Page images
PDF
EPUB

tive discourses are well and appropriate, by way of introduction. But the great aim should be to obtain the matters of fact necessary for the basis of correct history.

The inception of the New England Ohio Company movement is thus described in Mr. Nye's Address;

“ There resided in the western part of Massachusetts, in the village of Chesterfield, Hampshire County, General Benjamin Tupper, of the late revolutionary army in 1785 ; who, after the termination of the French war, in which he had served as a subaltern, had removed to his then residence from the eastern part of the same State ; and who had served (in several grades as a field officer,) throughout the war of Independence. By the favor and friendship of General Rufus Putnam, of the County of Worcester, General Tupper was appointed, from the State of Massachusetts, a surveyor, under the geographer, or surveyor-general, Hutchins, to commence the survey of the country northwest of the Ohio, under the ordinance of 1785 ; General Putnam, who was first proposed for that service, being then otherwise engaged." In the summer of that year General Tupper visited the Western country, coming as far as Pittsburg. The restlessness and turbulence of bands of the northwestern Indians interrupted and deferred the execution of that work ; which was afterwards begun with the seven ranges east of the Muskingum. General Tupper returned from the West in the winter of 1785 – 6. From the time of his retiring from the revolutionary army, he had, frequently, among his family and friends, intimated his intention to remove to the Western country ; so bold, however, at that time, seemed such an adventure, to those whom he addressed, that he was scarcely deemed in earnest in its proposal. His first visit to the country west of the Allegany mountains, seems to have increased that inclination of his mind. Nothing, however, as yet, was definitely resolved.

“ To the village of Rutland, in the County of Worcester, in Massachusetts, had retired, from the toils and conflicts of the revolutionary contest, another war-worn veteran, General Rufus Putnam ; who had been distinguished for longtried and important military services in that war. These two retired officers, Generals Tupper and Putnam, had, during their mutual service and intercourse in the Continental army, formed an intimate and reciprocal personal friendship. After the return of the former from his first journey to the West, he visited his friend General Putnam at his

residence in Rutland. A night of friendly offices and conference between them gave, at the dawn, a developement (how important in its results) to the cherished hope and purpose of the visit of General Tupper. They united in a publication, which appeared in the public papers of New England, on the 25th of January of that year (1786) headed • Information,' dated at Rutland, Massachusetts, January 10th, 1786 ; signed — Rufus Putnam, Benjamin Tupper'; a part of which is in these words ;

W. The subscribers take this method to inform all officers and soldiers, who have served in the late war, and who are by a late ordinance of the Honorable Congress, to receive certain tracts of land in the Ohio country; and also, all other good citizens who wish to become adventurers in that delightful region, that, from personal inspection, together with other incontestable evidences, they are fully satisfied, that the lands in that quarter are of a much better quality than any other known to New England people ; that the climate, seasons, products, etc., are in fact equal to the most flattering accounts which have ever been published of them ; that, being determined to become purchasers, and to prosecute a settlement in this country, and desirous of forming a general association with those who entertain the same ideas, they beg leave to propose the following plan, viz. That an association by the name of the Ohio COMPANY, be formed of all such as wish to become purchasers, etc., in that country, who reside in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts only, or to extend to the inhabitants of other States, as shall be agreed on.

" That, in order to bring such a company into existence, the subscribers propose, that all persons who wish to promote the scheme, should meet in their respective counties, at 10 o'clock, A. M., on Wednesday the 15th day of February next ; and that each county meeting, there assembled, choose a delegate, or delegates, to meet at the Bunch-of-Grapes tavern, in Boston, on Wednesday the first day of March next, at 10 o'clock, A. M., then and there to consider and determine upon a general plan of association for said company; which plan, covenant, or agreement, being published, any person (under condition therein to be provided) may, by subscribing his name, become a member of the company.'

Here you may see the small cloud,' which has advanced and expanded, till it has, under Providence, showered blessings upon the Western clime, in the Ohio country'; the 'grain of mustard seed,' which, in its growth, has overshad

.

owed the land! There is one citizen of Ohio* now living, who heard the announcement of the result of that conference (in which important measures and events were first conceived) from the lips of his venerated father ; whose wise forecast and experienced eye caught even then, from the shadow of coming events, a glimpse of what is now, in the broad light of day, revealed to our senses.

“ The Address resulted in the proposed meeting, and in the formation of a company since known by the name given by these first proprietors. In the proceedings of that meeting, an inducement to the measure is stated in the very pleasing description of the western country given by Generals Putnam and Tupper, and others.' And it was said to be 'expedient to form a settlement there.' The second meeting of the Company was held at Boston, 8th March, 1787. Meantime events had occurred in Massachusetts of an important and alarming character; which, it may be presumed, contributed to increase the disposition in the New England States to seek in the West a new home. The discontents, which have been alluded to, had arisen in Massachusetts, in the winter of 1786 -7, to actual and fearful civil commotion ; which precipitated itself in the insurrection headed by Shays. The most imposing and threatening movement of the people, headed by that leader, and made upon the town of Springfield, where the public stores were deposited, was, in that winter, repelled by a handful of brave men, volunteers on the side of the government and order, under the command of General Shepard, and more immediate direction of General Tupper, who had then just returned from a second journey to the Western country, and whose immediate neighbourhood was deeply infected with the sedition.

