Page images

land, by ceding to the American states all territory she had held south of the Great Lakes and east of the Mississippi had of necessity abandoned her red allies to the mercies of a country which they had just been fighting, and left them on lands the title to which had, in theoretical sense, passed to the confederated colonies. The Republic, on the other hand, could not rid itself of the native red population that had so recently been armed foes. It was brought face to face with a situation that demanded free and unimpeded travel through much of the outlying regions, while at the same time circumstances called for a recog-nition of the property right of the Indians to lands on which they might live and gain their sustenance. The necessity of more territory toward the west in which the nation might expand and meet the needs of a growing population, together with the attainment of safe travel toward the west were plain, and gradually became — aside from politics — the principal feature of the nation's internal affairs. In fact the conditions here stated, and which were first brought into prominence soon after the Revolution, continued to be the controlling influence in the development of the Republic from that day until the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and all that lay between, were linked together by an unbroken travel system eighty. six years afterward. There were times when the people seemed to pause for a while on the march, as a giant who sleeps, but they always went on again, ever demanding a little more room in which to move and a better way of getting where they wanted to go.

Beginning with the Congress of the Confederation, the newly created United States recognized the several groups of Indians as separate nations having sovereignty over and ownership of territory, and dealt with

them on that basis. Whenever it occurred

as it did many times — that the United States found need for regions owned and occupied by the Indians it acquired possession of such territories by the negotiation of formal treaties, just as it did in buying the Louisiana Territory from France and Florida from Spain.

In the early years of the Northwest Territory the armed troops of the confederated colonies sometimes used force in evicting settlers who had encroached on the Indians' lands in that region, and even burned the log cabins of such invaders. Yet at the same time the nation was demanding that the Indians allow white men to travel into and settle on the territory where the evictions were taking place. These things indicated a willingness a desire—on the part of the Caucasian officials to accomplish a predetermined purpose by methods quite correct from the civilized standpoint of orderly legislative and legal process. From the more primitive viewpoint of the natives the curious spectacle presented simply an unworthy quibble. To the Indians it mattered little what method was used in depriving them of their land. They didn't want to give it up at all. It was small consolation for them to discover that henceforth they were to lose



Among the acts of the new American government in which the Indians were acknowledged to be people distinct from the citizens of the Republic, and in which their land proprietorship and qualities of separate nationality were stated may be cited the following:

Articles of confederation; adopted by the Continental Congrass in 1777: Article 6."No state shall engage in any war without the consent of the United States in Congress assembled, unless such state be actually invaded by enemies, or shall have received certain advice of a resolution being formed by some nation of Indians to invade such state, and the danger is so imminent as not to admit of a delay, till the United States in Congress assembled can be consulted.”

Constitution drawn up by the Congress of the Confederation and put into effect in 1789: Article 1. Section 8. — “Congress shall have power

to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes."

Northwest Ordinance, adopted by the Congress of the Confederation in 1787. Section 8.—"The Governor

shall proceed, from time to time, as circumstances may require, to lay out the parts of the district on which the Indian titles shall have been extinguished, into counties and townships."

From the same instrument: Article III.-The utmost good faith shall always be observed toward the Indians; their lands and property shall never be taken from them without their consent; and in their property rights and liberty they shall never be invaded or disturbed, unless in just and lawful wars authorized by Congress."

it through reluctantly signed documents, portentous with ceremony and red seals, whose completion was always promptly followed by the appearance of soldiers, surveyors and more white travellers marching through the forest. Some chiefs at last refused to sign any papers, saying that every time they did so their people lost something

From 1774 until the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, following Wayne's decisive victory over the confederated tribes at Fallen Timbers, there was no real peace along the northwestern border. Caucasian movement either by land or water was at all times unsafe, and many a traveller found a destination he was not seeking. But from 1795 until Tecumseh tried, sixteen years later, to organize the interior tribes into a confederacy opposed to further white advance, reasonable quiet reigned upon the frontier. Whatever other dangers and hardships the traveller might encounter he was in little peril that was due from Indian molestation of any sort.







URING the early years of their history: the growth

of the southern colonies, with the exception of Virginia, did not proceed nearly so rapidly as that of the regions which have already claimed attention. Nor did important movements of the population develop so promptly. As a whole the general settlement of the future southern states along the Atlantic seaboard took place at a decidedly later date than did the rise of the New England and middle colonies. Other elements that helped to bring about the condition stated were the nature of the southern region itself, and the character, traditions, habits and necessities of the first white men who permanently occupied it. That part of the South extending from the Atlantic to the Mississippi and from the Ohio River to the Gulf of Mexico had not been so favored as the North with a profusion of natural highways of travel in the shape of lakes and rivers. It had, to be sure, the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River as a gateway into the interior, the Cherokee and Cumberland Rivers flowing northward into the Ohio, and a few coastal streams against whose currents slow progress could be made by small boats or log canoes for goodly distances into the wilderness. In an almost literal sense the South of that early day was a solid block of primeval woods that, apart from the actual coast itself, demanded travel on land or none at all. It was further

1 The period before 1770.


24.—A very fine private coach of the late eighteenth century. Probably built

about 1790 by David Clark of Philadelphia, for Samuel Powell of that city. Exhibited during the Civil War period, in museums and public fairs, as a coach that had belorged to Washington.

true that rough and mountainous country made up a larger proportion of the territory than was the case in the early settled parts of New England and the middle sections. Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, the two Carolinas and Georgia were notable for the obstacles they presented to early and primitive land travel. Yet it was precisely those difficulties that inspired their early inhabitants with

« PreviousContinue »