Page images


XXXV. - A law for continuing suits in the general and circuit courts. - [Adopted from the Virginia code.]

XXXVI. - A law to suppress gaming. - [Adopted from the Virginia code.]

XXXVII. — A law as to proceedings in ejectment, distress for rent, and tenants at will holding over. – [Adopted from the Pennsylvania code.]

XXXVIII. -- A law limiting imprisonment for debt, and subjecting certain debtors and delinquents to servitude.--[Adopted from the Pennsylvania code.] This law contained the following provisions: “No person shall be kept in prison, for debt or fines, longer than the second day of the sessions next after his or her commitment; unless the plaintiff shall make it appear, that the person imprisoned hath some estate that he will not disclose: then, and in every such case, the court shall examine all persons suspected to be privy to the concealment of such estate; and if no sufficient estate be found, the debtor shall make satisfaction, by personal and reasonable servitude, according to the judgment of the court where such action is tried (but only if the plaintiff require it) not exceeding seven years, where such debtor is unmarried, and under the age of forty years; unless it be the request of the debtor, who may be above that age: but if the debtor be married, and under the age of thirty-six, the servitude shall be for five years only; and with which the married man, upwards of thirty-six shall be privileged, if it be his request. Should the plaintiff refuse to accept such satisfaction according to the judgment of the court, as aforesaid, then the prisoner shall be discharged in open court, and the plaintiff be forever barred from any further or other action for the same debt."


Ar San Lorenzo el Real, on the 27th of October, 1795, Thomas Pinckney, Envoy Extraordinary from the United States to the court of Spain, and the Duke of Alcudia, Prince of Peace, &c. concluded a treaty of friendship, limits and navigation, between the United States of America and the King of Spain. The second and the fourth articles of this treaty here follow:

“ Article 2. To prevent all disputes on the subject of the boundaries which separate the territories of the two high contracting parties, it is hereby declared and agreed as follows, to wit: The southern boundary of the United States, which divides their territories from the Spanish colonies of East and West Florida, shall be designated by a line beginning on the river Mississippi, at the northernmost part of the thirty-first degree of latitude north of the equator, which from thence shall be drawn due east to the middle of the river Apalachicola, or Catahouche; thence along the middle thereof, to its junction with the Flint; thence straight to the head of St. Mary's river, and thence, down the middle thereof, to the Atlantic ocean. And it is agreed, that if there should be any troops, garrisons, or settlements of either party, in the territory of the other, according to the above mentioned boundaries, they shall be withdrawn from the said territory within the term of six months after the ratification of this treaty, or sooner if it be possible; and that they shall be permitted to take with them all the goods and effects which they possess."

“ Article 4. It is likewise agreed, that the western boundary of the United States, which separates them from the Spanish colony of Louisiana, is in the middle of the channel, or bed of the river Mississippi, from the northern boundary of the said states to the completion of the thirty-first degree of latitude north of the equator. And His Catholic Majesty has likewise agreed, that the navigation of the said river, in its whole breadth, from its source to the ocean, shall be free only to his subjects and the citizens of the United States, unless he should extend this privilege to the subjects of other powers by special convention.”

This treaty between the United States of America and the kingdom of Spain, was ratified on the 3d of March, 1796; and on the 24th of May, in the same year, Andrew Ellicott was appointed commissioner, and Thomas Freeman surveyor, on the part of the United States, for the purpose of running the boundary line mentioned in the second article of the treaty.

Before the close of the month of July, 1796, the British garrisons, with their arms, artillery, and stores, were withdrawn from the posts within the boundaries of the United States northwest of the river Ohio. A detachment of American troops, consisting of sixty-five men, under the command of Captain Moses Porter, took possession of the evacuated fort at Detroit, on or about the 12th of July, 1796. In September, 1796, Winthrop Sargent, Secretary of the northwestern territory, proceeded to Detroit, erected the county of Wayne, and established the civil authority of the United States in that quarter.

