The Life of George Washington, Vol. 1 (of 5)
by John Marshall
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In the mean time, the governor received no salary. To the members of Boston, who had not been accustomed to the expense of attending the legislature at a distant place, a compensation, above their ordinary wages, was made by that town.

The house, firmly persuaded of the propriety of its conduct, prepared a memorial to the King praying a change in the royal instructions to the governor. Agents were appointed to represent the general court in England, and a vote was passed for defraying the expenses attendant on the business. The council refused to concur in this vote, because the agents had been appointed by the house of representatives singly; and the measure must have been abandoned for want of money, had not the inhabitants of Boston raised the sum required, by subscription.


Letters were soon received from these agents, inclosing a report from the board of trade, before whom they had been heard by council, entirely disapproving the conduct of the house. The letters also indicated that, should the house persist in its refusal to comply with the King's instructions, the affair might be carried before parliament. But, should even this happen, the agents thought it more advisable that the salary should be fixed by the supreme legislature, than by that of the province. "It was better," they said, "that the liberties of the people should be taken from them, than given up by themselves."

The governor, at length, refused to sign a warrant on the treasury for the wages of the members. "One branch of the legislature," he said, "might as well go without their pay as the other." The act, and the reason for it, were alike unsatisfactory to the house.

[Sidenote: Death of Governor Burnet.]

After a recess from the 20th of December to the 2d of April, the general court met again at Salem. Repeated meetings at that place having produced no accommodation, the governor adjourned the legislature to Cambridge. A few days after the commencement of the session, he was seized with a fever, of which he died.

Mr. Burnet is said to have possessed many valuable qualities; and, had he not been engaged, by a sense of duty, in this long contest, he would, in all probability, have been a favourite of the province.[129]

[Footnote 129: Hutchison.]


[Sidenote: Arrival of Governor Belcher.]

Mr. Belcher, who succeeded Burnet, arrived at Boston early in August where he was cordially received. At the first meeting of the general court, he pressed the establishment of a permanent salary, and laid before them his instructions, in which it was declared that, in the event of the continued refusal of the assembly, "his majesty will find himself under the necessity of laying the undutiful behaviour of the province before the legislature of Great Britain, not only in this single instance, but in many others of the same nature and tendency, whereby it manifestly appears that this assembly, for some years last past, have attempted, by unwarrantable practices, to weaken, if not cast off, the obedience they owe to the crown, and the dependence which all colonies ought to have on the mother country."

At the close of these instructions, his majesty added his expectation, "that they do forthwith comply with this proposal, as the last signification of our royal pleasure to them on this subject, and if the said assembly shall not think fit to comply therewith, it is our will and pleasure, and you are required, immediately, to come over to this kingdom of Great Britain, in order to give us an exact account of all that shall have passed on this subject, that we may lay the same before our parliament."

The house proceeded, as in the case of governor Burnet, to make a grant to Mr. Belcher of one thousand pounds currency for defraying the expense of his voyage, and as a gratuity for his services while the agent of the colony in England; and, some time after, voted a sum equal to one thousand pounds sterling to enable him to manage the public affairs, &c.; but fixed no time for which the allowance was made. The council concurred in this vote, adding an amendment "and that the same sum be annually allowed for the governor's support." The house not agreeing to this amendment, the council carried it so as to read "that the same sum should be annually paid during his excellency's continuance in the government, and residence here." This also was disagreed to and the resolution fell.

The small-pox being in the town of Cambridge, the assembly was adjourned to Roxbury.


Two or three sessions passed with little more, on the part of the governor, than a repetition of his demand for a fixed salary, and an intimation that he should be obliged to return to England, and state the conduct of the house of representatives to the King. Some unsuccessful attempts were made by his friends to pass a bill fixing the salary during his administration, with a protest against the principle, and against that bill's being drawn into precedent. Failing in this expedient, and finding the house inflexible, he despaired of succeeding with that body, and turned his attention to the relaxation of his instructions. He advised an address from the house to his majesty, praying that he might be permitted to receive the sum which the legislature had offered to grant him. This was allowed by the crown; with the understanding that he was still to insist on a compliance with his instructions. Leave to accept particular grants was obtained for two or three years successively; and, at length, a general permission was conceded to accept such sums as might be given by the assembly.[130]

[Footnote 130: Hutchison.]

[Sidenote: Contest concerning the salary terminated.]

Thus was terminated, the stubborn contest concerning a permanent salary for the governor. Its circumstances have been given more in detail than consists with the general plan of this work, because it is considered as exhibiting, in genuine colours, the character of the people engaged in it. It is regarded as an early and an honourable display of the same persevering temper in defence of principle, of the same unconquerable spirit of liberty, which at a later day, and on a more important question, tore the British colonies from a country to which they had been strongly attached.


The immense quantity of depreciated paper which was in circulation throughout New England, had no tendency to diminish the complaints of the scarcity of money. Massachusetts and New Hampshire were restrained from farther emissions by the instructions to their governors, who received their appointments from the crown. Connecticut, engaged chiefly in agricultural pursuits, suffered less from this depreciated medium than her neighbours, and was less disposed to increase its evils. Rhode Island, equally commercial with Massachusetts, and equally fond of paper, chose her own governor, and might therefore indulge, without restraint, her passion for a system alike unfavourable to morals and to industry. That colony now issued one hundred thousand pounds on loan, to its inhabitants, for twenty years. The merchants of Boston, apprehensive that this capital would transfer the stock of Massachusetts to Rhode Island, associated against receiving the new emission; and many of them formed a company which issued one hundred and ten thousand pounds, redeemable with specie, in ten years, a tenth part annually, at the then current value of paper. The association against receiving the new emission of Rhode Island was not long observed; and the bills of New Hampshire and Connecticut were also current. Silver immediately rose to twenty-seven shillings the ounce, and the notes issued by the merchants soon disappeared, leaving in circulation only the government paper.


Great uneasiness prevailed through Massachusetts on this subject. The last instalment of the bills would become due in 1741, and no power existed to redeem them by new emissions. Serious consequences were apprehended from calling in the circulating medium without substituting another in its place, and the alarm was increased by the circumstance that the taxes had been so lightly apportioned on the first years, as to require the imposition of heavy burdens for the redemption of what remained in circulation. The discontents excited by these causes were manifested in the elections, and were directed against the governor, who was openly hostile to the paper system.

[Sidenote: Land bank.]

The projector of the bank again came forward; and, placing himself at the head of seven or eight hundred persons, some of whom possessed property, proposed to form a company which should issue one hundred and fifty thousand pounds in bills. By this scheme, every borrower of a sum larger than one hundred pounds, was to mortgage real estate to secure its re-payment. The borrowers of smaller sums might secure their re-payment either by mortgage, or by bond with two securities. Each subscriber, or partner was to pay, annually, three per centum interest on the sum he should take, and five per centum of the principal, either in the bills themselves, or in the produce and manufactures of the country, at such rates as the directors should, from time to time, establish.


[Sidenote: Company dissolved.]

Although the favourers of this project were so successful at the elections as to obtain a great majority in the general court, men of fortune, and the principal merchants, refused to receive these bills. Many small traders, however, and other persons interested in the circulation of a depreciated currency, gave them credit. The directors themselves, it was said, became traders; and issued bills without limitation, and without giving security for their redemption. The governor, anticipating the pernicious effects of the institution, exerted all his influence against it. He displaced such executive officers as were members of it, and negatived the speaker, and thirteen members elected to the council, who were also of the company. General confusion being apprehended, application was made to parliament for an act to suppress the company. This being readily obtained, the company was dissolved, and the holders of the bills were allowed their action against its members, individually.[131]

[Footnote 131: Hutchison.]

About this time governor Belcher was recalled, and Mr. Shirley was appointed to succeed him. He found the land bank interest predominant in the house, and the treasury empty.


In this state of things, he deemed it necessary to depart from the letter of his instructions, in order to preserve their spirit. A bill was passed declaring that all contracts should be understood to be payable in silver at six shillings and eight pence the ounce, or in gold at its comparative value. Bills of a new form were issued, purporting to be for ounces of silver, which were to be received in payment of all debts, with this proviso, that if they should depreciate between the time of contract and of payment, a proportional addition should be made to the debt.

[Sidenote: Affairs of New York.]

While these transactions were passing in New England, symptoms of that jealousy which an unsettled boundary must produce between neighbours, began to show themselves in Canada and New York. The geographical situation of these colonies had, at an early period, directed the attention of both towards the commerce of the lakes. Mr. Burnet, the governor both of New York and New Jersey, impressed with the importance of acquiring the command of lake Ontario, had, in the year 1722, erected a trading house at Oswego in the country of the Senecas. This measure excited the jealousy of the French, who launched two vessels on the lake, and transported materials to Niagara for building a large store house, and for repairing the fort at that place. These proceedings were strongly opposed by the Senecas, and by the government of New York. Mr. Burnet remonstrated against them as encroachments on a British province, and also addressed administration on the subject. Complaints were made to the cabinet of Versailles; but the governor of Canada proceeded to complete the fort. To countervail the effects of a measure which he could not prevent, governor Burnet erected a fort at Oswego; soon after the building of which, while Mr. Vandam was governor of New York, the French took possession of Crown Point, which they fortified; and thus acquired the command of lake Champlain. Obviously as this measure was calculated to favour both the offensive and defensive operations of France in America, the English minister, after an unavailing remonstrance, submitted to it.


