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The same observation applies equally to all goods furnished for the Indian trade. At present this revenue may not exceed 20,000 dollars, but in the course of half a century, if we only suppose the number of inhabitants to be one million, and the goods they shall consume to be at the rate only of three dollars and one-third per person (which is a very moderate allowance for an annual consumption), this only at five per cent will amount to 166,500 dollars per annum. I am sensible there will be some expense attending this business. For the Indian treaties and presents we will allow 20,000 dollars a year, for fifty years, which will amount to no more than one million dollars, and we will allow three regiments of infantry, and an artillery corps equal to a regiment of infantry in expense, and to this we will add a corps of horse of like expense, then we shall have the annual expense of five regiments, and we will allow the pay, victualing and clothing of each regiment to annually cost one hundred thousand dollars, then the amount of expense of the whole will be half a million dollars. This, Sir, is making a very extravagant charge against that country for its protection; yet, when we take into consideration the value of the lands when sold, the products of the country for remittance and manufactures, the peltry trade, etc., with the duty on imported goods sent into that country for the Indian trade and the consumption of its inhabitants, the balance in favor of retaining that territory as a part of the United States, appears evidently to be very great. But there is another point of light in which we ought to consider this matter, for if we would know the real advantage that country must be to this, remaining united, we ought to consider what probable mischief will ensue by a division. Among these may be reckoned the loss of more than seventy-five million dollars in the sale of lands, an annual revenue of more than one hundred and sixty thousand dollars on European and West India goods, with all the advantages that can possibly arise from the peltry trade. And, what is a matter of serious consideration, it is more than probable (in case of a separation from the United States) that country would be divided between Great Britain and Spain, for I can see no reason to suppose they will maintain a separate existence. Then the best to be found if we give up the Western Country) that will require more expense to guard than the protection of all the Western Territory. The natural boundaries of the great lakes and the Mississippi River addeil to the inhabitants of the western quarter will give such strength and security to the old States, if properly attended to, as they must most sensibly feel the want of in case of a separation.
But I have no doubt but you, sir, and all the members of Congress, will give the subject a full examination, and determine on such measures as will most promote the general good of the nation, and in that case I think one might reasonably hope soon to see the forces of the United States in the western country so increased in numbers that, if the British posts are not given up: yet euch establishments may be made in the Indian country as to bring the natives, who at present remain hostile, to submission, and protect the natives who are well disposed toward us, not only from their savage brethren who are so much under British influence, but also from the people on the Frontiers of Pennsylvania and Virginia, too many
of whom regard not the authority of their own states, nor yet of Congress, more than the savages themselves. In this place, sir, I will take the liberty to inform you that in the year
1783 a petition was presented to the then Congress, praying for a grant of land in the western quarter, that the utility and policy of establishing Posts and forming Settlements that should extend from the Ohio to Lake Erie was clearly pointed out in a letter from the Commander-in-Chief and other papers accompanying said petition, and which I presume are now among the files of the late Congress, which I wish you to consult at your leisure. I beg leave at this time to add that I conceive, the more this subject is examined, the greater will appear the consequence that it should be effected as soon as practicable
, for, from Lake Erie, by a very easy navigation and short portages, an army may descend by the. Alleghany, Vuskingum, Scioto, Big Miami, or the Wabash rivers, into any part of the Ohio country,
from Lake Erie as from a common celle ter, fall on any part of the Ohio country extending more than
Western Territory is liable to be lost by surprise. On the other hand, were there posts established on or near Lake Erie, even though we were not in possession of Detroit or Niagara, the natives disposed to peace would be protected, their numbers and attachment increased, the Indian trade greatly augmented, and that country soon filled with inhabitants in such manner that
every reasonable fear of losing it in case of a war with Great Britain would be forever banished. Was this protection given, we might reasonably hope to see so numerous a body of well-informed and well-disposed citizens placing themselves in that quarter as would be able to counteract all the measures which any might attempt toward a separation from the old States. And if this protection is given, might we not also hope, from the lands already granted for a University and others appropriated for the support of schools in general, with some further provisions of little expense, I say, might we not hope soon to see such means of education set on foot as will have a most favorable effect on the manners of the people in that country, and remove the danger that, in a state of ignorance, with the art of designing men, they will always be under to mistake their true interest. If, sir, the western country is to be retained as a part of the United States, I conceive, the immediate protection and peopling of that tract between the Ohio and Lake Erie has a direct tendency and is the first link in the chain of arrangements toward compassing the great object; and if neglected, may prove an infinite mischief to the United States, for it was in full confidence that such protection would be afforded that the Ohio, Scioto, and other companies have contracted for lands to a very great amount. Now, sir, unless this protection is given, these contracts must all fail (to the loss of many millions of dollars to the United States), for, of what value are lands without inhabitants, and who will wish to inhabit a country where no reasonable protection is afforded ?
Another circumstance which renders the present moment important, in point of giving that district protection, is this : The people settling at Muskingum and Miami, not having those prejudices against the natives which commonly arise
Clair and other principal characters, as gives the fairest pros. pect of peace and tranquillity to the frontiers in general, if such military force is established as shall make the government of the United States in the western territory a terror to evil-doers and a protection to such as shall do well. I have already exceeded the common bounds of a letter, but there is one circumstance I can not forbear mentioning, which is the opposition that many New England people, and particularly in Massachusetts, express against the settlement of the western country, especially by their own inhabitants removing thither. This opposition, I presume, arises chiefly from two sources, viz., the drawing off her inhabitants and preventing the settlement of their eastern lands. As to the first, I conceive, it will make no material odds, for, if they do not remove to Ohio, they will emigrate to New York or Vermont; while there is any vacant lands to be come at, the population in the cultivated part of the country will remain nearly the
I believe, in old Massachusetts, the number of polls has varied very little this many years, and the reason is obvious, for, within that tract, there is no room for new settletlements of any consequence. And, as to the eastern country, it is a very fine place for lumber, and in that respect is of great service to Massachusetts; but any considerable number of people more in that district than to carry on this business will be a disadvantage in destroying the timber which ought to be preserved. That country, in general, is not fit for cultivation, and when this idea is connected with the climate, a man ought to consider himself curst, even in this world, who is doomed to inhabit there as the cultivator of the lands only. I can not suppose, however, that the Ohio country will much affect the settlement of the eastern lands, because those people who have not a double curse entailed to them will go to New York or Vermont rather than to the eastward.
Massachusetts, Sir, is in no danger of being depopulated for the Ohio country; even heaven itself will not invite them in such multitudes as to lessen her present numbers. Nor, on the other hand, will any policy prevent the emigration of greatly increase while there are vacant lands in any quarter to be had. And to what country can the inhabitants of Massachusetts emigrate so much to her advantage as the Ohio ? Is it not to the interest of New England that the western country should, in their manners, morals, religion, and policy, take the eastern states for their model ? Is the Genius of education, etc., of any people so favorable to republican government as theirs; and should they not then, by throwing in of their citizens, endeavor to take the lead, and give a tone to the new states forming in the western quarter? Besides, the products of the Ohio country will interfere much less, or rather, they will be of more utility to Massachusetts than to any other of the Atlantic States; tobacco, flour, hemp, flax, rice, and indigo, being the chief articles for exportation, none of which are raised in Massachusetts in any considerable quantity ; but, when the navigation of the Mississippi shall become free, will all find their way to the sea-ports of that State, and much to the advantage of her citizens who shall be concerned in the trade. I have only to add that, however inaccurate this address may appear, yet none will deny that the subject is important; and I pray God it may have a full and candid inquiry by all concerned in the councils of the Nation. I have the honor to be, Sir, with much esteem,
Your humble servant,
[Hon. Fisher Ames to General R. Putnam.]
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 22, 1791. Dear Sir :-It was impossible to read your letter, giving an account of the attack of the savages on the settlement at Big Bottom, without feeling a strong sympathy with you under the peculiar distress of your situation. However your fears may have interpreted the sense of the country toward you, I am happy to perceive that they are not indisposed to giving you effectual protection, though it will cost money. That circumstance, too often, throws cold water on the natural emotions of the public toward their distressed brethren. I am happy to learn, by Governor St. Clair, that the last intelligence from