Page images

The Articles conclude with the declaration that the signers do not desire to be exempt from their "ratable share of the public expenses of the war, nor from any other contingent charges of government,” and with a prayer addressed to the Legislature of North Carolina, for immediate aid and protection, for the establishment of a county to include the settlements, and for the appointment of officers for the discharge of public duties.

It is hardly probable that Henderson cordially approved these patriotic utterances, as he had taken no part in the Revolution, but after the downfall of the royal government in North Carolina, had devoted his considerable abilities with much energy and enterprise to the betterment of his personal fortunes. He had the gifts of a promoter in an eminent degree, and devised and executed the plan to establish the Republic of Transylvania, the ghost of the old proprietary colony. In the Compact of government adopted in Kentucky in 1775, he and his associates described themselves as “Proprietors of the Colony of Transylvania,” and further pursuing the proprietary plan, reserved to themselves the power to call the delegates of the people together in an emergency, and the right to sit as one of the three branches of the Legislature which, in effect, gave them a veto.

The court system of provincial North Carolina, was copied in Transylvania, and the power to appoint nearly all the civil and military officers was reserved to the proprietors.

That Henderson believed it possible to reproduce in Kentucky after the Revolution had begun, the obsolete and undemocratic proprietary plan of government is not creditable to his intelligence, and shows that, up to that time, he had failed to apprehend the spirit and tendency of the great events that were happening

Every condition was against him. One of the last acts of Martin, the deposed royal Governor of North Carolina, had been to denounce the Transylvania Company, whose purchase was clearly invalid under the proclamation of 1763, and the statutes of North Carolina.

The State governments, when established, refused, properly, to recognize the right of individuals to treat with the Indians, and as a final blow, Congress denied the application of Transylvania for admission into the Confederation. It is proper to add that after awhile the States of Virginia and North Carolina, not very logically, enacted that while Henderson's purchase could not vest title to the lands in his Company, it had extinguished the Indian title, and therefore the Transylvania proprietors received two hundred thousand acres in Kentucky, by grant of the legislature of Virginia, and 190,000 acres in East Tennessee, by grant of the legislature of North Carolina, as compensation for the risks and expenses of the Company.*

3Hall's Sketches of the West, volume I, pages 271-3; Colonial Records of North Carolina, volume IX, pages 1276-1278.

In 1780, Henderson still hoped to establish the title of the Company, but he no longer cherished the delusion that he could revive the old proprietary institutions, in whole or in part. He signed the Cumberland Compact therefore, in the capacity of agent of the Company, and as a citizen, having no rights that were not common to all others. Whatever he may have wished, he could not have believed it to be possible to establish among the staunch patriots of Cumberland, any but a genuinely democratic government. Possibly he was the draughtsman of the whole Compact, but not the author of its purely democratic and ardently patriotic clauses.

We may assume with confidence that Robertson, the most thorough going of democrats, cast the weight of his paramount influence in favor of a temporary government, like that under which he had lived for five years on the Watauga. In accord with him no doubt were his three associates, Lucas, Tatham, and Isbell, who had been men of prominence at Watauga."

It seems that Watauga was purely democratic, selecting its Court at a meeting of all the signers of the agreement, whereas, Cumberland while

4 Acts of North Carolina, 1783, chapter XXXVIII; Ramsey's Annals of Tennessee, page 204.

6Putnam's History of Middle Tennessee, page 26.

democratic in its first step, adopted the representative method in selecting its Court. The Court was appointed by the Convention at Watauga, and elected by the voters of the several stations in Cumberland, the members representing the stations, primarily, and not the entire settlement, and being removable for cause by their own particular constituents.

In the details of organization there were such differences between the Watauga and Cumberland Associations as resulted from the fact that Watauga adopted the laws of Virginia, and Cumberland those of North Carolina.

The Cumberland Compact contains an express acknowledgment of the sovereignty of North Carolina, and a declaration of the causes of its establishment, in the following language:

“As this settlement is in its infancy, unknown to government, and not included within any county within North Carolina, the State to which it belongs, so as to derive the advantages of those wholesome and salutary laws, for the benefit and protection of its citizens, we find ourselves constrained from necessity to adopt this temporary method of restraining the licentious, and supplying by unanimous consent, the blessings flowing from a just and equitable govern


These words so accurately represent the conditions and the purposes of the Watauga settlers that one is ready to believe that they were borrowed from the older Compact.

6Putnam's History of Middle Tennessee, page 97.

Certain points of difference in the conditions and conduct of the two settlements should be noticed. The Watauga people were at first settlers or squatters, on lands believed to belong to the Province of Virginia, and afterwards in their corporate capacity, lessees, and, finally, purchasers of the Indian lands, with title lodged in a trustee of their own selection, with power to convey to individual purchasers; whereas, the lands on the Cumberland were treated as belonging to Henderson & Company, who conveyed them to individuals, and not to the Committee. It is evident that Henderson construed his deeds as covering all the lands watered by the tributaries of the Cumberland, as otherwise, Nashville, which is on the south bank of that river, would not have been within their boundaries.

The sentiments of the Cumberland settlers toward the State of North Carolina were distinctly more friendly than those of the Watauga people, as is apparent in many ways, and especially in the fact that Cumberland had no part in establishing or maintaining the State of Franklin, but throughout the existence of that brief Republic, obeyed the laws of the parent State, although the very small community of Clarksville, seems to have manifested something of the separatist feeling, for in 1785, and presum

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »