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The Indians, and the greatest part of the white and half breed traders, who know no other law but necessity, nor of other enemy than honesty, would take advantage of the situation of the house, laugh at its individuals, run away with what they owe, and join the Americans. It would be obliged to sell at half value their houses and magazines, used only in the Indian trade, and the dominions of his majesty would immediately begin to experience the terrible consequences of the robberies, assassinations, and depredations of those barbarians, instigated by our neighbours, and by the traders themselves; and perhaps Bowles, and his factious partisans, taking advantage of such favourable circumstances, would not only give us much to do, but in the course of time would extend their designs to greater distance. This can be, without exaggeration, the consequence of abandoning the house of Panton, which is already determined to desist, its individuals resigning themselves to the sacrifices which they clearly foresee, if in the course of next year his majesty does not intend to adopt some of the propositions which they have made, or some other equivalent which may suggest itself.

Let us now see, if in case of Panton leaving these establishments, we could ourselves replace him, and in what way. This is a project that, since January, 1777, has been thought of. The Count of Galvez, on very good reasons, thought necessary to engage the friendship of the Indians, in order to counteract the hostile designs of the British, and still more since we have taken possession by our arms of their coasts on this river, and of the places Mobile and Pensacola. But never has any house presented itself who would or could take charge of this trade. It is not possible to believe that the house of Panton is the only one able to carry it on, but perhaps no other company would be able to fulfil this object more efficaciously, considering the long experience they have in these affairs. And perhaps it may not be out of place to indicate a few points which may serve to the ministry to form its opinion, as well upon the magnitude of the object in question, as upon the different risks which necessarily have to be encountered by the person who undertakes this trade, pointing out at the same time some defects to which at present it is subject, and which are to be avoided in future, if it is to be liberal, as promised in the talks held in Pensacola and Mobile in 1784, and if through it are to be reached the important objects so desirable for the general good of the state, and particularly of these dominions of his majesty, with which is intimately connected the tranquillity of the internal provinces of New Spain. The debts due the actual house must amount to one hundred and twenty thousand dollars, rather more than less; in time of peace, they would amount, as experience has shown, to one hundred and eighty thousand dollars. The lots, buildings, tools for that trade, amount to forty thousand, more or less; these sums form a dead capital of two hundred and twenty thousand; the debts of the Indians and traders are scarcely ever diminished, and if this happens at some times, at other times they are increased in proportion. To this dead capital must be

added the labour of sixty workmen, besides that of the negroes or servants to prepare a post, and pack the skins; to that must be added the value of two vessels of from two hundred and twenty to two hundred and fifty tons each, for the houses of Pensacola and Mobile, and a brigantine of one hundred and fifty tons for St. Augustine, with three smaller vessels of from fifty to ninety tons, absolutely necessary for the trade and communication between these three said factories; equally are to be charged the goods or merchandise which must always be on hand in the respective store houses, and those which are navigating, going and coming from Europe, whose value can, without exaggeration, be stated at more than one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, forming a total of three hundred and sixty thousand dollars. To this immense sum must be added other annual inevitable losses, without any other profit or advantage than to conserve the friendship of the Indians, in order not to lose the interest and confidence of the traders, so useful to know from them all the information necessary to the interest of the house and political views of government, to which it has always contributed in a most complete way. One of these expenses is the cost of the open table (an indispensable circumstance, and of absolute necessity,) which the house keeps for the Indian chiefs, the traders and factors employed in its trade, hospitably receiving likewise all the other transient Indians. Another very great expense is the presents which, besides those made by the government, the house is obliged to make to the head men of the distant nations, who frequently come to its stores, and which cannot be estimated at less than eighteeen thousand dollars. We have already three hundred and eighty-thousand dollars, a sufficient sum to impose silence on those who, without foundation, doubt, and attribute profits and advantages to this commerce, and which must stop the most enterprising merchant who should undertake it; for, indeed, whoever intends to interfere in this trade without calculating and depending upon a full, strong, and certain capital, and without another equal capital of credit, will meet with successive losses, and in a short time will prostrate himself, without hope of recovery. Of all this exposition, your excellency will see how few persons, if any, in the province, will dare to risk their capital in a trade which has already caused the ruin of several, leaving irrefragable witnesses of this assertion, who are even now mourning over their losses, confirming the truth of what I have said. The United States, your excellency must permit me to repeat, persuaded of the importance of drawing to their interest the Indians of the different nations inhabiting between our establishment and theirs on our frontiers, as well of upper as lower Louisiana, and those inhabiting between their limits and those of Great Britain, which adjoins ours in the upper part of Mississippi, after having experienced how the calculations, combinations, and projects of their merchants were insufficient, have opened the coffers of their treasury, showing and justifying by that the efficacy of the commercial house of Panton, and

likewise the mode of conducting it; to obtain this, their favourite object, they make no use of artifices and persuasions, but by public acts of congress they have appropriated more than three hundred thousand dollars for that purpose. Our government alone has power and means to counteract these ambitious aims, by seizing all the trade by means of a compensation to the house of Panton, or by lending to whom his majesty might trust these direct or indirect succours, it would enable them to follow it with utility to themselves, and advantage to the crown. We cannot deceive ourselves as to the motive which induced the United States to make use of such efforts to gain the confidence of the Indians; they know well, by dear-bought experience, that whoever shall possess that trade will have an absolute and entire influence over them; and that all rivalry and competition ceasing, they would become passive instruments of the American will. This point deserves a most profound attention on our part; for we will find the Indians, as soon as we shall have succeeded in making them dependent upon this trade, allied, humble, and disposed at any time to oppose themselves to a power, whose continued, repeated, and ambitious usurpations they have always looked upon with anxiety and jealousy.

I will now speak of some obstacles and difficulties which must. henceforward cease, whoever may finally take charge of this trade. Its peculiar nature is such, that a delay, which on any other occasion would deserve no attention, becomes at some particular seasons of the year entirely destructive of the shipments; for, at the beginning of the warm season, the moth takes hold of the skins: notwithstanding that this circumstance be known, not only to the merchants, but likewise to every inhabitant of this province, the restrictions and formalities with which the intendency delays the necessary passports, have caused considerable loss. According to the order of his majesty, the vessels of the house of Panton must get from Havana the sugar, coffee, and rum, which it wants for its trade; lately this has been prohibited by the intendancy, unless the crews of their vessels should be composed of American or European Spaniardsa measure as impracticable in their business as impossible to comply with in ports so little frequented as those of Mobile and Pensacola. Likewise, Panton complains, that, in contradiction of the orders of of his majesty, they are obliged to pay duties on the produce which they export from here to Havana, with a view to get the articles above specified. The ministers of the royal finances in Pensacola have lately insisted on opening and registering the packages and blankets, limbourgs, and woollens, a principal branch of the trade, a thing never done before, and exceedingly injurious to their trade; for the injury to which the goods are exposed, in a country so warm and wet in the summer, as soon as the packages are untied, and the pressure taken away which preserves them. These circumstances seem indeed to be trivial and unimportant, yet experience shows their importance, and that their disregard would considerably embarrass whoever his majesty should appoint to


prosecute this trade; and these difficulties could be easily obviated by directing the government, as the most interested in the operation and conservation of that trade, to despatch the passport with requisite promptitude, and directing the intendancy as his majesty should think proper as to the necessary formalities of the royal finances, which can be supplied in a less injurious way, considering the nature and liberties of this trade, taking, however, the necessary precaution to prevent the privileges of the house of Panton from degenerating into injurious abuses. Let the intendancy, certainly, take care of the royal interests, without interfering in any way with the privileges granted by his majesty to the commerce with the Indians: let the difficulties be removed, fastidious and in opposition to the salutary effects prescribed by the many royal orders despatched in this trade, without injuring their affairs and interests, without enervating and paralysing their efforts, from which a great delay in the service must result; for the most time, they will entirely render useless the best concerted measures of this government.

I could not avoid expressing my ideas, founded as they are in what I have read, seen, and experienced myself, in order to make as complete as possible a report, in which neither passion or preci pitation can have place. Provisorily charged with the command, although to the great injury of my interest, by the captain general of these provinces, and daily looking for the proprietary governor, I have tried to fulfil the confidence with which your excellency has honoured me, without any other motive than the service of your majesty, promoting his royal interests, as those of his beloved subjects, and the just claims which those have to the sovereign protection who contribute and conspire to the accomplishment of its beneficial intentions. With these views, and in fulfilling the duties of a loyal subject of his majesty, I have demonstrated that the house of Panton has a right to an indemnification. Bringing to mind the different petitions which, at different times, the said house directed to his majesty and the government, asking for a just compensation for its constant services, and for its notorious losses, I have examined, discussed, and observed the propriety or injury which it seems could result from the spirit of the royal order, giving my opinion in favour of the second proposition, which I conceive more conformable and analagous to the best interests of his majesty, and to the defence and tranquillity of these provinces. I have shown the effects which would result from not succouring this house: I have proved the impossibility, at present of replacing it, unless by adopting the means proposed by the Baron de Carondelet in his aforesaid representation, No. 41, which even then would be with very great inconvenience in its principles; and in a separate official letter, I have explained the way which we could use to gain the esteem of the Indians, with the views dictated by his majesty. I will be glad, if I have in any manner fulfilled the high conceptions which your excellency has formed, to comply with the patriotic duties of his ministry, assuring your excellency that to do it I have employed the impartial

zeal, the energy, and the best intentions which my candour was able to suggest to me, aspiring only to deserve the approbation of his majesty, and to render acceptable to your excellency this unworthy product of my lucubrations. God preserve your excellency for many years. New Orleans, 8th of October, 1800.


To his Excellency Don Mariano Louis de Urguiso.

A true copy of the original.




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