298 * CHARLES WILKES and sounds leading from it, I view as highly necessary in any event, and there is no force so well adapted for the security of this territory as that of steamers. The waters of Puget Sound might be effectually defended from a naval force by occupying the narrows leading to it through which vessels must enter; at all times a dangerous narrow path, with strong current, no anchorage, and the winds almost always variable. I refer you to the charts which show this point distinctly. Much has been said of the effective force of the Hudson Bay Co. ; this, in my opinion, is an entire mistake and exaggeration of it. It is true that the servants of the company are bound to bear arms during their term of servitude, but they are without any sort of discipline, few in number, generally of the class of farm- ers, worn-out Canadians, some few Iroquois Indians, and other tribes from the Canadas, and illy adapted to bear arms ; about 100 at all the posts could be raised. With regard to the natives, they are so distributed in small tribes that I am confident they would only be looked to as scouts and messengers, and those of the northern tribe would be too unruly to meddle with. I am decidedly of opinion that the company would do every- thing to avoid the territory becoming a scene of war, particu- larly its officers. They are now for the most part bound up with its peaceful occupation, being largely engaged in agriculture and grazing, which must all in a measure be sacrificed. And there would also be great difficulty, if not a total interruption, in their carrying on their fur trade. It is not very probable that they would make any very strenuous endeavors to retain their interests under the British authority, as they well know that they may come in for the preservation of their property under the preemption right by transferring it to citizens of the United States, some of whom are well known to be interested and active partners in the busi- ness.
Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/306
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