Imágenes de páginas



In spite of the numerous schemes already described, to establish new colonial governments beyond the Alleghanies, the west saw nothing done towards the actual erection of such a government until 1775. In that year there appeared in the west, for the first time, a new establishment which it was proposed to develop into a new government-an establishment which, for a time, was a new and an independent government. It seems probable that the company which set up this new government intended originally to petition for a royal grant and charter, as the Walpole company had done. It was probably thought that the British government, which had already decided favorably in the case of Vandalia, could easily be induced to grant the new company an equally extensive territory just west of the Vandalia colony.' As for the Indian title, which stood in the way, the plan seems to have been to buy it from the Cherokees before applying for a grant. At any rate, when the Louisa Company (as the Transylvania Company was first called) was formed at Hillsborough, North Carolina, August 27, 1774, the members signed an agreement "to rent or purchase a certain Territory or Tract of Land from the Indian Tribes now in possession thereof, and do bind and oblige ourselves and our heirs each to furnish his

[ocr errors]

1 In their Memorial to Congress, Sept. 25, 1775, the proprietors "flatter themselves that the addition of a new Colony, in so fair and equitable a way, and without any expense to the Crown, will be acceptable to His Most Gracious Majesty, and that Transylvania will soon be worthy of his Royal regard and protection." 4 Am. Archives, IV., 554; N. C Col. Records, X., 258.

Quota of Expenses necessary towards procuring a grant' and settling the country." At that time the company was composed of Richard Henderson, John Williams, Thomas Hart, Nathaniel Hart, John Luttrell and William Johnston. Not very long afterwards, James Hogg, David Hart, and Leonard Henly Bullock, were admitted and the name Transylvania Company" assumed. There was a tradition that Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson desired to join the company, but that Colonel Henderson preferred not to have them admitted "lest they should supplant the Colonel as the guiding spirit of the company. Patrick Henry himself declared that Henderson invited him to join, but he "uniformly refused and plainly declared his strongest disapprobation of their whole proceedings."5 At all events the membership of the company seems to have remained confined to the nine men mentioned above, all from North Carolina.


In the spring of 1775, the Cherokee chiefs were gathered to meet Henderson and his friends at Watauga, in what is now northeastern Tennessee. After considerable parley, a treaty was executed March 17th. In consideration of several loads of merchandise, valued at £10,000, the Cherokees deeded the territory bounded as follows: "Beginning on the said Ohio River at the mouth of Kentucky, Ehenoca or what, by the English, is called Louisa River, from thence running up the said River and the most northwardly fork of the same to the head spring thereof, thence a South East

1 This might possibly be taken as meaning a grant from the Indians merely, and indeed the cession which the company finally obtained was sometimes called "the great grant," but it was not customary to apply that term to an Indian cession. Moreover we would expect the Company to be planning to get a crown grant, as differences between the colonies and the mother country had not at that time reached the point where separation was expected.

Draper Colls., Ky. MSS., I.


Extracts from Jas. Alves's Henderson Papers, in Draper Colls. Kentucky MSS., II. Patrick Henry's deposition, made at Williamsburg, June 4, 1777. Draper Colls., Kentucky MSS., I. This deposition shows that Patrick Henry was concerned in another scheme to purchase lands from the Cherokees.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

course, to the top ridge of Powels' mountain, thence westwardly along the ridge of the said mountain unto a point from which a north west course will hit or strike the head spring of the most Southwardly branch of Cumberland River, thence down the said River, including all its waters, to the Ohio River, thence up the said River as it meanders to the Beginning." As the meaning of the phrase "including all its waters" has been subject to some dispute, it may be well to notice what those present at the treaty supposed it to mean, or in other words, what they regarded as the southern boundary of the cession. In 1777 and 1778 a number of depositions in regard to the Watauga treaty were taken by Virginia authorities. One man who was there declared, under oath, that in his opinion the boundary line 'was to keep the dividing Ridge between Cumberland" and Tennessee Rivers. Another man, under oath, gave some particulars of the treaty. He said that after some parleying, "The Indians then agreed to sell the land as far as Cumberland River, and said Henderson insisted to have Cumberland River and the waters of the Cumberland river, which the Indians agreed to.' The depositions of other men describe the southern boundary in the same language as the deed, while there seems to be no evidence that anyone present at the treaty regarded that boundary to be the Cumberland River merely. Major Pleasant Henderson' described the southern boundary as a westerly line crossing "the Cumberland mountains so as to strike the ridge which divides the waters of the Tennessee River from those of the Cumberland, and with that ridge to the Ohio River." So



we see that at the time, the watershed between the two

1 See attested (1803) copy from the original, and also the complete copy of the Watauga treaty in Draper Colls, Kentucky, MSS., I., Butler's Kentucky, pp. 503–506.

Deposition of Chas. Robertson, Oct. 3, 1777,- Draper Colls., Kentucky, MSS., I. 'Deposition of Jas. Robinson,- Ibid.

*See Depositions in Draper Colls., Kentucky MSS., I.

Brother of Richard Henderson.

Copy of Pleasant Henderson's MS., Draper Colls., Kentucky MSS., II.

"The petition from the inhabitants of Kentucky, presented to the Virginia House of




rivers seems to have been regarded as the southern boundary of the cession, as indeed one would naturally suppose from the phrase "including all its waters." It is however, undeniable, that the Cumberland River was, in 1785 and afterwards, officially recognized as "the southern boundary of the lands sold to Richard Henderson & Co.;" but in mapping the outlines of the territory over which the Transylvania Company claimed, and (as much as any civilized government of the time) exercised jurisdiction, and which was called Transylvania, it seems more reasonable to take the natural interpretation of the deed supported as it is by the depositions of men present at the treaty, and the plain statement of Richard Henderson's brother. The so-called "path-deed" was secured by Henderson and Company at the same time, so that they might have territorial connection with the old colonies, but as the comparatively small piece of land thus obtained was not considered a part of Transylvania proper and was not called Transylvania' it need not be considered here.

Delegates, Oct. 8, 1776, described the territory as extending "from the southernmost waters of the Cumberland river." Journal of Virginia House of Delegates, Oct. 8, 1776, (Copy in Draper Colls., Clark MSS., XIV., p. 162.)

[ocr errors]

1C. C. Royce (Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, 1883-4, p. 149) says: 'Although a literal reading of these boundaries would include all the territory watered by the Cumberland River and its branches, the general understanding seems to have been that Henderson's purchase did not extend south of the Cumberland River proper."

Report of treaty commissioners to Richard Henry Lee, Pres. of Cong., Dec. 2, 1785; and later, letter of Gen. Knox, Sec. of War, to Pres. of the U. S.-Am. State Papers, Indian Affairs, I., 39.

See, in this connection, the complaint of James Davis,- Draper Colls., Kentucky MSS., II.

[ocr errors]

Those who have taken the other view have failed to map correctly that part of the southern boundary of Transylvania, which is less ambiguous in the deed, viz., the line running along the ridge of "Powels' Mountain unto a point from which a northwest course will hit or strike the head spring of the most Southwardly branch of the Cumberland River." C. C. Royce (map accompanying Rep. of Bureau of Ethnology, 1883-4) evidently assumes the boundary as conceded later by the U. S. treaty commissioners. Professor Turner (map accompanying his article in Am. Hist. Rev., Oct., 1895, appears to have followed Royce. Why the U. S. treaty commissioners should have conceded so much to the Cherokees does not appear. There is some doubt as to what range was referred to by "Powels' mountain." Royce admits that this is uncertain. The range that is called the Clinch Mountains best accords with the boundary description, and was not unlikely the range referred to.

Deposition of Nathaniel Henderson, Oct. 27, 1778, Draper Colls., Kentucky MSS., I.


« AnteriorContinuar »