320 | To the Board of Trade

    Boston Novr. 17. 1764.

    My Lords

    I have before wrote to your Lordships sevral Letters concerning the Indians in the Eastern parts of this Province,1 which alone would show how far the plan for the Management of Indian Affairs is suitable to that Country. Nevertheless I now set down (with the very first opportunity which my publick Engagements have afforded) to consider how ^more^ fully how far the plan is suitable to that Country; or what other would be more suitable.

    I observe at the first View that the plan seems Calculated for those Indians who lie at a distance & out of the reach of Governments, & therefore is not so applicable to those who live nearer to & are more intimately acquainted with the English Settlements. The latter is the Case of our Indians, who are becoming evry day more & more intimate with the English Settlers, & being Christians, altho Papists are capable of a greater intimacy. This will make a considerable difference with regard to their being taken from under the power of the Governors, & put under that of the Agent. Such a Regulation would make a confusion in a Government where the Indians are frequently intermixed with the English.

    I have before given your Lordships an account of the Indians living within the Territory of Sagadehock & thereby reckoned to belong to this Government:2 I will however repeat it in this Place, reckoning from the West. First there are the Norridgewalks living upon the river Kennebeck. These, as I have been lately informed, are scarce 20 families; & they can hardly be said to be settled in the Country, as they have neither fixed houses nor tilled lands: they come to Fort Halifax for Supplies, & keep going between that & St Lawrence. Second. The Penobscots live upon the river Penobscot at two different places, one about 70 miles & the other about 50 miles above Fort Pownall, These are the most considerable Tribes of Indians in those parts consisting of above 60 families which are more settled than any others: They trade wholly at Fort Pownall, except now & then they meet with private Traders with whom they deal for rum. Both these tribes belong to the Nation of Arasigunticookes,3 Third. The Passimaquoddies live in the Bay & upon the River of Passimaquoddy. They are about 30 families & belong to the Nation of St John’s Indians; tho’ their language differs from the Penobscots little more than Scotch from English. They trade chiefly with private traders, of whom they complain; & they have lately desired me to set up a truck-house among them: but I could not do it in the present state of that Country; however I promised that the Truckmaster of Fort Pownall  should send a sloop with Goods to them twice a year, if they would fix the time.

    I have taken great pains to make myself acquainted with these Indians & their Country, & have left nothing undone to regulate their Trade & keep them in order. And I believe there is no where in America an Indian trade carried on with more justice or to greater Satisfaction than this is. It is wholly upon the Risk of the Government, & is conducted by a Commissary at Boston4, & a Truckmaster at the Fort, who is also the Commander of it.  The Commissary, who has no intrest in it, being pd. by a Salary, sets the prices, which are lower than any private dealer ^trader^ can afford to trade for. A Table of these prices which are varied occasionally, is hung up in the Truckhouse, where the Indians may resort to it. When an Indian trades, a bill of the Goods of each party by way of Dr. & Cr.5 is entered in a book, & the Indian may have a Copy of it if he pleases. the Truckmaster is allowed 5 p Cent for his Agency; and the whole trade may now amount to near 4,000 st a year. The Governments profits of it scarce pays the Commissary’s Salary, & the charge of keeping a Sloop for this purpose only. About 2 years & a half ago, The Indians complained of their Truckmaster: I gave them a public hearing; they supported their Allegations, & the Truckmaster resigned his Office.6 I thereupon appointed the present Truckmaster, Thomas Goldthwait Esqr;7 a member of the House of Representatives, & heretofore my Secretary at War, whilst I had occasion for one. Upon his Appointment I made the foregoing regulations, which not only prevents the Indians being defrauded, but takes from them all pretence of their being suspected they are So: and they are really free from all suspicion of that Kind.

