11 April 2013

History of the Falkland / Malvinas Islands: 1833

April 2 last year marked the 30th anniversary of an Argentine seizure of the British-controlled Falkland/Malvinas islands, an event that precipitated a short military conflict between Argentina and the United Kingdom. On that occasion I started a series about the dispute for sovereignty of these islands, with a post that narrated acts from the 19th century on which Argentina grounds its claim, including a settlement founded in 1826 and lead by Louis Vernet. It explained how an incident with an American warship in 1831 caused the reduction of this settlement and the establishment of conditions that would encourage a British takeover in 1833, which will be the subject of this second post. 

Just like the previous post in the series, I will discuss a lot of history with stamps serving only illustrative purposes. Most of the stamps shown are from commemorative series from 1933 (Scott 65–76), 1983 (Scott 360–370), and 2008, which celebrate the centennial, sesquicentennial and 175th anniversary of this foundational date for the British colony at the islands. The centennial series is particularly sought for, costing several thousand dollars according to the Scott catalogue. Two covers are shown with some 1983 specimens. One of them offers details about the series, you will find it among the (long) footnotes. Besides those series there are a few Argentine stamps borrowed from the previous post. For more about Falklands philately, including detailed booklets in pdf format, visit Stefan Heijtz's collection.


In 1832, while at Buenos Aires, Vernet resigned to his position as head authority at the islands, to concentrate on demanding reparations from the destruction done by the USS Lexington to the property he had financed. The Argentine government appointed Mestivier [1] as his replacement, sending him to Port Louis (their settlement at the islands) on board of the Sarandí, a clipper captained by José María Pinedo. They sailed to restore order and rebuild the colony with a small army of deported criminals and emancipated slaves, curriculums that were not uncommon for soldiers and sailors those days, particularly those who manned frontier garrisons. A number of them traveled with their wives and children.

Pinedo’s mission was to patrol the coasts while Mestivier lead the reconstruction. But a few weeks after their arrival, with the Sarandí at sea on its patrolling duties, the new governor was murdered by some of his soldiers. At his return to Port Louis, Pinedo assumed command of the settlement and was successfully suffocating the mutiny when more trouble arrived. Lawrence Freedman, Official (UK) Historian for the Falklands Campaign, explains: [2]
In London, the Admiralty decided to take advantage of the dislocation created by the Lexington incident by sending two warships, HMS Clio and HMS Tyne, to reassert British sovereignty on the Falkland Islands. [... O]n 2 January 1833, the Clio, under the command of Captain J.J.Onslow, appeared in Port Louis. Onslow told Don José Maria Pinedo aboard the Sarandi that the Islands belonged to no one, and that the British flag would replace that of Argentina the next day, 3 January 1833. Pinedo protested but in the face of superior force he did not resist. To Britain this demonstrated that the transfer of control was a matter of persuasion, for no shots were fired. Argentina points to the coercive nature of the persuasion.
Gustafson emphasizes that last point when he writes: [3] 
The superior force of the Clio and Tyne convinced Pinedo that he should not resist. The fact that shots were not fired does not mean force was not used. The most successful use of force is to show it, not actually to fight.
The settlement had no cannon or fortification, therefore defense depended on the Sarandí. This Baltimore clipper was dear to the Argentineans after its performance in war against Brazil, occasionally under the command of the father of the Argentine navy, an Irishman called William Brown. But brig-sloop HMS Clio was a larger vessel that, unlike the Sarandí, had been designed especially for war. The Argentine schooner carried no more than one 16-pounder, two 12-pounders, two 8-pounders and four lighter cannons, while the Clio was equipped with sixteen short 32-pounders plus two bow-guns, a lethal armament for close-range fight. For long-range combat, the Clio was to be assisted by frigate HMS Tyne, a larger ship featuring twenty-eight long 9-pounders. However, the Tyne was not yet near Port Louis when Onslow requested the removal of the Argentine flag. We will come back to the Tyne later in this post.

Pinedo may have considered staging a long-range attack on the Clio, by sailing out of the range of its carronade and firing the Sarandí’s light cannon while maneuvering to keep the distance. Though it was probably his only chance to reject the invasion [4], the attack would have been difficult to sustain long enough to disable the Clio, because it depended on wind and current, plus there was kelp to avoid and maneuvers were confined to the limited space of the tip of Berkeley Sound. A mistake or unlucky breeze and the Clio’s short-range power would crush the Sarandí. Pinedo later reported that the crew showed signs of low morale while setting up the ammo, as they feared for their lives. Besides, it was no minor thing to open fire against a friendly nation and the world’s strongest navy. So the Argentine captain chose not to resist but to protest firmly, take the news home as soon as possible and let Buenos Aires decide between diplomatic action or a better military response.

Flashback to the 18th-century dispute

The UK claimed that they were taking possession in virtue of rights awarded by discovery and colonization during their settlement at Port Egmont from 1766 to 1774. [5] But who discovered the islands is controverted. What Britain can claim with a certain degree of confidence is the first recorded landing, by Captain John Strong in 1690. In any case, according to the law of nations, discovery and first landing did not attribute sovereignty unless they were followed by exercising ownership via effective occupation, meaning to inhabit, use and improve the territory in a fairly-permanent settlement, practicing acts of government. [6] Discovery or first landing offered no more than an inchoate right, that expired unless perfected by means of an effective occupation within a short-enough span of time. It is argued that ‘short-enough’ meant up to 25 years. [7] But the UK did not settle on the islands after Strong’s landing. A permanent settlement was founded no earlier than 74 years later, in 1764, at Port Louis in Berkeley Sound. And it was built by the French.
Spain protested about this French settlement because it considered it had title to the islands due to papal prerogatives and prior treaties. France ceded the village to the Iberians in 1767, receiving a monetary compensation for the buildings. That settlement, renamed by the Spaniards as Puerto de la Soledad, coexisted with one the British had founded in 1766 at Port Egmont, at a smaller island on the other side of the archipelago. Spain pressured the UK for them to abandon their settlement too, as it considered it had ownership of the whole archipelago. The Spaniards went as far as to evict the Britons by force, an offense that almost precipitated war. But rey Carlos III was more interested in embellishing Madrid than in waging war against the most powerful nation of his time. He mended the offense by agreeing to restitute the port to the British crown in 1771. Normally, a renouncement to sovereign rights may be inferred from such a concession but, this time, the Spanish crown reserved those rights, as the document stipulated that the restitution of the settlement ‘cannot nor ought in any way to affect the question of the prior right of sovereignty over the Malouine Islands, otherwise called Falkland's Islands.’

