Factory (trading post)

Factory (trading post)

Factory was an English term for trading posts established by Europeans and Americans to exchange goods with non-Western societies. The head of the factory was called a factor. The best-known examples were those in Native American Indian territory, created for the purpose of enhancing Indian trade with European colonists and, later, the United States, but other European colonies also established factory-type trading posts (eg the Dutch East India Company in Southeast Asia, Britain in Hong Kong).

United States

The American factories often played a strategic role as well, sometimes operating as forts, providing a degree of protection for Indians and allied colonists from enemy Indians and colonists. Later factories established by the United States often served to protect Indians from American citizens.

The United States government sanctioned a factory system from 1796 to 1822, with factories scattered through the mostly territorial portion of the country.

The factories were officially intended through a series of legislation called the Indian Intercourse Acts to protect Native Americans from exploitation. However, in practice numerous tribes conceded extensive territory in exchange for the trading posts as happened in the Treaty of Fort Clark in which the Osage Nation ceded most of Missouri at Fort Clark.

Usually a blacksmith was assigned to the factory to repair utensils and build or maintain plows. Frequently the factories had some sort of milling operation associated with them.

The factories marked the United States' attempt to continue a process originally pioneered by the French and then by the Spanish to officially license the fur trade in Upper Louisiana.

Factories were frequently referred to as "forts" and often had numerous unofficial names. Legislation was often passed calling for military garrisons at the fort but their de facto purpose was a trading post.


York Factory was founded by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1697.

In the United States factories under the Superintendent of Indian Trade: [http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~texlance/records/bia(dc)2.htm]
*Creek::Colerain, 1795-97:Fort Wilkinson, 1797-1806:Ocmulgee Old Fields, 1806-9:Fort Hawkins, 1809-16:Fort Mitchell, 1816-20
*Cherokee::Fort Tellico, 1795-1807:Fort Hiwassee, 1807-10:Fort Wayne, 1802-12
*Choctaw::Fort St. Stephens, 1802-15:Fort Confederation, 1816-22
*Fort Chickasaw Bluffs, 1802-18
*Fort Detroit, 1802-5
*Fort Arkansas, 1805-10
*Fort Chicago, 1805-22
*Fort Belle Fontaine, 1805-9Natchitoches -- Sulphur Fork:Fort Natchitoches, 1805-18:FortSulphur Fork, 1818-22
*Fort Sandusky, 1806-12
*Fort Madison, Iowa 1808-15
*Fort Osage, 1808-22
*Fort Mackinac (Michilimackinac), 1808-12
*Fort Green Bay, 1815-22
*Fort Praire du Chien, 1815-22
*Fort Edwards, 1818-22
*Fort Spadre Bluffs (Illinois Bayou), 1818-22


* [http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/dictionary/index.asp?action=view&term_id=641&term_type_id=3&term_type_text=Things&letter=F Wisconsinhistory.org definition]
* [http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/492.html Chicago History]

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