Envisaging the West: Thomas Jefferson and the Roots of Lewis and Clark


An act to revive and extend, an act entitled An act for establishing a trade with the Indians in alliance with his majesty, and also to amend one other act for directing the trustees of the Indian Factory of Virginia to sell the goods imported by them, and to pay the money arising by such sale into the treasury for the use of the Publick.

I. WHEREAS by an act of assembly made in the thirtieth year of the reign of his late majesty king George the second, entitled An act for establishing a trade with the Indians in alliance with his majesty, the sum of five thousand pounds was appropriated for carrying on the said trade for five years, but by reason of the hostilities soon after committed by the Indians the said intended trade was interrupted, and the goods imported for that purpose were, by another act made in the thirty-third year of his said late majesty's reign, directed to be sold on credit, and the money arising in such sale to be paid into the hands of the treasurer of this colony, which money still remains unpaid by the purchasers of the said goods. II. And whereas the Cherokee Indians have requested that this government would regulate the trade with them, prevent abuses therein, and provide that they may be furnished with a sufficiency of necessary goods, by honest and sober men, at reasonable rate, the granting of which request may be not only productive of much good to those people, but tend to the safety and tranquillity of this colony, and to strengthen the peace and friendship subsisting between the said Indians and this colony, and effectually to secure their affection to the British interest.

III. And whereas the coming down of the Indians to Williamsburg on frivolous occasions hath been attended with great expense to the colony, to prevent which, and the abuses complained of, and to effectuate the good purposes aforesaid, it is absolutely necessary that the Indian trade, and the power and liberty of supplying the Indians with goods, wares, and merchandises, should be put under proper regulations, in manner herein after directed: Be it therefore enacted, by the Lieutenant-Governour, Council, and Burgesses, of this present General Assembly, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That the honourable Peter Randolph and William Byrd, esquires, Richard Bland, Archibald Cary, Thomas Walker, John Fleming, Thomas Tabb, and John Chiswell, gentlemen, be, and they are hereby constituted and appointed trustees and directors for the better managment and carrying on such Indian trade. And the said trustees, or any five of them, are hereby authorized and empowered to act in all things relating to the said trade,and to manage, govern, direct, and do what they shall judge necessary and expedient for the well ordering conducting, and carrying on the same; and shall, as soon as the same can be conveniently done, send to Great Britain for, or purchase, a cargo of goods, such as may best answer the wants and occasions of the Indians, and cause or procure the goods so to be sent for or purchased to be carried with all convenient speed and safety to some fortress built or to be built for the defence of the south-western frontiers of this colony, or to any Indian nation, town, or other place, they shall judge most convenient for carrying on the said trade.

IV. And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid. That the said trustees shall contract with some factor, who shall, from the last day of August to the last day of May, constantly reside at the factory or place appointed for the sale or disposal of the said goods, to barter and dispose of the same to such Indians as shall be willing to purchase them, at such rate of advance, and under such regulations, as shall be settled and made by the said trustees from time to time; and shall receive from such Indians, in exchange for the goods so to be sold them, all skins, furs, and other valuable commodities which they may have to dispose of, which the said trustees shall cause to be disposed of in this colony, or shipped to Great Britain, as they shall think best, and consigned to some merchant or merchant, in order to be disposed of there, and the money laid out in the purchase of another cargo of goods for the uses aforesaid; and in such manner shall the trustees continue and carry on the said trade, at the risk and for the profit of the publick, for and during seven years from the passing of this act, and no longer.

V. Provided always, and be it further enacted, That the said trustees shall not send out, or permit of suffer to be sent out, any rum, brandy, or other spirituous liquors, to be bartered or sold to such Indians by any such factor, or other persons by them employed for carrying on the said trade.

VI. And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, That it shall and may be lawful for the said trustees to employ one or more Indian interpreter or interpreters, and such other persons as they shall think necessary, who shall he under the direction of the factor, to reside at the said factory, for the better enabling the said factor to transact business with the Indians; and may also employ such messenger or messengers as they shall think necessary to send to any nation or tribe of Indians to notify to them the trade hereby intended to be established with them, and the expenses of such persons so employed shall be allowed the trustees in their accounts.

VII. And be it further enacted, That the factor so to be employed by the said trustees, before he enters or takes upon himself the said office and employment, shall make oath before a Justice of the peace of this colony faithfully to discharge his duty according to the directions of this act, and shall give bond, with good security, to the said trustees and their successours, in the penalty of double the value of the goods committed to his care and management, not to trade with the said Indians on his own or any other private account, nor suffer the same to be done by any person under his direction, except for provisions; and to render a faithful account of the sale of such goods, with the produce thereof; and in a just, fair, and mercantile method, to keep accounts of all the dealings and transactions in the said trade; and annually to deliver a fair copy of his books of accounts to the said trustees, and settle the same with them: And the said factor, and those under his direction, shall be allowed such salary for their service as the said trustees shall think they deserve and contract with them for. And on the removal of such factor from his office, the said trustees, or any three of them, are hereby empowered to compel such factor (and in case of his death, his executors or administrators) to make up a just account of the said trade, and deliver to the said trustees the goods, books, and papers, relating or belonging to the same. And that a committee, to be appointed for that purpose by the house of burgesses, shall, once in every two years at the least, inspect the accounts and proceedings of the said trustees, and report the state of the same to the general assembly.

VIII. And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, That if any of the said trustees shall happen to die, or refuse to act, it shall be lawful for the survivers of them to elect another fit person in the room of him so dying or refusing to act, who shall have the same power and authority to act in the trust aforesaid as if he had been particularly named in this act; and that the trustees herein named, with such as shall he so appointed, shall be called The Trustees of the Indian Factory of Virginia, and by that name and style shall have succession during the continuance of this act, and may sue and implead, be sued and impleaded, in all cases relating to the said trust, in all courts whatsoever, and generally do and execute all and every other matter and thing required to be done and performed by them in their trust aforesaid.

IX. And be it further enacted, That it shall not be lawful for any other person or persons to trade with the said Indians without a license for so doing under the hand and seal of the governour or commander in chief of this colony for the time being, and also without having executed a bond, with sufficient sureties, in the penalty of five hundred pounds, with condition that he or they shall not trade contrary to the form and directions of this act, under the penalty of forfeiting the value of the goods, or the skins and fns bartered for by them, and which shall be found in tine possession of such trader; neither shall any person whatsoever sell to any Indians any spirituous liquors in any place within this colony beyond the settled inhabitants, under the penalty of fifty pounds for every offence, to be recovered by action of debt or information in any court of record within this colony, one moiety whereof to the trustees aforesaid, to be applied to the use of the said Indian trade, and the other moiety to him, her, or them, that shall or will inform or sue for the same.

X. And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, That the said trustees shall receive the money now due for the goods sold according to the directions of the aforesaid act made in the thirty third year of his said late majesty's reign, and apply the same for the purpose in this act mentioned; and that John Robinson, esquire, treasurer of this colony, or the treasurer for the three being, appointed by or pursuant to an act of assembly out of the publick money in his hand shall by warrant from the governour or commander in chief of the dominion, pay to the said trustees so much money as shall be necessary for the purposes aforesaid, so as the whole money so to be paid by him do not exceed two thousand five hundred pounds.

XI. And be it further enacted, That if any person whatsoever shall take upon himself to conduct or convey any Indian or Indians to Williamsburg without a license for that purpose from the governour or commander in chief of this colony for the time being, or the factor to be appointed in pursuance of this act, every person so offending shall for every offence forfeit and pay fifty pounds, to be recovered and appropriated in the same manner as the other penalties are by this act.