Document 13: Letter from the Seattle Chamber of Commerce to James J. Hill,
President of the Great Northern Railway
Erastus Brainerd Scrapbooks, vol. 1. Microfilm copy, University of Washington Libraries; original, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
I have stated the chief reasons from a general point of view why an assay office should be established here. These are reasons personal to the miner, to the American citizen by whom the government is supported and for whom it exists. The miner as a rule is a poor man. More often, than not he is wholly without means. To prosecute his most arduous and often dangerous calling he has been aided by some other person or persons, has been "grubstaked." Every dollar which he has wrested by the sweat of his brow from the frozen or stony soil is precious to him. If ever a man earned a dollar the miner has earned his. Often he is a man of little education in the world's affairs. He is simple minded and trustful. He believes in his government, in the government of the American nation. He supports it to the extent that God has given him abilities, as few other men do. To him its official seal, its stamp, is solemn and binding. He wants it, and he wants it as soon as possible, upon the product of his toil. He will be satisfied with nothing else. Without it he may be subjected to serious loss by the charges of private persons or corporations whom he does not trust, as he trusts his government. He arrives in Seattle with his buck-skin bag in his hand or belted to his waist. He is otherwise penniless perhaps. After a prolonged sojourn he is more often penniless than not. The shortest time in which he can now secure the stamp of his government upon his bullion, or its certificate of its coin value, either of which are equivalent to cash, is six days, a working week. He may be a resident of a distant state, he may desire to leave Seattle immediately for his home, but by his needs and luck of cash money he is subjected to prolonged delay and to expense of a week's sojourn in Seattle upon credit, and to the further expense of expressage. It is not right that he should be subjected to this expense. The federal government has already recognized this by establishing assay offices in nearly all known centers of precious mineral mining, except within the state of Washington. The government has further recognized its duty or obligation to the miner by its exceedingly liberal statutes in his favor and in the constructions of its court decision. No other country on earth has such liberal mining laws as this nation of ours....It is bound by laws and by precedents to encourage the miner. It must sooner or later do so by establishing an assay office....I believe that I have shown that Seattle is the nearest most desirable and most available point for this purpose.
—letter from Seattle Chamber of Commerce to James J. Hill, President of Great Northern Railway