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The government of Great Britain having nominally extended its dominion over the vast territories lying northwest of the river Ohio, the British commandants in those regions exercised their authority, without departing in a material manner from the policy which had been pursued by their French predecessors. In 1765, the aggregate number of French families within the limits of the northwestern territory (comprising the settlements about Detroit, those near the river Wabash, and the colony in the neighborhood of Fort Chartres,) did not, probably, exceed six hundred. Of these families, about eighty or ninety resided at Post Vincennes; about fourteen were settled at Fort Ouiatenon, on the river Wabash; and at the Twightwee village, which was situated near the confluence of the St. Joseph and St. Mary rivers, there were nine or ten French houses. * These three small colonies were, at that time, the only white settlements in all the large territory which now lies within the boundaries of the state of Indiana. At Detroit and in the neighborhood of that place, there were about three hundred and fifty French families. The remainder of the French population resided at Kaskaskia, Cahokia, Prairie du Rocher, and in the vicinity of those villages.
The colonial policy which was adopted by Great Britain, immediately after the treaty of 1763, offered to the English colonists in North America no inducements to advance their settlements into the regions on the western side of the Allegheny mountains. By a proclamation of the 7th of October, 1763, the king forbade all his subjects from making any purchases, or settlements whatever, or taking possession of any
of the lands, beyond the sources of any of the rivers which fall into the Atlantic ocean from the west or northwest;" and, at the suggestion of the English Board of Trade and Plantations, the British government took measures to confine the English settlements in America, “ to such a distance from the sea coast as that those settlements should lie within the reach of the trade and commerce of Great Britain.* In pursuing this policy the government rejected the propositions of various individuals who proposed to establish English colonies in the west.
In 1769, the commander-in-chief of the king's forces in North America wrote as follows to the Earl of Hillsborough, who presided over the Colonial Department: “As to increasing the settlements (northwest of the river Ohio] to respectable provinces, and to colonization in general terms in the remote countries, I conceive it altogether inconsistent with sound policy. I do not apprehend the inhabitants could have any commodities to barter for manufactures, except skins and furs, which will naturally decrease as the country increases in people, and the deserts are cultivated; so that, in the course of a few years, necessity would force them to provide manufactures of some kind for themselves, and when all connexion upheld by commerce with the mother country shall cease, it may be expected that an independency in her government will soon follow. The laying open of new tracts of fertile country in moderate climates might lessen the present supply of the commodities of America, for it is the passion of every man to be a landholder, and the people have a natural disposition to rove in search of good land, however distant." Similar to these opinions, were those of the royal Governor of Georgia, who, in a letter to the British Lords of Trade, wrote as follows: “This matter, my Lords, of granting large bodies of land in the back parts of any of his majesty's northern colonies, appears to me in a very serious and alarming light; and I humbly conceive, may be attended with the greatest and worst of consequences; for, my Lords, if a vast territory be granted to any set of gentlemen, who really mean to people it, and actu
*Report of the Board of Trade and Plantations to the Lords of the Privy Council.
ally do so, it must draw and carry out a great number of people from Great Britain, and I apprehend they will soon become a kind of separate and independent people, who will set up for themselves; that they will soon have manufactures of their own; and in process of time they will become formidable enough to oppose his majesty's authority."
In the course of the year 1770, sevtral persons, from Virginia and other British Provinces, explored and marked nearly all the valuable lands "not only on the Red Stone and other waters of the Monongahela, but along the Ohio as low as the Little Kanawha."
On the 20th of October, 1770, GEORGE WASHINGTON, Doct. Craik, Capt. Crawford, Joseph Nicholson, Robert Bell, William Harrison, Charles Morgan, and Daniel Rendon, embarked, at Pittsburgh, in a pirogue, and descended the river Ohio to the mouth of the Kanawha. They ascended the latter stream about fourteen miles; killed five buffaloes on the 2d of November; marked some large tracts of land above the mouth of the Kanawba; and then returned to Pittsburgh. At this time the village of Pittsburgh was composed of about twenty log houses, inhabited by Indian traders; and the garrison of Fort Pitt consisted of two companies of Royal Irish, commanded by Captain Edmonson.
