292 CHARLES WILKES The Indians are rapidly decreasing in all parts of the coun- try. The causes are supposed to be their rude treatment of diseases and the dissipated lives they lead. The white American population, as far as I have been able to judge of them, are orderly, and some industrious, although they are, with the exception of the missionaries, men who have led for the most part dissolute lives. The absence of spirits as long as it continues will probably secure them from other excesses. Very much to their credit, they have abandoned the use of spirituous liquors by consent of the whole community. I can not but view this territory as peculiarly liable to the vice of drunkenness. The ease with which the wants of man are obtained, the little labor required, and consequent opportunities of idleness will render it so. The settlers of the Willamette Valley have with a praiseworthy spirit engaged to prevent the establishment of distilleries, and there are yet no places where spirits can be bought, to my knowl- edge, in the territory. It is highly creditable to the H. B. Co. that on a vessel arriving on the coast with spirits on board, in order to prevent its introduction they have purchased the whole, while at the same time their storehouses were filled with it. They have with praiseworthy zeal interdicted its being an article of trade, being well satisfied that it is contrary to their interests and demoralizing in its effects on all the tribes and people with whom they have to deal, rendering them difficult to manage, quarrelsome among themselves, and preventing their success in hunting. Endeavors have likewise been made by the officers of the company to induce the Russians, on their side, to adopt their example and do away with it as an article of trade, but hitherto without success. It no doubt has been one of the causes effecting the decrease of the native tribes, as it was formerly almost the only article of trade. In the event of this territory being taken possession of, the necessity of circumscribing the use and sale of spirits can not
Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/300
This page needs to be proofread.