John Scott to John Andrews, 03-22-1816

Summary: Opening of Salines and lead mines to private purchase; abandonment of Government trading houses among Indians and opening of trade to individuals; exclusion of British traders; encouragement of immigration by reduction of price of land or by reduction of the minimum quantity purchasable; relief for ousted settlers.


[Printed broadside.]

To the Citizens of Missouri Territory.

" The period of the next election of a delegate to represent you in the Congress of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived, when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person to be clothed with that important trust, I beg leave to make you a tender of my services, and to request that I may be considered as a candidate for your suffrage."

Be assured fellow citizens that this tender of my humble services has not been made, without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relations, that binds a good citizen to his country.—Born a citizen of the United States, now by choice one of this territory: and being identified in the same interests, and political principles with the mass of its population, whose friendship I have long experienced, and sincerely reciprocated; I shall have every inducement to act correctly; and to regard the good of all, in preference to any considerations drawn from mere local situation.

As I am known to be a republican, I do not think it necessary to say any thing in detail, with regard to my political principles.— There are however some points of policy, which have been adopted by the general government, in relation to this, and other territories, upon which a distinct expression of my opinions and views, is due to candor, and necessary to enable you to decide upon the correctness of the course, which if honored with your confidence, I shall endeavor to pursue.

The reservation of salt licks, and lead mines from public sale, I consider to be inconsistent with an enlightened policy, injurious to the general interest of this territory, and particularly oppressive upon certain parts thereof.

Placed as those objects are within our country; it must be presumed that the allwise author of the universe intended them, for the use, convenience, and benefit of its inhabitants: but the practical operation of the present plan of the government is calculated to counteract that benevolent intention, without the prospect of any real advantage to itself, for while individuals are strictly prohibited from using or occupying those favours bestowed upon us by a beneficent providence, they have heretofore remained, and without an entire change of measures must hereafter continue to be, a useless monopoly in the hands of the government, which is equally forbidden by a regard to its own interest, and by justice to its citizens.

Were proper encouragement given to our citizens to explore those hidden resources of individual wealth, and national prosperity; no rational man can doubt, that it would contribute infinitely more to the true and substantial interest of the nation at large, than the present contracted policy, which although injurious to the general government, is at the same time ruinous to the welfare of the territory.

Salt being an article essentially necessary to the wants of every description of our inhabitants, measures to render its acquisition easy and convenient to both rich, and poor, are equally dictated by justice, and philanthropy. Yet though our country abounds with excellent public salines, there is no manufactory of salt established at any one of them, either by any individual authorised by the government, or by the government itself. And so long as this state of things continues, no reduction of the price, nor deminution of the trouble, difficulty and risk of the transportation of that article can be expected to take place but all of them must increase with the enlargement of our population, and the expansion of our settlements.

This however is not all: For should such reservations be adhered to, even the bounty of nature in providing liberally for our wants and necessities, will be converted into the most serious injury, to a large and respectable part of our population, for there are such a multitude of salt licks in the county of Howard, that many of the meritorious, and patriotic inhabitants of Boons Lick settlement, who bore the brunt of the late savage war, will be driven from those habitations, which at immense sacrifices they maintained, and defended, with a valor and perseverance that never has been surpassed; and one of the fairest portions of our country must remain uncultivated, and uninhabited. Surely if Congress can be made sensible of these serious objections to their present law, some beneficial change of measures ought reasonably to be expected.

The indian trade, I conceive to be of vast importance to this Territory, and calculated to advance its prosperity more rapidly and certainly, than any other object within our reach. It was formerly in the hands of the inhabitants of this country, their principal support was derived from the prosecution of it, many of their houses (as may be seen in our villages) were constructed for the purpose of receiving the deposits of its proceeds: their local situation seems to give them a natural right to participate in it—but though the government has not declared in explicit terms, that they shall not enjoy that right, yet that such has been the necessary result, of the establishment of public factories or trading houses amongst the indians, is well known to many, and has been severely felt, as is amply testified by the continued emptiness of those former depositaries of furs and peltries.

The present plan of the government has been tried for several years in succession, and has it is believed eventuated in a diminution of the trade itself; without having produced a single advantage to recommend its continuation; while it has greatly injured many worthy citizens and checked their laudable enterprises, which otherwise would have contributed, both to their own, and the public advantage.

Wishing therefore to see the public factories abolished, and all pretext for their continuance removed, by a total and complete exclusion of all British traders, from any participation in the trade with the indians, within our limits, I am decidedly in favor of rendering that trade as accessable as possible, to the capital, and enterprise of our own citizens.

Anxious to see our territory freed from the shackles of colonial dependence, I shall be in favor of every measure calculated to facilitate, and hasten its progress to that maturity, which will enable it to become a member of the federal Union, upon an equal footing with the rest of the states, and for that purpose it appears to me very desirable that all proper encouragement should be given to emigrants, to our country—the public surveying should be accelerated, the public land offered for sale without delay, its price if possible reduced, and at all events to be sold in as small quantities as eighty acres, in order to accommodate that class of our citizens, who are unable to pay for more. The opening of public roads, and establishing of public schools, upon such a plan as would render education attainable by the poor, as well as the rich, (for which the reservations of land by the government are amply sufficient) would promote the present convenience of our population, and contribute greatly to its future increase.

Whatever may be the fate of the late proclamation of the President of the United States which menaces with serious consequences the settlers upon public lands, I shall always think that neither justice, or policy, required that the people of this territory should be removed from lands which they had ameliorated by their labour, and defended by their bravery, before an opportunity of buying was afforded them; and indeed before they had received the pay which the government owes them for defending even the country itself, against our savage enemies. I hope that kind providence will ward off the afflictive blow with which this class of our citizens are threatened, but should it be otherwise, they shall have my best exertions to procure them the remedy which their case will imperiously call for, and believing the law upon which the proclamation issued to be unjust and unnecessary, as to the universality of its application, I shall be in favor of its total repeal, or of such a modification of it, at least, as will prevent a repetition of the evils at present, so greatly and so justly dreaded.

These, and other regulations, such as establishing mail routs, and post offices, &c. I believe would conduce to the interest of our country. But I do not wish it understood, that I pledge myself to effect all, or any part of the measures above enumerated, I only intended to state my opinion of their propriety and utility, and my willingness, and determination to aid in promoting them, and any other objects of the public good. All that I can promise is, that so far as attention to your interest, and zeal in the maintenance thereof, can supply the want of better talents, you shall have no cause to repent any confidence, with which you may honor me.

John Scott.

St. Louis, March 22d, 1816.

[Addressed:] John Andrews Esq Big River