A proclamation of General Gage, which appeared in 1772, was the first official act of the British government that disturbed the quiet of the French settlements on the river Wabash, after the peace of 1763. That proclamation was in the words following:
“By his Excellency Thomas Gage, Lieutenant General of the King's Armies, Colonel of the 22d Regiment, General commanding in chief all the forces of his Majesty in North America, &c. &c. &c.
“Whereas many persons, contrary to the positive orders of the King upon this subject, have undertaken to make settlements beyond the boundaries fixed by the treaties made with the Indian nations, which boundaries ought to serve as a bar
Washington's Journal, of 1770.
rier between the whites and the said nations; and a great number of persons have established themselves, particularly on the river Ouabache, where they lead a wandering life, without government, and without laws, interrupting the free course of trade, destroying the game, and causing infinite disturbance in the country, which occasions a considerable injury to the affairs of the King, as well as to those of the Indians: His Majesty has been pleased to order, and by these Presents orders are given in the name of the King, to all those who have established themselves on the lands upon the Ouabache, whether at St. Vincent* or elsewhere, to quit those countries instantly and without delay, and to retire, at their choice, into some one of the colonies of his Majesty, where they will be received and treated as the other subjects of his Majesty. Done, and given at Head Quarters, New York. Signed with our hand, sealed with our seal at arms, and countersigned by our Secretary, this 8th of April, 1772.—By order of the King.
THOMAS GAGE. By His Excellency,
• G. MATURIN, Sec. On the 14th of September, 1772, the French inhabitants settled at Post Vincennes, despatched a letter to General Gage, in which they stated that their possessions were held by “ sacred titles;" that their settlement was of “seventy years standing;" and that their “lands had been granted by order and under the protection of his most Christian Majesty” the King of France. To this letter of the inhabitants of Post Vincennes, General Gage transmitted the following answer:
“ New York, April 2d, 1773. “GENTLEMEN :- I have received your letter of the 14th of September last, with the representations annexed, which I intend to cause, in a few days, to be transported to the feet of his Majesty
“ As you claim your possession by sacred titles, insinuating that your settlement is of seventy years standing, and that the lands have been granted by order and under the protection of
his most Christian Majesty, it is necessary that his Majesty should be informed very particularly upon these points; and it is important to you, to give convincing proofs of all that you allege in this respect.
“To this end, I have to demand, without delay, the name of every inhabitant at Vincennes and its neighborhood, and by what title each one claims; if it is by a concession, the year of the concession must be added, as well as the name of the officer who made it, and the name of the Governor-General who approved and confirmed it with [word unintelligible and omitted, probably “the date” or “the page” or “number"] also, of the records where each concession shall have been registered. That the report which I expect may be better understood, I annex hereto a form, which I beg you to follow exactly, and to put me as early as possible in a situation to push forward
I am, gentlemen,
THOMAS GAGE. Mr. de St. Marie, and the other inhabitants settled at Post Vincennes.”
About this time, while the English colonies in North Amer, ica were rising in opposition to the policy of the government of Great Britain, the latter began to adopt measures to gain the attachment of the French population of Canada and the Illinois country. In the month of December, 1773, divers French inhabitants of the Province of Quebec, sent to the king a memorial, wherein they said: “The Province of Quebec, as it is now bounded, by a line passing through the forty-fifth degree of north latitude, is confined within too narrow limits, This line is only fifteen leagues distant from Montreal; and yet it is only on this side that the lands of the Province are fertile and that agriculture can be cultivated to much advantage. We desire, therefore, that as under the French Government our colony was permitted to extend over all the upper countries known under the names of Michilimackinac, Detroit, and other adjacent places, as far as the Mississippi, so it may now