Western Missouri

Fort Osage

Publication: Merchants of Independence: International Trade on the Santa Fe Trail

Author: William O'Brien

Date of Publication: 2014

PDF File: OBrienWilliamPa_2014_Ch1WesternMissouri_MerchantsOfIndependen.pdf


This excerpt is from the article which is about the history of trails and commerce in Western Misouri. “The survey of a road between western Missouri and northern New Mexico by the United States constituted formal acknowledgment of a clear route that already existed across the plains. Native Americans and Europeans had known the general route for many years. In fact, Sibley mentioned a rock 330 miles from Fort Osage, later known as Pawnee Rock, “with the names of many Persons, who have at different times passed this way to and from New Mexico.”43 A survey of the route remained important for two reasons. First, the survey marked the American government’s acknowledgment of the trade’s fiscal importance as a market for American goods and as a source of raw materials. Senator Benton, in petitioning Congress to fund the survey, called it a “highway between nations” and concentrated on its economic importance, particularly to the trade in gold and silver. Second, the survey established a means for supervising the trail traffic and the ensuing economic and political activities by providing a definite route that could be watched and controlled by the American government. The trail’s potential as both an economic highway and a military route to the Southwest played equal roles in the execution of the 1825 survey.”