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Historic Diaries: Marsh, 1834

"Surely a fearful doom must await them..."

Editor's Note:

Two weeks earlier, on August 8th, Rev. Marsh had commented similarly on the liquor trade, and in the notes to that entry the history of the legal status of selling alcohol to Indians is reviewed.




Fri. Aug. 22nd


Felt rather unwell this morning, consequently have accomplished little this day.


This P.M. two Fox Indns living about 70 miles distant arrived having come with skins in order to purchase whiskey. They were meanly clad and their blankets much worn and dirty. But all of their skins excepting a very few small articles of trifling value were exchanged for their favorite beverage, of which they received forty six bottles or about 11 1/2 galls., at 25 cents per bottle or one dollar per gall.


Whilst purchasing I told one what would be the dreadful consequence of drinking the Iko-tu-wa-bo, but in the true spirit of a drunkard he replied "a little was good sometimes," and did not choose to dwell upon the subject at all.


They were very hungry when they came and said they had eaten nothing since they came from Keokuck's village. Fortunately one of the casks refused to do its office and away ran merrily at first the liquid poison, but after at length, after much daubing of beeswax etc, they succeeded in in [sic] confining [it] at least until they got away.


Dr. Russell informed me that he had known them to steal horses from each other and sell them for 5 or 6 dollars worth of whiskey, and the old chief Ke-o-kuck had recovered or taken back one or two sold in this manner.


Thus the white people will receive for any price, although not an eighth of the real value, the property of the Indians, and let them have whiskey in return, in defiance of law and the dictates of humanity, not [to] mention gospel principles. Surely a fearful doom must await them when they stand before the judgement seat. Another man, Mr. Chase, said that he had seen Indians sell blankets to the white people for 8 bottles of whiskey and perhaps it would be half water, and 3 or 4 yds of calico for which they had given 50 cts per yard for 2 or 3 bottles. And that he has known them to sell good ponies worth 40 dollars for 30 bottled of whiskey.




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