War with the southern Indians.... Dissatisfaction of Carolina with the proprietors.... Rupture with Spain.... Combination to subvert the proprietary government.... Revolution completed.... Expedition from the Havanna against Charleston.... Peace with Spain.... The proprietors surrender their interest to the crown.... The province divided.... Georgia settled.... Impolicy of the first regulations.... Intrigues of the Spaniards with the slaves of South Carolina.... Insurrection of the slaves.


In Carolina, the contests between the inhabitants and the proprietors, added to the favour with which the Queen heard the complaints of the dissenters, had turned the attention of the people towards the crown, and produced a strong desire to substitute the regal, for the proprietary government. This desire was increased by an event which demonstrated the incompetency of their government.

[Sidenote: War with the Indians.]

The Yamassees, a powerful tribe of Indians on the north east of the Savanna, instigated by the Spaniards at St. Augustine, secretly prepared a general combination of all the southern Indians, against the province. Having massacred the traders settled among them, they advanced in great force against the southern frontier, spreading desolation and slaughter on their route. The inhabitants were driven into Charleston; and governor Craven proclaimed martial law. He also obtained an act of assembly empowering him to impress men; to seize arms, ammunition, and stores; to arm such negroes as could be trusted; and, generally, to prosecute the war with the utmost vigour. Agents were sent to Virginia and to England to solicit assistance, and bills were issued for the payment and subsistence of the army.

At the same time, the Indians entered the northern part of the province, and were within fifty miles of the capital. Thus surrounded by enemies, the governor took the course which was suggested equally by courage and by prudence. Leaving the less active part of the population to find security in the forts at Charleston, he marched with the militia, towards the southern frontier, which was invaded by the strongest body of Indians; and, at a place called Salt Catchers, attacked and totally defeated them. The victors pursued them into their own country, expelled them from it, and drove them over the Savanna river. The fugitives found protection in Florida, where they made a new settlement, from which they continued long afterwards, to make distressing incursions into Carolina.

The agent who had been sent by the legislature to England to implore the protection of the proprietors, had received ulterior instructions, should he not succeed with them, to apply directly to the King. Being dissatisfied with his reception by the proprietors, he petitioned the house of commons, who addressed the King, praying his interposition, and immediate assistance to the colony. The King referred the matter to the lords commissioners of trade and plantations, whose report was unfavourable to the application, because the province of Carolina was a proprietary government. They were of opinion that, if the colony was to be protected at the expense of the nation, its government ought to be vested in the crown. On receiving this opinion, the proprietors, in a general meeting, avowed their inability to protect the province, and declared that, unless his majesty would graciously please to interpose, they could foresee nothing but the utter destruction of his faithful subjects in those parts.

A government unable to afford protection to the people, was ill adapted to the situation of Carolina.

The dissatisfaction growing out of this cause was still farther augmented by the unpopular, and, in some instances, unwise acts of the proprietors.

To relieve the distress produced by war, considerable sums of paper money had been issued; and the proprietors, on the complaint of the merchants, of London engaged in the trade of the province, had given instructions to reduce the quantity in circulation.

{1715 to 1717}

The assembly had appropriated the country of the Yamassees, to the use of such of his majesty's European subjects, as would settle it. Extracts from the law on this subject being published in England, and in Ireland, five hundred men from the latter kingdom emigrated to Carolina. The proprietors repealed this law; and, to the utter ruin of the emigrants, as well as to the destruction of this barrier against the savages, ordered the lands to be surveyed, and erected into baronies, for themselves.

While the population was confined to the neighbourhood of Charleston, all the members of the assembly had been elected at that place. As the settlements extended, this practice became inconvenient; and an act was passed, declaring that every parish should choose a certain number of representatives, and that the elections should be held, in each, at the parish church. As if to destroy themselves in the province, the proprietors repealed this popular law also.

Heavy expenses being still incurred for defence against the inroads of the southern Indians, the people complained loudly of the insufficiency of that government which, unable itself to protect them, prevented the interposition of the crown in their favour.

In this temper, governor Johnson, son of the former governor of that name, found the province. He met the assembly with a conciliatory speech, and received an answer expressing great satisfaction at his appointment. His original popularity was increased by the courage he displayed in two expeditions against a formidable band of pirates who had long infested the coast, which he entirely extirpated.


These expeditions occasioned still farther emissions of paper money. The governor, being instructed to diminish its quantity, had influence enough with the assembly to obtain an act for redeeming the bills of credit, in three years, by a tax on lands and negroes. This tax falling heavily on the planters, they sought to elude it by obtaining an act for a farther emission of bills. The proprietors, being informed of this design, and also of an intention to make the produce of the country a tender in payment of all debts, at a fixed value, enjoined the governor not to give his assent to any bill, until it should be laid before them.

About the same time, the King, by an order in council, signified his desire to the proprietors, that they would repeal an act passed in Carolina, for imposing a duty of ten per centum on all goods of British manufacture imported into the province. The repeal of this act, and of one declaring the right of the assembly to name a receiver of the public money, and of the election law, were transmitted to the governor, in a letter directing him to dissolve the assembly, and to hold a new election at Charleston, according to ancient usage.


The assembly being employed in devising means for raising revenue, their dissolution was deferred; but the repeal of the law imposing duties, and the royal displeasure at the clause laying a duty on British manufactures, were immediately communicated, with a recommendation to pass another act, omitting that clause.

Meanwhile the governor's instructions were divulged. They excited great irritation; and produced a warm debate on the right of the proprietors to repeal a law enacted with the consent of their deputy in the province.


About this time, chief justice Trott, who had become extremely unpopular in the colony, was charged with many iniquitous proceedings; and the governor, the major part of the council, and the assembly, united in a memorial representing his malpractices to the proprietors. Mr. Young was deputed their agent to enforce these complaints.

Soon after his arrival in London, he presented a memorial to the proprietors, detailing the proceedings of Carolina, and stating the objections of the assembly to the right of their lordships to repeal laws, which had been approved by their deputies.

This memorial was very unfavourably received, and the members of the council who had subscribed it, were displaced. The proprietors asserted their right to repeal all laws passed in the province, approved the conduct of the chief justice, censured that of the governor in disobeying their instructions respecting the dissolution of the assembly, and repeated their orders on this subject.

However the governor might disapprove the instructions given him, he did not hesitate to obey them. The new council was summoned, the assembly was dissolved, and writs were issued for electing another at Charleston.

[Sidenote: War with Spain.]

The public mind had been gradually prepared for a revolution, and these irritating measures completed the disgust with which the people viewed the government of the proprietors. An opportunity to make the change so generally desired was soon afforded. A rupture having taken place between Great Britain and Spain, advice was received from England of a plan formed in the Havanna for the invasion of Carolina. The governor convened the council, and such members of the assembly as were in town, and laid his intelligence before them. He, at the same time, stated the ruinous condition of the fortifications, and proposed that a sum for repairing them should be raised, by voluntary subscription, of which he set the example by a liberal donation.

The assembly declared a subscription to be unnecessary, as the duties would afford an ample fund for the object. The repeal of the law imposing them was said to be utterly void, and would be disregarded.

[Sidenote: Combination to subvert the government.]

The members of the new assembly, though they had not been regularly convened at Charleston, had held several private meetings in the country to concert measures of future resistance. They had drawn up an association for uniting the whole province in opposition to the proprietary government, which was proposed to the militia at their public meetings, and subscribed almost unanimously. This confederacy was formed with such secrecy and dispatch, that, before the governor was informed of it, almost every inhabitant of the province was engaged in it.

The members of the assembly, thus supported by the people, resolved to subvert the power of the proprietors.

The governor, who resided in the country, had no intimation of these secret meetings and transactions, until he received a letter from a committee of the representatives of the people, offering him the government of the province under the King; it having been determined to submit no longer to that of the proprietors.

Mr. Johnson resolved to suppress this spirit of revolt, and hastened to town in order to lay the letter before his council. They advised him to take no notice of it, until the legislature should be regularly convened. On meeting, the assembly declared, "that the laws, pretended to be repealed, continued to be in force; and that no power, other than the general assembly, could repeal them: That the writs under which they were elected were void, inasmuch as they had been issued by advice of an unconstitutional council: That the representatives cannot, therefore, act as an assembly, but as a convention delegated by the people to prevent the utter ruin of the government: And, lastly, that the lords proprietors had unhinged the frame of the government, and forfeited their right thereto; and that an address be prepared to desire the honourable Robert Johnson, the present governor, to take on himself the government of the province in the name of the King." The address was signed by Arthur Middleton, as president of the convention, and by twenty-two members.

After several unavailing efforts, on the part of the assembly, to induce Mr. Johnson to accept the government under the King; and, on his part, to reinstate the government of the proprietors; he issued a proclamation dissolving the assembly, and retired into the country.

The proclamation was torn from the hands of the officer, and the assembly elected colonel James Moore chief magistrate of the colony.

[Sidenote: Revolution completed.]

After proclaiming him in the name of the King, and electing a council, the legislature published a declaration stating the revolution that had taken place, with the causes which produced it; and then proceeded, deliberately to manage the affairs of the province.