"At the second meeting, in Boston, March 8th, 1787, of the Ohio Company, directors were appointed, with authority to make application to the Congress for a private purchase of lands, and under such descriptions as they should deem adequate to the purposes of the company. At a third meeting in Boston, August 29th, 1787, the Rev. Manasseh Cutler, who with the late Major Winthrop Sargent, had been appointed to negotiate a purchase, reported a contract for the purchase, from the then government." – Transactions, p. 321.

Mr. Walker, in his Annual Discourse (1837), paints in strong colors the hazards of the first settlements in the North

* William Rufus Putnam, Esquire, whose name headed the list of Ohio electors of President Harrison in 1840.

west Territory, the spirit with which they were encountered, and the character of the early emigrants.

“Dark images of loneliness, hardship, and peril, served to test the daring spirit of the pioneers, and give their enterprise a character for dauntless heroism. These immense forests were thronged with savages, who claimed to hold them by right of immemorial occupancy, and were sternly resolved to defend them against the white intruder. Even now some remnants of these once powerful tribes still linger within our borders; but they are subdued, degraded, broken-hearted ; and we only see in them the shattered remnants of former prowess, - no longer objects of fear, but rather of pity and regret ; and, in the perfect security which we now enjoy, it is scarcely possible to form an adequate idea of the condition of the first settlers, every moment exposed to these remorseless enemies, and far removed from all hope of human aid. In the beautiful language applied to the first settlers of New England,

6. There were men with hoary hair

Amidst that Pilgrim band;
Why had they come to wither there,

Away from their childhood's land?

6 There was woman's fearless eye,

Lit by her deep love's truth;
There was manhood's brow serenely high,

And the fiery heart of youth.'

a

They had not indeed been driven to seek a 'faith's pure shrine'; but they had come voluntarily to seek a home, new, wild, forest home, - not such a home as they have left to us; but lacking every thing which we enjoy, and environed with terrors of which we do not dream.

« To have commenced a settlement in the midst of such foes, and to have sustained it through such an infancy, is proof conclusive, if proof were wanted, that the first immigrants brought with them, and here practised, all the stern and lofty virtues of our nature. The West at once became a school for heroism.

“After the pacification of Fort Greenville, all discouragements were removed, and the tide of immigration rushed westward in torrents. In the Eastern States the most extravagant reports were circulated of Ohio fertility, the soil was said to be endowed with a self-generating power, which required no seed. Men were to reap abundantly without ploughing sowing, and all was to be ease and plenty. I can well remember when, in Massachusetts, the rage for moving to Ohio was so great, that resort was had to counteracting fictions, in order to discourage it ; and this region was represented as cold, sterile, sickly, and full of all sorts of monsters. Nor was this all. The powerful engine of caricature was set in inotion. I have a distinct recollection of a picture, which I saw in boyhood, prefixed to a penny, anti-moving-to-Ohiopamphlet, in which a stout, ruddy, well-dressed man, on a sleek, fat horse, with a label · I am going to Ohio', meets a pale, and ghastly skeleton of a man, scarcely half dressed, on the wreck of what was once a horse, already bespoken by the more politic crows, with a label ' I have been to Ohio.' But neither falsehood nor ridicule could deter the enterprising from seeking a new home. Hither they came in crowds. They did not indeed bring affluence with them, but they brought the bold heart and strong hand, which are infinitely better to reclaim a wilderness. It may be laid down as an a priori truth, that a population made up of immigrants will contain the hardy and vigorous elements of character in a far greater proportion, than the same number of persons, born upon the soil, brought up at home, and accustomed to tread in the footsteps of their fathers. As a general rule, it is only the more resolute and energetic class of spirits, that can nerve themselves to the effort required for severing the numberless local, social, and family ties, which bind men to their birthplace. And then, upon arriving in a new country, the very necessity of their condition compels them to think, act, and even originate for themselves. There are no familiar customs, which require only the passive acquiescence of habit. There are no alliances of family or neighbourhood, in which one leans upon another, and each helps all. On the contrary, immigrants meet as strangers, unknowing and unknown, and must depend upon their own resources. Like soldiers of fortune, who, staking all upon the sword, have thrown away the scabbard, they know that they must either do or die.' Every thing around them cherishes that intense feeling of individuality and self-confidence, which always makes a strong, if not a polished character. And such preëminently was the character of the early settlers,— bold, free, resolute, selfdependent, the very character to lay deep and strong the foundations of a state.

“ Much also may be justly ascribed to the section of our country, from which so large a number of the first immigrants

I mean the New England States. Far be it from me to harbour or encourage the narrow sentiment of sectional

came.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »