Imágenes de páginas

Franklin argued for that view in his successful reply to Hillsborough. The latter contended in 1772 that the "two capital objects" of the proclamation were to restrict the settlements to territory where they could be kept in due subjection to the home government, and also within reach of the trade and commerce of Great Britain.' Hillsborough was first made President of the Board of Trade in September, 1763, and so was in position to know its object when the proclamation was issued.

"Between the two views, supported as they are, it is impossible to come to a definite conclusion; but considering Hillsborough's alleged "insincerity," the contradictory statements of the then prime minister, and the fact that not the Board of Trade, but the Council had the real decision of questions of policy, is it not probable that Hillsborough's view was wrong? It is quite possible indeed that Hillsborough from the first, intended one thing, while the British government, as a wbole, intended something quite different. And we must finally conclude from the evidence at hand that the probable object of the King's proclamation was to quiet the Indians and keep settlers off the unpurchased lands leaving the final disposition of those lands to the future. This view is borne out by subsequent facts.

Three years had scarcely passed after the issuing of the proclamation when the Illinois scheme was agitated and was "really approved" by Lord Shelburne, Secretary of State, who had a control of colonial affairs independent, at that time, of the Board of Trade. The matter, however, was "referred to the Board of Trade for their opinion " by the King in council.

A great object of colonization was, of course, "to pro


[ocr errors]

the proclamation is what it appears to be. The Province of Quebec and the Early American Revolution, p. 415. But see his interpretation, pp. 393-431, and especially p. 428.

1 Ibid., p. 4.

mote and extend the commerce of Great Britain." When the scheme was referred to the merchants by the Board of Trade, they declared unanimously that if colonies were established at Detroit and in the Illinois country, they would promote and extend the said commerce. With this decision the argument that the new colonies would not meet the great end for which colonies were established, could hardly stand.' Indeed the evidence indicates that up to the time Lord Hillsborough was made both President of the Board of Trade and Secretary of State for the colonies, the British government was favorable to the Illinois scheme. Soon after that, Franklin wrote, Counsels are so continually fluctuating here that nothing can be depended on." This doubtless has reference to the death of Townsend, the illness of Pitt, Hillsborough's promotion, and various changes in the ministry during 1768. It was probably due to these changes that the Illinois scheme failed. Its failure is some evidence that British policy was at that time opposed to western colonization.

In the fall of that same year, however, the British government bought, for a considerable sum, the claims of the Six Nations to a vast tract of land west of the Alleghany mountains. Why was that purchase made if it was the British policy to restrict all settlement to the region east of the mountains? The purchase is strictly in accordance with the theory of the King's proclamation advanced above.

Finally, we see the British government convinced that the establishment of the Vandalia colony would be for the advantage of Great Britain, and the papers for its erection actually drawn up. So we may say that at last it was British policy to establish at least one new colony west of the Alleghany mountains.

1 Notice, in this connection, Lord Clare's opinion in regard to the fur trade. See above, p. 19.

See above, pp. 18, 19. * See above, p. 19.

That the British ministry expected to exert a strong in. fluence in the establishment and operation of whatever new western governments might be established, there can be no doubt. Of course, too, unauthorized settlements beyond the reach of governmental authority could scarcely meet British approval, as tending only to cause Indian uprisings. Lord Dartmouth, writing to Dunmore in September, 1774, and speaking of the British policy “from the Royal Proclamation of 1763 down to the present time," said: " It has been the invariable Policy of this Country to pre. vent, by every possible means, any Settlement of the King's subjects in situations where they could not fail of exciting the jealousy of and giving dissatisfaction to the Indians, and where at the same time the Settlers would be out of reach either of the control or protection of the King's Government." This, of course, could not be applied to estab. lishments under conditions similar to those of the pro. posed Vandalia, else Dartmouth could hardly have called the policy "invariable."

But to sum up all the evidence, what was the British western policy during the third quarter of the eighteenth century? It may have been a consistent one; but from the evidence at hand, we are not able definitely to affirm that it was, for we are still unable to tell the reasons for the King's proclamation and the final failure of the Illinois scheme. Indeed with the many ministerial changes made during the period, one could hardly expect a consistent policy. Then too, there was doubtless more or less indiffer

1! 1

1 Mass. Hist. Colls. X., 725. Cf. Dunmore's reply in Clark MSS. (Draper Colls.) XV., 4.

? The ministerial changes were especially frequent during the first decade of George III's reign. Notice the following prime ministers:

1757, Newcastle-Pitt coalition,
1761, Newcastle (Pitt resigned).
1762, Bute.
1763, George Grenville.
1765, Rockingham.
1766, Chatham.
1767, Grafton.

ence to a subject which must have seemed insignificant to ministries unable to stand long, even by applying them. selves closely to what must have seemed, to them much more important business. But, taking all things into con : sideration, we may conclude that the British government, during the period considered, was in the main, not unfavorable to western settlement under certain regulations. As to new colonial establishments, the Illinois scheme was the first one presented to the government. The favorable re. ceipt of that scheme, and the actual success of the Vandalia scheme, as well as the general favor shown to the land companies, all point to the same attitude with respect to new colopies.

As to what would have been the subsequent policy in regard to the west, if the Revolutionary War had not interfered, it is, of course, impossible to say. Considering the somewhat uncertain policy pursued before the war, it is not unlikely that some change in the ministry might have introduced a complete change of policy. But when we consider the rapid extension of unlawful settlement beyond the mountains, before the war, in spite of British efforts to prevent it, we see that had there been no Revolution, that same western movement would have continued with constantly increasing force, whether made lawful or not, beyond the limits of Vandalia. The establishment of some kind of government throughout the west would, in time, have been found absolutely necessary. The same arguments which were used to secure approval of the Vandalia scheme, would have been used again, and the Vandalia case urged as a precedent. If, instead of cutting the whole west up into new colonies of the size of Vandalia, it had been annexed to various old colonies, as the Northwest was annexed to Quebec, by the Quebec Act of 1774, such an ar. rangement would very probably have been merely tempor. ary. As the country became settled, the British govern. ment would have found it advisable to cut up the country into smaller divisions, and a political geography would have resulted in the west similar to that which may be seen today in Canada, or Australia. The beginning of the Revolution saw Great Britain embarked on a course which, but for that war, must have led, perhaps indirectly, but nevertheless, considering the circumstances and forces at work, almost inevitably, to the cutting up of the west into many separate governmental establishments.

1 Report of the Board of Trade, March, 1768. Franklin's Works, V., 5.

? Thomas Paine in his Public Good (p. 27) which appeared in 1780, distinguishes three kinds of lands at the commencement of the Revolution, the third of which were those “held in reserve whereon to erect new governments and lay out new provinces as appears to have been the design." Paine presents something of an argument for this proposition, but in my opinion fails to prove it.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »