Imágenes de páginas

struggling for nearly two years, Richard Henderson succeeded in getting for his Company a large compensatory grant on the Ohio and Green rivers.' North Carolina appropriated the remainder of what was considered the Henderson purchase, giving the company a grant in Powell's Valley; "and thus vanished the golden dream of Richard Henderson and Company."

[ocr errors]

If a different course had been followed the course which Clark planned to follow in case the settlements had declared their independence, viz.: giving away much of the land and selling the rest at a low figure, besides allowing the people a more liberal government then the selfinterest of settlers would probably have led them to continue that support of the proprietors and their measures which they seem to have given at first. The absence of marked opposition from the Virginia patriots to an independent and liberally governed Transylvania is noticeable. The framers of Virginia's first constitution plainly contemplated the erection of a new government within their char. ter limits west of them. The state government even expressed grave doubts as to whether the Assembly would be willing to receive Kentucky,' whose people were freely offering themselves to Virginia. This seeming indifference on the part of Virginia would, if continued, have materially aided the Transylvanians in maintaining independence, if they had persisted in it. An independent Transylvania, or an independent Kentucky led by George Rogers Clark, during the Revolutionary War, might have made a marked difference in subsequent American history, particularly if the colony had allied itself with Spain, or adhered to Great Britain in the struggle. In either case the United States would probably have been limited at the peace to the ter

1 Littell's Laws of Kentucky, III., 587; Hening, IX., 571.

Nathaniel Hart (whose father was a member of the Company) to Mann Butler. October, 1833. Draper Colls., Kentucky MSS., II.

3 Va. Const. of 1776. Hough's Am. Const., I., 430; Poore's Constitutions, II., 1912

ritory east of the Alleghany mountains. Had the country not been united to Virginia as it was, its history would most likely have been similar to that of Vermont-really much in sympathy with the American cause and continually knocking at the doors of Congress for admission to the Confederacy; but, if not getting it, taking position as a quasi independent and sovereign state, holding aloof, and ready to join with which ever side should come out victor in the contest.'

1 It will be attempted to show in a later study that this was the attitude of Vermont during a large part of the Revolutionary War.




Thus far we have had to do with schemes for new British colonies. With the Declaration of Independence the idea of new colonies gives place to that of new states. The change was, however, by no means a sharply defined One attempt to set up a new government began probably before American independence was declared. It involved the region about the head-waters of the Ohio, which was claimed by both Pennsylvania and Virginia, and incorporated by the latter as a part of West Augusta county. The scheme was set on foot in June or the beginning of July, 1776, by David Rogers, (who was a member of the Virginia Assembly), and others. Certain definite boundaries were proposed and a memorial exhibited to several persons at Pittsburg.2 The people were directed to "choose men to meet and Consult whither application should be made to Congress for laying off the country within the said limits into a new Government or whether they would not immediately proceed to Colonize themselves by their own authority, and send Delegates to Congress to represent them.

" 3

Another proposition was that the people "on the Western Waters" should decide whither a "joint Petition of the Inhabitants" should be presented to Congress "praying their Interposition in settling the Disputes which have occasioned

1 Memorial of the Committee of West Augusta to the Va. House of Delegates.-Va. Senate Journal, Oct. 30, 1776. MS. copy in Draper Colls., "Pa., N. Y., Va., O., Ky., and Tenn. Papers," IV., 32.

Ibid. Among the "Yeates Papers," owned by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, there is a draft of this memorial, but in certain particulars it differs from the one apparently presented to the Virginia House of Delegate.

our Unhappiness" or whether they should take things into their own hands "by our immediately colonizing ourselv[es] by our own Authority, and sending our Delegates to the said Congress to represent us as the fourteenth Link in the American Chain." It was "recommended to the different Districts on the Western Waters to meet.... and give their free Voice which of these Modes is most agreeable, and it is hoped that the Minority will generously give up to the Majority; and if a Majority is found in Favour of the former Mode all will sign the said Petition, and if a Majority is found in Favour of the latter that all will acquiesce then and there in Choice of two Members for a Convention to be held at Becket's Fort four Days after such Election for the express Purpose of forming a new Mode of Government for the intended new Colony Choosing two Members to represent us in Congress, Laying out the said Colony in Counties, and issuing their Summon's for calling an Election of legislative & Executive Officers agreeable to the Plan of Government so formed."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Whether this meeting was ever held we do not know. In July, Rogers and others refused to take an oath prescribed by the Virginia convention and "persisted in using all their influence to make proselytes to their favorite scheme of a new Government.' By the first of August a petition to Congress was in circulation. That document pointed out the evils to which the petitioners were subjected on account of the conflicting claims of Pennsylvania and Virginia to jurisdiction over them, and the "embarrassing and perplexing" land claims of George Croghan, and the Indiana and Vandalia companies. The petitioners say they are "neither Politicians nor Orators," but "are at least a rational and Social People. They have "emigrated from

1 MS. copy in possession of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Ibid,

'Memorial of the Committee of West Augusta.

4 Crumrine (Hist. of Wash. Co., Pa., p. 187) proves this date from a letter of Jasper Ye ates to James Wilson, July, 1776.

almost every Province of America." but "having imbibed the highest and most extensive Ideas of Liberty," they "will with Difficulty Submit to the being annexed to or Subjugated by (Terms synonimous to them) any one of those Provinces, much less the being partitioned or parcelled out among them." They protest that they will not "Suffer themselves, who might be the happiest & perhaps not the least useful Part of the American Confederacy as forming a secure, extensive & Effectual Frontier and Barrier against the Incursions, Ravages & Depredations of the Western Savages, to be Enslaved by any set of Proprietary or other Claimants. or arbitrarily deprived and robbed of those Lands & that Country to which by the Laws of Nature & of Nations they are entitled as first Occupants, . . . whilst the Rest of their Countrymen softened by Ease, enervated by Affluence & Luxurious Plenty, & unaccustomed to Fatigues, Hardships, Difficulties or Dangers, are bravely contending for and exerting themselves on Behalf of a Consti tutional, natural, rational & social Liberty." They contend that "no Country or People can be Either rich, flourishing, happy or free. whilst annexed to or dependent on any Province, whose Seat of Government is those of Pennsylvania & Virginia, four or five hundred Miles distant, and separated by a vast, extensive & almost impassible Tract of Mountains, by Nature itself formed and pointed out as a Boundary between this Country and those below it."

[ocr errors]

The memorialists request finally, "that the said Country be constituted, declared and acknowledged a separate, distinct & independent Province & Government, by the Title & under the Name of The Province & Government of Westsylvania', be impowered & enabled to form such Laws and Regulations & such a System of Polity & Government, as is best adapted & most agreeable to the peculiar Neces sities, local Circumstances & Situation thereof, and its Inhabitants invested with every other Power, Right, Privi

« AnteriorContinuar »