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THE ST. CLAIR PAPERS.
CORRESPONDENCE, ADDRESSES, ETC.
THE NORTH-WESTERN TERRITORY-ESTABLISHMENT OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT UNDER THE
ORDINANCE OF 1787.
[INTRODUCTORY NOTE. — Early in the Revolutionary war, it became evident, from the frequent raids made by the Indians on the frontiers of New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, that the British had engaged the Western Indians in their interest. So great was the distress on the Ohio River and its tributaries, General Washington dispatched Colonel Daniel Broadhead, of the Eighth Pennsylvania regiment, to command the Western District, with headquarters at Pittsburgh. The raids of the Indians destroyed the mill and houses of St. Clair in Ligonier valley, and drove the inhabitants into the fortified posts for safety; but despite this, the number of people increased, and in 1779 some of the most hardy ventured to cross the Ohio and make improvements on the Indian lands, " from the river Muskingum to Fort McIntosh, and thirty miles up some of the branches of the Ohio River.” As it was the policy of government to keep on as friendly terms as possible with the Indians, Colonel Broadhead dispatched Captain Clarke, with a detachment of soldiers, to drive off the trespassers, which was accomplished, and sent a runner to the Delaware council, at Coshocking, to assure the Indians that the trespass was unwarranted, and that justice would be done. This was the status when the Commissioners for Indian · Affairs' arrived on the banks of the Ohio River, December 2, 1784, to conclude a treaty with the Indians. They had expected to hold
1 The commissioners were George Rogers Clarke, Richard Butler, and Arthur Lee. VOL. II 1
the treaty at Cuyahoga, but on account of the advanced season and the difficulty of obtaining supplies, they requested Lieutenant-Colonel Josiah Harmar, of the First American regiment, to send messengers to the Indians to invite them to meet the commissioners at Fort McIntosh. This was complied with, and on the 5th of December the Pennsylvania troops broke camp on the west bank of the Alleghany, and marched for Fort McIntosh.' A treaty-known in history as the treaty of Fort McIntosh-was concluded with the Wyandot, Delaware, Chippewa, and Ottawa nations, on the 21st of January, 1785. By this, prisoners were to be surrendered, and a boundary line was established, beginning at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River and extending with the course of the river to the portage between that and the Tuscarawas; thence down that stream to the crossing place above Fort Lawrence, and thence westwardly to the portage of the Great Miami, and thence along the portage to the Miami of Lake Erie. Lands around the posts of Detroit and Michilimackinac, and a strip six miles wide, extending from the west and of Lake Erie parallel with the strait to Lake St. Clair, were reserved for the exclusive benefit of the United States. It was also provided that white people settling on lands outside of the boundary belonging to the Indians should forfeit the protection of the United States, and be subject to chastisement by the Indians. The posts still remained in possession of the British.
It was the purpose of Congress to sell the lands thus acquired, to create a fund to pay the war debt, and an ordinance was subsequently passed (May 20, 1785), providing for the survey of the lands and the appointment of a geographer and surveyors on the part of the several States, to which were to be allotted the seven ranges of townships after they were duly surveyed and platted. The lands were to be sold by townships by the commissioners of the loan office of the several States, after due advertisement. This proved to be a dead letter, but meanwhile Colonel Harmar was in#tructed to prevent the obtrusion of settlers upon the lands of the
1 US. letter of Colonel IIarmar to Richard Henry Lee, President of Congress, dated from “Camp near Fort litt, on the Indian shore, the western side of Alleglany River, December 5, 1781."—See llarmar Papers, in possession of family at Philadelphia.
2 Three townships on Lake Erie were reserved for the use of refugees from Canada and Nova Scotia; lands at the Moravian villages of Gnadenhütten, Schoenbrun, and Salem were reserved for the Christian Indians, and a section between the rivers Scioto and Little Miami for Virginia Continental soldiers, agreeably to the deed of cession of Virginia.
United States.' The correspondence that follows will show the remarkable rapidity with which the pioneer American moved in the direction of the sun, the infinite trouble the Government was put to to protect tlie right of proprietorship, the loss of life and property after the jealousy and suspicions of the Indians were aroused, and the hardship, heroism and ability requisite for the successful estàblishment of civil government in a new country, where all had to be newly created.]
COLONEL HARMAR TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
FORT MCINTOSH, May 1, 1785.
In obedience to the instructions received from the honorable the Commissioners for Indian Affairs, upon their departure from this post, I have to inform your Excellency that I detached Ensign Armstrong, with a party of twenty men, furnished with fifteen days' provisions, on the 31st March last, to dispossess sundry persons, who had presumed to settle on the lands of the United States on the western side of the Ohio River.
The inclosed copy of the instructions, together with the orders, were posted up at Wheeling, and distributed throughout the different parts of the country, in order that all persons might be made fully acquainted therewith.
Ensign Armstrong, having marched with his party as far down as opposite Wheeling, which is about seventy miles from hence, pursuing the course of the river, and having executed his orders (excepting a few indulgences granted on account of the weather), returned on the 12th ultimo.
I have the honor of inclosing to your Excellency his report, with sundry petitions, handed him by the settlers; likewise the opinion of some reputable inhabitants on the castern side of the river, with respect to them.”
