24. Secretary of War Crawford on Trade and Intercourse, March 13, 1816
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26 the same lying system continued (pardon the epathet, could all the facts be presented to you, you would say that no milder term could be used) and the same plan of filling our Indian Country with their Agents and Interpreters and traders, which have at all former periods kept the North Western frontiers in a state of feverish alarm. I am aware that the Government is compelled to view the whole ground and that it may be necessary to grant to the British the privileges heretofore held among the Indians, in Order to secure to our own Country commercial rights more important to the nation at large. It is with a view to such a possible event that I submit these propositions to you. Their adoption will be found to counteract in a very considerable degree causes which have heretofore Operated without any check. Should it be found necessary in a treaty of commerce to make such a stipulation, the evil would be diminished by allowing to British subjects this privilege under the same restrictions it is granted to American Citizens. This will secure to us the right of recalling them, when we find their machinations injurious or when their obvious purpose of trading is to cover a project for scattering disaffection among the Indians. There are three great channels of communication, by which traders may introduce their Goods into the Mississippi and Missouri Country from the British dominions. One is by the way of Chickago and down the Illinois; Another by the way of Green Bay up the Fox River and down the Ouisconsin. This has been the great thoroughfare along which goods have been taken. Immense quantities have been smuggled to the Mississippi and it is calculated that not more than One third part of those sold in the Indian Country, ever pay duties. The establishment of a post at Green Bay and at Prairie du Chien will close this line of Communication. Another at Chickago will effect the same object upon the Illinois. There will then remain a route to be taken, which has heretofore been little used. It is up a small river which enters Lake Superior near the Grand Portage and along a number of small Lakes with portages to the heads of the Mississippi. I am informed by intelligent men that this is the only route, after closing those by Chickago and Green Bay, which is practicable. If British Traders are eventually to be excluded a post near the Grand Portage will be necessary to effect this object. Should other considerations render their admission proper the post would still be necessary to ensure a collection of the duties and to enforce the regulations proper to be adopted. A display of the power of the United States in that remote quarter would be productive of Salutary effects upon the minds of the Indians. . . . I am inclined to believe, if these posts are all established and proper regulations adopted at the various agencies, that British traders may be admitted without very serious inconvenience. Certain I am that their admission will not be attended with the same evils, which have heretofore been experienced. . . . [Clarence E. Carter, ed., Territorial Papers of the United States, 10:574–75.] 24. Secretary of War Crawford on Trade and Intercourse March 13, 1816 In reply to a Senate resolution, Secretary of War William H. Crawford submitted a forceful statement in support of maintaining the system of government trading houses, which after the War of 1812 came increasingly under attack from private trading interests. His concern for bringing the Indians into “the pale of civilization,” especially through the institution of private property, was typical of his age and foreshadowed later emphasis on this essential means of civilization. . . . . [Report of losses in the government trading houses.] It is probable that a more intimate acquaintance with the nature of the commerce, a more skilful selection of the goods, and of the agents employed in vending them, and a considerable increase of the capital invested in it, will, in a short time, produce a small and gradually increasing profit, after defraying all the expenses incident to the establishment, which are now payable 27 out of the public treasury. Under the most skilful management, the profits cannot be an inducement for continuing the system now in operation. That inducement, if it exists at all, must be found in the influence which it gives the Government over the Indian tribes within our limits, by...


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