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Biography of Sir James Douglas, K. C. B.

SIR JAMES DOUGLAS, K.C.B. – The first governor of British Columbia is worthy of more than a passing notice in this work. With a peculiar though undesigned poetical fitness, he first came to the land of his fame on the famous old steamer Beaver. On her he came to Esquaimalt harbor in the summer of 1849. He had gone from Fort Vancouver, where he had been head clerk, to be chief factor of the Hudson’s Bay Company in British Columbia. Having founded the city of Victoria, he made his home there, conducting with great ability the work of the company. In 1849 the first governor, Blanchard, had arrived from England; but owing to ill health he resigned in two years and returned home. Douglas was appointed his successor, and took the oath of office in November, 1851. His first official act was to summon all the Indians around Victoria, and pay them in full for their lands. This was one of the numerous similar acts which showed the strong sense of justice possessed by the man. On the other hand, he conducted a most vigorous administration. He restrained outbreaks with a strong hand, and brought offenders to justice with prompt impartiality. The result was that acts of injustice and violence were rare, though a ruffian horde from California tried to manage affairs to suit themselves. But the Governor was firm as a rock with the lawless crew, and exercised an almost despotic sway, which, to his great credit be it said, was never abused. In 1857 his commission as governor was renewed for another term of six years. He...

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