The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 7 Jul 1905

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p.1 Picton, July 6th - reception planned for Crescent Yacht Club of Watertown on their visit to the Bay of Quinte Yacht Club; regatta to be held next Thursday.



Committed at Charlotte, N.Y., On Fourth.


Firmly Declined To Lower His Colors.

The schooner Acacia sailed into port at eight o'clock this morning with a cargo of coal. Capt. William Simmons, a veteran sea dog, was in command, and was full of indignation at the outrage committed at Charlotte, N.Y., by insisting that he haul down the Union Jack, which he had run up on the afternoon of July 4th, in honor of the day. Mr. Bump, the collector, seeing the Union Jack, ordered Capt. Simmons to haul it down, saying it was an insult to the national holiday. Simmons refused and threatened to shoot the collector if he boarded his vessel. Finally Capt. Simmons lowered the flag when threatened with refusal of his clearance papers.

Capt. Simmons when seen said that he reached the port of Charlotte on the morning of July 4th. He hauled up at the long pier abreast of Ontario Beach Park, and made no display. In the afternoon "a real American" was walking on the pier when he approached Capt. Simmons and said to him: "Captain, I would like to see you put up your colors in honor of the day."

"That I will do with pleasure," said Capt. Simmons, and he ordered the Jack to be unfurled and hoisted to the peak. Then came the uproar and the contest for the lowering of the flag.

"I did not raise the Union Jack to insult or annoy the Americans. I did it to honor the day just as my American friend had invited me. My British blood flowed hot when I found that the crowd wanted me to insult my nationality by hauling it down. I had honored the day in Chicago, in Oswego, in Charlotte, on previous Independence days, as well as other holidays and had had my rights respected and my action in recognizing the days commended."

Capt. Simmons said he only lowered the colors on the solicitation of the kind American who had asked him to raise them. He had stood by the captain's action with a fervor and loyalty that Capt. Simmons cannot forget. The threat Collector Bump made that clearance papers would not be given if the flag was not lowered did not have any terrors for Capt. Simmons. He knew the law and he knew that the United States government would not sustain Collector Bump in his assertions.

Capt. Simmons was around early this morning to lay his case before the proper authorities; he will invite the minister of marine to ask the United States government for an explanation of the collector's conduct. "I think an outrage has been committed and I want to have the matter clearly and definitely decided as to what a Canadian captain is entitled to do in foreign ports in the matter of displaying his colors."

Collector Bump was very excited and demonstrative. He demanded that the flag come down; Capt. Simmons was equally emphatic that it stay up. The crowd was insistent that the flag come down; they considered it an insult to America to have it floated in their faces. Capt. Simmons with revolver in hand walked the decks and promised to burrow holes through any one who attempted the hazardous work of hauling his colors down. Bump's final expedient of refusing clearance papers was considered by the crowd as the reason for cooling the captain's British ardor, but it was not. He had stood by his principles for three hours and it was the kindly offices "of real Americans" that induced him to capitulate and then only on promise that he would demand enquiry and satisfaction.

The Rochester papers have published lengthy stories of the episode and the Herald who saw Capt. Simmons, reports him as saying: "I regard the action of the American officials as an outrage and I demand satisfaction. I will have the Canadian government ask the United States secretary of state for an explanation. The action was without the warrant of international law, as well as a piece of discourtesy unworthy of an American official. I certainly meant no insult to the people of Charlotte in flying the British flag on my vessel. I had a perfect right to fly that flag on my boat whether it is floated at Charlotte or Kingston, and I do not propose to ignore the insult that has been shown me."

The schooner Acacia is a fine craft about twenty-five years old and owned by her commander, Capt. Simmons. She is registered to carry 385 tons of coal and is in service between Kingston and Charlotte. She carries a crew of four besides mate and captain.

One of the crew said to a reporter: "It was grand to see Capt. Simmons to hold at bay the crowd that surged about the vessel when the flag was run up. It was not men of intelligence that acted mad; it was a rabble of youths and impetuous fire eaters. I think the element was stirred by agitators, the kind that have always sought to decry and defame anything British. There were quite a few real Americans who sought to pacify and show the howling mob that the captain was right, that international law gave him the privilege of flying his colors and that it was only respectful to recognize his way of honoring the national holiday. But they would not heed the advice and loudly declaimed and called for the flag's disappearance. They dared not try to pull it down for the dogged determination of Capt. Simmons prevented. They feared cold lead. I tell you I felt proud of Capt. Simmons and his stand."

Collector Bump Was Wrong.

Ottawa, July 6th - Hon. Raymond Prefontaine, minister of marine and fisheries, has not yet received Capt. Simmons' protest. The minister was shown a despatch showing details of the occurrence, and said at once that the case would be investigated.

"This is the first," he said, "that I have heard of it, though the protest may be on the way. You may say that the representations will be made to the United States authorities through the proper channels and the matter enquired into. The collector at Charlotte has no right to order Capt. Simmons to lower his flag and no right to refuse clearance papers."


Inspector Davis is bound to have the Canadian marine laws carried out so far as possible in his district, and has taken another step towards this end, by notifying the Kingston customs house to see that all United States boats coming here with passengers undergo Canadian inspection. There are several large steamyachts from river ports carrying passengers here, and which have neglected to apply for inspection. One of these days they will find themselves held up until they comply with the law. It costs nothing to do so. On the other side, the customs officials are very strict in forcing Canadian boats that touch at U.S. ports to get inspected.

Movement of Vessels.

The schooner Acacia is at the foundry dock with coal.

Craig's: steamer Alexandria up tonight; steamer Lake Michigan up.

The schooner Two Brothers is expected at Folger's dock, tonight, with coal.

M.T. company wharf: tug Emerson, from Oswego, light, and cleared for Charlotte with two light barges.

The steamyacht Wherenow was inspected today. She will likely leave tomorrow for the Thousand Island Park to begin her daily trips between there and Kingston.

Swift's: steamer Toronto down; steamer Caspian from Charlotte; steamer Picton up last night; steamer Hamilton down tonight; steamer Rideau King for Ottawa tomorrow.

p.6 Capt. James Dix is at present in command of the steamer Pierrepont.

The steamer Pierrepont went to Cape Vincent this afternoon.

The steamer New York looks like a new boat in her dress of white. Next week she goes into the government dry dock to have her bottom scraped and caulked. She will be in commission about the 16th.

Kingston applauds Capt. Simmons' defence of the flag. No mob here ever asked that the United States flag be lowered on vessels of that nation.

Refused Offer of $18,000 - Today, H.S. Folger had an offer of $18,000 for the steamer Pierrepont but refused to sell. The old gunboat has proved so good an earner this season that she will likely be held by the company.

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7 Jul 1905
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 7 Jul 1905