1 The Commissioners for Indian Affairs instructed Colonel Harmar, before leaving Fort McIntosh, January 24th, as follows:
“Surveying or settling the lands not within the limits of any particular State being forbid by the United States, in Congress assembled, the commander will employ such force as he may judge necessary in driving off persons attempting to settle on the lands of the United States.''
2 The report of Ensign Armstrong was to the effect that he marched down the Ohio, March 31st; crossed the Little Beaver on the 1st April; dispos
On the 20th ultimo, I received the inclosed representation, signed
bessed one family at that place; other families at Yellow Creek, at Mingo Bottom or Old Town, at Norris's Town, alt Haylin's or Mercer's Town, and at a place opposite Wheeling;d that he arrested a man named Ross, who seemed to be obstreperous, and sent him to Wheeling in irons; that he was threatened by a man named Charles Norris, with a party of armed men, but upon showing his authority there was no further offensive demonstration; and that at Mercer's Town he had learned that Charles Norris and John Carpenter had been elected justices of the peace and had acted as such.
The "opinion of the respectable inhabitants” was contained in the follow. ing letter of Ensign Armstrong:
Sir :--As the following information through you to the honorable the Congress may be of some service, I trust you will not be displeased therewith. It is the opinion of many sensible men (with whom I conversed on my return from Wheeling) that if the honorable the Congress do not fall on some speedy method to prevent people from settling on the lands of the United States west of the Ohio, that country will soon be inhabited by a banditti whose actions are a disgrace to human nature.
You will, in a few days, receive an address from the magistracy of Ohio county, through which most of those people pass, many of whom are flying from justice.
I have, sir, taken some pains to distribute copies of your instructions, with those from the honorable the Commissioners for Indian Affairs, into almost erery settlement west of the Ohio, and had them posted up at most public places on the east side of the river, in the neighborhood through which those people pass.
Notwithstanding they have seen and read those instructions, they are moving to the unsettled countries by forties and fisties.
From the best information I could receive, there are at the falls of the Hawk Hawkin (Hockhocking) upwards of three hundred families; at the Muskingum a number equal.
At Meravens [Moravian?] Town there are several families and more than fifteen hundred on the rivers Miami and Scioto. From Wheeling to that place there is scarcely one bottom on the river but has one or more families living thereon. In consequence of the advertisement by John Amberson [Emerson), I am assured meetings will be held at the times therein mentioned. That at Menzon's or Haglin's Town, mentioned in my report of yesterday, the inhabitants had come to a resolution to comply with the requisitions of the advertisement.
The supposed distance from this place to Wheeling, pursuing the river, is seventy miles. I am, sir, etc.,
John ARMSTRONG, Ensign.
(1) Little Beaver, in what is now Columbiana county, Ohio ; Yellow Creek settlement, near Wellsville ; Mingo Bottom, in what is now Jefferson county, Ohio, three miles below Steu benville : Norris's Town, also below Steubenville; Haglin's was what is now Belmont county ; and opposite Wheeling was in Pease township, Belmont county.
by sixty-six of them, praying for a further indulgence of time, and informing me that they had sent on a petition to Congress on the subject. In answer to which, I thought it most expedient to grant them one month from the 21st ultimo to remove themselves, at the expiration of which time parties will be detached to drive off all settlers within the distance of one hundred and fifty miles from this garrison, which, in my present situation, is all that is practicable.
The number of settlers lower down the river is very considerable, and, from all accounts, daily increasing. I would, therefore (before I proceed further in this business), beg to know the pleasure of your Excellency and your particular orders upon the subject.
The following is the advertisement alluded to, which shows that the settlers were equal to self-government, and, if undisturbed, would soon have laid the foundations of a State on the Ohio:
March 12, 1785. Notice is hereby given to the inhabitants of the west side of the Ohio River that there is to be an election for the choosing of members of the convention for the framing a constitution for the governing of the inhabitants, the election to be held on the 10th day of April next ensuing, viz: one election to be held at the mouth of the Miami River, and one to be held at the mouth of the Scioto River, and one on the Muskingum River, and one at the dwelling-house of Jonas Menzons; the members to be chosen to meet at the mouth of the Scioto on the twentieth day of the same mnth.
I do certify that all mankind, agreeable to every constitution formed in America, have an undoubted right to pass into every vacant country, and there to form their constitution, and that from the confederation of the whole United States, Congress is not empowered to forbid them, neither is Congress ernpowered from that confederation to make any sale of the uninhabited lands to pay the public debts, which is to be hy a tax levied and lifted [collected] by authority of the Legislature of each State.
Joux EMERSOY. 1 The representation was to the effect that the settlers desired “to act consistent with our duty to our country and the commands of the Legislature,” and asked for indulgence in time for removing their families and effects. There were, however, three communications, one 5th April, one 8th, and a third, dated 15th. It is to the last Colonel Harmar specially refers. The petitioners asked delay until they could hear from their papers, which they bad forwarded to be laid before Congress. Colonel Harmar replied, allowing the indulgence mentioned in his letter, but notifying them that his orders were peremptory.