Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1846: GALLATIN TO JOHN CONNELL. - The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2
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1846: GALLATIN TO JOHN CONNELL. - Albert Gallatin, The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2 
The Writings of Albert Gallatin, ed. Henry Adams (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1879). 3 vols.
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GALLATIN TO JOHN CONNELL.
New York, 9th January, 1846.
I have received your letter of 7th instant. Your motives are very friendly; but, at our advanced age, reminiscences of transient conversations held thirty years ago cannot be relied on.
I never was lieutenant or held any military commission whatever either in the regular service or militia. I never had a military or civil command, either permanent or transient, at Machias, where I was only a sojourner. I was simply a volunteer; and what I may have said and is true is, that I went twice as such to Passamaquoddy Bay, the first time in November, 1780, under Colonel Allen, who commanded at Machias and was superintendent of Indian affairs in that quarter. It was then and at Passamaquoddy that I was for a few days left accidentally in command of some militia, volunteers, and Indians, and of a small temporary work defended by one cannon and soon after abandoned. As I never met the enemy, I have not the slightest claim to military services.
I remain with high regard, dear sir, your obedient servant.
GALLATIN TO GALES & SEATON.
New York, 27th February, 1846.
I was much gratified by the contents of yours of 21st instant, and of the enclosed memorandum. The only thing in it which seems to me rather objectionable is the apparent inclination to make the action of the Senate to depend too much on the expected accounts from England, which may fluctuate, and should not be permitted to have too much influence.
I have, in the enclosed memorandum, stated freely my views of the subject. It is intrusted to your discretion, and may, if you see fit, be communicated to a member or members of the Senate, but accompanied by my wish that no use be made of my name. I hesitated indeed whether I should write it at all. My essay on that question was addressed to the public at large, and, whilst trying that it should not give any just subject of offence to any one, I used freely the right, which every citizen has, to express my opinion on any public measure. But to give it unasked for to any member of the Senate is quite another question. I have great confidence in, and sincere respect for, that body. Indeed, our hopes are centred in its wisdom; and I pray you to assure him or them, to which you may give a copy of it, that it was addressed to you, and must be considered as a mere suggestion, and not as an obtrusive interference.
With great regard, your friend and servant.
I will thank you to keep me advised now and then of whatever important may occur.
New York, February 27, 1846.
It may be taken for granted that the British government is disposed to renew the negotiations, although the absolute rejection by our government of any arbitration may impede or delay the renewal.
It is impossible to divine the terms of a compromise for dividing the country, to which Great Britain would accede. But I have strong reasons for believing that the line which I suggested is the utmost we can expect at this time, and that she will also insist on the free navigation of the Columbia, for the free exportation and importation of products and merchandise, from and to her territory north of the division line. And I still think that some time is necessary for such subdual of the present excitement, principally in the United States, before any rational hope can be entertained of a successful negotiation.
In the mean while, the great object must be to prevent collisions ultimately productive of war.
The fundamental point on which England has always insisted, for the maintenance of which she is fully committed, from which she will not and cannot recede, is resistance to the exclusive pretensions of the United States, and protection of British interests in Oregon and of British subjects residing therein, until the existing difficulties shall have been definitively settled by an amicable arrangement. The exclusive pretension of the United States alluded to, and which will be resisted, is that of exclusive sovereignty over the territory, or, in other words, the assumption on the part of the United States of jurisdiction over the British subjects residing in Oregon.
The existing convention provides for that object. It contains but one provision which is reciprocal, viz., that the country in question shall, together with its harbors, bays, and creeks, and the navigation of all rivers within the same, be free and open to the vessels, citizens, and subjects of the two powers. Neither power, therefore, can under the convention assume sovereignty or jurisdiction over the vessels, citizens, and subjects of the other.
But the convention neither permits nor forbids anything else. With the single exception of that for which it provides, the rights of both parties will be precisely the same whether the convention remain in force or be abrogated. With that single exception, the United States now have the same right to do all that which they might rightfully do if the convention were abrogated. It is on that account that I have not been able to discover what advantage could accrue to the United States from the abrogation of the convention; unless it was intended as a preliminary step to that assumption of exclusive sovereignty which it forbids.