From 1829 to our days, Britain states that the effect of the restitution of Port Egmont in 1771 offered ‘additional sanction’ to ‘the sovereign rights of Great Britain over the Falkland Islands’, failing to mention that only that establishment was returned, with the Iberians reserving rights, and Britain expressing satisfaction even though the Spaniards claimed the archipelago and were settled indisputably at Puerto Soledad. [8]

In 1774, Britain evacuated Port Egmont for unclear reasons. It is argued that it was done to focus resources on the war of independence in North America. FitzRoy points out similar economic-driven motives although he does not associate them to the revolutionary war: [9]
In 1774, finding the establishment at the Falklands expensive, and almost useless [footnote: The fact was, it was injudiciously situated, and therefore seldom visited, except by a few fishermen], England quietly withdrew it; but the marks and signals of possession and property were left upon the islands, and when the governor departed, the British flag remained flying, and various formalities were observed, intended to indicate the right of possession, as well as to show that the occupation of them might be resumed.
However, Vernet makes the point that, given that the islands could be made self-sustaining and were strategically located, plus considering the strength of the British Navy among other factors, it is unconvincing to argue that the UK left because it was supposedly expensive or uninteresting to remain there, suggesting that the real reason must have been that the British government acknowledged the Spanish rights, though they were not explicit about this renouncement because there would be, in regards to local politics, a better moment for that. [10]

This opinions concurs with a provocative article written by British polemicist Junius, who suggested that there might have been a secret agreement in the 1771 understanding binding the UK to evacuate, as it had been rumored at the House of Commons. [11] It is worth noting that these speculations predated the evacuation. There are other hints pointing towards the existence of a secret clause. After all, it can be presumed that Britain’s interests at the time were to prevent a French possession of the islands and to save face after being evicted by the Spaniards. With a secret pledge to evacuate, these objectives would be accomplished just the same. It can even be argued that Britain would morally stand higher after such an arrangement, as she would be seen “throwing away” something she had gotten back effortlessly out of sheer respect from her adversaries. But no concrete evidence of a secret clause has been found, thus it can play no more than an anecdotal role in the current sovereignty dispute.

In any case, what is most relevant from a legal standpoint is that Britain abandoned the islands and remained quiet about sovereignty there, despite Spanish and Argentine activity, until it protested to Vernet’s appointment in 1829. Abandonment in a legal context means lack of effective occupation, which, as said before, requires inhabiting the territory fairly constantly, using and improving the land and practicing acts of government through some kind of local authority. [12] Temporary landings did not repair the lack of effective occupation. Neither did plaques or flags such as those left at the abandoned Port Egmont. [13] Even if it was not its intention to acknowledge Spanish sovereignty when leaving in 1774, that 55-year absence with silence can be considered a tacit renouncement to any rights, doubtful or not, that Britain may have had at the time of the evacuation of Port Egmont. [14] Gustafson states: [15]
Most writers in international law, including Hugo Grotius and L. Oppenheim, argue that an uninterrupted span of fifty to a hundred years is required before title is prescripted. [...] Britain's absence of 1774-1833 was over fifty years. Britain's lack of protest, and recognition of Spain's and Argentina's claims, does imply its acquiescence in its loss of title during that period.
As he indicates, international law does not agree on a specific amount of years within that fifty to one hundred year range. Experts stress the relevance of elements specific to each case that may support the presumption of tacit consent. Grotius, one of the founders of international law, wrote: [16]
[I]n order that silence may be valid for the presumption of derelict [i.e., abandonment], two things are required; that it be the silence of a party knowing, and freely willing; for the inaction of a party which is in ignorance, has no effect; and when there is another cause known which influences the will, conjecture as to what it is ceases. To establish the assumption of these two conditions, other conjectures are of force: but for the most part, the effect of time, in both points, is great.
If there are cases where fifty years of acquiescence were considered to be tacit renouncement, it would be odd to argue that this case required a longer period, because such a claim should be based on a lack of information, a material impossibility to protest or attempt to occupy, or a reasonable fear to do either thing. [17] These factors were not present in this case. During some of those years Britain was even at war with Spain. It invaded Buenos Aires twice, yet completely disregarded the islands. [18] 

Spanish Malvinas/Falklands

Following the British abandonment, the Spanish Empire was left with the burden of occupying the islands or otherwise risk losing them “because the court at London may then claim Malvinas to be something pro de derelicto habita that can be awarded to the first occupant according to the law of nations.”, as put by an officer of the vice-royalty who elaborated: [19]
The occupation of that territory is a crown expenditure, like others, with the aim of preventing possession by our enemies, who would attain a permanent base to establish themselves near the strait of Magellan, invade our establishments and easily mount Cape Horn. These are not reasons for the king to desire a formal population, nor to have one based precisely at Puerto de la Soledad, if it is more convenient to move it to Port Egmont, or de la Cruzada, or in His Majesty’s desire to do it by means of a small presidio, capable of resisting a few light ships that may arrive for fishing, though not an attack or formal expedition, so that in no treaty may England claim its rightful possession, and our abandonment; although for now there is no motive to believe that there are plans for an expedition to those places by the state or government of England.
Presidio currently means penitentiary, but its meaning in colonial times was different. This difference causes some misapprehensions such as saying that what Spain maintained at the islands and what Mestivier was to rebuild in 1833 were penal institutions. In the early 19th century, a presidio was a frontier garrison or a similarly militarized small town, where convicted soldiers commonly paid service. [20] Spain used presidios to guard its frontier populations and roads from attack, as well as to protect the frontier territories from claims of legal abandonment.

While Britain acquiesced, Spain maintained a presidio at the islands. It was populated by some eighty men who rotated frequently with other unfortunate ones in the mainland. The buildings were sturdy. They included a government house, a church, storehouses and a fort, all made of stone. The crew of the presidio simply populated the islands as required by international law to constitute effective occupation, and patrolled the coasts to verify that landings by foreign fishermen were only temporary and legally ineffective. For this purpose they dismantled Port Egmont soon after the Britons departed, as they found that visitors were sporadically using its installations. When doing so, they removed the plaque, which was taken to Buenos Aires and presumably returned to British officers after the failed invasion of 1806.

In diplomatic correspondence when acting as Secretary of State, James Madison wrote in 1808: [21]
[T]he islands lost their importance in the eyes of the British government, were in a short time finally evacuated, and Port Egmont remains with every other part of them in the hands of Spain.
Tells the tale that the crew of the presidio made some money by contraband, purchasing textiles from British ships that stopped on their way to Cape Horn. Curiously, the colonial bureaucracy punished some convicted smugglers by banishing them to this place, which was perfectly suited for their practice. It is also rumored that the men of the presidio enjoyed visiting Patagonian Amerindians during logging excursions (there was no timber at the islands). Maybe life was not so bad after all... They knew how to hail the Amerindians so that they did not run away as they did, for example, from the English red ensign, which the natives were conditioned to avoid after experiencing scary cannon fire from ships carrying it. This had probably been caused not by English sailors insanely wasting ammo, but by Spaniards playing tricks to discourage contact between Amerindians and Englishmen.

Such was life at the islands until the men of the presidio, and their ship, were called back in 1811, following the May revolution of 1810. Until then, Spain acted as the owner of the whole archipelago. Contemporary cartography seems to concur with regards to its eastern half but are ambiguous in relation to the western, as maps prepared before 1833 identify East Falkland/Soledad using its Spanish or French name but sometimes label West Falkland/Gran Malvina with a British-given one. [22] This suits a possible interpretation that weights the effect of the restitution of Port Egmont— located at the small Saunders Island, near the large and nowadays loosely-populated West Falkland/Gran Malvina—more heavily than any Spanish claims or reservation of rights over that area, or Spanish subsequent control like when the port was dismantled without protest. Britain could have presented a case for the area of influence of Port Egmont by arguing that sovereignty there remained unaffected by French, Spanish and Argentine occupation of the eastern half of the archipelago, stating that this sovereignty had been tacitly recognized by Spain in the restitution of 1771. This case would have been doubtful but less so than claiming Port Louis.

19th-century Realpolitik

In 1829, with Buenos Aires having succeeded the Spanish vice-royalty and being established at Puerto Soledad (renamed to Port Louis), as was narrated in the previous post, London ended its 55 years of acquiescence and claimed sovereignty over the whole archipelago in response to Vernet's appointment as Civil and Military Commandant of the Islands and Adjacencies. The British argument is criticized on similar terms throughout literature. [23] In 1842, the prestigious Hunt's Merchant's Magazine published a study by prominent American historian Robert Greenhow, who elaborates: [24]
It will not be difficult to show that the most material of these assertions [...], on which indeed all the others depend, is entirely destitute of foundation. No evidence has yet been produced, that the claim of Great Britain to the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands was in any way asserted or maintained during discussions with Spain, in 1770 and 1771, or before or after that period. The British in 1770 demanded the restoration of Port Egmont, and in 1771 Port Egmont was restored by Spain; and the restitution of that single place was specially declared and admitted to be a sufficient reparation for all the injuries which Great Britain had suffered from Spain. Neither in the declaration, nor in the counter-declaration, nor in the order for the delivery of Port Egmont—the only documents as yet made public which can be regarded as authorities respecting the extent of the engagements concluded between the two nations in 1771—does any reference appear to any part of the islands except Port Egmont; and even with regard to that place, Spain was allowed to insert a formal reservation of her right of sovereignty, in the very act promising the restitution. Spain was never required to evacuate Soledad, nor was her right to that or any or every other spot in the Falkland Islands, except Port Egmont, questioned by Great Britain in any communication between the two governments which has yet been exposed to the public eye. On the contrary, we know that the Spanish authority was unequivocally asserted and maintained at Soledad, and asserted if not maintained over the whole group, for more than thirty years after the evacuation of Port Egmont.
These are facts which are not to be overthrown by any declarations or communications of British authorities or agents addressed to each other; nor should the reasons for which Port Egmont was abandoned, nor the flags, marks, or signals which are said to have been left there at that occasion, be considered as matters with which the rest of the world has any concern. If the right of possessing a territory be derived from occupancy, certainly that right should be regarded as resigned by abandonment of the territory for a long period; and no pretension seems to be more completely at variance with reason and justice than this advanced by the British government, according to which, an uninhabited country is to be forever rendered useless to the world—to be virtually annihilated—because a British flag had once been left flying on it. Whatever title may be established for Great Britain to the sovereignty of Port Egmont, or the West Falkland, by such strained interpretations of obsolete, arbitrary rules of national law—rules which her government has always strenuously repudiated whenever they have been cited against her claims—she has no just right to Soledad, or the East Falkland, which by the same rules are more clearly the property of Spain.
This critique agrees with other academic publications to a large extent. Even Freedman, the official historian mentioned above, seems to concur when he writes (p. 7):
The quality of the British claim cannot depend credibly on prior discovery or occupation. Reliance was placed instead on the settlement at Port Egmont, West Falkland. When established in 1766 the Falkland Islands were not res nullius (belonging to no one) as the French had a claim based on their earlier settlement in East Falkland and there were the existing Spanish claims. At most perhaps Britain was establishing a claim to West Falkland. Moreover, the departure of the settlers in 1774 could be taken as abandonment. So the claim depended on one settlement of a short duration, not replaced for almost sixty years and sustained by a plaque, which was soon removed and was of dubious validity after so many years.

Yet, these arguments were  the only justification offered by Britain for the eviction of the Argentine authorities from Port Louis in 1833. ‘British seizure of the islands was based either on a misapprehension of the record or on strategic objectives that were inconsistent with the legal rights of first Spain and then Argentina’, writes Michael Reisman—an expert in international law from Yale University—in his work about the dispute. [25]

According to Ware, ‘there was no clear consensus within the British government as to the grounds on which sovereignty was claimed.’ [26] A letter from the Duke of Wellington, the Prime Minister at the time, may provide a glimpse into the mind of the authorities at London. A month after Vernet’s political appointment, Wellington writes to the Secretary of War and the Colonies that, having studied the case, he doubts that they possess sovereignty over all of those islands, as the treaty with Spain had gone no further than returning to Britain the old settlement at Saunders Island, which they abandoned shortly afterwards, nearly sixty years before the letter. He analyses the possibility of taking possession of the archipelago in response to Vernet’s appointment. ‘[I]n this case in which our right to possess more than Port Enmont [sic] is disputed, and at least doubtful, it is very desirable to avoid such acts.’ But he reckons the inconvenience of having the islands fall into French or American hands, either by means of a cession by Buenos Aires or, in the case of France, due to a claim based on their first settlement. Therefore, he recommends protesting to the decree sanctioned by Buenos Aires, claiming rights on the islands for King George IV, in order to impede those kinds of advances by Argentina and foreign powers. ‘I think that this is all that can be done at present.’

Wellington wrote this letter in July, 1829, four months before the first British claim after 55 years of acquiescence. It is worth mentioning that the Falklands/Malvinas command the Strait of Magellan and Cape Horn, which were the mandatory sea route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans before the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914. This route was increasingly useful due to progress in the Pacific trade and European colonization in Oceania and Asia.
As said in the previous post, after the Lexington incident and the diplomatic quarrel that it ignited, it may be presumed that London found the opportunity to secure this strategic territory as it was confident that the US would not complain because it would go against its own interests. [27]  

A military reaction from the US would have been unlikely even if the islands were seized before the Lexington attack, mostly because the US navy was not strong enough to challenge the British [28]. But a diplomatic response may have been expected. At their time, the Tories aimed for the moral high ground in the Concert of Europe and were worried about the US leading an isolated union of republics in the Americas. Given the weakness of the British case, London must have been concerned about the diplomatic implications of a seizure, as can be inferred from Wellington’s letter. After the Lexington episode, this limitation had been relaxed.

Moreover, the aggressive intervention of Capt. Duncan raised concerns in Britain about American intentions regarding possession of the islands, which may have tilted opinions towards favoring a seizure. Given that the US had already paid a price for undermining Argentine possession, they could as well occupy the islands to support commerce with South America and the profitable American sealing business in the southern seas. At the very least, these concerns may have supported the seizure in the UK. [29] Additionally, after Duncan’s attack, it presumably became less reprehensible to the eyes of the British public and the rest of the world, given the poor condition in which the settlement was left, most remarkably the reduction of its population.

Besides, London must have been encouraged by European developments between the 1829 protest and the 1833 invasion. Firstly, France had conquered Algeria, laying the grounds of the Second French Empire. Gallic commercial interests in South America were increasing, as well as French activity at the port of Montevideo. A French colonial empire could make good use of the islands to challenge British power in the Pacific.

More importantly, in 1830, the French had experienced the July Revolution, when Bourbon king Charles X was replaced by Louis Philippe d'Orléans. This event isolated France from the other continental powers, which denied recognition to the new king in order to discourage attempts to dethrone their own absolutist monarchs. The UK, a constitutional monarchy, became the only European power that was not confronted with the Gauls. Relations between the two nations became particularly friendly when the Whigs returned to power a few months later.

To recap, the international scenario had changed. The second colonization wave was nearer. The US suddenly did not mind if Britain asserted sovereignty on the islands. The UK had improved its position in Europe, as the continental powers were divided and France became a friend in need. Under these circumstances, oddly would have been that London left all of this strategic territory in the hands of a weak and fickle republic, that was vulnerable due to the sorry condition of Port Louis and was busy dealing with civil war. Which, by the way, was tending towards a victory of Federales who disliked foreign powers.

In this context, London took a step further on its post-1829 strategy and sent a ship to take possession of the islands in the British crown’s name. If diplomacy and the law of nations constituted impediments to British title, it could be discussed later.

Mission to the islands

The British station at Rio de Janeiro thus sent to Port Egmont the HMS Clio, commanded by John James Onslow, son of late Admiral Richard Onslow. Twenty days later, the HMS Tyne, which had been stationed for a month, was dispatched to the same destination. Both vessels were fairly capable for combat but, as explained before, the first was vulnerable unless complemented with the latter. Therefore, if Admiral Baker at Rio knew from the beginning that an Argentine armed schooner was at the islands, would he have sent the Clio alone? There were three other armed vessels at port. Wouldn’t he at least have instructed Onslow to wait for reinforcements at Port Egmont? I believe the reason for dispatching the Tyne may have been to support the Clio after receiving news of the force sent by the Argentinians. [30] According to an officer on board the Tyne, it was rumoured at Rio that Buenos Aires had sent a party to occupy Port Egmont. [31] This was probably distorted news originating from the commission of the Sarandí to Port Louis.

As this officer narrates, the Tyne reached Port Egmont, stayed for six days and sailed to Port Louis after finding a letter from the captain of the Clio. Onslow had remained at Port Egmont for eight days, before the arrival of the Tyne, trying to rebuild the old fort and examining the surroundings. He then proceeded to Port Louis and I am not sure that his motives are clear. Perhaps a passing ship delivered news from the Argentine settlement. He may have sailed to suffocate the mutiny—it had been noted that, unless properly taken care of, the islands could host a pirate base that would support attacks to ships navigating around Cape Horn. At some point, Onslow considered that it was his duty to remove the Argentine presence.

I am commenting without having had the chance to read Onslow’s orders, which may be in ADM 1/39 at the National Archives. If someone in the UK would like to check them out, I would appreciate it. Further details may be present in ADM 1/2276. I am curious about the verbatim because something in the typical account is not clear to me. Narratives normally state that the Clio and the Tyne were sent to the islands to take possession and evict the Argentine authority, often presenting it as if they sailed together. It is clear that they were sent to claim sovereignty and that they did not arrive at the same time, not even coincided at Port Egmont or Port Louis. But did they have orders to remove the Argentinians? (Note: Since writing this post I have found that Argentine revisionist José María Rosa wrote that Onslow had no such orders. But Rosa did not elaborate on that point, perhaps due to the lack of a source such as the account from the Tyne).

The fact that initially only the Clio was sent suggests that Onslow traveled with no knowledge of the Argentine military presence. If the Tyne sailed to assist in the encounter with the Argentinians at Port Louis, why did it wait so long at Port Egmont before heading there? According to the officer on board the Tyne, they arrived on January 7th at Port Egmont, dispatched a boat (which could have notified Onslow of their arrival and intelligence if the Clio was anchored there) and waited three days for a fog to clear up before making the port. Then they explored, hunted and rested in what the officer calls three days of jubilee. He writes:
The joyous fun on shore, and the joyous fare on board, naturally produced such a flow of hilarity in the ship, that for a week, at least, not a sad face was to be seen but the doctor's, who kept daily bewailing the rapid consumption of his calomel and salts, from the host of boils and bilious attacks, engendered by the feastings and carousings.—From a letter left in a bottle at the flag-staff, we learned that the Clio had sailed for Berkeley Sound, East Falkland, [where Port Louis is,] and thither we proceeded, on January 12th, with a strong breeze in our favour, getting abreast the land about noon, and sailing along it within good view distance.
This officer relates an episode from January 10th in which he says that they knew that the Argentines were residing at the eastern island. Would they have rested if they knew that the Clio was headed towards a dangerous confrontation there? It took only about twenty days to sail from Rio to Port Egmont, and very few from there to Port Louis. Was the Clio deemed strong enough to deal alone with an Argentine force? Besides, why does the officer mention the letter as their reason to sail to East Falkland/Soledad?

This leads me to entertain the possibility that the Tyne had sailed to assist the Clio at Port Egmont, in case it was true that the Argentinians had attempted to occupy it, and that the Clio’s trip to Port Louis was largely Onslow’s initiative. If he was sent to take possession of the islands, it is implicit that he had to expel foreign flags. But if his orders did not specify actions at Port Louis, they may have been accomplished by simply clearing Port Egmont, hoisting the Union Jack there and visibly proclaiming sovereignty. That would lead to a sort of repeat of the status quo between 1765 and 1771, when the British settlement coexisted with Port Louis/Soledad while both sides claimed ownership over the whole archipelago (it is said that the visit by the Clio and Tyne was to be the first of a series of annual visits). 

Such a mission would have served a purpose, as it would have protected the islands from the ambition of other powers if Buenos Aires failed to maintain its claim, and it would have moved forward a claim for at least the western portion of the archipelago, which would have been, as argued before, better grounded than one based on the eviction of the Argentinians. Regarding them, Britain could have waited for a better opportunity to deal with their settlement, maybe speculate on their abandonment, or perhaps tolerate their presence just like it accepted their dominion over the neighbouring mainland.

However, if London really did not decide to evict the Argentinians when preparing the orders in 1832, it did when it endorsed Onslow’s actions in its answer to the subsequent diplomatic protest from Buenos Aires. This decision may have been influenced by the fact that a disavowal of Onslow’s performance could be interpreted as British recognition of the Argentine claim, like when Spain restituted Port Egmont to Britain in 1771.

Onslow’s trip to Port Louis brings us back to the narration that opened this post. After reaffirming British sovereignty before Pinedo and requesting the removal of the Argentine flag, the British commander gathered Vernet’s labourers. These were those few who had stayed after the USS Lexington attack, including some gauchos and Charrúa Amerindians who worked the cattle and were encamped in the interior at the time of Duncan’s incursion. Onslow asked them to go on working hard for four of five months. Then, if nobody had returned to pay their wages, they could take the value in wild cattle and either stay on the islands or make their way to the mainland. Graham–Yooll comments that this offer was generous but irresponsible. [32] The gauchos were presumably happy about the prospect to collect their dues in cattle, but the offer would cause chaos later that year, as Britain would establish an administration no sooner than in 1834.

Onslow's men erected a flag-post next to the main store and instructed the storekeeper, a Dubliner who was the senior British resident [33], to raise the Union Jack regularly. They also lowered the Argentine flag that Pinedo had refused to remove, and delivered it to the Sarandí observing proper honors. A day later, the Argentine schooner left with Pinedo, the rest of the military, their families and four of Vernet’s settlers who had decided to leave. An English merchant schooner assisted them with the transport of the mutineers.

Immediate aftermath

The crew of the Clio stayed at Port Louis for ten days. Shortly after their departure, the Tyne arrived, only to leave a few days later. The islands were left without formal authority for some time. [34] One of Vernet’s men, a Scottish seaman named Matthew Brisbane, returned to Port Louis to keep an eye on his boss's property. Vernet later traveled to the UK seeking for compensation for his financial losses, and also petitioned to the US. Those were the final efforts that they dedicated to their ambitious dream of South Atlantic colonization, which started in 1823 and looked so promising before the Lexington attack. Brisbane would be killed by some gauchos later in 1833 and Vernet would never get any meaningful reparation.

Ironically, Vernet’s decision to enforce sealing regulations in 1831, which ignited the chain of events that lead to his ruin, was sort of endorsed—perhaps without notice—a few years after the British seizure, by American and British geographers who commented on the islands apparently unmindful of sovereignty disputes. [35]

When Pinedo arrived at Buenos Aires, the mutineers were tried—most of them were executed—and he was charged for failing to comply with a norm in the Argentine naval code that said that ships had to offer resistance to any aggression, even against a superior force. We can imagine that Pinedo’s defense resorted to every argument that they could give. The technical ones were discredited by the imperative to fight whatever the chances, so they stressed the low morale exhibited by the crew when preparing the attack. According to the captain’s declaration, he had discussed with his aid that the men were doubtful because they feared for their lives and “could not fight against their nation”, in reference to a majority who “were English” (meaning the many English, Irish and Scottish sailors among his crew). Some narratives pick up on the last argument to say that Pinedo did not resist because his mostly-English crew refused to fight, which probably misrepresents his motives. Mercenaries were expected to follow orders regardless of the circumstantial foe, and a refusal to fight would not have gone unnoticed.

Pinedo was charged with a four-month suspension on his salary and with a for-life denial of command of any navy ship. The latter was soon suspended, perhaps owing to the unreasonableness of the punishment, although his family connections must have mattered, as well as Argentina’s shortage of skilled sailors. He could carry on with his career.

Since 1833, Britain has been in control of the islands, with the exception of a ten-week period in 1982. Meanwhile, Argentina has been claiming. In the history of the British colony, 1833 marks a foundational milestone, as suggested by the commemorative stamps shown throughout this post. I intend to go on narrating the Falklands/Malvinas in the future, besides some more philatelic-centered articles that I am owing you. As usual, comments are welcome.

[1] Mestivier’s first names may have been Juan Esteban or José Francisco.

[2] Freedman, L., The Official History of the Falklands Campaign, Vol. 1, Rutledge, London & NY (2005), pp. 6–7. It is curious that Freedman states that Onslow claimed that the islands belonged to no-one. In its February 27, 2010 edition, The Telegraph published an article about this official version supposedly containing errors according to Pascoe and Pepper, the authors of the “Getting it Right” internet pamphlet that I have been criticizing in footnotes in these posts. This statement attributed to Onslow is one of four “errors” given in what is claimed to be just a sample. Pascoe and Pepper may have had a point in this one, although I find their other three “error”–“correction” pairs to be dubious. However, there are other minor doubtful points in this section by Freedman, such as saying that the Tyne reached Port Egmont in December (instead of January) and attributing the title of Captain to Onslow (instead of Commander).

[4] I do not consider the word ‘invasion’ to be a statement about the legality of the act, just as D-Day is more often called ‘the invasion of Normandy’ than ‘the takeover’ or ‘recovery’ of Normandy. 

[5] The French–Spanish–Argentine settlement was located in the island of Soledad, or East Falkland, near Stanley, the current capital and where most of the inhabitants of the Falklands/Malvinas reside. Soledad/East Falkland is one of the two largest islands in the archipelago. Port Egmont, the old British settlement, was on Saunders island, a smaller member of the archipelago, located on its north–west. 

[6] In his classic treatise on international law, Oppenheim writes:  
[A way of acquiring territory is] Possession—The territory must really be taken into possession by the occupying State. For this purpose it is necessary that it should take the territory under its sway (corpus) with the intention of acquiring sovereignty over it (animus). This can only be done by a settlement on the territory accompanied by some formal act which announces both that the territory has been taken possession of and that the possessor intends to keep it under its sovereignty. It usually consists either of a proclamation or of a hoisting of a flag. But such formal act by itself constitutes fictitious occupation only, unless there is left on the territory a settlement which is able to keep up the authority of the flag. [...] After having, in the aforementioned way, taken possession of a territory, the possessor must establish some kind of administration thereon which shows that the territory is really governed by the new possessor. If, within a reasonable time after the act of taking possession, the possessor does not establish some responsible authority which exercises governing functions, there is then no effective occupation, since in fact no sovereignty is exercised by any State over the territory. (Oppenheim, L and Roxburgh, R.; International Law: A Treatise, Vol. 1; pp. 384­–385)

[7] There was no agreement about the amount of time that would have caused the inchoate title awarded by discovery or first landing to ripen; in other words, on how long the ‘reasonable time’ referred by Oppenheim and Roxburgh (see the previous footnote) may have been. John Westlake (in The Collected Papers of John Westlake on Public International Law; Cambridge University Press; pp. 166–167) refers to Pasquale Fiore’s proposal that it was twenty-five years, saying that Fiore cites Dudley Field, who had already proposed such a rule. Moreover, I have not read any authoritative sources suggesting that, when settling at Port Egmont, an inchoate title earned via Strong’s landing was still valid. 

[8] Some publications state that the restitution was formalized through an agreement with ‘neither side relinquishing sovereignty claims’ (quoted from Wikipedia), which is misleading. The said agreement was rather a written pledge from Spain followed by a note of acceptance from Britain. In its document, Spain declares that no changes in sovereignty status should be derived from the restitution. As said before, a tacit renouncement in favour of Britain, of at least the territory occupied by the port, could be inferred if there were no such statement. That is why it is called a ‘reservation of rights’, although it is doubtful if such a declaration can entirely prevent the interpretation of tacit renouncement. However, the statement did not preclude the possible effects on Britain’s claim from it having responded by expressing satisfaction, without any protest or reference whatsoever to the Spanish claim for the whole archipelago or to its settlement at Puerto Soledad. There is no reservation of rights in the British answer. The Spanish reservation does not say that no change of status should be inferred from the understanding. The original verbatim of the Spanish declaration was ‘l’engagement de sa dite Majesté Catholique, de restituer à sa Majesté Britannique la possession du port et fort dit Egmont, ne peut ni ne doit nullement affecter la question du droit antérieur de souveraineté des Iles Maloüines, autrement dites Falkland’, engagement meaning pledge, promise. The reservation was circumscribed to that compromise assumed by the Spanish king, ‘l’engagement de sa dite Majesté’, which would otherwise weaken his case. Pascoe and Pepper, failing to see this point when authoring their internet-published pamphlet “Getting it Right”, attack Rudolf Dolzer when he states, as they quote, that ‘[I]t has to be observed that Spain explicitly reserved her rights to the Islands while Britain at no point addressed the issue of sovereignty.’ They respond that ‘A reading of the original texts confirms that both countries’ rights were reserved’, which is incorrect.

[10] Vernet, L.; Report of the Political and Military Commandant of Malvinas to the Chargé d’Affairs of the United States, 10th August 1832; in Great Britain. Foreign and Commonwealth Office; British and Foreign State Papers, Vol. 20, 1832–1833; James Ridgway and Sons, Picadilly, U.K.; pp. 369–436

[11] British polemicist Junius, a pseudonym of Sir Philip Francis probably, wrote that there had been ‘a private insinuation or encouragement to the Catholic King to hope, and most probably, not to say certainly, an express assurance, that not only Port Egmont, now restored to us, but the whole island, shall in due time, as soon as they dare, be surrendered to the crown of Spain.’ (Woodfall, G. (ed.); Junius: including letters by the same writer, under other signatures, (now first collected.) To which are added, his confidential correspondence with Mr. Wilkes, and his private letters addressed to Mr. H.S. Woodfall; pp. 334–337.) Most remarkable is that he published those lines in 1771, three years before the evacuation, though he may have been just speculating. Junius was commenting on the agreement with Spain treated in footnote 8 above. He criticized its terms strongly and attributed high value to the archipelago. Samuel Johnson published a response, attacking him and minimizing the importance of the islands—an argument that would constitute the official justification for the abandonment of Port Egmont a few years later (see Johnson, S; Thoughts on the late transactions concerning the Falkland Islands; London, U.K.; 1771)

In a book published in the U.K. in 1841, Craik and MacFarlane comment on this debate. They also discuss the value of the islands and the British reluctance to be open about accepting the Spanish claim, giving credit to the possibility of a secret agreement: 
[A]s far as parliament was concerned, the question of Falkland Island was set at rest. But out of doors it long continued to be a vexed question; one party maintaining that the honour of the country had been meanly sacrificed, and that, in the convention, there was a secret article implying that, after all, we were to give up Port Egmont. Upon this side it was attempted to be proved by the powerful, caustic Junius, and by other writers, that the possession of Port Egmont was of the utmost importance to us, both in a commercial and in a military sense, and that the Falkland group was highly favoured by the hand of nature, and would be invaluable in the hands of any great power. To combat these opinions Dr. Johnson again took up the pen political, and in a pamphlet entitled "Thoughts concerning Falkland Islands," written with more vigour of style than geographical knowledge, he laboured to demonstrate that the whole group was worth little or nothing, and that it would have been monstrously absurd to go to war about them. Johnson was at least as far from the truth as Junius. Those islands contain numerous and excellent harbours; and Port Egmont in East [sic] Falkland, and Berkeley Sound in West [sic] Falkland, are two safe and spacious bays, with depth of water sufficient for the largest men of war, and excellent anchoring ground. The climate, though changeable, is healthy, bearing a pretty close resemblance to that of England. Anti-scorbutic plants, of such inestimable value to mariners, grow there in abundance. All vegetation is rapid; the soil in the plains is very good; wheat, flax, and potatoes have been raised; and cabbages, turnips, and other kinds of vegetables have been produced in great quantities and of excellent quality. The islands swarm with rabbits, which are unusually large, and have a fine fur; the penguins which visit the shores are valuable on account of their eggs; seals are very numerous; and the sea abounds with good fish. Other comestible resources exist in wild ducks and other game, in herds of wild horned cattle, and wild hogs; and there is a breed of horses, small in size, but very hardy. To ships about to double the stormy Cape Horn, or to attempt the more dangerous passage of the Magalhaens Straits, these harbours were invaluable as places of refuge; to sailors employed on long voyages the resources of the islands were precious in the highest degree, and more so then than now, as the ravages of the scurvy were not yet checked by medical science, and by the better care now taken in ventilating, finding, and provisioning our ships. But, even if the Falkland Islands had been as barren and as valueless as Dr. Johnson chose to represent them, it behoved England to resent the conduct of the Spaniards in falling upon her little colony at Port Egmont in a time of peace. Any mean submission to a small injury or affront inevitably leads to a greater; and until states, and governments, and individuals are better than they are—until some notable improvement takes place in human nature,—the best way to preserve peace is always to be ready for a war. Whether it was in consequence of any secret agreement or tacit understanding with the Spanish government, or from the false notion that the place was not worth keeping, the English force was recalled, and Port Egmont was abandoned in 1774, or about three years after the signing of the convention. (Craick, G.L., MacFarlane, C.; The Pictorial History of England During the Reign of George the Third 1760–1785; C. Knight (1841), London, U.K.; pp. 110–111)
[12] An additional element that may support an interpretation of renouncement from Britain is Article VI of the First Nootka Sound Convention (a.k.a. Tratado de San Lorenzo), signed between Britain and Spain in 1790, when Spain was settled at Puerto Soledad and Britain had abandoned Port Egmont 16 years before. The article stipulated that ‘with respect to the eastern and western coasts of South America and the islands adjacent, that the respective subjects shall not form in the future any establishment on the parts of the coast situated to the south of the parts of the same coast and of the islands adjacent already occupied by Spain.’ This is a form of recognition of Spanish sovereignty over ‘islands adjacent [to the coasts of South America] already occupied by Spain’. Gustafson writes:
Spain had conceded that the southern seas were open to British fishermen, who could use nearby land for shelter. Any occupation of that land was prohibited. England had agreed to this only if no third party established new colonies in the South Pacific or South Atlantic. Nevertheless, for the time being, England had agreed not to occupy islands then occupied by Spain. The Malvinas were among the islands then occupied by Spain. Spain had surrendered its claimed exclusive right of navigation and fishing in the area in return for Britain's recognition of Spanish sovereignty over occupied regions. If Britain ever had claim to the Falklands, it seems to have been seriously compromised in this treaty. Hugo and Berrutt conclude that Britain had affirmed and guaranteed "the exclusive juridical power of Spain, excluding all other sovereigns from the region where the islands were situated." The Spanish population, which occupied the islands until 1811, further strengthened Spain's claim.’ (Gustafson, p. 21)
There was a secret clause in the agreement stipulating that Article VI would remain in force only as long as other powers did not establish themselves on the coasts in question. Some dubious sources such as Pascoe and Pepper argue that Argentina would play the role of one other power, therefore allowing Britain to disregard the article in 1833. But the relation between the document and the Falklands/Malvinas dispute lies elsewhere and is twofold. First, the understanding may be interpreted as tacit British recognition of Spanish rights over the islands at the time of its celebration. Second, Argentina inherited Spanish rights over Argentine territory in virtue of being the successor of Spain there, therefore playing the role of Spain in the treaty (for certain territories of the Spanish Empire), not of one other power.

