Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

.

fore the King in Council.

I think he added that the Council seemed to approve of the design; I know it was referred to the Board of Trade, who, I believe, have not yet reported on it, and I doubt will report against it. I waited next morning on Lord Clare.

We then talked of the new colonies. I found he was inclined to think one near the mouth of the Ohio might be of use in securing the country, but did not much approve that at Detroit. And, as to the trade, he imagined it would be of little consequence, if we had it all, but supposed our traders would sell the peltry chiefly to the French and Spaniards at new Orleans, as he heard they had hitherto done." March 13, 1768 — "The purpose of settling the new colonies seems at present to be dropt, the change of American administration not appearing favorable to it. There seems rather to be an inclination to abandon the posts in the back country, as more expensive than useful. But counsels are so continually fluctuating here that nothing can be depended on.'

Being Franklin's private messages to his son, these letters doubtless show, as little else can, the true condition of affairs in British governmental circles of the time, so far as the question of new colonies is concerned. As for new colonies in the Illinois country "the purpose of settling" them seems never to have been revived. The new Walpole or Vandalia company, as it eventually came to be called, enlisted Franklin's energies instead, and as a member of this company he made his most successful efforts to establish a British colonial government west of the Alleghany mountains. This company's attempt is much more impor1 These letters may be found in Franklin's Works, IV., 136-145. The italics are mine. . See report of Board of Trade against the scheme, made in March, 1768, in Franklin's Works, V., 5 et seq.

Some writers who speak of this company fail to distinguish it from the Illinois company. That they were two distinct companies may be seen by Franklin's letter to his son (Works, IV., 138), Thos. Pownall to Sir Wm. Johnson, (Washington's Writings, II., 328), and Plain Facts, p. 149.

* It was also named the "Grand Ohio Company.” Christopher Gist's Journal, p. 243. 8 Plain Facts, p. 149. The pamphlet here cited appeared anonymously in Philadelphia in 1781. Its authorship is ascribed by Sabin (see his dictionary) to Dr. Franklin or A. Benezet. Much the same ground is covered without conflict in “ Considerations upon the Agreement," and in Franklin's Reply to Hillsborough and Memorial to Congress, from which we may judge the reliability as to facts of all of them, even if Franklin were not the author of the anonymous pamphlets as is supposed. Compare the proposals of Hoops and Buchanan, Feb. 22, 1769, in 4. Massachusetts Historical Collections, X., 608.

2

3

1

3

tant than any scheme thus far presented, not only because of the attention which it attracted at the time, but for the fact, as it will be attempted to show, that in this case the scheme finally met the approval of the British government and, in obedience to that government's order, the papers were actually drawn up for the establishment of a new colony.

After the Six Nations had ceded to the crown in 1768 a vast tract of land south of the Ohio,' a company was formed in London for the purpose of endeavoring to buy a part of it from the king. It was composed of gentlemen residing both in England and America. Thomas Walpole, Dr. Franklin, John Sargent, and Samuel Wharton' were ap. pointed a committee to manage the application for a land grant. In June, 1769, these gentleman presented a petition to his Majesty for the purchase of 2,400,000 acres. The petition was referred to the Board of Trade, at the head of which, was the Earl of Hillsborough. Mr Walpole and his associates waited upon the Board of Trade in December, 1769, "when the Earl of Hillsborough recommended to

, them to contract if possible with the lords of the Treasury for such part of the purchase from the Six Nations, lying

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

1 See the newspapers of 1772 and 1773.

The treaty of Fort Stanwix, Nov. 5, 1768. The Indians ceded everything south of a line "beginning at the Mouth of the Cherokee or Hogohege (Tennessee) river, where it emptys into the River Ohio, and running from thence upwards along the South side of said River to Kittaning, which is above Fort Pitt; from thence by a direct Line to the nearest Fork of the west branch of Susquehanna, thence through the Alleghany Mountains . . ." Deed of cession, Docs. Rel. to Col. Hist. of the State of N. Y., VIII., 136. "

• Lord Camden, Thos. Pitt, Thos. Pownall, Sir William Johnson, and Colonel Croghan were some of the other members of the Company. Plain Facts, p. 159; Considerations on the Agreement, et cetera, p. 3, and letter of Thos. Pownall to Sir Wm. Johnson, April 1770, Washington's Writings, II., 328.

on the river Ohio, as would be sufficient in extent to form a separate government upon," ! "promising them, in case

' of their agreement, a good charter for such government.

"The Earl of Hillsborough offered to go immediately to the treasury and know their lordships opinion upon the subject, and the petitioners expressing their approbation, his lordship went, and reported that the lords of the treasury would be glad to receive the gentlemen's proposals."3 This is the first definite suggestion of the idea of a new colonial government in connection with this scheme, and it i noticeable that the suggestion came in a very practical way, and from a man so prominent in the British government as the President of the Board of Trade. It is remarkable also in view of Lord Hillsborough's subsequent opposition to the new government which he himself suggested.' That Franklin, and perhaps his associates, had hoped to bring about in some way the establishment of a new government in connection with their scheme seems indeed very probable in the light of his previous interest in the question. However, the first petition of the Walpole company, as it was called, was for a comparatively small grant of land only, with apparently no thought of any new colonial government. The larger tract of land suggested by Lord Hills1 Plain Facts, p. 149.

?Considerations on the Agreement with the Hon. Thomas Walpole, p. 2. The italics are not mine. » Plain Facts, p. 149. * Later Franklin wrote to his son concerning Lord Hillsborough as follows: “Witness, besides his various behaviour to me, his duplicity in encouraging us to ask for more land, ask for enough to make a province (when we at first asked only for 2,500,000 acres), were his words, pretending to befriend our application, then doing everything to defeat it; and reconciling the first to the last, by saying to a friend that he meant to de. feat it from the beginning; and that his putting us upon asking so much was with that very view, supposing it too much to be granted.” Franklin to his son, July 14, 1773 — Works, V., 196.

6 Professor Hinsdale (Ohio Arch. and Hist. Quarterly, I., 218 and Old Northwest, p. 133) says that the proposition in 1769,' was to establish a new colony and the petition was made for 2,400,000 acres "on which to found a new government." This is palpably an error. J. L. Peyton (Hist, of Augusta Co., Va., p. 144, et seq.) confuses the whole history of the Vandalia attempt with that of the Illinois scheme. Lord Fitzmaurice does the same, for he says that Shelburne "did his best to encourage the settlement on the Illinois known as Walpole's grant. "Life of Shelburne, II., 31.

[ocr errors]

2

[ocr errors]

borough was soon agreed upon with the lords of the Treasury, the price being £10,460: 7s: 3d., the amount paid the Six Nations for their cession.'

On the 8th of May, 1770, a petition for "a grant for the lands "? was presented to the King in council, by whom it was referred to the Board of Trade. July 15 following, Lord Hillsborough announced "that as there were, perhaps, some settlers from Virginia seated on part of the tract under consideration, he was of opinion that that colony should be acquainted with the contract made with the treasury; and therefore the report of the Lords of Trade would be delayed only until it was known whether Virginia had any. thing to say upon the subject. The governor of Virginia, however, explained Lord Hillsborough, would be especially ordered to allow no surveys or settlements to be made any of the lands which the company had contracted for."

Governor Botetourt just having died, Mr. Nelson, president of the Virginia council, replied officially October 18, 1770, to Lord Hillsborough's letter. He duly acknowledged the propriety and justice of "delaying to report in favour of Mr. Walpole and his associates for a grant of lands on the back of Virginia until the country should be made acquainted with it, and their reasons, if they had any, in objection should be heard."5 Mr. Nelson hoped that the grants to the old Ohio company, to the officers of the late war, and to Colonel Croghan and the traders would be re

on

[ocr errors]

6

N

1 Franklin's Works, V., 82.

? In April, 1770, Thomas Pownall wrote to Sir Wm. Johnson that a bargain with the treasury had been concluded for a large tract of land on the Ohio and that next an application would be made for a charter of government. Life and Writings of Washington (Sparks), II., 448. It would seem from this letter, as well as the subsequent history, that the petition was for a new government as well as for “a grant for the lands.”

* Plain Facts, p. 150.
4 Ibid., p. 159.
6 Ibid., p. 152.

8 Mr. Nelson estimated that these grants amounted altogether to about 1,700,000 acres. The author of Considerations on the Agreement estimated (p. 33) that with this deduction the Walpole company would have left “twelve millions of acres of cultivable lands." The traders' grant was provided for in the treaty of Fort Stanwix to compen. sate them for losses sustained in the French and Indian War. See Christopher Gist's Journal, p. 241; Plain Facts, p. 94.

.

[ocr errors]

spected, but he appears to have made no further objection. He said - "We do not presume to say to whom our gracious Sovereign shall grant his vacant lands; nor do I set myself up as an opponent to Mr. Walpole and his associates, With respect to the establishment of a new colony on the back of Virginia, it is a subject of too great political importance for me to presume to give an opinion upon. However permit me, my Lord, to observe, that when that part of the country shall become sufficiently populated, it may be a wise and prudent measure."

After nearly two years' delay the report of the Board of Trade appeared. It was a long argument against making the grant to Walpole and company, and called out a powerful and convincing reply from Dr. Franklin.? To the objection that the tract of land asked for "appears

to contain part of the dominion of Virginia

and to extend several degrees of longitude westward from the western ridge of the Appalachian Mountains," he replied

3 that "no part of the above tract is to the eastward of the Alleghany Mountains, and that those mountains must be considered the true western boundary of Virginia.

Lord Hillsborough argued that part of the tract lay beyond the boundary line between his Majesty's territories and the Indian hunting grounds as established by treaties." To this Franklin made a long argument to show that the treaty of Fort Stanwix vested in the crown the complete

2

[ocr errors]

1 Plain Facts, p. 153, quoting Nelson's letter. Also Thos. Paine's Public Good, p. 24.

? Both documents may be found in Franklin's Works, V., 1-75. The President of the Board of Trade was Lord Hillsborough, who was also Secretary of State for the Colonies, an office created in 1768. The ministry rejecting his report, he “ quit his American Seals, because he will not reconcile himself to a plan of settlement on the Ohio which all the world approves." Horace Walpole to Sir Horace Mann, July 23, 1772. Letters of Horace Walpole (Cunningham), V., 401, “Dr. Franklin's answer to the report of the Board of Trade was intended to have been published; but, Lord Hillsborough resigning, Dr. Franklin stopped the sale on the morning of the publication when not above five copies had been disposed of". Franklin's Works, X., 2.

3 Franklin's Works, V., 3. 4 Ibid., p. 20. • Ibid., p. 3. Compare the treaty of Ft. Stanwix and the treaty of Lochaber, 1770. Cf. Massachusetts Historical Collections, X., 725.

« AnteriorContinuar »