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flat boats of thirty tons, in some seasons, to the distance of three hundred leagues. If this navigation was once open to the Americans, it would afford to their boundless ambition such advantages, that they would not only seize all the trade of these two nations, but, with gigantic strides, would possess themselves of that of the Tallapoosas, upon whose territory, since the year '94, they have already begun to establish store-houses, under the inspection of the agent, James Seagrove, of which the ministry of your excellency has already full notice; and with very little trouble they would possess themselves of all the trade of the Upper Tallapoosas, completely ruining the house of Panton, which would be obliged to abandon the rest, and we would remain without a single Indian on our side, the Americans being able to reduce these provinces to the melancholy situation of a "presidio," whose unhappy inhabitants would at every moment be victims of the fury of those barbarians, being partly obliged to guard their fields and cattle with their arms in their hands; the government on each side of the Mississippi would become powerless, and the Americans and their Indians, insensibly, would introduce themselves among the nations of the internal provinces of New Spain, without that government being able to stop the progress of the immense projects to which they constantly and ambitiously look forward, and which they inculcate in their youth from their most tender years; and this can be stated with certainty, because they make no secret of it, but, as well private individuals generally, as the executive of the United States itself, publish that they intend, by means direct or indirect, to absorb all this trade, opening the navigation of the said rivers of Temas and Tombigbee to the same liberty as that of the Mississippi; and although these are the natural channels for the inhabitants of their shores to import what they want, and export their crops, still it is indispensably necessary to prevent it, and oblige them to carry on these operations either through the Mississippi, or through the interior of their territories. The government must expect many headstrong representations in order to obtain it, but it is necessary positively to give ear to none, and not be persuaded by the apparent and plausible pretexts that they will incessantly urge in order to obtain their end.
It is, finally, necessary in the present day to preserve the house of Panton, through which a great many affairs, which otherwise could not be transacted, are communicated and managed: through it the government receives the news which may interest it, because the traders, whom nobody suspects, report with sufficient fidelity all that happens they assist in the conferences of the Indians, or know from them what has been done in them; they give advice of the arrival of any American agent or suspicious person who may introduce himself in their towns: these advices, compared with the propositions which the Indians make in their speeches, or communicate to the interpreter, put the government in a situation of settling their ideas, and of destroying the views of ambition, of whatever hostile intention they may meditate among themselves, or to which
they may be instigated by our neighbours, who are very watchful to draw them to their devotion and interest. The treaty of friendship, navigation, and boundary, which Spain has concluded, had left these provinces in a situation to be affected by the endeavours of the American government, exactly at a time when secret measures had been taken, which rendered unquestionable our influence and preponderance, by the treaty concluded with the Choctaw nation on the 14th of May, 1792, of which the Baron de Carondelet gave an account in his secret representation, No. 22, of the 5th of December, 1793. By this treaty the four nations which occupied the vast country between the Appalachie mountains, the Ohio, the Mississippi, and the ocean, did not only remain under the protection and at the disposition of his majesty, but the same did guaranty to Spain her possessions in their proper limits, as much as he can depend on them, against the Americans. It is so that we are not able to employ any other means than those afforded by the Indian trade, being obliged to profit by those which are offered to us by the house of Panton; for the second treaty with the Chickasaws, by which, anticipating the negotiations of the Americans, we took possession of the Barrancas de Margot, four hundred and twenty leagues from this capital, on the Mississippi, notice of which was given to this ministry in No. 53, under date 10th of June, 1795, had the same fortune as the former with the Choctaws, by reason of the treaty of boundary already cited, in virtue of which the said post of the Barrancas, forty leagues from the Chickasaws, and half way between Arkansas and Illinois was ceded, a post which would at all times have insured us the free navigation of the Mississippi, protecting it from the incursions of the Indians. His majesty wishes to know, on the second point, what indemnification can be given to the house of Panton, in case no other vessel than Spanish, or recognised as such, should be permitted to go to any of our ports. The answer is rendered more difficult and delicate by his majesty not having been pleased to give a resolution upon the proposition made by the Baron de Carondelet in this said representation, No. 41, concerning the two propositions of the house of Panton, to befriend. entirely the nations, explaining the advantages which would result, and showing the imperious necessity in which Spain was of counteracting the ambitious views of these dangerous neighbours. It is certainly necessary to find out a way of remaining in possession of this trade for, if it is lost, the friendship of the Indians will desert us immediately, and, being exasperated, they will throw themselves into the arms of the Americans; and, if occasion should present, the Tallapoosas would call the British to the shores of the Appalachie. To show your excellency how interesting is the subject of which we speak, I must here remind you of the address which the late President Washington made to congress in the end of the year of '93. Among the other means which he recommends to it to conciliate the friendship of the Indians, he proposed that the executive should take charge of this trade, and that the confederation should VOL. II.