[Sidenote: The proprietors surrender to the crown.]

While Carolina was effecting this revolution, the agent of the colony obtained a hearing before the lords of the regency and council in England, (the King being then in Hanover) who were of opinion that the proprietors had forfeited their charter. They ordered the attorney general to take out a scire facias against it, and appointed Francis Nicholson provisional governor of the province under the King. He was received with universal joy; and the people of Carolina passed, with great satisfaction, from the proprietary government to the immediate dominion of the crown. This revolution was completed by an agreement between the crown and seven of the proprietors, whereby, for the sum of seventeen thousand five hundred pounds sterling, they surrendered their right and interest both in the government and soil. This agreement was confirmed by an act of parliament; soon after which John Lord Carteret, the remaining proprietor, also surrendered all his interest in the government, but retained his rights of property.[132]

[Footnote 132: History of South Carolina.]



[Sidenote: The province divided.]

Carolina received with joy the same form of government which had been bestowed on her sister colonies. The people pleased with their situation, and secure of protection, turned their attention to domestic and agricultural pursuits; and the face of the country soon evidenced the happy effects which result from contented industry, directed by those who are to receive its fruits. For the convenience of the inhabitants, the province was divided; and was, thenceforward, distinguished by the names of North and South Carolina.[133]

[Footnote 133: Idem.]

[Sidenote: Georgia settled.]

About this period, the settlement of a new colony was planned in England. The tract of country lying between the rivers Savanna and Alatamaha being unoccupied by Europeans, a company was formed for the humane purpose of transplanting into this wilderness, the suffering poor of the mother country. This territory, now denominated Georgia, was granted to the company; and a corporation, consisting of twenty-one persons, was created under the name of "trustees for settling and establishing the colony of Georgia." Large sums of money were subscribed for transporting, and furnishing with necessaries, such poor people as should be willing to pass the Atlantic, and to seek the means of subsistence in a new world. One hundred and sixteen persons embarked at Gravesend, under the conduct of Mr. James Oglethorpe, one of the trustees, who, after landing at Charleston, proceeded to the tract of country allotted for the new colony, and laid the foundation of the town of Savanna, on the river which bears that name. A small fort was erected on its bank, in which some guns were mounted; and a treaty was held with the Creek Indians, from whom the cession of a considerable tract was obtained.

The trustees continued to make great efforts for the accomplishment of their object, and settled several companies of emigrants in Georgia. Unfortunately, the wisdom of their regulations did not equal the humanity of their motives. Totally unacquainted with the country they were to govern, they devised a system for it, rather calculated to impede than to promote its population.


[Sidenote: Impolicy of the first regulation.]

Considering each male inhabitant both as a soldier and a planter, to be provided with arms and ammunition for defence as well as with utensils for cultivation, they adopted the pernicious resolution of introducing such tenures for holding lands as were most favourable to a military establishment. Each tract granted, was considered as a military fief, for which the possessor was to appear in arms, and take the field, when required for the public defence. The grants were in tail male; and, on the termination of the estate, the lands were to revert to the trust, to be re-granted to such persons as would most benefit the colony. Any lands which should not be enclosed, cleared, and cultivated, within eighteen years, reverted to the trust. The importation of negroes, and of rum, was prohibited; and those only were allowed to trade with the Indians, to whom a license should be given.

However specious the arguments in support of these regulations might appear to the trustees, human ingenuity could scarcely have devised a system better calculated to defeat their hopes.

The tenure of lands drove the settlers into Carolina where that property might be acquired in fee simple. The prohibition of slavery rendered the task of opening the country, too heavy to be successfully undertaken in that burning climate; and the restriction on their trade to the West Indies, deprived them of the only market for lumber, an article in which they abounded.


Mr. Oglethorpe's first employment was the construction of fortifications for defence. He erected one fort on the Savanna, at Augusta, and another on an island of the Alatamaha, called Frederica, for defence against the Indians and the inhabitants of Florida. The Spaniards remonstrated against them; and a commissioner from the Havanna insisted on the evacuation of the country to the thirty-third degree of north latitude, which he claimed in the name of the King of Spain; but this remonstrance and claim were equally disregarded.

The restrictions imposed by the trustees, on the inhabitants of Georgia, were too oppressive to be endured in silence. They remonstrated, particularly, against the tenure by which their lands were held, and against the prohibition of the introduction of slaves. These complaints, the result of experience, were addressed to persons ignorant of the condition of the petitioners, and were neglected. The colony languished; while South Carolina, not unlike Georgia both in soil and climate, advanced with considerable rapidity. Although emigration was encouraged by paying the passage money of the emigrants, by furnishing them with clothes, arms, ammunition, and implements of husbandry, by maintaining their families for the first year, and, in some instances, by furnishing them with stock; yet the unwise policy, which has been mentioned, more than counterbalanced these advantages; and for ten years, during which time the exports from Carolina more than doubled, the settlers in Georgia could, with difficulty, obtain a scanty subsistence.


The differences between Great Britain and Spain not admitting of adjustment, both nations prepared for war. The Spaniards strengthened East Florida; and the British government ordered a regiment, consisting of six hundred effective men, into Georgia. The command of the troops, both of Georgia and Carolina, was given to major general Oglethorpe, who fixed his headquarters at Frederica.

[Sidenote: Insurrection of the slaves.]

Before hostilities had commenced, the Spaniards at St. Augustine engaged in criminal intrigues among the blacks of Carolina. Agents had been secretly employed in seducing the slaves of that province to escape to St. Augustine, where liberty was promised them, and where they were formed into a regiment officered by themselves. Hitherto these practices had been attended only with the loss of property; but, about this time, the evil assumed a much more alarming form. A large number of slaves assembled at Stono, where they forced a warehouse containing arms and ammunition, murdered the whites in possession of it, and, after choosing a captain, directed their march south westward, with drums beating and colours flying. On their march, they massacred the whites, seized all the arms they could find, and forced such blacks as did not voluntarily join them, to follow their party. Intoxicated with ardent spirits, and with their short lived success, they considered their work as already achieved, and halted in an open field, where the time which might have been employed in promoting their design, was devoted to dancing and exultation. Fortunately, the people of the neighbourhood had assembled on the same day, to attend divine service; and, as was then directed by law, all the men came armed. They marched immediately against the blacks, whom they completely surprised. Many were killed, and the residue dispersed or taken. Thus the insurrection was suppressed on the day of its commencement; and such of its leaders as survived the battle were immediately executed.

During the long repose, which the pacific temper of the duke of Orleans, Regent of France during the minority of Louis XV. and the equally pacific temper of sir Robert Walpole, minister of England, gave to their respective countries, the British colonies in America had increased rapidly in population and in wealth. Lands were cheap, and subsistence easily acquired. From New York to Virginia inclusive, no enemy existed to restrain new settlements, and no fears of inability to maintain a family, checked the natural propensity to early marriages. The people were employed in cultivating the earth, and in spreading themselves over the vast regions which were open to them; and, during this period, their history furnishes none of those remarkable events which interest posterity.


War declared against Spain.... Expedition against St. Augustine.... Georgia invaded.... Spaniards land on an island in the Alatamaha.... Appearance of a fleet from Charleston.... Spanish army re-embarks.... Hostilities with France.... Expedition against Louisbourg.... Louisbourg surrenders.... Great plans of the belligerent powers.... Misfortunes of the armament under the duke D'Anville.... The French fleet dispersed by a storm.... Expedition against Nova Scotia.... Treaty of Aix la Chapelle.... Paper money of Massachusetts redeemed.... Contests between the French and English respecting boundaries.... Statement respecting the discovery of the Mississippi.... Scheme for connecting Louisiana with Canada.... Relative strength of the French and English colonies.... Defeat at the Little Meadows.... Convention at Albany.... Plan of union.... Objected to both in America and Great Britain.


[Sidenote: War with Spain.]

The increasing complaints of the merchants, and the loud clamours of the nation, at length forced the minister to abandon his pacific system; and war was declared against Spain. A squadron commanded by admiral Vernon was detached to the West Indies, with instructions to act offensively; and general Oglethorpe was ordered to annoy the settlements in Florida. He planned an expedition against St. Augustine, and requested the assistance of South Carolina. That colony, ardently desiring the expulsion of neighbours alike feared and hated, entered zealously into the views of the general, and agreed to furnish the men and money he requested. A regiment, commanded by colonel Vanderdussen, was immediately raised in Virginia and the two Carolinas. A body of Indians was also engaged, and captain Price, who commanded the small fleet on that station, promised his co-operation. These arrangements being made, and the mouth of St. John's river, on the coast of Florida, being appointed as the place, of rendezvous general Oglethorpe hastened to Georgia, to prepare his regiment for the expedition.


Those unexpected impediments, which always embarrass military movements conducted by men without experience, having delayed the arrival of his northern troops, Oglethorpe entered Florida at the head of his own regiment, aided by a party of Indians; and invested Diego, a small fort about twenty-five miles from St. Augustine, which capitulated after a short resistance. He then returned to the place of rendezvous, where he was joined by colonel Vanderdussen, and by a company of Highlanders under the command of captain M'Intosh; a few days after which, he marched with his whole force, consisting of about two thousand men, to fort Moosa, in the neighbourhood of St. Augustine, which was evacuated on his approach. The general now perceived that the enterprise would be attended with more difficulty than had been anticipated. In the time which intervened between his entering Florida and appearing before the town, supplies of provisions had been received from the country, and six Spanish half gallies carrying long brass nine pounders, and two sloops laden with provisions, had entered the harbour. Finding the place better fortified than had been expected, he determined to invest it completely, and to advance by regular approaches. In execution of this plan, colonel Palmer, with ninety-five Highlanders, and forty-two Indians, remained at fort Moosa, while the army took different positions near the town, and began an ineffectual bombardment from the island of Anastasia. The general was deliberating on a plan for forcing the harbour and taking a nearer position, when colonel Palmer was surprised, and his detachment cut to pieces. At the same time some small vessels from the Havanna, with a reinforcement of men and supply of provisions, entered the harbour through the narrow channel of the Matanzas.

The army began to despair of success; and the provincials, enfeebled by the heat, dispirited by sickness, and fatigued by fruitless efforts, marched away in large bodies. The navy being ill supplied with provisions, and the season for hurricanes approaching, captain Price was unwilling to hazard his majesty's ships on that coast. The general, labouring under a fever, finding his regiment, as well as himself, worn out with fatigue, and rendered unfit for action by disease; reluctantly abandoned the enterprise, and returned to Frederica.

The colonists, disappointed and chagrined by the failure of the expedition, attributed this misfortune entirely to the incapacity of the general, who was not less dissatisfied with them. Whatever may have been the true causes of the failure, it produced a mutual and injurious distrust between the general and the colonists.[134]

[Footnote 134: In the same year Charleston was reduced to ashes. A large portion of its inhabitants passed, in one day, from prosperity to indigence. Under the pressure of this misfortune, the legislature applied to parliament for aid; and that body, with a liberality reflecting honour on its members, voted twenty thousand pounds, to be distributed among the sufferers.]


The events of the war soon disclosed the dangers resulting from this want of confidence in general Oglethorpe, and, still more, from the want of power to produce a co-operation of the common force for the common defence.

Spain had ever considered the settlement of Georgia as an encroachment on her territory, and had cherished the intention to seize every proper occasion to dislodge the English by force. With this view, an armament consisting of two thousand men, commanded by Don Antonio di Ridondo, embarked at the Havanna, under convoy of a strong squadron, and arrived at St. Augustine in May. The fleet having been seen on its passage, notice of its approach was given to general Oglethorpe, who communicated the intelligence to governor Glenn of South Carolina, and urged the necessity of sending the troops of that province to his assistance.

Georgia being a barrier for South Carolina, the policy of meeting an invading army on the frontiers of the former, especially one containing several companies composed of negroes who had fled from the latter, was too obvious not to be perceived: yet either from prejudice against Oglethorpe, or the disposition inherent in separate governments to preserve their own force for their own defence, Carolina refused to give that general any assistance. Its attention was directed entirely to the defence of Charleston; and the inhabitants of its southern frontier, instead of marching to the camp of Oglethorpe, fled to that city for safety. In the mean time, the general collected a few Highlanders, and rangers of Georgia, together with as many Indian warriors as would join him, and determined to defend Frederica.

[Sidenote: Georgia invaded.]

Late in June, the Spanish fleet, consisting of thirty-two sail, carrying above three thousand men, crossed Simon's bar into Jekyl sound, and passing Simon's fort, then occupied by general Oglethorpe, proceeded up the Alatamaha, out of the reach of his guns; after which, the troops landed on the island, and erected a battery of twenty eighteen pounders.

Fort Simon's being indefensible, Oglethorpe retreated to Frederica. His whole force, exclusive of Indians, amounted to little more than seven hundred men, a force which could only enable him to act on the defensive until the arrival of reinforcements which he still expected from South Carolina. The face of the country was peculiarly favorable to this system of operations. Its thick woods and deep morasses opposed great obstacles to the advance of an invading enemy, not well acquainted with the paths which passed through them. Oglethorpe turned these advantages to the best account. In an attempt made by the Spanish general to pierce these woods in order to reach Frederica, several sharp rencounters took place; in one of which he lost a captain and two lieutenants killed, and above one hundred privates taken prisoners. He then changed his plan of operations; and, abandoning his intention of forcing his way to Frederica by land, called in his parties, kept his men under cover of his cannon, and detached some vessels up the river, with a body of troops on board, to reconnoitre the fort, and draw the attention of the English to that quarter.

About this time, an English prisoner escaped from the Spaniards, and informed general Oglethorpe that a difference existed between the troops from Cuba, and those from St. Augustine, which had been carried so far that they encamped in separate places. This intelligence suggested the idea of attacking them while divided; and his perfect knowledge of the woods favoured the hope of surprising one of their encampments. In execution of this design, he drew out the flower of his army, and marched in the night, unobserved, within two miles of the Spanish camp. There, his troops halted, and he advanced, himself, at the head of a select corps, to reconnoitre the situation of the enemy. While he was using the utmost circumspection to obtain the necessary information without being discovered, a French soldier of his party discharged his musket, and ran into the Spanish lines. Discovery defeating every hope of success, the general retreated to Frederica.

Oglethorpe, confident that the deserter would disclose his weakness, devised an expedient which turned the event to advantage. He wrote to the deserter as if in concert with him, directing him to give the Spanish general such information as might induce him to attack Frederica; hinting also at an attempt meditated by admiral Vernon on St. Augustine, and at late advices from Carolina, giving assurances of a reinforcement of two thousand men. He then tampered with one of the Spanish prisoners, who, for a small bribe, promised to deliver this letter to the deserter, after which, he was permitted to escape. The prisoner, as was foreseen delivered the letter to his general, who ordered the deserter to be put in irons; and, was, in no small degree, embarrassed to determine whether the letter ought to be considered as a stratagem to save Frederica, and induce the abandonment of the enterprise; or as real instructions to direct the conduct of a spy. While hesitating on the course to be pursued, his doubts were removed by one of those incidents, which have so much influence on human affairs.

[Sidenote: Spanish army re-embarks in confusion.]

The assembly of South Carolina had voted a supply of money to general Oglethorpe; and the governor had ordered some ships of force to his aid. These appeared off the coast while the principal officers of the Spanish army were yet deliberating on the letter. They deliberated no longer. The whole army was seized with a panic; and, after setting fire to the fort, embarked in great hurry and confusion, leaving behind several pieces of heavy artillery, and a large quantity of provisions and military stores.

Thus was Georgia delivered from an invasion which threatened the total subjugation of the province.

The ill success of these reciprocal attempts at conquest, seems to have discouraged both parties; and the Spanish and English colonies, in the neighbourhood of each other, contented themselves, for the residue of the war, with guarding their own frontiers.

The connexion between the branches of the house of Bourbon was too intimate for the preservation of peace with France, during the prosecution of war against Spain. Both nations expected and prepared for hostilities. War had commenced in fact, though not in form, on the continent of Europe; but as they carried on their military operations as auxiliaries, in support of the contending claims of the elector of Bavaria, and the queen of Hungary, to the imperial throne, they preserved in America a suspicious and jealous suspension of hostility, rather than a real peace.


This state of things was interrupted by a sudden incursion of the French into Nova Scotia.

[Sidenote: Hostilities with France.]

The governor of Cape Breton having received information that France and Great Britain had become principals in the war, took possession of de Canseau with a small military and naval force, and made the garrison, and inhabitants prisoners of war. This enterprise was followed by an attempt on Annapolis, which was defeated by the timely arrival of a reinforcement from Massachusetts. These offensive operations stimulated the English colonists to additional efforts to expel such dangerous neighbors, and to unite the whole northern continent bordering on the Atlantic, under one common sovereign.

The island of Cape Breton, so denominated from one of its capes, lies between the 45th and 47th degree of north latitude, at the distance of fifteen leagues from Cape Ray, the south western extremity of Newfoundland. Its position rendered the possession of it very material to the commerce of France; and the facility with which the fisheries might be annoyed from its ports, gave it an importance to which it could not otherwise have been entitled. Thirty millions of livres,[135] and the labour of twenty-five years, had been employed on its fortifications. From its strength, and still more from the numerous privateers that issued from its ports, it had been termed the Dunkirk[136] of America. On this place, governor Shirley meditated an attack.

[Footnote 135: About five and a half millions of dollars.]

[Footnote 136: Belknap.]

The prisoners taken at Canseau, and others who had been captured at sea and carried to Louisbourg, were sent to Boston. The information they gave, if it did not originally suggest this enterprise, contributed greatly to its adoption. They said that Duvivier had gone to France to solicit assistance for the conquest of Nova Scotia, in the course of the ensuing campaign; and that the store ships from France for Cape Breton, not having arrived on the coast until it was blocked up with ice, had retired to the West Indies.

In several letters addressed to administration, governor Shirley represented the danger to which Nova Scotia was exposed, and pressed for naval assistance. These letters were sent by captain Ryal, an officer of the garrison which had been taken at Canseau, whose knowledge of Louisbourg, of Cape Breton, and of Nova Scotia, enabled him to make such representations to the lords of the admiralty, as were calculated to promote the views of the northern colonies.

