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although the various factors differed in their relative weight and the need for a solution was more urgent. The future of the Mississippi valley probably lay in the Kentucky and hands of the American pioneers who were pour
Cumberland ing into that region. Their settlements constituted two oases in the wilderness. The more important, consisting of ScotchIrish mountaineers and Revolutionary veterans largely from Virginia, was in the blue-grass district of Kentucky. Increasing with great rapidity throughout the Confederation, it had in 1790 about 70,000 inhabitants. The other settlement, one hundred and fifty miles to the southwest, was in the Tennessee blue grass, about Nashville, and was known as the Cumberland district. Settled more exclusively by the mountaineer type, it had in 1790 less than half as large a population as Kentucky, and was also more exposed, being surrounded by the powerful tribes of the southwestern Indians.
Like the Vermonters, these invaders of the wilderness had shown their patriotism during the Revolution by fighting against the British; they had assisted George Spirit of inRogers Clark in the capture of Kaskaskia and dependence Vincennes, and had themselves delivered the great blow at King's Mountain of which the story in ballad and fireside tale enlivened many a forest cabin for years to come. Like the Vermonters, however, it was independence that fired them, and not particularly loyalty to the American Union or even to their states. Tennessee had a government, headed by John Sevier, which claimed separation from the parent state of North Carolina; and Kentucky was anxious to organize separately from Virginia.
Their virgin farms produced abundant crops, and nearly all vere on the banks of rivers hurrying to meet the Mississippi and the sea. The forests furnished ready ma
Traffic terial for rafts and rude boats, and all nature invited to this easy path of export. It was only necessary to obtain the permission of the Spaniards to drift down to some point near the gulf, there tranship their goods at some place
of deposit, and to return with the proceeds, either by sea to Philadelphia and thence home across the mountains, or buying a horse at New Orleans or Natchez ride home through the forests. During the Revolution, when we were to some extent coöperating with Spain, they had tested the advantages of this traffic; but in 1786 Spain closed the route. To reopen it was the work of Congress.1
Jay, treating with Gardoqui at Philadelphia, pointed to the treaty of peace with England, which specifically declared
" right that the navigation of the Mississippi should of navigation
be free from its source to the ocean, and to the treaty of 1763 between Great Britain and Spain, which had given England this right. Gardoqui claimed that the concession to England was a specific grant, which she had no power to transfer to another country. He refused to accept Jay's argument that the United States had a natural right to follow to the ocean all rivers on which any of its territory bordered; as a matter of fact, moreover, free navigation was of comparatively little use unless accompanied by the privilege of a place of deposit where rafts could be broken up and transhipment to ocean-going vessels made.?
Spain was the more tenacious of her position because of a misunderstanding regarding the Florida boundary. The The Florida treaty of 1783 between England and Spain boundary
read, “His Britannic Majesty likewise cedes and guarantees, in full right, to His Catholic Majesty East Florida, as also West Florida.” In the treaty of even date between England and the United States the northern boundary of West Florida was fixed at the thirty-first parallel. As between these two documents, the one indefinite, the other definite, the latter would naturally govern. Spain, however, claimed that “West Florida” was a definite term, that England had in 1764 extended the province to a line running through the mouth of the Yazoo. Moreover, her
1 Winsor, Westward Movement, 247-256.
claim in equity is improved by a study of the preliminary articles of both treaties; for those of the American treaty agreed to the Yazoo boundary in case England remained in possession of West Florida, whereas the agreement with Spain was that she should "continue” to hold West Florida. Now, she actually did hold Natchez, the only important post in the disputed region. Technically the arguments balanced, but Spain "continued” to hold Natchez, which not only was a Spanish garrison town, but was peopled for the most part with American loyalists, who were averse to a transfer of authority. Congress was, therefore as unable to clear the national territory of foreign control to the southwest as to the northwest.
Meantime the commercial interests of the coast were impatient at having an agreement held up because of these western questions, which they felt to be of little " East” and concern. Not all, moreover, favored the open
" West " ing of the Mississippi. In addition to a feeling that western emigration weakened the older parts of the country, there was a distinct fear, voiced by such men as Rufus King, that, should the West learn to face down the Mississippi, the country would be divided into two spheres so distinct that union would cease to be possible. He believed that the development of the West had best wait on the slow process of creating transportation routes across the mountains.
The position of Congress had been vacillating. In 1779 it had made the navigation of the Mississippi an ultimatum in any treaty with Spain; in 1781 it had withdrawn
Jay's proposal this condition; in 1784 it had returned to it. In 1786 Jay, who had ignored the instructions of 1781, concluded that he could not carry out those of 1784, and arranged a treaty with Gardoqui on the basis that the United States should forego the navigation for twenty-five years, without prejudicing her rights. This plan he recommended to Congress, with whom the question assumed a sectional aspect. The commercial regions, New England and the middle states,