furnish an adequate sum for that object, making use of the following expression: "Private individuals will not undertake that trade without a prospect of profits, but to the United States it will be enough to be repaid their expenses." In the said April, 1796, congress passed a law to establish commercial agencies with the Indian tribes, authorizing the president to locate them in the ports and places of their western and southern frontiers he should think most proper, or even in the Indian lands, ordering for this object that eight thousand dollars should be paid anuually out of the treasury for the salaries of the agents and their clerks, and that one hundred and fifty thousand dollars should be appropriated for the same trade. Besides other treaties, the president concluded, the 28th of March, 1797, with the Tallapoosas, a treaty of friendship, by which that nation ceded lands to establish factories and military posts in some of the Indian lands. Colonel Benjamin Hawkins, among the Tallapoosas, and Col. John McKee, among the Choctaws, are trying at the present day, with the greatest exertions of their mind, (by no means ordinary,) to bring the Indians to agriculture and the spinning of cotton. It would be tedious for me to recapitulate the continual treaties, and the great sums that congress appropriates to the trade and friendship of the Indians; but we must not lose sight of the care with which they have always laboured to destroy the trade of Panton with the Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Tallapoosas, our neighbours; and it will be soon perceived to be necessary, to preserve it, protect and encourage it, to keep, as long at least as we can, the Indians in our dependence, until, the present system of things changing, we will be able at the peace to find some more effectual mode-it not being easy at the present time to supply its trade in any other way, without running the risk of losing it, and leaving the province exposed. But if, even after all that I have said, neither of the two propositions explained by the already cited representations, No. 41, can take place, it is necessary to see if the third proposition of the said royal order, which I now answer, is admissible. It seems to reduce itself, to permit to the house of Panton to import into the ports of Havana and Campeachy, during the war, and for two years after, ordinary goods, or provisions and victuals, working tools, and engines; exporting, in return, the produce of those countries to Providence, or any other port of the United States. This proposition, as far as I can understand from the context of the said royal order, would perhaps be admirable, if made in other terms, and not so generally; for, as it insinuates, "that none but Spanish vessels, or recognised as such, shall go to any of our ports, this clause, in my understanding, is equal to an absolute prohibition; for, supposing that, as the course of trade and system of this house is, it would not deprive it of all hope of compensation in this form, and as the conservation or ruin of its goods and capitals depends upon the decision of government, I would take the liberty of proposing it as admissible, was it not injurious to the national commerce. Would it not be possible to limit
the demand to the moderate privilege of introducing, annually, two vessels of three hundred tons in Havana, and another of the same size in Campeachy, for the term which has been specified, free of import and export duties for the said goods? It is not my intention to interpret in any way, and still less to discuss the superior dispositions, which I respect, considering them as founded on the most prudent and wise combinations, and accommodated to the policy which suits these vast dominions of his majesty; but, as sometimes the vagueness of a demand is a cause for its not being decided, I take the liberty to reproduce, in the terms explained by the last paragraph, not believing the concession to be such as would injure the interests of the monarchy, for the reasons which I shall afterwards expose. In the first place, this privilege, considering the present circumstances, and the immense losses which the Indian trade has brought upon the house, presents itself as of very little importance, and will fulfil the beneficial intentions of his majesty, which I conceive to be to preserve it from total ruin, for having expended large capitals, and the whole extent of its credit, and the best part of the lives of six individuals, in his majesty's service. In the second place, the government, and likewise the house, will be put into a situation to counteract with the corresponding strength and warmth, and with the proper efficacy, the gigantic efforts which the United States are making to acquire an absolute and permanent influence over the Indians, giving besides, as I have intimated is proper, a time for the