The governor was not disappointed. Orders were dispatched to commodore Warren, then in the West Indies, to proceed towards the north, early in the spring; and to employ such a force as might be necessary to protect the northern colonies in their trade and fisheries, as well as to distress the enemy. On these subjects, he was instructed to consult with Shirley, to whom orders of the same date were written, directing him to assist the King's ships with transports, men, and provisions.

Such deep impression had the design of taking Louisbourg made on the mind of Shirley, that he did not wait for intelligence of the reception given to his application for naval assistance. He was induced to decide on engaging in the enterprise, even without such assistance, by the representations of Mr. Vaughan, son of the lieutenant governor of New Hampshire, a man of a sanguine and ardent temper, who could think nothing impracticable which he wished to achieve. Mr. Vaughan had never been at Louisbourg, but had learned something of the strength of the place, from fishermen and others; and the bold turn of his mind suggested the idea of surprising it. There is something infectious in enthusiasm, whatever be its object; and Vaughan soon communicated his own convictions to Shirley.[137]

[Footnote 137: Belknap.]


The governor informed the general court that he had a proposition of great importance to communicate, and requested that the members would take an oath of secrecy, previous to his laying it before them. This novel request being complied with, he submitted his plan for attacking Louisbourg. It was referred to a committee of both houses; the arguments for and against the enterprise were temperately considered; and the part suggested by prudence prevailed. The expedition was thought too great, too hazardous, and too expensive.

The report of the committee was approved by the house of representatives, and the expedition was supposed to be abandoned; but, notwithstanding the precaution taken to secure secrecy, the subject which had occupied the legislature was divulged,[138] and the people took a deep interest in it. Numerous petitions were presented, praying the general court to re-consider its vote, and to adopt the proposition of the governor. Among the several arguments urged in its favour, that which the petitioners pressed most earnestly, was the necessity of acquiring Louisbourg, to save the fisheries from ruin.

[Footnote 138: It is said the secret was kept until a member who performed family devotion at his lodgings, betrayed it by praying for the divine blessing on the attempt.]

The subject being re-considered, a resolution in favour of the enterprise was carried by a single voice, in the absence of several members known to be against it. Yet all parties manifested equal zeal for its success. A general embargo was laid, and messengers were despatched to the several governments as far south as Pennsylvania, soliciting their aid. These solicitations succeeded only in the northern provinces. There being at that time no person in New England who had acquired any military reputation, the chief command was conferred on colonel Pepperel, a merchant, who was also a large land holder, and was highly respected throughout Massachusetts.[139]

[Footnote 139: Hutchison.]

All ranks of men combined to facilitate the enterprise, and those circumstances which are beyond human control, also concurred to favour the general wish.

The governors of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, whose orders forbade their assent to a farther emission of bills of credit, departed from their instructions to promote this favourite project; the people submitted to impressments of their property; and a mild winter gave no interruption to their warlike preparations.

The troops of Massachusetts,[140] New Hampshire, and Connecticut, amounting to rather more than four thousand men, assembled at Canseau about the middle of April; soon after which, to the great joy of the colonial troops, admiral Warren arrived, with a considerable part of his fleet. The army then embarked for Chapeau-rouge bay, and the fleet cruised off Louisbourg.

[Footnote 140: The day before the armament sailed from Massachusetts, an express boat, which had been dispatched to admiral Warren to solicit assistance, returned with the unwelcome intelligence that he declined furnishing the aid required. This information could not arrest the expedition. Fortunately for its success, the orders from England soon afterwards reached the admiral, who immediately detached a part of his fleet; which he soon followed himself in the Superb, of sixty guns.]

After repulsing a small detachment of French troops, the landing was effected; and, in the course of the night, a body of about four hundred men led by Vaughan, marched round to the north east part of the harbour, and set fire to a number of warehouses containing spirituous liquors and naval stores. The smoke being driven by the wind into the grand battery, caused such darkness that the men placed in it were unable to distinguish objects; and, being apprehensive of an attack from the whole English army, abandoned the fort and fled into the town.

The next morning, as Vaughan was returning to camp with only thirteen men, he ascended the hill which overlooked the battery, and observing that the chimneys in the barracks were without smoke, and the staff without its flag, he hired an Indian, with a bottle of rum, to crawl through an embrasure, and open the gate. Vaughan entered with his men and defended the battery against a party then landing to regain possession until the arrival of a reinforcement.

For fourteen nights successively, the troops were employed in dragging cannon from the landing place to the encampment, a distance of near two miles, through a deep morass. The army, being totally unacquainted with the art of conducting sieges, made its approaches irregularly, and sustained some loss on this account.

While these approaches were making by land, the ships of war which continued to cruise off the harbour, fell in with and captured the Vigilant, a French man of war of sixty-four guns, having on board a reinforcement of five hundred and sixty men, and a large quantity of stores for the garrison. Soon after this, an unsuccessful, and, perhaps, a rash attempt was made on the island battery by four hundred men; of whom sixty were killed, and one hundred and sixteen taken prisoners. All these prisoners, as if by previous concert, exaggerated the numbers of the besieging army, a deception which was favoured by the unevenness of the ground, and the dispersed state of the troops; and which probably contributed to the surrender of the place. The provincial army did indeed present a formidable front, but, in the rear, all was frolic and confusion.

The Vigilant had been anxiously expected by the garrison, and the information of her capture excited a considerable degree of perturbation. This event, with the erection of some works on the high cliff at the light house, by which the island battery was much annoyed, and the preparations evidently making for a general assault, determined Duchambon, the governor of Louisbourg, to surrender; and, in a few days, he capitulated.

[Sidenote: Louisbourg surrenders.]

Upon entering the fortress, and viewing its strength, and its means of defence, all perceived how impracticable it would have been to carry it by assault.[141]

[Footnote 141: Belknap. Hutchison.]

The joy excited in the British colonies by the success of the expedition against Louisbourg was unbounded. Even those who had refused to participate in its hazards and expense, were sensible of its advantages, and of the lustre it shed on the American arms. Although some disposition was manifested in England, to ascribe the whole merit of the conquest to the navy, colonel Pepperel received, with the title of baronet, the more substantial reward of a regiment in the British service, to be raised in America; and the same mark of royal favour was bestowed on governor Shirley. Reimbursements too were made by parliament for the expenses of the expedition. It was the only decisive advantage obtained by the English during the war.

The capture of Louisbourg, most probably, preserved Nova Scotia. Duvivier, who had embarked for France to solicit an armament for the conquest of that province, sailed, in July, 1745, with seven ships of war, and a body of land forces. He was ordered to stop at Louisbourg, and thence to proceed in the execution of his plan. Hearing, at sea, of the fall of that place, and that a British squadron was stationed at it, he relinquished the expedition against Nova Scotia, and returned to Europe.

The British empire on the American continent consisted, originally, of two feeble settlements unconnected with, and almost unknown to each other. For a long time the southern colonies, separated from those of New England by an immense wilderness, and by the possessions of other European powers, had no intercourse with them, except what was produced by the small trading vessels of the north, which occasionally entered the rivers of the south. Neither participated in the wars or pursuits of the other; nor were they, in any respect, actuated by common views, or united by common interest. The conquest of the country between Connecticut and Maryland, laid a foundation, which the settlement of the middle colonies completed, for connecting these disjoined members, and forming one consolidated whole, capable of moving, and acting in concert. This gradual change, unobserved in its commencement, had now become too perceptible to be longer overlooked; and, henceforward, the efforts of the colonies, were in a great measure combined, and directed to a common object.

France, as well as England, had extended her views with her settlements; and, after the fall of Louisbourg, the governments of both nations meditated important operations for the ensuing campaign in America.

[Sidenote: Great plans of the belligerents.]

France contemplated, not only the recovery of Cape Breton and Nova Scotia, but the total devastation of the sea coast, if not the entire conquest of New England.

Britain, on her part, calculated on the reduction of Canada, and the entire expulsion of the French from the American continent.


Shirley repaired to Louisbourg, after its surrender, where he held a consultation with Warren and Pepperel on the favourite subject of future and more extensive operations against the neighbouring possessions of France. From that place he wrote pressingly to administration, for reinforcements of men and ships to enable him to execute his plans. The capture of Louisbourg gave such weight to his solicitations that, in the following spring, the duke of New Castle, then secretary of state, addressed a circular letter to the governors of the provinces as far south as Virginia, requiring them to raise as many men as they could spare, and hold them in readiness to act according to the orders that should be received. Before this letter was written, an extensive plan of operations had been digested in the British cabinet. It was proposed to detach a military and naval armament which should, early in the season, join the troops to be raised in New England, at Louisbourg; whence they were to proceed up the St. Lawrence to Quebec. The troops from New York, and from the more southern provinces, were to be collected at Albany, and to march against Crown Point, and Montreal.

This plan, so far as it depended on the colonies, was executed with promptness and alacrity. The men were raised, and waited with impatience for employment; but neither troops, nor orders, arrived from England. The fleet destined for this service, sailed seven times from Spithead; and was compelled as often, by contrary winds, to return.

Late in the season, the military commanders in America, despairing of the succours promised by England, determined to assemble a body of provincials at Albany, and make an attempt on Crown Point. While preparing for the execution of this plan, they received accounts stating that Annapolis was in danger from a body of French and Indians assembled at Minas; upon which, orders were issued for the troops of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, to embark for Nova Scotia. Before these orders could be executed, intelligence was received which directed their attention to their own defence.

