« ZurückWeiter »
years purchase, be found in time an advantage to the public, far exceeding that expence. And if the expence is at present a burthen, the odium of it ought to lie on those, who, by their injustice, made the voyage necessary; and not on me, who only submitted to the orders of the house in undertaking it.
I am now to take leave (perhaps a last leave) of the country I love, and in which I have spent the greatest part of my life.--ESTO PERPETUA.-I wish every kind of prosperity to my friends,-and I forgive any enemies.
B. FRANKLIN. Philadelphia, Nov. 5, 1764.
Remarks on a Plan for the future Management of Indian Affairs*.
THE regulations in this plan seem to me to be in general very good: but some few appear to want explanation or farther consideration.
* The plan remarked upon was under the consideration of ministry before the close of the year 1766, and (as I am inclined to think) after the commencement of 1765. I can go nearer as to its date.
It is needless to enter into the particulars of it, as the remarks explain themselves; except perhaps as to the following points. The trade was to be open; there were to be two superintendants to it; in the northern district the trade was to be carried on at fixed posts, in the southern within the Indian town; the military were to have no power over the superin. tendants or the Indian trade, even in war time, unless with the superintendants' assent, or iu great exigencies; the superintendants, by themselves or deputies were to make annual visitations among the Indians, to see to justice, &c, and their proceedings were to be very summary; and no credit was to be given to the Indians beyond fifty shillings, for no higher debt was to be made recoverable. B. V.
Clause 3. Is it intended by this clause, to prevent the trade that Indians, living near the frontiers, may choose to carry on with the inhabitants, by bringing their skins into the [English] settlements ? This prevention iş hardly practicable; as such trade may be carried on in many places out of the observation of government; the frontier being of great extent, and the inhabitants tbinly settled in the woods, remote from each other, The Indians too do not every where live in towns suffi ciently numerous to encourage traders to reside among them, but in scattered families, here and there, often shifting their situation for the sake of better hunting; and if they are near the English settlements, it would seem to them very hard to be obliged to carry their skins for sale to remote towns or posts, when they could dispose of them to their neighbours, with less trouble, and to greater advantage; as the goods they want for them, are and must be dearer at such remote posts.
4. The colony“ laws for regulating Indian affairs or commerce” are the result of long experience, made by people on the spot, interested to make them good; and it would be well to consider the matter thoroughly, be. fore they are repealed, to make way for new untried schemes.
By whom are they to be repealed ? By the colony assemblies, or by parliament ? Some difficulty will arise here.
13. The districts seem too large for this. The Indians under the care of the northern superintendant, by this plan, border on the colonies of Nova Scotia, Que bec, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pensylvania, Maryland, Vir
ginia: the superintendant's situation, remote from many of these, may occasion great inconvenience, if bis cansent is always to be necessary in such cases.
14. This seems too much to be done, when the vasta pess of the district is considered. If there were more districts and smaller, it might be more practicable.
15 and 16. Are these agents or commissaries to try causes where life is concerned? Would it not be better, to send the criminals into some civil well settled government or colony for trial, where good juries can be had ?
18. “ Chief for the whole tribe; who shall constantly reside with the commissary, 8c." Provision must then be made for his maintenance, as particular lodians have no estates, but live by fiunting, and their public has no funds or revenues. Being used to rambling, it would perhaps not be easy to find one, who would be obliged to this constant residence; but it may be tried.
. 22. If the agent and his deputies, and the commissaries, are not to trade, should it not be a part of their oath, that they will have no concern in such trade, directly or indirectly? Private agreements between them and the traders, for share of profits, should be guarded against, and the same care taken to prevent, if possible, private agreements between them and the purchasers of Indian lands.
31. -"or trading at any other post, &c.” This should be so expressed, as to make the master liable for the offence of the servant; otherwise it will have no effect.
33. I doubt the settling of tariffs will be a matter of difficulty. There may be differences of fineness, good. ness, and value, in the goods of different traders, that cannot be properly allowed for by general tariffs. And it seems contrary to the nature of commerce, for
government to interfere in the prices of cominodities. Trade is a voluntary thing between buyer and seller; in every article of which, each exercises his own judgment, and is to please himself. Suppose either Indian or trader is dissatisfied with the lariff, and refuses barter on those terms, are the refusers to be compelled? if not, why should an Indian be forbidden to take more goods for skins than your tariff allows, if the trader is willing to give them, or a trader more skins for his goods, if the Indian is willing to give them? Where there are a
ber of different traders, the separate desire of each to get more custom will operate in bringing down their goods to a reasonable price. It therefore seems to me, that trade will best find and make its own rates; and that government cannot well interfere, upless it will take the whole trade into its own hands (as in some colonies it does) and manage it by its own servants, at its own risque.
38. I apprehend, that if the Indians cannot get rum of fair traders, it will be a great means of defeating all these regulations, that direct the trade to be carried on at certain posts. The countries and forests are so very large, it is scarce possible to guard every part, so as to prevent unlicensed traders drawing the Indians and the trade to themselves, by rum and other spiritous liquors, which all savage people are so fond of. I think they will generally trade where they can get rum, preferably to where it is refused them; and the proposed prohibition will therefore be a great encouragement to unlicensed traders, and promote such trade. If the commissaries, or officers at the posts, can prevent the sel
ling ling of rum during the barter for other goods, and until the Indians are about going away, it is perhaps all that is practicable or necessary.
The missionaries will, among other things, endeavour to prevail with them to live soberly and avoid drunkenness.
39. The Indian trade, so far as credit is concerned, has hitherto been carried on wholly upon honour. They have among themselves no such things as prisons er confinements for debt. This article seems to imply, that an Indian may be compelled by law to pay a debt of fifty shillings or under. Our legal method of compulsion is by imprisonment: the Indians cannot and will not imprison one another; and if we attempt to imprison them, I apprehend it would be generally disliked by the nations, and occasion breaches. They have such high ideas of the value of personal-liberty, and such slight ones of the value of personal property ;* that they would think the disproportion monstrous be. tween the liberty of a man, and a debt of a few shillings; and that it would be excessively inequitable and unjust, to take away the one for a default in payment of the other. It seems to me therefore best, to leave that matter on its present footing; the debts under fifty shillings as irrecoverable by law, as this article proposes the debts above fifty shillings. Debts of honour are generally as well paid as other debts. Where no compulsion can be used, it is more disgraceful to be dishonest. If the trader thinks his risque greater in trusting any particular Indian, he will either not do it, or proportion his price to his risque.
* For an account of the sentiments and wanners of the Indians, see an cssay by our author in a subsequent part of this volume. Editor.