RECORDS AND DOCUMENTS, &c.
THE first Settlement, within the Territory, now known by the name of Vermont, was made at Fort Dummer, (in the present County of Windham,) in the year 1724, under a grant from the Provincial Government of Massachusetts. Previous to this grant, a controversy had existed between the Provinces of Massachusetts and New-Hampshire, relative to their line of Jurisdiction. This controversy continued until the year 1740, when the King in Council decided; "that the northern boundary of the Province of Massachusetts be a similar curve line, pursuing the course of Merrimack river, at three miles distance, on the north side thereof, beginning at the Atlantic Ocean, and ending at a point due north of Patucket falls; and a straight line drawn from thence, due west, till it meets with his Majesty's other Governments."
This determination established the line which now separates the jurisdiction of Massachusetts and Vermont, and brought within the jurisdiction of N. Hampshire, the Settlements which had been made at Fort Dummer.
In the year 1741, Benning Wentworth was commissioned as Governor, of N. Hampshire. By the Settlement of the boundary between N. Hampshire and Massachusetts, as well as by other Acts of the British Government, it was understood that the Jurisdiction of the former Province was established as far west as Massachusetts had claimed and exercised; that is, to a line twenty miles east of Hudson's river. Accordingly, on the 3d of January 1749, the Governor of N. Hampshire, "made a grant of a Township, six miles square, situated twenty miles east of Hudson's river; which, in allusion to his own name, was called Bennington."*
Numerous applications being made for grants of lands in the vicinity of the Province of N. York, Governor Wentworth, with a view of ascertaining and settling the western line of his Jurisdiction, opened the following correspondence with the Governor of that Province.
* Williams history.
Letter from the Governor of New-Hampshire to the Governor' of New-York.
PORTSMOUTH, Nov. 17, 1749.
I have it in command from his Majesty, to make grants of the unimproved lands within my government, to such of the inhabitants and others as shall apply for grants for the same, as will oblige themselves to settle and improve, agreeable to his Majesty's instructions.
The war hitherto has prevented me from making so great a progress as I hoped for, on my first appointment; but as there is a prospect of a lasting peace with the Indians, in which your Excellency has had a great share, people are daily applying for grants of land in all quarters of this government, and particularly some for townships to be laid out in the western part thereof, which will fall in the neighbourhood of your government. I think it my duty to apprise you thereof, and to transmit to your Excellency the description of New-Hampshire, as the king has determined it in the words of my commission, which, after you have considered, I shall be glad you will be pleased to give me your sentiments in what manner it will affect the grants made by you or preceding governors; it being my intention to avoid, as much as I can, consistent with his Majesty's instructions, interfering with your government.
In consequence of his Majesty's determination of the boundaries between New Hampshire and Massachusetts, a surveyor and proper chainmen were appointed to run the western line from three miles north of Patucket Falls; and the surveyor, upon oath, has declared, that it strikes Hudson's River, about eighty poles north of where Mohawk's River comes into Hudson's River, which I presume is north of the City of Albany; for which reason it will be necessary for me to be informed, how far north of Albany the government of New-York extends by his Majesty commission to your Excellency, and how many miles to the eastward of Hudson's River, to the northward of the Massachusetts line, that I may govern myself accordingly. And if, in the execution of the king's commands with respect to the lands, I can oblige any of your Excellency's friends, I am always at your service. — I am, with the greatest respect, Sir, your Excellency's most obedient humble servant,
Minutes of the Council of New-York,
COUNCIL-CHAMBER, CITY OF NEW-YORK, APRIL 3D, 1750.
His Excellency communicated to the board a letter from the Hon. Benning Wentworth, Esq. governor of New-Hampshire, dated the 17th November last, acquainting his Excellency, that he has it in command from his Majesty, to make grants of the unimproved lands in New-Hampshire government, and therefore desiring information, how far north of Albany this province extends, and how many miles to the eastward of Hudson's River, to the northward of the Massachusetts line, that he may govern himself accordingly. Also an extract of his Majesty's letters
patent to governor Wentworth, respecting the boundaries of New-Hampshire. And his Excellency having required the advice of the board thereupon, the council humbly advised his Excellency to acquaint governor Wentworth, in answer to his said letter, that this province is bounded eastward by Connecticut River; the letters-patent from King Charles II. to the Duke of York, expressly granting, 'all the lands from the west side of Connecticut River to the east side of Delaware Bay.'
N. B. The above resolve was communicated to governor Wentworth, in a letter, dated April 9th, 1750, by G. Clinton, governor of New-York.
Letter from Governor Wentworth.
PORTSMOUTH, APRIL 25, 1750.
I have the honour of your Excellency's letter of the 9th instant before me, in which you are pleased to give me the opinion of his Majesty's council of your government, that Connecticut River is the eastern boundary of New-York government, which would have been entirely satisfactory to me on the subject of my letter, had not the two charter-governments of Connecticut and the Massachusetts-Bay extended their bounds many miles to the westward of said river; and it being the opinion of his Majesty's council of this government, whose advice I am to take on these occasions, that New-Hampshire had an equal right to claim the same extent of western boundaries with those charter-governments, I had, in consequence of their advice, before your letter came to my hands, granted one township due north of the Massachusetts line, of the contents of six miles square, and by measurement twenty-four miles east of the City of Albany; presuming that this government was bounded by the same north and south line with Connecticut and the Massachusetts-Bay, before it met with his Majesty's other governments. Although I am prohibited by his Majesty's commission to interfere with his other governments, yet it is presumed that I should strictly adhere to the limits prescribed therein; and I assure you, that I am very far from desiring to make the least encroachment, or set on foot any dispute on these points. It will therefore give me great satisfaction, if, at your leisure, you can inform me, by what authority Connecticut and the Massachusetts governments claimed so far to the westward as they have settled; and in the mean time I shall desist from making any further grants on the western frontier of my government, that may have the least probability of interfering with your government. — I am, with great respect, Sir, your Excellency's most obedient humble servant,
Letter from Governor Clinton.
JUNE, 6TH, 1750..
I have received your letter of the 25th April last, in answer to mine of the 9th of the same month, respecting the eastern boundary of this pro‑
vince, wherein you desire to be informed by what authority Connecticut and the Massachusetts governments claim so far to the westward as they have settled.
As to Connecticut, their claim is founded upon an agreement with this government, in or about the year 1684, afterwards confirmed by King William, in consequence of which the lines between the two governments were run, and the boundaries marked in the year 1725, as appears by the commissioners and surveyors proceedings, of record here. But it is presumed the Massachusetts government, at first, possessed themselves of those lands by intrusion, and through the negligence of this government have hitherto continued their possession, the lands not being private property.
From the information I have, there is reason to apprehend that the lands within the township you have lately granted, or part of them, have been granted here: And as my answer to your letter might probably have furnished you with objections against any grant which might interfere with this province, I am surprised you did not wait till it came to hand, before you proceeded therein. If it is still in your power to recal the grant, your doing so will be but a piece of justice to this government; otherwise I shall think myself obliged to send a representation of the matter to be laid before his Majesty — I am, &c.
Letter, from Governor Wentworth.
PORTSMOUTH, JUNE 22D. 1750.
As soon as your letter of the 6th inst. came to my hands, I thought it proper to have the sense of his Majesty's council thereon, who were unanimously of the opinion, not to commence a dispute with your Excellency's government respecting the extent of the western boundary to New-Hampshire, until his Majesty's pleasure should be further known; accordingly the council have advised, that I shall, on the part of New-Hampshire, make a representation of the matter to his Majesty, relying that your Excellency will do the same on the part of New-York; and that whatever shall be determined thereon, this government will esteem it their duty to acquiesce in, without any farther dispute, which I am hoping will be satisfactory on that point.
When I first wrote you on this subject, I thought I had given sufficient time to receive an answer to my letter, before I had fixed the day for passing the grant referred to in your letter; and as the persons concerned therein lived at a great distance, it was inconvenient for them to be delayed beyond the appointed time: I was not apprehensive any difficulty could arise by confining myself to the western boundaries of the two charter-governments; accordingly I passed the patent about ten days before your favour of the 9th of April, 1750, came to hand. There is no possibility of vacating the grant, as you desire; but if it falls by his Majesty's determination in the government of New-York, it will be void of course. I shall be glad the method I have proposed may be agreeable to your province; and if submitting the affair to his Majesty meets with
your approbation, I shall, upon receiving an answer, lose no time in transmitting what concerns this province to the proper offices. — I am, with the greatest respect, Sir, your Excellency's most obedient humble servants,
Letter from Governor Clinton.
NEW-YORK, JULY 25TH, 1750.
I have taken the sense of his Majesty's council on your Excellency's letter of the 22d ult. respecting the extent of the western boundary of your government, who think it highly expedient I should lay before his Majesty a representation of the matter on the part of this province; and as you propose to do the like on the part of New-Hampshire, they are of opinion it will be for the mutual advantage of both governments, if we exchange copies of each others representation on this head. If you approve of this, I will send you a copy of mine accordingly. — I am, &c.
Notwithstanding the interfering claim of the province of New-York, governor Wentworth proceeded to make further grants, west of Connecticut River; as will appear by the following list of grants made up to the year 1764, inclusive, viz:*
Names of Townships. Date of the Grants.
Bennington, -------------------------------------------------- Jan. 3, 1749
Halifax, ----------------------------------------------------- May 11, 1750
Marlborough, now New-Marlborough, ----------------- April 19, 1751
†April 17, 1764
Draper, formerly Wilmington, ---------------------------- April 29, 1751
†June 17, 1763
Westminster, ------------------------------------------------ Nov. 9, 1752
Rockingham, ----------------------------------------------- Dec. 28, 1752
Woodford, --------------------------------------------------- Mar. 6, 1753
New Stampford, formerly Stampford, ------------------- Mar. 6, 1753
Townsend, ------------------------------------------------- June 20, 1753
Hinsdale, ---------------------------------------------------- Sept. 5, 1753
Brattleborough, -------------------------------------------- Dec. 26, 1753
Fulham, ----------------------------------------------------- Dec. 26, 1753
Putney, ----------------------------------------------------- Dec. 26, 1753
Hampstead, alias Chester, -------------------------------- Feb. 22, 1754
†Nov. 3, 1761
Guilford, ----------------------------------------------------- April 2, 1764
Thomlinson, ------------------------------------------------- April 6, 1754
† Sept. 1, 1763
Pownall, ------------------------------------------------------ Jan. 8, 1760
Hartford, ------------------------------------------------------ July 4, 1761
* This list is here given, as found in the Rural Magazine for 1795, published by Dr. Williams
Names of Townships. Date of the Grant
Norwich, ------------------------------------------------------ July 4, 1761
Saltash, ------------------------------------------------------- July 6, 1761
Reading, ------------------------------------------------------ July 6, 1761
Windsor, ------------------------------------------------------ July 6, 1761
Killington, ----------------------------------------------------- July 7, 1761
Pomfret, ------------------------------------------------------ July 8, 1761
Hertford, ---------------------------------------------------- July 10, 1761
Woodstock, ------------------------------------------------- July 10, 1761
Bridgewater, ------------------------------------------------ July 10, 1761
Bernard, ----------------------------------------------------- July 17, 1761
Stockbridge, ------------------------------------------------- July 21, 1761
Arlington, ---------------------------------------------------- July 28, 1761
Sunderland, ------------------------------------------------- July 29, 1761
Manchester, ----------------------------------------------- Aug. 11, 1761
Sandgate, -------------------------------------------------- Aug. 11, 1761
Thetford, --------------------------------------------------- Aug. 12, 1761
Strafford, --------------------------------------------------- Aug. 12, 1761
Sharon, ----------------------------------------------------- Aug. 17, 1761
Springfield, ------------------------------------------------- Aug. 20, 1761
Weathersfield, --------------------------------------------- Aug. 20, 1761
Dorset, ----------------------------------------------------- Aug. 20, 1761
Rupert, ----------------------------------------------------- Aug. 20, 1761
Shaftsbury, ------------------------------------------------- Aug. 20, 1761
Glassenburg, ----------------------------------------------- Aug. 20, 1761
Pawlet, ----------------------------------------------------- Aug. 26, 1761
Danby, ----------------------------------------------------- Aug. 27, 1761
Harwicke, -------------------------------------------------- Aug. 28, 1761
Tunbridge, --------------------------------------------------- Sept. 3, 1761
Shrewsbury, ------------------------------------------------ Sept. 4, 1761
Clarendon, -------------------------------------------------- Sept. 5, 1761
Rutland, ----------------------------------------------------- Sept. 7, 1761
Fairley, ------------------------------------------------------ Sept. 9, 1761
Tinmouth, -------------------------------------------------- Sept. 15, 1761
Winhall, ---------------------------------------------------- Sept. 15, 1761
Wells, ------------------------------------------------------ Sept. 15, 1761
Ludlow, ---------------------------------------------------- Sept. 16, 1761
Poultney. --------------------------------------------------- Sept. 21, 1761
Castleton, -------------------------------------------------- Sept. 22, 1761
Shoreham, --------------------------------------------------- Oct. 8, 1761
Bredport, ----------------------------------------------------- Oct. 9, 1761
Guildhall, ---------------------------------------------------- Oct. 10, 1761
Granby, ----------------------------------------------------- Oct. 10, 1761
Cavendish, -------------------------------------------------- Oct. 12, 1761
Maidstone, -------------------------------------------------- Oct. 12, 176/
Ferdinand, -------------------------------------------------- Oct. 13, 1761
Brunswick, ------------------------------------------------- Oct. 13, 1761
Winlock, ---------------------------------------------------- Oct. 13, 1761
Names of Townships. Date of the Grants
Bromley, ---------------------------------------------------- Oct. 13, 1761
Andover, ---------------------------------------------------- Oct. 13, 1761
Addison, ---------------------------------------------------- Oct. 14, 1761
Cornwall, ---------------------------------------------------- Oct. 14, 176/
Leicester, --------------------------------------------------- Oct. 20, 1761
Middleborough, --------------------------------------------- Nov. 2, 1761
New-Haven, ------------------------------------------------ Nov. 2, 1761
Salisbury, ---------------------------------------------------- Nov. 3, 1761
Weybridge, -------------------------------------------------- Nov. 3, 1761
Fane, now New-Fane, ------------------------------------- Nov. 3, 1761
Wallingford, ------------------------------------------------ Nov. 27, 1761
Hindsborough, --------------------------------------------- June 21, 1762
Ferisbourg, ------------------------------------------------- June 24, 1762
Monckton, -------------------------------------------------- June 24, 1762
Charlotte, --------------------------------------------------- June 24, 1762
Pocock, ----------------------------------------------------- June 26, 1762
Minehead, -------------------------------------------------- June 29, 1762
Lewis, ------------------------------------------------------ June 29, 1762
Lemington, ------------------------------------------------- June 29, 1762
Averill, ------------------------------------------------------ June 29, 1762
Neshobe,.--------------------------------------------------- Oct. 20, 1762
Newbury, --------------------------------------------------- May 18, 1763
Colchester, -------------------------------------------------- June 7, 1763
* -------------------------------------------------------------- June 7, 1763
Bolton, ------------------------------------------------------- June 7, 1763
Waterbury, -------------------------------------------------- June 7, 1763
Burlington, --------------------------------------------------- June 7, 1763
Williston, ----------------------------------------------------- June 7, 1763
New Huntington, -------------------------------------------- June 7, 1763
Duxbury, ----------------------------------------------------- June 7, 1763
Moreton, ----------------------------------------------------- June 7, 1763
Berlin, -------------------------------------------------------- June 7, 1763
Jericho, ------------------------------------------------------- June 8, 1763
Middlesex, --------------------------------------------------- June 8, 1763
Milton, -------------------------------------------------------- June 8, 1763
Westford, ---------------------------------------------------- June 8, 1763
Underhill, ---------------------------------------------------- June 8, 1763
Mansfield, --------------------------------------------------- June 8, 1763
Stow, --------------------------------------------------------- June 8, 1763
Worster, ----------------------------------------------------- June 8, 1763
Topsham, --------------------------------------------------- June 17, 1763
Lunenburgh, -------------------------------------------------- July 5, 1763
Sudbury, ----------------------------------------------------- Aug. 6, 1763
Whiting, ------------------------------------------------------ Aug. 6, 1763
Orwell, ------------------------------------------------------- Aug. 8, 1763
St. Albans, ------------------------------------------------- Aug. 17, 1763
* Obliterated in copy [Ed likely Essex ]
Names of Townships. Date of the Grants.
Swanton, --------------------------------------------------- Aug. 17, 1763
Highgate, --------------------------------------------------- Aug. 17, 1763
Georgia, ---------------------------------------------------- Aug. 17, 1763
Fairfax, ----------------------------------------------------- Aug. 18, 1763
Fairfield, ---------------------------------------------------- Aug. 18, 1763
Smithfield, -------------------------------------------------- Aug. 18, 1763
Hungerford, ------------------------------------------------ Aug. 18, 1763
St. George, ------------------------------------------------- Aug. 18, 1763
Shelburne, -------------------------------------------------- Aug. 18, 1763
Ryegate, ----------------------------------------------------- Sept. 8, 1763
Barnet, ----------------------------------------------------- Sept. 16, 1763
Peacham, -------------------------------------------------- Dec. 31, 1763
Corinth, ------------------------------------------------------- Feb. 4, 1764
Dunbar, ----------------------------------------------------- June 15, 1764
Hubberton, ------------------------------------------------- June 15, 1764
Pittsford, ---------------------------------------------------- June 15 1764
Panton, ------------------------------------------------------ Nov. 3, 1764
Lintfield, ----------------------------------------------------- Aug. 4, 1763
Grants to the following officers, agreeable to his Majesty's proclamation of the 7th October, 1763.
Capt. Rob. Rogers, 3000 Acres. July 4, 1764
Lieut. Jas. Tate, 2000 July 4, 1764
Lieut. P. Brown, 2000 July 4, 1764
Lieut. Step. Holland, 2000 July 4, 1764
Lieut. And. Philips, 2000 Aug. 11, 1764
Capt. Nath. Whiting, 3000
To arrest the proceedings of New-Hampshire, Mr. Colden, Lieutenant Governor of New-York, on the 28th of December, 1763, issued a Proclamation, "commanding the Sheriff of the County of Albany to make a return of the names of all persons who had taken possession of lands under New-Hampshire grants, and claiming jurisdiction as far east as Connecticut River,"* by virtue of a grant to the Duke of York, of which the following is an extract.
"CHARLES the Second, by the Grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. To all to whom these presents shall come, Greeting: Know ye, that we, for divers good causes and considerations, have, of our especial grace, certain knowledge and mere motion, given and granted, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, do give and grant unto our dearest brother, James, Duke of York, his heirs and assigns, all that part of the main land of New-England, beginning at a certain place, called or known by the name of St. Croix, next adjoining to New-Scotland, in America; and from thence extending along the sea coast, unto a certain place called
* Williams, history.
Petuaguine or Pemaquid, and so up the river thereof to the furtherest head of the same, as it tendeth northwards; and extending from the river of Kinebeque, and so upwards, by the shortest course of the river Canada, northwards: And all that island or islands, commonly called by the several name or names of Matowacks or Long-Island, situate, and being towards the west of Cape Cod, and the Narrow Highgansetts, abutting upon the main land, between the two rivers there, called or known by the several names of Connecticut and Hudson's River, together also with the said river called Hudson's, and all the lands from the west side of Connecticut river, to the east side of Delaware Bay: and also, all those several islands, called or known by the names of Martin's Vineyard, and Nantuckes, otherways Nantucket; together with all, &c. Dated the twenty ninth day of June, in the twenty sixth year of the reign of King CHARLES the Second."
To inspire confidence in the validity of the New-Hampshire grants, and encourage settlements under them, the Governor of New-Hampshire issued the following Proclamation:
BY HIS EXCELLENCY,
BENNING WENTWORTH, ESQ.
Captain-General, Governor and Commander in Chief of His Majesty's Province of New-Hampshire, in New-England, &c.
WHEREAS his Honor, CADWALLADER COLDEN, Esq. Lieutenant Governor and Commander in Chief of his Majesty's Province of New-York, hath lately issued a Proclamation, of a very extraordinary nature, setting forth, that King CHARLES the Second, on the 12th day of March, 1663-4, and the 29th June, 1674, did, by his several letters patent, of those dates, grant, in Fee, to his brother, the Duke of York, among other things, all the land from the west side of Connecticut River to the east side of Delaware Bay; and therein also set forth, and describes the bounds of New-Hampsire; in which description there is a very material mistake; besides, there is omitted the fact, on which the description of New-Hampshire depended, viz. His Majesty's determination of the north and western boundaries of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, in 1739. And nothing can be more evident, than that New-Hampshire may legally extend her western boundary as far as the Massachusetts claim reaches; and she claims no more; but New-York pretend to claim even to the banks of Connecticut River, although she never laid out and settled one town in that part of his Majesty's lands, since she existed as a government.
When New-York government extends her eastern boundary, to the, banks of Connecticut River, between New-York and the Colony of Connecticut; and to the banks of said river, between New-York and the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay, it would have been full early for New-York to declare that the government of New-Hampshire was fully apprised of the right of' New-York, under the before recited letters patent to the Duke of York. In virtue of the final determination of the
boundary lines settled by his late Majesty, between this government and the Massachusetts Bay, all the lands capable of settlements, have been erected into townships, agreeable to his Majesty's commands, and a considerable revenue is daily arising to the crown, unless interrupted and impaired by his Honor's Proclamation, which New-Hampshire will not be answerable for.
At present, the boundaries of New-York, to the northward, are unknown; and as soon as it shall be his Majesty's pleasure to determine them, New-Hampshire will pay ready and cheerful obedience thereunto, not doubting but that all, grants made by New-Hampshire, that are fulfilled by the grantees, will be confirmed to them, if it should be his Majesty's pleasure to alter the jurisdiction. For political reasons, the claims to jurisdiction by New-York, might have been deferred, as well as the strict injunction on the civil power, to exercise jurisdiction in their respective functions, as far as the eastern banks of Connecticut River.
The said Proclamation, carrying an air of government in it, may possibly affect and retard the settlement of his Majesty's lands, granted by this government. For preventing an injury to the crown, of this kind, and to remove all doubts that may arise to persons holding the king grants, they may be assured, that the patent to the Duke of York is obsolete, and cannot convey any certain boundary to New-York, that can be claimed as a boundary, as plainly appears by the several boundary lines of the Jersies on the west, and the Colony of Connecticut on the east, which are set forth in the Proclamation, as part, only, of the land included in the said patent to the Duke of York.
To the end therefore, that the grantees now settled and settling on those lands, under his late and present Majesty's charters, may not be intimidated, or any way hindered or obstructed in the improvement of the lands so granted, as well as to ascertain the right, and maintain the jurisdiction of his Majesty's government of New-Hampshire, as far westward as to include the grants made:
I have thought fit, by and with the advice of his Majesty's council, to issue this Proclamation, hereby encouraging the several grantees, claiming under this government, to be industrious in clearing and cultivating their lands, agreeable to their respective grants.
And I do hereby require and command all civil officers, within this Province, of what quality soever, as well those that are not, as those that are inhabitants on the said lands, to continue and be diligent in exercising jurisdiction in their respective offices, as far westward as grants of land have been made by, this government; and to deal with any person or persons, that may presume to interrupt the inhabitants or settlers on said lands, as to law and justice do appertain; the pretended right of jurisdiction mentioned in the aforesaid Proclamation, notwithstanding.
Given at the Council-Chamber, in Portsmouth, the 13th day of March,
1764, and in the fourth year of his Majesty's Reign.
By his Excellency's command, with advice of Council,
T. ATKINSON, jun. Secretatary.
GOD SAVE THE KING.
Hitherto, New-York had founded her claim to the lands in question; on the grant to the Duke of York. Not choosing, however, longer to rely on so precarious a tenure, application was made to the crown for a, confirmation of the claim. This application was supported by a petition, purporting to be signed by a great number of the settlers on the New-Hampshire grants, representing that it would be for their advantage to be annexed to the Colony of New-York, and praying that the western bank of Connecticut river might be established as the eastern boundary of that Province. Accordingly, on the 20th of July, 1764, the following order was made by the King in Council, viz:
At the Court at St. James's, the 20th day of July, 1764.
THE KING'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY,
Lord Howard, Earl of Hillsborough,
Earl of Sandwich, Wm. Vice Chamberlain,
Earl of Halifax, Gilbert Elliot, Esq.
Earl of Powis, James Oswald, Esq.
Earl of Harcourt,
WHEREAS there was, this day, read at the board, a report made by the Right Honorable the Lords of the Committee of Council for plantation affairs, dated the 17th of this instant, upon considering a representation from the Lords Commissioners for trade and plantations, relative to the disputes that have, some years, subsisted between the Provinces of New Hampshire and New-York, concerning the boundary line between those Provinces:— His Majesty, taking the same into consideration, was pleased, with the advice of his privy council, to approve of what is therein proposed, and doth accordingly, hereby order and declare the western banks of the river Connecticut, from where it enters the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, as far north as the forty fifth degree of northern latitude, to be the boundary line between the said two Provinces of New-Hampshire and New York. Wherefore, the respective Governors and Commanders in Chief of his Majesty's said Provinces of New-Hampsire and New York, for the time being, and all others whom it may concern, are to take notice of his Majesty's pleasure, hereby signified, and govern themselves accordingly.
Surprised as were the people on the New Hampshire grants, at this order, it produced in them no serious alarm. They regarded it as merely extending the jurisdiction of New-York, in future, over their territory. To this jurisdiction they were willing to submit. They had no apprehension that it could, in any way, affect the title to their lands. Having purchased, and paid for those lands, under grants from the crown, they did not understand by what perversion of justice, they could be compelled
by the same authority, to re-purchase, or abandon them. The Governor of New-Hampshire, indeed, remonstrated against this change of jurisdiction, but was, at length induced to abandon the contest; and issued a Proclamation, "recommending to the proprietors and settlers due obedience to the authority and laws of the Colony of New-York."*
The government of New-York gave a construction to his Majesty's order, widely different from that of the people on the New-Hampshire grants. It was contended that the order had a retrospective operation, and decided, not only what should, thereafter, be, but what had always been, the eastern boundary of New-York; and that, consequently, the grants made by the Governor of New Hampshire were void.
In this state of things, the Government of New-York proceeded to extend its jurisdiction over the New-Hampshire grants; "dividing the territory into four Counties, and establishing Courts of Justice in each."† The settlers were called on to surrender their charters, and re-purchase their lands under grants from New York. Most of them peremptorily refused to comply with this order. New grants of their lands were, therefore, made to others; in whose names, actions of ejectment were commenced, and judgments obtained, in the Courts at Albany.
The attempts to execute these judgments, by dispossessing the settlers, met with a determined and obstinate resistance. For the purpose of rendering this resistance more effectual, various associations were formed and at length, a convention of Representatives front the several towns on the west side of the mountains was called. This convention, after mature deliberation, appointed Samuel Robinson, of Bennington, an Agent, to represent to the Court of Great Britain the grievances of the settlers, and obtain, if practicable, a confirmation of the New-Hampshire grants.‡ Mr. Robinson proceeded to London, and laid the subject before his Majesty. The following document will show the result of his mission.
At a Court at St. James's, the 24th day of July, 1767.
THE KING'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY.
Archbishop of Canterbury, Earl of Shelburne,
Lord Chancellor, Viscount Falmouth,
Duke of Queensbury, Viscount Barrington,
Duke of Ancester, Viscount Clarke,
Lord Chamberlain, Bishop of London,
Earl of Litchfield, Mr. Secretary Conway,
Earl of Bristol, Hans Stanley, Esq.
Allen's history of Vt. — † Williams history. — ‡ Allen's history.
His Majesty taking the said report [a report of the board of trade] into consideration, was pleased, with the advice of his private council, to approve thereof, and doth hereby strictly charge, require and command, that the Governor or Commander in Chief of his Majesty's Province of New-York, for the time being, do not, upon pain of his Majesty's highest displeasure, presume to make any grant whatsoever, of any part of the lands described in the said report, until his Majesty's further pleasure shall be known, concerning the same.
A True Copy,
Attest, GEO. BANYAR, DEP. SE'CRY.
Notwithstanding this explicit prohibition, the Governor of New-York continued to make grants; and writs of ejectment continued to be issued, returnable to the Supreme Court at Albany. On trial of these actions, it was decided that duly authenticated copies of the royal orders to the Governor of New Hampshire, and of the grants made in pursuance of those orders, should not be read in evidence.* Thus, compelled to abandon a legal defence, the settlers were driven to the last resort. A convention of the people assembled at Bennington, and "Resolved, to support their rights and property under the New-Hampshire grants, against the usurpation and unjust claims of the Governor and Council of New-York, by force, as law and justice were denied them.”||
A spirited and determined resistance to the civil officers from New-York, followed the adoption of this resolution. Several of the inhabitants were indicted as rioters. The officers sent to apprehend them, "were seized by the people, and severely chastised with twigs of the wilderness." "A military association was formed, of which Ethan Allen was appointed Colonel Commandant, and Seth Warner, Remember Baker, Robert Cockran, Gideon Warner and some others were appointed Captains. Committees of safety were, likewise, appointed in several towns west of the Green Mountains." ||
On the other hand, the Sheriff of Albany County was directed to raise the posse commitatus to assist in the execution of his office; and a "Proclamation was issued by the Governor of New-York, offering a reward of one hundred and fifty pounds for the apprehension of Ethan Allen, and fifty pounds each for Warner and five others. Allen and the other proscribed persons, in their turn, issued a Proclamation, offering five pounds for the apprehending, and delivering to any officer of the green mountain boys, the Attorney General of the Colony of New-York."||
* Allen's history.
|| Allen's history.
In this state of the controversy, the Governor of New-York made the following communication to the Rev. Wm. Dewey and others.
NEW-YORK, MAY 19TH, 1772.
ON HIS MAJESTY'S SERVICE,
To the Rev. Mr. DEWEY, and the inhabitants of Bennington, and the adjacent country, on the east side of Hudson's River.
THE many violent and illegal acts you have lately committed against the peace and good order of this Province, of which I have had frequent proofs and informations, at the same time that they are not only a reproach to yourselves, but dangerous and injurious to your families and interests, cannot fail of being highly offensive to your Sovereign. You may depend, a perseverance in your disobedience to, and violations of, the Laws of your country, must soon draw forth against you the exertions of the Powers of Government. However, being sincerely desirous on my part, to avoid compulsive measures, while lenient methods may prove successful; I esteem it my duty to invite you to lay before this government the causes of your illegal proceedings; and it is with the concurrence and advice of his Majesty's Council, that I send you this invitation, who, with me, are disposed to examine into the grounds of your behaviour and discontent, with deliberation and candor, and as far as in us lies, to give such relief as the nature of your situation and circumstances will justify. That there may be no obstruction to your laying before me in council, as soon as possible, a fair representation of your conduct, I do hereby engage full security and protection to any persons whom you shall choose to send on this business to New-York, from the time they leave their homes to the time of their return, except Robert Cockran, as also Allen, Baker and Sevil, mentioned in my Proclamation of the 9th of December last, and Seth Warner, whose audacious behaviour to a Civil Magistrate, has subjected him to the penalties of the laws of his country. I am told Mr. William Dewey, a Minister of the Gospel, James Breakenridge, and Mr. Fay, are persons in whose judgment you have much confidence; I should, therefore, think they would be your proper messengers on a business, in which you are so deeply concerned; especially Mr. Dewey, who has been favourably represented here since my appointment to this Government. His Majesty's Secretary of State has signified to me, that the King has finally fixed Connecticut River to be the established jurisdiction between the Government of New-York and New Hampshire.
This circumstance I mention that you may not be misled or deceived by a persuasion, that that part of the country you inhabit, will ever be annexed to the Government of New-Hampshire. I have this farther motive for mentioning the King's final decision, that, by your receiving this authority, of your being in the government of New-York, I am hopeful your future conduct will justify me, in assuring his Majesty of your dutiful obedience to his royal determination. I flatter myself you will cheerfully improve this final offer of reconciling yourselves to this Government. I am your friend,
To the foregoing letter the following answer was returned.
BENNINGTON, JUNE 5TH, 1772.
TO HIS EXCELLENCY,
WILLIAM TRYON, ESQUIRE, &c.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY,
WE, his Majesty's liege and loyal subjects of the Province of New York, having received your particular favour of the 19th day of May last, requesting the inhabitants of Bennington, and the adjacent country on the east side of Hudson's River, to lay before your Excellency and Council, the cause of our discontent and behaviour, do now express our satisfaction in having this very opportunity to acquaint your Excellency,
"First, That we hold the fee and property of the lands we are settled on, and in possession of, by virtue of grants from their Majesties GEORGE the Second and Third, &c. which lands, at the time of thus being granted, was reputed to be within the jurisdiction of the Province of New-Hampshire, until the year 1764, when some of your Excellency's now subjects had, by some measures, obtained his Majesty's pleasure for alteration of jurisdiction line between the Provinces of New-Hampshire and New York. Since this, sundry grants have been made by those in the administration of government, in the said Province of New-York, on the very land before granted by their Majesties to us, as though the fee of the land and property was altered with jurisdiction, which, we suppose, was not. The measures taken to dispossess us of those lands, by repeated writs of ejectments, suits at Law, rejectment of proof from authentic records, refusing a suitable time and opportunity for collection of evidence to support and vindicate our cause, contrary, (as we suppose) to the usual customs of the Law of the Province, seem to be the grounds of our discontent; and that illegal and unconstitutional method of proceeding in indicting sundry persons, who are bound by the Law of self and family preservation to maintain their liberty and properties — the usage of those intreaguers that would monopolize our interests to themselves by such irregular steps.
Their methods of breaking, by violence, houses for possession, and to obtain those whom they are pleased to denominate riotous, tumultuous and disorderly; their firing on those people, and wounding innocent women and children, to compass their designs, may have occasioned some very disagreeable and unhappy disturbances among the friends of Mr. Remember Baker, residing on the New-Hampshire grants, which, we suppose, your Excellency has been pleased to mention illegal. The foregoing is an exact account of our hitherto ideas of the state of the present case; and on this footing we must closely adhere to the maintaining our property, with a due submission to your Excellency's jurisdiction; and, if we should, through ignorance or inadvertency, have hitherto misunderstood either your Excellency, or the occasion of your Excellency's request, we beg the favour to be undeceived. The persons chosen to present these lines, we hope, may give your Excellency some further satisfaction.
We flatter ourselves, from the candor of your Excellency's favourable
letter, that you will be friendly disposed toward us; and we most earnestly pray and beseech your Excellency would assist to quiet us in our possessions, till his Majesty, in his royal wisdom, shall be graciously pleased to settle the controversy. Should your Excellency grant this our humble request, our satisfaction would be inexpressible.
Therefore, confidently trusting in your Excellency's wisdom and clemency, as Members of your Province, as loyal and submissive subjects to his Majesty, we beg leave to subscribe ourselves your Excellency's faithful, obedient, and very humble servants.
Signed by Mr. DEWEY and others.
In addition to the foregoing letter, the following special communication was, at the same time, made to the Governor of New-York.
BENNINGTON, JUNE 5TH, 1774.
TO HIS EXCELLENCY,
WILLIAM TRYON, ESQUIRE, &c.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY,
WE, his Majesty's loyal subjects, whose names are to this piece affixed, inhabitants on that tract of land, your Excellency describes by the name of Bennington, and the adjacent country, &c. and who was, by your Excellency's letter of the 19th of May last, prohibited the privilege of going to New-York, and personally vindicate either ourselves or country, before your Excellency, and being put to the extremity of informing your Excellency by writing, the reason of our discontent, and also of our behaviour, which we shall more largely set forth, than is in the foregoing general answer to your Excellency's letter; and also exhibit more arguments deduced from reason and the nature of things; we hope your Excellency will be graciously pleased to view this our defence with that tenderness and candor, a gentleman in so elevated a station should do, and, therefore, beg leave to observe, that as, on the one hand, no consideration whatever, shall induce us to remit, in the least, of our loyalty and gratitude to our most gracious Sovereign, nor of a reasonable submission to your Excellency; so on the other hand, no tyrannical exertions of the powers of the government, can deter us from asserting and vindicating our undoubted rights and privileges as Englishmen. We expected an answer from your Excellency, to our humble petition to you delivered, soon after your Excellency's accession to the administration of the government; but for reasons to us unknown, your Excellency passed it by in silence. However, we cheerfully embrace this opportunity of laying before your Excellency in Council, the true state of our controversy, which, we can no otherwise do, but by absorbing our personal distinction into the community, and general cause, to which we have obtained the character of faithful. We assure your Excellency that we assent to your authority of jurisdiction, in as much as his Majesty's Proclamation assures us, it is his will and pleasure, we be under the jurisdiction of New-York; and not only now assent to it, but have ever done the same, except in instances where such perverse use has been made thereof, as would dispossess us of our property and country. We are truly desirous, and petitioning his Majesty to re-annex us to the Province of New-Hampshire. But this is not the ground of our
discontent, or at least, is far from being the principle ground of it, though it was done ex parte, and we apprehend there were more or less wrong representations made to his Majesty, to obtain the jurisdiction. However, it is the unreasonable and unconstitutional exercise of it, that is the present bone of contention — our properties are all at stake; this we contend for, as the following known facts will demonstrate. A certain number of designing men in New-York (and elsewhere) procured patents under the great seal of that Province, and those grantees, being non-residents, brought sundry writs of ejectment against the New-Hampshire settlers on the same land, covered by both patents, as aforesaid, and obtained judgment against them, and proceeded further and took out writs of possession, and actually dispossessed several of them by order of Law, of their houses and farms, leaving them to suffer the inclemency of the weather, bereaved of all the necessaries of life, their new masters having monopolized their earthly ALL, to themselves. These indigent families having, in the first place, expended their several fortunes, in bringing their farms out of a wilderness state, into that of fruitful fields, gardens and orchards; the whole country, consisting of more than fifteen hundred families, was greatly alarmed at the event which had already began to take place, was in the greatest consternation; each individual, from these instances, reading their own intolerable and universal destruction. — Still the writs of ejectment came thicker and faster, and universal slavery, poverty and horror, emblematically appeared in every countenance.
Thus, things having come to this pass, the oppression was too great for human nature, under English Constitution, to grope under, for those unparrallelled instances struck an infinitely more terrible idea, than that of the exertion of the Powers of Government.
Laws and society compacts were made to protect and secure the subjects, in their peaceable possessions and properties, and not to subvert them. No person or community of persons can be supposed to be under any particular compact or Law, except it pre-supposeth, that that Law will protect such person or community of persons in his or their properties; for otherways, the subject would, by Law, be bound to be accessary to his own ruin and destruction, which is inconsistant with the Law of self preservation; but this Law being natural as well as eternal, can never be abrogated by the Law of men.