It was reported that a large fleet and army, under the command of the duke D'Anville, had arrived in Nova Scotia, and the views of conquest, which had been formed by the northern colonies, were converted into fears for their own safety. For six weeks, continual apprehensions of invasion were entertained; and the most vigorous measures were taken to repel it. From this state of anxious solicitude, they were at length relieved by the arrival of some prisoners set at liberty by the French, who communicated the extreme distress of the fleet.

[Sidenote: The French fleet dispersed by a storm.]

This formidable armament consisted of near forty ships of war, seven of which were of the line; of two artillery ships; and of fifty-six transports laden with provisions and military stores, carrying three thousand five hundred land forces, and forty thousand stand of small arms, for the use of the Canadians and Indians. The fleet sailed in June, but was attacked by such furious and repeated storms, that many of the ships were wrecked, and others dispersed. In addition to this disaster, the troops were infected with a disease which carried them off in great numbers. While lying in Chebucto, under these circumstances, a vessel which had been dispatched by governor Shirley to admiral Townshend at Louisbourg, with a letter stating his expectation that a British fleet would follow that of France to America, was intercepted by a cruiser, and brought in to the admiral. These dispatches were opened in a council of war, which was considerably divided respecting their future conduct. This circumstance, added to the calamities already sustained, so affected the commander in chief, that he died suddenly. The vice-admiral fell by his own hand; and the command devolved on Monsieur le Jonguiere, governor of Canada, who had been declared chef d'escadre after the fleet sailed.

The design of invading New England was relinquished, and it was resolved to make an attempt on Annapolis. With this view the fleet sailed from Chebucto, but was again overtaken by a violent tempest which scattered the vessels composing it. Those which escaped shipwreck returned singly to France.[142]

[Footnote 142: Hutchison. Belknap.]

"Never," says Mr. Belknap, "was the hand of divine providence more visible than on this occasion. Never was a disappointment more severe on the part of the enemy, nor a deliverance more complete, without human help, in favour of this country."

As soon as the fears excited by this armament were dissipated, the project of dislodging the French and Indians, who had invaded Nova Scotia, was resumed. Governor Shirley detached a part of the troops of Massachusetts on this service; and pressed the governors of Rhode Island and New Hampshire, to co-operate with him. The quotas furnished by these colonies were prevented by several accidents from joining that of Massachusetts, which was inferior to the enemy in numbers. The French and Indians, under cover of a snow storm, surprised the English at Minas; who, after an obstinate resistance, in which they lost upwards of one hundred men, were compelled to capitulate, and to engage not to bear arms against his Most Christian Majesty, in Nova Scotia for one year. De Ramsay, who commanded the French, returned soon afterwards to Canada.

No farther transactions of importance took place in America during the war, which was terminated by the treaty of Aix la Chapelle. By this treaty, it was stipulated that all conquests made during the war should be restored; and the colonists had the mortification to see the French re-possess themselves of Cape Breton.

The heavy expenses which had been incurred by the New England colonies, and especially by Massachusetts, had occasioned large emissions of paper money, and an unavoidable depreciation. Instead of availing themselves of peace, to discharge the debts contracted during war, they eagerly desired to satisfy every demand on the public treasury, by farther emissions of bills of credit, redeemable at future and distant periods. Every inconvenience under which commerce was supposed to labour, every difficulty encountered in the interior economy of the province, was attributed to a scarcity of money; and this scarcity was to be removed, not by increased industry, but by putting an additional sum in circulation. The rate of exchange, and the price of all commodities, soon disclosed the political truth that, however the quantity of the circulating medium may be augmented, its aggregate value cannot be arbitrarily increased; and that the effect of such a depreciating currency must necessarily be, to discourage the payment of debts, by holding out the hope of discharging contracts with less real value than that for which they were made; and to substitute cunning and speculation, for honest and regular industry. Yet the majority had persevered in this demoralising system. The depreciation had reached eleven for one; and the evil was almost deemed incurable, when the fortunate circumstance of a reimbursement in specie, made by parliament for colonial expenditures on account of the expeditions against Louisbourg and Canada, suggested to Mr. Hutchinson, speaker of the house of representatives in Massachusetts, the idea of redeeming the paper money in circulation, at its then real value.

This scheme, at first deemed Utopian, was opposed by many well meaning men who feared that its effect would be to give a shock to the trade and domestic industry of the province; and who thought that, as the depreciation had been gradual, justice required that the appreciation should be gradual also.

[Sidenote: Paper money redeemed.]

With great difficulty, the measure was carried; and the bills of credit in circulation, were redeemed at fifty shillings the ounce. The evils which had been apprehended were soon found to be imaginary. Specie immediately took the place of paper. Trade, so far from sustaining a shock, nourished more than before this change in the domestic economy of the colony; and the commerce of Massachusetts immediately received an impulse, which enabled it to surpass that of her neighbours who retained their paper medium.[143]

[Footnote 143: Hutchison.]

[Sidenote: Renewal of contests with the French colonies respecting boundary.]

The treaty of Aix la Chapelle did not remove the previously existing controversies between the colonies of France and England respecting boundary. These controversies, originating in the manner in which their settlements had been made, and at first of small consequence, were now assuming a serious aspect. America was becoming an object of greater attention; and, as her importance increased, the question concerning limits became important also.


In settling this continent, the powers of Europe, estimating the right of the natives at nothing, adopted, for their own government, the principle, that those who first discovered and took possession of any particular territory, became its rightful proprietors. But as only a small portion of it could then be reduced to actual occupation, the extent of country thus acquired was not well ascertained. Contests respecting prior discovery, and extent of possession, arose among all the first settlers. England terminated her controversy with Sweden and with Holland, by the early conquest of their territories; but her conflicting claims with France and with Spain, remained unadjusted.

On the south, Spain had pretensions to the whole province of Georgia, while England had granted the country as far as the river St. Matheo, in Florida.

On the north, the right of France to Canada was undisputed; but the country between the St. Lawrence and New England had been claimed by both nations, and granted by both. The first settlement appears to have been made by the French; but its principal town, called Port Royal, or Annapolis, had been repeatedly taken by the English; and, by the treaty of Utrecht, the whole province, by the name of Nova Scotia, or Acadie, according to its ancient limits had been ceded to them.

But the boundaries of Nova Scotia, or Acadie, had never been ascertained. Though the treaty of Utrecht had provided that commissioners should be appointed by the two crowns, to adjust the limits of their respective colonies, the adjustment had never been made. France claimed to the Kennebec; and insisted "that only the peninsula which is formed by the bay of Fundy, the Atlantic ocean, and the gulf of St. Lawrence," was included in the cession of "Nova Scotia, or Acadie, according to its ancient limits." England, on the other hand, claimed all the country on the main land south of the river St. Lawrence. Under the treaty of Aix la Chapelle, commissioners were again appointed to settle these differences, who maintained the rights of their respective sovereigns with great ability, and laborious research; but their zeal produced a degree of asperity unfavourable to accommodation.

While this contest for the cold and uninviting country of Nova Scotia was carried on with equal acrimony and talents, a controversy arose for richer and more extensive regions in the south and west.

[Sidenote: Discovery of the Mississippi.]

So early as the year 1660, information was received, in Canada, from the Indians, that, west of that colony, was a great river, flowing neither to the north, nor to the east. The government, conjecturing that it must empty itself either into the gulf of Mexico or the south sea, committed the care of ascertaining the fact to Joliet, an inhabitant of Quebec, and to the Jesuit Marquette. These men proceeded from lake Michigan up the river of the Foxes, almost to its source, whence they travelled westward to the Ouisconsing, which they pursued to its confluence with the Mississippi. They sailed down this river to the 33d degree of north latitude, and returned by land, through the country of the Illinois, to Canada.

The mouth of the Mississippi was afterwards discovered by la Salle, an enterprising Norman, who, immediately after his return to Quebec, embarked for France, in the hope of inducing the cabinet of Versailles to patronise a scheme for proceeding by sea to the mouth of that river and settling a colony on its banks.

Having succeeded in this application, he sailed for the gulf of Mexico, with a few colonists; but, steering too far westward, he arrived at the bay of St. Bernard, about one hundred leagues from the mouth of the Mississippi. In consequence of a quarrel between him and Beaulieu, who commanded the fleet, the colonists were landed at this place. La Salle was, soon afterwards, assassinated by his own men; and his followers were murdered or dispersed by the Spaniards and the Indians.

Several other attempts were made by the French to settle the country; but, by some unaccountable fatality, instead of seating themselves on the fertile borders of the Mississippi, they continually landed about the barren sands of Biloxi, and the bay of Mobile. It was not until the year 1722, that the miserable remnant of those who had been carried thither at various times, was transplanted to New Orleans; nor until the year 1731, that the colony began to flourish.

[Sidenote: Scheme for connecting Louisiana with Canada.]

It had received the name of Louisiana, and soon extended itself by detached settlements, up the Mississippi and its waters, towards the great lakes.[144] As it advanced northward, the vast and interesting plan was formed of connecting it with Canada by a chain of forts.