As, however, a different opinion seems to prevail, and the Senate appears disposed to give the intended notice, but so modified as may promote an amicable arrangement and in the mean while preserve peace, what are the modifications which may answer that double purpose?
The provisions and spirit of the Constitution should be kept steadily in view, and the distinct powers belonging to the President and Congress be equally respected. The power to carry on negotiations with a foreign power is exclusively vested in the President; and all that can be done on the present occasion by the Senate is to express the wish that the negotiations with Great Britain may be renewed, and perhaps to indicate the means by which they may be brought to a favorable issue.
But the power to make war is exclusively vested in Congress; and the President should not be permitted, without its authority, to commence hostilities, or to perform any act towards a foreign power or its subjects which such power has declared it would resist. Such collision is war, or must necessarily lead to war; and the declaration of the President that such is the object in giving the notice, renders it necessary to guard against that contingency.
Independent, therefore, of any modification respecting the course of the negotiations which the Senate may think proper to adopt, it appears to me indispensable for the purpose of preserving peace that some such provision as the following should be added to the resolution for giving the intended notice, viz.:
“That exclusive sovereignty over the Oregon territory or jurisdiction over British subjects residing therein shall not be assumed by the United States unless by virtue of a treaty or of an act of Congress to that effect.”
In this way the respective powers of the President to negotiate, and of Congress to authorize hostilities, would be carefully preserved, and the Executive be only kept within the legitimate limits of his constitutional authority. And Congress, without committing itself, would, in fact, declare that if the negotiations should fail, it was prepared to pursue whatever course might be required by the rights and the interests of the country.
It appears, also, to me that, whilst peace would thus be preserved for the present, the declaration would have a happy influence over the negotiations, inasmuch as it would remove the apparent threat implied in the intended notice without this explanation.
GALLATIN TO W. L. MARCY, Secretary of War.
New York, 17th March, 1846.
I have the honor to transmit two copies of the first volume of the Transactions of the American Ethnological Society,—one for the War Department, and the other for the office at Washington of the Commissioner or Superintendent of the Indian Department. The modern appellation of “Ethnological” has been substituted for that of “Antiquarian.” Its seat is at New York; that of the American Antiquarian Society is at Worcester, Massachusetts; the object of both is the same.
In the year 1836 I transmitted to the War Department a copy of the second volume of the Antiquarian Society of Massachusetts, the principal article of which, under the name of “A Synopsis of the Indian Tribes of North America,” was supplied by me. Its principal object was a classification, according to their respective languages, of the Indian tribes within the United States, and farther north in the British and Russian possessions. But, from want of materials, the Indians west of the Stony Mountains were, with the exception of a few imperfect notices, necessarily excluded. With respect to the Indians east of the Stony Mountains, and in reference to the classification founded only on vocabularies, I may be permitted to say that it is nearly complete, has become a standard work, and requires only some additions and corrections and the publication of more enlarged vocabularies which cannot be undertaken by any private society. But the analysis of the grammar or structure of those languages is, as might be expected, very imperfect.
I was, in preparing this work, greatly assisted by the War Department, which, at my request, had in the year 1826 transmitted to the principal Indian agents printed copies of the intended vocabulary and of a series of queries, the purpose of which was to elicit the principal features of the structure of the respective languages. It appeared at that time to have been the intention of the War Department to publish the result of my researches; but these having been suspended during several years by avocations of a public nature, and near ten years having elapsed before my work was ready for publication, I made no application to the Department for that purpose; and I accepted the invitation of the Antiquarian Society of Massachusetts to have my essay inserted in its Transactions. The result, however, was a great curtailment of the vocabularies which had been collected, as these, if published at large, would have greatly exceeded the space assigned to me.
A small portion of the volume which I now send to you relates immediately to our own Indians. Yet the essay which I have supplied, under the name of “Notes on the Semi-Civilized Nations of North America,” is but a sequel of the former work, principally in reference to philology and agriculture. The work has been favorably received, principally in Germany and France, and has, we are told, added something to the literary reputation of our country. But that which is naturally expected from us, and which should be the principal object of our next volume, is to collect all the information that can be obtained respecting our own Indians. The annual reports of your agents will probably afford that which relates to the social state and apparent progress of civilization of those people. But the most difficult branch of the subject, and that to which the attention of our society is naturally drawn, is a much more complete knowledge of the grammar or structure of the several languages, or rather families of languages. This differs so much from the grammatical system to which we are used that it cannot be acquired without much time and labor. Where English schools have been established for some length of time, or, in other words, where intelligent Indians have received a good English education, they may become the best interpreters of their own language. As yet, however, our reliance must be on such of our missionaries and teachers of Indian schools as are sufficiently educated and intelligent to perform the required work; that is to say, to prepare concise and yet complete grammars of the principal languages. It is principally for that purpose that, in behalf of our society, I beg leave to request your aid. This would consist in the selection of the proper persons to whom application should be made (amongst whom I can only mention the Rev. Mr. Worcester for the Cherokee, and Mr. Byington for the Choctaw), and a request to them on the part of your Department to comply with our wishes. In case you should feel disposed to favor our object, our society will prepare a circular explaining as clearly as we can the subjects of inquiry.
For all further details permit me to refer you to my friend and collaborator, Mr. Bartlett, who will have the honor to present this letter to you. Our society will in its next and ensuing volumes gradually publish those several grammars, together with such other miscellaneous information as can be obtained. The question whether the War Department may not afford us further aid, by subscribing for a number of copies of our next volumes for the use of its Indian agents, sub-agent, and school-teachers, may be left open for the time when the society will be ready to publish its next volume. We have no funds; the greater part of those necessary for the publication of our first volume has been advanced by Mr. Bartlett and myself; we distribute gratuitously near two hundred copies, and the sale of a work of this kind is very slow. We cannot afford to give away the twenty or thirty copies which we would wish to be distributed amongst the agents, missionaries, &c., to whom our circular should be directed; and yet that distribution would be very useful for our object. All the American languages, as far as they have been investigated, though differing in many respects, have strongly marked common characters; and the analysis of the Mexican and other languages, contained in our first volume, would point out the direction to be pursued in the investigation of the structure of the languages of our own Indians better than any general views that we might suggest. Whether these considerations may be deemed sufficient to induce you to purchase the requisite number of copies, though but a subordinate point, is submitted to your judgment.
I have, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. R. INGERSOLL, M.C.
New York, March 25, 1846.
I received yesterday your letter of the 21st, in which you invite me to communicate my views on the tariff.
I have not attended to that subject since the year 1832, and have not the documents necessary to form an opinion on the details of the bill proposed by the Secretary of the Treasury. I have seen in the newspapers the bill and his annual report at the opening of the session, but not the documents annexed to it. At the time when the Act of 1842 was passed, the renewal of the minimum provision, and the exaggerated duties on sugar, iron, woollen goods, and some other items, appeared to me highly objectionable. But with the practical operation of that tariff I am but very imperfectly acquainted.
I have not been out of my house since the month of November, and I have no one to assist me in seeking and selecting, in public or private libraries, the requisite documents. Finally, I could not, if I had them, undertake at this time the arduous labor of arranging (and occasionally correcting) all the facts, not only found in official documents, but including also many respecting commerce and manufactures, which must be derived from private information. It is only from a thorough investigation of all the well-ascertained facts that can be obtained that I ever was able to draw any legitimate inferences. It may be otherwise with men more sagacious or bolder than I am, but if I have ever produced anything perspicuous and useful, it has uniformly been the result of long experience or of arduous and persevering labor. On the present occasion, I could only allude to some general principles, which alone are not sufficient to solve in a satisfactory manner the important problem of a permanent tariff.