ministry to adopt a plan and means to settle a permanent national system of trading with the Indians as it ought to be done, and as the actual circumstances have compelled to permit the trade of neutrals in these dominions, I would be inclined to believe that his majesty could, without repugnance, concede to that house the privilege which the disasters of the actual war caused to be tolerated, or permitted to those (although paying duties) without having the same titles that this house has for its services. No doubt there may be reasons of which I am ignorant, which I repeat I must not examine, which oppose this kind of recompense, by causing some injury which I am not able to understand; and therefore I shall pass to the fourth point which the house proposes. This consists in permitting Panton to import from Africa, in this river, four thousand new negroes, free of duties, as well as the exportation of the product of the said slaves; the privilege being exclusive, and to last for six years from the first importation, which shall not take place before the general peace. This mode, I believe, will compensate its losses, if, besides, a concession of twenty leagues square of royal land was made to it, on the west branch of the Mississippi, in one, two, or thee divisions, without interfering with other grants already made-the government always taking care to watch their conduct, and oblige them to dispose and establish said lands according to the rules which his majesty might be pleased to prescribe. There are, therefore, four propositions, which are presented, to indemnify Panton for his losses, and preserve the trade with the
Indians, which is so important towards maintaining a preponderance, which is recommended as necessary for so many reasons. It seems to me that the least expensive of them all, and the most proper, is the second, consisting of granting to the house a loan, without interest, for ten years, of four hundred thousand dollars, to continue its commerce, assuring them that if it should become necessary to diminish the prices of the Indian goods, in order to keep on a level with the trade of congress and its agents, his majesty would take into consideration the loss, in order to compensate it, when understood, under the regulations and precautions which they have explained in the memorial included in the cited representation, No. 41, taking for it the security which shall seem better suited, and leaving the house to its own responsibility, not to expose itself to losses under pretext of contending with the dispositions of congress, unless it be authorized to do so by the unanimous decision of the government and intendency of this province, as the urgency of the times shall require, and according to those of the present day. It seems to me that his majesty could pay the said sum in the term of two years, by halves. Although the third and fourth propositions could be admissible, I foresee injuries to the national trade, to the interests of his majesty, and to the subjects of this colony, particu larly in the introduction of negroes, which, in my opinion, cannot admit of the least exclusive privilege; for, all things considered, these two things destroy each other, considering that of a loan more suited the royal munificence and less injurious to the interests of his majesty; for, in this, by the reimbursement of the capital, he will lose nothing, nor cease to receive his royal duties, which in the other case would be suspended; and, finally, the complaints of the merchants and of these inhabitants, and other abuses which generally accompany privileges of incorporation free from the restrictions imposed by the regulations in the matter, shall be avoided. I have not spoken of the first proposition, which was justly admitted by the Baron de Carondelet as very proper at that time; but the system of these provinces has changed a great deal since, by the treaty of boundary. And it cannot be admissible, because there are no Spanish subjects able to manage this trade, and because the greatest part of these goods must necessarily be brought from Europe, as long as we shall have no manufactories to furnish them.
What effects would follow the giving no help to Panton, and leaving the house to its own speculations, and probably abandoning the Indian trade? is the third question which I must answer. All that I have said in this necessarily too long report, abundantly answers and facilitates its solution, without alluding to the entire ruin of that house. Yes, most excellent sir, its indubitable effect would be the total ruin of that house, if assistance were denied it, or compensation in some one of the forms before suggested. It has nothing more to do than to leave the trade with the melancholy remains of its fortune. Almost all, or the greater part of their credits, could not be recovered, as soon as this would become known.