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1. Westsylvania ......

a. First movement, June, 1776.

b. Petition to Congress..
2. Silas Deane's Suggestion..

3. General Conclusion..




BEFORE 1780.



The English colonies in America remained for a century after their establishment in practical ignorance of the land beyond the Alleghany mountains. There was land enough nearer the coast and why should the settler advance be yond that forbidding line which separated civilization from the unknown and desolate wilderness? In 1716, however, Governor Spotswood made his famous ride over the Blue Ridge and made known to Virginians the beauty and fertility of the valley of Virginia. Twenty-two years later Augusta county was created by the Virginia assembly, bounded on the east by the Blue Ridge, and west and northwest by "the utmost limits of Virginia." I

This marks the first step towards establishing English colonial government west of the mountains. With the increase of population on the seaboard came an increase in the number of settlers' cabins beyond the mountains; and the increasing interest in western settlement was accompanied

1 Hening, V., 79.

2 In 1718, Sir William Keith, in a report to the Commissioners of Trade (Collection of Papers and other Tracts, p. 196), recommended the establishment of four small inland forts to protect the Indian trade. There was, however, no suggestion of a civil government in connection with them. About the same time Governor Spotswood of Virginia "laid an excellent scheme for extending that trade, and raising fortifications even on the banks of the Lake Erie." It is possible that this plan contemplated the planting of a civil government in the West, but there is no evidence of it. See State of the British and French Cols. in N. Am., p. 109. Cf. Spotswood Letters.

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by the formation of great land companies, the Ohio Com. pany leading the way in 1747, and obtaining, two years later, a grant of 500,000 acres. In the official instructions to the governor of Virginia in regard to this company, sent doubtless by Lord Halifax, then president of the board of trade, it is set forth that "such settlements will be for our interest,

inasmuch as our loving subjects will be thereby enabled to cultivate a friendship, and carry on a more extensive commerce with the nations of Indians inhabiting those parts: and such examples may likewise induce the neighboring colonies to turn their thoughts towards designs of the same nature. The grant was located between the Monongahela and Kanawha rivers on both sides of the Ohio.2

In the same year was organized the Loyal Company, which obtained a grant of 800,000 acres.

Encouraged, doubtless, by the apparent ease with which these two, and other companies secured their extensive grants from the crown,' and by the expressed attitude of the British government towards western settlement, many schemes were brought forward during the next quarter century for securing similar grants. There seemed to be almost an epidemic of interest aroused in western lands, and new colonial governments, which it was proposed, in many instances to establish.

Probably the earliest public proposition for new colonial governments beyond the mountains of which record remains, was that set forth by the Albany congress of 1754.* The Plan of Union proposed by that Congress, provided that the President General and Grand Council should make all purchases of Indian lands and establish settlements upon them; and also “That they make laws for regulating and governing such new settlements till the crown shall think fit to form them into particular governments."? Dr. Franklin, in his notes on the Plan says: "A particular colony has scarce strength enough to extend itself by new settlements at so great a distance from the old; but the joint force of the Union might suddenly establish a new colony or two in those parts. · greatly to the security of our present frontiers, increase of trade and people.

1 Franklin's Works, V., 33.

2 Dinwiddie papers, I., 17, note. Holmes says the Ohio Company's grant comprised 600,000 acres. Am. Annals, II., 39.

9 That the grants were given by direct order from His Majesty, is shown by letter of Gov. Dinwiddie to Gov. Glenn,- Dinwiddie Papers I., 272; also by S. Sato, Land Question in the U.S., p. 25. Sato gives a good account of the various land companies, pp. 24-25, for which see also Perkins, Annals of the West, pp. 50, 52, 106, 108, 109, 135, 177.

+ In 1730 Joshua Gee (The Trade and Navigation of Great Britain Considered, p. 61) wrote concerning the land " back of all our settlements" as follows: "If we have any Sense of the Value of that commodious Tract of Land, it ought to put us upon securing to ourselves such excellent Colonies, which may, if properly improved, bring this

The power of settling new colonies is, therefore, thought a valuable part of the plan.

Soon after the Albany Congress, Franklin proposes a somewhat definite scheme for two new colonies to be located between the Ohio and Lake Erie. Some of the details are interesting, as showing Franklin's general idea of establishing new colonies. He begins by reciting the advantages to be expected from the establishment of the proposed colonies by way of protection to the frontiers, vantage ground from which to attack the French, and secure friendship and trade with the Indians, besides facilitating English settlement to the Mississippi and Great Lakes. If the old colonies were united "agreeably to the Albany plan they might easily, by their joint force, establish one or more new colonies.

11 2

But if such union should not

Nation a very great Treasure, and at least build some Forts upon the Apulachean Mountains, to secure us the Right of the Mines contained in them, to protect the Indian and skin Trade." It is just possible to take the expression “such excellent colonies," etc., to refer to new colonies; but from the context it seems more probable that the old colopies are referred to, they being already somewhat menaced by the advance of the French in the west.

1 Franklin's Works, II., 368. (Unless otherwise stated all references to Franklin's Works are to the Bigelow edition.)

a Franklin's Works, II., 368. - Franklin, in the same connection, also advocated the es. tablishment of forts on the great lakes and the Ohio, as they would not only secure the frontiers but "serve to defend new colonies settled under their protection; and such colonies would also mutually defend and support such forts, and better secure the friendship of the far Indians."

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