To the Right honourable the Lords Commissioners for Trade & Plantations.
The petition of us the Subscribers being Indian Traders & Merc[hants] residing in The City and County of Albany in America.
That your Petitioners as well as their Ancestors have for near a Century and a half carried on a free trade with the Indians living Westward of Albany under such regulations as have from time to time been made by the Legislative Power of this Province, the last Twenty Seven years of which time the said Trade was carried on under the Inspection and Superintendence of a Commissary thereunto appointed; agreeable to which regulations the trade whilst centered at Oswego, flourished without any interruption by the Savages, or without being subject to any Prohibition of Rum or other spirituous liquors, till the commencement of hostilities by the French and Indians on the Ohio, in consequences whereof the Traders being intimidated to risqué their effects in this Trade a temporary stop was put thereto; But on the Declaration of War against the French and subsequent thereto the glorious Acquisitions obtained by His Majesty’s Armies in the reduction of Niagara and afterwards Canada with its dependencies, encouraged your Petitioners to use their endeavors in carrying on this valuable branch of Trade in a more extensive manner than had hitherto been practized, tho in pursuit of this plan your Petitioners by some new invented regulations were totally prohibited from carrying rum and other spirituous liquors, the enforcement of which regulations your Petitioners conceive was founded on a mistaken notion, if not on some lucrative views; tho true it is that some of the Five Nations have examined against the sale of rum amongst them, yet it’s equally true that the other Tribes with whom your Petitioners carry on a far more considerable Trade, look upon such a Petitioners finding by Experience since this prohibition took place a considerable decrease in the Trade which they can ascribe to no other reason than such prohibition because when the Indians have nothing farther to provide for than bare necessaries, a very small quantity of Furs in Trade will abundantly supply that defect, Whereas when the Vent of Liquors is allow’d amongst them, it spurs them on to an unwaried application in hunting in order to supply the Trading Places with Furs and Skins in Exchange for Liquors.
Your Petitioners notwithstanding the Discouragements this Trade has laid under (having first obtained passes for that purpose) have for these three last years carried on said Trade with the remote Tribes of Indians, at all or most of the different conquered stations now under His Majesty’s Protection on this Executive Continent under the arbitrary direction of the Commanders on the different stations, some of whom being ignorant in Trade and unacquainted with the Indians, obstructed the Traders and slighted the Indians, and tho’ the expence and fatigue on such long trading voyages on the Lakes is very considerable and labour very dear, yet with them as they have no proper idea of labour, (traveling to them being little or no expence) they being at home wherever they come.
Your Petitioners beg leave farther to present that some or most of your Petitioners last Summer coasting along the Lakes in pursuit of this Trade, and others who had arrived at their respective destined places of Trade were inhumanely set upon and attacked by those Savages and several of their Fellow Traders murdered, their effects plundered and some of your Petitioners led into captivity & otherwise treated in the most cruel & barbarous manner, whereby they have been most unhappy sufferers (when our new fellow subject the Canadians carried on their trade at the same time and places without being in the least molested the Dread of such treatment for the Future discourages your Petitioners from pursing this branch of trade with their wonted alacrity.
Your Lordship Petitioner beg leave farther to observe that unless some salutary remedy be put in practice your Petitioners conceive it may occasion a Stagnation in said Trade, on account of the Traders in the prosecution of their voyages being all times obnoxious to such treatment for the future, the Indians in such cases having a safe retreat to the Mississippi, where it is the interest of the French not only to protect but also to encourage them, To this may be further observed that the different places of Trade are so far up in the interior part of the Continent, that no sufficient caution can at all Times be taken to guard against the occasional Excursions & Depredations of those Savages.
Your Petitioners therefore farther beg leave with all due submission to your Lordships superior Judgment to present (in order to anticipate the Cruelties, Losses & Misfortunes which your Petitioners hereafter might be liable to, should the trade remain as it is) that Pittsburgh Niagara Fort Williams Augusts & Cannusadago are the most conveniently situated to center this Trade in.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray in Consideration of the Inconveniencies that this Trade as it now stands, is so eminently, exposed to, that those Places for a general Resort to all His Majesty’s subjects be expressly stipulated, and that non under the Places so fixed upon, & that the same be under the Superintendency of some proper Person or Persons duly authorized for that purpose and that there be no Prohibition of Spiritous Liquors, without its being first duly enquired into, whether it is detrimental to any of His Majesty’s Subjects; or to do such other Things in the Proviences as the Urgency of your Petitioners particular Care necessarily requires and your Lordships in your great Wisdom shall think meet and convenient.
And your Petitioners as in Duty bound shall ever pray &ca
Albany March 1764
Transformed by: JP
Printed in NYCD, volume 7, pp. 613-16. Some spelling modernized and some paragraphing and punctuation supplied!
Perhaps city recorder Johannes H. Ten Eyck or another family member.
first posted: 1/15/04