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August 22, 1857, pages 532-533 (Illustrated Article)
The commonly-received notion of Washington Territory makes of it a country wild and rugged, made up chiefly of thickly-wooded mountains and steep ravines, having an unkind climate vibrating between a drizzle and a raw fog, robbed somehow of its due share of fair, vivifying sunshine, and inhabited by Indians the chief end and aim of whose existence is the depriving white settlers of that valuable and ornamental appendage, the scalp. A country, briefly, in every unpropitious to the husband-man and the peaceful trader, and fit goal only for those restless spirits whose mission in life is to "move West."

Mr. James G. Swan, a plain, broad-shouldered, matter-of-fact man, tells in a volume just published, * a different story. According to Mr. Swan, Washington Territory is exceeded by no part of the Union in fertility of soil, beauty and salubrity of climate, variety of natural productions, or splendor of scenery. Its mountains and plains abound in the choicest timber; its extensive and well-watered prairies have the finest soil in the world; its streams and bays teem with fish of every kin, from the salmon to the herring; and its woods and marshes are alive with every kind of game known to the American sportsman.

The Indians, against whom our Government is now waging a war of extermination, are in reality, according to Mr. Swan, a harmless and easily-guided race, very willing originally to be of service to the white settlers, but goaded on by injudicious management on the part of lawless whites to a bloody retaliation of their wrongs. They have numberless superstitions, of which our author gives an extended and interesting account, live chiefly by the chase and fishery, flatten the heads of their infants, bury their dead in canoes, and live in great fear of the memlose tillicums, or spirits of the deceased. Their doctors cure by mesmerism, and they seem to work upon the principle of "kill or cure," i. e., kill the physician if he does not cure the patient. Their women have an easier lot than generally falls to the Indian squaw.

Such were the people—peaceable, simple-hearted, superstitious, and easily guided by right-minded men—among whom the early settlers of Washington Territory pitched their tents, and with whose aid they located claims, exported oysters, hooked salmon, and cultivated potatoes and wheat.

Mr. Swan arrived at Shoal-water Bay at a time when the Territory was just opening, and the number of white settlers was ridiculously small. He found these an active, hardy race—hard of hand and large in heart—with their doors open, and their hearths and larders free to all comers—a community having but little law among the, but needing less; and living in sensible accord with their Indian neighbors, who trusted them and labored for them with a hearty goodwill.

*The Northwest Coast; or, Three Years; Residence in Washington Territory. By James G. Swan. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers.

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A simple life they led. No lawyer had yet entered this garden-spot to sow tares of dissension. Of courts they knew naught; and public opinion inflicted a more summary justice than is known to more civilized communities. Till one morning the settlement awoke to the consciousness that our common Uncle had taken it under his protection, and, as a first installment of his care, they were instructed to elect unto themselves a justice of the peace and a constable. The person chosen justice was a kind-hearted man, who grew noisy under the cheering influence of old Rye. The constable was a "first-rate fellow, who preferred his ease and a bottle of whisky to any thing else."
"But now," says Mr. Swan, "every one seemed anxious to bring the justice some business, and it was not long before he held the first court in Shoal-water Bay." An unlucky individual was pounced upon, who had at some time past stolen a small sum of money from a man now absent form the settlement. The sheriff wrote out a notice to this unfortunate that he must leave the Bay or be lynched. Assuring Champ, the new Dogberry, that this was a warrant for arrest in regular form, that worthy signed it, and the constable was released for his whisky-bottle, and ordered to bring the offender before the majesty of the law.
Anticipating resistance, the doughty constable determined on a stratagem. Walking in where the man was sitting, he asked him very coolly for something to drink. Bowman (for that was the man’s name) replied that he had nothing. "Well," says Charley, "old Champ has just got a demi-john of first-rate whisky: s’pose we walk down there and get some." The other, nothing loth, consented, and the pair walked down to the squire’s. The boys began to collect, and at last the squire, who had been out feeding his chickens and wetting his whistle, came in and took a seat.
"Order in the court!" said he; then, facing the prisoner, he addressed him thus:

"Well, this is a pretty how-d’ye-do; why, what have you been about, hey?"

"What have I been about?" asked Bowman, with surprise; "nothing in particular, that I know of. Where’s your whisky, squire?"

"Where’s my whisky?" said the squire, now getting into a rage; "where’s my whisky? Don’t you know you’re ‘rested? And do you think to throw contempt into my court by asking for whisky?"

"I did not know," replied the other, "that I was arrested; pray what is the charge!"

"Why, you big loafer," said Champ to the constable, "didn’t you show that paper to Bowman?"

"Yes," growled Charley, "I did."

"I never saw it," says Bowman; "let me have it now."