I was, as far as I know, the earliest public advocate in America of the principles of free trade, and I have seen no cause to change my opinion, which has, on the contrary, been corroborated by the experience and the discussions, at home or abroad, of the sixty years which have since elapsed.
I agree, therefore, with the Secretary of the Treasury in considering a revenue tariff as a proper general basis; and he has defined it in a felicitous manner. But it is also necessary that the proposed tariff should not only receive the approbation of the present Congress, but also be such as may secure as far as practicable its permanency; for perpetual changes and uncertainty are amongst the most serious obstacles to the progressive development of national enterprise and industry. This end cannot be attained without some mutual concessions; and, for the sake of harmony and permanency, I would be willing to concede to a certain extent. Yet if the average rate of duty which the revenue requires should be from twenty to twenty-five [per] cent., I really think that manufactures which require a larger than that incidental protection must generally be considered as unnatural, forced, hot-house products.
There may be some few exceptions, respecting which I can only repeat that I am not sufficiently informed. You have, however, pointed out in the proposed bill two subjects which appeared to you exceptionable; and as they had struck me in the same way, I will confine my observations to these.
The first is, the principle adopted by the Secretary of the Treasury to convert all specific duties into duties ad valorem.
It is certainly necessary for a full understanding of the subject to ascertain the value of the various species of merchandise imported. It is the most important element in forming an estimate of the proper rate of duties under any tariff whatever: it is exclusively the basis of that which has been called a horizontal tariff. But so different are the views taken of the same subject by different minds, that there had been to this day a constant effort on the part of Congress and of those who administered the financial department to substitute whenever it was practicable specific for duties ad valorem. The only reason I can perceive for the proposed change is that the specific duty can hardly ever correspond with precision with the ad valorem duty for which it is substituted. For in almost all cases it is impossible to distinguish every variety of the same article so as to impose on each variety a distinct duty proportionate to its value; and, moreover, the same identical article varies in value from year to year, according to the variations in supply and demand. This objection may have some weight with those who contend for perfect uniformity, and who, in order to be consistent, should insist on laying the same rate of duty, according to its value, not only on every article now charged with a specific duty, but also on all those which are now imported free of duty. When this principle is abandoned and when various rates of duty are still proposed as heretofore, it seems to me that the objection loses almost all its force, and that, the principle of uniformity being set aside, an approximation is all that is necessary; that, for instance, the same duty may, without the slightest practical inconvenience, be laid on brown sugar, whether it comes from Cuba or Jamaica, from the East or from the West Indies, and notwithstanding any permanent or fluctuating difference in the prime cost of either.
March 28. I had gone thus far when I received last night the report of the Secretary of the Treasury of 3d December, 1845, together with the accompanying papers and tables, a huge volume of nine hundred and fifty-seven pages. This document would alone have been sufficient to satisfy me, had I not been already fully sensible of it, that a thorough investigation of the subject is a task altogether beyond my strength. You cannot expect anything from me but some desultory observations. I place more confidence in the opinion I entertain respecting the propriety of specific duties than in any other in which I may differ from the Secretary of the Treasury, and will now resume the subject where I left.
It must be admitted that, considered only as an abstract proposition, duties ad valorem come nearer ideal perfection than specific duties. I contend at the same time that, whenever the nature of the article taxed is such that a specific duty may be laid which will on an average be an approximation of the rate of duty ad valorem intended to be imposed on such article, the want of perfect precision is but a subordinate consideration when compared with the great practical advantages of specific duties.