[Footnote 144: Abbe Raynal.]

The fine climate and fertile soil of upper Louisiana enabling it to produce and maintain an immense population, rendered it an object which promised complete gratification to the views of France; while the extent given to it by that nation, excited the most serious alarm among the colonies of Britain.

The charters granted by the crown of England to the first adventurers, having extended from the Atlantic to the South Sea, their settlements had regularly advanced westward, in the belief that their title to the country in that direction, could not be controverted. The settlements of the French, stretching from north to south, necessarily interfered with those of the English. Their plan, if executed, would completely environ the English. Canada and Louisiana united, as has been aptly said, would form a bow, of which the English colonies would constitute the chord.

While Great Britain claimed, indefinitely, to the west, as appertaining to her possession of the sea coast; France insisted on confining her to the eastern side of the Apalachian, or Alleghany, mountains; and claimed the whole country drained by the Mississippi, in virtue of her right as the first discoverer of that river. The delightful region which forms the magnificent vale of the Mississippi was the object for which these two powerful nations contended; and it soon became apparent that the sword must decide the contest.

The white population of the English colonies was supposed to exceed one million of souls, while that of the French was estimated at only fifty-two thousand.[145]

[Footnote 145: The following estimate is taken from "The History of the British empire in North America," and is there said to be an authentic account from the militia rolls, poll taxes, bills of mortality, returns from governors, and other authorities.

The colonies of Inhabitants.

Halifax and Lunenberg in Nova Scotia 5,000 New Hampshire 30,000 Massachusetts Bay 220,000 Rhode Island and Providence 35,000 Connecticut 100,000 New York 100,000 The Jerseys 60,000 Pennsylvania (then including Delaware) 250,000 Maryland 85,000 Virginia 85,000 North Carolina 45,000 South Carolina 30,000 Georgia 6,000 ————- Total 1,051,000

The white inhabitants of the French colonies were thus estimated:

The colonies of Inhabitants.

Canada 45,000 Louisiana 7,000 ——— Total 52,000]

This disparity of numbers did not intimidate the governor of New France—a title comprehending both Canada and Louisiana; nor deter him from proceeding in the execution of his favourite plan. The French possessed advantages which, he persuaded himself, would counterbalance the superior numbers of the English. Their whole power was united under one governor, who could give it such a direction as his judgment should dictate. The genius of the people and of the government was military; and the inhabitants could readily be called into the field, when their service should be required. Great reliance too was placed on the Indians. These savages, with the exception of the Five Nations, were generally attached to France, and were well trained to war. To these advantages was added a perfect knowledge of the country about to become the theatre of action.

The British colonies, on the other hand, were divided into distinct governments, unaccustomed, except those of New England, to act in concert; were jealous of the power of the crown; and were spread over a large extent of territory, the soil of which, in all the middle colonies, was cultivated by men unused to arms.

The governors of Canada, who were generally military men, had, for several preceding years, judiciously selected and fortified such situations as would give them most influence over the Indians, and facilitate incursions into the northern provinces. The command of Lake Champlain had been acquired by the erection of a strong fort at Crown Point; and a connected chain of posts was maintained from Quebec, up the St. Lawrence, and along the great lakes. It was intended to unite these posts with the Mississippi by taking positions which would favour the design of circumscribing and annoying the frontier settlements of the English.


The execution of this plan was, probably, accelerated by an act of the British government. The year after the conclusion of the war, several individuals both in England and Virginia who were associated under the name of the Ohio company, obtained from the crown a grant of six hundred thousand acres of land, lying in the country claimed by both nations. The objects of this company being commercial as well as territorial, measures were taken to derive all the advantages expected from their grant, in both these respects, by establishing trading houses, and by employing persons to survey the country.

The governor of Canada, who obtained early information of this intrusion, as he deemed it, into the dominions of his most christian majesty, wrote to the governors of New York and Pennsylvania, informing them that the English traders had encroached on the French territory by trading with their Indians; and giving notice that, if they did not desist, he should be under the necessity of seizing them wherever they should be found. At the same time the jealousy of the Indians was excited by impressing them with fears that the English were about to deprive them of their country.

His threat having been disregarded, the governor of Canada put it in execution by seizing the British traders among the Twightwees, and carrying them prisoners to Presque-isle, on Lake Erie; where he was erecting a strong fort. About the same time, a communication was opened from Presque-isle, down French creek, and the Alleghany river, to the Ohio. This communication was kept up by detachments of troops, posted at proper distances from each other, in works capable of covering them from an attack made only with small arms.[146]

[Footnote 146: Minot Gazette.]


This territory having been granted as part of Virginia, to the Ohio company, who complained loudly of these aggressions, Dinwiddie, the lieutenant governor of that province, laid the subject before the assembly, and dispatched MAJOR WASHINGTON, the gentleman who afterwards led his countrymen to independence, with a letter to the commandant of the French forces on the Ohio; requiring him to withdraw from the dominions of his Britannic majesty.

This letter was delivered at a fort on the river Le Boeuf, the western branch of French creek, to Monsieur le Guarduer de St. Pierre, the commanding officer on the Ohio, who replied that he had taken possession of the country by the directions of his general, then in Canada, to whom he would transmit the letter of the lieutenant governor, and whose orders he should implicitly obey.


[Sidenote: Defeat at the Little Meadows.]

Preparations were immediately made, in Virginia, to assert the rights of the British crown; and a regiment was raised for the protection of the frontiers. Early in the spring, Major Washington had advanced with a small detachment from this regiment into the country to be contended for, where he fell in with and defeated a party of French and Indians who were approaching him in a manner indicating hostile designs. On being joined by the residue of his regiment, the command of which had devolved on him, he made great exertions to pre-occupy the post at the confluence of the Alleghany and Monongahela rivers; but, on his march thither, was met by a much superior body of French and Indians, who attacked him in a small stockade hastily erected at the Little Meadows, and compelled him, after a gallant defence to capitulate. The French had already taken possession of the ground to which Washington was proceeding, and, having driven off some militia, and workmen sent thither by the Ohio company, had erected thereon a strong fortification called fort Du Quesne.

The earl of Holderness, secretary of state, perceiving war to be inevitable, and aware of the advantages of union, and of securing the friendship of the Five Nations, had written to the governors of the respective colonies recommending these essential objects; and, at the same time, ordering them to repel force by force; and to take effectual measures to dislodge the French from their posts on the Ohio.

[Sidenote: Convention at Albany.]

At the suggestion of the commissioners for the plantations, a convention of delegates from the several colonies met at Albany, to hold a conference with the Five Nations on the subject of French encroachments, and to secure their friendship in the approaching war. Availing himself of this circumstance governor Shirley had recommended to the other governors to instruct their commissioners on the subject of union. Ample powers for this object were given to the delegates of Massachusetts; and those of Maryland were instructed to observe what others should propose respecting it. But no direct authority for concerting any system to call out and employ the strength of the colonies, was given by any other of the governments.

The congress, consisting of delegates from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, with the lieutenant governor and council of New York, after endeavouring to secure the friendship of the Five Nations by large presents, directed a committee, consisting of one member for each colony, to draw and report a plan of union.

[Sidenote: Plan of union.]

A plan[147] was reported which was approved on the 4th of July. Its essential principles were, that application be made for an act of parliament authorising the formation of a grand council to consist of delegates from the several legislatures, and a president general, to be appointed by the crown, and to be invested with a negative power. This council was to enact laws of general import; to apportion their quotas of men and money on the several colonies; to determine on the building of forts; to regulate the operations of armies; and to concert all measures for the common protection and safety.

[Footnote 147: See note No. II, at the end of the volume.]

The delegates of Connecticut alone dissented from this plan. That cautious people feared that the powers vested in the president general might prove dangerous to their welfare.

In England, the objections were of a different character. The colonies had, in several instances, manifested a temper less submissive than was required; and it was apprehended that this union might be the foundation of a concert of measures opposing the pretensions of supremacy maintained by the mother country.

This confederation, therefore, notwithstanding the pressure of external danger, did not prevail. It was not supported in America, because it was supposed to place too much power in the hands of the King; and it was rejected in England from the apprehension that the colonial assemblies would be rendered still more formidable by being accustomed to co-operate with each other.

In its stead, the minister proposed that the governors, with one or two members of the councils of the respective provinces, should assemble to consult, and resolve on measures necessary for the common defence, and should draw on the British treasury for the sums to be expended, which sums should be afterwards raised by a general tax, to be imposed by parliament on the colonies.

This proposition being entirely subversive of all the opinions which prevailed in America, was not pressed for the present; and no satisfactory plan for calling out the strength of the colonies being devised, it was determined to carry on the war with British troops, aided by such reinforcements as the several provincial assemblies would voluntarily afford.[148]

[Footnote 148: Minot.]


General Braddock arrives.... Convention of governors and plan of the campaign.... French expelled from Nova Scotia, and inhabitants transplanted.... Expedition against fort Du Quesne.... Battle of Monongahela.... Defeat and death of general Braddock.... Expedition against Crown Point.... Dieskau defeated.... Expedition against Niagara.... Frontiers distressed by the Indians.... Meeting of the governors at New York.... Plan for the campaign of 1756.... Lord Loudoun arrives.... Montcalm takes Oswego.... Lord Loudoun abandons offensive operations.... Small-pox breaks out in Albany.... Campaign of 1757 opened.... Admiral Holbourne arrives at Halifax.... Is joined by the earl of Loudoun.... Expedition against Louisbourg relinquished.... Lord Loudoun returns to New York.... Fort William Henry taken.... Controversy between lord Loudoun and the assembly of Massachusetts.