    I looked upon these two things to be quite necessary to keep that Country in good order: the one is to carry on the trade by appointed Truckmasters, & under the Eye of the Government & to prohibit private traders; the other to prohibit English Hunters out of the districts of their own Towns. For this purpose the Assembly have read revived & continued an Act enforcing both these prohibitions.8 For which the Indians are very thankful in both instances. English hunting tends to cut off the Subsistance & destroy the very being of the Indians; especially as the English destroy evry thing they come near, & care not if the whole Generation of Beavers was extinguished: Whereas the Indians who considers them as their stock always leave a young Breed. And the Indians very justly complain that it is very hard the English who have many ways of living will interfere with the Indians in the only one by which they subsist. And as to private trade, altho’ they can’t avoid dealing for rum when it comes in their Way, yet they never fail afterwards to complain of their being made drunk & cheated: and they have been much pleased when they have seen, as it sometimes happened, the penalty levied upon a private trader. As for keeping a Fort for a general Mart, the trade is not worth it: the Supplying 80 or 100 Families of Indians is no object of the generality of trade & may be properly confined to one house without any hurt to it.

    I am therefore fully of opinion, that the Indian trade in the Territory of Sagadehock is now carried on in as good a manner as it can be: and if it be thought proper to take it out of the hands of the Provincial Government, & put it immediately into the direction of the Crown, A Plan which shall be as near as possible to the present Regulation would be the best. But I mean this is only for the Country bordering on New England & Nova Scotia as being under very different Circumstances from that large Wast to which the general Plan is adapted. Therefore, supposing the State of the Indians on the borders of Nova Scotia to be alike circumstanced with those before mentioned, I will propose an easy plan for regulating the Indian trade which shall support itself.

    Let the two Posts for trade be Fort Pownall on Penobscot, & a Fort properly situated on St John River. At each of these places let there be a garrison consisting of a subaltern & 25 or 30 men from the regulars with some of the Artillery to be kept up & supported independently of the Trade.9 Let the Establishment for the trade be a Commissary or Truckmaster, an Interpreter, an Armourer , & a Smith as Armourers mate. Let 10 p Cent, besides an advance for factorage, freight, intrest of mony &c, be set upon all goods sold to the Indians, of which let the Commissary have 5 p Ct. for his trouble & to encourage him to promote the trade. Let 5 p Cent (or more if there is occasion) be set upon all goods bought of the Indians, over & above their Value at market & besides freight &c. Let the 5 p Ct. of the former goods & the 5 p Ct. of the latter be made a fund for paying Salaries of the Interpreter, Armourer , & Smith, (& also to the Commissary if his poundage shall not be sufficient) & to discharge contingent Expences. Let a List of the Prices of goods be settled once a year, & hung up in the truckhouse; & let the Account of evry Indians trade be entered in a book & a Copy of it given to him if he pleases. Let the Accounts of the whole trade be annually settled by the Governor & Council of the Province or by Auditors appointed by them. And Let all private trade with the Indians be prohibited.

    To exemplify this let it be supposed that the Value of the goods passed in trade in the Year would be £4,000. The Poundage of this as proposed before will amount to £600. of which £200 will be appropriated to the Commissary & there remains £400. Out of this may be appropriated the following Salaries.


    Interpreter £50. Armourer £50. Smith £20.


    to which add the Victualling at the

    following rates_ _ _ ________________

    Commissary pr. diem 1s. Interpreter & Armourer 1s. 6d.

    Smith 6d. _ _ _ _ _ _ total_____________


    Remains for contingent Expences_____



    If it should be thought improper to engage the Administration of the Crown in trade, It is easily avoided. Let the Commissary undertake this trade upon his own Account paying the deductions before mentioned as duties upon it, & subjecting himself to the Government for the settlement of the prices of the goods, & such other Checks & regulations as may be necessary for the due performance of his contract.

    In any of these Cases I must beg leave to bespeak your Lordships favor on the behalf of Mr Goldthwait. When the place at Fort Pownall was vacant, I took him out of a settled Life & engaged him to undertake the management of this trucktrade, being fully apprized of his qualifications therefor. I struck off many advantages which his predecessors had taken, which were injurious to the trade, & left him no perquisites but what were open & allowed: so that his whole profits, which depended upon the quantum of the trade, should be apparent. The Trade has been considerably advanced by the late Regulations; that his whole income, including his appointment to the command of the fort is near £300 a year: & less, a person of his appointments & qualifications ought not to have. He has removed his stock & family down to that place, but lately an absolute Wilderness; he has regulated the Garrison & the trade of the place according to my best expectation; he has so pleased the Indians & gained such an intimacy with them as well as their Confidence in him, that he may be considered as a chief Agent in the present Establishment of the Security of the Country. If after all, He should, by means of new Regulations, be dismissed this Service, or not be allowed to continue in it with proper Appointments, it would, in my Opinion, be disadvantageous to the public, injurious to him, & mortifying to me who engaged him in this Service.

