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this country to themselves. Having possession of Canada and Louisiana, they early formed the plan of seizing the intermediate territory, and of confining the English to the shores of the Atlantic.
The British government, on the other hand, was not only ignorant of the great resources of the interior of our continent, but was averse, from policy, to any great extension of her colonies in that direction. Mistress of the ocean, she could easily, by means of her great navy, and commercial marine, maintain her influence and enforce her sway over a people scattered along the sea-coast, and the navigable rivers of the Atlantic; while an agricultural population, growing up in the interior, would be less apt to value her friendship, or fear her power. At a later period, when the colonies had thrown off the yoke, the British cabinet, still hoping that our weakness or our dissensions, would afford to that government an opportunity to 'renew its usurpation, and rivet more closely than ever the chains of dependence, watched the early growth of our institutions with a vigilant eye, and endeavored to weaken our strength, by turning loose the savages upon our western frontiers. Determined to check the expansion of our territory in this direction, her agents traversed the whole region of the northern lakes, furnishing the tribes with arms, bribing them to hostility, and artfully inflaming their passions against the American people.
The Spanish government had also her views in relation to this country; and when she obtained a cession of Louisiana from France, was induced to be
lieve that the whole valley of the Mississippi could be easily united under her sway.
Thus it happened, that this secluded region, so lately inhabited only by wild beasts and savage men, became the subject and the scene of deep laid political intrigues.
Great Britain, jealous of the United States, and sore from the effects of the recent conflict, continued to hold several important forts in our western territory, long after she had agreed by treaty to surrender them. Here her agents received the Indians, supplied them with arms, and incited them to war; using covertly, every expedient to harrass the new settlements, and to force the emigrants to recross the mountains. Mistress of the ocean, and of Canada, and having a navy which could command the entrance of the Mississippi, the British cabinet did not relinquish the hope, that this interior region might at some future day, if not in the meanwhile occupied by a hardy race of freemen, be placed under her control, affording her the means of assailing the United States in the rear, as well as upon the sea-coast, in case of a future war, or of any dissension among ourselves.
France and Spain, both owning islands in the West Indies, and having colonial possessions on the continent of North America, saw with distrust the territorial limits of the United States extended by treaty and by conquest, beyond the mountains. They had assisted us in our contest with Great Britain, from enmity to that power; and having seen a rival stripped of a rich appendage, were satisfied with the re
sult. But they had no disposition to aid in the rearing up of a great republican nation; nor were they willing to see its settlements spreading over the western valley, and coming in juxtaposition with their
While the inhabitants of Kentucky were few, and their ability to maintain themselves in the wilderness uncertain, these views were only incidentally developed in some of the negotiations of these powers with our government; but events occurred in the west, which at length produced more decisive action.
In 1784, certain demonstrations on the part of the Indian tribes, induced a general belief in Kentucky, that an extensive league had been formed among the savages, with a view to a simultaneous attack of the settlements, at several different points; while the detention of the posts by the British, suggested the suspicion that they were acquainted with the design, and were about to aid in its execution. The population had now increased, but was widely scattered; and it was found more difficult to produce the concerted action required for the public defence, than formerly, when the number of people was small, and the leaders few. In this emergency, Colonel Logan, a distinguished pioneer, took upon himself the responsibility of calling a meeting of such citizens as might choose to attend, at Danville, for the purpose of devising means for the general security.
The meeting was effected, and the result of the consultation was an unanimous opinion that the danger was imminent, and that the surest method of repelling the threatened mischief would be to antici
pate the enemy, by attacking them in their own towns. But this conclusion led to another difficulty. There was no authority competent to order an expedition, to call out men, or to provide them with arms and ammunition. A few counties were organized, under the jurisdiction of Virginia; but the government of that state, or of the United States, only, could exercise a power sufficient for the emergency. A few years before, the voluntary action of an enterprising leader, with a few brave men, in defence of a settlement, was an every day occurrence; the number to be protected was small, the service brief, and the means easily controled. But now there was a wide territory exposed; the inhabitants were numerous, and some of them strangers to the rest; the proposed expedition was to carry them into the enemy's country, and detain them long from home; there was no magazine of arms, no ammunition, no money belonging to the public. The consequence was, that after coming to the determination that defensive measures were necessary, the meeting
, dispersed without making any military preparation. In the event, the alarm appears to have been groundless, for the Indians made no attack within that year. Another result, however, of much consequence, was produced by this meeting. The absolute necessity of a local government was made manifest; and resolutions were passed, recommending to the people the election of representatives, to meet in a convention to be held at Danville, in the December of the same year, to concert measures for the public defence. A convention was held accordingly, in which it was
resolved, to petition the legislature of Virginia, to sanction the erection of the district of Kentucky into a separate state.
There was some difference of opinion in relation to the expediency of this measure; it was opposed by some, out of mere attachment for Virginia, by others, from a disrelish for a change, which might produce unforeseen embarrassments, and by many, who dreaded a separation from the parent state, as a sure forerunner of separation from the Union. The distant and detached position of these settlements, has already been alluded to; they were divided from the Atlantic states by mountains, over which it was not deemed practicable to carry roads sufficiently good for the purposes of commerce, while on the west they were hemmed in by an enemy, from whom they must defend themselves by their own unassisted valor. Their dependence upon the Union, seemed to be but nominal; it gave them no strength, and afforded them no protection. They were now beginning to raise produce for exportation, without any prospect of a market for its disposal. The only natural outlet, the river Mississippi, was in the possession of a foreign government, which denied them the right of navigating that stream; while the American government, having no power of coercion, and little national influence, seemed both unable and indisposed, to secure for its citizens in the west, by negotiation or otherwise, the advantages of that navigation. With these, and other latent causes of discontent, there soon grew up a variety of opinions, and several distinct parties; one advocating the erec