restricted access 28. Secretary of War Calhoun on Indian Trade., December 5, 1818
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31 28. Secretary of War Calhoun on Indian Trade December 5, 1818 Regulation of the Indian trade was a continuing problem for the United States. In response to a request from the House of Representatives, Secretary of War John C. Calhoun submitted a long statement on a system for trading with the Indians. The following are key extracts. Included is a digression in which Calhoun expressed his views on the necessity of civilizing the Indians. . . . . After giving the subject that full consideration which its importance merits, it appears to me that the provisions of the ordinance of 1786, with a few additions and modifications, particularly in the administrative part, so as to adjust it to our present form of government, are, for this division of our Indian trade, the best that can be devised. The provisions of the acts now in force in relation to licenses are not as well guarded or as efficient as those of the ordinance referred to. The introduction of the factories seems to have relaxed the attention of Government to the system of trade under license. I would then propose to assume the provisions of the ordinance referred to, as the basis of a system to open the trade with the contiguous tribes of Indians to individual enterprise. Instead, however, of appointing two superintendents, I would propose a superintendent of Indian affairs, to be attached to the War Department , with a salary of $3,000 per annum; the superintendent to be under the control of the Secretary of War, and to be charged, subject to such regulations as the President may prescribe, with the correspondence, superintendence , and general management of Indian affairs; and to be authorized, with the approbation of the Secretary of War, to grant licenses to trade with the Indians. Licenses to be granted to citizens of good moral character , and to continue in force till revoked. A sum not less than $100, nor more than $500, to be determined under regulations to be prescribed by the President, to be paid for the privilege of using it at the time of granting the license, and annually during its continuance; and bonds, with sufficient security to be taken to conform to law and regulations. Licenses to be revoked by the President whenever he may judge proper. To trade without license, to subject to a fine not exceeding $1,000, and imprisonment not to exceed six months, with a forfeiture of the goods. Licenses to be granted to trade at specified places, to be selected by the applicants, and not to be changed without the consent of the superintendent . All peddling and sales of spirituous liquors to be strictly prohibited. Each trading-house, or establishment, to require a separate license; and books to be kept at the establishment, in which the prices of the goods sold and the articles purchased should be regularly and fairly entered; and to be subject at all times to the inspection of the Indian agent, or such persons as the superintendent may appoint. . . . But it will probably be objected that it is our interest, and, as we propose to monopolize their trade, our duty, to, to furnish the Indians with goods on as moderate terms as possible; and that the sum to be paid for a license, by acting as a duty on the goods sold under it, will tend to enhance their price. In answer to which it may be justly observed, that it is not a matter of so much importance that they should obtain their supplies for a few cents more or less, as that the trade should, as far as practicable, be put effectually under the control of the Government, in order that they may be protected against the fraud and the violence to which their ignorance and weakness would, without such protection, expose them. It is this very ignorance and weakness which render it necessary for the Government to interfere; and, if such interference is proper at all, it ought to be rendered effectual. Such will be the tendency of this provision. Its first and obvious effects will be to diminish more certainly, and with less injurious effect than any other provision which can be devised, the number of traders, and to increase the amount of capital which each would employ. The profit of a small capital of a few hundred dollars would scarcely pay for the license; while that on a large one would not be much diminished by...


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