Page images

happy lot was cast. The


of Vander Donck only extends to the “ Marquaa Kill,” or the Mohawk River, and beyond that he has designated the country generally as Quebecq,” or the French possessions; while that of Visscher, on the contrary, extends the New Netherlands to the “Great River of the Canadas” ; but yet, of that extended tract of country, he seems to have had no better idea than that entertained by his predecessor, for he gives us no names of places, rivers, or lakes, but merely fills up the space with figures of bears, deer, and other wild animals ; and even the great lakes of Ontario, Erie, &c., are wanting, and in their places he has laid down two large rivers, running nearly parallel with each other. On both maps we find many names, retained at the present day, as “Kinder Hoeck,” “Klaverrak,” “Kats Kill," and others.

Another excellent and curious map of the whole country, claimed by the Dutch as the New Netherlands, is annexed to Lambrechtsen's valuable history of that country, published at Middleburg, Holland, in 1818, the outline of which is from the best map of Arrowsmith at that period, in which the old Indian and Dutch names are inserted from the ancient maps of Vander Donck and others; and those of headlands, bays, and islands, have also been compared with Arend Roggersen's “ Marine Atlas."

The question of boundaries, and extent of territory, was always attended with great and serious difficulties from the first settlement of this country. Although the States-General of Holland, in the rules which they prescribed for the government of the West India Company in their foreign possessions, declared, that "the planters should be allowed to settle themselves freely on the coasts and along the banks of the navigable rivers, provided they satisfied the natives for the soil of which they took possession"-which condition was always rigidly adhered to,-yet we cannot find that the Dutch Colonial Government, or their inhabitants, ever extended their purchases of land from the Indians beyond the “ Marquaa Kill.” But still, probably, after the rule “never to lose any thing by not claiming enough,” they extended their colony on their maps up to the river St. Lawrence ; and the English, after their conquest in 1664, made and insisted upon the same claim. The French, on the other hand, appear to have disregarded those claims, as made both by the Dutch and the VOL. LIV, - NO. 115.


English, and to have insisted, that the country belonged to them by right of discovery and possession. An examination of this claim of the French, and of the course they pursued to establish and perpetuate their dominion here, is a very interesting inquiry. In the first volume of Sanson's Great Atlas, published at Antwerp, in elephantine folio, about 1738, (we speak from recollection, not having the book before us,) is a map of North America, as published by the French geographer ; which shows, that they claimed all the country from the Canadas proper to the Gulf of Mexico, and almost up to the gates of Schenectady, taking in all of Ohio, and the Northwestern States, a large part of Virginia, with the Southwestern States, and indeed all the Valley of the Mississippi.

That they truly entertained the idea of enforcing their claim to this immense tract of country, is evident, from the numerous forts and trading-posts which they erected, extending in a line from Montreal to New Orleans; and also from the numerous publications on that subject, both in France and England, from 1715 to 1765. And a grand scheme it was ; which, if it had been sustained by the French government at home with men and treasure, as it merited, would have crippled the English colonies, and, in a comparatively short period of time, have formed such a cordon of towns and fortified settlements around them, as they could not have got rid of but by an immense exertion of the whole force of the British Empire, if possible to be done at all. About the year 1754, the result of this policy on the part of the French government in confining the English colonies to a narrow strip of land bordering on the Atlantic coast, became so apparent, that resistance could be no longer delayed ; and this gave rise to the Congress of Albany, in 1754, the first ever held by the American colonies, and to the subsequent wars, which ended in the conquest of the Canadas. The proceedings of that Congress show, that the colonies had become thoroughly awakened to the overpowering necessity of arresting at once the progress of the French in America. After taking into consideration the situation of the English settlements, they represented to the Crown,

that it was the evident design of the French to surround the British colonies ; to fortify themselves on the back thereof; to take and keep possession of the heads of all the important rivers ; to draw over the Indians to their interest, and, with the help of such Indians, added to such forces as were then arrived, and might afterwards arrive, or be sent from Europe, to be in a capacity of making a general attack on the several governments; and, if at the same time a strong naval force should be sent from France, there was the utmost danger that the whole continent would be subjected to that Crown.”

Numerous traces of French enterprise are still to be seen throughout the great valleys of the Ohio and the Mississippi, in their ancient settlements, and in the language, manners, and customs of the people. Fort Du Quesne, now Pittsburg, in Pennsylvania, was one of the most formidable of this line or cordon of forts and trading-posts. Another portion of it, still existing, is the village of Cahokia, in Illinois ; in which is a church, built by the French settlers in 1698, having “battled with the storms of more than a century. The bell which hangs in its tower was brought from France more than a century and a half ago, and still, on every Sabbath morn, calls the people to the offices of praise and thanksgiving, as it has done for ages past. Numerous other instances might be cited, but it is needless ; every traveller through that district of country can call them to mind.

