BELLINGHAM BAY, WHATCOM COUNTY, August 3, 1863.
General GEORGE WRIGHT:
SIR: The commissioners of this county, understanding that the military commander on the island of San juan had received instructions from you to assist the civil authority in enforcing the laws of Washington Terrotory on that island, passed an order at their last November term "that the sheriff should proceed at the proper time to collect liquor licenses and poll- tax; " that the voting precint heretofore established and used should be sustained, and all other matters and things pertaining to the usufulness of the county be observed. In obedience to this order I went to San Juan Island on the 27th of last July for the purpose above referred to. I found th settlers, with but few exceptins, willing to pay their taxes, provided they were to be protected in their proprty and in their rights by the civil law of the land. On receiving this information I thought the next most prudent step would be to see Captain Bissell, commanding a company of U. S. troops on the island, and ascertain if possible the extent of his instructions in regard to civil jurisdiction. He told me he had no objection to my collecting licenses and texes, provided the people voluntarily paid them, but would certainly interfere as soon as I ecercised any authority emanating from civil law. Now I presume to make a short ocmment on the evil that a rigid and absolute military law is calculated to promote in a retired rural district like that of San juan. The first consideration is, I find nine- tenths of the settlers to be American citizens or those who have declared their intentins to become such, and that the island is well, almost thickly settled; that a very promising and flourishing crop is likely to yied a bountiful return to the cultivator of the soil; that military rule is not at all conducive to the quiet and prosperity of tehe citizens, and is but ill- aapted to meet the requirements of a rural community. People will have differences and disputes about boundary lines, about trespasses, about dbts, and other matters incidental to a farming communoty, and which a military captain is not very well calculated to decide. The second consideration is that the authority vested in Captain Bissell is in many respects prejudicially and injudiciously used, he having his favorites, and those who know his weakest points never fail to profit by them. As an instance of this, his extraordinary decision in at least one case on the island is a fair example, viz, that a man cannot hold nor claim more land than he has fenced in. In striking contrast with this novel doctrine is the determination of the English commander to protect every British subject in his claim of a quarters section, be it fenced or otherwise.
Still further, assuming a case which is very likely to and doubtless frequently occurs: A has contracted and does owe B a debt of $50, more or less; B holds the note of A for the same, and when it is due presents it for payment. A, in anticipation of this, has already had an interview with Mr. C. They understand each other very well on the subject of the note. C says, "make yourself easy about it; I have the captiain under my thumb; its as good as decided. You need not pay it. " B also speaks to the captin, urging the justness of his claim, but that functionary being already charged and primed, snubs Mr. B, telling him he is a disturber of he public peace, and unless he can give ssurance of better conduct he sahll have to leave the island. The American commander could, with little or no interference with civil law, banish from the island or otherwise punish any person found disturbing the coridial or good understanding of the joint occupation. But I contend that a prosperous and healthy community such as the islnd presents