Champ, after expressing his disgust at Charley for not attending to his business in a legal manner, ordered him forthwith to arrest Bowman, and show him the warrant. Charley produced the paper, and arrested the man in the name of the United States. Bowman read it, and remarked that it was more of a lynch-law notice than a warrant, and then inquired of what he was accused.

"What are you ‘cused of?" said Champ, with the greatest contempt for the supposed sham ignorance of the prisoner; "why, you are ‘cused of stealing Mr. Russell’s’ money."

"I should like to know who accuses me, and who are the witnesses against me," said Bowman, who now began to think that something serious was to happen.

"See here, Bowman," said the squire, "I don’t want any witnesses; and as for who accuses you, why, I accuse you, and every body on the beach accuses you, and you know you are guilty as well as I do; there is no use of wasting time over this matter. I am bound to sentence you, and my sentence is that you leave the Bay in twenty-four hours, or receive fifty lashes if you are here after that time. And now, Charley, do you take charge of the prisoner; treat him well, but if you let him escape, we will tie you up in his stead."

And so ended the first trial in Shoal-water Bay, Washington Territory. "The boys" were immensely delighted, of course.

The following autumn, however, a regular term of court came on. The United Sates Judge arrived and a grand jury was impaneled which included every man resident in the settlement except the judge, two lawyers, and a poor fellow who had some time before, unfortunately, killed a drunken Indian in self-defense. There being no other business for judge or jury, it was determined to try this man for manslaughter.

The court-house was a small, one-story affair, measuring about twelve feet by fifteen; so circumscribed in its limits that, when the jury were seated, there was barely room left for the judge, clerk of the court, and counsel, while the sheriff had to keep himself standing in the door-way. The outsiders (visitors) could neither see nor hear, till some one suggested that a few boards be knocked off the other end of the house, which was soon done, and served the purpose admirably.

The grand jury were then called in and sworn, the usual forms gone through, and there upon the judge instructed them to find the proper indictment against Lumley.

This done, a petit jury was called. It was found necessary to take nine of the grand-jury men on the petit jury. This difficulty being overcome, witnesses were examined at great length, and with unexampled ferocity; and then the prosecuting attorney and defendant’s counsel had the field to themselves.

This being the first time the district-attorney had ever addressed a jury on a criminal case, he proceeded to elucidate the points in a speech of considerable length, commencing from the American Revolution, and continuing his deductions to the time of Washington’s death, and closing with a beautiful tribute to the memory of the Father of his Country.

This argument had such a direct bearing on the case on trial, that the counsel for the defense was forced to reply to it by quotations from ancient authors, and to prove his position by reciting extracts from the Arabian Nights’ Entertainments, which, although not considered so orthodox as Coke and Blackstone, had the effect to mystify the prosecuting attorney, who forgot the "order of his going," and, beginning at both ends of his case, broke down in the middle; and the case being submitted to the jury, they returned a verdict of not guilty.

The argument of the two counsel caused the most intense delight to the court and spectators, and the result was just what all hoped for, and every body was satisfied.

The spirit of litigation was now rife. Every man in the settlement found cause of complaint against his neighbor, and the court was like to have its hands full. Captain Johnson’s boys had found a barrel on the beach, and naturally curious to know its contents, had, as the easiest way of gratifying their curiosity, knocked its head out. It contained vinegar, price $1.50 per gallon, and the whole thirty gallons ran out when the head caved in. The owner demanded remuneration at the hands of Captain Johnson, who swore he would "carry the case through all the courts first."

"I then suggested," says Mr. Swan "that if any boy should throw stones and break his windows, he would be very likely to call on the boy’s father to pay damages."

"There ain’t any of my neighbors got boys big enough to break windows," said he; "and if there were, I’d break their heads." "Well," I replied, "would you not make their fathers pay for the broken glass?" "Yes, I would." "Very well; you boys, instead of breaking glass, have broken a barrel, and spilled the contents, and you are obliged to pay for or replace it." "But the owner wants me to pay him a dollar and a half a gallon, and I can buy the best at Astoria for a dollar."

"Well, you see the owner, and, as he is a reasonable man, I know he will only ask you what is just and right."

Johnson did as advised, and settled by giving his note on short time for thirty gallons vinegar at a dollar a gallon; but when it came due he declared he had been cheated in the gauge, so had the barrel regauged, when it was found to measure forty gallons, which he was forced to pay, very much against his will.

And so matters went on, until, but one short year after the appearance of the first lawyer, it would have been difficult to find a more litigiously-inclined village than Shoal-water Bay in the most civilized State of the Union.

We may add, in conclusion, that Washington Territory is fast filling up with a hardy race of backwoodsmen, who seem to find, in this Ultima Thule of our Union, the goal of all their hopes and desires.

August 22, 1857, pages 532-533 (Illustrated Article)

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