprising, and unfeeling man, of iron frame and nerves, and the coarsest habits and manners. By his inflexible severity and energy, he seems to have maintained absolute and independent sway over all the Russian American coasts for more than twenty years; showing little respect to the orders of the Directory,
• Krusenstern's Account of his Voyage to the North Pacific.
and even to those of the emperor, when they were at variance with his own views. He was, however, devoted to the interests of the company, and, its affairs being most profitably managed under his direction, he was allowed to follow his own course, and the complaints against him which reached the Directory were unheeded. These complaints were, it is true, not frequent; for the Directory and the imperial throne at St. Petersburg were almost as completely inaccessible to the subjects and servants of the company residing in America, as they would have been in another planet. Among the inferior agents were men of higher and better character than their chief; but they were forced to bend under his authority, and their efforts to introduce improvements were vain, if they in any degree conflicted with his views as to the immediate interests of the company.
Of the furs which formed the whole returns from these territories, some were transported in the company's vessels to Petropawlowsk and Ochotsk, whence were brought back the greater part of the supplies of provisions for the use of the establishments; the remainder of the furs being exchanged for arms, ammunition, spirits, wine, tobacco, sugar, and European manufactures, furnished by the trading ships of the United States, of which a large number were then constantly employed in the North Pacific. The presence of these American vessels was by no means agreeable to the Russians, who would willingly have excluded them from that part of the ocean, not only for the purpose of monopolizing the fur trade, but also in order to prevent the natives of the coasts from obtaining arms and ammunition from the Americans, as they frequently did, to the detriment of the authority and interests of the company. This, however, could not have been effected without maintaining a large naval force in the North Pacific; nor could the settlements have been extended or supported without the supplies furnished by the Americans, unless a direct intercourse were established by sea with Europe, China, or Japan.
With the view of inquiring what measures would be most effectual for the advancement of the interests of the Russian American Company in these and other respects, it was determined at St. Petersburg, in 1803, that an expedition, scientific and political, should be made through the North Pacific. Two ships, the Nadeshda, commanded by Captain Krusenstern, and the Neva, by Captain Lisiansky, were accordingly despatched from Cronstadt, in August of that year, under the direction of Krusenstern, carrying out a large body of officers and men, distinguished in various