However, there are better-founded challenges to the relevancy of the Nootka Conventions. Are the Falklands/Malvinas ‘adjacent’ to the coast? Do the islands ‘already occupied by Spain’ include those where Spanish dominion was not recognized by Britain? Were the non-commercial stipulations revived after being suspended by the Anglo-Spanish war of 1795? 

[13] This point is made by Greenhow in a quote given later in the post. Also by Gustafson when he writes (p. 20): 
The longer a nation goes without exercising sovereignty over a territory, especially when other nations are doing so, the weaker the first nation's claim to a territory becomes. If first occupation of territories res nullius provides the best title, continuing that occupation maintains it. [...] As years wore on, the title given by Britain's intention to keep it, as shown by the plaque, became so abstract as to be meaningless.
Hope offers more details:
The British claims to title, based purely on constructive possession maintained through symbolic relics, were baseless not only in law but also in fact. In law because: (1) the theory that possession could be maintained on an island without a settlement for such an extended period of time (59 years), as leading British legal writers have acknowledged specifically with reference to the Falklands was itself contrary to the accepted practices of the time; (2) following the Palmas Island rationale, such a title, if it had been so recognized, could not have prevailed over a superior title based on effective possession and the actual and peaceful display of another state's sovereignty; and (3) moreover, England had waived its rights to the Islands in 1790 by treaty. The alleged title was baseless in fact also because the relics and the lead plate had been removed by the Spanish in the eighteenth century, and the English knew about it. In this connection, there is only one period when the Islands could conceivably have been viewed as a territorium nullius (de facto) by states which did not recognize the Latin American doctrine of constructive possession based on the uti possidetis iuris rule and that was between 1811 and 1820. However, during this time, when all Spanish presence on the Islands had been physically withdrawn therefrom, England did not occupy them. And if this circumstance is not yet another proof of a British animus derelinquendi one should be able to argue that it is, indeed, the nearest thing to it. (Hope, A. F. J.; “Sovereignty and Decolonization of the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands”; Boston College International and Comparative Law Review; Vol. 6, Issue 2, Art. 3; (1983); p. 425)
[14] Gustafson writes: 
The abandonment of Port Egmont in 1774 is more important than the disputed existence of a secret agreement, or British intentions in 1774 to keep or surrender right to the islands, or protests against acts of sovereignty by Spain and then Argentina over all the Falklands, including West Falkland, on which Port Egmont had been established [sic]. After 1774 there was a lapse until 1829 of fifty-five years in asserting a questionable claim while other states exercised sovereignty. In addition, Britain signed treaties with Spain and Argentina during this period in which it made no reservations about its right to the islands and in which it implied recognition of the other states' claim. The effect of fifty-five years of nonassertion on Britain's claim was significant. Even if there was no secret agreement, and Britain had intended to maintain its claim to the islands, the principle of extinctive prescription would jeopardize Britain's claim, especially after more than fifty years.’ (Gustafson, pp. 19–20).
Gustafson locates Port Egmont in West Falkland, one of the two main islands in the archipelago, but it was actually located at an adjacent, smaller island.
[15] Gustafson, p. 34–35.

[17] Let us briefly evaluate these factors during the period of British acquiescence. Could the United Kingdom be impeded to act during those 55 years? It controlled the world’s most powerful navy. It was a country of numerous, seafaring people. At some point it was at war with Spain, which motivated it to invade Buenos Aires in 1806 and 1807 but not the Spanish settlement at the islands. Some of the numerous ships stopping by the islands must have noticed that Spain abandoned its settlement in 1811, no less than 18 years before the first British claim since 1774. Vernet’s words and example indicate that these were economically self sustaining, a view supported by Junius and by the subsequent economic history of the archipelago until the opening of the Panama Canal, although it must be noted that this value had risen since the beginning of  the period of British acquiescence. Britain had the opportunity to reserve rights in various agreements it signed with Spain and Argentina, including the treaty with which it recognized the independence of the latter, a country that emerged from the old vice-royalty that controlled the islands, was in need of such recognition and had proximity to the archipelago. It could have protested or requested further information about Jewitt’s proclaim, which was echoed in European and American newspapers and witnessed by at least one British officer, Captain Weddell, who published a narrative of the Argentine proclaim years before Britain protested. 

[18] It must be noted, though, that the first of those invasions was most probably not endorsed officially. 

[21] Quote from a letter by Madison in 1808, acting as Secretary of State, to G.H. Rose, a British envoy sent to discuss the Chesapeake affair, as quoted in Niles, H. (ed.);  Niles’ Weekly Register, Vol. 1; Franklin Press, Baltimore, MD; (1812); p. 76

[22] None of the maps at http://www.britishempire.co.uk/maproom/falkland/falklandsmaps.htm that predate 1833 labels the eastern island with a British-given name, including several that identify the other large island with one such as ‘Falkland’, ‘West Falkland’ or Hawking’s ‘Maidenland’. The French naval map of 1800 labels the first island ‘Falkland’ and the second with the Spanish name ‘I. de la Soledad’. The British one of 1814 published by Arrowsmith calls the first ‘West Falkland’ and the second ‘Isle Soledad’. The French map of 1826 labels them ‘Isle Maidenland’ and French-given ‘Isle Conti’ respectively, while that of 1827 calls them ‘Isle Falkland ou Isle Maindenland [sic]´ and ‘Isle Conti’. C.V. Monin’s 1822 atlas labels them ‘I. Falkland’ and ‘I Soledad ou Conti’. This suggests that only after 1833 was East Falkland/isla Soledad (sometimes) indicated with a British name on maps.

[23] I have not read arguments to the contrary in authoritative literature. I do not mean to say that there is no basis for a British case in 2013, but the case as presented by London around 1833 is certainly hard to defend. 

[24] Greenhow, R.; “The Falkland Islands”; Hunt’s Merchants’ Magazine, vol. 6 (1842); pp. 104–151

[25] Reisman, W. M.; “The Struggle for the Falklands”; Faculty Scholarship Series; Paper 726; Yale Law School, CT; 1983; p. 302

[26] Ware, R.; “The Case of Antonio Rivero and Sovereignty Over the Falkland Islands”; The Historical Journal, 27, 4 (1984), pp. 961–967; Cambridge University Press, UK

[27] Reisman writes: 
The United States government asked a Spanish historian to investigate the ownership of the Falklands, and to determine whether the British had abjured their rights to the Falklands in a secret treaty. The historian answered that the Falklands had been part of the Vice-Royalty of Buenos Aires, but that he had not seen evidence of a secret agreement abjuring British rights. On the basis of this ambiguous report, the United States inexplicably decided not to apply the Monroe Doctrine when the British re-entered the Falklands. The United States argued then and later that jurisdiction over the Falklands was contested. Therefore, the controversy between the United States and Argentina could not be resolved until that prior issue was settled. By tacitly acceding to the British claim, the United States was able to avoid any responsibility for the Lexington's detour. From 1833 on, Great Britain remained in control of the Falklands. (Reisman, p. 300)
[28] Wikipedia currently states that the Monroe Doctrine was worked in agreement with Britain. This follows a common misapprehension about the role, in its making, of George Canning, who was the British foreign secretary at the time. Canning could hardly have vowed for the doctrine due to the Tories’ concern about the US leading an isolated union of American republics. As explained in The Cambridge History of British Foreign Policy 1783–1919, Vol. 2, pp. 68–72, the US were motivated by Canning’s decision to stop French affairs in America and by meetings that Secretary of State John Quincy Adams had had with the Briton, where Canning urged for an American statement that Britain could use at the Concert of Europe to protect the American revolutions from intromission by the absolutist monarchs of the old continent. At Washington, an opportunity was seen to advance American interests beyond what Britain was proposing. Thus they proclaimed what was later called the Monroe Doctrine. London accepted it and found uses for the doctrine anyway. Herrings’ From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776 offers a similar account (pp. 153–157). 

[29] A contemporary British journal published the following commentary: 
[T]here can be no doubt that if the British Government had not interfered in the manner I have alluded to, the United States would have gone to war with the Buenos Ayreans about [the islands], and would very soon have added another star to their national colours. It was therefore, in my humble opinion, an admirable stroke of policy in our Government to have thus prevented these important islands from falling into the hands of the United States; for, in the event of our having another war with America, there can be no question that, in having possession of the Falkland Islands, we should hold as it were the keys of the Pacific! As the American Minister, in his argument with the Government at Buenos Ayres, acknowledged that if any country had a greater claim to them than his own it was Great Britain, the President of the United States has, I believe, been obliged to remain silent on the subject! It is not often Jonathan outwits himself; and little did he think in what he let out, as it were by accident, that John Bull would take the hint. (“The Falkland Islands”; The United Service Journal and Naval and Military Magazine (1834) Part III; Colburn, London, U.K.; pp. 337–338)
[30] Related or not, Admiral Baker dispatched the HMS Pylades to the River Plate at about the same time as he sent the HMS Tyne to the islands.  

[32] Graham-Yooll, A.; Imperial Skirmishes: War and Gunboat Diplomacy in Latin America; Signal Books Ltd., Oxford, UK (2002); pp. 48–53. I am relying on this source for this narration about the offer to the gauchos. It is worth noting that Robert FitzRoy reported that he had to convince the gauchos (again) during a visit he paid in March 1833. 

[33] This was before the secession of the Irish Free State. 

[34] The chief of the cattle workers, Jean (Juan) Simon, had been named head of the settlement by Pinedo at his departure. But this title was largely symbolic after the removal of Argentine control.  

[35]  Three "endorsements" from Google Books:
 [The islands'] shores, however, are crowded with those huge creatures, the sea  elephant and sea leopard, whose rich coating of oil renders them a  tempting prize. Hence they have become an object of attention  principally to American navigators, who, during the few years that have elapsed since the islands were known, have made dreadful havoc among these animals, and greatly thinned their numbers. (Mitchell, S.A.; An Accompaniment to Mitchell's Map of the World; Hinman and Dutton, Philadelphia, PA (1837), p. 559)  
The lark, a hardy bird, appears here [in South Georgia] as well as in Hudson's Bay, and there are numbers of large penguins, seals, and sea elephants. The abundance of these last attracted the notice of those southern fisheries, who prosecuted the chase with such activity, that these animals have been nearly extirpated. (Goodrich, S.G.; Pictorial geography of the world, Vol. 1; Otis, Broders and Co., Boston, MA (1840); p. 477
There is no doubt that if this fishery was  properly protected, it would become much more productive; but several sealing vessels, particularly Americans, make a point of killing, not only the full grown and legitimate game, but destroy a future chance by  also sacrificing the pups. (Mackinnon, L.B.; Some account of the Falkland Islands, from a six months' residence in 1838 and 1839; Baily and Co., London, UK (1840); p. 42)