2. An Act Prohibiting Trade with Native Americans (1813)

Background: Following the American Revolution, the British government ceded to the victorious Americans land stretching from the colonies along the East Coast all the way to the Mississippi River. This land included the present day state of Illinois. In ceding over the land the British did not consult with the Native Americans who actually lived on the land. As American settlers began to move in to Illinois, it was inevitable that clashes would occur between the two cultures. By 1813, both Illinois territorial officials and the Chief of the Kaskaskia Indians believed that unregulated trade between the settlers and Native Americans would exacerbate conflict, especially the unregulated sale of alcohol.

The Document: This law was passed five years before statehood during the second biennium of the Territorial General Assembly. Its introductory paragraph notes that both the Territorial Governor and the Chief of the Kaskaskia tribe agree that the sale of intoxicating liquors to the Kaskaskia produced a great evil to the community and that the sale of liquor, arms, clothing, horses and other goods tended to encourage intemperance and wretchedness. The law prohibits traders from selling liquor to Native Americans, with fines ranging from $5 to $20. The law also bars territorial residents from purchasing, bartering, or trading any guns, agricultural and hunting equipment, cooking materials, clothing, and horses from Native Americans. More severe fines ranging from $10 to $50 were administered for violations of this act. Exceptions were granted if trades were conducted directly with the Chief of the Kaskaskia for goods viewed as necessary for the tribe's well-being.

Note: The legislation is signed by Ninian Edwards, Illinois Territorial governor and later the third governor of the State of Illinois. The original copy of this trade law is available at the Illinois State Archives as part of Illinois Territory Record Series 100.006, "Enrolled Acts of the Territorial General Assembly."