We would acquaint your Excellency, that since our misfortune of being annexed to the Province of New-York, Law has been rather used as a tool (than a rule of equity) to cheat us out of the country, we have made vastly valuable by labour and expence of our fortunes. — We conclude, these things are yet unknown, or in a great measure so, to your Excellency, as your Excellency's commencement to the administration, hath not been long, and a set of artful, wicked men, concealing the truth from your Excellency, purposing to make a booty of us, characterizing us, (speaking of our inhabitants in general) as so many rioters, if not rebels; and we being a poor people, at a great distance from your EXceilency's place of residence, fatigued in settling a wilderness country, have little or no opportunity of acquainting your Excellency of our grie-
vances, except by one short petition delivered to your Excellency, soon after your first taking the administration — and as our cause is represented before his Majesty and Council, we did not expect your Excellency to determine the controversy, nor do we yet expect it. We are sensible, those men that seek our ruin, thereby, to enrich themselves, do, by stratagems of every kind, represent us to your Excellency as breakers of the peace, and enemies to the government; and under this pretence, they hope to catch a number of the boldest of our inhabitants, and punish them in the New-York Inquisition, with that severity that the residue may be frightened out of both liberty and property; for otherways, they would soon be indicted rioters, and thus, under colour of punishing rioters, and a zeal of loyalty and veneration for good government, rob the inhabitants of their country. If we do not oppose the Sheriff and his Possy, he takes immediate possession of our houses and farms; if we do, we are immediately indicted rioters; and when others oppose officers, in taking such their friends, so indicted, they are also indicted, and so on, there being no end of indictment against us, so long as we act the bold and manly part, and stand by our liberty.
This is a short sketch of the disingenuous cunning of Messieurs Duane, and Kemp, and their associates; and it comes to this, at last, that we must tamely be dispossessed, or oppose officers in taking possession; and as a next necessary step, oppose taking of rioters, so called, or run away like so many cowards, and quit our country to a number of cringing, polite gentlemen, who have, ideally, possessed themselves of it already.
As to sundry men, who have eloped lately from our grants, and fled to New-York for protection, self-preservation necessitated us to treat some of them roughly; and others, viz. Ebenezer Cowle, and Jonathan Wheat, of Shaftsbury, fled to New-York, on account of their own guilt, not being hurt or threatened. Would time permit, we could give a rational account for most, or all of our late conduct towards these men. The general reason is this, namely, they were a set of men that loved themselves, and not their country, they busied themselves in planning and assisting to take rioters, so called. In fine, they were the emissaries of that mercenary core of Yorkers, and did more, in oppressing the people, than their preposterous benefactors.
The assault, made upon Mr. Baker, at day break, of the night of the 22d of March last, by a number of ruffians, under the command of the infamous John Munro, Esq. was a notorious riot, and gave energy and motion, to the subsequent acts, your Excellency denominates illegal. This Munro, and his bloody party, by cutting, wounding and maiming, Mr. Baker, his wife and children, in such an inhuman and savage manner, was no less than proclaiming himself, in a most public manner, to be malicious and bloody enemy, not only to Mr. Baker, but also to all those men, on our grants, who, manfully, adhere to maintaining liberty and property; and inasmuch as the murderous villain is alive, he has no cause of complaint — for, after his assault upon Mr. Baker, he made another assault upon Mr. Seth Warner; but, not having so strong a party of ruffians with him, as in his other expedition, it was not attended with the like consequences, for Mr. Warner struck his head with a dull cut‑
lass, and levelled him to the ground; but the blow proved not mortal; and after this, for his satisfaction for the wound, threatened the lives of a number of the New-Hampshire settlers. — Your Excellency will, undoubtedly, consider, as our opponents have had the manufactory of the civil laws, so much under their power, that this merciless man could not be brought to Justice, nor could others, among us, be safe, any other way, but by using him in his own play; he set the example, and enraged the people to mimick him from that natural principle of justice, in every man's own breast.
As to the perfidious and treacherous Bliss Willoghby, he always pretended to be a friend of the said Baker's, and Baker had ever been truly a friend of his — this hypocrite, two days before Baker was taken, made a frivolous excuse of business, went to said Baker's house, viewed the strength of it, perceived Baker was, somewhat, careless and secure, and made report to the said Munro. In fine, Willoghby was the planner and instigator of that savage cruelty, exercised to said Baker, which was perpetrated and brought into action by the detestible said Munro. But to desist: as to the history of our late transactions, whether they be all right or not, we, on our part, have a few arguments and considerations more to lay before your Excellency, as to the cause of our discontent, as well as to the cause of our late actions your Excellency denominates illegal.
The alteration of jurisdiction, in 1764, could not effect private property. Surely his Majesty, by this alteration, did not purpose to take away the personal property of a large number of his loyal subjects, and transfer it to other subjects; the English Constitution will, by no means, admit of this, for the transferring or alienation of property is a sacred prerogative of the true owner. — Kings and Governors cannot intermeddle therewith. Furthermore, your Excellency and Council must needs be acquainted that we have a petition lying before his Majesty and Council, for redress of our grievances. That is an impartial board; pray why may it not be determined there? For the very indentical matters in dispute, are now, and for several years past, have been, lying before that Court, except the accusations of riotousness, disorderly, &c. which is improved as a handle to subvert property, and that only,
Furthermore, in the time of Sir Henry Moor's administration, his Majesty was pleased to lay the Government of New-York, under absolute prohibition not to grant or patent any of the lands, antecedently granted under the great seal of the Province of New-Hampshire; and furthermore forbid the government to disturb or molest the settlers. This, rightly understood, amounts to a supercedeas over the authority of Common Law, and absolutely controuls the cognizance thereof. As to the particular matters, in the prohibition set forth, or matters lying before his Majesty, by petition, the import of the prohibition must needs be thus, namely, that his Majesty, by it, informs the Government of New-York, that he has taken the controversy, to him made known by petition, under his royal consideration, and that, after due information and evidence of the state of the case, determines to settle the controversy; consequently forbids the government taking cognizance thereof; and common sense teaches us that under such prohibition, if a judgment, at Common Law,
be supposed to be valid, it would invalidate the authority of the crown, and subvert and overthrow the authority of the kingdom, as it would render the prohibitions of the crown perfectly impertinent. Therefore, Common Law, in the case before us, is not cloathed with cognizance of this case, much less with authority to dispossess us; consequently, every party of men, that have, with officers or otherwise, come into these parts to dispossess us, came in open defiance, and direct opposition to his Majesty's orders and authority: and, though they stile us rioters, for opposing them, and seek to catch and punish us as such, yet, in reality, themselves are the rioters, the tumultuous, disorderly, stimulating faction, or, in fine, the land-robbers; and every violent act they have done to compass their designs, though ever so much under pretence of law, is, in reality a violation of law, and an insult on the constitution, and authority of the crown, as well as to many of us, in person, who have been great sufferers by such inhuman exertions of pretended legality of law. — Right, and wrong, are eternally the same, to all periods of time, places and nations; and colouring a crime with a specious pretence of law, only adds to the criminality of it; for, it subverts the very design of law, prostituting it to the vilest purposes. Can any man, in the exercise of reason, make himself believe that a number of Attorneys and other gentlemen, with all their tackle of ornaments, and compliments, and French finesse, together with their boasted legality of law; that these gentlemen have just right to the lands, labours and fortunes of the New-Hampshire settlers? Certainly they cannot. Yet, this is the object in view, by that mercenary fraternity.
We do not suppose, may it please your Excellency, we are making opposition to a government, as such; it is nothing more than a party, chiefly carried on by a number of gentlemen Attorneys, (if it be not an abuse to gentlemen of merit to call them so) who manifest a surpizing and enterprizing thirst of avarice, after our country: but, for a collection of such intreaguers, to plan matters of influence of a party, so as eventually to become judges in their own case, and, thereby, cheat us out of our country, appears to us so audaciously unreasonable and tyrannical, that we view it with the utmost detestation and indignation, and our breasts glow with a martial fury to defend our persons and fortunes from the ravages of those that would destroy us; but not against your Excellency's person or government.
We are fully persuaded, your Excellency's ears have been much abused by subtle and designing men; for, we are informed, from credible anthority, your Excellency has, lately, made application to your Assembly, to raise an armed force to subdue us, but that the motion was negatived. We apprehend, your Excellency views us as opposing your Excellency's jurisdiction, and that the violent acts, by us done, was in rebellion to his Majesty's authority, or your Excellency had never proposed the subduing of us; we are morally certain, we can convince your Excellency, that it is not so; but that on the other hand, Messieurs Duane, Kemp, and their associates, are the aggressors.
We have chosen two men from among us, viz. Capt. Stephen Fay, and Mr. Jonas Fay, to treat with your Excellency, in person; who, we
hope, will answer such queries, and give your Excellency the satisfaction you hope for.
We view your Excellency as our Governor and political father, and hope and expect, from the sincerity and candor of your Excellency's letter, you will be friendly and favourably disposed towards us, when your Excellency, by these lines, perceive the grounds of our discontent; for, we are conscious that our cause is good, and that it was oppression, which has been the ground of our discontent, and that self-preservation hath, hitherto, urged us to the measures lately taken. And we now earnestly intreat your Excellency's aid and assistance to quiet us in our possessions and properties, till his Majesty, in his royal wisdom, settle the controversy. If your Excellency should do this, there would be an end of riots, so called, and our tongues unable to express our gratitude to your Excellency for such protection.
Therefore, relying on your Excellency's great wisdom and goodness, as Members of your Government, his Majesty's loyal and liege subjects, we subscribe ourselves your Excellency's ever faithful and humble servants,
The foregoing communications were transmitted to his Excellency, Governor Tryon, by the Agents appointed for that purpose. The Agents were received by his Excellency, and the communications laid before his Council, who, after mature consideration, advised as follows.
"The Committee are desirous your Excellency should afford the inhabitants of those townships, all the relief in your power, by suspending, till his Majesty's pleasure shall be known, all prosecutions in behalf of the crown, on account of the crimes with which they stand charged, by depositions before us; and to recommend it to the owners of the contested lands, under grants from this Province, to put a stop, during the same period, to all civil suits concerning the lands in question."
The foregoing was approved by the Governor, and communicated to the inhabitants in Bennington and the vicinity.
While this negociation was pending, the green mountain boys proceeded to dispossess certain settlers upon Otter Creek, claiming title under New-York; in consequence of which, Governor Tryon addressed the following letter to the inhabitants of Bennington and the adjacent country.
ALBANY, AUGUST 11TH, 1772.
AT the same time I express to you my satisfaction, by the opportunity of Mr. Fay, on the grateful manner in which you received and accepted the lenient measures prescribed by this government, for your peaceable conduct, until his Majesty's pleasure should be known, respecting the
disputed claim to lands within this government, I cannot conceal from you my high displeasure at the breach of faith and honor, made by a body of your people, in dispossessing several settlers on Otter Creek, and its neighbourhood, of their possessions, during the very time the Commissioners you appointed to attend on me at New-York, were waiting the determination of government on your petition, that you might remain, unmolested in your possessions, until the King's pleasure be obtained. Such disingenuous and dishonourable proceedings, I view with great concern, considering them as daring insults to government, a violation of public faith, and the conditions granted to you on petition. To prevent, therefore, the fatal consequence that must follow so manifest a breach of public confidence, I am to require your assistance, in putting, forthwith, those families, who have been thus dispossessed, into re-possession of their lands and tenements, in the same manner, in which they were, at the time Mr. Fay and his son, waited on me at New-York. Such a conduct on your part, will not fail of recommending your situation to his Majesty, and insure a continuance of my friendly intentions towards you.
To the Inhabitants of Bennington, and the adjacent Country.
ANSWER TO THE FOREGOING.
BENNINGTON, AUGUST 25TH, 1772.
TO HIS EXCELLENCY,
WILLIAM TRYON, ESQUIRE, &c.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY,
WE, his Majesty's liege and loyal subjects, inhabitants of Bennington, and the adjacent country, have received your Excellency's letter, of the 11th of August inst. by which, we are informed of your Excellency's high displeasure towards us, by reason of a body of our people's dispossessing several settlers on Otter-Creek, and its neighbourhood, of their possessions, during the very time our Messengers attended on your Excellency, at New-York, and were waiting the determination of government, on our petition, that we might remain unmolested in our possessions, till the King's pleasure could be obtained. Your Excellency further informs us, that you look on our late proceedings with great concern, viewing them as daring insults to government, a violation of public faith, and the conditions granted to our petition. We would, with proper submission, give your Excellency and Council, a short narrative of facts, with a few reflections and reasons thereon. — And,
First, we would observe, that our Messengers your Excellency stiles Commissioners, was not authorized to establish, and complete articles of public faith for their constituents. The business assigned them, was to deliver the written petition, and inform your Excellency and Council of the facts of the controversy subsisting, and further negotiate and forward the matter of our petition, and return to us the determination of government, reserving to ourselves the power of assenting to, or dissenting therefrom; though true it is, when the articles of amicable settlement, or
order of government was read at a public meeting, held at Bennington, on the 15th day of July ult. the said order and proposals were universally complied with by those present: from which time, we, reasonably, compute the date of public faith, and sacred bond of friendship. But, in the interim the conditions of faith was forming, and before a ratification thereof, Mr. Kockburn, a noted surveyor, unknown, (as we suppose,) to your Excellency and Council, by the contrivance, aid and employ of certain monopolizing adversaries of our's, took a tour to the northerly parts of the New-Hampshire grants, to survey, and make locations on our land. Such locating we view as a manifest plan, and intention of invading our property — the same as intrenching round the city, portraits a siege thereof.
Our people, having notice of Mr. Kockburn's intrusion on our borders, rallied a small party, and pursued, and overtook him and his party; and in their pursuit, passed the towns of Panton and New-Haven, near the mouth of Otter-Creek; dispossessed Col. Reed of a saw-mill, in said Panton, which, by force, and without colour, or even pretence of recourse to law, he had taken from the original owners and builders, more than three years before, and did, at that same time, extend his force, terrors and threats into the town of New-Haven; who, by the vicious and haughty aid of Mr. Benzell, the famed Engineer, with a number of assistants, under their command, so terrified the inhabitants, (which were about twelve in number,) that they left their possessions and farms to the Conquerers, and escaped with the skin of their teeth, although they had expended large sums of money in cutting roads to, and settling in, that new country, as well as fatigued and laboured hard in cultivating their farms. Col. Reed, at the same time, and with the same force, did take possession of one hundred and thirty saw-logs, and fourteen thousand feet of pine boards, which boards were made in the same mill, and all lying thereby; all which he converted to his own use. Not long after, the original proprietors of the said mill did reenter, and take possession thereof, but was, a second time, attacked by Col. Reed's Stewart, with a number of armed men, under his (supposed) instructions, and by their superior force and threats, obliged to quit the premises again — all which tenements, said Reed occupied and enjoyed until dispossessed, as your Excellency's letter complains of.
But to return to Kockburn again. Our party, having taken him as aforesaid, brought him to the town of Castleton, near South Bay, where, being first informed of your Excellency's clemency, as well as that of the honourable Council, in granting the prayer of our petition; and in conformity to the articles of settlement agreed on, dismissed him on honourable terms.
This is a short narrative of facts, for the proof of which, sufficient affidavits can be educed,
We are apprehensive, your Excellency has been, hitherto, unacquainted with these facts, and have, therefore, exhibited them in this letter; although it appears strange to us, according as your Excellency's own letter states the matter, that we should be suspected or taxed with violation of public faith, and that our disingenuous and dishonourable viola-
tion thereof; hath nullified and made void the late amicable settlement; for, at the same time your Excellency charges us with breach of faith, and settlement, the very preliminaries of this faith was not known on our part, and consequently could not have been complied with; the very stipulations and faith spoken of, did not then exist; for it must be the meeting of the minds of the contracting parties, which constitutes such faith and agreement, and, of course, cannot be broken before its existence.
Mr. Kockburn's locating our lands, in the mean time the preliminaries of public faith were forming, was, at least, as much a breach of that faith, as what we are charged with. Nay, according to our conception of the matter, more so; as he made the first movement towards the invasion of our property.
Soon after our Messengers returned from New-York, and read the Minutes of Council, and your Excellency's letter of compliance therewith, to a large auditory, convened at Bennington for that purpose, composed of the inhabitants of that place, the adjacent country, and sundry respectably gentlemen from the neighbouring Provinces; your Excellency's gracious, wise, and benevolent proposals for settling unity and concord, in our part of the Province, were, by those present, unanimously applauded, and conceded to; and all possible public testimonies of honour and respect, paid to your Excellency and Council, by sundry discharges of cannon and small arms; your Excellency's health, long life, and prosperity, as well as that of the honourable Council's, was the toast; your name commanded reverence and esteem, and your Excellency's person in particular, became precious in our eyes.
And, we do humbly assure your Excellency we have no disposition of alienation of affections, towards you, or, knowingly, break any article of public faith.
There are two propositions, which are the objects of our attention.
Firstly; The protection and maintaining our property.
And, secondly; to use the greatest care and prudence, not to break the articles of public faith, or insult governmental authority.
These two propositions, we mean strictly and religiously to adhere to. And for the more explicit knowledge of the preliminaries and conditions of public faith and trust, we would inform your Excellency and Council, that our acceptation of those conditions on the part of New-York, is, that they make no further settlements or locations on our lands, granted under the great seal of the Province of New-Hampshire, until his Majesty's pleasure be obtained, as to the validity of the grants. Although this was not so fully expressed, yet we suppose it was implied in the abstract of the Minutes of Council; if it was not, we pray, your Excellency and Council would undeceive us in that particular; for if we are deceived in this, then, on this hypothesis, your Excellency and Council's lenient and friendly disposition towards us, will not, for the future, (by us) be viewed as such; for such locations and settlements on our lands, would be incompatible with friendship, and a manifest infringement on our property, which has, all along, been the bone of contention.
The last part of your Excellency's letter to us, contains a requirement of our immediate assistance in repossessing Col. Reed's tenants of said
tenements. As to this particular, had your Excellency have known by what means Col. Reed obtained possession of them lands and tenements, undoubtedly your Excellency would not have required our assistance in repossessing him; or have viewed with concern, our dispossessing him, as a daring insult to government: for, the case rightly understood, it appears, that his conduct was a daring insult to government, and continued violation for more than three years, of the laws, restrictions, regulations, and œconomy, both of God, and man; a notorious breach of the tenth command of the decalogue, which says, "Thou shalt not covet, &c." He, coveting, did take the saw-mill-logs, boards, and also, the lands, labours, possessions, farms, tenements. &c. &c. from the rightful owners, proprietors, and first occupants thereof, without a process at law, as aforesaid, to their exclusion from the premises more than three years; all which time, he has been enriching himself, by the improvement of their estates; and, should we repossess him of the premises again, we should become co-partners with him, in his wickedness. Such an act we could not reconcile to our own consciences; it being apparently immoral, and most flagrantly cruel and unjust.
When your Excellency and Council views these facts, and arguments, we humbly conceive we shall not be required to repossess Col. Reed of the premises: nor do we expect your Excellency and Council will adjudge us to be violators of the late articles of public faith: all which, with due submission, we refer to your Excellency and Council.
And, we do now, with due reverence, ask the favour of a few lines, which may certify to us, the determination of government, relative to the particulars litigated in this paper;* and remain your ever faithful and most obedient humble servants.
At a general meeting, held at Manchester, on the 27th day of August, 1772, by the Committee of the towns of Bennington, Sunderland, Manchester, Dosseth, Ruport, Pollet, Wells, Poultney, Castleton, Pitsford and Rutland; the foregoing answer to his Excellency's letter of the 11th inst. was read to the said Committees, and the vote was called by Mr. Nathan Clark, Chairman, whether the said answer be approved of, by the said Committees? and it was voted in the affirmative.
Test, ETHAN ALLEN, Clerk for said Committees.
The subject of this controversy, it seems, still engaged the attention of the British Cabinet; as appears by the following extract from a report of the Lords of trade to the Committee of his Majesty's most honorable privy Council, for plantation affairs, dated December 3d, 1772.
"Upon the fullest examination into all the circumstances which, at present, constitute the state of that District between the rivers Hudson and Connecticut; out of which, the greatest disorders and confusion have arisen; it seemeth to us, that the principal objects of attention in the consideration of any measures that can be suggested for restoring public tranquility, and quieting possessions, are,
* We have been unable to find any answer to this communication. It is probable that the negociation here terminated.
First, those townships, which, having been originally settled and established under grants from the government of the Massachusetts-Bay, fell within this District, by the determination of the northern boundary of that Province, in the year 1740.
Secondly, those grants of land, made within this District, by the government of New-York, previous to the establishment of the townships laid out by the governor of New-Hampshire, after the conclusion of the peace; and which land now lies within the limits of some one or other of those townships.
Thirdly, those townships, which, having been originally laid out by the governor of New Hampshire, either continue in the same state, or have been confirmed by grants from New-York; and also, those which have since originated under grants from the latter of those colonies.
With regard to those townships, which fall under the first of the above mentioned descriptions; when we consider their nature and origin, and the numberless difficulties to which the original proprietors of them must have been subjected in the settlement of lands, exposed to the incursions of the savages, and to every distress, which the neighbourhood of the French, in time of war, could bring upon them; and, when we add to these considerations, the great reason there is to believe that the grants were made upon the ground of military services against the enemy; we do not hesitate to submit to your Lordships our opinion, that the present proprietors of these townships, ought, both in justice and equity, to be quieted in their possessions: and, that all grants whatsoever, made by the government of New-York, of any lands, within the limits of those townships, whether the degree of improvement, under the original grant, had been more or less, are, in every light, which they can be viewed, oppressive and unjust. But, as we are sensible that such subsequent grants made by the government of New-York, however unwarrantable, cannot be set aside by any authority from his Majesty, in case the grantees shall insist on their title; we submit to your Lordships, whether it might not be expedient, in order to quiet the original proprietors in their possessions, to propose that all such persons who may claim possession of lands within the limits of such townships, under New-York grants, should, upon condition of their quiting such claim, receive a grant under the seal of New-York upon the like terms, and free of all expences, of an equal number of acres, in some other part of the District lying between the rivers Hudson and. Connecticut; and in case, where any actual settlement or improvement has been made by such claimants, that they should, in such case, receive fifty acres of waste land for every three acres, they may have improved.
With regard to those grants made by the government of New-York, which fall within the second description, and upon which any actual improvement has been made; they do appear to us to deserve the same consideration; and that the proprietors thereof ought not to be disturbed in their possessions, whether that improvement be to a greater or lesser extent. But we beg leave to observe to your Lordships, that, in both these cases, no consideration ought to be had to any claim, where it shall appear that no regular possession has ever been taken, and no actual settlement ever been made.
With regard to those townships, which fall within the last mentioned description, we submit to your Lordships our opinion;— That, provided such townships do not include land within the limits of some antecedent grant, upon which actual improvement has, at any time, been made, it would be adviseable they should be confirmed as townships, according to the limits expressed in the grants thereof; and that all persons having possession of any shares in the said townships, either as original grantees, or by purchase or conveyance, and upon which shares any actual improvement or settlement has been made, ought not, in justice, to have been, or to be, in future, disturbed in the possession of such shares; nor ought they to be bound to any other conditions, whether of quit rent or otherwise, than what is contained in the grant."
We now approach an interesting period in the history of this controversy. It will be recollected that the whole property of the settlers, on the New-Hampshire grants, had been long put at hazard by the claims of New-York. In face of the royal prohibition of the 24th of July, 1767, the government of that Province had proceeded to convey the lands, occupied under grants from the same royal authority. The Courts at Albany had, uniformly, decided in favor of the New-York grantees. Writs of possession had been issued; the execution of which was regarded by the settlers as nothing less than legalized robbery. They therefore resisted; and, for uniting in this resistance, had been indicted as rioters, and subjected to heavy penalties. Notwithstanding the attempt which had been made to arrest the progress of the controversy, it does not appear that the government of New-York had, at any time, taken measures to restrain the location and settlement of lands under New-York titles. The bone of contention, therefore, still remained; and the failure of an attempted reconciliation had served to embitter the resentment of the contending parties, and produce a state of hostility, more decided and alarming.
The mass of the settlers, on the New-Hampshire grants, consisted of a brave, hardy race of men. Their minds, naturally strong and active, had been roused to the exercise of their highest energies, in a controversy, involving every thing that was dear to them. Though unskilled in the rules of logick, they, nevertheless, reasoned conclusively; and having once come to a decision, they wanted not the courage or conduct necessary to carry it into execution.
Foremost among them, stood ETHAN ALLEN. Bold, ardent, and unyielding; possessing a vigorous intellect, and an uncommon share of self-confidence, he was peculiarly fitted to become a successful leader of the opposition. In the progress of this controversy, several pamphlets were written by him, exbibiting, in a manner peculiar, to himself, and well suited to the state of publick feeling, the injustice of the New-York claims.
These pamphlets were extensively circulated, and contributed much to inform the minds, arouse the zeal, and unite the efforts, of the settlers.
So far as the documents belonging to this period, shed any light on the subject, it appears that the inhabitants residing in the present Counties of Bennington and Rutland, had formed a convention, by Committees from the several towns; which met, if not statedly, at least, on extraordinary occasions, to adopt such measures, as the publick exigencies required. Among other acts of this body, it had been decreed — "that no person should take grants, or confirmation of grants, under the government of New York." — An order had also been made, "forbidding all inhabitants in the District of the New-Hampshire grants, to hold, take, or accept, any office of honor or profit under the Colony of New-York; and all civil and military officers, who had acted under the authority of the Governor or Legislature of New-York, were required to suspend their functions on pain of being viewed."*
These decrees were frequently enforced with exemplary severity. Among the various modes of punishment, the more common, was the application of the "beach seal"† to the naked back, and banishment from the grants!
One instance of punishment, in a case which seems not to have come within any special decree of the convention, deserves, for its ingenuity, to be recorded.
Dr. A. of Arlington, had become a partizan of New-York. Having often spoken in reproachful terms of the green mountain boys, and their convention, and advised to the purchase of lands under the New-York titles, he was requested to desist. Disregarding this request, he was arrested and "carried to the green mountain tavern, at Bennington, where the Committee heard his defence, and then ordered him to be tied in an armed chair, and hoisted up to the sign (a catamount's skin, stuffed, sitting upon the sign post, twenty-five feet from the ground, with large teeth, grinning towards New-York,) and there to hang two hours, in sight of the people, as a punishment merited by his enmity to the rights and liberties of the inhabitants of the New-Hampshire grants. The judgment was executed to the no small merriment of a large concourse of people. The Doctor was let down, and dismissed by the Committee, with an admonition to go and sin no more."‡
Enjoying, as we now do, the protection of just and equal laws, it is
* Allen's history.
† This instrument of punishment was termed the "beach seal," in allusion to the great seal of New Hampshire, affixed to the grants made by the Governor of that Province; of which, the beach rod well laid onto the naked backs, of the "Yorkers" and their adherents, was humorously considered a confirmation!
‡ Allen's history.
difficult to form a proper estimate of the measures we are reviewing. We shall be less inclined to censure them as unnecessarily severe, if we reflect, that there was no choice left to the New-Hampshire grantees, between an entire surrender of their farms, rescued from the wildness of nature, and made valuable, by their industry; and a determined and persevering resistance by force. Necessity drove them to resistance, and sound policy dictated that it should be of a character to inspire a full belief that it would be made effectual.
The government of New-York, however, regarded this conduct as treasonable and rebellious, and the actors in these scenes, as a lawless banditti. Confident in their own strength, and miscalculating the resources which may be brought into requisition by men acting on the defensive, in the last extremity, they proceeded to the adoption of measures, "the most minatory and despotick, (in the language of Dr. Williams) of any thing, which had ever appeared in the British Colonies."
We commence the history of these measures with the following extract from the votes and proceedings of the General Assembly of New-York.
DIE SABATI, 10 Ho. A. D. FEBRUARY 5TH, 1774.
MR. BRUSH, in behalf of Mr. Clinton, chairman, from the grand Committee, reported, that he was directed by the said Committee, to make the following report to the house, viz. That the said Committee, having taken into consideration the petition of Benjamin Hough,* in behalf of himself, and many of his Majesty's subjects, inhabiting the county of Charlotte, and the north-eastern district of the county of Albany; complaining of many acts of outrage, cruelty, and oppression, committed against their persons and properties, by the Bennington MOB, and the dangers and injuries to which they are daily exposed, and imploring that this house will take them under their protection, and secure them against future violence; and the said Committee, having also duly considered the several proofs and depositions presented in support of the truth of the said petition, do therefore resolve,
1. That it appears to this Committee, that there, at present, prevails in part of the county of Charlotte, and in the north-eastern district of the county of Albany, a dangerous and destructive spirit of riot and licentiousness, subversive of all order and good government; and that it is become an intolerable grievance, which requires immediate redress.
* It appears from Allen's history, that Benjamin Hough had accepted, and officiated in, the office of justice of the peace, under the authority of New-York. Being arrested and brought before the Committee of safety at Sunderland, he pleaded the jurisdiction and authority of New York, but was answered by the decree of the Convention, which forbid all persons holding any office, civil or military, under the Colony of New York.
In the presence of a large concourse of people, the following judgment was pronounced, "That the prisoner be taken from the bar of this Committee of safety and tied to a tree and there on his naked back, to receive two hundred stripes; his back being dressed, he should depart out of the district, and on return, to suffer death, unless by special leave of Convention."
2. RESOLVED, That it appears to this Committee, that many acts of outrage, cruelty, and oppression have been there perpetrated by a number of lawless persons, calling themselves the Bennington MOB, who have seized, insulted, and terrified several magistrates and other civil officers, so that they dare not exercise their respective functions; rescued prisoners for debt, assumed to themselves military commands, and judicial power; burned and demolished the houses and property, and beat and abused the persons of many of his Majesty's subjects; expelled them from their possessions, and put a period to the administration of justice, and spread terror and destruction through that part of the country which is exposed to their oppression.
3. RESOLVED, That it is the opinion of this Committee, that the complainants before this house, and others, who inhabit part of that colony, and from respect to government, will not countenance or be concerned in the said riotous proceedings, are exposed, from the violence of the rioters, to iminent danger, both in persons and properties; and that they stand in need of immediate protection and succour.
4. RESOLVED, That it appears to this Committee, that Ethan Allen, Seth Warner, Remember Baker, Robert Cochran, Peleg Sunderland, Silvanus Brown, James Breakenridge, and John Smith, are principal ring-leaders of, and actors in, the riots and disturbances aforesaid; and that it is, therefore, the opinion of this Committee, that an humble address be presented to his Excellency, desiring that he would be pleased to issue a Proclamation, offering a reward of fifty pounds for apprehending and securing any or either of the persons above named, in his Majesty's goal in Albany; and commanding the magistrates, and other civil officers of the counties of Albany and Charlotte, to be active and vigilant in suppressing the said riots, and preserving the public peace and good order, as well as for bringing to justice the perpetrators and authors of said riots.
5. RESOLVED, That it is the opinion of this Committee, that a bill be brought in, more effectually to suppress the said riotous and disorderly proceedings, maintain the free course of justice, and for bringing the offenders to condign punishment. Which report he read in his place, and afterwards delivered it in at the table, where the said resolutions were severally read a second time, and it was resolved that this house doth agree with the Committee in their said resolutions.
ORDERED, That a bill be brought in, pursuant to the last resolution, and that Mr. Brush, and Col. Ten Broeck, prepare and bring in the same. Ordered, that Capt. Delancey, and Mr. Walton, wait on his Excellency the Governor with the foregoing address and resolutions of the house.
The following Proceedings will show in what manner the foregoing Resolutions were met by the people on the New-Hampshire grants.
"At a General Meeting of the Committees for the several townships on the west side of the range of green mountains, granted under the great seal of the Province of New-Hampshire, held at the house of Mr. Wellers, in Manchester, on the 1st day of March, A. D.1774, and afterwards, by adjournment, at the house of Capt. Jehiel Hawley, in Arling-
ton, on the 3d Wednesday of the same month; at which several times and places, the New-York Mercury, No. 1163, was produced, which contains an extract from the votes and procceedings of the General Assembly of the Colony of New-York, which is as follows, viz.
[Here follow the Resolutions, as given above.]
MR. NATHAN CLARK, chairman of the Committee of the New-Hampshire settlers aforesaid, ordered the clerk to read the resolves and votes aforesaid, to the general Committee, which was accordingly read, sundry times, and the following draught being presented in answer thereto, to the publick meeting; seven persons were selected and chosen out of the said general Committee to examine the same, and report their opinion thereon, which here follows.
When we consider the numberless troubles, and almost insurmountable difficulties which our infant settlements have been forced to struggle with, since its first beginning, which have been occasioned by an unequal and biassed administration of law, ever since our unhappy misfortune of being annexed to a government in which the interest of the greater part of the leading gentlemen thereof, are in direct opposition to our's. The tyrannical measures they take to enslave us, (we hope) will not fail to justify us in the following arguments and resolves thereon; for we think it an intolerable hardship, and piece of inhuman cruelty, that we cannot be said to give sufficient proof of our loyalty and obedience to government, but at the resignation of our whole fortunes, in the purchase and improvement of which, we have suffered an infinity of hardship. While we view the spirit of the general assembly in their resolves, we cannot but reflect with some regret, on what may, of consequence, prove the result (without an alteration) of their present opinion; but there are scarce any circumstances that entirely exclude hope; therefore we are not yet in total despair; for this moment we happily call to mind, that the general assembly of the same Province, about two years ago, did annex all that part of the Bay Province, west of Connecticut river, to that UNLIMITED county of Albany; but their avaricious grappling not being of a sufficient strength for such an unreasonable burthen, it failed, by which they lost their ideal booty.
The reader will doubtless observe, that in the resolves of the assembly aforesaid, there is not a single word mentioned in regard to the title of the land contested for, but that they level all their spleen, and point all their malice at notorious rioters, as they call them, and make a pretended show and figure, as though they were great sticklers for good order and government; although, at the same time, every person of common sense, who has had any acquaintance and knowledge of the controversy, absolutely knows, that our goodly land, with the labour thereon, is the only subject matter, and grand object, of the whole controversy; and give the New-Yorkers but that, and the matter would be accomplished to their eternal satisfaction; and it is presumed the words riotous, disorderly, licentious, &c. would not be printed again on account of the New-Hampshire grantees and present occupants, for the whole course of the succeeding century.
For, the truth of the case is, the executors of the law, are most, if not all, of them the pretended claimants to the lands whereon the New-
Hampshire grantees and occupants dwell; and their judgments on writs of ejectment, brought by the New-York patentees, have not hitherto failed to correspond with their imaginary interests; but were they honest men, they would not undertake to be judges in their own case, or in any other wherein the resolution thereof would make a president for their own, especially in title of land, wherein judge and plaintiff are connected in one common interest: such a distribution of law is contrary to the law of reason and nations.
Therefore, our case stands thus; if we submit to their executions of law, and become obedient and submissive subjects of their designing government, we must soon yield to be their tenants and slaves; and we cannot see reason to conform to any law which will apparently bring us and our posterity into bondage, or manifestly deprive us of our property; but inasmuch as we boldly adhere to the maintainance of our property, which to us is very precious, as it would be to the New-Yorkers, was it in their hands. We find it is immediately recommended to the Governor of the Province, by the general assembly, to issue his Proclamation, offering therein large sums of money to apprehend those notorious rioters, as they are pleased to stile them. It must, indeed, be shocking to common sense, when the reader comes to observe what notorious complaints, and most horrid accusations are set forth in the resolves of the general assembly of New-York, mentioned in the fore part of this paper, against thousands of hard labouring, industrious, honest peasants, who are, in truth, loyal subjects of the crown of Great-Britain, for their violations of law and government; when, at the same time, the following express orders from his most sacred Majesty to that litigious government of New York, will plainly show, that they do not make the least hesitation to rebel and act in direct opposition to the authority of the crown; when (as in the present case) they shew a disposition to take advantage of the minor part of those under their government, and throw them into contention and disorder, and thereby build their fortunes on the ruin of the pretended aggressors, (and all under the specious pretence of good order and government) which is, in fact, what they eventually aim at, as will appear by the following order.
At a Court at St. James's, the 24th day of July, 1767.
THE KING'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY,
Archbishop of Canterbury, Earl of Shelburne,
Lord Chancellor, Viscount Falmouth,
Duke of Queensbury, Viscount Barrington,
Duke of Ancester, Viscount Clarke,
Lord Chamberlain, Bishop of London,
Earl of Litchfield, Mr. Secretary Conway,
Earl of Bristol, Hans Stanley, Esq.
The petition, and report thereon, by the Lords of trade and plantation affairs, is too prolix to be inserted in this paper; the royal order is therefore only transcribed, which is as follows.
His Majesty, taking the said report into consideration, was pleased, with the advice of his privy council, to approve thereof, and doth hereby strictly charge, require and command, that the Governor or Commander in Chief of his Majesty's Province of New-York, for the time being, do not, upon pain of his Majesty's highest displeasure, presume to make any grant whatsoever, of any part of the lands, described in the said report, until his Majesty's further pleasure shall be known, concerning the same.
A True Copy,
Attest GEO. BANYAR, Dep. Sec'ry.
Notwithstanding this prohibition, and one or two more of the same general import, and front the same authority, the government of New-York have lapped their patents on the New-Hampshire charters, and in consequence thereof, demand, at common law, the land on which the New Hampshire grantees and occupants dwell; and from hence has arisen the numerous troubles and disturbances between the government of New-York and its discontented subjects, the settlers under New-Hampshire. This has also been the source of all licentiousness and confusion, riotousness, &c. complained of by that government against the settlers aforesaid.
And whereas the true state of our grants hath been already laid before the worthy lords of the board of trade and plantation, and they, having considered and wisely deliberated upon its several circumstances, did on the third day of December, A. D. 1772, make their report in favor of the New-Hampshire grantees,* to his most gracious Majesty, whose royal confirmation we daily expect; and on the credit and good faith of this report, many hundreds of industrious (and many of them wealthy) families have purchased and moved upon the New-Hampshire grants, nothing doubting of that title.
We, therefore, humbly report to the said general Committee of the New-Hampshire grants, as our opinion,
1. That as we ever have, so for the future we will remain loyal and dutiful subjects to our most rightful sovereign GEORGE the third, and demean ourselves agreeable to the good and wholesome laws of the realm, and fight for the dignity of his Majesty's crown and government, at all times, when there may be a call for it; viewing him as our political father, and relying on him to be protected in our property.
2. That, as we purchased our lands of one of his Majesty's Governors, and on the good faith of the crown of Great-Britain, we are determined to maintain those grants, against all opposition, until his Majesty's royal pleasure shall be known in the premises.
And whereas we have never made any further resistance to government, than the law of self-preservation, which the law of GOD and nature enjoins on every intelligent, wise and understanding being; we, therefore, are fully of the opinion to resolve,
3. That such of the magistrates and governmental authority of the Province of New-York, as have pursued, and have been accessary in the scheme of indicting our friends and neighbours as rioters; and have, by
* See Page 33.
intrigue and stratagem, of various sorts, endeavored to take them, and punish them as criminals ; thereby to dishearten and terrify the New-Hampshire settlers to that degree, that they may tamely be disinherited; have acted contrary to the spirit and design of the good and righteous laws of Great Britain, which, under a just administration, never fail to secure the liberty and property of the subject; and are thereby guilty of great inhumanity to its respective subjects. We therefore resolve, That as a country, we will stand by, and defend our friends and neighbours so indicted, at the expence of our lives and fortunes. And we would recommend it to the general assembly of the Province of New-York, to wait the determination of his Majesty, relative to the title of those lands, and desist from taking us as rioters, to prevent the unhappy consequences that may result from such an attempt.