It is a curious and valuable historical fact, not generally known, that Thomas Jenkins, Esquire, in 1763, submitted to the British ministry a project to prevent the emancipation of the American colonies, and to retain them for ever in their obedience to the crown. His first proposition was, the keeping on foot most of the troops then in America, which were soon after disbanded or recalled at the peace. The forts, which were scattered along the Indian frontier, and which were afterwards demolished or abandoned, were to be preserved. New ones were to be erected on the coast, ostensibly against the invasions of the French. The lands granted to the veterans were always to be within the precincts of a fort, which, on the frontiers especially, must very soon have formed respectable military townships. Jenkins was well acquainted with America, from a residence of considerable length in Pennsylvania and the Carolinas, and he also had some employment in the English army that conquered Canada ; which enabled him to become conversant with the operation of the policy of the French ; and it was their scheme, somewhat modified, which he thus proposed to the consideration of Lord Bute and his associates. Providence, however, so ordered matters, that the English ministry did not regard this project with any favor, and, by rejecting it, facilitated the progress of the American Revolution.

We have been so long taught to regard the trade of the American colonies previous to our Revolution as triling, that we are sometimes in doubt as to what could have been the reasons, which actuated two mighty nations to contest with so much pertinacity for the possession of a wilderness. But in that belief of the trifling amount of the early American trade, we are in great error. It was in truth of much importance; and so much so, that, to obtain this trade to themselves exclusively, was the cause of many wars,

and much diplomatic chicanery, between England, France, and Spain.

The French, during the three quarters of a century they were in possession of that country, kept up an extensive trade with the Indians, with whom they were on friendly terms, and with their mother country. They also in Illinois cultivated the grape with much success ; and it is recorded, that, in 1769, they there manufactured one hundred and ten hogsheads of wine. From the dedication of a very pretty little work, called “ Puckle’s Club,” printed at London in the year 1733, it appears, that the duties and customs paid by Micajah Perry, Thomas Lane, and Richard Perry, of London, three “ Virginia merchants,” during the year 1698-9, to the crown of Great Britain, amounted to two hundred and sixty thousand pounds sterling. This amount of duties and customs was paid by them for the articles which they imported from America, and from England sent to other portions of the world, and for goods which they exported to this continent during that single year, commencing March 15th, 1698, and ending March 15th, 1699. This Micajah Perry was an alderman of the city of London in 1740 ; and in that year was nominated, at a meeting of the Livery at Vintner's Hall, as one of the representatives of the city in Parliament. The term “ Virginia merchant,” about that period, and for some considerable time previous, was a very honorable appellation in the mercantile world, and appropriated to a particular class of men, as much as titles of nobility are in the present day. So in the “Gentleman's Magazine,” for July, 1740, in the list of marriages, we find that of " Mr. Buchanan, Virginia merchant, to Miss Wilson.” For commercial purposes, that title, for so it was in reality, was applied to merchants trading with the colonies between New England and Florida, and with the West Indies. Previously to our revolutionary war, the Virginia merchants of Glasgow in Scotland were looked up to as an aristocracy; they had a privileged walk at the Cross, which they trod in long scarlet cloaks and bushy wigs ; and such was then the state of society, that when any of the most respectable master tradesmen had occasion to speak to those merchant lords, he was required to walk on the other side of the street, till he was fortunate enough to meet the eye of the patrician, for it would have been presumption to approach him. The foregoing statements exhibit the colonial trade as being at that early period any thing but limited or trifling. And when we consider for but one moment, we see that it could not have been limited; for almost every article which the colonists made use of in that part of the country above mentioned, except their bread stuffs, and sometimes even those, were imported from Europe. They manufactured scarcely any thing for themselves; and it was the European colonial policy at all times, to prevent them, in the words of one of their legislators, from making among themselves “even a hobnail ” ; and to oblige them to export through the mother country all their products. With such a policy, and the rapid increase of the colonies in population almost immediately after their settlement, the trade with them must necessarily have been very extensive and important.

So strongly imbued were the political economists of Europe with this colonial policy, that even after our revolutionary contest, many of them were inclined to regard the results of that policy as arising from the natural state of this country, rather than from the curbs and restraints imposed upon the activity and energy of the people.

And about the year 1790, most of the European writers in relation to the United States regarded this country as purely agricultural, and as destined from natural causes ever to remain so. The Abbé Raynal, we think, went so far as to hold, that the United States could never advance beyond the condition of a purely agricultural people ; and that the character of the soil was

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »