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order to take them to New Orleans. This, however, was refused on the reasonable ground that it would strip the country of all means of resistance. He arbitrarily arrested in New Orleans those whom he suspected of complicity with Burr, some of whom could give very damaging evidence against himself; and with the force of the army resisted the process of the courts for their release under the Habeas Corpus act.
Burr subsequently declared that he never had any idea of dividing the Union; that his hopes of prospering in his expedition against Mexico had depended upon war being declared between Great Britain and Spain; that this expedition was defeated by the death of Pitt early in 1806, and that Wilkinson thereupon lost heart in the project. Wilkinson confessed, however, that in October he said to Swartwout he would not oppose Burr's expedition.*
Burr was rearrested on the seventeenth of February, 1807, in northern Alabama, traveling with a companion, under an assumed name, endeavoring to make his way to Pensacola, then under the king of Spain. He was charged with high misdemeanor, in setting on foot within the United States a military expedition against Spain, a friendly power; and also with treason, in assembling an armed force, with design to seize New Orleans, to revolutionize the territory attached, and separate the western from the Atlantic states. It was with great difficulty that Burr could be taken through the country as a prisoner. He appealed to the civil authorities against his military arrest. The ladies everywhere espoused his cause, and children were named after him.
At length Burr reached Richmond, Virginia, where, under Chief-Justice Marshall, his trial began on the seventeenth of August. There was a brilliant array of counsel on each side. Political feeling ran at that time very high, and the greatest excitement prevailed in Richmond and in Washington over the progress and results of the trial. The President was a Republican, and was bitterly opposed to Burr. The chief-justice was more of a Federalist, and was scrupulously exact and, some thought, almost timid, in his rulings. The President wrote at the time to a friend: “The Federalists make Burr's cause their own and exert their whole influence to shield him from punishment. It is unfortunate that federalism is still predominant in our judiciary department, which is consequently in opposition to the legislative and executive branches, and is able to baffle their measures often.”I
Testimony was received touching Burr's conversations, showing his * Clark,' p. 163. * Pickett's ‘History Alabama,' ad loc. $“Jefferson's Works,' V., 165.
intent before overt acts began. In addition to the evidence given by General Eaton, which has been already referred to, Colonel Morgan and his son testified that in August, 1806, Colonel Burr had, at their house in western Pennsylvania, declared that, in less than five years, the west would be totally divided from the Atlantic states, and that the Alleghany mountains would be the line of division. He said that great numbers were not necessary to execute great military deeds; all that was wanted was a leader in whom they could place confidence, and who, they believed, would carry them through. He averred that, with two hundred men, he could drive congress, with the President at its head, into the River Potomac, and that, with five hundred men, he could take possession of New York.*
Evidence was also received concerning the transactions on Blenner: hassett's island, which, however, took on an unmistakably warlike character only after Burr had left. Long arguments were heard as to the competency of other evidence which was offered. At length the court ruled † that no testimony relative to the conduct and declaration of the prisoner elsewhere and subsequent to the transactions on Blennerhassett's island could be admitted, because such testimony, being in its nature corroborative and incompetent to prove the overt act in itself, was irrelevant until there was proof had of the overt act by two witnesses; that the overt act on Blennerhassett's island was proved, but the presence of the accused was not alleged; that his presence when and where the overt act was committed was necessary. In consequence of this ruling, the jury, on September the first, 1807, found that Burr was not proved guilty of treason, under the indictment, by any evidence submitted to them.
In the trial for misdemeanor, Burr was, on the fifteenth of September, discharged, because the evidence sustaining it was, under the former ruling of the court, excluded. It was also ruled † (1) that the declaration of three persons, not forming a part of the transaction, and not made in the presence of the accused, is not to be received; (2) that acts of accomplices, except so far as they prove the character and object of the expedition, cannot be taken in evidence; (3) that acts of accomplices in another district, even though they constitute substantial cause for a prosecution, cannot be taken in evidence unless they go directly to prove the charges made in this district; (4) that legal testimony to show that the expedition was military, and destined against Spain, is to be received. * Burr's Trial,' I.,
**Burr's Trial,' I., 549. I'Burr's Trial' (Robertson), I., 539.
Burt was accordingly remanded for trial to Ohio, where the offense was said to have been committed; but no further proceedings against him were had. Indignation was very widely expressed at the result of the trial. The President himself wrote thus to General Wilkinson* about the failure to convict Burr: “ The scenes which have been enacted at Richmond are such as have never before been exhibited in any country where all regard to public character has not yet been thrown off. They are equivalent to a proclamation of impunity to every traitorous combination which may be formed to destroy the Union. However, they will produce an amendment to the Constitution which, keeping the judges independent of the Executive, will not leave them so of the Nation." Burr went abroad directly after the trial.