And fourthly, and lastly, resolved, That, for the future, every necessary preparation be made, and that our inhabitants hold themselves in readiness, at a minute's warning, to aid and defend such friends of our's, who, for their merit to the great and general cause, are falsely denominated rioters; but that we will not act any thing more or less, but on the defensive, and always encourage due execution of law in civil cases, and also in criminal prosecutions, that are so indeed; and that we will assist, to the utmost of our power, the officers appointed for that purpose.
The foregoing arguments, narrations and resolves, being laid before the general committee of the New-Hampshire grants, was read sundry times, and carefully examined; and after mature deliberation, Mr. Clark, chairman, put the votes to trial, whether the foregoing was approved of as an answer to the resolves of the general assembly of the Province of New-York? and it was passed in the affirmative. And it was furthermore the advice of this committee, that the foregoing be forthwith exhibited in the public papers, to the intent that all officers, magistrates, and persons whatsoever, may know, that if they presume to take the rioters aforesaid, they do it on their peril.
NATHAN CLARK, Chairman,
JONAS FAY, Clerk.
Bennington, April 14, 1774.
While the convention of the New-Hampshire grants were preparing for the adoption of these resolutions, the General Assembly of New-York proceeded to carry into effect their resolutions of the 5th of February; and, on the 9th of March, 1774, enacted the following extraordinary Law.
AN Act for preventing tumultuous and riotous Assemblies in the places therein mentioned, and for the more speedy and effectual punishing the rioters.
WHEREAS a spirit of riot and licentiousness has, of late, prevailed in some parts of the counties of Charlotte and Albany,* and many acts
* The County of Albany, it is believed, extended to the north line of Manchester, in the present County of Bennington: the territory north of that, on the western side of the mountains, was erected into a separate County, by the name of Charlotte,
of outrage and cruelty have been perpetrated by a number of turbulent men, who, assembling from time to time, in arms, have seized, insulted and menaced, several magistrates, and other civil officers, so that they dare not execute their functions — rescued prisoners for debt — assumed to themselves military commands, and judicial powers — burned and demolished houses and property, and beat and abused the persons of many of his Majesty's subjects — expelled others from their possessions — and finally, have put a period to the administration of justice within, and spread terror and destruction throughout, that part of the country which is exposed to their oppression: Therefore, for the preventing and suppressing such riots and tumults, and for the more speedy and effectual punishing the offenders therein.
1. Be it enacted, by his Excellency the Governor, the Council, and the General Assembly, and it is hereby enacted, by the authority of the same, That, if any persons, to the number of three, or more, being unlawfully , riotously, and tumultuously assembled, within either of the said counties, to the disturbance of the public peace, at any time after the passing of this act, and being required or commanded, by any one or more justice or justices of the peace, or by the high sheriff, or his under sheriff, or by any one of the coroners of the county where such assembly shall be, by proclamation to be made in the King's name, in the form herein after directed, to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, shall, to the number of three, or more, notwithstanding such proclamation made, unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously remain or continue together, to the number of three, or more, after such command or request made by proclamation, shall, for every such offence, upon conviction thereof, in due form of law, either in the supreme court of judicature of this colony, or at the courts of oyer and terminer, and general goal delivery, or at the general sessions of the peace, to be held respectively in and for the said counties of Albany and Charlotte, or either of them, suffer twelve months imprisonment, without bail or mainprize, and such further corporal punishment as the respective courts before which he, she, or they, shall be convicted, shall judge fit, not extending to life or limb; and before his or her discharge, shall enter into recognizance with two sufficient sureties, in such sum as the said courts shall respectively direct, to be of good behaviour, and keep the peace towards his Majesty and all his subjects, for the term of three years from such his, her, or their discharge out of prison.
2. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the order and form of the proclamation which shall be made by the authority of this act, shall be as hereafter follows, that is to say: The justice or other person, authorized by this act to make the said proclamation, shall, among the said rioters or as near to them as he can safely come, with a loud voice command, or cause to be commanded, silence to be kept while proclamation is making; and shall then openly with a loud voice make, or cause to be made, proclamation in these words, or to the like effect: Our Sovereign Lord the King, chargeth and commandeth all persons being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their, lawful business, upon the pain
contained in the act made in the fourteenth year of the reign of King GEORGE the third, to prevent tumultuous and riotous assemblies. And every such justice or justices of the peace, sheriff, under sheriff or coroner, within the limits of the respective counties, where they reside, are hereby authorised, impowered, and required, on notice or knowledge of any such unlawful, riotous and tumultuous assembly, forthwith to repair to the place where such unlawful, riotous and tumultuous assembly shall be, to the number of three or more, and there to make or cause to be made, proclamation in manner aforesaid.
3. And be it farther enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any person or persons do, or shall, with force and arms, wilfully and knowingly oppose, obstruct, or in any manner, wilfully and knowingly let, hinder or hurt any person or persons, who shall begin to proclaim, or go to proclaim, according to the proclamation hereby directed to be made, whereby such proclamation shall not be made; that then, every such opposing, letting, hindering, or hurting, such person or persons, so being or going to make such proclamation as aforesaid, shall be adjudged felony, without benefit of clergy; and that the offenders therein, shall be adjudged felons, and shall suffer death, as in cases of felony without benefit of clergy: And that also, every such person or Persons, so being unlawfully, riotously and tumultuously assembled to the number of three, as aforesaid, or more, to whom proclamation should or ought to have been made, if the same had not been hindred as aforesaid, shall, in case they, or any of them, to the number of three or more, shall continue together, and not forthwith disperse themselves, after such let or hindrance, having knowledge of such let or hindrance, shall, likewise, for every such offence, upon conviction thereof, in manner aforesaid, suffer the same pains and penalties as are hereby inflicted on those who shall continue together to the number of three or more, after they shall be commanded to depart to their habitations, or lawful business, by proclamation as aforesaid.
4. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if such persons so unlawfully, riotously and tumultuously assembled, or any three or more of them, after proclamation made in manner aforesaid, shall continue together, and not forthwith disperse themselves, it shall and may be lawful to and for every such justice of the peace, sheriff, under sheriff, coroner, or constable, of any county or township where such assembly shall be; and to and for such person or persons as shall be commanded to be assisting unto such justice of the peace, sheriff, under sheriff, coroner, or constable, (who are hereby authorised and impowered to command all his Majesty's subjects of age and ability, to be aiding and assisting to them therein;) to seize and apprehend, and they are hereby required to seize and apprehend such persons so unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously assembled together, after proclamation made as aforesaid, and forthwith to carry the persons so apprehended, before any one or more of his Majesty's justices of the peace of the said counties of Charlotte or Albany, in order to their being proceeded against for such their offences according to law.
And that, if the persons so unlawfully, riotously and tumultuously assembled, or any of them, shall happen to be killed, maimed, or hurt,
the dispersing, seizing or apprehending them, by reason of their resisting the persons so dispersing, seizing, or apprehending, or endeavouring to disperse, seize, or apprehend them; that then, every such justice of the peace, sheriff, under sheriff, coroner or constable, and all and singular persons aiding and assisting to them, or any of them, shall be freed, discharged, and indemnified, as well against the King's Majesty, his heirs and successors, as against all and every other person or persons, of, for, or concerning the killing, maiming, or hurting of any such person or persons, so unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously assembled, that shall happen to he so killed, maimed, or hurt as sforesaid.
5. And be it further enacted by the, authority aforesaid, That, if any person or persons, within the said counties, or either of them, not being lawfully authorized a judge, justice, or magistrate, shall assume judicial power, or shall try, fine, sentence or condemn any person who shall either be absent, or shall unlawfully or forcibly be seized, taken, or brought before him or them, for trial or punishment; or if any person or persons shall aid or assist in such illegal proceedings, or shall enforce, execute or carry the same into effect; or if any person or persons shall, unlawfully, seize, detain, or confine, or assault and beat any magistrate or civil officer, for, or in the respect of any act or proceeding in the due exercise of his function, or in order to compel him to resign, renounce, or surcease his commission or authority, or to terrify, hinder, or prevent him from performing and discharging the duties thereof; or if any person or persons, either secretly or openly, shall, unlawfully, wilfully and maliciously, burn or destroy the grain, corn or hay, of any other person, being in any inclosure; or if any persons, unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously assembled together, to the disturbance of the public peace, shall, unlawfully, and with force, demolish or pull down, or begin to demolish or pull down, any dwelling-house, barn, stable, grist saw-mill, or out-house, within either of the said counties; that then, each of the said offences, respectively, shall be adjudged felony, without benefit of clergy; and the offenders therein shall be adjudged felons, and shall suffer death, as in cases of felony without benefit of clergy.
6. And whereas complaint and proofs have been made, as well before his Excellency the Governor in Council, as before the General Assembly, That Ethan Allen, some time Salisbury, in the colony of Connecticut, but late of Bennington, in the county of Albany, yeoman; Seth Warner, late of Bennington, in the said county, yeoman; Remember Baker, late of Arlington, in the said county, yeoman; Robert Cochran, late of Ruport, in the county of Charlotte, yeoman; Peleg Sunderland and Silvanus Brown, late of Socialborough, in the same county, yeoman; James Brackenridge, late of Wallumschack, in the county of Albany, yeoman; and John Smith, late of Socialborough, yeoman; have been principal ring leaders of, and actors in, the riots and disturbances aforesaid; and the general assembly have, thereupon, addressed his Excellency the Governor, to issue a proclamation offering certain rewards for apprehending and securing the said offenders, and for bringing them and the other perpetrators and authors of the riots to justice: And forasmuch as such disorderly practices are highly criminal and destructive to the
peace and settlement of the country, and it is indispensably necessary for want of process to outlawry (which is not used in this colony) that special provision be made for bringing such offenders, in future, to trial and punishment, without exposing the colony to the expence of extraordinary rewards and bounties for apprehending such offenders.
Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That it shall and may be lawful to, and for, his Excellency the Governor, or the Governor and Commander in Chief, for the time being, by, and with, the advice of the council, as often as either of the above named persons, or any other person, shall be indicted in either of the counties aforesaid, for any offence perpetrated after the passing of this act, made capital by this or any other law, or where any person may stand indicted for any of the offences above mentioned, not made felony by this act, to make his order in council, thereby requiring and commanding such offender or offenders to surrender themselves, respectively, within the space of seventy days, next after the first publication thereof, in the New York Gazette, and Weekly Mercury, to one of his Majesty's justices of the peace, for either of the said counties respectively, who are hereby required, thereupon, to commit him or them, without bail or mainprize, to the goal of the City of New-York, or of the City and County of Albany, to the end that he or they may be forth-coming to answer the offence or offences, wherewith he or they shall stand charged, according to the ordinary course of the law; which order the clerk of his Majesty's Council, or his deputy, shall cause, forthwith, to be printed and published, in eight successive papers, of the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury; the two first of which to be, forthwith, transmitted to the sheriffs of the counties of Albany and Charlotte; and the said sheriffs, respectively, shall, within six days after the receipt thereof; cause the same printed orders to be affixed upon the door of the court-house of the county of Albany, and upon the door of the dwell-house of Patrick Smith, Esq., where the courts are now usually held for the said county of Charlotte, and upon the doors of two other public-houses in each of their respective counties. And in case the said offenders shall not respectively surrender themselves, pursuant to such orders of his Excellency the Governor, or of the Governor and Commander in Chief, for the time being, to be made in council as aforesaid; he or they, so neglecting or refusing to surrender himself or themselves as aforesaid, shall, from the day to be appointed for his or their surrendry as aforesaid, be adjudged, deemed, and (if indicted for a capital offence hereafter to be perpetrated) to be convicted and attainted of felony, and shall suffer death, as in cases of persons convicted and attainted of felony, by verdict and judgment, without benefit of clergy; and that it shall and may be lawful to and for the supreme court of judicature of this colony, or the courts of oyer and terminer, or general goal delivery, for the respective counties aforesaid, to award execution against such offender or offenders, so indicted for a capital offence perpetrated after the passing of this act, in such manner as if he or they had been convicted or attainted in the said supreme courts of judicature, or before such courts of oyer and terminer, or general goal delivery respectively. And if any offender, being indicted for a lesser offence, under
the degree of felony, shall not surrender himself within the time fixed by such order, and after such notice aforesaid, he shall thenceforth be deemed guilty of the offence for which he may be charged by such indictment; and it shall be lawful for the court wherein such indictment is found, to proceed to pronounce such judgment against the offender, as might lawfully be done if he was present in court, and convicted in the ordinary course of the law, of the crime wherewith he shall so stand charged as aforesaid. Provided always,
7. And be it further enacted by the same authority aforesaid, That, if any person, so neglecting to surrender himself as aforesaid, within the said seventy days, shall, at any time after, surrender himself to the sheriff of the City of New-York or Albany, or of the counties of Dutchess or West-Chester, (who are to receive, and safely keep such offenders) and being actually in custody, shall exhibit reasonable proof, to the satisfaction of the judges of the supreme court of this colony, or either of them, that he was not within either of the said counties of Albany or Charlotte, or within either of the counties of Cumberland or Gloucester, at any time after the publication and notices above directed, and before such surrender of himself as aforesaid; then such judge before whom such proof is made, shall, forthwith, notify the same in writing, to the sheriff to whom any warrant of execution for the executing such offender, or any other process for any lesser punishment hath been, or may be issued; and thenceforth such prisoner or offender shall not be liable to suffer death or any other punishment for not surrendering himself — Provided also, that nothing in this act contained shall be construed to exempt any offender, so surrendering himself after the seventy days as aforesaid, from any punishment to which he may be liable for any other crime than for not surrendering himself within the seventy days as aforesaid; nor to deprive any person who shall so surrender himself within the seventy days, from being bailed, in cases where he shall be bailable by law; any thing herein contained to the contrary thereof, in any wise, nothwithstanding.
8. And be it further enacted by the same authority aforesaid, That, all and every person and persons who shall, after the expiration of the time to be appointed, as aforesaid, for the surrender of the respective offenders herein before named, harbour, receive, conceal, abet, or succour such offender, or offenders, knowing him or them to have been required to surrender him or themselves by such order or orders as aforesaid, and not to have surrendered pursuant thereto, shall, upon conviction thereof, in due form of law, suffer the same pains and penalties as are, by this act, inflicted on those who shall continue together to the number of three or more, after they shall be commanded to depart to their habitation or lawful business, by proclamation as aforesaid.
9. And whereas the said county of Charlotte, hath but lately been set off from the said county of Albany, and there is yet no goal or court-house erected within the same; and a great part of the said county being involved in a state of anarchy and confusion, by reason of the violent proceedings of the aforesaid riotous and disorderly people, from whence it must, at present, be extremely difficult, if not impracticable, to bring offenders to justice within the said county.
Be it therefore further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all treasons, felonies, crimes, misdemeanors and offences whatsoever, at any time heretofore committed or perpetrated, or hereafter to be committed or perpetrated within the said county of Charlotte, shall and may be proceeded against and presented by any grand jury for the county of Albany, from time to time, to be impanelled and sworn at any court of criminal jurisdiction to be held in and for the said county of Albany; who shall and may charge any of the said offences to have been committed in any part of the said county of Charlotte; and all indictments so found by them, shall be adjudged to be good and valid, notwithstanding that the place of perpetrating any of the said offences be in the said indictments alledged to be out of the said county of Albany; and all such offences and offenders which shall be presented or indicted as aforesaid, shall and may be tried within the county of Albany, and by a jury thereof, and there heard, determined, and punished in the same manner and form as if such treason, felony, crime, misdemeanor or offence, had arisen and been perpetrated within the said county of Albany.
10. Provided always, and be it further enacted, That if, at any time hereafter, the justices to be appointed for holding courts of oyer and terminer, and general goal delivery, for the said county of Charlotte, in cases cognizable before them, or the justices of the general session of the peace for the said county of Charlotte, in cases cognizable before them, shall conceive that any prisoner or offender may be safely brought to justice within, and by a jury of, the said county of Charlotte; that then, it shall and may be lawful to and for each of the said courts respectively, to proceed against, and try, such prisoner or offender, having lawful cognizance of his cause, within, and by a jury of, the said county of Charlotte; and him there to acquit or to sentence, condemn, and punish, as the law directs; any thing in this act to the contrary thereof notwithstanding.
11. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That this act shall be publickly read in every court of general sessions of the peace, to be held in each of the said counties of Albany and Charlotte respectively.
12. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That this act shall remain and continue in full force and effect, from the passing thereof, until the first day of January, which will be in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six."
With the passage of this law, terminated every prospect of peace, or submission to the claims of New-York. The New-Hampshire grantees regarded it as originating, solely, in the avarice of a set of speculators, who coveted their lands with their valuable improvements; and as designed to terrify them into submission. They well knew that the great body of the people of New-York felt no interest in enforcing the claims involved in this controversy. On the contrary, the popular sentiment was favorable to the rights of the settlers; and former experience had
proved that the militia of that colony could not be brought to act against them, with any effect.
Under such circumstances, the threatenings of that government, so far from inspiring terror, were regarded with utter contempt; and instead of palsying, nerved the arm of resistance. Indeed, the idea of submission seems never, for a moment, to have occupied the attention of the handful of brave men against whom these measures were directed. Educated in the school of adversity, and inured to hardship and danger, they met, and sustained the shock, with a firm, unbroken spirit.
The following remonstrance, signed by Ethan Allen and others, presents, it is believed, a fair specimen of the views and feelings of the great body of the New-Hampshire grantees, at this trying period.
"His Excellency, Governor Tryon, in conformity to the addresses of the general assembly of the colony of New-York, having, on the 9th day of March, 1774, with the advice of his Council, issued his proclamation, offering, therein, large stuns of money for the purpose of apprehending and imprisoning the following persons, viz. Ethan Allen, Seth Warner, Remember Baker, Robert Cochran, Peleg Sunderland, Silvanus Brown, James Brackenridge, and James Smith.
And whereas his Excellency the Governor, by the same proclamation, hath, strictly, enjoined and commanded all magistrates, justices of the peace, sheriffs, and other civil officers of the counties of Albany and Charlotte, to be active and vigilant, in apprehending and imprisoning the persons above-named; and we, the aforesaid persons, who have hereunto subscribed, being conscious that our cause is good and equitable in the sight of GOD, and all unprejudiced and honest men, are determined, at all events, to maintain and defend the same, till his Majesty's pleasure shall be known concerning the validity of the New-Hampshire grants. — And we now proclaim to the public, not only for ourselves but for the New-Hampshire grantees, and occupants in general, that the spring, and moving cause, of our opposition to the government of New-York, was self-preservation, viz. Firstly, the preservation and maintaining of our property: and secondly, since that government is so incensed against us, therefore it stands us in hand to defend our lives; for, it appears, by a late set of laws passed by the legislature thereof, that the lives and property of the New-Hampshire settlers are manifestly struck at; but, that the public may righlty understand the essence of the controversy, we now proclaim to those law-givers, and to the world, that if the New-York patentees will remove their patents that have been, subsequently, laped and laid on the New-Hampshire charters, and quiet us in our possessions, agreeable to his Majesty's directions, and suspend those criminal prosecutions against us for being rioters (as we are unjustly denominated) then will our settlers be orderly and submissive subjects to government; but, be it known to that despotic fraternity of law makers and law-breakers, that we will not be fooled or frighted out of our property. They have broke over his Majesty's express prohibitions, in patenting those lands, and when they act in conformity to the regal authority of Great-Britain,
it will be soon enough for us to obey them. It is well known by all wise and sensible persons in the neighbouring governments, (that have animadverted on the controversy) that their pretended zeal for good order and government, is fallacious, and that they aim at the lands and labours of the grantees and settlers aforesaid; and that they subvert the good and wholesome laws of the realm, to corroborate with, and bring about their vile and mercenary purposes.
And, inasmuch as the malignity of their disposition towards us, hath flamed to an immeasurable and murderous degree, they have, in their new-fangled laws, calculated for the meridian of the New-Hampshire grants, passed the 9th of March, 1774, so calculated them, as to correspond with the depravedness of their minds and morals; — in them laws, they have exhibited their genuine pictures. The emblems of their insatiable, avaricious, overbearing, inhuman, barbarous, and blood-guiltiness of disposition and intention is therein portraited in that transparent image of themselves, which cannot fail to be a blot, and an infamous reproach to them, to posterity. — We cannot suppose that every of his Majesty's Council, or that all the members of the general assembly were active in passing so bloody and unconstitutional a set of laws. Undoubtedly, some of them disapproved thereof; and it is altogether possible, that many that were active in making the law, were imposed upon by false representations, and acted under mistaken views of doing honor to government; but be this as it will, it appears that there was a majority. And it has been too much the case with that government, for a number of designing schemers, and land-jockeys, to rule the same. Let us take a view of their former narrow and circumbscribed boundaries, and how, that by legerdemain, bribery and deceptions of one sort or other, they have extended their domain far and wide. They have wrangled with, and encroached on their neighbouring governments, and have used all manner of deceit and fraud to accomplish their designs: their tenants groan under their usury and oppression; and they have gained, as well as merited, the disapprobation and abhorence of their neighbours; and the innocent blood they have already shed, calls for heaven's vengeance on their guilty heads; and if they should come forth in arms against us, thousands of their injured and dissatisfied neighbours in the several governments, will join with us, to cut off, and extirpated such an execrable race from the face of the earth!
This piece is not supposed to contain a full answer to the new constructed laws aforesaid; for such a large two year old, hath never before been seen in America, it being of an enormous and monstrous birth; nor is it supposed to give the legislators their full characters: but so much may suffice for the present. To quote the laws, and make remarks thereon, would be matter sufficient for a volume: however, we will yet make some short observations.
1st. Negatively, it is not a law for the Province of New-York in general, but,
2d. Positively, it is a law but for part of the counties of Charlotte and Albany, viz. such parts thereof as are covered with the New-Hampshire charters; and it is well known those grants compose but a minor part of
the inhabitants of the said Province; and we have no representative in that assembly. The first knowledge we had of said laws, was the completion of them; which informed us, that if we assembled, three or more of us together, to oppose (that which they call legal) authority, we shall be adjudged felons, and suffer the pains of death; and that same fraternity of plotters knew, as well as we, and the generality of the people in the adjacent colonies, that they have, for a number of years last past, endeavored to exercise such a course of what they call law, that had they not been opposed by the people of these grants (called the MOB) in the executing the same, they would, before this time, have been in possession of that territory, for which the laws aforesaid are calculated. Therefore the case stands thus: If we oppose civil officers, in taking possession of our farms, we are, by these laws, denominated felons; or if we defend our neighbours who have been indicted rioters, only for defending our property; we are likewise adjudged felons. In fine, every opposition to their monarchical government is deemed felony, and at the end of every such sentence, there is the word DEATH! And the same laws further impowered the respective judges, provided any persons, to the number of three, or more, that shall oppose any Magistrate, or other civil officer, and be not taken, that after a legal warning of seventy days, if they do not come and yield themselves up to certain officers appointed for the purpose of securing them; then it shall be lawful for the judges aforesaid, to award execution of DEATH, the same as though he or they had been convicted or attainted before a proper court of judicature, &c. The candid reader will, doubtless, observe, that the diabolical design of this law, is to obtain possession of the New-Hampshire grants, or to make the people that defend them, out-laws, and so kill them whenever they can catch them.
Those bloody law-givers know we are necessitated to oppose their execution of law, where it points directly at our property, or give up the same: but there is one thing is matter of consolation to us, viz. that printed sentences of death will not kill us when we are at a distance; and if the executioners approach us, they will be as likely to fall victims to death as we: and that person, or country of persons, are cowards indeed, if they cannot, as manfully, fight for their liberty, property and life, as villains can do to deprive them thereof.
The New-York schemers accuse us with many things; part of which are true, and part not. — With respect to rescuing prisoners for debt, it is false. As to assuming judicial powers, we have not, except a well-regulated combination of the people to defend their just rights, may be called so. As to forming ourselves into military order, and assuming military commands, the New-York possies, and military preparations, oppressions, &c. obliged us to it. Probably Messieurs Duane, Kemp, and Banyar, of New-York, will not discommend us for so expedient a preparation; more especially since the decrees of the 9th of March, are yet to be put in execution: and we flatter ourselves, upon occasion, we can muster as good a regiment of mark's-men and scalpers, as America can afford; and we now give the gentlemen above-named, together with Mr. Brush, and Col. Ten Broeck, and in fine, all the land-jobbers of New-York, an invi‑
tation to come and view the dexterity of our regiment; and we cannot think of a better time for that purpose, than when the executioners come to kill us, by virtue of the authority their judges have lately received to award and sentence us to death in our absence. There is still one more notable complaint against us, viz. That we have insulted and menaced several magistrates, and other civil officers, so that they dare not execute their respective functions. This is true, so far as it relates to the magistrates. But the public should be informed, what the functions of those magistrates are:— they are commissioned for the sole purpose of doing us all the harm and mischief they possibly can, through their administration and influence; and that they might be subservient to the wicked designs of the New-York schemers. These are their functions; and the public need no further proof than the consideration that they are the tools of those extravagant law-makers; and it must be owned, they acted with great judgment, in choosing the most infernal instruments for their purpose.
Draco, the Athenian law-giver, caused a number of laws, (in many respects analogous to those we have been speaking of,) to be written in blood. But our modern Draco's determine to have their's verified in blood. They well know we shall, more than three, nay, more than three times three hundred, assemble together, if need be, to maintain our common cause, till his Majesty determines who shall be and remain the owners of the land in contest. "Wilt not thou possess that which Chemoth, thy God, giveth thee to possess?" So will we possess that which the Lord our God (and King) giveth us to possess.
And lastly, we address ourselves to the people of the counties of Albany and Charlotte, which inhabit to the westward of, and are situated contiguous to, the New-Hampshire grants.
GENTLEMEN, FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS,
Providence having alloted and fixed the bounds of our habitations in the same vicinity, which, together with the intercourse of trade and commerce, hath formed an almost universal acquaintance and tie of friendship between us, and hath laid such a foundation of knowledge, that your people, in general, cannot but be sensible that the title of our land is, in reality, the bone of contention; and that, as a people, we behave ourselves orderly; and are industrious, and honestly disposed; and pay just deference to order and good government; and that we mean no more by that which is called the MOB, but to defend our just rights and properties. We appeal to the gentlemen merchants, to inform whether our people in general, do not exert themselves to pay their just debts; and whether ever they have been hindered by the country's MOB, in the collection of their dues. But as the magistrates, sheriffs, under sheriffs, coroners, and constables, of the respective counties, that hold their posts of honor and profit under our bitter enemies, we have a jealousy, that some of them may be induced (to recommend themselves to those on whom they are dependant, and for the wages of unrighteousness, offered by proclamation) to presume to apprehend some of us, or our friends: We therefore, advertise such officers, and all persons whatsoever, that we are resolved to inflict immediate death on whomsoever may attempt the same. And provided any of us or our party shall be taken, and we have not notice
sufficient to relieve them, or whether we relieve them or not, we are resolved to surround such person or persons, whether at his or their own house or houses, or any where that we can find him or them, and shoot such person or persons dead. And furthermore, that we will kill and destroy any person or persons whomsoever, that shall presume to be accessary, aiding or assisting in taking any of us as aforesaid; for by these presents we give any such disposed person or persons to understand, that, although they have a licence by the law aforesaid, to kill us; and an "indemnification" for such murder from the same authority; yet they have no indemnification for so doing, from the green mountain boys; for our lives, liberties and properties, are as verily precious to us, as to any of the King's subjects; and we are as loyal to his Majesty or his government, as any subjects in the Province: but, if the governmental authority of New-York will judge in their own case, and act in opposition to that of Great-Britain, and insist upon killing us, to take possession of our "vineyards" — come on, we are ready for a game of scalping with them; for our martial spirits glow with bitter indignation, and consumate fury, to blast their infernal projections.
It may be, the reader, not having seen the law referred to in this piece, and not being thoroughly acquainted with the long and spirited conflict that hath subsisted between the claimants under New-Hampshire and New-York, nor of the progressive, arbitrary, and monopolizing disposition of the court party of the latter of those Provinces; may be apt to imagine that the spirit of this writing is too severe, inasmuch as it destined whoever presumes to take us as felons or rioters, to immediate death; but let the wise consider the state of the cause.
1. Provided we on our part be taken, we have by them laws the sentence of death already pronounced against us, on proviso more than three of us assemble together to maintain and defend our property, till his Majesty determines the controversy. And,
2. May it be considered, that the legislative authority of the Province of New-York had no constitutional right or power to make such laws; and consequently, that they are null and void, from the nature and energy of the English constitution; therefore as they merit no place among the laws of the realm of Great-Britain, but are the arbitrary league and combination of our bitter and merciless enemies, who, to obtain our property, have inhumanly, barbarously, and maliciously, under the specious and hypocritical pretence of legal authority, and veneration for order and government, laid a snare for our lives; can the public censure us for exerting ourselves nervously to preserve our lives, in so critical a situation? For by the laws of the Province, into which we are unfortunately fallen, we cannot be protected in either property or life, except we give up the former to secure the latter; so we are resolved to maintain both, or to hazard or loose both.
From hence follows a necessary inference, That inasmuch as our property, nay, our lives, cannot be protected (but manifestly struck at) by the highest authority in the Province to which we, at present, belong; therefore; in the interim, while his Majesty is determining the controversy, and till he shall interpose his royal authority, and subject the authority
aforesaid to their duty, or re-annex the district of disputed lands to the Province of New-Hampshire, or some way, in his great wisdom, and fatherly clemency, put the distressd settlers under New-Hampshire, on an equal footing with our brother subjects in his realm; we are under necessity of resisting, even unto blood, every person who may attempt to take us as felons or rioters as aforesaid; for in this case it is not resisting law, but only opposing force by force; therefore, inasmuch as by the oppresssions aforesaid, the New-Hampshire settlers are reduced to the disagreeable state of anarchy and confusion; in which state we hope for wisdom, patience and fortitude, till the happy hour his Majesty shall graciously be pleased to restore us to the privileges of Englishmen.
Bennington, April 26, 1774.
The following lines, composed by Thomas Rowley, distinguished, in those days, for wit and poetry, appear to have been annexed to the foregoing.
"When Cæsar reigned King at Rome
St. Paul was sent to hear his doom;
But Roman laws, in a criminal case,
Must have the accuser face to face,
Or Cæsar gives a flat denial. ———
But here's a law made now of late,
Which destines men to awful fate,
And hangs and damns without a trial.
Which made me view all nature through,
To find a law where men were ti'd,
By legal act which doth exact
Men's lives before they're try'd.
Then down I took the sacred book,
And turn'd the pages o'er,
But could not find one of this kind,
By God or man before."
While this controversy was thus advancing, with fearful progress, to a state of general war, the contest between Great-Britain and her American Colonies, was approaching an alarming crisis. So threatening had become its aspect, that measures were taken for convening a continental Congress; and, accordingly, Delegates from twelve of the Colonies met at Philadelphia, on the 5th of September, 1774.
The meeting of this Congress was followed by an almost universal suspension of the royal authority in the Colonies; and "the courts of
justice were either shut up, or adjourned, without doing any business.”* The first interruption of this kind, in the Colony of New-York, happened in the County of Cumberland,† on the New-Hampshire grants. "The stated session of the Court, for that County, was to have been holden, at Westminster, on the 13th of March, 1775.‡ day arrived, the Court convened, and the populace assembled. The scene that followed, is described in the following document.
"A relation of the proceedings of the people of the County of Cumberland, and Province of New-York.
In June, 1774, there were some letters came to the supervisors of said county, from the committee of correspondence at New-York, signed by their chairman, Mr. Low; which letters said supervisors, through ignorance or intention, kept until September, when they had another meeting; and it is supposed that they intended always to have kept them, and the good people would have remained in ignorance about them until this time, had it not been by accident that it was whispered abroad, so that Dr. Reuben Jones of Rockingham, and Capt. Azariah Wright of Westminister heard of it, and took proper care to notify those towns. A meeting was called in the two towns aforesaid, and a committee was chosen by each town, to wait on the supervisors, at their meeting in September, to see if there were any papers that should be laid before the several towns in the county; and they found that there were papers come from the committee of correspondence, that should have been laid before the towns in June. The supervisors made many excuses for their conduct: some plead ignorance, and some one thing, and some another: but the most of them did seem to think, that they could send a return to the committee at New-York, without ever laying them before their constituents; which principle, at this day, so much prevails, that it is the undoing of the people. Men, at this day, are so tainted with the principles of tyranny, that they would fain believe, that as they are chosen by the people to any kind of office, for any particular thing, that they have the sole power of that people by whom they are chosen, and can act in the name of that people in any matter or thing, though it is not in any connection with what they were chosen for. But the committees would not consent to have a return made, until every town in the county, had Mr. Low's letters laid before them; which was done, and a county congress was called; return was made, a committee was chosen to see, that it was put in print; but, through interest, or otherwise, it never was published in any of the papers.
Immediately after, the people of the county aforesaid received the resolves of the continental congress. They called a county congress, and did adopt all the resolves of the continental congress as their resolves; promising religiously to adhere to that agreement or association. There was a committee of inspection moved for, to be chosen by the county,
* Williams' history.
† The government of New-York had divided the grants on the east side of the Mountain, into two Counties: Cumberland, at the south, and Gloucester, at the north.
‡ Williams' history.
according to the second resolve of the association aforesaid: but being much spoken against by a justice and an attorney, and looked upon by them as a childish, impertinent thing, the delegates dared not choose one. At this time there were tory parties forming, although they were under disguise; and had laid a plan to bring the lower sort of the people into a state of bondage and slavery. They saw that there was no cash stirring, and they took that opportunity to collect debts, knowing that men had no other way to pay them, than by having their estates taken by execution, and sold at vendue. There were but very few men among us that were able to buy; and those men were so disposed, that they would take all the world into their own hands, without paying any thing for it, if they could, by law; which would soon bring the whole country into slavery. Most, or all of our men in authority, and all that wanted court favours, seemed much enraged, and stirred up many vexatious law-suits, and imprisoned many, contrary to the laws of this province, and the statutes of the crown. One man they put into close prison for high treason; and all that they proved against him, was, that he said if the King had signed the Quebec bill, it was his opinion that he had broke his coronation-oath. But the good people went and opened the prison door and let him go, and did no violence to any man's person or property.
Our men in office would say that they did like the resolutions of the continental congress, and they ought to be strictly adhered to, until our general assembly voted against them. Then they said, that this would do for the Bay-Province, but it was childish for us to pay any regard to them. Some of our court would boldly say, that the King had a just right to make the revenue-acts, for he had a supreme power; and he that said otherwise was guilty of high treason, and they did hope that they would be executed accordingly. The people were of opinion that such men were not suitable to rule over them: and, as the general assembly of this Province would not accede to the association of the continental congress, the good people were of opinion, that if they did accede to any power from or under them, they should be guilty of the breach of the 14th article of that association, and may justly be dealt with, accordingly, by all America. When the good people considered that the general assembly were for bringing them into a state of slavery, (which did appear plain by their not acceding to the best method to procure their liberties, and the executive power so strongly acquiescing in all that they did, whether it was right or wrong;) the good people of said county thought it time to look to themselves. And they thought that it was dangerous to trust their lives and fortunes in the hands of such enemies to American liberty; but more particularly unreasonable that there should be any court held; since, thereby, we must accede to what our general assembly had done, in not acceding to what the whole continent had recommended; and that all America would break off all dealings and commerce with us, and bring us into a state of slavery at once. Therefore in duty to God, ourselves, and posterity, we thought ourselves under the strongest obligations to resist and to oppose all authority that would not accede to the resolves of the continental congress. But, knowing that many of our court were men that neither feared or regarded men, we
thought that it was most prudent to go and persuade the judges to stay at home. Accordingly there were about forty good true men went from Rockingham to Chester, to dissuade Col. Chandler, the chief judge, from attending court. He said he believed it would be for the good of the county not to have any court, as things were: but there was one case of murder that they must see to, and if it was not agreeable to the people, they would not have any other case. One of the committee told him that the sheriff would raise a number with arms, and that there would be bloodshed. The Colonel said that he would give his word and honour that there should not be any arms brought against us; and he would go down to court on Monday the 13th of March inst., which was the day that the court was to be opened. We told him that we would wait on him, if it was his will. He said, that our company would be very agreeable; likewise he returned us his hearty thanks for our civility, and so we parted with him.
We heard from the southern part of the state, that Judge Sabin was very earnest to have the law go on, as well as many petty officers. There were but two judges in the county at that time, Col. Wells being gone to New-York. There was a great deal of talk in what manner to stop the court; and at length it was agreed on to let the court come together, and lay the reasons we had against their proceeding, before them, thinking they were men of such sense that they would hear them. But on Friday, we heard that the court was going to take the possession of the house on the 13th inst., and to keep a strong guard at the doors of said house, that we could not come in. We being justly alarmed by the deceit of our court, though it was not strange, therefore we thought proper to get to court before the armed guards were placed; for, we were determined that our grievances should be laid before the court, before it was opened. On Monday, the 13th of March inst., there were about 100 of us entered the court-house, about four o'clock in the afternoon. But we had but just entered, before we were alarmed by a large number of men, armed with guns, swords, and pistols. But we, in the house, had not any weapons of war among us, and were determined that they should not come in with their weapons of war, except by the force of them.
Esq. Patterson came up at the head of his armed company, within about five yards of the door, and commanded us to disperse; to which he got no answer. He then caused the King's Proclamation to be read, and told us, that if we did not disperse in fifteen minutes, by G—d he would blow a lane through us. We told him that we would not disperse. We told them that they might come in, if they would unarm themselves, but not without. One of our men went out at the door, and asked them if they were come for war; told them that we were come for peace, and that we should be glad to hold a parley with them. At that, Mr. Gale, the clerk of the court, drew a pistol, held it up, and said, d—n the parley with such d—d rascals as you are; I will hold no parley with such rascals, but by this, — holding up his pistol. They gave us very harsh language, told us we should be in hell before morning; but, after a while, they drew a little off from the house, and seemed to be in a consultation. Three of us went out to treat with them; but the most, or all,
that we could get from them, was, that they would not talk with such d—d rascals as we were; and we soon returned to the house, and they soon went off.
Col. Chandler came in, and we laid the case before him, and told him that we had his word that there should not be any arms brought against us. He said that the arms were brought without his consent, but he would go and take them away from them, and we should enjoy the house undisturbed until morning; and that the court should come in the morning without arms, and should hear what we had to lay before them; and then he went away. We then went out of the house and chose a committee, which drew up articles to stand for, and read them to the company; and they were voted nem. con. dis. and some of our men went to the neighbours, and as many as the court and their party saw, they bound.
About midnight, or a little before, the sentry, at the door, espyed some men with guns, and he gave the word to man the doors; and the walk was crowded. Immediately, the sheriff and his company marched up fast, within about ten rods of the door, and then the word was given, take care, and then, fire. Three fired immediately. The word fire was repeated; G—d d—n you fire, send them to hell, was most or all the words that were to be heard for some time: on which, there were several men wounded; one was shot with four bullets, one of which went through his brain, of which wound he died next day. Then they rushed in with their guns, swords, and clubs, and did most cruelly mammoc several more; and took some that were not wounded, and those that were, and crowded them all into close prison together, and told them that they should all be in hell before the next night, and that they did wish that there were forty more in the same case with that dying man. When they put him into prison, they took and dragged him as one would a dog; and would mock him as he lay gasping, and make sport for themselves, at his dying motions. The people that escaped took prudent care to notify the people in the county, and also in the government of New-Hampshire, and the Bay; which being justly alarmed at such an unheard of and aggravated piece of murder, did kindly interpose in our favour.
On Tuesday the 14th inst. about 12 o'clock, nearly 200 men, well armed, came from New-Hampshire government; and before night there were several of the people of Cumberland county returned, and took up all they knew of, that were in the horrid massacre, and confined them under a strong guard; and afterwards they confined as many as they could get evidence against, except several that did escape for their lives. On the 15th inst. the body formed, chose a moderator and clerk, and chose a committee to see that the coroner's jury of inquest were just, impartial men; which jury on their oath did bring in, that W. Patterson, &c. &c. did, on the 13th March inst., by force and arms, make an assault on the body of William French, then and there lying dead, and shot him through the head with a bullet, of which wound he died, and not otherwise. Then, the criminals were confined in close prison, and, on the evening of the same day, and early the next morning, a large number came from the southern part of the county of Cumberland, and the Bay Province. It is computed, that in the whole, there were 500 good martial soldiers, well
equipped for war, that had gathered. On the 16th inst. the body assembled; but being so numerous that they could not do business, there was a vote passed, to choose a large committee to represent the whole, and that this committee should consist of men who did not belong to the county of Cumberland, as well as of those that did belong thereto; which was done. After the most critical and impartial examination of evidence, voted, that the heads of them should be confined in Northampton jail, till they could have a fair trial; and those that did not appear so guilty, should be under bonds, holden to answer at the next court of oyer and terminer in the county aforesaid; which was agreed to. On the 17th inst. bonds were taken for those that were to be bound, and the rest set out under a strong guard for Northampton.
We, the committee aforesaid, embrace this opportunity to return our most grateful acknowledgments and sincere thanks to our truly wise and patriotic friends in the government of New-Hampshire and the Massachusetts-Bay, for their kind and benevolent interposition in our favour, at such a time of distress and confusion aforesaid; strongly assuring them, that we shall be always ready for their aid and assistance, if by the dispensations of divine providence, we are called thereto.
Signed by order of the Committee.
REUBEN JONES, Clerk.
Cumberland County, March 23d, 1775.
Hitherto, the opposition to the claims of New-York had been confined, principally, to the inhabitants on the western side of the mountains. Many of the New-Hampshire grantees, in the vicinity of Connecticut River, had surrendered their original charters, and taken new grants under the authority of New-York; and had, not only submitted, quietly, to the jurisdiction of that colony, but stood unconcerned spectators of the controversy in which the settlers, on the western grants, were so deeply involved.
They were not, however, indifferent to the policy pursued by Great Britain towards her American Colonies. Most of the settlers, on the New-Hampshire grants, were emigrants from Massachusetts and Connecticut; and readily sympathised in the feelings which pervaded those Colonies; and which, at this period, were spreading, with an astonishing rapidity, through every part of the country. The Provincial Assembly of New-York had withholden its approbation of the measures recommended by the Continental Congress; while those measures had received the sanction of every other Colony.
These causes, as has been seen in the document just recorded, led the way to an event, which roused a spirit of opposition to New-York, on the eastern side of the mountains. The massacre (as it was called) of the 13th of March, electrified the whole county of Cumberland: and, as if to give a new impulse to the opposition in that quarter, "the principal
persons engaged in that massacre, and who had been confined in the jail at Northampton, were released, on application to the chief justice of New-York."*
This train of events produced, at length, a general disposition to resist the administration of the government of New-York; — as will appear by the following proceedings.
AT a meeting of Committees appointed by a large body of inhabitants on the east side of the range of Green Mountains, held at Westminster, on the 11th day of April, 1775.
1. VOTED, That Major Abijah Lovejoy be the Moderator of this meeting.
2. VOTED, That Dr. Reuben Jones be the Clerk.
3. VOTED, as our opinion, That our inhabitants are in great danger of having their property unjustly, cruelly, and unconstitutionally taken from them, by the arbitrary and designing administration of the government of New-York; sundry instances having already taken place.
4. VOTED, as our opinion, that the lives of those inhabitants are in the utmost hazard and imminent danger, under the present administration. Witness the malicious and horrid massacre of the night of the 13th ult.
5. VOTED, as our opinion, That it is the duty of said inhabitants, as predicated on the eternal and immutable law of self-preservation, to wholly renounce and resist the administration of the government of New-York, till such time as the lives and property of those inhabitants may be secured by it; or till such time as they can have opportunity to lay their grievances before his most gracious Majesty in Council, together with a proper remonstrance against the unjustifiable conduct of that government; with an humble petition, to be taken out of so oppressive a jurisdiction, and, either annexed to some other government, or erected and incorporated into a new one, as may appear best to the said inhabitants, to the royal wisdom and clemency, and till such time as his Majesty shall settle this controversy.
6. VOTED, That Colonel John Hazeltine, Charles Phelps, Esq. and Colonel Ethan Allen, be a Committee to prepare such remonstrance and petition for the purpose aforesaid.
It is difficult to conjecture what would have been the issue of this controversy, had not its progress been suddenly arrested by the commencement of the revolutionary war. The events of the memorable 19th of April, 1775, produced a shock, which was felt to every extremity of the colonies: and "local and provincial contests were, at once, swallowed up by the novelty, the grandeur, and the importance of the contest thus opened between Great-Britain and America."†
The commencement of the war, at this period, led to a train of causes, intimately connected with the final independence of Vermont. The at‑
* Williams' history.
† Williams' history.
tention of New-York was suddenly diverted from the subject of its particular controversy, to the higher one, involving the independence of the whole American community; while the final result of the former was necessarily thrown forward to a more distant period. The New-Hampshire grantees did not fail to profit by this delay. While they never, for a moment, lost sight of the object for which they had so long contended, they improved the delay, in the cultivation of a more perfect union, and in a better organization of their strength; while a violent, irritable state of publick feeling, ill calculated to sustain a long conflict, gradually settled down into a more deliberate, but not less decided, hostility to the claims of New-York.
In this state of things, the inhabitants on the grants soon began to feel their importance; and this feeling was not a little strengthened by the signal exploit,* which has given the brave Allen and his companions in arms, so distinguished a place in the annals of the revolution. Their frontier situation peculiarly exposed them to the depredations of the enemy. Their own immediate safety, therefore, as well as a strong sympathy in the general hostility to the mother country, led them to take an early, and a distinguished part in the common cause.
With New-York, however, they were determined to have no immediate connection, even in the common defence. Accordingly, on the 17th of January, 1776, the following petition was forwarded to the Continental Congress.
To the Honourable JOHN HANCOCK, Esq. President of the Honourable Continental Congress, &c. &c. now assembled at Philadelphia.
The humble petition, address, and remonstrance of that part of America, being situate south of Canada line, west of Connecticut River, north of the Massachusetts Bay, and east of a twenty mile line from Hudson's River; commonly called and known by the name of the New-Hampshire grants,
That your honours petitioners, being fully sensible and deeply affected with the very alarming situation in which the United Colonies are involved, by means of a designing ministry, who have flagrantly used, and are still using their utmost efforts to bring the inhabitants of the very extensive continent of America into a base and servile subjection to arbitrary power, contrary to all the most sacred ties of obligation by covenant, and the well known constitution by which the British empire ought to be governed. Your petitioners, not to be prolix or waste time, when the whole continent are in so disagreeable a situation, would, however, beg leave to remonstrate, in as short terms as possible, the very peculiar situation in which your petitioners have, for a series of years, been exercised, and are still struggling under. Perhaps your honours, or, a
* The surprise and capture of the Fort at Tyconderoga, on the 9th of May, 1775.
least, some of you, are not unacquainted, that at the conclusion of the last war, the above described premises which your petitioners now inhabit, was deemed and reputed to be in the province of New-Hampshire, and consequently, within the jurisdiction of the same; whereupon, applications were freely made to Benning Wentworth, Esq. then governor of the province of New-Hampshire, who, with the advice of his council, granted, under the great seal of said province, to your honours petitioners, a large number of townships of the contents of six miles square, each; in consequence of which, a great number of your petitioners, who were men of considerable substance, disposed of their interest in their native places, and, with their numerous families, proceeded, many of them, two hundred miles, encountering many dangers, fatigues, and great hardships, to inhabit a desolate wilderness, which is now become a well settled frontier to three governments. This was not at all our trouble; for, soon after the commencement of those settlements, the monopolizing land-traders of New-York, being apprised that the province of New-Hampshire had granted the said lands, and that settlements were actually making, did present a petition, as we have often heard, and verily believe, in your petitioners names, praying, that the same lands, granted by New-Hampshire, might be annexed to the province of New-York, on account of its local and other circumstances, for the benefit of the inhabitants. Your petitioners, not being apprised of the intrigue, in this case, were mute. Therefore, as no objection was made why the prayer of the petition should not be granted, his Majesty was pleased, with advice of council, on the 24th day of July, 1764, to grant the same. Immediately after, the land-traders of New-York petitioned the then governor of that province for grants of lands, some part of which had been previously granted to your petitioners, by the governor and council of New-Hampshire. The dispute then became serious. Your petitioners then petitioned his Majesty for relief in the premises. His Majesty was pleased to appoint a Committee, who reported to his Majesty in the premises, and his Majesty was pleased to pass order in the following words:
At a Court at St. James's, the 24th day of July, 1767.
THE KING'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY,
Archbishop of Canterbury, Earl of Shelburne,
Lord Chancellor, Viscount Falmouth,
Duke of Queensbury, Viscount
Duke of Ancaster, Viscount Clarke,
Lord Chamberlain, Bishop of London,
Earl of Litchfield, Mr. Secretary Conway,
Earl of Bristol, Hans Stanly, Esq.
His Majesty, taking the said report into consideration, was pleased, with the advice of his privy-council, to approve thereof; and doth hereby strictly charge, require, and command, that the governor, or commander in chief, of his Majesty's province of New-York, for the time being, do not, upon pain of his Majesty's highest displeasure, presume to
make any grant whatsoever, of any part of the lands described in the said report, until his Majesty's further pleasure should be known concerning the same.
A True Copy, (attest.) GEO. BANYAR, Dep. Sec'ry.
The many intervening and unhappy disputes which have since happened between those land-traders of New-York and your petitioners, would take up too much time, under the present situation of public affairs, to recite; as Capt. Heman Allen and Dr. Jonas Fay, who we have appointed to present this to your honours, will be furnished therewith, should they find your honours admittance, and such particulars be thought necessary. Let it suffice here, only to mention, that the oppressions from these overgrown land-traders of New-York were so grievous, that your petitioners were again induced, at a great expence, to petition his Majesty; in consequence of which, a committee was appointed, and made a report in favour of your petitioners, which is too prolix to be inserted here.* We are called on, this moment, by the Committee of safety for the county of Albany, to suppress a dangerous insurrection in Tryon county. Upwards of ninety soldiers were on their march, within twelve hours after their receiving the news; all inhabitants of one town, inhabited by your petitioners, and all furnished with arms, ammunition, accoutrements, and provisions, &c. Again, we are alarmed by express from gen. Wooster, commanding at Montreal, with the disagreeable news of the unfortunate attack on Quebec, (unfortunate indeed, to lose so brave a commander) requiring our immediate assistance by troops; in consquence of which a considerable number immediately marched for Quebec, and more are daily following their example.
Yet, while we, your petitioners, are thus earnestly engaged, we beg leave to say we are entirely willing to do all in our power in the general cause, under the continental congress, and have been, ever since the taking Tyconderoga, &c. in which your petitioners were principally active, under Col. Ethan Allen; but are not willing to put ourselves under the honourable provincial congress of New-York, in such a manner as might, in future, be detrimental to our private property; as the oath to be administered to those who are, or shall be, entrusted with commissions from said congress, and the association agreed upon by the same authority, together with some particular restrictions and orders for regulating the militia of said province, if conformed to by the inhabitants of said New-Hampshire grants, will, as we apprehend, be detrimental to your petitioners, in the determination of the dispute now subsisting between said inhabitants and certain claimants under said province of New-York; and that your petitioners' ardent desires of exerting themselves in the present struggle for freedom may not be restrained, and that we might engage in the glorious cause, without fear of giving our opponents any advantage in the said land dispute now subsisting, which we would wish should lie dormant, until a general restoration of tranquility shall allow us the opportunity for an equitable decision of the same. Another reason that much hinders our joining hand and hand with New-York government.
* For this reports, see page 33.
in the general cause, is, they will not own us in our property; but, on the contrary, the judges of the supreme court for said province have expressely declared the charters of our lands, deeds, &c. to be null and void. Therefore, we, your honours humble petitioners, most earnestly pray your honours to take our case into your wise consideration, and order, that, for the future, your petitioners shall do duty in the continental service, if required, as inhabitants of said New-Hampshire grants, and not as inhabitants of the province of New-York, or subject to the limitations, restrictions, or regulations of the militia of said province; and that commissions, as your honours shall judge meet, be granted accordingly:— and, as in duty bound, your honours petitioners shall ever pray.
At a meeting of the representatives of the different towns on the New-Hampshire grants, legally warned and convened, at the house of Cephas Kents, inn-holder in Dorset, on the 16th day of January, 1776; Capt. Joseph Woodward, chairman, Dr. Jonas Fay, clerk. — This meeting, after due consideration, agreed to prefer to the honourable continental congress a humble petition, setting forth the peculiar circumstances of this part of the country. Accordingly a Committee was appointed to draw up the same, who drew up the foregoing, and reported to the house in the evening. The clerk read the same in his place, and afterwards delivered it in at the table. The house adjourned till to-morrow, nine of the clock, 17th January. Met according to adjournment; the said petition being a second time read, was agreed to by the whole house. Then Lieut. James Brakenridge and Capt. Heman Allen were nominated to prefer the said petition: the vote was called; passed in the affirmative nem. con. Then Dr. Jonas Fay was nominated; the vote called, passed in the affirmative nem. con.
JOSEPH WOODWARD, Chairman.
(A True Copy) JONAS FAY, Clerk.
The following are the resolutions of Congress, on the subject of the foregoing petition.
"The Committee, to whom the petition, address, and remonstrance of persons inhabiting that part of America, which is commonly called and known by the name of the New-Hampshire grants, was referred, have examined the matter thereof; and come to the following resolution thereupon:
RESOLVED, That it is the opinion of this Committee, that it be recommended to the petitioners, for the present, to submit to the government of New-York, and contribute their assistance, with their countrymen, in the contest between Great-Britain and the United Colonies: but that such submission ought not to prejudice the right of them or others to the lands in controversy, or any part of them; nor be construed to affirm or admit the jurisdiction of New-York in and over that country; and when the present troubles are at an end, the final determination of their right may be mutually referred to proper judges.
In Congress, June 4th, 1776.
RESOLVED, That Heman Allen have leave to withdraw the petition by him delivered in behalf of the inhabitants of the New-Hampshire
grants, he representing that he has left at home some papers and vouchers, necessary to support the allegations therein contained.
Extracts from the minutes,
THO. EDISON, for
CHAS. THOMPSON, Sec'y.
Hitherto, the settlers, on the New-Hampshire grants, not having been recognized by the crown as holding a separate jurisdiction, nor invested with separate powers, had not enjoyed the benefit of a regular organization, under which they could act with system and effect. They, therefore, had no rallying point, and no bond of union, save a common interest to resist the claims of New-York. The same necessity, however, which drove them to resistance, operated to give the effect of law, to the recommendations of their committees and conventions; while a few bold, daring spirits, as if formed for this very occasion, gave impulse and energy and system to their operations. A better organization was obviously needed, to sustain a protracted conflict.
Thus situated were the people on the grants, when Congress, on the 4th of July, 1776, published to the world, the memorable declaration of American Independence. By the sudden change thus produced in the relations between Great-Britain and her Colonies, the New-Hampshire grantees were left in a situation, somewhat peculiar. They had, as we have seen, originally purchased their lands under royal grants from the Governor of New-Hampshire. New-York claimed the jurisdiction, and the right of soil. The settlers had petitioned the crown for redress; and while they were encouraged with indications of a decision favorable to their claims, the connexion between the crown and the contending parties was suddenly dissolved. There no longer remained, therefore, any earthly power, recognized by the parties as a superior, possessing the right of deciding the controversy.
This state of things could not fail to suggest to the settlers, the right and expediency of declaring themselves independent. Having never submitted to the claims of New-York, and no longer acknowledging allegiance to the crown, they considered that the time had arrived when a regard to their own safety required, and justice sanctioned, their assumption of the powers of self-government.
To ascertain the state of publick sentiment on this subject, measures were taken for calling a convention. Circular letters were addressed to the different towns, and delegates were appointed; who, met at Dorset, on the 24th of July, 1776. There are no documents to be found, which furnish a particular account of the proceedings at this meeting. It was
adjourned to the 25th of September following; when it again met, at the same place. The following document furnishes an account of the proceedings.
CEPHAS KENT'S, Dorset, September 25, 1776.
At a general convention of the several delegates from the towns on the west side of the range of Green Mountains, the 24th day of July last, consisting of fifty one members, representing thirty-five towns, and holden this day by adjournment, by the representatives on the west-and east side of the range of Green Mountains; the following members being present at the opening of the meeting, viz.
Capt. JOSEPH BOWKER, in the Chair — Dr. JONAS FAY, Clerk.
Pownall, Capt. Samuel Wright,
Dr. Obadiah Dunham.
Bennington, Mr. Sim. Hatheway,
Dr. Jonas Fay,
Capt. John Burnham,
Nathan Clark, Esq.
Maj. Sam. Safford,
Col. Moses Robinson.
Shaftsbury, Maj. Jeremiah Clark,
John Burnham, sen.
Sunderland, Lieut. Jos. Bradley,
Col. Tim. Brownson,
Manchester, Col. Wm. Marsh,
Lieut. Martin Powell,
Lieut. Gid. Ormsby.
Dorset, Mr. John Manley,
Mr. Abm. Underhill.
Rupert, Mr. Reub. Harmon,
Mr. Amos Curtis.
Pawlet, Capt. Wm. Fitch,
Maj. Roger Rose.
Wells, Zaccheus Mallery,
Poultney, Mr. Nehemiah How,
Mr. Wm. Ward.
Castleton, Capt. Jos. Woodward.
Bridport, Mr. Samuel Benton.
Addison, Mr. David Valiance.
Stanford, Mr. Tho. Morgan.
Williston, Col. Tho. Chittenden.
Colchester, Lieut. Ira Allen.
Middlebury, Mr. Gamaliel Painter.
Burlington, Mr. Lemuel Bradley.
Neshobe, Capt. Tim. Barker,
Mr. Thomas Tuttle.
Rutland, Capt. Joseph Bowker.
Col. James Mead.
Wallingford, Mr. Abm. Ives.
Tinmouth, Capt. Eben. Allen,
Maj. Tho. Rice.
Danby, Capt. Micah Veal,
Mr. Wm. Gage.
Panton, Mr. John Gale.
Bromley, Capt. Wm. Utly.
Col. Seth Warner and Capt. Heman Allen, present.
Members from the East side of the Green Mountain.
Towns. Delegates. Towns. Delegates.
Marlboro', Capt. F. Whittemore. Rockingham, Dr. Reuben Jones.
Guilford, Col. Benj. Carpenter, Dummerston, Mr. Joseph Hildrick,
Maj. Jn. Shepherdson. Lt. Leonard Spalding.
Windsor, Mr. Eben. Hoisington. Hallifax, Col. Benj. Carpenter.
Kent, Mr. Edward Aikens, Westminster Mr. Joshua Webb,
Col. James Rogers. Nathan Robinson, Esq.
Wilmington and Cumberland were represented by letters from some of the principal inhabitants.
VOTED, That the association, heretofore, entered into, and subscribed by the members of this convention, copies of which have been distributed in order to obtain signers to the same, should be returned to the clerk of this convention by the delegates to attend from each town, at their next session. It was also resolved by this convention, to take suitable measures, as soon as may be, to declare the New-Hampshire grants a free and separate district This vote passed without a dissenting voice. On the report of a sub-committee from this convention, consisting of seven members, amongst whom were Col. Thomas Chittenden, Dr. Jonas Fay, Ira Allen, and others, and which report was accepted by the convention, the following covenant or compact being, drawn up by a committee, and exhibited in the following words, was unanimously agreed to by the convention, viz.
Whereas this convention has, for a series of years last past, had under their particular consideration the disingenuous conduct of the colony (now state) of New-York, towards the inhabitants of that district of land, commonly called and known by the name of the New-Hampshire grants, and the several illegal, unjustifiable, as well as unreasonable measures they have pursued, to deprive, by fraud, violence and oppression, the said inhabitants of their property, and in particular their landed interest: and whereas this convention have reason to expect a continuance of the same kind of disingenuity, unless sonic effectual measures be pursued to form the said district into a separate one from that of New-York.
And whereas it appears to this convention, that, for the foregoing reasons, together with the distance of road which lies between this district and New-York, that it will be very inconvenient for those inhabitants to associate or connect with New-York for the time being, either directly or indirectly.
Therefore this convention being fully convinced, that it is absolutely necessary that every individual in the United States of America should exert themselves to the utmost of their abilities in the defence of the liberties thereof; therefore, that this convention may the better satisfy the public of their punctual attachment to the said common cause at present, as well as heretofore, we do make and subscribe the following covenant, viz.
We, the subscribers, inhabitants of that district of land commonly called and known by the name of New-Hampshire grants, being legally delegated and authorised to transact the public and political affairs of the aforesaid district for ourselves and constituents, do solemnly covenant and engage, that, for the time being, we will strictly and religiously adhere to the several resolves of this or a future convention, constituted on said district by the free voice of the friends to American liberties, which shall not be repugnant to the resolves of the honourable the Continental Congress relative to the cause of America."
On the 15th of January, 1777, the Convention again met, at Westminster; and after much deliberation, came to the important resolution to declare the New-Hampshire grants a free and independent State. The following is a journal of the proceedings.
WESTMINSTER COURT-HOUSE, January 15th, 1777.
Convention opened according to adjournment. Present the following members:
Captain JOSEPH BOWKER, in the Chair.
1st. Voted Doctor REUBEN JONES, Clerk pro tempore.
Bennington, Nathaniel Clark, Esq. | Townshend, Capt. Sam. Fletcher,
Capt. John Burnham, | Chester, Col. Thomas Chandler,
Mr. Nathan Clark, jun., | Rockingham, Dr. Reuben Jones,
Manchester Lieut. Marlin Powell, | Lieut. Moses Wright,
Castleton, Captain John Hall, | Windsor, Mr. Eben. Hosington,
Williston, Col. Tho. Chittenden, | Hartford, Mr. Stephen Tilden,
Colchester, Captain Ira Allen, | Woodstock, Mr. Benj. Emmonds,
Rutland, Capt. Joseph Bowker, | Norwich, Maj. Tho. Moredock,
Captain Heman Allen, | Mr. Jacob Burton,
Dummerston, Lt. Leonard Spalding, | Pomfret, By a letter from said town,
Lt. Dennis Lockland, | voting for a new state.
Westminster, Nathan. Robinson Esq. | Barnard, By ditto and ditto.
Mr. Joshua Webb, | Royalton, By ditto and ditto.
2d. Voted to adjourn this convention to eight o'clock to morrow morning at this place.
Thursday eight o'clock, convention opened according to adjournment.
Major Joseph Williams, and lieutenant Nathaniel Selley, from Pownal, took their seats.
3d. Voted, That Doct. Reuben Jones, be an assistant clerk to Capt. Ira Allen, at this time being present.
4th. Voted, That Lieut. Leonard Spalding, Mr. Ebenezer Hosington, and Major Thomas Moredock, be a committee to examine into the numbers that have voted for the district of the New-Hampshire grants to be a separate state from New-York, and how many are known to be against it; and make report to this convention as soon as may be.
Report of said committee:— "We find by examination, that more than three fourths of the people in Cumberland and Gloucester counties that have acted, are for a new state; the rest we view as neuters.
By order of Committee,
EBENEZER HOSINGTON, Chairman."
5th. Voted to adjourn this convention one hour, at this place. Convention opened at time and place.
6th. Voted, N. C. D. That the district of land commonly called and known by the name of New-Hampshire grants, be a new and separate state; and for the future conduct themselves as such.
7th. Voted, That Nathan Clark, Esq. Mr. Ebenezer Hosington, Capt. John Burnham, Mr. Jacob Burton, and Col. Thomas Chittenden, be a committee to prepare a draught for a declaration, for a new and separate state; and report to this convention as soon as may be.
8th. Voted, That Captain Ira Allen, Col. Thomas Chandler, Doctor Reuben Jones, Mr. Stephen Tilden, and Mr. Nathan Clark, jun. be a committee to draw a plan for further proceedings; and report to this convention as soon as may be.
9th. Voted to adjourn this convention to eight o'clock to-morrow morning, at this place.
Friday morning, convention opened according to adjournment. The committee appointed to bring in a draught of a declaration, setting forth the right the inhabitants of that district of land, commonly called and known by the name of the New-Hampshire grants, have, to form themselves into a state or independent government, do make the following report to the honorable convention convened at Westminster, January 15th, A. D. 1777, viz.
"To the honorable convention of representatives from the several towns on the west and east side of the range of Green Mountains, within the New-Hampshire grants, in convention assembled.
Your committee to whom was referred the form of a declaration, setting forth the right the inhabitants of said New Hampshire grants have, to form themselves into a separate and independent state, or government, beg leave to report, viz.
Right 1. That whenever protection is withheld, no allegiance is due, or can of right be demanded.
2d. That whenever the lives and properties of a part of a community, have been manifestly aimed at by either the legislative or executive authority of such community, necessity requires a separation. Your committee are of opinion that the foregoing has, for many years past, been the conduct of the monopolizing land claimers of the colony of New-York; and that they have been not only countenanced, but encouraged, by both the legislative and executive authorities of the said state or colony. Many overt acts in evidence of this truth, are so fresh in the minds of the members, that it would be needless to name them.
And whereas the Congress of the several states, did, in said Congress, on the fifteenth day of May, A. D. 1776, in a similar case, pass the following resolution, viz. "Resolved, That it be recommended to the respective assemblies and conventions of the United Colonies, where no government, sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs, has been, heretofore, established, to adopt such government as shall, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and of America in general." — Your committee, having duly deliberated on the continued conduct of the authority of New-York, before recited, and on the equitableness on which the aforesaid resolution of Congress was founded, and considering that a just right exists in this people to adopt measures for their own security, not only to enable them to secure their rights against the usurpations of Great-Britain, but also against that of New-York, and the several other governments claiming jurisdiction in this territory, do offer the following declaration, viz.
"This convention, whose members are duly chosen by the free voice of their constituents in the several towns, on the New Hampshire grants, in public meeting assembled, in our own names, and in behalf of our constituents, do hereby proclaim and publicly declare, that the district of territory, comprehending and usually known by the name and description of the New-Hampshire grants, of right ought to be, and is hereby declared forever hereafter to be considered, as a free and independent jurisdiction, or state; by the name, and forever hereafter to be called, known, and
distinguished by the name of New-Connecticut, alias Vermont: And that the inhabitants that at present are, or that may hereafter become resident, either by procreation or emigration, within said territory, shall be entitled to the same privileges, immunities, and enfranchisements, as are allowed; and on such condition, and in the same manner, as the present inhabitants, in future, shall or may enjoy; which are, and forever shall be considered to be such priviliges and immunities to the free citizens and denizens, as are, or, at any time hereafter, may be allowed, to any such inhabitants of any of the free and independent states of America: And that such privileges and immunities shall be regulated in a bill of rights, and by a form of government, to be established at the next adjourned session of this convention."
10th. Voted, N. C. D. to accept of the above declaration.
"To the honorable the chairman and gentlemen of the convention, your committee appointed to take into consideration what is further necessary to be transacted at the present convention, beg leave to report, viz.
That proper information be given to the honorable Continental Congress of the United States of America, of the reasons, why the New-Hampshire grants have been declared a free state, and pray the said Congress to grant said state a representation in Congress; and that agents he appointed to transfer the same to Congress, or the committees be filled up that are already appointed, and that a committee be appointed to draw the draught: That a committee of war be appointed on the east side of the mountains, to be in conjunction with the committee of war on the west side of the mountains, to act on all proper occasions: That some suitable measures be taken to govern our internal police for the time being, until more suitable measures can be taken: that some suitable way be taken to raise a sum of money, to defray the expences of the agents that are to go to Congress; and for printing the proceedings of the convention, which, we are of opinion, ought to be printed. All which is humbly submitted to the convention, by your committee.
By order of Committee,
THOMAS CHANDLER, Chairman."
11th. Voted, N. C. D. to accept the above report.
Having made some other regulations, on January 22d, the convention adjourned to Windsor, to meet on the first Wednesday in June.
The Declaration and Petition of the Inhabitants of the New-Hampshire Grants, to Congress, announcing the District to be a Free and Independent State.
TO THE HONORABLE THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS.
The declaration and petition of that part of North America, situate south of Canada line, west of Connecticut river, north of the Massachusetts Bay, and east of a twenty mile line from Hudson's river, containing about one hundred and forty four townships, of the contents of six miles square, each, granted your petitioners by the authority of New-Hampshire, besides several grants made by the authority of New-York, and a quantity of vacant land, humbly sheweth,
That your petitioners, by virtue of several grants made them by the authority aforesaid, have, many years since, with their families, become actual settlers and inhabitants of the said described premises; by which it is now become a respectable frontier to three neighboring states, and is of great importance to our common barrier Tyconderoga; as it has furnished the army there with much provisions, and can muster more than five thousand hardy soldiers, capable of bearing arms in defence of American liberty:
That shortly after your petitioners began their settlements, a party of land-jobbers in the city and state of New-York, began to claim the lands, and took measures to have them declared to be within that jurisdiction:
That on the fourth day of July, 1764, the king of Great-Britain did pass an order in council, extending the jurisdiction of New-York government to Connecticut river, in consequence of a representation made by the late lieutenant governor Colden, that for the convenience of trade, and administration of justice, the inhabitants were desirous of being annexed to that state:
That on this alteration of jurisdiction, the said lieutenant governor Colden did grant several tracts of land in the above described limits, to certain persons living in the state of New-York, which were, at that time, in the actual possession of your petitioners; and under color of the lawful authority of said state, did proceed against your petitioners, as lawless intruders upon the crown lands in their province. This produced an application to the king of Great-Britain from your petitioners, setting forth their claims under the government of New-Hampshire, and the disturbance and interruption they had suffered from said post claimants, under New-York. And on the 24th day of July, 1767, an order was passed at St. James's, prohibiting the governors of New-York, for the time being, from granting any part of the described premises, on pain of incurring his Majesty's highest displeasure. Nevertheless the same lieutenant governor Colden, governors Dunmore and Tryon, have, each and every of them, in their respective turns of administration, presumed to violate the said royal order, by making several grants of the prohibited premises, and countenancing an actual invasion of your petitioners, by force of arms, to drive them off from their possessions.
The violent proceedings, (with the solemn declaration of the supreme court of New-York, that the charters, conveyances, &c. of your petitioners' lands, were utterly null and void) on which they were founded, reduced your petitioners to the disagreeable necessity of taking up arms, as the only means left for the security of their possessions. The consequence of this step was the passing twelve acts of outlawry, by the legislatute of New-York, on the ninth day of March, 1774; which were not intended for the state in general, but only for part of the counties of Albany and Charlotte, viz. such parts thereof as are covered by the New-Hampshire charters.
Your petitioners having had no representative in that assembly, when these acts were passed, they first came to the knowledge of them by public papers, in which they were inserted. By these, they were informed, that if three or more of them assembled together to oppose what said as‑
sembly called legal authority, that such as should be found assembled, to the number of three or more, should be adjudged felons: And that, in case they or any of them, should not surrender himself or themselves to certain officers appointed for the purpose of securing them, after a warning of seventy days, that then it should be lawful for the respective judges of the supreme court of the province of New-York, to award execution of Death, the same as though he or they had been attainted before a proper court of judicatory. These laws were evidently calculated to intimidate your petitioners into a tame surrender of their rights, and such a state of vassalage, as would entail misery on their latest posterity.
It appears to your petitioners, that an infringement on their rights, is still meditated by the state of New-York; we find that in their general convention at Harlem, the second day of August last, it was unanimously voted, "That all quit-rents, formerly due and owing to the crown of Great-Britain within this state, are now due and owing to this convention, or such future government as may hereafter be established in this state."
By a submission to the claims of New-York your petitioners would be subjected to the payment of two shillings and six pence sterling on every hundred acres annually; which, compared with the quit-rents of Livingston's Phillips's, and Ransalear's manors, and many other enormous tracts in the best situations in the state, would lay the most disproportionate share of the public expense on your petitioners, in all respects the least able to bear it.
The convention of New-York have now nearly completed a code of laws, for the future government of that state; which, should they be attempted to be put in execution, will subject your petitioners to the fatal necessity of opposing them by every means in their power.
When the declaration of the honorable the Continental Congress, of the fourth of July last past, reached your petitioners, they communicated it throughout the whole of their district; and being properly apprized of the proposed meeting, delegates from the several counties and towns in the district, described in the preamble to this petition, did meet at Westminster in said district, and after several adjournments for the purpose of forming themselves into a distinct and separate state, did make and publish a declaration, "that they would, at all times thereafter, consider themselves as a free and independent state, capable of regulating their own internal police, in all and every respect whatsoever; and that the people, in the said described district, have the sole, exclusive right of governing themselves in such a manner and form, as they, in their wisdom, should choose; not repugnant to any resolves of the honorable the Continental Congress." And for the mutual support of each other in the maintenance of the freedom and independence of said district or separate state, the said delegates did jointly and severally pledge themselves to each other, by all the ties that are held sacred among men, and resolve and declare that they were at all times ready, in conjunction with their brethren of the United States, to contribute their full proportion towards maintaining the present just war against the fleets and armies of Great-Britain.
To convey this declaration and resolution to your honorable body, the grand representative of the United States, were we (your more immediate petitioners) delegated by the united and unanimous voices of the representatives of the whole body of the settlers on the described premises, in whose name and behalf, we humbly pray, that the said declaration may be received, and the district described therein be ranked by your honors, among the free and independent American states, and delegates therefrom admitted to seats in the grand Continental Congress; and your petitioners as in duty bound shall ever pray.
New-Hampshire Grants, Westminster, Jan. 15th, 1777.
Signed by order, and in behalf of said inhabitants,
VERMONT, at this period, possessed statesmen of no ordinary character: and to their wisdom and decision and firmness, at this momentous crisis, is she indebted for her independence. No measure could have been more wisely chosen, than the one we have just recorded. It placed Vermont on high and commanding ground; and, by a manly, able exposition of her rights, inspired the confidence of others, while it increased her confidence in herself. The appeal was too powerful, and accorded too well with the prevailing spirit of the times, not to meet the approbation of the neighboring colonies.
New-York was indignant at these proceedings. Considering her jurisdiction as rightfully extending over the New-Hampshire grants, she viewed the inhabitants as her subjects, and their conduct as treason and rebellion. With these views, the convention of that state proceeded to lay the case before Congress; as appears by the following communications.
Letter from A. TEN BROECK, President of the Convention of New-York, to the President of Congress, Jan. 20, 1777.
I am directed by the committee of safety of New-York, to inform Congress, that by the arts and influence of certain designing men, a part of this state hath been prevailed on to revolt, and disavow the authority of its legislature.
It is our misfortune to be wounded so soon, sensibly, while we are making our utmost exertions in the common cause. The various evidences and informations we have received, would lead us to believe, that persons of great influence in some of our sister states, have fostered and fomented these divisions, in order to dismember this state at a time when, by the inroads of our common enemy, we were supposed to be incapacitated from defending our just claims: but as these informations tend to accuse some members of your honourable body of being concerned in this scheme, decency obliges us to suspend our belief.
The Congress will, doubtless, remember, that so long ago as in the .month of July last, we complained of the great injury done us by appointing officers within this state, without our consent or approbation. We could not then, nor can we now, perceive the reason of such disadvantageous discrimination between this state and its neighbours. We have been taught to believe, that each of the United States is entitled to equal rights: in what manner the rights of New-York have been forfeited, we are at a loss to discover. Although we have never received an answer to our last letter on this subject, yet did hope that no fresh ground of complaint would have been offered us.
The convention are sorry to observe, that by conferring a commission upon Col. Warner, with authority to name the officers of a regiment to be raised independent of the legislature of this state, and within that part which hath lately declared an independence upon it, congress hath given but too much weight to the insinuations of those who pretend, that your honourable body are determined to support these insurgents; especially as this Col. Warner hath been constantly and invariably opposed to the legislature of this state, and hath been outlawed by the late government thereof. However, confiding in the honour and justice of the great council of America, hope that you have been surprised into this measure.
By order of the house, Sir, I inclose you their resolution upon the important subject of this letter; and I'm further to observe, that it is absolutely necessary to recal the commissions given to Col. Warner and the officers under him; as nothing else will do justice to us, and convince these deluded people, that Congress have not been prevailed on to assist in dismembering a state, which, of all others, has suffered most in the common cause. The King of Great-Britain hath, by force of arms, taken from us five counties; and an attempt is made, in the midst of our distresses, to purloin from us three other counties. We must consider the persons concerned in such designs, as open enemies of this state, and, in consequence, of all America. To maintain our jurisdiction over our own subjects, is become indispensibly necessary to the authority of the convention; nor will any thing less, silence the plausible arguments, by which the disaffected delude our constituents, and alienate them from the common cause.
On the success of our efforts in this respect, depends, too probably, even the power of the convention. It is become a common remark in the mouths of our most zealous friends, that if the state is to be rent asunder, and its jurisdiction subverted, to gratify its deluded and disorderly subjects, it is a folly to hazard their lives and fortunes in a contest which, in every event, must terminate in their ruin. — I have the honour to be, with great respect, your most obedient and very humble servant,
A. TEN BROECK, P.
Hon. JOHN HANCOCK, Esq. President, &c.
Letter from A. TEN BROECK, Esq. President of the Convention of New-York, to the President of Congress, March 1, 1777.
The inclosed letters and resolutions were proposed some time since but for reasons with which you need not be troubled, were delayed — some late proceedings of the disaffected within this state, occasions their now being transmitted.
I am directed to inform you, that the convention are engaged in establishing a firm and permanent system of government. When this important business is accomplished, they will dispatch a satisfactory state of their boundaries, and the principles on which they are founded, for the information of Congress. In the mean time, they depend upon the justice of your honourable house, in adopting every wise and salutary expedient to suppress the mischiefs which must ensue to this state and the general confederacy, from the unjust and pernicious project of such of the inhabitants of New-York as, merely, from selfish and interested motives, have fomented this dangerous insurrection. The Congress may be assured, that the spirit of defection, notwithstanding all the arts and violence of the seducers, is, by no means, general. The county of Gloucester, and a very great part of Cumberland and Charlotte counties, continue stedfast in their allegiance to this government. Brigadier Gen. Bayley's letter, a copy of which is inclosed, will be a sufficient proof of the temper of the people of Gloucester county. Charlotte and Cumberland continue to be represented in convention; and, from very late information, we learn, that out of eighty members which were expected to have attended the mock convention of the deluded subjects of this state, twenty only attended.
We are informed by good authority, that Col. Warner was directed by the general, to send forward his men, as he should enlist them, to Tyconderoga; notwithstanding which, it appeared, by a return from thence, not long since, that only twenty four privates had reached that post; nor is there the least prospect of his raising a number of men which can be an object of public concern — though, instead of confining himself to the Green Mountain, as we understand, was the intention of the honourable Congress, he has had the advantages of recruiting in Albany and other places.
