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CLAIM FOR SELF-GOVERNMENT.
as Charlotte. A mob destroyed a grist mill, the property of a colonel Reid ; some houses of his tenants were burned, others were levelled to the ground. It was on this occasion that application was made to Haldimand, who had lately succeeded to Gage in command at New York, for the employment of royal troops to check the disorder. The request was not entertained, on the ground that in cases of a riot of this character the civil magistrate should call upon the militia to re-establish order. This exhibition of discontent in no way led New York to recede from the exercise of her authority, while New Hampshire equally shewed a disposition to maintain the rights she had asserted.
In 1777 New Hampshire, actuated by the revolutionary spirit then dominant, had framed a constitution, and in the spring of 1778 the new state was formally established. It was an example which the settlers on the New Hampshire grants immediately followed. Those living on both sides of the Connecticut asserted the right to associate themselves together and to form an independent state. It is scarcely necessary to add that the proceeding met immediate opposition both in New York and New Hampshire. Although they disagreed as to the sovereignty over the territory, they were in unison in resistance to this step, and both opposed the claim of self-government. On her side Vermont in no way moderated her pretensions, which included the territory to the extent of twenty miles east of the Connecticut, bounded on the west by the Hudson, from the northern boundary of Massachusetts, extending to the frontier of Canada.
In 1779, delegates from New York drew the attention of congress to this assumption of authority, and they demanded that no recognition should be given to the new state. This view was sustained by Virginia and the entire south, as it was felt that the creation of another northern state would disturb the balance of power, and the precedent was a threat to those states that claimed territory to the Mississippi west of their boundaries.
The first instructions relative to the movement were given by Germain to Haldimand in April, 1779. Haldimand was referred to a copy of a letter to Clinton, which would inform him “of the encouragement he is authorized to hold out to the country they style Vermont to induce them to return to their allegiance.” He was likewise instructed that, as his situation enabled him to have more ready access to those concerned, "it was his majesty's pleasure that he should endeavour to open a negotiation with them." * He was to act in concert with Clinton. The letter to Clinton, which was enclosed, expressed the intention of prosecuting the war, and “with regard to the country they style Vermont" he was authorized to erect it into a separate province and to confirm the possessors of land in their titles. +
By the above letters it is shewn that the first intelligence of the dissatisfied feeling of Vermont was communicated to Clinton, and by him reported to London. In March, 1780, Germain again enforced upon Haldimand the vast importance of drawing over Vermont, and in August he repeated that if the Vermont people could be induced to put themselves under the king's protection, it would be of most essential service. I In December of the same year, S he gave specific instructions to Haldimand with regard to the offer to be made, that Vermont should be constituted a separate province with every prerogative and immunity. He recognized that the position of those taking part in the negotiations was of extreme delicacy, and that Haldimand had to act with the greatest caution. Should Vermont cast her fortunes with
[Can. Arch., B. 43, p. 121.] + [Germain to Clinton. Can. Arch., 3rd March, 1779. B. 43, p. 135.) As this letter has a direct bearing upon a serious charge made against the character of chief justice Smith, to which allusion will be made hereafter, I append the concluding sentence : “What further assurance it may be necessary to hold out to them, you must be the best judge, and therefore I shall only add upon this subject, that the restoring that country to the king's service would be considered a very important service, and that I am commanded by his majesty to commend it to your attention.”
# [Can. Arch., B. 44, 17th March, p. 8, 8th August, p. 46.] $ (Can. Arch., Q. 18, p. 155.]
those of Great Britain, two battalions of ten companies should be raised with promise of half pay, Allen and Chittenden to be appointed lieutenant-colonels, and Haldimand, colonel in command, the officers to be appointed by the lieutenantcolonel, subject to the approbation of Haldimand.
In March, 1780, Beverley Robinson, colonel of the New York regiment, wrote to Ethan Allen. He had heard, he said, that most of the inhabitants of Vermont were opposed to separation from Great Britain and were establishing an independent state. He wrote as an American, feeling the distressed condition of his poor country. One of the causes of the continuance of the war was that those who desired an equitable connection with the mother country did not communicate with each other. He considered that two regiments might be embodied in Vermont in support of the royal cause. Any proposal Allen would make would be communicated to the commander-in-chief in New York. Should the letter not be approved, he hoped no insult would be shewn to the bearer, and the matter could drop into oblivion. Any friend bringing a proposition should be protected and allowed to return.
The question of the jurisdiction on the disputed territory came before congress on the oth of June. The claims are described as being made by New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York, and the “people of the district, known by the New Hampshire grants.” The consideration was deferred until the second Tuesday in September.
When this intelligence reached Vermont, Chittenden wrote from Bennington to Huntingdon,* the president of congress, denying the right to determine the claim to jurisdiction set up by the inhabitants of Vermont. He warned congress that Vermont would resist all attempt at coercion. Vermont felt herself at liberty to make the offer of cessation of hostilities with Great Britain, and to ratify the acceptance of such offer without the approbation of any other body. If congress and the states which congress represented would not support
* (Can. Arch., B. 157, p. 26, 25th July, 1780.]
Vermont in her claim for independence, she was without motive to continue hostilities and “maintain an important frontier for the benefit of the United States, and for no other reward than the ungrateful one of being enslaved by them."
Some correspondence followed with the authorities in Canada, nominally to effect an exchange of the Vermont prisoners in confinement in Quebec. On the 7th of July Ethan Allen wrote to major Carleton that he had received his letter with the one enclosed from Haldimand to Chittenden. Every respect would be shewn to a flag betokening an accredited agent, and no hostilities permitted. A similar observance was expected on the part of the British, when a proper person should be sent to arrange the cartel, the ostensible subject of the correspondence.
There is no trace of any attempt to give a definite character to the correspondence until October, 1780, when, under instructions from major Carleton, and with power to treat with those whom he should meet, captain Justus Sherwood started on his dangerous embassy. He left in a strong headwind in a cutter, with a drum and fife and five privates. A captain Chipman, apparently a congress officer, and his servant were also of the party. On the 28th they arrived at Skeenesborough, where Chipman left them. Sherwood proceeded to the head of East-bay, where he landed. Having placed three men and a flag in charge of the cutter, with two men and a fife and drum, he proceeded to the frontier post, four miles west of the block-house at Castleton. He arrived at seven, when he was blind-folded and taken to the quarters of the commander, to whom he explained that he was charged with despatches for general Allen. As Allen was at Castleton, the despatches were immediately forwarded.
On the following day, Sherwood had an interview with Allen. A council of the field officers was summoned, to whom Allen explained that he found Sherwood's instructions "somewhat discretionary.” Accordingly he desired to have a short conference before proceeding to business. When they were alone, Sherwood explained that he had business of
79 importance to communicate, but he must ask for Allen's word of honour that no advantage should be taken if his propositions were not agreeable, and in such a case that they should remain unnoticed while Sherwood was present. Allen accepted these conditions, provided “it was no damned Arnold plan " to sell his country and his own honour by betraying his trust. Sherwood assured him that to his mind the business was most honourable, and, on receiving from Allen assurance of fair treatment, Sherwood entered
upon the business of his mission. Sherwood delivered the message entrusted to him with tact and judgment. He pointed out that, in Haldimand's view, congress was only duping the people of Vermont, and waiting for the opportunity to crush them. He made known Haldimand's proposition for Vermont rejoining Great Britain, expressing the strongest desire that the conditions would be accepted. Allen protested that no personal considerations could influence him. When in captivity he had been offered a lieutenant-colonel's commission if he would change sides. The proposals, however, affected Vermont dearer to him than his life, and he would take them into consideration. Allen then remarked that they had been too long together, and that they must return to the meeting. The proposal he would keep secret. He advised Sherwood to say that he had explained his business regarding the cartel, and that he had asked the assistance of Allen when communicating to the council the letters of Haldimand and major Carleton. The letters were read by major Fay; they were considered generally satisfactory, with the exception of that part of major Carleton's letter imposing a limitation in the arrangements, which, some present suggested, covered a design upon New York, while the negotiations were being carried on. Sherwood pledged himself that no offensive operations should be undertaken, guaranteeing to inform Carleton through a flag that he had given this pledge.
A circular letter was accordingly written to all commanding officers of Vermont, informing them that a truce had been entered into. At one the council broke up, and