The case of Blennerhassett, which was really determined by the result of Burr's trial, was remanded to Ohio, but no further prosecu- . tion followed. He was distressed by the losses which he had brought on himself by his adherence to Burr. He became, however, completely disillusioned as to Burr's perfidy and sensuality in the closer intimacy which he had with him during the trial in Richmond. Although both Burr and his son-in-law, Alston, had promised to make good the advances which he had made, they neither of them did so, although Blennerhassett, in the loss of his home and in his utter need otherwise, begged them for a repayment of what he had sacrificed for Burr. In consequence he suffered from poverty to the end of his life. His son, Joseph Lewis Blennerhassett, was engaged in the practice of the law, and died in Lincoln county, Missouri, in 1862.
Wilkinson, in the trial of Burr, of course gave only so much evidence against him as his hatred of Burr drew forth and as would conceal his own complicity. He was true to his craven instincts to the last. Immediately after the conclusion of the trial in Richmond he sent his confidential agent, Walter Burling, into Mexico, as he declared, “on grounds of public duty and professional enterprise, to attempt to penetrate the veil which concealed the topographical route to the City of Mexico and the military defenses which intervened, feeling that the equivocal relations of the two countries justified the ruse "* Burling was really sent to apprise the viceroy of the attempt of Burr, and to demand, on Wilkinson's behalf, a compensation of two hundred thousand dollars for, as he declared, “great pecuniary sacrifices in defeating Burr's plan, and, Leonidaslike, throwing himself into the pass of Thermopylæ." Yturrigaray, , **Jefferson's Works,' V., 198. ^ Wilkinson,' I., p. 417.
the viceroy, received the communication with indignation, and told Burling that General Wilkinson, in counteracting any treasonable plan of Burr's, did no more than comply with his duty, that he would take good care to defend the kingdom of Mexico against any attack or invasion, and that he did not think himself authorized to give one farthing to General Wilkinson, in compensation for his pretended services. The demand having been contemptuously refused, Burling was ordered to leave the country.*
Thus ended the last attempt at separating the western country from the American Union. As all such attempts had their strength in the distance and isolation, and consequently the ignorance and prejudice of the sections, it may be confidently believed that in the comparative homogeneity of the affections and interests of all the people of the land now, by reason of rapid and constant communication, no such attempts will again be made, or, if made, will gain even the limited standing and proportions which those in the past have done.
Our multiplying railroad bars and telegraph wires are more than material lines of communication. Themselves created by the physical and commercial needs of a great people, they are the sensitive nerve connections of a complex social organism. Along them pulse the currents of intelligence and an identical interest, and they convey and perpetuate the throbbings of simultaneous impulses and common National aspirations. In these are furnished, under God, the sure hope and presage of the perpetuity of our American Union.
DISCOVERY OF THE OHIO RIVER BY LA SALLE, 1669–70.
HAT is designated on the early maps of the United States as
the “Territory Northwest of Ohio" embraced all the country east of the Mississippi and north of the Ohio river. Great Britain acquired it from France by the treaty of February, 1762, but, having prior claims to it, had, before that time, granted most of the territory to her several colonies. Probably there were not more than three thousand white people in the territory when this treaty was signed, and these were principally wandering French traders, very few of them cultivators of the soil. In 1778 Virginia conquered the
*Davis, 'Burr,' II., pp. 401-4. “Blennerhassett Papers,' pp. 210 and 578.
northwest from Great Britain, and erected the entire territory into a county by the name of Illinois. Soon after the close of the War of the Revolution, in the year 1787, the United States established in the same region its first provincial government, and gave it the above title, which in common parlance was known as the "North. western Territory.” Its fixed population did then not exceed five thousand. There are now five states and the half of a sixth, wl'ose inhabitants number not far from ten million, among whom the French element is scarcely perceptible. The people of these states are intelligent, and take a lively interest in the history of the discoveries of their country, among whom La Salle holds the first place.
Having spent a life of the length usually allotted to man, on the waters of the Ohio, the Upper Mississippi and the lakes, threading many of the streams on which they floated their canoes, passing over the same trails, coasting along the same shores, those intrepid explorers of two centuries since have often been, in imagination, vividly near to me.
As early as 1840 I saw evidence of the presence of white men in northeastern Ohio, of whom we had then no historical proof. This evidence is in the form of ancient cuts, made by sharp axes on our oldest forest trees, covered by their subsequent growth. In this climate the native trees are endogenous and take on one layer of growth annually. There are exceptions, but I have tested the accuracy of this habit in about forty cases where I have had other proof of the age of the tree, and find it to be a good general rule.
The Jesuit relations contain no account of establishments on the south shore of Lake Erie in the seventeenth century. For many years these wooden records remained an interesting mystery, which I think may possibly be solved by recent documents brought to light in France. We know that La Salle, in 1680, returned from the Illinois to Montreal, most of the way by land, and it is conjectured that he may have traversed the south shore of Lake Erie; but the passage of a few men, hastily, through a wilderness did not account for the many marks of axes which we find.
The stump of an oak tree was shown me soon after it had been felled in 1838, which stood in the northwestern part of Canfield, Mahoning county, Ohio. It was two feet ten inches in diameter, and, with the exception of the concealed gashes, was quite sound. When about fourteen inches in diameter. this tree had been cut nearly half through; but the scar had healed over so thoroughly that it did not appear externally. I took a section from the outside to the