The convention beg to know what pay the honourable Congress have allowed for the officers and privates of the troops of horse, who were employed the last camgaign, in the service of the United States. — I have the honour to be, with great respect, Sir, your most obedient servant,
A. TEN BROECK, P.
Hon. JOHN HANCOCK, Esq. President, &c.
"The proceedings of Vermont had now assumed a regular form and become an object of general attention."* To encourage the people to maintain the ground they had taken, and proceed to the organization of
a government, Thomas Young, a distinguished citizen of Philadelphia, published an address to the people of Vermont; of which the following is an extract.
To the Inhabitants of VERMONT, a Free and Independent State, bounding on the River Connecticut and Lake Champlain.
PHILADELPHIA, APRIL 11, 1777.
Numbers of you are knowing to the zeal with which I have exerted, myself in your behalf, from the beginning of your struggle with the New-York monopolizers. As the Supreme Arbiter of right has smiled on the just cause of North America at large, you, in a peculiar manner, have been highly favoured. God has done by you the best thing, commonly done for our species. He has put it fairly in your power to help yourelves.
I have taken the minds of several leading members in the honourable the Continental Congress, and can assure you, that you have nothing to do, but send attested copies of the recommendation to take up government, to every township in your district; and invite all your freeholders and inhabitants to meet in their respective townships, and choose members for a general convention, to meet at an early day, to choose delegates for the general congress, a committee of safety, and to form a constitution for your state,
Your friends here tell me, that some are in doubt whether delegates from your district would be admitted into Congress. I tell you to organize fairly, and make the experiment, and I will ensure you success, at the risk of my reputation, as a man of honour or common sense. Indeed, they can, by no means, refuse you! You have as good a right to choose how you will be governed, and by whom, as they had.
May Almighty God smile upon your arduous and important undertaking, and inspire you with that wisdom, virtue, public spirit and unanimity, which ensures success in the most hazardous enterprizes! — I am, Gentlemen, your sincere friend and humble servant,
APRIL 12, 1777.
Your committee have obtained for you a copy of the recommendation of Congress, to all such bodies of men as looked upon themselves returned to a state of nature, to adopt such government as should, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and America in general.
You may, perhaps, think strange, that nothing further is done for you, at this time, than to send you this extract: but if you consider, that till you incorporate and actually announce to Congress your having become a body politic, they cannot treat with you as a free state. While New-York claims you as subjects of that government, my humble opinion is, your own good sense will suggest to you, that no time is to be lost in availing yourselves of the same opportunity your assuming mistress is improving to establish a dominion for herself and you too.
A word to the wise is sufficient.
Resolution of Congress, referred to in the above letter.
IN CONGRESS, MAY 15,1776.
Whereas his Britannic Majesty, in conjunction with the Lords and Commons of Great-Britain, has, by a late act of Parliament, excluded the inhabitants of these United Colonies from the protection of his crown: and whereas no answer whatever to the humble petitions of the colonies for redress of grievances and reconciliation with Great-Britain, has been, or is likely to be given; but the whole force of that kingdom, aided by foreign mercenaries, is to be exerted for the destruction of the good people of these colonies: And whereas it appears absolutely irreconcileable to reason and good conscience, for the people of these colonies now to take the oaths and affirmations necessary for the support of any government under the crown of Great-Britain, and it is necessary that the exercise of every kind of authority under the said crown should be, totally suppressed, and all the powers of government exerted under the people of the colonies, for the preservation of internal peace, virtue, and good order, as well as for the defence of their lives, liberties, and properties against the hostile invasions and cruel depredations of their enemies:—
Resolved therefore, That it be recommended to the respective assemblies and conventions of the United Colonies, where no government sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs, has been hitherto established, to adopt such government as shall, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and America in general.
Extract from the minutes,
CH. THOMSON, Sec'ry.
Alarmed at the suggestions in the foregoing commmunication of Thomas Young, the council of safety of New-York proceeded to make a further, effort to arrest the progress of Vermont; as appears by the following document.
Letter from PIERRE VAN CORTLANDT. President of the Council of safety of New-York, to the President of Congress, dated May 28, 1777.
At a time when the councils and arms of America should be directed to the defence of all the United States against a foreign invasion, it gives us pain to find it our duty to call the attention of Congress to the domestic concerns of this state. A faction in the north-eastern part of this state aim at separation from it, and have declared themselves independent.
Although we apprehend no great difficulties in reducing these factious spirits to obedience and good order, by the justice and vigour of the government of this state, without the aid of Congress, yet as a report prevails, and daily gains credit, that they are privately countenanced in their designs by certain members of your honourable house, we esteem it our duty to give you this information, that by a proper resolution on that subject, the reputation of Congress may cease to be injured by imputations so disgraceful and dishonourable.
However unwilling we may be, to entertain suspicions so disreputable to any member of Congress, yet the truth is, that no inconsiderable
numbers of the people of this state do believe the report to be well-founded, and, of course, their confidence in the justice, and their respect for the determination of Congress, will, we fear, be diminished; nor can it be difficult to perceive what an unhappy influence such reports and apprehensions will have on the minds of the best whigs of this state, especially at this critical juncture. — I have the honour to be, with great respect, Sir, your most obedient and very humble servant,
PIERRE VAN CORTLANDT, P.
Hon. JOHN HANCOCK, Esq. President, &c.
To bring Congress to a decision upon the subject of this controversy, one of the delegates of New-York, on the 23d of June, laid before that body the printed letter and publication of Thomas Young. This letter, together with the communications from the conventions of New-York and the New-Hampshire grants, were referred to a committee of the whole; and on the 30th of June, Congress passed the following resolves.*
"RESOLVED, That Congress is composed of delegates chosen by, and representing, the communities respectively, inhabiting the territories of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode-Island, and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, South-Carolina, and Georgia, as they respectively stood at the time of its first institution; that it was instituted for the purpose of securing and defending the communities aforesaid, against the usurpations, oppressions, and hostile invasions of Great-Britain; and, therefore, it cannot be intended that Congress, by any of its proceedings, would do, or recommend, or countenance, any thing injurious to the rights and jurisdiction of the several communities, which it represents.
"RESOLVED, That the independent government attempted to be established by the people, stiling themselves inhabitants of the New-Hampshire grants, can derive no countenance or justification from the act of Congress, declaring the united colonies to be independent of the crown of Great-Britain, nor from any other act or resolution of Congress.
"RESOLVED, That the petition of Jonas Fay, Thomas Chittenden, Heman Allen, and Reuben Jones, in the name and behalf of the people, stiling themselves as aforesaid, praying that 'their declaration, that they would consider themselves as a free and independent State, may be received; that the district in the said petition described, may be ranked among the free and independent States; and that delegates therefrom may be admitted to seats in Congress,' be dismissed.
"RESOLVED, That Congress, by raising and officering the regiment, commanded by Col. Warner, never meant to give any encouragement to the claim of the people aforesaid, to be considered as an independent State; but that the reason which induced Congress to form that corps, was, that many officers of different states, who had served in Canada, and alledged that they could soon raise a regiment, but were then unpro-
vided for, might be reinstated in the service of the United-States."
Having recited sundry parapraphes in the letter from Thomas Young, they next resolve, "That the contents of the said paragraphs are derogatory to the honor of Congress, are a gross misrepresentation of the resolution of Congress therein referred to, and tend to deceive and mislead the people to whom they are addressed."
While Congress were resolving to dismiss the petition of the inhabitants of Vermont, and that "the independent government attempted to be established by its people, could derive no countenance or justification from any act or resolution of that body," the people of Vermont were engaged in forming a constitution of civil government. The convention which declared the independence of Vermont, met, according to adjournment, at Windsor, on the first Wednesday of June. At this meeting, a committee was appointed to make a draft of a constitution; and a resolution was adopted, recommending to each town to elect delegates to meet in convention, at Windsor, on the 2d day of July following.*
On the 2d of July, the convention met at Windsor. "The draft of a constitution was presented and read. The business being new, and of great importance, required serious deliberation. The convention had it under consideration, when the news of the evacuation of Tyconderoga arrived; which occasioned great alarm, as, thereby, the frontiers of the state were exposed to the inroads of the enemy. The family of the President of the convention, as well as those of many other members, were exposed. In this awful crisis, the convention was for leaving Windsor; but a severe thunder storm came on, and gave them time to reflect; while some members, less alarmed at the news, called the attention of the convention to finish the constitution, which was then reading, paragraph by paragraph, for the last time. This was done, and the convention appointed a council of safety † to act during the recess, and adjourned."‡
* Allen's history.
† It may be proper here to record the correspondence between the Council of safety of Vermont and the Governor of New-Hampshire, which resulted in the march, and arrival at Bennington, of the troops under Gen. Stark, and in the memorable victory of the 16th of August, 1777, by which the first check was given to the invading army under Gen. Burgoyne.
Address of the Council of Safety of VERMONT, to the Councils of Safety of MASSACHUSETTS and NEW-HAMPSHIRE.
In Council of Safety, State of Vermont, Manchester, July 15, 1777.
This state, in particular, seems to be at present the object of destruction. By the surrender of the fortress of Tyconderoga a communication is opened to the defenceless inhabitants on the frontier, who, having little more in store at present, than sufficient for the maintainance of their respective families, and not ability immediately to remove their
‡ Allen's history.
Previous to the adjournment, it was ordered that the first election, under the constitution, should be holden in December, 1777; and that the general assembly, thus elected, should meet at Bennington, in January 1778. The publick attention, however, being arrested by the evacuation of Tyconderoga, and the progress of the enemy under general Burgoyne; the constitution was not printed, seasonably, to have the election holden in December. The convention was, therefore, summoned, by the Council of safety, to meet, at Windsor, on the 24th of December, 1777. They met;* revised the constitution, and postponed the day of election until the first Tuesday of March, 1778, and the sitting of the Assembly until the second Thursday of the same month.†
effects, are, therefore, induced to accept such protections as are offered them by the enemy. By this means, those towns who are most contiguous to them, are under the necessity of taking such protection; by which the next town or towns, becomes equally a frontier as the former towns, before such protection; and unless we can have the assistance of our friends, so as to put it immediately in our power to make a sufficient stand against such strength as they may send, it appears that it will soon be out of the power of this state to maintain its territory.
This country, notwithstanding its infancy, seems to be as well supplied with provisions for victualing an army, as any on the continent so that on that account we cannot see, why a stand may not as well he made in this state, as in the Massachusetts; and more especially, as the inhabitants are heartily disposed to defend their liberties.
You, gentlemen will be at once sensible, that every such town as accepts protection, is rendered at that instant incapable of affording any further assistance; and what is infinitely worse, as some disaffected persons eternally lurk is almost every inhabited town, such become doubly fortified to injure their country, our good disposition to defend ourselves, and make a frontier for your state with our own, which cannot be carried into execution without your assistance. Should you send immediate assistance, we can help you; and should you neglect till we are put to the necessity of taking protection, you know it is in a moment out of our power to assist you. Your laying these circumstances together will, I hope, induce your honours to take the same into consideration, and immediately send us your determination in the premises — I have the satisfaction to be, your honours most obedient and very humble servant, by order of council.
IRA ALLEN, Sec'ry.
Letter from MESCHECH WEARE President of the State of New Hampshire, to
IRA ALLEN, Secretary of the State of Vermont.
EXETER, JULY 19, 1777.
I was favoured with your's of the 15th inst. yesterday by express, and laid the same before our general court, who are sitting.
We had, previous thereto, determined to send assistance to your state. They have now determined, that a quarter part of the militia of twelve regiments shall be immediately draughted, formed into three battalions, under the command of Brig. Gen. John Stark, and forthwith sent into your state, to oppose the ravages and coming forward of the enemy; and orders are now issuing, and will all go out in a few hours to the several Colonels for that purpose. Dependence is made that they will be supplied with provisions in your state; and I am to desire your convention will send some proper person or persons to Number Four, by Thursday next, to meet Gen Stark there, and advise with him relative to the route and disposition of our troops, and to give him such information as you may then have, relative to the manœuvres of the enemy. — In behalf of the council and assembly, I am, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,
MESCHECH WEARE, President.
IRA ALLEN, Esq Secretary of the State of Vermont.
* The journals of the several sittings of the convention, are not to be found
† The assembly met at Windsor, on the second Thursday of March, 1778. The constitution, under which the government was then organized, and the early journals of the Legislature, will be found in a subsequent part of this volume.
On the 6th of February, 1778, the Council of safety addressed the inhabitants of Vermont, as follows.
IN COUNCIL OF SAFETY, BENNINGTON, FEB. 6TH, 1778.
To the Inhabitants of the State of VERMONT.
The united and joint representatives of this state, in their general convention, held at Windsor, on the 2d day of July last, did compose, and agree, unanimously, on a constitution for the future government and mutual advantage of its inhabitants. It was then proposed by the joint agreement of the said representatives, that such constitution should be printed, so as to have had them circulated among the inhabitants, seasonably, to have had the general election of representatives to compose the general assembly, in December last; who, by agrement, was to have met at Bennington, within this state, in the month of January last. But finding, by repeated experience, that the troubles of the war, and encroachments of the enemy, would, of necessity, render it impossible, this council did think fit to again call on the members of the general convention, to meet; who, accordingly, met at Windsor, on the 24th day of December last, and did, unanimously, agree to postpone the day of election until the first Tuesday of March next, and the sitting of the assembly to be at Windsor, on the second Thursday of March next. The constitution is now printed, and will be distributed among the inhabitants of the several towns in this state, so early, that they may be perused before the day of election; which, this council hope, will, sufficiently, recommend the most safe and just method of choosing of representatives to compose the general assembly. Nothing but a real zeal for the future well being of the United States of America, in general, and this, in particular, could have induced this council to have undertaken the arduous task of sitting, so many months successively, to provide for the safety of its inhabitants. They, therefore, flatter themselves that their services will meet the approbation of their employers. The Council are fully of opinion that nothing but the want of a firm attachment and joint connection of the inhabitants of this state, can frustrate, or prevent their being what they so reasonably wish to be.
I am, Gentlemen, by order of Council,
Your most obedient humble servant,
THOMAS CHITTENDEN, President.
The deliberate determination to maintain their independence, evinced by the people of Vermont, in the organization of a constitutional government; though it did not reconcile New-York to a relinquishment of her claim of jurisdiction over the contested territory, evidently contributed to produce a change in her policy; as will appear by the following Proclamations.
"By his Excellency GEORGE CLINTON, Esq. Governor of the State of New-York, General of all the Militia, and Admiral of the Navy of the same.
WHEREAS the Senate and Assembly of this state, did, by their several resolutions, passed the twenty-first day of this instant month of February, declare and resolve, That the disaffection of many persons, inhabiting the north eastern parts of the county of Albany, and certain parts of the counties of Charlotte, Cumberland and Gloucester, clearly included within the ancient, original, true and lately established bounds of this state, arose from a contest, about the property of the soil of many tracts of land, within those parts of the said counties respectively:
That the said contest was occasioned, partly by the issuing of divers interfering patents or grants, by the respective governments of New-York, on the one part, and those of Massachusetts-Bay and New-Hampshire, on the other, antecedent to the late establishment of the eastern boundary of this state; partly by an higher quit-rent reserved on the said lands, when re-granted under New-York, than were reserved in the original grants under New-Hampshire or Massachusetts-Bay, and the exorbitant fees of office accruing thereon; and partly by a number of grants made by the late government of New-York, after the establishment of the said eastern boundary, for lands which had been before granted by the governments of New-Hampshire and Massachusetts-Bay, respectively, or one of them; in which last mentioned grants by the late government of New-York, the interest of the servants of the crown, and of new adventurers, was, in many instances, contrary to justice and policy, preferred to the equitable claims for confirmation, of those who had patented the lands under New-Hampshire or Massachusetts-Bay:—
That the aforesaid disaffection has been greatly increased, by an act passed by the Legislature of the late Colony of New-York, on the ninth day of March, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and seventy four, entitled, "An Act for preventing tumultous and riotous assemblies in the places therein mentioned, and for the more speedy and effectual punishing the rioters:— That many of the aforesaid disaffected persons, though unjustifiable in their opposition to the authority of this state, labour under grievances, arising from the causes above mentioned, which, in some measure, extenuate their offence, and which ought to be redressed:—
That, therefore, the Legislature of this state, while on the one hand, they will vigorously maintain their rightful supremacy over the persons and property of those disaffected subjects, will, on the other hand, make overtures to induce the voluntary submission of the delinquents:—
That an absolute and unconditional discharge, and remission of all prosecutions, penalties and forfeitures, under the above-mentioned act, shall be an established preliminary to such overtures; which overtures are as follows, viz.
1st. That all persons actually possessing and improving lands, by title under grants from New-Hampshire or Massachusetts-Bay, and not granted under New-York, stall be confirmed in their respective possessions,
2d. That all persons actually possessing and improving lands, not granted by either of the three governments, shall be confirmed in their respective possessions, together with such additional quantity of vacant land, lying contiguous to each respective possession, as may be necessary to form the same into a convenient farm; so as the quantity to be confirmed to each respective person, including his possession, shall not exceed three hundred acres.
3d. That where lands have heretofore been granted by New-Hampshire and Massachusetts-Bay, or either of them, and actually possessed in consequence thereof, and being so possessed, were, afterwards, granted by New-York, such possessions shall be confirmed; the posterior grant under New-York, notwithstanding.
Provided always, That nothing in the above regulations contained, shall be construed to determine any question of title or possession, that may arise between different persons claiming under New-Hampshire or Massachusetts-Bay, or between persons claiming under New-Hampshire on the one, and under Massachusetts-Bay on the other part, independent of any right or claim under New-York.
4th. That, with respect to all such cases, concerning the aforesaid controverted lands, as cannot be decided by the rules exibited in the aforegoing articles, or some one of them, the Legislature of the state of New-York, will provide for the determination of the same, according to the rules of justice and equity, arising out of such cases respectively, without adhering to the strict rules of law.
5th. That, in all cases, where grants or confirmations shall become necessary, on acceptance of the above overtures, such grants or confirmations, shall issue to the grantees, at, and after, the rate of five pounds for a grant or confirmation of three hundred acres or under; and for every additional hundred acres, the additional sum of sixteen shillings; except in cases, where lands shall be granted or confirmed to divers persons in one entire tract; in which case, the grants shall issue, respectively, for fifteen pounds each; which allowances shall be in lieu of all other fees or perquisites whatsoever.
6th. That whenever, agreeable to the above regulations, new grants or confirmations shall become necessary under this state, for lands heretofore granted by New-Hamphire or Massachusetts-Bay, the same quit-rent only shall be reserved, which was reserved in the original grants under New-Hampshire or Massachusetts-Bay.
7th. That where lands, heretofore granted by New-Hampshire or Massachusetts-Bay, have been, since, confirmed to such grantees by new grants under New-York, the quit-rents on such lands, shall be reduced to what they were in the original grants, under New-Hampshire or Massachusetts-Bay.
8th. That, in order to encourage the settlement of the aforesaid disputed lands, in a peaceable subjection to the authority and jurisdiction of this state, and also of all other lands held within and under this state, the following commutation for the quit-rents, shall be allowed, viz:— That, on payment, at the rate of two shillings and six pence, lawful money of this state, into the treasury of this state, for every Denny sterling of
quit-rent reserved; or, on delivery into the same, of seventeen times the quantity of grain, or other commodity, reserved for such quit-rent, the same shall thence forward be utterly discharged, and for ever cease and be extinguished.
That these overtures should be offered with a view, not only to induce the aforesaid discontented inhabitants of the counties of Albany, Charlotte, Cumberland and Gloucester, to return to a lawful and rightful obedience to the authority and jurisdiction of this state; but also in favor of all others whom the same may concern; and to be of no avail to any person or persons whatsoever, who shall, after the first day of May next, yield or acknowledge, any allegiance or subjection to the pretended state of Vermont, the pretended government thereof, or to any power or authority, pretended to be held or exercised thereunder.
That the aforegoing overtures, on the condition above expressed, be tendered for acceptance to all persons, to whose case the same, or any or either of them, do, or shall apply, upon the public faith and assurance of the legislature and government of the state of New-York, pledged to such person and persons for the purpose.
That the several branches of the Legislature of the state of New-York, will concur in the necessary measures for protecting the loyal inhabitants of this state, residing in the counties of Albany, Charlotte, Cumberland and Gloucester, in their persons and estates, and for compelling all persons, residing within this state, and refusing obedience to the government and legislature thereof, to yield that obedience and allegiance, which, by law and of right, they owe to this state.
And whereas, The said Senate and Assembly of this state of New-York, have also, by their resolution, requested me to issue my Proclamation, under the privy seal of this state, reciting their aforesaid declarations and resolutions, and strictly charging and commanding all manner of persons, in the name of the people of the state of New-York, to take due notice thereof, at their peril, and govern themselves accordingly.
I DO THEREFORE hereby, in the name of the people of the state of New-York, publish and proclaim the aforesaid declarations and resolutions; and I do hereby, strictly charge and command all manner of persons within this state, at their peril, to take due notice of this Proclamation, and of every article, clause, matter and thing therein recited and contained, and to govern themselves accordingly.
Given under my hand, and the privy seal of the State of New-York, at Poughkeepsie, in the County of Dutchess, the twenty-third day of February, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and seventy eight.
GOD SAVE THE PEOPLE.
There is a semblance of fairness in these overtures, which might have misled a people, less discerning, and less jealous of their rights, than the people of Vermont. But they had too long been accustomed to a thorough investigation of every point in the controversy, not to perceive that the overtures held out no prospect of substantial relief; and were designed
to effect, by the arts of policy, what had, in vain, been attempted by threats and force. At every step of the controversy, they had gained additional strength to the conviction that the claims of New-York were utterly groundless. Acting under this conviction, they had announced their independence, and proceeded to organize a government. Thus situated, they were not in a condition to listen patiently to overtures, accompanied with an explicit avowal of the "rightful supremacy of New‑York, over their persons and property, as disaffected subjects."
In August, 1778, the following answer to the foregoing Proclamation, was published by Ethan Allen. It was, subsequently, incorporated into his "vindication of Vermont," published, under the sanction of the Governor and Council, in 1779; from which we have extracted it.
"This Proclamation," says Allen, "after mentioning a disaffection of many persons, inhabiting the north-east parts of the county of Albany, and certain parts of the counties of Charlotte, Cumberland and Gloucester, proceeds to affirm that these tracts of country were clearly included within the ancient, original, true, and lately established bounds of the state of New-York.
That many, nay, almost the whole of the inhabitants in those counties, alias, the state of Vermont, are disaffected to the government of New-York, will not be disputed. This is a fact. But it is not a fact, that the ancient, original and true bounds of New-York, included those lands. The first intimation that ever saluted the ears of the public, asserting this doctrine, was, from a Proclamation of governor Tryon's, dated the 11th day of December, 1771, which begins thus: "Whereas, it is the ancient and incontestible rights of this colony, to extend to Connecticut river, as its eastern boundary." This assertion hath been answered, at large, in my treatise on the conduct of this government, towards the New Hampshire settlers; to which I refer the reader, and at present observe, that as the quoted assertions in these Proclamations, are wholly without foundation, they need only to be as positively denied as they are asserted. The fact is, that the tract of land, which now comprehends the state of Vermont, was, universally, known to be in the government of New-Hampshire. Thus it was placed by all Geographers in their maps, 'till the year 1764, when the now English King, for certain political reasons, which I shall mention, extended the jurisdiction of New-York over the premises, by his special royal authority. At the time of the alteration of this jurisdiction, jealousies had fired the minds of King and Parliament against the growth and rising power of America, and at this time, they began to advance men and governments into power, with a political design to crush the liberties of America. New-York had ever been their favorite government. They could almost vie with Great-Britain in the art of vassalaging common people, and in erasing every idea of liberty from the human mind, by making and keeping them poor and servile. This, Great-Britain well knew, and therefore fleeced a large territory from New-Hampshire, and added it to New-York, to depress the power
of the one, and enlarge and extend the other. A well concerted plan: but the green mountain boys disconcerted it, by throwing their weight into the scale of congress, which, thank GOD, has fairly preponderated. Thus may be seen the design, as well as date, of the original, ancient and true bounds of the state of New-York being extended over the state of Vermont; and for the same reason it was thus extended by Great-Britain, it will undoubtedly be curtailed by congress.
As to the acts of outlawry, mentioned in the Proclamation, they died a natural death, the first day of January, 1776, as may be seen from the act itself, here quoted: "And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that this act shall remain and continue in full force and effect, from the passing thereof, until the first day of January, which will be in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and seventy six."
The subjects of the state of Vermont, were under no apprehensions from these old lifeless acts. Nor do I conceive, that the present legislature of the state of New-York have laid them under any obligation, in granting them a pardon. It was a matter which formerly respected governor Tryon, the old Legislature of New-York, and the green mountain boys; and the party last mentioned, choose to settle that old quarrel with Mr. Tryon; and resent it, that the Legislature of the state of New-York have, so late in the day, undertook to give an "Unconditional discharge and remission of all penalties and forfeitures incurred," under an act which had been long dead; and which, when alive, served only to discover to the world, the wickedness and depravity of that legislative body which enacted them. In the lifetime of this act, I was called by the Yorkers an outlaw, and afterwards, by the British, was called a rebel; and I humbly conceive, that there was as much propriety in the one name as the other; and I verily believe, that the King's commissioners would now be as willing to pardon me for the sin of rebellion, provided I would, afterwards, be subject to Britain, as the Legislature above mentioned, provided I would be subject to New-York; and, I must confess, I had as leave be a subject to the one as the other; and, it is well known, I have had great experience with them both.
Next, I propose to consider that part of the Proclamation, called overtures, which are contained in the three first articles. Article 1st. "That all persons, actually possessing and improving lands, by title under grants from New-Hampshire or Massachusetts Bay, and not granted under New-York, shall be confirmed in their respective possessions."
This first article cannot be considered of any material consequence, inasmuch as, among almost the whole possessions referred to in the article, there are but very few, if any, but what are covered with New-York grants.
The second article is as follows: "That all persons possessing and improving lands, not granted by either of the three governments, shall be confirmed in their, respective possessions, together with such additional quantity of vacant land, lying contiguous to each respective possession, as may be necessary to form the same into a convenient farm, so as the quantity of land to be confirmed to each respective possession, shall not exceed three hundred acres"
Neither of these two first articles, called overtures, affect the controversy, except in some very few instances; inasmuch as all, or in a manner, all the possessions spoken of, were first granted by New-Hampshire, except some few which were granted by Massachusetts-Bay; and then, lastly, almost the whole of those possessions were re-granted by New-York. This being the case, what has been hitherto proposed, does not reach the essence of the controversy, as the New-Yorkers very well know; besides, it is not in the power of the government to confirm any of those possessions, which have been already granted, and therefore become the property of the grantees, as will be more fully discussed in its proper place. I proceed to the third article of the much boasted overtures.
"That where lands have been heretofore granted by New-Hampshire and Massachusetts-Bay, or either, of them, and actually possessed in consequence thereof, and being so possessed, were afterwards granted by New-York; such possession shall be confirmed, — the posterior grant under New-York, notwithstanding."
Though it is absolutely out of the power of the said legislative authority, to confirm the possessions mentioned; yet, to discover their want of generosity in their proposal, I shall, in the first place, consider what a trifling proportion of those possessions could be confirmed upon their own stating, inasmuch as the confirming clause in the article, only confirms the possessor, who being so possessed at the time that the New-York grant was laid; and has no respect to any additional possession carried on after the grant took place. The identical words are, "And being so possessed, were afterwards granted by New-York;" viz. After such possession was actually made, and the possessor being so in possession, at the time the grant took place, such possession shall be confirmed; but any later possession cannot be included in the condition of "being so possessed;" for, a later possession was no possession at all, at the time the condition of possession took place; and, consequently, every possession which has been begun in the state of Vermont, since the lands were granted by New York, must be lost to the possessor, and fall into the hands of the New-York grantees, with all other uncultivated lands in the state; and all our purchases of those lands from New-Hampshire and Massachusetts-Bay, fall to the ground, together with our possessions, which have been increased an hundred fold.
These overtures have hitherto been considered only in a grammatical and logical sense, allowing them their own construction. I now proceed to consider them in a law sense. A legislative authority, within its own jurisdiction, may confirm a possession on vacant land, by making a grant of the same to the possessor. But, for the legislative authority of the state of New-York, to pretend, as they do in their Proclamation, to vacate any grants made by their own authority, in favor of any possession, and to confirm such possessions, by nullifying and defeating their own grants, is the height of folly and stupidity: for, the lands being once granted, the property passeth to the grantee; who is become the sole proprietor of the same; and he is as independent of that legislative authority, which granted it, as any person may be supposed to be, who purchaseth a farm of land of me by deed of conveyance: and it is as much out of the power
of that Legislature to vacate a grant made by them, or the same authority, in favor of any possessor, as it is out of my power to vacate my deed of conveyance in favor of some second person. It is contrary to common sense to suppose, that the property of the subject is at the arbitrary disposal of the Legislature: if it was, they might give a grant to day, and vacate it to-morrow, and so on, ad infinitum. This would destroy the very nature and existance of personal property, as the whole would depend on the sovereign will and last act of the Legislature. But the truth of the matter is, the first conveyance will, and ought to hold good; and this defeats all subsequent conveyances.
From what has been said on this subject, it appears, that the overtures in the Proclamation set forth, are either romantic, or calculated to deceive woods people, who, in general, may not be supposed to understand law, or the power of a legislative authority.
I have further to evince my arguments on this subject, by the concurring opinion of the Lords of the Board of Trade, on complaint made to them from those very persons, possessing the land we are speaking of. That clause of their report which is similar to what I have argued, is in these words: "Such subsequent grants made by the government of New York, however unwarrantable, cannot be set aside by any authority from his Majesty, in case the grantees shall insist on their title."
Thus it appears, in a trial (of the same case we are treating of) before the board of trade, that the King, under whose authority the government of New-York had, in an oppressive manner, granted those very lands, could not, by his royal authority, vacate or set aside the grants: yet, the present legislative authority of the state of New-York, proclaim to the world, and pledge the faith of government, that they will do it. But enough has been said on the impossibility of it, as well as on the ungenerousness of the proposal: and as to the quit-rents, the general assembly of the state of Vermont will determine their expediency, and probably release them all.
What has been observed, answers every part of the proclamation worth notice, as the five last articles had an entire reference to the three first; though it may be worth observing, that the time of compliance with those overtures are run out; and it is my opinion, that but few of the subjects of the state of Vermont have closed with them. The main inducement I had in answering them was, to draw a full and convincing proof from the same, that the shortest, best, and most eligible, I had almost said, the only possible, way of vacating those New-York interfering grants, is, to maintain inviolable the supremacy of the legislative authority of the independent state of Vermont. This, at one stroke, overturns every New-York scheme, which may be calculated for our ruin; makes us free men, confirms our property, "and puts it fairly in our power to help ourselves" to the enjoyment of the great blessings of a free, uncorrupted and virtuous civil government.
Bennington, August 9, 1778.
Hitherto, we have viewed the people of Vermont, only in their relation to the government of New-York; and, from a feeble infancy, have seen them gradually advance to the maturity of manhood, and commence a career in the character of an independent State.
The declaration of their independence, however, furnished occasion for new difficulties.
The original territory of New-Hampshire, consisted of sundry grants from the Council of New-England* to John Mason, made between the years 1621 and 1635; and was bounded on the west, by a line sixty miles from the sea. The territory between the Mason grant, as it was called, and Connecticut river, was, subsequently, granted, in virtue of royal commissions to the governors of New-Hampshire.
VERMONT had no sooner organized a government, than a strong disposition was manifested by many of the inhabitants, on the territory last mentioned, to dissolve their connexion with New-Hampshire, and unite with the people of Vermont. To justify the separation, it was contended "that all the lands, west of the Mason line, being royal grants, had been held in subjection to the government of New-Hampshire by force of the royal commissions, which were vacated by the assumed independence of the American Colonies; and, therefore, the inhabitants of those grants had reverted to a state of nature," and were at liberty to form a separate government, or connect themselves with such as would consent to a union.†
Accordingly, on the 12th of March, 1778, a petition from sixteen towns‡ on the east side of Connecticut river, was presented to the Legislature of Vermont, praying to be admitted into its union.
The Legislature was greatly embarrassed by this application; and, finally, referred the decision of the question to the people; as appears by the following extract from the journals.
"Wednesday March 18th 1778.
Voted that the proposals and preliminaries exhibited to this house, by a committee, representing a number of towns on the New Hampshire grants, east of Connecticut river, relative to forming a union between said. grants and this State, be laid before the people of this State, at large, for their consideration and determination."
* Several of the principal nobility of Great-Britain; whom, by the name of the Council of New-England, had been granted "all the land in America, lying between the degree of 40 and 48, north latitude," by the name of New England. — I Belknap, 301.
† Belknap's history, of N. H.
‡ Cornish, Orford, Lyman. Cardigan,
Lebanon Piermont. Apthorp, Landaff.
Dresden, Haverhill, Enfield. Gunthwaite,
Lime, Bath, Canaan, Morristown, — Belknap's history.
At the following session, in June, it appeared that a majority of the towns had voted for the union. Accordingly, the General Assembly admitted into union, the sixteen towns, as appears by the following extract from the journals.
"Thursday June 11th, 1778.
Voted that the union take place — thirty seven in the affirmative, and twelve in the negative."
"Having thus effected their purpose, the sixteen towns announced to the government of New-Hampshire, that they had withdrawn from their jurisdiction, and wished to have a divisional line established, and a friendly correspondence kept up."*
Justly alarmed and incensed at these proceedings, the government of New-Hampshire made the following communications on the subject, to the delegates of that state, in Congress, and to the Governor of Vermont.
From President WEARE, to the New-Hampshire Delegates at Congress.
EXETER, AUGUST 19, 1778.
By order of the council and assembly of this state, I am to inform you, that the pretended state of Vermont, not content with the limits of the New-Hampshire grants (so called) on the western side of Connecticut river, have extended their pretended jurisdiction over the river, and taken into union (as they phrase it) sixteen towns on the east side of Connecticut river, part of this state, and who can have no more pretence for their defection than any other towns in this state; the circumstances of which you are well acquainted with; and great pains are taking to persuade other towns to follow their example.
By the best information I have from that country, nearly one half of the people, in the revolted towns, are averse to the proceedings of the majority, who threaten to confiscate their estates, if they do not join with them; and I am very much afraid that the affair will end in the shedding of blood. Justices of the peace have been appointed and sworn into office in those towns, under the pretended authority of said Vermont; and persons sent to represent them there. I must not omit to let you know, that Col. Timothy Bedel, who has received great sums of money from congress, and their generals, under pretence of keeping some companies, last winter, and now a regiment, for the defence of that northern frontier, or to be in readiness for marching into Canada, (though very little service has been done, as I am informed) by influence of the money and his command, has occasioned a great share in the disorders in those towns. 'Tis wished by the more sober, solid people in that quarter, he could be removed for some other command, if he must be kept in pay and employed.
CONTROVERSY WITH NEW-HAMPSHIRE. 91
I am directed to desire you, on the receipt of this, to advise with some of the members of congress on this affair, and proceed, as you may judge expedient; and, after advising as aforesaid, to endeavour to obtain aid of congress, if you think they can, with propriety, take up the matter. Indeed, unless congress interfere, (whose admonitions, I believe, will be obeyed) I know not what consequences will follow. It is very probable the sword will decide it, as the minority, in those towns, are claiming protection from this state, and they think themselves bound, by every tie, to afford it; and you know that every condescending measure has been used from the beginning of the schism, and rejected.
From President WEARE, to Governor CHITTENDEN.
EXETER, AUGUST 22, 1778.
Although I have had information that the people, settled on the New-Hampshire grants, (so called) west of Connecticut river, had formed a plan for their future government, and elected you their first magistrate; yet, as they have not been admitted into the confederacy of the United States, as a separate, distinct body, I have omitted to address you, in your magistratical style, and not out of disrespect to you, or the people over whom you preside; which, in these circumstances, I doubt not, your candour will excuse, and that you will attend to the important subject of this address.
A paper has been laid before the general assembly, attested by Thomas Chandler, jun. as secretary of the state of Vermont, dated June 11, 1778, purporting a resolution of the general assembly of the state of Vermont, to receive into union with said state, sixteen towns on the east side of Connecticut river; and leave, or rather an invitation, to any towns, contiguous to those sixteen, to enter into the same union.
On which I am directed to represent to you, and to desire it may be laid before the representatives of your people, the intimation in said resolve, that the said sixteen towns 'are not connected with any state, with respect to their internal police,' is an idle phantom, a mere chimera, without the least shadow of reason for its support.
The town of Boston, in Massachusetts, or Hartford, in Connecticut, (if disposed) might, as rationally, evince their being unconnected with their respective states, as those sixteen towns their not being connected with New-Hampshire.
Were not those towns settled and cultivated, under the grant of the governor of New-Hampshire? Are they not within the lines thereof; as settled by the King of Great-Britain, prior to the present æra? Is there any ascertaining the boundaries between any of the United States of America, but by the lines formerly established by the authority of Great Britain? I am sure there is not. Did not the most of those towns send delegates to the convention of this state, in the year 1775? Have they not, from the commencement of the present war, applied to the state of New-Hampshire, for assistance and protection? It is well known, they did — and that New-Hampshire, at their own expence, hath supplied them with arms, ammunition, &c. to a very great amount, as well as paid soldiers for their particular defence and all at their request, as members
92 CONTROVERSY WITH NEW-HAMPSHIRE.
of this state — Whence then, could this new doctrine, that they were not connected with us, originate? I earnestly desire that this matter may be seriously attended to; and I am persuaded the tendency thereof, will be to anarchy and confusion.
When I consider the circumstances of the people, west of Connecticut river, the difficulties they encountered in their first settlement, their late endeavours to organize government among themselves, and the uncertainty of their being admitted, as a separate state, into the confederacy of the United States, I am astonished that they should supply their enemies with arguments against them, by their connecting themselves with people, whose circumstances are wholly different from their own, and who are actually members of the state of New-Hampshire. — A considerable number of inhabitants of those sixteeen towns (I am well informed) are entirely averse to a disunion with the state of New-Hampshire, and are about to apply to this state for protection; indeed, some have already applied. And are not the people in this state under every obligation, civil and sacred, to grant their brethren the needed defence?
I beseech you, Sir, for the sake of the people you preside over, and the said people, for the sake of their future peace and tranquility, to relinquish every connection, as a political body, with the towns on the east side of Connecticut river, who are members of the state of New-Hampshire, entitled to the same privileges as the other people of said state, from which there has never been any attempt to restrict them.
I am, Sir, with due respect,
Your obedient humble servant,
President of the Council of the state of N. H.
Hon. THOMAS CHITTENDEN, Esq.
On the receipt of this letter, Governor Chittenden convened the Council; and Gen. Ethan Allen was requested to repair to Philadelphia, to ascertain, in what light the proceedings of Vermont were viewed by Congress.
On his return, Gen. Allen made the following report.
"To his Excellency the Governor, the Honourable the Council, and to the Representatives of the freemen of the State of Vermont, in General Assembly, met.*
The subscriber hereto, begs leave to make the following report, viz.
By the desire of his Excellency, and at the request of several of the Members of the honourable the Council, to me made in September last, I have taken a journey to Philadelphia, in order to gain knowledge how the political situation of the State of Vermont stood, in the view of Congress; which I here exhibit.
On the 16th day of September last, I am informed by members of congress, that the delegates from the state of New-Hampshire exhibited to
* At this session of the Legislature, representatives from ten of the sixteen towns on the east side of Connecticut river, took their seats in the General Assembly. — Williams.
CONTROVERSY WITH NEW-HAMPSHIRE. 93
congress a remonstrance (which they had, previously, received from the council and assembly of said state) against the proceedings of the state of Vermont, with respect to their taking into union a number of towns, on the east side of Connecticut river, and in their inviting other towns to revolt from New-Hampshire; a copy of which I, herewith, exhibit: a matter which, they alledge, was incompatible with the right of New-Hampshire, and an infringement on the confederacy of the United States of America; and, therefore, desired the congress to take the matter under consideration, and grant some order thereon, to prevent the effusion of blood, and the confusion and disorders which would, otherwise, inevitably ensue.
The delegates from New-York, at the same time, exhibited to congress sundry papers, containing allegations against the state of Vermont, which, after some altercations, were admitted; and it was agreed that the same, together with the remonstrance from the state of New-Hampshire, should be taken under consideration, on the afternoon of the 18th, by a committee of the whole house: at which time it was moved to be brought forward, but urgent business occasioned its being deferred to the 19th; at which time I arrived at Philadelphia, and being, immediately, informed of the business by some of the members of congress, I used my influence against its being hastily determined ex parte; and particularly objected to the complaints from the states of New-Hampshire and New-York, their being both considered at the same time, alledging that they were of a very different nature. And, in consequence of this, together with my earnest request and application, I obtained assurance that the matter should not be brought to a decision, before I could have an opportunity to lay the matter before this people; as I had, previously, let the members of congress know, that the assembly of this state was to sit at this time; and I engaged to transmit the proceedings of this assembly to congress, as soon as they transpired, at their request.
The allegations, thrown by New-York, received a most severe shock on the perusal of my late pamphlet in answer to his Excellency Governor Clinton's proclamation, dated in February last, containing certain overtures to the inhabitants of this state; as well as from my large treatise on the nature and merit of the New-York claim, and their treatment to the inhabitants of this now state of Vermont. In fine, the New-York complaints will never prove of sufficient force in congress, to prevent the establishment of this state. But, from what I have heard and seen of the disapprobation, at congress, of the union with sundry towns, east of Connecticut river, I am sufficiently authorised to offer it as my opinion, that, except this state recede from such union, immediately, the whole power of the confederacy of the United States of America will join to annihilate the state of Vermont, and to vindicate the right of New-Hampshire, and to maintain, inviolate, the articles of confederation, which guarantee to each state their privileges and immunities.
Thus, gentlemen, I have given you a short representation of the political situation of this state, as it now stands in the general congress of the United-States of America, upon which I stake my honour.
Given under my hand, at Windsor, this 10th day of Oct. A. D. 1778.
94 CONTROVERSY WITH NEW-HAMPSHIRE.
Immediately after the foregoing report was made, the Legislature of Vermont took up the subject of the union; and the following proceedings were had thereon.
STATE OF VERMONT,
In General Assembly, at Windsor, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 1778.
Resolved, That this assembly now join his Excellency the Governor, and the honourable council, in the committee of the whole; to take into consideration the matters contained in the letter of the 22d of August last, from the honourable Meshech Weare, Esq. President of the Council of New-Hampshire to his Excellency Governor Chittenden; and every matter which may relate to the subject therein contained; and that they report, thereon, to this assembly.
STATE OF VERMONT,
Windsor, October 13th, A. D. 1778.
In a committee of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Council and Representatives of the general assembly of said state; to take into consideration the matters contained in a letter of the 22d of August last, from the honourable Meshech Weare, Esq. President of the Council of New-Hampshire, to his Excellency Governor Chittenden; and every matter, which may relate to the subject therein contained.
His Excellency THOMAS CHITTENDEN, Esq. in the Chair.
BEZALEEL WOODWARD, Esq. Clerk.
Sundry papers were laid before the committee, viz.
A letter from President Weare to Governor Chittenden, dated August 22d last.
Answer from Governor Chittenden to President Weare, dated Sept. 3d.
Copy of a letter from President Weare, in behalf of the council and assembly of New-Hampshire, to their members at the Continental Congress, dated August 19th, 1778.
Report of Col. Ethan Allen, from members of congress of the 10th inst. Protest from Hinsdale, Brattleborough, &c. dated April 15th.
And a copy of a letter from Governor Clinton to Pelatiah Fitch, Esq. dated July 7th, 1778.
A verbal representation was also made by Col. Ethan Allen, of the situation of affairs relative to this state, at the honorable Continental Congress: after which, the matters, relative to the union of sundry towns, east of Connecticut river, with this state, were largely discussed.
Committee then adjourned till to-morrow morning, eight o'clock: and continued, by various adjournments, to the 16th.
October 16th. — Committee met, according to adjournment — when the following question was put, viz.
Whether this committee will enter on such measures as may, in their opinion, have a tendency to support the union with the towns, east of Connecticut river? which was voted in the affirmative.
Committee adjourned till to-morrow morning, eight o'clock.
October 17th. — Committee met, according to adjournment: at which time his Excellency Governor Chittenden, his honor Lieutenant Governor Marsh, Elisha Payne, the honorable Jonas Fay and Bezaleel Wood‑
CONTROVERSY WITH NEW-HAMPSHIRE. 95
ward, Esq. were appointed a committee to draw the out-lines of a plan to be pursued, for the further establishment of the state; and to lay a foundation for an answer to President Weare's letter to Governor Chittenden.
Committee adjourned till Monday next, two o'clock, P. M.
Monday, October 19th. — Committee met, according to adjournment.
The committee, appointed on the 17th instant, made their report; as on file; which was repeatedly read, and approved. And thereupon
VOTED, That this committee, having taken into their consideration the matters contained in the letter from the honorable Meshech Weare, Esq. President of the Council of New-Hampshire, to his Excellency Governor Chittenden, &c. agree to report to the general assembly the measures proposed by their sub-committee, as having, in their opinion, the most effectual tendency for the further establishment of this state. — Which were reported accordingly: and are as follows, viz.
STATE O VERMONT, Windsor, October 19th, A. D. 1778.
To the committee, consisting of the Governor, Deputy Governor, Council and House of Representatives.
Your committee, appointed to draw the out-lines of a plan to be pursued for the establishment of the state, beg leave to propose as follows, viz.
First. That a declaration be drawn up, setting forth the political state of the grants, on both sides of Connecticut river, from the time of their being granted — viz. that the grants were taken as being under jurisdiction of the government of New-Hampshire; where the grantees, expected to have remained:— that the King of Great-Britain, under the influence of false and ex-parte representation, passed a decree in Council, A. D 1764, that part of the grants should be under the control of the government of New-York:— that said decree was, in its nature, void, from the beginning, on account of the undue influence, under which it was obtained: and that the whole of said grants were, consequently, of right, under the same jurisdiction, as before said decree took place — but the Governor of New-Hampshire, not exercising jurisdiction over those, west of the river, they remained, part under the jurisdiction of the government of New-York, but the greater part in opposition thereto, till near the time of the declaration of independence of the United States, by which the whole of the grants became unconnected with any state; and had an opportunity to assert, and enter on, measures to support their just rights, and were at liberty to unite together, or with any other state, which might agree to receive them. In this situation, the inhabitants on the grants, west of the river, (already determined, by the cruel treatment they received from New-York, not to be under the control of that state,) entered on measures for establishing government among themselves; and a considerable number of towns on the grants, east of the river, after various ineffectual endeavors to unite with New-Hampshire, on such principles as they esteemed just and equitable, united with the grants, west of the river on the plan of government, which they had adopted; and with them have solemnly covenanted to support each other in said government. And as, by their situation and agreement, in manners, habits, &c. they conceive they are called upon, and warranted, to set up and maintain civil govern‑
96 CONTROVERSY WITH NEW-HAMPSHIRE.
ment in a distinct state; and as those grants ought not to be divided between New-York and New-Hampshire, or any other way, merely to serve interested views; they are unanimously, determined, in every prudent and lawful way, to maintain and support, entire, the state as it now stands.
Second. That proposals be made to New-Hampshire, that those towns only, which lie west of the Mason claim, and which shall accede to a union with this state, agreeable to a resolve of assembly at their session, at Bennington, the eleventh day of June last, be admitted to a union with this state. And, in case New-Hampshire shall not agree thereto, or to some line that shall be agreed on, as an equivilent, that they agree to a submission of all matters of complaint and dispute in the premises, to congress, for a decision; the grants being allowed equal privileges as the state of New-Hampshire, in supporting their cause — or that they submit the matter to any court, that may be agreed on, and constituted by the parties, for a decision; saving to themselves, in the trial, all right, privilege and advantage, which they had, or might have, by any former grant, jurisdiction, power and privilege, on account of any former situation or connection with any province or state, heretofore had; and notwithstanding any subsequent transactions.
Third. That a committee be appointed to draw these proposals at large, and report them to this assembly; that they may be transmitted to the council and assembly of New-Hampshire, desiring their answer; and that copies thereof be transmitted to congress, and to other states for their information, and for the vindication of our conduct; also to all the towns on the said grants.
Fourth. That the general assembly proceed to erect courts, and enact laws and regulations for the support of government; as far as the circumstances of the state will admit.
THOMAS CHITTENDEN, Chairman.
The joint committee, then, dissolved.
Attest, BEZALEEL WOODWARD, Clerk.
In General Assembly, Monday, October 19th.
The joint committee of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Council and Assembly, made their report, as before mentioned, and the consideration thereof, was deferred till to-morrow.
Tuesday, October 20th.
The report of the joint committee of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Council and Representatives, made yesterday to this assembly, was read, and approved; and thereupon,
Resolved, That the first and second articles, in the report of measures proposed by the joint committee, be transmitted to the President of the honorable Continental Congress, and to the President of the Council of New-Hampshire, with proper letters accompanying them.
Resolved, That Col. Payne, Mr. Jones and Mr. Woodward, be a committee, to join a committee from the council, to make a draft of the above mentioned letters, to be laid before this assembly.
Resolved, That a committee be chosen, by ballot, to draw up the proposed declaration at large, to be laid before this assembly.
CONTROVERSY WITH NEW-HAMPSHIRE. 97
Chose Col. Allen, Col. Payne, Dr. Fay, Mr. Woodward and General Bayley, a committee for the above mentioned purpose.
Resolved, That the two first articles, in the report of measures proposed to be pursued, for the establishment of the state, be printed in hand bills, and transmitted to all the towns on the New-Hampshire grants.
Resolved, That Mr. Nathaniel Robinson, Col. Payne, Mr. Woodward, Capt. John Fassett, jun. Mr. Post, Capt. Throop, Capt. Ebenezer Curtiss, Maj. Bayley and Mr. Wells, be a committee, to join a committee from the council to draw a bill to be laid before this assembly, for dividing the state into four counties.
Wednesday, October 21st.
The following questions were proposed, and answered, as herein stated.
Question. 1st. Whether the counties, in this state, shall remain as they were established by this assembly, at their sessions in March last?
Yeas 35, viz. Nays 26, viz.
Capt. Noble, Col. Walbridge,
Capt. John Fassett, Mr. Jackson,
Mr. Millington, Mr. Alvord,
Capt. John Fassett, jun. Mr. Aiken,
Mr. Thomas, Mr. Tilden,
Mr. Bradley, Mr. Bartholomew,
Capt. Gideon Ormsbee, Mr. Smith,
Mr. Powell, Mr. Benjamin Baldwin,
Capt. Underhill, Mr. Nutting,
Mr. Moses Robinson, Mr. Foster,
Mr. Adams, Mr. Estabrook,
Mr. Rowley, Capt. Wheatley,
Mr. Ward, Capt. Turner,
Mr. Lewis, Mr. Freeman,
Mr. Post, Capt. Woodward,
Mr. Belknap, Mr. Thomas Baldwin
Capt. Jonathan Fassett, Col. Payne,
Capt. Powers, Mr. Chandler,
Mr. Foot, Maj. Bayley,
Capt. Starr, Capt. Young,
Mr. Wells, Mr. Curtiss,
Mr. Hamilton, Capt. Hatch,
Capt. Knight, Mr. Parkhurst,
Col. Fletcher, Mr. Harvey,
Mr. Nathaniel Robinson, Maj. Chandler,
Mr. Webb, Mr. Woodward.
Capt. E. Curtiss,
98 CONTROVERSY WITH NEW-HAMPSHIRE.
The following reasons were assigned by those on the negative of the foregoing question, and inserted by their desire, viz.
We, whose names are hereunto annexed, being entered as nays, on the foregoing question, hereby assign our reasons for thus voting.
First. Because the whole State of Vermont was, (by the establishment referred to in the question) in March last, divided into two counties only; which was previous to the union of the towns, east of Connecticut river, with this state; and, consequently, they never have been annexed to any county in the state; and, therefore, will thereby, be put out of any protection or privileges of said state; which we conceive to be inconsistent with the 6th section of the bill of rights, established as part of the Constitution.
Second. Because the affirmative of the question is in direct opposition to the report of the committee of both houses (of the 19th inst.) on the, subject; which was confirmed by a resolve of Assembly yesterday; as may appear by the report of said committee, and resolves of the house thereon; reference thereto, being had.
Elisha Payne, Bezaleel Woodward, James Bayley,
Stephen Tilden, John Wheatley, Alexander Harvey,
Bela Turner, Jonathan Freeman, David Woodward,
Thomas Baldwin, John Young, Edward Aiken,
Benjamin Baldwin, Abel Curtiss, Nehemiah Estabrook,
Abraham Jackson, Ebenezer Walbridge, Joseph Hatch,
Tim. Bartholomew, John Nutting, Joseph Parkhurst,
Abner Chandler, Frederick Smith, Reuben Foster.
Question 2d. Whether the towns, east of Connecticut river, included in the union with this state, shall be included in the county of Cumberland?
Question 3d. Whether the towns on the east side of Connecticut river, who are included, by union, within this state, shall be erected into a distinct county by themselves?
Yeas 28, viz. Nays 33, viz.
Col. Walbridge, Capt. Noble,
Mr. Jackson, Capt. John Fassett,
Mr. Alvord, Mr. Millington,
Mr. Aiken, Capt. John Fassett, jun.
Mr. Tilden, Mr. Thomas,
Mr. Parkhurst, Mr. Bradley,
Mr. Bartholomew, Capt. G. Ormsbee,
Mr. Smith, Mr. Powell,
Mr. Benjamin Baldwin, Capt. Underhill,
Mr. Nutting, Mr. Rowley,
Mr. Foster, Mr. Moses Robinson;
Mr. Estabrook, Mr. Adams,
Capt. Wheatley, Mr. Belknap,
Capt. Turner, Mr. Ward,
Mr. Lewis, Mr. Post,
Mr. Freeman, Capt. Jonathan Fassett,
Capt. Woodward, Capt. Powers,
CONTROVERSY WITH NEW-HAMPHSIRE. 99
Mr. Thomas Baldwin, Mr. Foot,
Capt. Young, Capt. Starr
Mr. Abel Curtiss, Mr. Wells,
Capt. Hatch, Mr. Hamilton,
Col. Payne, Capt. Knight,
Mr. Harvey, Col. Fletcher,
Mr. Chandler, Mr. N. Robinson,
Mr. Woodward, Mr. Webb,
Maj. Bayley, Mr. Scott,
Col. Morey, Cap. E. Curtiss,
Capt. Ormsbee. Capt. Williams,
We, whose names are under written, were on the affirmative of the two last foregoing questions, because, the negative being passed, the towns on the east side of Connecticut river, who are included, by union, with this state, are thereby effectually debared from all benefit, protection and security of the commonwealth of Vermont, in violation of the sixth article in the bill of rights, which is established as part of the constitution of said state; and in violation of the public faith of said state, pledged by their general assembly, at Bennington, June 11th, 1778; and also a resolve of this assembly passed yesterday, whereby the towns, east of the river, which were received into union with said state, were entitled to all the privileges and immunities, vested in any town in said state; as by said resolutions may appear, reference thereto being had.
Elisha Payne, Bezaleel Woodward, James Bayley,
Stephen Tilden, John Wheatley, Alexander Harvey,
Bela Turner, Jonathan Freeman, David Woodward,
Thomas Baldwin, John Young, Edward Aiken,
Benjamin Baldwin, Abel Curtiss, Nehemiah Estabrook,
Abraham Jackson, Ebenezer Walbridge, Joseph Hatch,
John Nutting, Joseph Parkhurst, Israel Morey,
Abner Chandler, Ichabod Orsmbee, Elijah Alvord
Resolved, That the following matters be printed, for the perusal of the several towns represented in this assembly. viz.
A list of the names of representatives, who have attended this assembly, with their towns annexed.
The resolution of the house by which the joint committee was formed. The report of the joint committee on the 19th inst.
The proceedings of assembly thereon, yesterday.
The resolution passed yesterday, respecting division of counties.
And the whole of the proceedings of Assembly, passed this day, together with the reasons annexed by dissentients.
Extracted front the Journals and compared.
By BEZALEEL WOODWARD, Clerk
The unanswerable appeal contained in the communication of President Weare to Governor Chittenden, together with the report of Ethan Allen, seem, at length, to have brought the Legislature of Vermont to a stand, on the subject of the union. The votes, which we have recorded, plainly evinced a determination to proceed no further in the hazardous experiment.
These proceedings, however, produced great excitement in the feelings of the minority. This minority consisted of the members from the towns east of Connecticut river, and sundry members from the vicinity of the river, in Vermont. Not contented with entering their reasons on the journals of the assembly, they drew up, and presented to that body, a more formal protest; in which they were joined by the Lieutenant Governor, and two of the Council. This protest is as follows.
STATE OF VERMONT, ss.
Windsor, October 22d, A. D. 1778.
We, whose names are under written, members of the Council and general assembly of said state, beg leave to lay before the assembly the following, as our protest and declaration against their proceedings on Wednesday the twenty-first inst. in passing the three following votes or resolutions, viz.
First. "That the counties, in this state, shall remain as they were established by the Assembly of this state in March last."
Second. "That the towns on the east side of the river, included in the union with this state, shall not be included in the county of Cumberland."
Third. "That the towns, on the east side of the river, shall not be erected into a distinct county by themselves."
As by said votes on the journals of the house may appear. Which votes are illegal, and in direct violation of the Constitution of this state, and the solemn engagements and public faith pledged by the resolutions of said assembly; as by the following observations will plainly appear, viz.
1. That as the towns, on the east side of said river, were never annexed to any county in said state, they are, consequently, by said votes, entirely excluded the liberties, privileges, protection, laws and jurisdiction of said state; all which were granted them by the state, by an act or resolve of assembly, passed at Bennington, in June last, containing the union and confederation of the state and said towns; by which act or resolve of assembly, every town included in the union, received, by grant from the then state of Vermont, all the rights, powers and privileges of any other town in said state; which they cannot be deprived of, without their consent; as it is a maxim that the grantor or grantors cannot re-assume their grant, without the surrendry of the grantee or grantees.
2. That said votes are in direct opposition to a solemn resolution of this assembly, passed the 20th inst. establishing the report of the committee of both houses; in which report the assembly have solemnly covenanted to defend the whole of the state, entire, as it then was, including said towns.
3. That, by the Constitution of the State, especially the sixth article in the bill of rights, government is instituted, or declared to be, a right of every part of the community, and not a part only — Said votes, therefore, are a violation of the Constitution.
4. That, so far as the assembly have power, they have, by said votes, totally destroyed the confederation of the state, by depriving those towns, included in the union, of the exercise of any jurisdiction, power or privilege, granted them in the confederation, by which the towns in the state are combined and held together as one body.
And as no political body can exercise a partial jurisdiction, by virtue of a confederation or agreement of the people to exercise government over the whole; it is, therefore, either void, or destroys both the confederation and Constitution.
We do, therefore, hereby publicly declare and make known, that we cannot, consistent with our oaths and engagements to the state, (so long as said votes stand and continue in force,) exercise any office or place, either legislative, executive, or judicial, in this state; but look upon ourselves as being thereby discharged from any, and every, former confederation and association with the state.
J. Marsh, D. Governor, Peter Olcott, Assistant, Thos. Moredock, Assist.
Elisha Payne, Bezaleel Woodward, James Bayley,
Stephen Tilden, John Wheatley, Alexander Harvey,
Bela Turner, Jonathan Freeman, David Woodward,
Abner Chandler, Ichabod Ormsbee, Elijah Alvord,
Benjamin Spaulding, Reuben Foster, Frederick Smith,
John Nutting, Joseph Parkhurst, Israel Morey,
Benjamin Baldwin, Abel Curtiss, Nehemiah Estabrook,
Thomas Baldwin, John Young, Joseph Hatch.
The protesting members immediately withdrew from the Legislature, leaving, in the Assembly, a number barely sufficient to constitute a quorum. This number proceeded to finish the business of the session, and adjourned, on the 24th of October, after having provided, by the following resolution, for ascertaining the sense of the people on the subject of the union.
"In General Assembly, Windsor, October 23d, 1778.
Resolved, That the members of this Assembly lay before their constituents, the situation of the union subsisting between this state and sixteen towns, cast of Connecticut river; and be instructed how to proceed relative to said union, at the next session of this assembly.
Whereas there are several inhabited towns in this state, that have not been represented in this assembly, according to constitution; and others, whose representatives have withdrawn themselves, and refuse to take a seat in this house:
Therefore, Resolved, That the constable or constables of each respective town in this state, that is not fully represented, according to constitution, and of each respective town whose representatives still refuse to take their seats, be, and, are hereby directed to warn all the freemen of
their respective towns to meet together at some convenient time and place, by them appointed, within such towns, before the next adjourned session of assembly, and make choice of a representative or representatives to attend the assembly, at their adjourned session, to be holden at Bennington, on the second Thursday of February next."
The excited feeling, which produced the secession of the protesting members, urged them to measures of a more alarming character. They immediately assembled, and made arrangements for the meeting of a convention; to which they invited all the towns, in the vicinity of Connecticut river, to send delegates.* This convention met at Cornish, in the state of New-Hampshire, on the 9th of December, 1778. The only account of their proceedings, which we have been able to find, is contained in the following abstract of their proposals to the state of New-Hampshire.
1. "To agree upon and settle a dividing line between New-Hampshire and the grants, by committees from each party, or otherwise, as they may mutually agree.
Or, 2. That the parties mutually agree in the appointment of a court of commissioners of disinterested, judicious men, of the three other New-England states, to hear and determine the dispute.
Or, 3. That the whole dispute with New Hampshire be submitted to the decision of Congress, in such way and manner as Congress, in their wisdom, shall prescribe.
Provided always, That the grants be allowed equal privileges with the other party, in espousing and conducting their cause.
Or, 4. If the controversy cannot be settled on either of the foregoing articles, and in case we can agree with New-Hampshire upon a plan of government, inclusive of extent of territory, that we unite with them, and become with them one entire state, rejecting the arbitrary line drawn on the western bank of Connecticut river, by the King of Great-Britain, in 1764."
The people of Vermont were now fully awake to their danger. The impolicy, as well as injustice of aiding in the dismemberment of New‑Hampshire, became too apparent, to admit a doubt as to the course proper to be pursued. They were wise enough to retrace their steps, and rid themselves of a connexion which threatened their ruin. Accordingly, on the second day of the following session, the assembly of Vermont dissolved the union; as will appear by the following extract from the journal of their proceedings.
"In General Assembly, February 12th, 1779.
Resumed the consideration of the union between this state and sixteen towns, east of Connecticut river; when, the instructions of the freemen of this state to their representatives, concerning said union, being examined,
it appears that they are instructed to recede from such union. Therefore, Resolved, that Mr. Hibbert and Mr. Wells be a committee to join a committee from the council, to prepare a draught relative to dissolving the union between the sixteen towns, before mentioned, and this state; and report thereon to this House.
The committee appointed to prepare a draught relative to dissolving the union with sixteen towns, east of Connecticut river, with this state, brought in the following report, viz.
Whereas, in consequence of a representation made to the general assembly of this state, at their session at Windsor, in March 1778, by a committee, consisting of seven persons, inhabiting several towns, lying contiguous to the east side of Connecticut river, that a number of inhabited towns, east of said river, were then unconnected with any state, in regard to their internal police: and, on said committee's application to the general assembly, that the said towns might be admitted into union with this state, orders were issued by the assembly to the representatives' constituents, for instructions in the premises:
And whereas, in consequence of such instructions, the representatives of said constituents, when met, at their adjourned session, at Bennington, on the eleventh day of June last, did receive into union with said state, sixteen towns, east of said Connecticut river, and grant leave for other towns to unite, if they should choose:
And whereas, a dispute has arisen, in respect to the right New-Hampshire have to exercise jurisdiction over those sixteen towns, as claimed in a letter to his Excellency Thomas Chittenden, Esq. by Meshech Weare, Esq. President of the Honourable Council of the state of New-Hampshire, dated August 22d. 1778:
And whereas, the general assembly of this state did, at their session at Windsor, in October last, agree on certain methods (contained in the report of the grand committee of both houses) to settle and adjust the dispute with New-Hampshire; nevertheless, the measures to be pursued to effect those methods, were rendered impracticable by the members, east of said river, withdrawing themselves from the house, in an unconstitutional manner, and forming a convention, in direct violation of the most solemn oaths and obligations into which they had entered, declaring themselves discharged from any and every former confederation and association with this state
And whereas, your committee have just grounds to apprehend that the said sixteen towns are, of right, included within the jurisdiction of New-Hampshire; they are, therefore, of opinion, that the said union ought to be considered as being null, from the beginning.
JONAS FAY, Chairman of Committee.
The above draught being read, was accepted, and this house do, thereupon, resolve that the said union be, and is hereby dissolved, and made totally void, null and extinct: and that his Excellency the Governor be, and he is hereby directed to communicate the foregoing draught, and resolve thereon, to the President of the Council of the state of New-Hampshire,"
The foregoing report and resolution were transmitted to New Hampshire, by Ira Allen, Esq. who presented the same to the President and Council of that state, on the 20th of March following. On his arrival, he found an effort was making to carry into effect the proposals of the Cornish convention; as appears by the following petition.
To the Honourable the President in Council, and the Representatives of the State of New-Hamphire, in General Assembly convened — The subscribers hereto, beg leave to represent,
That a large number of charters of incorporation of certain tracts of land, were formerly issued from their Excellencies Benning Wentworth and John Wentworth, Esqrs. in the name of the King of Great-Britain, lying and being west of the Mason grant, and east of a north line, drawn from the north-west corner of the now state of the Massachusetts-Bay, to Lake Champlain, and from thence to the latitude of forty-five degrees. — That in the year 1764, the aforesaid King of Great-Britain, in violation of his contract with the grantees, and in an arbitrary manner, passed a decree, that there should be a division of the aforesaid grants between the then Province of New-York and New Hampshire; to which decree, the inhabitants of said grants there then, and have, ever since, been averse; as they were, thereby, deprived of privileges which they, of right, claimed, and, in their settlement, reasonably expected, within the jurisdiction of New-Hampshire. — That the inhabitants aforesaid, since the declaration of independence, view themselves at liberty to connect in one body politic, or unite with any other state. — That they are now, in general, desirous of an union with the state of New-Hampshire. That the representatives of the people, in assembly, on the 20th of October last, voted, that a defence of the rights of the people be stated by a committee appointed for that purpose, and that answers to some letters, &c. be drafted by said committee. — Also, that offers be made to the state of New-Hampshire, either to settle a boundary line between said New-Hampshire and the grants, by a committee mutually chosen, or in such way as Congress may point out; or to make an offer of the whole of said grants to New-Hampshire.
That on the 9th day of December last, by a convention of committees delegated by the inhabitants of said grants,* it was voted, that proposals of an union with said New-Hampshire be made to the assembly of said state.
In consequence whereof, we, the subscribers, being duly authorised for that purpose, do now propose to this honourable court, that the whole of said grants be connected and confederated with said state of New-Hampshire, receiving and enjoying equal privileges and immunities with the good people of said state.
Dated at Newbury, this 17th day of March, 1779.
* There were but eight towns in Vermont, represented in this convention — Williams.
The following are the proceedings of the Legislature of New-Hampshire, on the foregoing petition.
STATE OF NEW–HAMPSHIRE
In the House of Representatives, April 2d, 1779.
The committee on the petition of Gen. Balley and Mr. Phelps, relating to the New-Hampshire grants, so called, reported, that this state should lay claim to the jurisdiction of the whole of the New-Hampshire grants, so called, lying to the westward of Connecticut river, setting forth the right this state has to the same: allowing and conceding, nevertheless, that if the honourable Continental Congress shall allow the said grants, to the westward of Connecticut river, to be a separate state, as now claimed by some of the inhabitants thereof, by the name of Vermont, that in such case the state of New-Hampshire will acquiesce therein. — And that this state shall exercise jurisdiction as far west as the western bank of Connecticut river, and no further, until the dispute is settled by Congress.
By order of the major part of the committee,
JOSIAH BARTLET, Ch.
Which report being read and considered — Voted, That it lie for further consideration, until the next session of the general assembly of this state.
Sent up for concurrence,
JOHN LANGDON, Speaker.
In Council the same day, read, and concurred.
E. THOMPSON, Sec'ry.
STATE OF NEW-HAMPSHIRE.
In the House of Representatives, June 24th, 1779.
The house, by vote, took under consideration the report of the committee of the second day of April last, which was, at that session, voted to lie for consideration until this session, relative to the New-Hampshire grants, &c. And the question being put, whether the report of the said committee be received and accepted, or not? It passed in the affirmative,
Sent up for concurrence,
JOHN LANGDON, Speaker.
In Council, the 25th of June, 1779, read and concurred.
E. THOMPSON, Sec'ry.
Between the claims of New-York, on the one hand, and New-Hampshire, on the other, Vermont was now reduced to a situation extremely embarrassing; and, to add to the embarrassment, Massachusetts also, laid claim to a part of her territory.
At this critical moment, when the state was thus threatened with annihilation, events took place, in the county of Cumberland, which gave a new impulse to the controversy with New-York. A party had always existed in that county, opposed to the independence of Vermont; and yielding, hitherto, but a reluctant submission to its authority. A convention was organized from the disaffected, which met at Brattleboro, on the 4th of May, 1779, and addressed the Governor of New-York in the following petition.
To His Excellency George Clinton, Esq. Governor of the State of New-York, General and Commander in Chief's of all the Militia, and Admiral of the Navy of the same.
The Petition of the Committees of the towns of Hinsdale, Guilford, Brattleborough, Fulham, Putney, Westminster, Rockingham, Springfield, and Weathersfield, in Cumberland County, chosen for the purpose of opposing the pretended State of Vermont, and convened at Brattleborough, the 4th May, 1779.
That there being a numerous party, in avowed opposition to legal authority, your petitioners, and others, have been compelled to submit, though reluctantly, to live without the benefits arising from a well regulated government. They have been destitute of the regular means of punishing the most atrocious offenders, and of compelling the execution of private justice. In short, they are, and for a long time have been, in such anarchy, that even committees, where they do exist, are without power.
In this distracted condition your petitioners have waited, with much impatience, the leisure of the grand council of the American empire, to whose authority alone, these deluded men pretend submission. We had no doubt, as we understood application had been made for the purpose, but Congress would use the first moment they could spare from more important concerns, to recommend to the revolted subjects of the state, a return to their allegiance. — We are encouraged to expect it; not only as the revolt established a precedent which might be dangerous in other states, and as the continent could derive no assistance, of consequence, from the grants, either in men or money, while they remain under a disputed government; but because the states had confederated for their general and mutual welfare, and bound themselves to assist each other against all force offered to, or attacks made upon, any of them, on account of sovereignty, or any other pretence whatsoever. But, to our very great surprise and concern, Congress have not, as far as we can learn, done any thing since the year 1776, in a matter of so great moment to the peace and harmony of the confederated states.
That the partizans for a new state, have confiscated and sold, and are selling many valuable real and personal estates.
That they have attempted, repeatedly, to exercise judicial and military authority over those who continue loyal to the state of New-York; and have, very lately, had the assurance to take the cattle of those who refused to comply with their illegal orders. They have also assessed, and endeavoured to collect money from those who do not admit the validity of their authority, and have been restrained only by force. In some instances, they have intimidated the subjects of New-York state to give up their property, rather than to contend with them.
They have also made prisoner of a magistrate, acting under the authority of the state of New-York, in a matter which no way concerned the subjects of the pretended state of Vermont, and compelled him to give bond in the penalty of one thousand pounds, lawful money of New-England, conditioned for his appearance before their superior court, in June next. In fine, from the general tenor of their conduct, they now appear determined, at all events, to enforce submission to their government.
That the subjects of the state of New-York here, cannot long endure their present unhappy situation, and have only the state to which they owe allegiance, to look up to, for succour, in this critical and calamitous hour. The protection of individuals, and their property, we esteem the principal end of government; that protection we have a right to claim, in return for our allegiance. And, we have, besides, the solemn engagements of the Legislature, to concur in the necessary measures for protecting the loyal inhabitants of the state, residing in the counties of Albany, Charlotte, Cumberland and Gloucester, in their persons and estates.
Your petitioners were in hopes, that the disaffected party would not have reduced them to the disagreeable necessity of applying for protection, during the continuance of the war with Great-Britain; but our present circumstances loudly demand the speedy and effectual execution of the promise made by the Legislature. We shall, otherwise, be compelled to obey a government, which we view as an usurpation, and add our strength to oppose one, which we conceive entitled to our dutiful obedience and support.
Your petitioners, therefore, humbly, and in the most urgent and earnest manner, on behalf of themselves and their constituents, intreat, that your Excellency will take immediate and effectual measures for protecting the loyal subjects of this part of the state in their persons and properties, and to convince the honourable Congress, of the impropriety of delaying a publication of their sentiments, in a matter which so nearly concerns the peace, welfare, and, probably, the lives of many of their firm adherents. — And your petitioners, as in duty bound, shall ever pray, &c.
By order of the committee,
SAMUEL MINOTT, Chairman.
Brattleborough, May 4th, 1779.
About this time, a military association appears to have been formed in the county of Cumberland, for the purpose of resisting the government of Vermont. Ethan Allen was directed, by the Governor, to raise the militia for the purpose of suppressing it. Upon receiving intelligence of this, Col. Patterson, who held a commission in that county, under the authority of New-York, addressed Governor Clinton, on the 5th of May, requesting directions how to proceed, and suggesting the necessity of sending the militia of Albany county to his assistance.*
The Governor of New-York answered this communication, and the foregoing petition, with assurances of protection; recommending that the authority of Vermont should, in no instance, be acknowledged, except in the alternative of submission or inevitable ruin.*
On the 18th of May, the Governor of New-York wrote to the President of Congress, "that matters were fast approaching a very serious crisis, which nothing but the immediate interposition of Congress could possibly prevent; that he daily expected he should be obliged to order out a force for the defence of those who adhered to New-York; that the wisdom of Congress would suggest to them what would be the consequence of submitting the controversy, especially at that juncture, to the decision of the sword; but that justice, the faith of government, and the peace and safety of society, would not permit them to continue any longer, passive spectators of the violence committed on their fellow citizens."†
This letter, and sundry other papers, were laid before Congress; and the following proceedings were had thereon.
Tuesday, June 1, 1779.
According to the order of the day, Congress was resolved into a committee of the whole, and, after some time, the President resumed the chair; and Mr. Plater reported, that the committee of the whole have taken into consideration the letter of the 18th of May, from his Excellency Governor Clinton, the petition of the committee of Cumberland county, the letter of Col. Patterson to Governor Clinton, Governor Clinton's answer, &c. and have come to sundry resolutions thereon, which he was ordered to report:
The report being read, Congress, thereupon, came to the following resolutions:
Whereas divers applications have been made to Congress, on the part of the state of New-York, and of the state of New-Hampshire, relative to disturbances and animosities among inhabitants of a certain district, known by the name of "the New-Hampshire grants," praying their interference for the quieting thereof; Congress having taken the same into consideration,
Resolved, That a committee be appoinsed to repair to the inhabitants
* Williams' history.
† Abstract of Gov. Clinton's letter, in Williams' history,
of a certain district, known by the name of the New-Hampshire grants, and enquire into the reasons why they refuse to continue citizens of the respective states, which, heretofore, exercised jurisdiction over the said district; for that, as Congress are in duty bound, on the one hand, to preserve inviolate the rights of the several states, so on the other, they will always be careful to provide that the justice due to the states, does not interfere with the justice, which may be due to individuals:
That the said committee confer with the said inhabitants, and that they take every prudent measure to promote an amicable settlement of all differences, and prevent divisions and animosities, so prejudicial to the United States.
Resolved, That the further consideration of this subject be postponed until the said committee shall have made report.
Ordered, That they report specially and with all convenient speed.
Resolved, That to-morrow be assigned for electing the committee.
Resolved unanimously, That the President inform the Governor of the state of New-York, that a more early attention would have been paid to the pressing applications of that state, relating to the disturbances mentioned in his several letters, had it not been prevented by matters of the greatest importance; and that Congress will continue to pay equal attention to the rights of that state with those of other states in the union.
Wednesday, June 2d, 1779.
Resolved, That the committee to repair to the inhabitants of the New Hampshire grants consist of five, any three of whom to be empowered to act:
The members chosen, Mr. Ellsworth, Mr. Edwards, Mr. Witherspoon, Mr. Atlee and Mr. Root.
While this subject was engaging the attention of Congress, Allen marched with an armed force, and made prisoners of the Colonel and militia officers, who were acting under the authority of New-York.* This fact was immediately made known to Governor Clinton, and by him communicated to Congress, by letter of the 7th of June. The following are the proceedings of Congress thereon.
Wednesday, June 16th, 1779.
The committee, consisting of Mr. Jenifer, Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Sharpe, to whom was referred the letter of the 7th of June, from governor Clinton, brought in a report; whereupon,
Resolved unanimously, That the officers, acting under the state of New York, who were, lately, restrained of their liberty, by certain persons of a district, called the New-Hampshire grants, ought to be immediately liberated.
Resolved unanimously, That the committee appointed to repair to the inhabitants of a certain district, known by the name of the New-Hampshire grants, be directed to enquire into the matters and things contained in the letters of Governor Clinton of the 27th of May and of the 7th inst.
* Williams' history.
and that copies of the said letters be transmitted to the said committee, and that they be directed to report specially to Congress.
Resolved unanimously, That it was not the intention of Congress, by their resolution of the 1st inst. nor ought the same or any other part thereof, to be construed to hold up principles subversive of, or unfavorable to the internal policy of any or either of the United States:
That as Congress expect very salutary effects from the appointment of the said committee, therefore, all further proceedings on Governor Clinton's letter be postponed until they report.
Of the Commissioners appointed by Congress to repair to Vermont, two only attended — Dr. Witherspoon and Mr. Atlee.
We learn from Williams' history, that they repaired to Bennington in June, and after several conferences with the friends of Vermont and New-York, they returned, without accompishing the purpose of their mission. From the journals of Congress, we, merely, learn the fact, that they made a report to that body, on the 13th of July, 1779.