Amongst the articles now subject to specific duties there is none apparently less susceptible of that form than manufactures of silk. A single glance at the statement of imports for 1845 (D, page 55), in which the weight of those not specified is 763,463 pounds, and their value 7,791,285 dollars, shows that a duty of one dollar per pound is nearly equal to one of ten per cent. on the value; and we find accordingly in the same line of the same table that the present duty of two dollars and a half on the pound is equivalent to a duty of 24.27 per cent. on the value. In the statement of the commerce of the United States for the year ending 30th June, 1844, the weight of the same description of goods is stated at 634,426 pounds, and their value at 6,208,239 dollars, which makes the duty of two dollars and a half per pound equivalent to one of 25.55 per cent. on the value. The average of both makes the same duty per pound equivalent to one of 24.91 per cent. on the value. If, therefore, it be intended to lay a duty of 35 per cent. on the value of those manufactures, a specific duty of three dollars and a half per pound will be nearly its equivalent. Two objections may be made to this. The first, and, as I think, the only one which has any weight, is that the various manufactures of silk charged with a uniform specific duty do differ in value; and if the difference was considerable the objection would be fatal. But with respect to silk, the value of the raw material is so great, and in all silk tissues the difference in the labor bestowed on their various species so comparatively small, that it may for all practical purposes be neglected. Silk stockings are not subject to the same rule, and should be charged with a distinct specific duty.
The other objection, derived from the difference of the value of the same article in different years, appears to me not only to be groundless, but, on the contrary, to afford an argument in favor of the constant specific duty. Those fluctuations are not the consequence of an alteration in the prime cost or intrinsic value of the article, but of the variations in the annual crops of agricultural products, or of other incidental causes affecting the ratio of supply to actual demand. A duty ad valorem varying with those fluctuations is somewhat analogous to the sliding scale of the British corn duty, but its operation is the reverse. In England the duty was lessened in proportion as the price of the corn rose higher. A duty ad valorem, whether on corn, sugar, or cloth, becomes higher in proportion as the article, though of the same quality and intrinsic value, becomes dearer. In proportion as the article becomes dearer, the consumer is less able to purchase it, and in proportion to this lessened ability, he is charged with a higher duty. In this respect the constant average specific duty is decidedly preferable to that which varies according to the fluctuations of the market price of the article. Viewing the subject under all its aspects, the practical benefit derived from the conversion of specific into ad valorem duties appears to be doubtful, at all events very inconsiderable.
On the other hand, specific duties are laid not on value but on quantity, requiring, for a faithful execution, nothing more than to ascertain the amount, weight, or measurement of the article, an operation equally easy and certain, and by which all the delays, expenses, difficulties, and litigations attending a correct valuation are avoided. But the great and incalculable advantage of specific duties is that neither invoices nor oaths are required, and that all attempts to defraud the revenue, unless by direct smuggling, become impossible. It is undoubtedly for that reason that they have been everywhere preferred whenever it was practicable to substitute them for duties on the value. At the time when the rate of duties in the United States did not, with few exceptions, exceed fifteen per cent., the attempts to deceive by false invoices were very rare; they have become more frequent in the same ratio as that of the increased rate of duties. The substitution of cash duties for the terms of credit formerly allowed has had the effect of increasing considerably the importation of merchandise by foreign houses proper, meaning thereby those established in Europe and having only an agency in the United States. Amongst these there are undoubtedly many honorable exceptions, but the same respect for the laws cannot be expected from foreigners as from citizens, nor can, in many foreign countries, the same reliance be placed on oaths as in the United States. This observation applies with peculiar force to custom-house oaths; and we find accordingly that they are generally either not required at all or disregarded.
I may here be permitted to observe that the frequency of oaths administered without due solemnity or on trivial occasions, or when the party interested is compelled to swear in his own case, has a most fatal tendency. This might be brought as a strong additional argument against the present system of valuation; but it appears to me that the custom-house oaths may now and should be altogether dispensed with. Since, according to the present regulations, the goods are appraised, at least in all doubtful cases, without regard to such oaths, why should these be required at all? The original invoices are one of the elements by which the appraisers are guided in valuing merchandise; and it seems sufficient for that purpose that such invoices should be delivered to them. I am under the impression that in England the right reserved by government to take the merchandise at the price stated in the invoice, with a certain addition per cent., has been found an efficient check against attempts to deceive.
On looking at the last statement in the documents accompanying the Secretary’s report, which gives the annual amount of the gross and net revenue and of the expenses of collection for the years 1821 to 1845, I was astonished at the great increase of those expenses. Comparing the period of the eight years 1822 to 1829 with that of seven years and a half, 1st January, 1838, to 30th June, 1845, we have the following results:
Comparing these two periods, the positive increase of the annual expenses of collection is near nine hundred thousand dollars, and the increase of the ratio of those expenses to the net revenue is as 1 to 2.41. The most correct way of comparing the amount of business done in the custom-houses at different times appears, however, to be by adding for each period the aggregate amount of imports to that of foreign goods reexported. For as no duties are raised on domestic exports, the estimate of their value occupies comparatively but a short time. It appears, by the document N annexed to the Secretary’s report, that this amount was nearly equal in the two periods of three years each of 1805 to 1807 and of 1835 to 1837. These, together with the corresponding expenses of collection taken from the official documents, are as follows:
Thus we find that, for transacting about the same mass of business, the positive annual increase of expenses is eight hundred thousand dollars, and that the ratio of expense to business has, within the same period of thirty years, increased at the rate of 1 to 2.43.
I am far from ascribing the whole of that increase to the present system of valuation and appraisement. Two other causes have had a much more powerful effect in producing that result. The first is the general and constant tendency of every department and branch of the government to enlarge the scale of expenditure with which it is connected. This is most strongly exhibited by the chiefs of bureaus and other similar subordinate officers, who never see or think of more than one single object; but it is visible everywhere, in the contingent expenses of Congress and others of a civil nature as well as in those of the military and naval departments. The Secretary of the Treasury, on whom devolves the task of devising means sufficient to defray the whole national expenditure, may be an exception; but he is powerless unless sustained by the President and by Congress; and the preceding statements show a great increase of expense in that branch which is under his immediate control.
The other general course to which I have alluded is the abuse of patronage, the system of political rotation and proscription applied to clerks and to the most subordinate officers, which, as it originates in the thirst for offices, cannot supply the appetite of the applicants without increasing the number of offices. Still, a certain portion of the increased expenditure incident to the collection of the revenue must be ascribed to the rigorous system of appraisement rendered necessary by an exaggerated tariff. And this is an additional argument in favor of specific duties, which, so far as they may be applied, lessen in the same proportion the expenses of collection.
Viewing the subject under all its aspects, I would say that a general system of duties ad valorem may appear most convenient to the lawgiver, inasmuch as he has nothing more to do in that case than to decide on the rate of duty to be imposed on each species of merchandise. The substitution of specific duties requires considerable additional labor in order to ascertain the species of goods to which they may be applied and the proper equivalent for the duty to which such goods would be subject if this was laid according to their respective value; and I have no doubt that the specific duties now laid require in many instances modifications and corrections. But, on the other hand, after that labor shall have been performed and the law rendered as perfect as the nature of the case will admit, it appears to me, for the reasons which have been stated, that for all practical purposes, in reference to a faithful execution of the laws and to justice, specific duties should be preferred to those founded on a valuation of the article in all the cases where they may be properly applied. I may be permitted to add that, limited as is my intercourse with the world, I am assured that fair traders, engaged in the importation of certain descriptions of goods, declare that they cannot stand the double competition of underrated invoices and direct smuggling.
30th March. I will, if I can, address you another letter on the subject of goods which may be imported free of duty. But you may perceive from the deficiencies and desultory tenor of the preceding observations that I am neither prepared nor able to treat the subject in a manner satisfactory to me or useful to the public. Such imperfect and vague suggestions are not worth the labor they cost me. I pray you to accept, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. A. PEARCE, U. S. Sen.
New York, April 2, 1846.
I have the honor to enclose a memorial of the American Ethnological Society respecting the publication of a cheap edition of the scientific volumes of the exploring expedition. The proposed publication by the society of that portion of Mr. Hale’s report which relates to the Oregon Indians would fill about one-half of our next volume; and I believe that a subscription or direct aid on the part of government of about two hundred dollars would be sufficient for that purpose. I will thank you to let me know as soon as convenient what may be the prospect on that point. Permit me to submit a further request of a personal nature.
I published ten years ago, in the Transactions of the Massachusetts Antiquarian Society, a “Synopsis of the Indian Tribes within the United States and the British Possessions east of the Rocky Mountains.” This work, of more than four hundred pages, of which more than one-third consists of vocabularies and grammatical forms, consumed in all about eighteen months of my time, and cost me a few hundred dollars in journeys and compensation to transcribers. I need not add that I never derived a single dollar from it; my reward was in the labor itself. The object of that essay, independent of some imperfect grammatical notices, was a classification of the Indian tribes according to their respective families of languages and distinct dialects. I succeeded so far as to reduce the number of languages east of the Stony Mountains to ten great families (Esquimaux, Athapascas, Algonkins, Iroquois, Sioux, Cherokees, Choctaws, Muskogees, Caddos, Pawnees), subdivided into more than fifty distinct dialects, and to six other totally distinct languages, spoken by as many tribes, which at this time do not embrace more than five or six thousand souls. I have since obtained complete vocabularies of three important tribes (Black Feet, Fall Indians, Crows), of which I had not been able to give more than specimens. With the exception of the Indians of Texas or its borders, and of two or three other small tribes which are still doubtful, the classification in its general outlines is complete and certain. More extensive vocabularies, and, above all, a more profound investigation of the structure of those languages, are necessary, and form one of the principal objects of the Ethnological Society. For want of materials the country west of the Stony Mountains was almost entirely omitted in my essay. This chasm has now been filled to a considerable extent by the labors of Mr. Hale, who, as I understand, was eminently qualified for the task; and I feel very anxious to compare the Oregon languages with those of the Indians east of the Stony Mountains. Many men understand far better some of the Indian languages, and are in other respects better qualified to investigate their structure than I am; but, from the more extensive views I have taken of the subject, which have been since extended to the Mexican nations, I have acquired some facility in discovering real analogies, and am willing and desirous to undertake the task. I am a very old man, and cannot wait for the intended cheap publication. On applying to the publishers in Philadelphia for Mr. Hale’s volume, I was informed that they could not dispose of a single copy without the permission of the Committee on the Library of Congress; and the favor I now respectfully ask is, that the committee might be pleased to direct the publishers, Messrs. Lea & Blanchard, to supply me at once with a copy of that volume.
GALLATIN TO THE HONORABLE COMMITTEE ON THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS.
New York, April 2, 1846.
The American Ethnological Society begs leave to express respectfully its desire that the honorable Committee on the Library of Congress may be pleased to adopt and recommend such measures as may be necessary for publishing a cheap edition of the scientific volumes of the exploring expedition. It is believed that all the American literary and scientific societies and all the private individuals engaged in similar pursuits concur in that wish; and it seems to be proper that a work which is the result of an expedition defrayed by the public treasury may be purchased at a price within the reach of those who are most desirous of obtaining it. As the maps and plates have already been engraved at the public expense, it is presumed that a very moderate sum will be sufficient to encourage the publication; for each volume of the splendid edition which has been published may be printed with a good type in an octavo form of the same number of pages.
The Ethnological Society, from the nature of its pursuits, is naturally more anxious for the publication of the philological volume of the work, and particularly of that portion which relates to the Oregon Indians. It is stated that this does not exceed 160 pages, with only a small map and no other plate. It is the intention of the society, if it meets with sufficient encouragement, to publish gradually a comparative vocabulary of all the Indian languages within the United States.
The vocabularies and philological information collected by Mr. Hale are necessary for that purpose, and the more valuable as nothing that could be relied on had as yet been obtained respecting the languages west of the Stony Mountains and south of Nootka. It is desirable, for the sake of the student, of the public Indian agents, and of the missionaries, that a complete collection may be found in the same work. Independent of the general republication of all the scientific volumes, the society is desirous to publish in its next volume that portion of Mr. Hale’s work which relates to the Oregon Indians, and would be enabled to do it by a very small aid on the part of government.
All which is respectfully submitted in behalf and by order of the society.