« PreviousContinue »
Plan for settling two Western Colonies in North America, with
Reasons for the Plan, 1754*.
THE great country back of the Apalachian mountains, on both sides the Ohio, and between that river and the lakes is now well known, both to the English and French, to be one of the finest in North America,
* For the oceasion which produced this plan, see what follows. I apprehend it was given to Governor Pownall, 1754, for the purpose of being inserted in his memorial; but this point of anecdote I cannot sufficiently ascertain. “ Estract of a Memorial drawn up by order of, and presented to his Royal
Highness the Duke of Cumberland, 1756, by T. Pownall. “In other parts of our frontier, that are not the immediate residenco and country of Indians, some other species of barrier should be thought of, of which nothing can be more effectual than a barrier colony; but even this cannot be carried
. into execution and effect, without the previous measure of entrepóts in the country between us and
All mankind must know, that no body of men, whether as an army, or an emigration of colonists, can march from one country to another, through an inhospitable wilderness, without magazines ; nor with any safety, without posts communicating among each other by practicable roads, to which to retire in case of accidents, repulse, or delay.
“ It is a fact, which experience evinces the truth of, that we have always been able to outsettle the French; and have driven the Indians out of the country more by settling than fighting; and that whenever our settlements have been wisely and completely made, the French, neither by themselves nor their dogs of war, the Indians, have been able to remove us. It is upon this fact I found the propriety of the measure of settling a barrier colony in those parts of our frontiers, which are not the immediate residence or hunting-grounds of our Indians. This is a measure that will be effectual; and will not only in time pay its expence, but make as great returns as any of our present colonies do ; will give a strength and unity to our dominions in North America ; and give us possession of the country, as well as settlement in it. But above all this, the state and circumstances of our settle
for the extreme richness and fertility of the land; the healthy temperature of the air, and mildness of the climate; the plenty of hunting, fishing, and fowling? the facility of trade with the Indians; and the vast convenience of Inland navigation or water-carriage by the lakes and great rivers, many hundred of leagues around.
From these natural advantages it must undoubtedly (perhaps in less than another century) become a popu
ments render such a measure not only proper and eligible, but absolutcly necessary. The English settlements, as they are at present circumstanced, are absolutely at a stand; they are settled up to the mountains : and in the mountains there is no where together land sufficient for a settlement large enough to subsist by itself and 10 detend itself, and preserve a com. munication with the present settlemen's.
“ It the English would advance one step further, or cover themselves where they are, it must be at once, by one large step over the mountains; with a numerous and military colony. Where such should be settled, I do not take upon me to say: at present I shall only point out the measure and the nature of it, by inserting two schemes, one of Mr. Franklin's, the other of your memorialist; and if I might indulge myself with scheming, I should imagine that two such were sufficient, and only requisite and pro. per : ove at the back of Virginia, filling up the vacant space between the five nations and southern confederacy, and connecting, into one system, our barrier; the other somewhere in the Coliass or Connecticut river, or wherever best adapted to cover the New England colonies. These, with the little settlements mentioned above in the Indian countries, complete my idea of this branch.”. See Governor Pownall's Administration of the Colonies. Vol. II. p. 228-231, 5th edition.
The reader must carry along with him a distinction between the plans of Dr. Franklin and Governor Pownall here referred to. The first (which is before him) io particular, and proposes a plan for two settlements in the unlocated lands to the westward of Pensylvania and the Virginian mountains, and is totally silent with respect to a settlement in New England; the other treats of the mode of settling new colonies in North America in general, leaving the precise situation to be in some measure pointed out by the foregoing extract. ; The copy
from which this paper is printed, has appearances of being ra. ther incorrectly taken from the original. B. V.
lous and powerful dominion; and a great accession of power, either to England or France.
The French are now making open encroachments on these territories, in defiance of our known rights; and, if we longer delay to settle that country, and suffer them to possess it,—these inconveniences and mischiefs will probably follow:
1. Our people, being confined to the country between the sea and the mountains, cannot much more increase in number; people increasing in proportion to their room and means of subsistence. (See the Observations on the Increase of Mankind, &c. Vol. II.)
2. The French will increase much more, by that acquired room and plenty of subsistence, and become a great people behind us.
3. Many of our debtors, and loose English people, our German servants, and slaves, will probably desert to them, and increase their numbers and strength, to the lessening and weakening of ours.
4. They will cut us off from all commerce and alliauce with the western Indians, to the great prejudice of Britain, by preventing the sale and consumption of its manufactures.
5. They will both in time of peace and war (as they have always done against New England) set the lodians on to harrass our frontiers, kill and scalp our people, and drive in the advanced settlers; and so, in preventing our obtaining more subsistence by cultivating of new lands, they discourage our marriages, and keep our people from increasing; thus (if the expression may be allowed) killing thousands of our children before they are born.
If two strong colonies of English were settled between the Ohio and lake Erie, in the places hereafter to be mentioned, these advantages might be expected:
1. They would be a great security to the frontiers of our other colonies; by preventing the incursions of the French and French Indians of Canada, on the back parts of Pensylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas; and the frontiers of such new colonies would be much more easily defended, than those of the colonies last mentioned now can be, as will appear bereafter.
9. The dreaded junction of the French settlements in Canada with those of Louisiana would be prevented.
3. In case of a war, it would be easy, from those new colonies, to annoy Louisiana, by going down the Ohio and Mississippi ; and the southern part of Canada, by sailing over the lakes; and thereby confine the French within narrower limits.
4. We should secure the friendship and trade of the Miamis or Twigtees (a numerous people, consisting of many tribes, inhabiting the country between the west end of lake Erie, and the south end of lake Hurons, and the Ohio) who are at present dissatisfied with the French, and fond of the English, and would gladly encourage and protect an infant English settlement in or near their country, as some of their chiefs have declared to the writer of this memoir. Further, by means of the lakes, the Ohio, and the Mississippi, our trade might be extended through a vast country, among many numerous and distant nations, greatly to the benefit of Britain.
5. The seatlement of all the intermediate lands, bė. tween the present frontiers of our colonies on one side,
and the lakes and Mississippi on the other, would be facilitated and speedily executed, to the great increase of Englishmen, English trade, and English power,
The grants to most of the colonies are of long narrow slips of land, extending west from the Atlantic to the South Sea, They are much too long for their breadth; the extremes at too great a distance: and therefore unfit to be continued under their present dimensions.
Several of the old colonies may conveniently be limited westward by the Allegeny or Apalachian mountains ; and new colonies formed west of those mountains.
A single old colony does not seem strong enough to extend itselt otherwise than inch by inch; it cannot venture a settlement far distant from the main body, being unable to support it; but if the colonies were united under one governor-general and grand council, agreeable to the Albany plan, they might easily, by their joint force, establish one or more new colonies, whenever they should judge it necessary or advantageous to the interest of the whole.
But if such union should not take place, it is proposed that two charters be granted, each for some considerable part of the lands west of Pensylvania and the Virginian mountains, to a number of the nobility and gentry of Britain, with such Americans as shall join them in contributing to the settlement of those lands, either by paying a proportion of the expence of making such settlements, or by actually going thither in person, and settling themselves and families.
That by such charters it be granted, that every actual settler be intitled to a tract of
acres for him. self, and acres for every poll in the family he