The controversies, arising out of the various claims to the territory of Vermont, had now become a subject of general attention. The important consequences involved in them, induced Congress again to take the subject under consideration; and on the 24th of September, the following important resolutions were adopted.
Friday, September 24th, 1779.
Congress took into consideration resolutions reported from the committee of the whole, which were agreed to, as follows:
Whereas, on the day of June last, Congress, by a certain resolution, reciting "that whereas divers applications had been made to Congress, on the part of the state of New-York, and of the state of New-Hampshire, relative to disturbances and animosities among inabitants of a certain district, known by the name of the New-Hampshire grants," praying their interference for quieting thereof, did resolve, "that a committee be appointed to repair to the New-Hampshire grants, and enquire into the reasons why they refuse to continue citizens of the respective states, which, heretofore, exercised jurisdiction over the said district for that, as Congress are in duty bound, on the one hand, to preserve inviolable the rights of the several states, so, on the other, they will always be careful to provide that the justice due to the states, does not interfere with the justice, which may be due to individuals: that the said committee confer with the said inhabitants, and that they take every prudent measure to promote an amicable settlement of all differences, and prevent divisions and animosities, so prejudicial to the United States:" and did farther resolve, "that the farther consideration of this subject be postponed until the said committee shall have made report."
And whereas it so happened, that a majority of the committee appointed in pursuance of the aforementioned resolution, did not meet in the said
district, and, therefore, have never executed the business committed to them, or made a regular report, thereupon, to Congress:
Ordered, That the said committee be discharged.
And whereas the animosities aforesaid have lately proceeded so far, and risen so high, as to endanger the internal peace of the United States; which renders it indispensably necessary for Congress, to interpose for the restoration of quiet and good order.
And whereas one of the great objects of the union of the United States of America, is the mutual protection and security of their respective rights: and whereas it is of the last importance to the said union, that all causes of jealousy and discontent between the said states, should be removed; and therefore, that their several boundaries and jurisdictions be ascertained and settled: and whereas disputes, at present, subsist between the states of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay and New-York, on the one part, and the people of a district of country, called the New-Hampshire grants, on the other, which people deny the jurisdiction of each of the said states over the said district, and each of the said states claim the said district against each other as well as against the said people, as appertaining, in the whole or in part, to them, respectively:
Resolved unanimously, That it be, and hereby is, most earnestly, recommended to the states of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay and New-York, forthwith to pass laws, expressly authorizing Congress to hear and determine all differences between them, relative to their respective boundaries, in the mode prescribed by the articles of confederation, so that Congress may proceed thereon, by the first day of February next, at the farthest: and further, that the said states of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay and New-York, do, by express laws, for the purpose, refer to the decision of Congress, all differences or disputes relative to jurisdiction, which they may, respectively, have with the people of the district aforesaid, so that Congress may proceed thereon, on the first day of February next; and also to authorize Congress to proceed to hear and determine all disputes subsisting between the grantees of the several states aforesaid, with one another or with either of the said states, respecting title to lands, lying in the said district, to be heard and determined in the mode prescribed for such cases, by the articles of confederation aforesaid: and further, to provide that no advantage be taken of the non-performance of the conditions of any of the grants of the said lands, but that further reasonable time be allowed for fulfilling such conditions.
Resolved unanimously, That Congress will, and hereby do, pledge their faith to carry into execution and support their decisions and determinations in the premises, in favour of whichsoever of the parties the same may be; to the end, that permanent concord and harmony may be established between them, and all cause of uneasiness removed.
Resolved unanimously, That Congress will, on the said first day of February next, proceed, without delay, to hear and examine into the disputes and differences relative to jurisdiction aforesaid, between the said three states respectively, or such of them as shall pass the laws before mentioned, on the one part, and the people of the district aforesaid, who claim to be a separate jurisdiction, on the other; and, after a full and fair
hearing, will decide and determine the same according to equity; and that neither of the said states shall vote on any question relative to the decision thereof. And Congress do, hereby, pledge their faith to execute and support their decisions and determinations in the premises.
And whereas it is essential to the interest of the whole confederacy, that all intestine dissentions be carefully avoided, and domestic peace and good order maintained:
Resolved unanimously, That it is the duty of the people of the district aforesaid, who deny the jurisdiction of all the afore-named states, to abstain, in the mean time, from exercising any power over any of the inhabitants of the said district, who profess themselves to be citizens of, or to owe allegiance to, any, or either, of the said states: but that none of the towns, either on the east or west side of Connecticut river, be considered as included within the said district, but such as have, heretofore, actually joined in denying the jurisdiction of either of the said states, and have assumed a separate jurisdiction, which they call the state of Vermont. And further, that in the opinion of Congress, the said three states afore-named, ought, in the mean time, to suspend executing their laws over any of the inhabitants of the said district, except such of them as shall profess allegiance to, and confess the jurisdiction of, the same respectively. And further, that Congress will consider any violences committed against the tenor, true intent and meaning of this resolution, as a breach of the peace of the confederacy, which they are determined to keep and maintain. And to the end, that all such violences and breaches of the public peace may be the better avoided in the said district, it is, hereby, recommended to all the inhabitants thereof, to cultivate harmony and concord among themselves, to forbear vexing each other at law or otherwise, and to give as little occasion as possible to the interposition of magistrates.
Resolved unanimously, That, in the opinion of Congress, no unappropriated lands or estates which are, or may be, adjudged forfeited or confiscated, lying in the said district, ought, until the final decision of Congress in the premises, to be granted or sold.
Ordered, That copies of the aforegoing resolutions be sent by express, to the states of New-York, New Hampshire and Massachusetts-Bay, and to the people of the district aforesaid, and that they be respectively desired to lose no time in appointing their agent or agents, and otherwise preparing for the hearings aforesaid.
The aforesaid resolutions being read over, and a question taken to agree to the whole,
Resolved, unanimously in the affirmative."
On the 2d of October, the first of the foregoing resolutions was amended, as follows.
Whereas in the first resolution of Congress of the 24th of September last, relative to a district of country, called "New-Hampshire Grants," is the following clause, viz.
"And also to authorize Congress to proceed to hear and determine all disputes subsisting between the grantees of the several states aforesaid, with one another, or with either of the said states, respecting title to lands,
lying in the said district, to be heard and determined in the mode prescribed for such cases by the articles of confederation aforesaid:" and whereas no provision is made in the said articles of confederation for hearing and determining disputes between any state and the grantees of any other state:
Resolved unanimously, That the clause, above recited, be repealed.
Resolved unanimously, That it be, and hereby is recommended to the states of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay and New-York, to authorize Congress to proceed to hear and determine all disputes subsisting between the grantees of the several states aforesaid, with one another, or with either of the said states, respecting title to lands, lying in the said district, to be heard and determined by "commissioners or judges," to be appointed in the mode prescribed by the 9th article of the confederation aforesaid.
Ordered, That a copy of the preceding resolves be transmitted to the said states of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay and New-York, and also to the inhabitants of the New-Hampshire grants.
The foregoing resolutions were communicated, by express, to the Governor of Vermont, and laid before the Legislature, then in session. The following extracts from the journals of the assembly, will show the measures adopted by Vermont, on this occasion.
"STATE OF VERMONT,
In General Assembly, October 16th, 1779.
Resolved, That a committee of four be appointed, to join a committee from the Council, to form the out-lines of a plan to be pursued by this state for defence against the neighboring states, in consequence of the late acts of Congress, for that purpose.
Committee chosen — Gen. Ethan Allen, Mr. Jones, Mr. N. Clark, and Mr. Fassett."
"October 19th, 1779.
Resolved, That this assembly join with the Governor and Council, in committe of the whole, to-morrow morning, to take into consideration several acts of the honourable the Congress, of the 24th of September last, relating to a settlement of all disputes between the states of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay and New-York, on the one part, and the state of Vermont on the other."
"October 20th, 1779.
The Assembly, with the Council, according to their resolution of yesterday, resolved, into a committee of the whole, to take into consideration several acts of the honorable the Congress, of the 24th September last, relating to a settlement of all disputes between the states of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay and New-York, on the one part, and the state of Vermont, on the other, &c.
The committee of the whole being dissolved, the speaker resumed the chair, and the house proceeded to business."
"October 21, 1779.
The committee of the whole brought in the following report, viz. Agreeable to the order of the day, his Excellency the Governor, the
Council and House of Representatives were resolved into a committee of the whole, to take into consideration the letter of the 25th ult. from his Excellency John Jay, Esq. late President of the Congress of the United States of America, inclosing certain acts of Congress, for an equitable settlement of all differences subsisting between the states of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay and New York, on the one part, and this state, on the other; and, after some time spent thereon, the Governor resumed the chair, and the following resolutions, being read several times, were agreed to; viz.
Resolved unanimously, That it is the opinion of this committee, that this state ought to support their right to independence, at Congress, and to the world, in the character of a free and independent state.
Resolved, That this committee recommend it to the general assembly to make grants of all, or any part of the unappropriated lands within their jurisdiction, that does not interfere with any former grants, as their wisdom may direct.
Extract from the minutes,
JOSEPH FAY, Clerk.'
On motion made — Resolved unanimously, by this assembly, that they agree to the aforesaid report."
"October 22d, 1779
Resolved, That five persons be chosen, by ballot, agents in behalf of the freemen of this state, to appear at the Congress of the United States of America, on the first day of February next; and that they, or any three of them, are, hereby, fully authorized and empowered, by the representatives of the freemen aforesaid, to vindicate their right to independence, at that honorable board.
And furthermore, our said agents, or any three of them, are, hereby, amply empowered to agree upon, and fully settle, articles of union and confederation, in behalf of this state, with the United States; which shall be binding on us, on our constituents, and our successors. And our said agents are hereby further empowered to transact all other political affairs of this state, at Congress, as a free and independent state; and report their proceedings herein, to this assembly, as soon as may be.
Agents chosen — Gen. Ethan Allen, the honorable Jonas Fay, and Paul Spooner, Esquires, Stephen R. Bradley, Esq. and the honorable Moses Robinson, Esq."
Massachusetts still persisting in her claim to a part of the territory of Vermont, his Excellency Governor Chittenden addressed the President of the Council of that state, as follows.
MANCHESTER, October 28th, 1779.
I am directed by my Council and the General Assembly of this state, now sitting, to signify to your honor, that his Excellency John Jay, Esq. the late President of the Congress of the United States, has, by express, communicated a letter to me, bearing date the 25th ult. enclosing certain
acts of Congress, for an equitable settlement of all differences subsisting between the state of Massachusetts-Bay, New-Hampshire and New-York, on the one part, and this state, on the other; by which I obtained the first intelligence of a claim being set up and continued, by Massachusetts state, over any part of this.
The General Assembly have been pleased, to appoint the bearer, Brig. Gen. Allen, to wait on your honorable Council and General Court, to learn over what part of this state you mean to extend your claim, and how far you mean to carry such pretensions into execution, in the trial at Congress, on the first day of February next, agreeable to the acts of Congress, with which, I am informed, you are served with a copy. Every necessary step shall be invariably pursued, on my part, to bring about an equitable accommodation of all differences aforesaid, agreeable to the strict rules of justice and equity; which cannot be attended to, in my opinion, without an explicit acknowledgment of the independence of this state; for
First. any, even the least, reason be given for this state's being put under the jurisdiction of New-York, contrary to their will? Have not the inhabitants of Vermont suffered an infinity of evils, by New-York's pretending to exercise jurisdiction over them, when neglected by every friendly power on the continent, even the authority which gave them being, not excepted?
Second. Have not Vermont, for many years before the late revolution took place between Great-Britain and America, been forced to the last alternative, the absolute necessity of having recourse to arms, to defend their interest, purchased at the dearest rate; and of exhibiting that same spirit of patriotism, which has, so far, brought America out of a state of threatened slavery, into the fruition of freedom and liberty?
Third. Does not that same spirit of freedom now exist among the free citizens of Vermont, which is absolutely necessary to be continued, by the United States of America, in order to carry into execution the declaration of Congress, on the 4th of July, 1776? Surely it does.
Fourth. Can such a people be draged, or flattered, into a subjection to any one of the United States, or be divided to two or more of them, merely to allow them a stretch of jurisdiction, and thereby augment their power? Surely they cannot.
If you will please to lay this before your honorable Council and General Court, and write me your answer, by the bearer, the favor shall be ever gratefully acknowledged by,
Sir, your honor's most obedient humble servant,
The honorable the President of the Council of Massachusetts State.
Vermont was now, literally, struggling for existence; a struggle requiring the exercise of no ordinary wisdom and firmness. Happily for her, she possessed statesmen, whose resources were equal to any emergency; and who would have done honor to any age or any country.
They perfectly understood the ground on which rested the claim of Ver‑
mont to independence; and it is worthy of remark, that, even at the most trying periods, they were never betrayed into a single measure, evincing, in the slightest degree, a disposition to abandon it.
Sensible that the present crisis demanded an extraordinary effort, the Governor and Council, on the 10th of December, 1779, published "an appeal to the candid and impartial world."* In this appeal, they declare, "that they could not view themselves as holden, either in the sight of God or man, to submit to the execution of a plan, which, they had reason to believe, was commenced by neighbouring States:— that the liberties and privileges of the State of Vermont, by said resolutions, are to be suspended upon the arbitrament and final determination of Congress, when, in their opinion, they were things too sacred ever to be arbitrated upon at all; and what they were bound to defend, at every risk:— that the Congress of the United States had no right to intermeddle in the internal police and government of Vermont:— that the State existed independent of any of the thirteen United States, and was not accountable to them, or to their representatives, for liberty, the gift of the beneficent Creator:— that the State of Vermont was not represented in Congress, and could not submit to resolutions passed without their consent, or even knowledge, and which put every thing that was valuable to them, at stake:— that there appeared a manifest inequality, not to say predetermination, that Congress should request of their constituents, power to judge and determine in the cause, and never ask the consent of thousands, whose all was at stake. They also declared that they were, and ever had been, ready to bear their proportion of the burden and expence of the war with Great Britain, from its first commencement, whenever they were admitted into the union with the other states: but they were not so lost to all sense, and honour, that, after four years war with Britain, in which they had expended so much blood and treasure, they should now give up every thing worth fighting for — the right of making their own laws, and choosing their own form of government — to the arbitrament and determination of any man, or body of men, under heaven."
Contrary to the expectation of all parties, the subject was not moved, in Congress, on the first of February, 1780. On the 21st of March, it was taken up, and the following order made thereon.
"Tuesday, March 21st, 1780.
On motion, to proceed to the order of the day for taking into consideration the disputes and differences, relative to the jurisdiction of the states of New-York, Massachusetts-Bay and New-Hampshire, or such of them, as have passed laws, agreeably to a recommendation of Congress of the 24th of September last, on the one part, and the people of a certain tract of country, called the New-Hampshire grants, who claim to be a separate jurisdiction, on the other part.
* This appeal was drawn up by the honorable Stephen R. Bradley. It was the editor's intention to have inserted it entire in this collection; but his utmost efforts to obain it, aided by the obliging attention of the author himself, have failed of success. For the abstract of it, Which is here given, the editor is indebted to Williams' history.
Ordered, That the same be postponed; nine states, exclusive of those who are parties to the question, not being represented in Congress."
On the 2d of June, Congress resumed the consideration of the subject, and thereupon, came to the following resolutions.
"Friday, June 2d, 1780.
Congress resumed the consideration of the report of the committee on sundry papers respecting the New-Hampshire grants, and thereupon came to the folowing resolutions:
Whereas, it is represented to Congress, and by authentic evidence laid before them, it appears, that the people, inhabiting the district of country, commonly known by the name of the New-Hampshire grants, and claiming to be an independent state, have, notwithstanding the resolutions of Congress of the 24th of September, and 2d of October, proceeded, as a separate government, to make grants of lands and sales of estates, by them declared forfeited and confiscated; and have also, in divers instances, exercised civil and military authority over the persons and effects of sundry inhabitants, within the said district, who profess themselves to be citizens of, and to owe allegiance to, the state of New-York.
Resolved, That the acts and proceedings of the people inhabiting the said district, and claiming to be an independent state as aforesaid, in contravening the good intentions of the said resolutions of the 24th of September and the 2d of October last, are highly unwarrantable, and subversive of the peace and welfare of the United States.
That the people inhabiting the said district, and claiming to be an independent state, as aforesaid, be, and they hereby are, strictly required to forbear and abstain from all acts of authority, civil or military, over the inhabitants of any town or district, who hold themselves to be subjects of, and to owe allegiance to, any of the states, claiming the jurisdiction of the said territory, in whole or in part, until the decisions and determinations, in the resolution aforementioned, shall be made.
And whereas, the states of New-Hampshire and New-York have complied with the said resolutions of the 24th of September and the 2d of Ooctober last, and, by their agents and delegates in Congress, declared themselves ready to proceed in supporting their respective rights to the jurisdiction of the district aforesaid, in whole or in part, according to their several claims, and in the mode prescribed in the said resolutions: and whereas, Congress, by their order of the 21st of March last, did postpone the consideration of the subject of the said resolutions, nine states, exclusive of those who were parties to the question, not being represented; and by their order of the 17th of May last, have directed that letters be written to the states not represented, requesting them immediately, to send forward a representation.
Resolved, That Congress will, as soon as nine states, exclusive of those who are parties to the controversy, shall be represented, proceed to hear and examine into, and finally determine, the disputes and differences, relative to jurisdiction between the three states of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay and New-York, respectively, or such of them, as shall have passed such laws, as are mentioned in the said resolutions of the 24th of September and the 2d of October last, on the one part, and the people of
the district aforesaid, who claim to be a separate jurisdiction, on the other, in the mode prescribed in and by the said resolutions."
On the 9th of June, the subject was again called up, and the consideration of it postponed; as appears by the following extract from the journals.
"Friday, June 9th, 1780.
Nine states being represented, exclusive of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay and New-York.
A motion was made by Mr. Livingston, seconded by Mr. Scott, agreeably to the resolution of the 2d instant, to proceed to hear and examine into, and finally determine, the disputes and differences, relative to jurisdiction between the three states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay and New-York, respectively, or such of them, as shall have passed such laws, as are mentioned in the resolution of the 24th of September and 2d of October last, on the one part, and the people of the district, commonly known by the name of the New-Hampshire grants, who claim to be a separate jurisdiction, on the other, in the mode prescribed in and by the said resolutions.
But it being represented, on the part of New-Hampshire, that the agent specially appointed for that business, is not now present, and, from the great distance, cannot soon attend Congress;
On motion of Mr. Walton, seconded by Mr. Folsom,
Ordered, That the second Tuesday in September next, be assigned to proceed to hear, and examine into, and finally determine, the disputes and differences, relative to jurisdiction, between the three states of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay and New-York, respectively, or such of them, as shall have passed such laws, as are mentioned in the resolutions of the 24th of September and 2d October last, on the one part, and the people of the district, commonly known by the name of the New-Hampshire grants, who claim to be a separate jurisdiction, on the other, in the mode prescribed in and by the said resolutions.
Ordered, That copies of the aforegoing order be sent to the states of New-York, New-Hampshire and Massachusetts-Bay, and to the people of the district aforesaid."
The foregoing resolutions were communicated to his Excellency Governor Chittenden, who laid the same before his Council; and on the 25th of July, addressed the President of Congress, as follows.
BENNINGTON, July 25th, 1780.
Your Excellency's letter of the 10th ult. enclosing several acts of Congress, of the 2d and 9th of the same month, I accidentally received, the 6th inst. have laid them before my Council, and taken their advice thereon, and now beg your Excellency's indulgence, while I treat on a subject of such moment in its nature, and which so nearly concerns the citizens of this state.
However Congress may view those resolutions, they are considered by the people of this state, as being, in their nature, subversive of the
natural rights, which they have to liberty and independence, as well as incompatible with the principles on which Congress ground their own right to independence; and have a natural, and direct tendency to endanger the liberties of America, which have, hitherto, been defended at great expence, both of blood and treasure.
Vermont's right to independence has been sufficiently argued, and the good consequences resulting to the United States, from its first assuming government, clearly vindicated, in sundry pamphlets, which have been, officially, laid before Congress. I beg leave to refer your Excellency to "Vermont's appeal," &c. particularly from the thirty second to the forty second page; in which, among other things, is contained a particular answer to the resolutions of the 24th of September, referred to in the resolves of the 2d of June last; and a denial of the authority of Congress over this state, so far as relates to their existence as a free and independent government.
I find, notwithstanding, by a resolution of the 9th ult. that Congress have assigned the second Tuesday of September next, to judge, absolutely, of the independence of Vermont, as a separate jurisdiction. Can Congress suppose this government are so void of reason, as not to discern that the resolves of the 2d and 9th of June aforesaid, so far as the authority of Congress may be supposed to extend to this state, are leveled directly against their independence?
Vermont, as before mentioned, being a free and independent state, have denied the authority of Congress to judge of their jurisdiction. Over the head of all this, it appears that Congress, by their resolutions of the 9th ult. have determined that they have power to judge the cause; which has, already, determined the essence of the dispute; for, if Vermont does not belong to some one of the United States, Congress could have no such power, without their consent; so that, consequently, determining they have such a power, has determined that Vermont have no right to independence; for, it is utterly incompatible with the rights and prerogatives of an independent state, to be under the control or arbitrament of any other power. Vermont have, therefore, no alternative; they must either submit to the unwarrantable decree of Congress, or continue their appeal to heaven and to arms.
There may, in future, be a trial at Congress, which of the United States shall possess this territory, or how it shall be divided among them: but this does not concern Vermont. And it is altogether probable that there have been proposals for dividing it between the state of New-Hampshire and New-York, the same as the King of Prussia, the Empress of Russia, and the Empress of Hungary divided Poland between those three powers; with this difference only, that the former are not in possession of Vermont.
The cloud that has hovered over Vermont, since the ungenerous claims of New-Hampshire and Massachusetts-Bay, has been seen, and its motions carefully observed by this government; who expected that Congress would have averted the storm: but, disappointed in this, and unjustly treated as the people, over whom I preside, on the most serious and candid deliberation, conceive themselves to be, in this affair, yet,
blessed by heaven, with constancy of mind, and connexions abroad, as an honest, valiant and brave people, are necessitated to declare to your Excellency, to Congress, and to the world, that, as life, liberty and the rights of the people, intrusted them by God, are inseparable, so they do not expect to be justified in the eye of Heaven, or that posterity would call them blessed, if they should, tamely, surrender any part.
Without doubt, Congress have, previous to this, been acquainted, that this state has maintained several posts on its frontiers, at its own expence; which are well known to be the only security, to this quarter, of the frontier inhabitants of the states of the Massachusetts-Bay and New-Hampshire; and it is highly probable that Albany, and such parts of the state of New-York, as lie to the northward of that; would, before this time, have been ravaged by the common enemy, had it not been for the indefatigable exertions of this state, and the fears, which the enemy have been, and are still possessed of, that their retreat would be interrupted by the troops from those posts and the militia of this state.
Thus, by guarding the frontiers, has this state secured the friendship of part of the private gentlemen and yeomanry, even of those states, whose representatives, it seems, are seeking its destruction. And, having the general approbation of disinterested states, this people are, undoubtedly, in a condition to maintain government; but should they be deceived in such connexions, yet, as they are not included in the thirteen United States, but conceive themselves to be a separate body, they would still have in their power, other advantages; for they are, if necessitated to it, at liberty to offer, or accept, terms of cessation of hostilities with Great-Britain, without the approbation of any other man or body of men: for, on proviso that neither Congress, nor the Legislatures of those states, which they represent, will support Vermont in her independence, but devote her to the usurped government of any other power, she has not the most distant motive to continue hostilities with Great-Britain, and maintain an important frontier for the benefit of the United States, and for no other reward than the ungrateful one of being enslaved by them. True, Vermont have taken an active part in the war, subsisting between the United States and Great Britain, under an expectation of securing her liberties; considering the claim of Great-Britain to make laws to bind the colonists, in all cases whatsoever, without their consent, to be an abridgment of the natural rights of mankind: and it appears that the said resolves of the 2d and 9th of June, are equally arbitrary, and that they furnish equal motives to the citizens of Vermont, to resist the one as the other; for, if the United States have departed from the virtuous principles upon which they first commenced the war with Great Britain, and have assumed to themselves the power of usurping the rights of Vermont, it is time, high time, for her seriously to consider what she is fighting for, and to what purpose she has been, more than five years last past, spilling the blood of her bravest sons.
This government have dealt with severity, towards the tories, confiscated some of their estates, imprisoned some, banished some, and hanged some, &c and kept the remainder in as good subjection, as any state belonging to the union. And they have, likewise, granted unto worthy
whigs, in the neighboring states, some part of their unappropriated lands; the inconsiderable avails of which, have been faithfully appropriated for the defence of the northern frontiers; which, eventually, terminates in the support of the interest, and securing the independence and sovereignty of the United States: and, after having faithfully executed all this, have the mortification to meet with the resentment of Congress, circulated in hand-bills and the New-York publick papers, representing their conduct, "in contravening the good intention of Congress, as being highly unwarrantable, and subversive of the peace and welfare of the United States." Those resolves serve only to raise the expiring hopes and expectations, and to revive a languishing flame, of a few tories and scismaticks, in this state, who have never been instrumental in promoting the common cause of America.
With regard to the state of the Massachusetts-Bay, they have not, as a legislative body, laid any claim to the territory of Vermont; nor have they enacted laws, judicially authorizing Congress to take cognizance thereof, agreeable to the before mentioned resolves; a majority of their legislative body considering such pretensions to he an infringement on the rights of Vermont; and, therefore, the state of the Massachusetts-Bay cannot be considered as a party in this controversy.
As to the state of New-Hampshire, although they have judicially authorized Congress to make a final adjudication of their late started and very extraordinary claim to the territory of Vermont, yet, by recurring back to the original proceedings between the two states, it appears, the General Court of New-Hampshire had, previous to laying the said claims, settled their boundary line with the state of Vermont, and established Connecticut river as the boundary between the respective governments and, as far as the approbation of the government of New-Hampshire can go, have, previously, conceded to the independence of Vermont; the particulars of which are too prolix to be given in this letter, but are exhibited, at large, in a pamphlet, entitled "A concise refutation of the claims of New-Hampshire and Massachusetts Bay to the territory of Vermont," and which is herewith transmitted as a bar against the right of New-Hampshire to a trial for any part of Vermont.
The government of New-Hampshire, ever since the royal adjudication of the boundary line between them and the government of New York, in 1764, have cast the inhabitants of the contested territory, out of their protection, and abandoned them to the tyranny of New York: and have very lately, over the head of the settlement aforesaid, laid claim to the said territory, and enacted laws as aforesaid, to enable Congress to judicially determine the merit of said claim. How glaringly illegal, absurd and inconsistent, must their conduct as a legislative body, appear, in this respect. Such irregularity among individuals, arises from the ill government of the human passions; but when that takes place in publick bodies, it is unpardonable, as its influence is more extensive and injurious to society.
Hence it appears, legally speaking, neither the states of New-Hampshire or Massachusets-Bay, can be, with propriety, considered as parties in the controversy; and, consequently, New-York is left alone, a competitor with Vermont, even admitting Congress are possessed of sufficient
authority to determine those disputes, agreeable to their resolutions which, by this government, is, by no means, admissible.
Notwithstanding the usurpation and injustice of neighboring governments towards Vermont, and the late resolutions of Congress, this government, from a principle of virtue and close attachment to the cause of liberty, as well as a thorough examination of their own policy, are induced, once more, to offer union with the United States of America, of which Congress are the legal representative body. Should that be denied, this state will propose the same to the Legislatures of the United States, separately, and take such other measures as self-preservation may justify.
In behalf of the Council, I am, Sir,
Your Excellency's most obedient, humble servant,
His Excellency SAMUEL HUNTINGTON, Esq. President of Congress.
All parties now anxiously awaited the decision of Congress, on the second Tuesday of September: and although Vermont strenuously denied the authority of Congress to adjudicate upon the controversy, yet, two of her agents, the honorable Ira Allen and Stephen R. Bradley, proceeded to Philadelphia, to attend the deliberations.
The following extracts from the journals of Congress, exhibit the proceedings on this subject.
IN CONGRESS, September 12th, 1780.
"Nine states, exclusive of the states interested, not being represented.
Resolved, That the order of the day, to proceed to hear and examine into, and finally determine, the disputes and differences, relative to jurisdiction, between the three states of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay and New-York, respectively, or such of them, as shall have passed such laws, as are mentioned in the resolutions of the 24th of September and the 2d of October last, on the one part, and the people of the district, commonly known by the name of the New-Hampshire grants, who claim to be a separate jurisdiction, on the other, in the mode prescribed in — and by the said resolutions — be postponed till Thursday next, and that the members, in town, be notified to attend the house, at 10 o'oclock, in the morning of that day."
"September 19th, 1780.
Resolved, That the order of the day, to proceed to hear and examine into, and finally determine, the disputes and differences, relative to jurisdiction, between the three states of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay and New York, respectively, or such of them, as have passed such laws, as are mentioned in the resolutions of the 24th of September and the 2d of October last, on the one part, and the people of the district, commonly known by the name of the New-Hampshire grants, who claim to be a separate jurisdiction, on the other, be postponed till six o'clock.
* For this interesting letter, the editor is indebted to the hon. Stephen R. Bradley, who has furnished a copy, taken in 1780; on which is found the following memorandum — "Delivered Congress, Sept. 12th, 1780, and read, eodem die."
On motion of the delegates of New-York,
Ordered, That the secretary notify Messrs. Ira Allen, Stephen R. Bradley, Luke Knoulton, and Colonel Olcott, to attend this afternoon, on the hearing of the question, respecting the jurisdiction of the tract of country, commonly called the New-Hampshire grants.
Six o'clock, P. M. — Congress met, according to adjournment, and proceeded to hear, &c; the persons notified, attending; when the following papers were read:
The act of the state of New-York, passed October 21st, 1779, and the act of the state of New-Hampshire, of November, 1779, both passed, pursuant to the resolutions of Congress of September 24th and October 2d:
A commission to Ira Allen and Stephen R. Bradley, Esq'rs. dated August 16th, 1780, signed Thomas Chittenden, under a seal in the instrument, called the seal of the state of Vermont:
An appointment of Luke Knoulton, as agent on behalf of the inhabitants of Cumberland county, at a convention of the committees of the said county, Brattleborough, August 30, 1780, and signed John Sergeant, chairman pro tempore.
An appointment of Peter Olcott and Bezaleel Woodward, Esq'rs. agents from the towns in the northern parts of the New-Hampshire grants, on both sides of Connecticut river, being part of a district, known by the name of the state of Vermont, pursuant to a vote of a convention of members from the said towns, November 17th, 1779, signed Joseph Marsh, chairman of the said convention, and dated New Hampshire grants, January 1, 1780.
The delegates of New-York, as agents for the state, delivered in sundry papers, which were read, with an intent to prove that the land, known by the name of the New-Hampshire grants, on the west side of Connecticut river, is within the limits of the state of New-York; that the state of New-Hampshire have acknowledged this, and that the people on the said tract have been represented in the Legislature of New-York, since the year 1764."
"September 20th, 1780.
Congress proceeded to the order of the day, the parties being present as yesterday, except the delegate for the state of New Hampshire, who was absent through sickness; when the state of New-York, by its delegates, proceeded in stating evidence to prove that the inhabitants of the tract of country, known by the name of the New-Hampshire grants, west of Connecticut river, as part of the state or colony of New-York, were duly represented in, and submitted to, the authority, jurisdiction and government of the Congress and convention of the said state, till late in the year 1777; and that, therefore, the people inhabiting the said tract of country have no right to a separate and independent jurisdiction."
"September 27th, 1780.
Congress proceeded in the order of the day, respecting the jurisdiction of the tract of country, commonly called the New-Hampshire grants, all the parties being present, except Ira Allen, and Stephen R. Bradley, who, being duly notified, declined to attend; when the agent for the state of New-Hampshire proceeded to state evidence tending to prove, that the tract of country, known by the name of the New-Hampshire grants, was
within the state of New-Hampshire, and that, therefore, the people inhabiting the said tract of country, have no right to a separate and independent jurisdiction. The gentlemen appearing in behalf of sundry inhabitants of the said grants, having nothing to add, and pressing Congress to come to a determination, withdrew.
Resolved, That the farther consideration of the subject be postponed."
The agents of Vermont were indignant at this course of proceeding. They perceived that, in attempting to decide upon the controversy between New-York and New-Hampshire, Congress was adjudicating upon the very existence of Vermont, without waiting for her consent, or condescending to consider her as a party; thus, in effect, assuming the ground that she did not, in any sense, possess the attributes of sovereignty. They therefore withdrew their attendance, and immediately transmitted to Congress the following remonstrance.
To the Hon. the Congress of the United States of North America.
The remonstrance of Ira Allen and Stephen R. Bradley commissioners from the free and independent state of Vermont, appointed, for the time being, to attend on Congress.
With pleasure they embrace this first opportunity to testify their thanks for the personal honor done them by Congress, in giving them an attendance, though in a private capacity, with their honorable body: at the same time, lament the necessity which obliges them to say, they can no longer sit as idle spectators, without betraying the trust reposed in them, and doing violence to their feelings, to see partial modes pursued, plans adopted, ex-parte evidence exhibited, which derives all its authority from the attestation of the party; passages of writings selected, giving a very false representation of facts, to answer no other end but to prejudice your honorable body against the state of Vermont; thereby to intrigue and baffle a brave and meritorious people out of their rights and liberties. — We can easily conceive the secretary's office of the state of New-York, may be converted into an inexhaustible source, to furnish evidence to answer their purpose, in the present dispute.
Needless would it be for us to inform Congress, that by the mode of trial now adopted, the state of Vermont can have no hearing without denying itself: and to close with those resolutions, which we conceive our enemies have extorted from your honorable body, and on which the trial is now placed, would be, in facts taking upon ourselves that humility and self-abasement, as to lose our political life, in order to find it.
We believe the wisdom of Congress sufficient to point out, that, pursuing the present mode, is deviating from every principle of the laws of nature, or nations: for, if the dispute is between the states claiming on the one part, and the state of Vermont on the other, whether the latter be a state de jure, as an independent jurisdiction de facto; they ought to be considered in the course of the dispute, until the powers interposing, have determined whether the latter be an independent jurisdiction de jure; if not, they, of course, ought to annihilate the jurisdiction de facto; but, to an-
nihilate the state de facto, in the first plate, is summarily ending the dispute; to deny the latter any independent jurisdiction de facto, is to deny there is any longer parties in the dispute.
Again, we conceive the means connected with the end, and upon no principle whatever can we justify, that either party should establish the modus or rules to be pursued in determining disputes, without confounding every idea of right and wrong. In the present case, on the one part, might the end as justly have been established, as the way and means to effect the end.
We are far from being willing those brave and strenuous efforts made by the state of Vermont, in the controversy with Great-Britain, should be buried by our grasping adversaries, (thirsting after domination and prey) in the specious pretext of riotously assuming government; and we, thereby, lose all credit for the men and money we have expended.
Thus, while we are necessitated to remonstrate against the proceedings of Congress in the present mode, we are willing, at the same time, any equitable enquiry should be made, the state of Vermont being allowed equal privileges with the other states, in the dispute.
And that the state of Vermont might stand justified to your honorable body, and to the world, both as to her present and future conduct, we are induced, as well from principles of attachment to the American cause, as a regard we have for peace and harmony among the states of America, now at war with Great-Britain, to make the following proposals, viz.
1st. That the state of Vermont will, as soon as may be, forward to the secretary of Congress, an attested return of all male persons, liable to do duty, agreeably to a militia act, heretofore exhibited to Congress, in a code of laws, entitled, "The Laws of Vermont;" and the state of Vermont shall, for and during the present war with Great-Britain, from year to year, furnish an equal number of troops in the field, in proportion to their numbers, as Congress shall estimate the quotas of the several United States, in proportion to their numbers; which troops shall be clothed, quartered and paid, by the state of Vermont. And, at the close of the war, the dispute shall be equitably settled, by the mediation of sovereign powers; and nothing herein contained, shall be construed to take away the right any of the United States claim to have, in or over the state of Vermont: Or
2dly. We are willing to agree upon some one or more of the Legislatures of the disinterested states, to interpose as mediators, and settle the dispute: Or
3dly. We are willing Congress, being possessed of sovereignty, should interpose to prevent the effusion of human blood: at the same time, we reprobate every idea of Congress sitting as a court of judicature, to determine the dispute, by virtue of authority given them by the act or acts of the state or states, that make but one party.
It gives us pungent grief that such an important cause, at this juncture of affairs, on which our all depends, should be forced on by any gentlemen, professing themselves friends to the cause of America, with such vehemence and spirit as appears on the part of the state of New-York: and shall only add, that, if the matter be thus pursued, we stand ready to
appeal to God and the world, who must be accountable for the awful consequences that may ensue.
Signed at Philadelphia, this 22d day of September, A. D. 1780.
STEPHEN R. BRADLEY.
Vermont did not cheerfully yield to the policy that produced an indefinite postponement of a decision on this question; for, although it evinced that her claims to independence had made some impression on the mind of Congress, yet, it forbid the hope of an immediate recognition of that independence, and her admission into the union. Imitated by the pertinacious adherence of New-York and New-Hampshire, to their claims, and wounded by the humiliating treatment of her agents at Congress, she resolved on a different policy, — a policy which should present Vermont in an imposing attitude, and convince the claiming states, that it would be wise to yield to power, what had so long been denied to the claims of justice.
Nothwithstanding the dissolution of the former union with a portion of New-Hampshire, many, east of Connecticut river, still felt a strong desire to be connected with Vermont. Their views on this subject, are exhibited in the following document; which shows the commencement of a course of proceedings, resulting in a second union.
"At a CONVENTION of DELEGATES from the several towns in the County of Cheshire, in the State of New Hampshire, held at Walpole, in said county, on the 15th day of November, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty.