    There remains something to be said concerning exempting the Indians from the Governments of these Provinces & subjecting them to the ordinances of the general Agent. No one has a greater Opinion of Sr. William Johnson’s10 Services & merit than I have; & yet I should not choose, neither do I believe he would desire that ^he should^ be a Governor within my Government.11 Such He must absolutely be, if he is the Governor of the Indians before mentioned & all that are concerned with them. These Indians are evry day more & more intermixing with the People, & will soon become more intimate with them, if they can be converted from Popery to Protestantism. It is not long Since that part of the River Indians, now called the Stockbridge Indians, were as separate from this Province, as the Penobscot’s are now; & yet at present they are so associated with the English, that they Vote for Representatives jointly with the English; & last Spring, upon a Division, the Indians carried the Election against the generality of the English.12 Would it be proper for Sr. William to be Governor of the Indians who send Representatives to the Assembly of the Province in which they reside? And can it be said how soon the Penobscot Indians may be admitted to the same Rights which the Stockbridge Indians now enjoy? & won’t they then become as absolutely a part of the Government as any place in it?

    It seems therefore necessary to make a Distinction between the Indians adjoining to, or rather ^living^, in the Government of Nova Scotia & New England, & the Indians in the great Wast of the Continent; & to leave the former in all domestic Matters to the Administration of the Governments in which they reside, & with which they communicate. In foreign matters, that is, in alliances with distant Indians & in general Treaties of Peace & War, they should be left to the discretion of the Agent. And in mixt matters the Governor & Agent may Act in concert. Tho’ if they know their own minds & keep their Resolutions, there will be little business for the Agent. For they declare, if they can be allowed to live in Peace with a free enjoyment of the gifts of Nature, they are determined never to make themselves Parties in European Wars Again. And they have Reason: for it is certain that another such a War as the last, must effectually extirpate them, as they would now be between two fires, & their Country is now well known.

    What I have before mentioned tends to make considerable alterations on the 14 first Articles of the Plan in respect to these Indians. I shall make some short observations on some of the following Articles. 15-20 It will be necessary that the Commissaries should be armed with civil Power. Both the Commanders, who are also Truckmasters of Forts are justices of the Peace, and able & reputable justices too, or else they could not keep up their own Authority there. These Indians are good witnesses according to the strictest laws of evidence, as they profess a belief in the Gospel. Honours & Commissions would be very proper for them: but they should not be of a military Kind, as it would be best that they should forget their Warlike functions. Appointing Magistrates among them would have a very good Effect: I have made an offer to the Penobscots to appoint some of them justices over their tribe: they seem greatly pleased with it; but cant agree who the persons shall be; & I shant choose for them without their Express desire. We find it best to make the Truckmaster Commander of the Fort: but that cant be if the garrison is composed of regulars. However in such Case the Commanding officer of the garrison should be subject to the directions if not to the Command of the Commissary. In regard to regulations for purchasing lands of the Indians, there is no occasion for them here. The English Indians admit that the English have conquered the Country from them as well as from the French; & that they hold their possessions by grace & favour more than by right. And indeed it is the Intrest of Great Britain to grant all that they ask, that is, to maintain them in their hunting against the encroachments of the English, as it is the most proper Employment for the Indians & a very improper one for Englishmen. The preventing the Country being settled too far up will be allways in his Majesty’s Power, and there is no danger of it at present.

    From all that has been aforesaid, It seems that a general Plan for managing Indian Affairs on the Great Continent, cannot be properly applied to the Indians bordering on, or living in the Governments of New England & Nova Scotia; & therefore it would be proper to leave such Indians out of such general plan. Nevertheless It may be very advisable to insert a clause in the intended bill to restrain hunting & trading with the Indians, without his Majesty’s licence, & in general to vest a sufficient Power in his Majesty to make such Regulations for the trade & government of the Indians in that Country as shall be thought necessary & expedient. And possibly it may be thought proper to include all the Arasiguntioke13 & the St John’s Indians within such Regulations.

    I am &c

    The Rt Honble, The Lords of Trade

    AL, LbC BP, 3: 189-197.