will better secure its good Government, seeing that there is no person there at present in whom much trust or confidence can be placed. The inhabitants of the Country in general, Speak english, the Balance who reside in the Town are chiefly Spaniards poor and very miserable. In the choice of Commandants as well those who have been reappointed, as those who have been created anew, I have paid strict attention to the instructions of your Excellency in endeavouring to unite integrity of Character and the public Confidence, to the Principles and feelings of American Citizens. In my conversations with them, I endeavoured to impress upon their minds high and honourable ideas of the American Government, the importance of their own situations, and the absolute necessity of their administering Strict, prompt and impartial Justice. In my Communications with the people generally, I had no difficulty in convincing them, that under the Government of the United States, their liberty, property and religion would be protected, and that notwithstanding whatever might be insinuated to the Contrary, their political destiny was now permanently settled, and that the Province of Louisiana would never revert again, either to France or Spain or be detached from the United States. This information was in general received with pleasure, and although there are some few characters who from habit or motives of particular interest or prejudice, would prefer the Spanish and others the French Government, yet I am fully persuaded that a large majority of the most respectable people of the Country, are better satisfied with their present situations, and sincerely rejoice at their adoption into the Government of the United States. They are prepared for a change and wait with impatience for the introduction and operation of a more wholesome and vigorous system of Laws, than they have for many years past been accustomed to. During the loose and irregular Government of

Spain, public Spirit sunk into Selfishness, the interests of the State were sacrificed to personal aggrandizement, the Laws were trodden under foot, crimes left unpunished, or punished too severely, all was disorder and confusion. It will therefore be necessary for you to instruct the different Commandants to recall the inhabitants to an obedience of the Laws, by punishing the guilty and protecting and encouraging the innocent and praiseworthy.

The roads and bridges are neglected, and the Levee in many places out of repair; the proprietors of Lands are with difficulty brought to labors of this kind. The regulations of the Country relative to these Subjects have been so long neglected, that they require to be renewed to be believed or obeyed. The negroes are in a shameful state of Idleness, and want of subordination. They are suffered to wander about at night without passports, stealing, drinking and rioting where ever they go to the great prejudice of their owners, and all honest members of Society. Taverns are every where opened, without proper Licenses, and ardent Spirits indiscriminately Sold to every description of persons to the injury of the Public revenue, and the great incouragement of vice and immorality. Some regulations upon these Subjects, originating with your excellency, and passing with your sanction through the different Commandants to the people, would I am persuaded have a good effect. The natives of this Country are naturally docile, and easily governed, and from habit are disposed to respect and obey their chief. It is proper that I should here mention to you, a species of grievance among the farmers that is highly injurious to them, and becoming a serious evil to the Country at large. There are a number of persons called Gabateurs, in French, Who buy up in Town a quantity of Taffia, Sugar & Coffee, but chiefly of the first of these articles, and in a canoe or other small craft, they

ascend the river as far as the upper Settlements, for the purpose of Trading with the negroes for stolen goods. They lie by in the course of the day, and as soon as night comes on, they go into the different huts or cabbins, or receive the negroes on Board their craft, and purchase of them for Taffia, all the clothes, plate, fowls or other things, which they may have stolen from their masters, or other persons. Having sold off their cargo, these Gabateurs return to Town with their stolen goods which are converted into money, for the purpose of recommencing this nefarious traffic. The Baron De Carondelet by some strict measures of police, had broken up this miserable Pedlary, but since his time, the evil has returned with renovated force, and the inhabitants of the river, those of the fork, and those of the Bayou of Ibberville, pray your Excellency to take this subject into consideration, and use your endeavours to suppress the Evil.

No Subject seems to be so interesting to the minds of the inhabitants of all that part of the Country, which I have visited as that of the importation of brute Negroes from Africa. This permission would go farther with them, and better reconcile them to the Government of the United States, than any other privilege that could be extended to the Country. They appear only to claim it for a few years, and without it, they pretend that they must abandon the culture both of Sugar and Cotton. White laborers they say, cannot be had in this unhealthy climate, and they would in vain enjoy the blessings of a rich soil, and a valuable cultivation, even under the happy Government of America, deprived of this necessary resource in their Labours." It is from this Subject that they are naturally carried to speak of the form of this local and

'On account of being immune to malaria the negro was regarded in the South as the best labor for opening up new low lands for cultivation. It is a common opinion to-day.

temporary Government. They wish to be allowed a Member upon the floor of Congress, to represent their true interests and situation. Sometimes they desire to enter immediately into all the benefits and advantages of a State Government, but they generally stop short at the difficulties of popular representation, in their present State of Political knowledge. The Expenses of public Buildings, Court houses, prisons &c the increase of taxes, the acrimony of elections, Courts of Justice, Juries, pleadings of Law and Lawyers, with the difficulties of Language, have made most of the Sensible reflecting people, fall into the opinion that a Government of Commandants (at any rate for the Country) is best adapted to their present situations. These Commandants must be just and enlightened men, who by degrees will introduce the American laws and usages, and gradually bring the people acquainted with representation and the true principles and advantages of the Federal Constitution. In the mean time, Schools of Learning will be established, the English Language encouraged, and the population of the Country keeping pace with its advancement in political Science, the inhabitants will in a few years ze prepared to become in reality American Citizens, and capable of participating in the advantages which must inevitably flow from that enviable situation.

All the commandants complain of the difficulty and almost impossibility of finding persons to act as constables. The inhabitants are unwilling to leave their farms and neglect their crops for a service so disagreeable in its nature, and productive of so little profit.

They wish to know of your Excellency whether it is not possible to allow them an ordinancia as they call it, to perform this duty, who shall be allowed a regular Salary raised from a tax levied upon each inhabitant, or from

the public Treasury. They pretend that a Hundred Dollars a year for each of these Men would be a Sufficient gratification, and that it would result in many advantages and the general satisfaction of the people. They complain also of the want of prisins, or some place of confinement for Criminals and other defaulters. They speak loudly of the great expense attendant upon their situations as civil Magistrates, and the inconsiderable recompense received from the fees to which they are entitled by Law. They complain too of the ruin and falling down of their Churches, and are likely to be deserted by many of their Priests, who not being able to raise a Sufficiency for their maintenance among the people follow their pay with the Spanish Government. They regret this circumstance as it is taking away from the growing generation the principal restraint against immorality, and by leaving a doubt of the necessity and usefulness of the ministry of these people among the ignorant, you break in upon the fundamentals of their religion and open the door to a disbelief in the truth of virtue, and the advantages of good morals. They wish your Excellency to do every thing in your power, for the replacing their clergy, & encouraging the people to contribute to their maintenance and support.

They pray you also for your particular support in the exercise of the duties of their offices, that you will instruct them when wrong, encourage them when right, and assist them to contribute their mite for the promotion of the happiness of the people, and prosperity of the Country and the preservation of their Constitution which they have sworn to support and shall in future delight to obey.

I intended to have said something upon the Subjects of, the number of inhabitants, the strength of the Militia the productions of Soil, its qualities and the quantities of the different articles raised thereon, the importance of

« ForrigeFortsett »