The ratification of the treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation, between the United States and Great Britain, was regarded by the government of France as an alteration and suspension of the treaty which was made between France and the United States, in 1778; and, in July, 1796, the French Executive Directory charged the government of the United States with a breach of friendship, an abandonment of neutrality, and a violation of tacit engagements.* A treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive, was concluded between France and Spain, on the 19th of August, 1796; and, on the 11th of December, 1796, James Monroe, American minister at Paris, was informed by Ch. de la Croix, French minister of Foreign Affairs, that the Executive Directory of France “would no longer recognise nor receive a minister plenipotentiary from the United States, until after a reparation of the grievances demanded of the American government.” *

* Am. State Papers-Foreign Relations, i. 730.

In the course of the years of 1795, 1796, and 1797, before the Spanish posts on the eastern side of the Mississippi were given up to the United States, some efforts were made by the agents of France and Spain, to induce the people of the western country to separate themselves from the American union, and to establish, in conjunction with Spain and France, an independent government on the western side of the Allegheny mountains. After the death of Wayne, † General James Wilkinson obtained the command of the United States troops in the west, and, in the month of June, 1797, the Baron de Carondelet, Governor General of Louisiana, sent one of his agents, Thomas Power, to General Wilkinson, with a letter in which Wilkinson was requested to delay the march of the American troops for the posts on the Mississippi, until the adjustment of certain questions which were then pending between the United States and the government of Spain. The real object of the mission of Thomas Power was to ascertain the opinions and sentiments of the western people on the subject of a separation of the Union. The following passages are extracted from the secret instructions which were given to Power by the Baron de Carondelet, on the 26th of May, 1797:

“On your journey, you will give to understand adroitly, to those persons to whom you have an opportunity of speaking, that the delivery of the posts which the Spaniards occupy on the Mississippi, to the troops of the United States, is directly opposed to the interest of those of the west, who, as they must

* Am. State Papers-Foreign Relations, i. 746.

Wayne died at Presque Isle, in December, 1796. He was buried on the southern shore of Lake Erie. In 1809 bis remains were removed to his native county, by his son, Isaac Wayne.

one day separate from the Atlantic states, would find them. selves without any communication with lower Louisiana, from whence they ought to expect to receive powerful succors in artillery, arms, ammunition, and money, either publicly or secretly, as soon as ever the western states should determine on a separation, which must insure their prosperity and their independence; that, for this reason, Congress is resolved on risking every thing to take those posts from Spain; and that it would be forging fetters for themselves, to furnish it with militia and means, which it can only find in the western states. These same reasons, diffused abroad by means of the public papers, might make the strongest impressions on the people, and induce them to throw off the yoke of the Atlantic states. * * * If a hundred thousand dollars distributed in Kentucky would cause it to rise in insurrection, I am very certain, that the minister, in the present circumstances, would sacrifice them with pleasure; and you may, without exposing yourself too much, promise them to those who enjoy the confidence of the people, with another equal sum to arm them, in case of necessity, and twenty pieces of field artillery.

“You will arrive without danger, as bearer of a despatch for the General, where the army may be, whose force, discipline, and disposition, you will examine with care; and you will endeavor to discover, with your natural penetration, the General's disposition. I doubt that a person of his disposition would prefer, through vanity, the advantages of commanding the army of the Atlantic states, to that of being the founder, the liberator, in fine, the Washington of the western states: his part is as brilliant as it is easy; all eyes are drawn towards him; he possesses the confidence of his fellow citizens, and of the Kentucky volunteers: at the slightest movement, the people will name him the General of the new republic; his reputation will raise an army for him, and Spain as well as France will furnish him the means of paying it. On taking Fort Massac, we will send him instantly arms and artillery; and Spain, limiting herself to the possession of the forts of Natchez and Walnut Hills, as far as fort Confederation, will cede to the western

« PreviousContinue »