[Sidenote: General Braddock.]

The establishment of the post on the Ohio, and the action at the Little Meadows, being considered by the British government as the commencement of war in America, the resolution to send a few regiments to that country was immediately taken; and early in the year, general Braddock embarked at Cork, at the head of a respectable body of troops destined for the colonies.

An active offensive campaign being meditated, general Braddock convened the governors of the several provinces, on the 14th of April, in Virginia, who resolved to carry on three expeditions.

[Sidenote: Plan of the campaign.]

The first, and most important, was against fort Du Quesne. This was to be conducted by general Braddock in person at the head of the British troops, with such aids as could be drawn from Maryland and Virginia.

The second, against Niagara and fort Frontignac, was to be conducted by governor Shirley. The American regulars, consisting of Shirley and Pepperel's regiments, constituted the principal force destined for the reduction of these places.

The third was against Crown Point. This originated with Massachusetts; and was to be prosecuted entirely with colonial troops, to be raised by the provinces of New England, and by New York. It was to be commanded by colonel William Johnson of the latter province.[149]

[Footnote 149: Minot.]

While preparations were making for these several enterprises, an expedition, which had been previously concerted by the government of Massachusetts, was carried on against the French in Nova Scotia.

It has been already stated that the limits of this province remained unsettled. While the commissioners of the two crowns were supporting the claims of their respective sovereigns in fruitless memorials, the French occupied the country in contest, and established military posts for its defence. Against these posts this enterprise was to be conducted.

[Sidenote: French expelled from Nova Scotia.]

On the 20th of May, the troops of Massachusetts, together with Shirley's and Pepperel's regiments, amounting in the whole to about three thousand men, embarked, at Boston, under the command of lieutenant colonel Winslow. The fleet anchored about five miles from fort Lawrence, where a reinforcement was received of three hundred British troops and a small train of artillery. The whole army, commanded by lieutenant colonel Monckton, immediately after landing, marched against Beau Sejour, the principal post held by the French in that country. At the river Mussaquack, which the French considered as the western boundary of Nova Scotia, some slight works had been thrown up with the intention of disputing its passage. After a short conflict, the river was passed with the loss of only one man; and, in five days, Beau Sejour capitulated. Other small places fell in succession, and, in the course of the month of June, with the loss of only three men killed, the English acquired complete possession of the whole province of Nova Scotia.

The recovery of this province was followed by one of those distressing measures which involve individuals in indiscriminate ruin, and aggravate the calamities of war.

Nova Scotia having been originally settled by France, its inhabitants were, chiefly, of that nation. In the treaty of Utrecht, it was stipulated for the colonists that they should be permitted to hold their lands on condition of taking the oaths of allegiance to their new sovereign. With this condition they refused to comply, unless permitted to qualify it with a proviso that they should not be required to bear arms in defence of the province. Though this qualification, to which the commanding officer of the British forces acceded, was afterwards disallowed by the crown, yet the French inhabitants continued to consider themselves as neutrals. Their devotion to France, however, would not permit them to conform their conduct to the character they had assumed. In all the contests for the possession of their country, they were influenced by their wishes rather than their duty; and three hundred of them were captured with the garrison of Beau Sejour.

[Sidenote: The inhabitants transported.]

Their continuance in the country, during the obstinate conflict which was commencing, would, it was feared, endanger the colony; and to expel them from it, leaving them at liberty to choose their place of residence, would be to reenforce the French in Canada. A council was held by the executive of Nova Scotia aided by the admirals Boscawen and Morty, for the purpose of deciding on the destiny of these unfortunate people; and the severe policy was adopted of removing them from their homes, and dispersing them through the other British colonies. This harsh measure was immediately put in execution; and the miserable inhabitants of Nova Scotia were, in one instant, reduced from ease and contentment to a state of beggary. Their lands, and moveables, with the exception of their money and household furniture, were declared to be forfeited to the crown; and, to prevent their return, the country was laid waste, and their houses reduced to ashes.[150]

[Footnote 150: Minot.]

As soon as the convention of governors had separated, general Braddock proceeded from Alexandria to a fort at Wills' creek, afterwards called fort Cumberland, at that time the most western post in Virginia or Maryland; from which place the army destined against fort Du Quesne was to commence its march. The difficulties of obtaining wagons, and other necessary supplies for the expedition, and delays occasioned by opening a road through an excessively rough country, excited apprehensions that time would be afforded the enemy to collect in such force at fort Du Quesne, as to put the success of the enterprise into some hazard.

Under the influence of this consideration, it was determined to select twelve hundred men, who should be led by the general in person to the point of destination. The residue of the army, under the command of colonel Dunbar, was to follow, with the baggage, by slow and easy marches.

This disposition being made, Braddock pressed forward to his object, in the confidence that he could find no enemy capable of opposing him; and reached the Monongahela on the eighth of July.

As the army approached fort Du Quesne, the general was cautioned of the danger to which the character of his enemy, and the face of the country, exposed him; and was advised to advance the provincial companies in his front, for the purpose of scouring the woods, and discovering ambuscades. But he held both his enemy and the provincials in too much contempt, to follow this salutary counsel. Three hundred British troops comprehending the grenadiers and light infantry, commanded by colonel Gage, composed his van; and he followed, at some distance, with the artillery, and the main body of the army, divided into small columns.

[Sidenote: Battle of Monongahela.]

Within seven miles of fort Du Quesne, immediately after crossing the Monongahela the second time, in an open wood, thick set with high grass, as he was pressing forward without fear of danger, his front received an unexpected fire from an invisible enemy. The van was thrown into some confusion; but, the general having ordered up the main body, and the commanding officer of the enemy having fallen, the attack was suspended, and the assailants were supposed to be dispersed. This delusion was soon dissipated. The attack was renewed with increased fury; the van fell back on the main body; and the whole army was thrown into utter confusion.

The general possessed personal courage in an eminent degree; but was without experience in that species of war, in which he was engaged; and seems not to have been endowed with that rare fertility of genius which adapts itself to the existing state of things, and invents expedients fitted to the emergency. In the impending crisis, he was peculiarly unfortunate in his choice of measures. Neither advancing nor retreating, he exerted his utmost powers to form his broken troops, under an incessant and galling fire, on the very ground where they had been attacked. In his fruitless efforts to restore order, every officer on horseback except Mr. Washington, one of his aides-de-camp, was killed or wounded. At length, after losing three horses, the general himself received a mortal wound; upon which his regulars fled in terror and confusion. Fortunately, the Indian enemy was arrested by the plunder found on the field, and the pursuit was soon given over. The provincials exhibited an unexpected degree of courage, and were among the last to leave the field.

[Sidenote: Death of Braddock.]

The defeated troops fled precipitately to the camp of Dunbar, where Braddock expired of his wounds. Their panic was communicated to the residue of the army. As if affairs had become desperate, all the stores, except those necessary for immediate use, were destroyed; and the British troops were marched to Philadelphia, where they went into quarters. The western parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, were left exposed to the incursions of the savages; the frontier settlements were generally broken up; and the inhabitants were driven into the interior. So excessive was the alarm, that even the people of the interior entertained apprehensions for their safety, and many supposed that the seaboard itself was insecure.

The two northern expeditions, though not so disastrous as that against fort Du Quesne, were neither of them successful. That against Crown Point was so retarded by those causes of delay to which military operations conducted by distinct governments are always exposed, that the army was not ready to move until the last of August. At length general Johnson reached the south end of lake George, on his way to Ticonderoga, of which he designed to take possession.

An armament fitted out in the port of Brest for Canada, had eluded a British squadron which was stationed off the banks of Newfoundland to intercept it; and, with the loss of two ships of war, had entered the St. Lawrence. After arriving at Quebec the baron Dieskau, who commanded the French forces, resolved, without loss of time, to proceed against the English. At the head of about twelve hundred regulars, and about six hundred Canadians and Indians, he marched against Oswego. On hearing of this movement, general Johnson applied for reinforcements; and eight hundred men were ordered by Massachusetts to his assistance. An additional body of two thousand men was directed to be raised for the same object, and the neighbouring colonies also determined to furnish reinforcements.

Dieskau did not wait for their arrival. Perceiving that Johnson was approaching lake George, and being informed that the provincials were without artillery, he determined to postpone his designs upon Oswego, and to attack them in their camp.

[Sidenote: Dieskau defeated.]

On being informed that Dieskau was approaching, Johnson detached colonel Williams, with about one thousand men, to reconnoitre and skirmish with him. This officer met the French about four miles from the American camp, and immediately engaged them. He fell early in the action; and his party was soon overpowered and put to flight. A second detachment, sent in aid of the first, experienced the same fate; and both were closely pursued to the main body, who were posted behind a breast-work of fallen trees. At this critical moment, within about one hundred and fifty yards of this work, the French halted for a short time. This interval having given the Americans an opportunity to recover from the first alarm, they determined on a resolute defence.

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