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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/261

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257
SALT.

refused to convict when the penalty seemed too great for the offense. The United States has never collected revenue from salt, but when provision was made by congress for the government of the Northwest Territory and for the sale of lands therein, it took care to reserve the salt licks, apparently fearing that they might be made a means of extortion to the consumers of this indispensable article of diet. One section of the act of congress reads:

That a salt spring lying upon a creek which empties into the Scioto River, on the east side, together with as many contiguous sections as shall be equal to one township, and every other salt spring which may be discovered, together with the section of one mile square, which includes it, also four sections at the center of every township, containing each one mile square, that shall be reserved for the future disposal of the United States; but there shall be no reservation except for salt springs, in fractional townships, where the fraction is less than three fourths of a township.

We read of bloody battles between Germanic tribes for the possession of salt springs, and the inference is perfectly fair that the rumor of very few has come down to us by means of the written and the printed page. In the new world rival Indian tribes in like manner often contended fiercely for the same flowing treasure. Here too we find a repetition of the nomenclature of primitive Europe. There are several salt rivers in the states formed out of the Northwest Territory besides salt creeks, salt licks and other names, due to the presence of natural salt. The number is doubtless very much larger than the list given in the ordinary gazetteers, as the insignificant ones are not mentioned.

Although there are few regions in any part of the world in which there are neither saline springs nor deposits of rock-salt, it is probable that the Aryan name was derived from the sea and that the first salt was obtained from it by natural evaporation. In Homer άls means both salt and the sea; or perhaps it would be better to say that salt is named from the sea because the saline property of sea-water is its most salient characteristic. The designation άls is more particularly applied to that part of the sea which is near the land, as also to its bays and inlets, those parts with which man in the nature of the case was most familiar. In the Roman territory there existed in ancient times a Via Salaria, or Salt Road, which extended from the territory of the Sabines to the mouth of the Tiber, along which these people were permitted to transport salt for domestic use from the Mediterranean through the Roman country. The early Italians were, therefore, also dependent on the sea for their salt. It is noteworthy that Homer does not mention salt as employed in connection with sacrificial ceremonies. On the other hand, Virgil speaks of it as in regular use among the Romans, as do also other writers. While it is always