VOTED, That Dr. Page, Col. Hunt, Capt. Holmes, Daniel Jones, Esq. and Col. Bellows, be a committee to confer with gentlemen from any parts of the territory, called the New-Hampshire grants, concerning the jurisdiction of the said grants, and to consider what is proper to be done by the inhabitants thereof, relative to their jurisdiction; that the same may be ascertained and established. Which committee, after due enquiry and consideration, report as follows, viz. The committee appointed by the convention, held at Walpole, November 15th, 1780, do report, that we have conferred with the several gentlemen present, who were committees from the different parts of the territory, called the New-Hampshire grants, viz. Cumberland, Gloucester and Grafton counties, and do find, that many matters lately agitated, with respect to the jurisdiction of the New-Hampshire grants, render a union of the inhabitants of that territory, indispensibly necessary. The said inhabitants received the grants of their lands from the same jurisdiction, and settled them while a union was extant; which was an implicit engagement of authority, that it should be continued. But we were unjustly deprived of the advantages resulting from it, in the year 1764, by an arbitrary decree of Great-Britain, to which we never acceded: Which decree, however, cannot be esteemed efficacious, since the declaration of independence; it being one of those
iniquitous measures, by which they were attempting to oppress the colonies; and for which we have since thrown off subjection. This being the case, the union re-exists. And shall we throw it off? God forbid. The situation of the territory aforesaid, by reason of their being a frontier, as well as many other matters, which are obvious, respecting commerce and transactions of a public nature, makes it expedient that they be united in all their interests, in order to make their efforts, in that quarter, against the common enemy, more vigorous and efficacious. In respect to government, great disadvantages may arise by a division. In that case, delinquents may easily evade the operation of justice, by passing from one state to another, and thereby be induced more readily to practice iniquity in that part where the body of inhabitants, and the principal traffick, center. And we imagine that a union of public interests, is the only means by which the contentions and animosities, now subsisting among the inhabitants of the territory aforesaid, can be brought to a happy issue: for, so long as the course of justice is in different channels, where people are so nearly allied, disturbances will arise. From authentic information, we cannot but apprehend, that the state of New-Hampshire is greatly remiss, if not grossly negligent (to call it by no harsher name) in trusting affairs of such great importance as the settlement of their western boundary, to a committee, some of whom, we conceive, would risk the loss of half the state, rather than New-Hampshire should extend their claim west of Connecticut river. And, from the best authority that can be obtained, it appears that the agent of the state aforesaid, is endeavouring to confirm a division of the grants, contrary to their true interests; which has given the people, on the grants, just occasion to rouse and exert themselves in support of an union of the whole. We, therefore, earnestly recommend, as the only means to obtain an union, preserve peace, harmony, and brotherly love, and the interest of the community in general, that a convention be called from every town within the said grants, to be held at Charlstown, on the third Tuesday of January next, at one of the clock, in the afternoon; and that one or more members be appointed from each town, with proper instructions to unite in such measures as the majority shall judge most conducive to consolidate an union of the grants, and effect a final settlement of the line of jurisdiction.
D. JONES, Committee.
In CONVENTION, at Walpole, November 16th, 1780.
The above report being repeatedly read,—Voted,
That it be accepted; and a sufficient number of copies be printed and transmitted to the several towns on the New-Hampshire grants, on both sides of Connecticut river, for their notice, to appoint one or more members to attend the said general convention; which shall be deemed a sufficient notification.
By order of the Convention,
BENJAMIN BELLOWS, Chairman.
A true Copy — Attest, DANIEL NEWCOMB, Clerk."
In pursuance of the foregoing recommendation, a convention was holden at Charlestown, on the 16th of January, 1781; which, as stated by Doct. Williams, consisted of delegates from forty three towns.*
On the 10th of February, application was made by the convention, to the Legislature of Vermont, for a union of the grants on both sides of Connecticut river.
About the same time, a petition was received from sundry inhabitants in the north eastern part of New-York, praying to be admitted into union with Vermont.
On receiving these applications, the Legislature of Vermont, adopted the following measures; as appears by their journals.
"Wednesday, February 14th, 1781.
The House formed into a committee of the whole, according to adjournment. The committee of the whole dissolved, and the Speaker resumed the chair.
The following report was made to the House by the committee of the. whole; viz.
"STATE OF VERMONT, Windsor, February 12th, 1781.
Agreeable to the order of the day, the Governor, Council and House of Representatives, met, and formed into a committee of the whole, for the purpose of taking into consideration the matter of laying a jurisdictional claim east and west. His Excellency, Thos. Chittenden, Esq. in the chair. After some debate, a committee of seven were appointed to prepare a report, to be made to this committee, which report was made as follows viz.
'To the grand committee, consisting of his Excellency the Governor, the honorable Council, and House of Representatives; — Your committee, to whom was refered the several papers from the committee of the Convention at Cornish, and also the requests of the inhabitants living north of a line, being extended from the north line of Massachusetts, to Hudson's River, and east of the same river and south of latitude forty-five, beg leave to report viz.
That, whereas the district of country, formely known by the name of the New-Hampshire grants was peopled in consequence of grants of land from New-Hampshire; and whereas, the former government of New-York did, by cunning, in the year 1764, obtain a Royal order, to exercise jurisdiction to the west-bank of Connecticut river, which was against the consent of the people of said district; New-York proceeded to grant subsequent patents, erect courts, issue writs of ejectment, possession, &c. in prejudice to the first grantees and occupants. The inhabitants, necessitated to it, declared a defensive war against the government of New-York, and that government made acts of out-lawry against said inhabitants, and warlike preparations was making on both sides. In the interim, the people governed themselves by conventions, who, at several times, made
* The journal of the proceedings of this convention, the Editor has not been able to find.
application to New-Hampshire to exert themselves to obtain jurisdiction; who, by a Proclamation, &c. wholly rejected any such connections. Thus stood the case, at the grand æra of American Independence, when, in kingly governments, all jurisdiction, and jurisdictional lines, ceased, and all governmental powers devolved on the people; when they, continuing said convention, emerged into independence, declaring themselves, on the fifteenth day of January, 1777, to be a sovereign, free and independent people:— And
Whereas the General Court of New-Hampshire, did, on the 19th day of July, 1777, by a letter signed "Meshech Weare, President," directed to "Ira Allen, Esq. Secretary of the state of Vermont,"* acknowledge the independence of this state: and whereas, on the representation of a committee, inhabiting several towns, east of, and contiguous to Connecticut river, made to the assembly of this state, at their session, in March, 1778, that a number of towns, east of, and adjoining to said river, were unconnected with any state, with regard to their civil police; this state, upon said representation, did admit sixteen towns, east of said river, to union, and extended jurisdiction over them:— And
Whereas the General Court of New-Hampshire did, by their letter, dated August 22d, 1778, signed "Meshech Weare, President of the Council of New-Hampshire," directed "to the honorable Thomas Chittenden, Esq." demand of the state of Vermont a surrendry of their jurisdiction, east of said river, which will appear by the following paragraph in said letter, viz. — "I beseech you, Sir, for the sake of the people over whom you preside, and the people, for the sake of their future peace and tranquility, to relinquish every connection, as a political body, with the towns, east of Connecticut river, who are members of the state of New-Hampshire, entitled to the same privileges as the other people of the said state, from which there never has been any attempt to restrain them." — The Legislature of Vermont, at their session, in February, 1779, on the reception of President Weare's said letter, considering their territory to be larger and more fertile than that of New-Hampshire, allowing the latter, said sixteen towns, east of said river, and being unwilling to have a controversy with a neighbouring state, did close with the demand of New-Hampshire, and relinquished jurisdiction, east of said Connecticut river. In this the minds of the two governments met, and virtually settled upon the river as the boundary line between the respective states. An agent was then appointed, to transmit the dissolution of said union, to the General Court of New-Hampshire, who, on his arrival there, found, after delivering his message, that there was a plan on foot for laying a jurisdictional claim to the territory of Vermont, under pretext of friendship, and to baffle the claims of New-York. Said agent made strenuous efforts against such claims being laid, arguing that it could not be of much service to Vermont, as she had little to fear from New-York; and interim, further consideration was postponed to their next session. In the interim, an agent was again sent to attend said General Court, with a letter from the Governor of this state, requesting the Legislature of New-Hampshire, in the most urgent manner, not to lay claim to this state. After a hear-
* See Page 80.
ing before both houses, and the most pressing arguments used, the Legislature did insist that they would do Vermont a favour; and accordingly laid their claim, and directed their agents to lay said claim at Congress; which, together with the claims of the neighbouring states, has prevented this state from obtaining a seat in Congress.
It is to be here observed, that New-Hampshire have, from the time of laying her aforesaid claims, endeavoured to support internal broils in the easterly part of this state, contiguous to Connecticut river. Some gentlemen, inhabitants of the county of Cheshire, that are, or have been, members of the General Court of New Hampshire, not long since, in convention, when fatal necessity obliged them to it, publickly declared that their intentions were to unite the whole of the grants (meaning Vermont) to New-Hampshire. — And whereas, sundry applications have been made by the people, inhabiting west of the line, known by the name of the Mason line, and east of Connecticut river, to unite with this state in one distinct government. Their lust application is in the words following, viz.
'To the Honorable the General Assembly of the State of VERMONT, now sitting in Windsor.
The committee, appointed by the convention, holden at Charlestown, the 16th of January last, to confer with the assembly of said state, beg leave to inform, that the convention are desirous of being united with the state before mentioned, in one separate, independent government, upon such principles, as shall be mutually thought the most equitable and beneficial for the whole; desiring an answer, as soon as may be.
By order of the Committee,
WINDSOR, February 10th, 1781.
Therefore, your committee do recommend, in order to quiet the present disturbances on the two sides of said river, and the better to enable the inhabitants on the two sides of said river, to defend the frontiers, that the Legislature of this state do lay a jurisdictional claim to all the lands situate east of Connecticut river, north of the Massachusetts, and south of latitude 45, and that they do not exercise jurisdiction, for the time being.
Whereas, the government of New-York have, for more than sixteen years last past, made use of every art and cunning, in their power, to usurp the rights and properties of the people of this state; while every measure, hitherto adopted, has proved abortive, for settling a controversy of such magnitude, so necessary to be settled, for the peace and welfare of the United States at this critical period: the unfortunate situation of this state being that of having an extensive frontier of more than one hundred miles in length, to defend against the British invasion from the Province of Quebec, by the avaricious and ambitious claims of the neighbouring governments and by the powers assumed over them by Congress, have, at several times, been embarrassed in raising men and money for the defence of her frontiers; and, by resolution of Congress, obtained by the claiming governments, notwithstanding the brave exertions of this state in the Bennington battle, &c. every article belonging to the Conti-
nent, has been called for and ordered out of the state, even to pick-axes and spades, at a time when the state was erecting a new line of forts on her frontiers; at which time the state of New-York evacuated their post at Skeensborough, which necessitated the people to petition this state for protection, when this state reinforced her guards, and directed her scouts to cover said people:
And whereas, it appears, by the best accounts hitherto obtained, that there was a government established by the Court of Great-Britain, before the æra of American independence, including all the lands this state, at present, exercise jurisdiction over, as also a much greater western extent, over which Governor Philip Skeene was to have presided, which overturns the claims of New-York, on their own stating:
And whereas, it appears that the government of New-York is still determined to do every thing in her power, to embarrass and overturn the jurisdiction of this state, and have made no answer to Governor Chittenden's letter of the 22d November last, which was sent to the Legislature of New-York, demanding of them to relinquish their claim of jurisdiction to this state, and inviting them to join in the mutual defence of the frontier of the two states, against British invasions from the Province of Quebec:
Therefore, your committee do recommend, that the Legislature of this state do lay a jurisdictional claim to all the land, situate north of the north line of the state of Massachusetts, and extending the same to Hudson's river, the east of the center of the deepest channel of said river, to the head thereof; from thence east of a north line being extended to latitude 45, and south of the same line, including all the lands and waters, to the place where this state now exercise jurisdiction; and not to exercise jurisdiction, for the time being.
JOSEPH BOWKER, Chairman.
WINDSOR, February 14th, 1781.
In Committee of the whole, February 14th, 1781.
The aforesaid report was read and accepted.
Attest, ROS. HOPKINS, Clerk.'
The aforesaid report was read and accepted, and thereupon,
Resolved, That this state have and do hereby lay a jurisdictional claim to all the lands and waters, within the lines described in the aforesaid report.
Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed, to join a committee from the Council, for the purpose of waiting upon the committee appointed by a convention held at Charlestown, with the report of the committee of both houses, upon the subject of jurisdictional claims, and passed the house this day. The members chosen, Mr. Harris, Mr. Strong, Mr. Pearl, Mr. Walbridge and Mr. Murdock."
"Friday, February 16th, 1781.
"The committee to whom was referred the request of the convention now sitting at Cornish, &c. brought in the following report, viz.
'That this Assembly is willing to receive the inhabitants of the New-Hampshire grants, east of Connecticut river, and west of the Mason line into union with this state, if we can agree on terms that shall be safe for this state, and beneficial for the whole.'
The aforesaid report was read and accepted and,
Resolved, That a committee of two to join a committee from the Council, be appointed to wait on the Cornish Convention, with the aforesaid report. — The members chosen, Mr. Walbridge and Mr. E. Smith."
"A Resolution from the Convention, passed this day, was delivered to this House, by a committee appointed by said Convention, for the purpose, mentioned in said resolve; and thereupon,
Resolved, That a committee of nine, to join a committee from the Council, be appointed to confer with the said committee from the Convention, according to said resolve, and make report of their proceedings, as soon as may be. — The members chosen, Col. Strong, Mr. E. Smith, Mr. Walbridge, Mr. S. Robinson, Mr. Murdock, Mr. Webb, Mr. M. Powell, Mr. Harris, and Mr. Whipple."
The following exhibits the result of the negociation between the committees above mentioned.
"Articles of Union, agreed upon between the Committee of the Legislature of the State of VERMONT, and the Committee of the Convention of the New-Hampshire Grants, at Windsor, in Feb. 1781.
ARTICLE 1. That the Constitution of said state be adopted as it now stands, subject to a revision, when the people, at large, shall judge proper.
ANSWER. — We cannot agree to a revision of the Constitution, in any other way than is pointed out therein.
REPLY. — The answer of the committee of the Legislature to our first article, not objected to.
ART. 2. That so soon as the circumstances of the state shall admit, the Legislature of the state shall apply to the Congress of the United States, to be admitted into confederation with them.
ANSWER. — Agreed to.
ART. 3. That no farther grants of land shall be made by the Legislature of Vermont, until the towns included in the Union have opportunity to be represented in the Assembly.
ANSWER. — Not admissible.
REPLY. — Agreed to omit the third article, in confidence the Assembly will act on principles of honor, in respect to it.
ART. 4. That all expences of the several towns, non-represented in the Legislature of Vermont, and those which shall be admitted into the Union, which shall have accrued in respect to the war, be, at some future period, properly adjusted, and that the whole be at equitable charge therein.
ANSWER. — Admitted, on condition the losses of the suffering inhabitants of this state, be included.
ART. 5. That a general and full act of oblivion be passed for the per-
sons who, on the first day of October last, professed themselves subjects of the state of New-York: and that all judgments for fines, forfeitures, &c. against any, or either of the said persons, for opposing the authority of the state of Vermont, be annulled; and that no judgments be, hereafter, rendered against any of the said persons for offences heretofore committed against said state.
ANSWER. — Agreed to.
ART. 6. That no civil suits shall hereafter be maintained against any, or either, of the said persons, for trespasses, heretofore committed by them, against any of the officers of the said state or their assistants.
ANSWER. — Agreed to.
ART. 7. That where unappropriated lands were granted by the late government of New-York, antecedent to 1st of September, 1775, the property of such grantees, now residing upon the New-Hampshire grants, shall be secured to them, free from expence; and where the same, or, any part thereof, has already been granted by this state, compensation in value, shall be made in other unappropriated lands, free from expence.
ANSWER. — Not agreed to. — Whatever compensation of that kind is made, it must be done on application to the Legislature, according to equity, arising out of each particular case.
A Message from Committee of Convention to Committee of the
In order that the committee of Convention may the better determine on articles necessary to be proposed, respecting the regulation of Militia, present defence, &c. we would request the committee of the Legislature of Vermont to suggest to us their ideas in respect to the time and manner, in which the Union shall be completed, in case other articles can be mutually agreed on; and wish for an answer, before we proceed further.
E. PAYNE, for the Committee.
To the honorable Committee of the Legislature.
Saturday, 12 o'clock, February 17th, 1781.
The answer of the committee of the Legislature to the foregoing message.
This committee are of opinion that, if articles of Union are fully agreed on, it ought to be completed, at furthest, by the first Wednesday of April next; and that the manner be as follows, viz.
The Legislature shall call on all the towns, in the state of Vermont, and also on all the towns on the New-Hampshire grants, east of Connecticut river, to give their sentiments relative to the Union's taking place, as soon as may be; and that the votes of each town be returned to the assembly, at their adjourned session, on the first Wednesday of April next; and, on condition that two thirds of the towns in the state of Vermont, at a legal town meeting, vote for the union, and also, two thirds of the towns, on the New-Hampshire grants, east of Connecticut river; at the same time, those towns that vote for the Union (who are not represented) be directed by the Legislature, to choose members to sit in the assembly, who will be admitted, in case the Union is completed as aforesaid.
I. ALLEN, Clerk,
To the honorable Committee of Convention.
Saturday, 2 o'clock; February 17th, 1781.
The Reply of the Committee of the Convention, to the above Answer
of the Committee of the Legislature.
In order to facilitate the raising and subsisting men for the present defence, according to the act of the Legislature of Vermont, for that purpose, the committee of Convention concur with the proposals of the honorable committee of that Legislature, in respect to the time and manner of completing the Union, with the following explanations and alterations, viz.
1. That those towns only, who make returns, be reckoned, in computing the proportion.
2. That an extent of only those towns, east of the river, which are within about twenty miles of it, be referred to.
3. That the towns, not represented in Assembly, shall be immediately called on to elect members to take their seats in Assembly, on the said first Wednesday of April next, in case the Union shall be concurred in by a major part of the towns who act on the matter; which will, doubtless, include two thirds of the inhabitants.
E. PAYNE, for the Committee.
To the honorable the Committee of the Legislature.
Tuesday, 10 o'clock, A. M. February 20th, 1781.
The Assembly's committee give for answer to the committee of Convention, to their proposed explanation and alteration of the proposals of this committee, as to the manner and time of completing the Union:—
ART. 1. Agreed to.
ART. 2. Agreed to.
ART. 3. That the towns, proposed to be in Union, be immediately called on to choose members to sit in Assembly, on the first Wednesday in April next, in case the Union shall be concurred to, by a major part of the towns in this state, and two thirds of the towns, east of, and within about twenty miles of Connecticut river.
J. FASSETT, Chairman.
To the honorable Committee of Convention.
Tuesday, 3 o'clock, February 20th, 1781.
ART. 8. Proposed by the Committee of Convention.
That wherever persons, who professed themselves subjects of New-York, have heretofore been fourfolded, for not giving in their lists to the assessors, or if such cases shall happen before the approbation of the several articles of Union by the Assembly and Convention, respectively, the fourfold shall be relinquished, upon the party's giving in his list to the assessors.
ANSWER. — Agreed to.
ART. 9. That wherever property has been taken, under the authority of Vermont, or shall be taken, before the several articles of Union shall be ratified by the Assembly and Convention, respectively, from any of the persons in the county of Cumberland, who, at, or before, the time of such taking, professed themselves subjects of New-York, for fines, forfeitures, &c. credit shall be given to the persons aforesaid, for the full value of such property, in future military services.
ANSWER. — Not agreed to, in the extensive since that it may be taken in; yet, it is expected that whatever personal service has been done, or fines, will be duly considered.
ART. 10. That all actions, pending in any Court in the counties of Cheshire and Grafton, shall be transferred in the situation they shall be in, at the time of completing the Union, to Courts to be then, forthwith, erected, under the authority of Vermont, without cost to the parties, other than would have accrued, had they been terminated in Courts under the jurisdiction of New-Hampshire.
ANSWER. — Agreed to.
ART. 11. That those towns, east of the river, who have paid their proportion, or any part thereof, of the sixty million of dollars, apportioned to New-Hampshire, shall have credit for what they have severally paid to the treasury of said state, in case Vermont, at any future period, shall have to pay their proportion of the Continental assessment for the money emitted by Congress.
ANSWER. — Answered in the answer to the fourth article.
A Message from the Committee of the Convention, to the Committee
of the Legislature.
The Committee of Convention beg leave to inform the Committee of the Legislature of Vermont, that they have, at present, no additional articles, and agree to wave any further objections to answers received to those already proposed, and wish to receive whatever the Legislature's Committee have to add, on the treaty.
E. PAYNE, for the Committee.
The honourable Committee of Legislature.
Tuesday, 5 o'clock, P. M. February 20th, 1781.
A Message from the Committee of the Legislature to the Committee of Convention.
As no further proposals are to be made by the Convention's Committee, at present, the Assembly's Committee propose the following articles, as really necessary for the peace and well being of this state, and the United States.
ART. 1. That the independence of the state of Vermont be held sacred; and that no member of the Legislature shall give his vote or otherwise use endeavors to obtain any act or resolution of Assembly, which shall endanger the existence, independence or well being of the state, by refering its independence to the arbitrament of any power.
ART. 2. That whenever this state becomes united with the American States, and there shall then be any dispute between this and either of the United States, respecting boundary lines, the Legislature of this state will then (as they have ever proposed) submit to Congress, or such other tribunal, as may be mutually agreed on, the settlement of any such disputes.
J. FASSETT, Chairman.
The honourable Committee of Convention.
Wednesday, 11 o'clock, A. M. February 21st, 1781.
A Message from the Committee of Convention, to the Committee
of the Legislature.
The Committee of Convention agree to article first and second of the proposals of the Committee of the Legislature of Vermont.
E. PAYNE, for the Committee.
Wednesday, 12 o'clock, February 21st, 1781.
Chairman of the Committee of the Legislature.
for the Committee of Convention.
The Committees of Legislature and Convention agree to recommend that the assembly of Vermont adjourn to the first Wednesday in April next, then to meet, at Windsor: and that the people, in the several towns, proposed to be united, on both sides of the river, be requested to express and make return, at that time, of the sense of the towns in respect to a completion of the Union; and that those towns who agree to the Union, on either side of the river, who are not duly represented in the assembly, be requested to appoint members to attend the assembly, at the proposed adjournment; and that the constable or selectmen be requested to warn meetings of the inhabitants of such towns, seasonably for that purpose.
Chairman of the Committee of the Legislature.
for the Committee, of Convention."
WINDSOR, February 21st, 1781.
Proceedings of the Legislature of Vermont and the Convention on
the foregoing articles.
STATE OF VERMONT,
In General Assembly, February 22d, 1781,
The aforesaid report was read and accepted; and
Resolved, That the articles of Union agreed to, and proposed, by the Committee of this Legislature, to the Committee of the Convention, be and are hereby confirmed; and this Assembly do pledge the faith of this state, that said articles be held sacred.
ROS. HOPKINS, Clerk.
In Council, February 22d, 1781.
Read and concurred.
THOS. TOLMAN, Sec'ry, pro tem.
In Convention at Cornish, February 22d, 1781.
The foregoing articles and recommendation were read and agreed to.
SAMUEL CHASE, Chairman.
Agreeably to the recommendation of the committees, the Legislature of Vermont was adjourned to the first Wednesday in April; at which time, it met at Windsor, and the union of the grants, east and west of Connecticut river, was consummated; as appears by the following extract from the journals.
Thursday, 2 o'clock, P. M. April 5th, 1781.
Met, according to adjournment.
The following was delivered to the speaker by the committee appointed for that purpose, viz.
In Convention at Cornish, Thursday, April 5th, 1781.
Voted, That a committee of three be appointed to wait on the Assembly of Vermont, now sitting at Windsor, to inform them of the state of the returns from the towns, on the east side of Connecticut river, and that the way is clear, on our part, for the proposed union, agreeable to the articles of the treaty, and to request information whether the Assembly are ready to receive the members returned to sit in the Assembly, on the union's taking place. The committee chosen, Col. Payne, Mr. Woodward, and Doct. Page. — Extract from the Minutes.
BEZALEEL WOODWARD, Clerk.
List of those towns, east of Connecticut river, which have made returns, acceding to an union with the state of Vermont, viz:— Hinsdale, Walpole, Surry, Gilsom, Alstead, Charlestown, Acworth, Leinster, Saville, Claremont, Newport, Cornish, Croydon, Plainfield, Grantham, Marlow, Lebanon, Grafton, Dresden, Hanover, Cardigan, Lyme, Dorchester, Haverill, Landaff, Gunthwait, Lancaster, Piermont, Richmond, Chesterfield, Westmoreland, Bath, Lyman, Morristown alias Franconia, and Lincoln. The Convention have received no returns of any town dissenting.
BEZA. WOODWARD, Committee.”
The several representatives were desired to give in the votes of the towns that they represent, concerning the union; and the following towns were found to have voted to accept the same, agreeable to the articles, viz. — Shaftsbury, Arlington, Sandgate, Sunderland, Dorset, Reuport, Pawlet, Poultney, Castleton, Danby, Tinmouth, Rutland, Pittsford, Bethel, Pomfret, Peacham, Fairlee, Guilford, Moortown, Whitingham, Marlborough, New-Fane, Wilmington, Putney, Westminster, Athens, Chester, Windsor, Reading, Thetford, Strafford, Barnard, Royalton, Sharon, Norwich and Hinsdale; and the following towns disapproved of the said union's taking place, viz:— Bennington, Manchester, Clarendon, Dummerston, Londonderry, Woodstock and Hertford.
Note.—The following towns have not sent in their opinion, viz:— Wells, Wallingford, Townshend, Wethersfield, Cavendish and Hartford.
Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed to wait on the Convention, and inform them that the union is agreed on, by a major part of the towns in this state, agreeable to the articles of union, as proposed; and that this Assembly will wait to receive the members returned to sit in this Assembly, on the union's taking place, to-morrow morning, nine o'clock, to take their seats. The members chosen, Mr. Walbridge, Mr. Bradley and Mr. Lyon."
It appears from the journals that, on the following day, thirty five representatives from the grants, east of Connecticut river, took their seats in the General Assembly of Vermont.
The eastern union being thus completed, the Legislature of Vermont, next turned their attention to the subject of a union with part of New‑York. Their proceedings, embracing articles of union with that part of New-York, over which they had extended a claim of jurisdiction, will appear by the following extracts from their journals.
"Wednesday, April 11th, 1781.
Met, according to adjournment.
Agreeable to the order of the day, the house formed themselves into a committee of the whole, with the Governor and Council. Said committee having dissolved, the speaker resumed the chair.
The committee of the whole made the following report of a sub-committee, viz.
To the grand committee, consisting of his Excellency the Governor, the honorable the Council and the General Assembly.
Your committee, to whom was referred the consideration of the several petitions and letters from the inhabitants of Granville, Cambridge, &c. requesting this state to exercise jurisdiction over them, for the reasons therein specified, beg leave to report,
That the Legislature of this state do recommend to the people inhabiting, that part of the former government, over which Governor Philip Skeene was to preside, to which this Legislature, at their session in February last, laid a jurisdictional claim, to appoint members to attend a Convention, at Cambridge, the second Wednesday of May next: that the Legislature of this state appoint a committee to meet said Convention, at said time and place: that said Convention and Committee, take into consideration the defence of the frontiers, and if they can mutually agree on articles of union, that then such Convention proceed to resolve to raise their quota of men, for the defence of the frontiers, with a proper proportion of officers, which shall be returned to the board of war, and commissioned, in the same manner that the troops heretofore ordered to be raised for the present defence of this state, are; and do duty in the same manner: that in case said Convention and Committee do agree on articles of union, raising men, &c. then such articles of union shall be transmitted to the several districts, in said claim; when the people of said districts are requested, (provided they agree to such articles of union) to choose members to attend this Assembly; except such districts had instructed their member or members, in case articles of union were agreed on, that their members should be impowered to take seats in this Assembly; that, in case two thirds of the districts, in district meeting, choose members as aforesaid, that then, such members shall take their seats in this Assembly: that this Assembly adjourn to the second Wednesday of June next, at Bennington.
JOHN FASSETT, Chairman.'
WINDSOR, April 11th, 1781.
'In the Grand Committee, April 11th, 1781.
The above report was read and accepted,
JOSEPH FAY, Clerk.'
The aforesaid report was read, and after some debate, the question was put, and the yeas and nays were requested, and they are as follows, viz:— Yeas 48, Nays 39.
So it passed in the affirmative.
Resolved, That a committee of two, to join a committee from the Council, be appointed, to prepare a bill agreeable to the aforesaid report, and make report to this house. The members chosen, Mr. Lyon and Mr. Wells.
Resolved, That a committee of six, to join a committee from the Council, be appointed to meet a Convention to be held on the second Wednesday of May next, at Cambridge, for the purposes specified in a report of a committee of both houses, of this day's date; and that a majority of such committee are, hereby, impowered to transact the business pointed out for the said committee in said report, and make report of their doings, to the next session, for their approbation. The members chosen, Mr. Walbridge, Mr. Porter, Mr. Williams, Mr. Prentice, Mr. Curtiss and Mr. Child."
"Friday, June 15th, 1781.
The representatives of the western district informed this house, in writing, that they were ready to take their seats according to the articles of union, &c.
The committee, who was appointed to treat with the Convention, holden at Cambridge, in June last, reported the following articles, viz.
'Articles of union, proposed by the Convention, composed of representatives from the several districts of Hoosack, Scorticook, Cambridge, Saratoga, Upper-White Creek, Black Creek, Granville, Skeensborough, Greenfield, Kingsbury, Fort Edward and Little Hoosack, convened at Cambridge aforesaid, the 9th day of May, 1781, and, by several adjournments, to the l6th of the same month, inclusive.
ARTICLE 1. That the district, or tract of land, lying north of a line, being extended from the north line of the Massachusetts to Hudson's river, and east of said river, and south of latitude 45, as comprehended in the late jurisdictional claim by the Legislature of the state of Vermont, be considered as part of said state, and the inhabitants thereof as free citizens.
ANSWER. — Agreed to by the committee of the Legislature of the state of Vermont.
ART. 2. That the whole military force of the state of Vermont (as occasion may require) shall be exerted in our defence, as free citizens, against any insurrection, invasion or incursion whatsoever; but especially against the common enemy.
ANSWER. — Agreed to.
ART. 3. That application be made by the Legislature of the state of Vermont, to the Congress of the United States, to be admitted with them, as soon as circumstances will admit.
ANSWER. Agreed to.
ART. 4. That, as the people within the aforesaid late claim, have been called upon, and have paid a considerable part of the continental taxes, into the treasury of the state of New-York, they shall have credit for the same, in case the state of Vermont, at some future period, should be called upon to pay their proportion of money emitted by Congress.
ANSWER. — Agreed to; provided the services done by the state of Vermont, in the present war, be included.
REPLY OF CONVENTION. — Agreed to, provided the expence of said district, in the present war, be likewise included.
ART. 5. That all actions depending within the late claim, shall be transferred, in the situation they shall be in, at the time of completing; the union, to courts that may be then, forthwith erected, under the authority of Vermont, without cost to the parties, other than would have accrued, had they been terminated in courts, under the jurisdiction of the state of New-York.
ANSWER. — Agreed to.
ART. 6. That the change of jurisdiction shall not be understood to effect, or alienate, private property.
ANSWER. — Agreed to.
Articles of union, proposed by the Legislature of the state of Vermont,
ART. 1. That the independence of the state of Vermont be held sacred, and that no member of the Legislature shall give his vote, or otherwise, use his endeavours, to obtain any act, or resolution of Assembly, that shall endanger the existence, independence, or well being, of said state, by referring its independency to the arbitrament of any power.
ANSWER. — Agreed to by Convention.
ART. 2. That, whenever this state becomes united with the American States, and there shall then be any disputes between this and any of the United States, respecting boundary lines, the Legislature of the state of Vermont will then (as they have ever proposed) submit to Congress, or such other tribunal, as may be mutually agreed upon, for the settlement of any such disputes.
ANSWER. — Agreed to.
The foregoing articles were, severally, mutually agreed to by the Convention and Committee, at Cambridge, the 15th May, 1781.
JOHN ROGERS, Ch. of Convention.
MOSES ROBINSON, Ch. of Committee.'
The aforesaid articles were read, and, after some debate,
Resolved, That this house form themseves into a committee of the whole, with the Governor and Council, to take the aforesaid articles under consideration. The committee of the whole having dissolved, the house formed themselves, and the speaker resumed the chair.
And, after some time spent in debating on the said report, it was referred until to-morrow morning, for further consideration.
A declaration of the inhabitants of the western district, giving their reasons for disavowing allegiance to the state of New-York, with their disavowal, was read.
Adjourned until to-morrow morning, eight o'clock."
" Saturday, June 16th, 1781.
Met, according to adjournment.
The house, again, took up the consideration of the articles of union, agreed on, between the committee, appointed to treat with the Cambridge
Convention, and said Convention, and after some debate, the question was put — whether this house would approve of said articles, as agreed, between said Committee and Convention? It passed in the affirmative.
The yeas and nays, on the question, being requested by Mr. Woodward, and the question being put, whether the yeas and nays should be taken — passed in the affirmative, and they are as follows, viz.
Yeas 53—Nays 24.
Resolved, That a committee of three he appointed, to wait on the members, returned from the western district, to sit in this Assembly, and inform them that this house are ready to receive them as members of this house, upon their producing their several appointments, &c. The members chosen, Mr. S. Robinson, Mr. Lyon and Mr. Harris.
The following are the several members, chosen to represent the western district, and were introduced by the aforesaid committee, and produced their credentials, which were read and approved, viz.
Mr. Thomas Benedict and Mr. Benjamin Hicks, Scorticook.
Capt. John Abbot and Lieutenant John Johnson, Hoosack,
Col. Gideon Warren, Greenfield.
David Randall, Esq. and Doct. Abraham Burdick, Little-Hoosack.
Mr. John Shepherd, Black-Creek.
Mr. Joseph Craw, South-Granville.
Capt. Asaph Cook, Granville.
Aaron Fuller, Esq. Skeensborough.
Mr. Thomas Smith and Mr. John Rogers, Saratoga.
Mr. Phineas Whiteside, Col. Joseph Caldwell, Cambridge.
And they all took the necessary oaths to qualify them to a seat in this house; except Lieut. John Johnson, and Mr. Benjamin Hicks, who did not attend."
We cannot forbear pausing, for a moment, to contemplate the interesting attitude, in which Vermont had now placed herself. No measures could have better exhibited the peculiar genius of her statesmen, and none have more effectually contributed to sustain her independence, than those we have just recorded. By the unions, thus formed, she had added an extent of territory, equal, at least, to that over which she originally claimed jurisdiction. By this bold and decisive policy, she had augmented her resources — compelled the respect of her enemies — gained upon the confidence of her friends — quieted disaffection at home — invited emigration, and thus laid the foundation for a large and powerful state.
But there is another view of the advantages resulting from this policy, which produces a still higher conviction of its importance, and exhibits a coincidence of events, as striking, perhaps, as any which distinguishes the early history of this state. We allude to the influence produced by this policy upon the negociations with the enemy, in Canada.
No people were more firmly attached to the cause of American independence, than the people of Vermont; and none had more successfully
contributed to sustain it. Yet, alter all their efforts and sacrifices in the common cause, they had the mortification to find themselves denied a just participation in the blessings which they had labored to secure. Their claims to independence had been treated with indifference — they were threatened with the dismemberment of their territory and the annihilation of their sovereignty, and, to crown the whole, were abandoned by the power, which ought to have protected them, and left to contend, single handed, against the common enemy. Much, therefore, as they were attached to the cause of their country, they could not fail to perceive that every step taken to support it, only rendered their condition more hopeless; and that it was of no importance to them that the struggle with a foreign enemy should be brought to a successful termination, while they were threatened with subjection to a more detested enemy, at home.
In this state of things, Vermont wisely consulted her own safety, and fortunately secured it, by the negociation to which we have alluded.
The fact that this negociation was conducted with the utmost secrecy, and principally by verbal correspondence, forbids the expectation of finding many original papers, connected with it. The most complete account we have been able to find, is contained in "The natural and political history of Vermont," published in London, A. D. 1798, and written by Ira Allen, Esq. who was the principal agent in the negociation. From this history we take the liberty to extract what here follows, relating to this subject.
"The first information, (says Allen,) that the people of Vermont had, that the British Generals in America thought to avail themselves of an advantage in the disputes that subsisted between the claiming States and Congress, on the one part, and Vermont on the other, was contained in a letter from Colonel Beverley Robinson, dated New-York, March 30th, 1780, directed to Colonel Ethan Allen, which was delivered to him, in July, in the street in Arlington. Mr. Allen perused the letter, then told the bearer that he should consider of it, and that he might return.
Colonel Robinson begins his letter thus: "I am now undertaking a task, which, I hope, you will receive with the same good intention that inclines me to make it. I have often been informed that you, and most of the inhabitants of Vermont, are opposed to the wild and chimerical scheme of the Americans, in attempting to separate this continent from Great Britain, and to establish an independent state of their own; and that you would willingly assist in uniting America again, to Great Britain, and restoring that happy constitution we have so wantonly and unadvisedly destroyed. If I have been rightly informed, and these should be your sentiments and inclination, I beg you will communicate to me, without reserve, whatever proposals you would wish to make to the Commander in Chief; and I hereby promise that I will faithfully lay them before him, according to your directions, and flatter myself I can do it to as
good effect a any person whatever. I can make no proposals to you, until I know your sentiments; but think, upon your taking an active part, and embodying the inhabitants of Vermont in favour of the crown of England, to act as the Commander in Chief shall direct, that you may obtain a separate government, under the king and constitution of England, and the men, formed into regiments under such officers as you shall recommend, be on the same footing as all the provincial corps are. If you should think proper to send a friend of your own here, with proposals to the General; he shall be protected, and well treated here, and allowed to return, whenever he pleases."
General Allen immediately communicated the contents of it to the Governor and some confidential persons, who agreed in opinion that it was best not to return any answer.
On February 2, 1781, Colonel Robinson wrote again to general Ethan Allen, inclosing a copy of the former, in which he writes— "The frequent accounts we have had, for three months past, from your part of the country; confirms me in the opinion I had, of your inclination to join the king's cause, and to assist in restoring America to her former peaceable and happy constitution. This induces me to make another trial, in sending this to you; especially as I can now write with more authority, and assure you, that you may obtain the terms mentioned in the above letter, provided you and the people of Vermont take a decisive and active part with us.*" He requests an answer, and that some method might be pointed out for carrying on a correspondence for the future, and information in what manner the people of Vermont could be the most serviceable to the British government, "either by acting with the northern army, or to meet and join an army from New-York."
Allen returned no answer to either of these letters; but on March 9th, 1781, inclosed them in a letter to Congress. In his letter to that body, he made observations, justifying Vermont in asserting her right to independence; in which he observed, — conscious of his own integrity, and sensible that his activity and sufferings in the cause of his country were known to all America — "I am confident that Congress will not dispute my sincere attachment to the cause of my country, though I do not hesitate to say, I am fully grounded in opinion that Vermont has an indubitable right to agree on terms of a cessation of hostilities with Great Britain, provided the United States persist in rejecting her application for an union with them: for Vermont, of all people, would be the most miserable, were she obliged to defend the independence of the United claiming States, and they, at the same time, at full liberty to overturn, and ruin the independence of Vermont. I am persuaded, when Congress consider the circumstances of this state, they will be more surprised that I have transmitted them the inclosed letters, than that I have kept them in custody so long; for I am a resolutely determined to defend the independence of Vermont, as Congress are that of the United States; and rather than fail, will retire with the hardy Green Mountain Boys, into the desolate caverns of the mountains, and wage war with human nature at large."
*Copy of Robinson's letter of February 2, 1781, to E. Allen.
In April, 1781, Colonel Ira Allen was appointed, by the Governor and Council, to settle a cartel with the British in Canada, for an exchange of prisoners, and also to procure an armistice between Vermont and the British, which most of the Cabinet Council thought impracticable, at least, for any length of time, as the British had 10,000 troops in Canada, who would, in that case, be idle, not being able to annoy the other States, without first annoying Vermont. An armistice was necessary for Vermont, as their whole militia did not exceed 7000 men, able to bear arms, (her, unions excepted) and who could not contend with 10,000 British troops, be maintained and paid, for any length of time, if called out to action; therefore an armistice must be obtained, or the frontiers must be evacuated, until assistance could come from those very states, whose influence had rendered Vermont defenceless; which, perhaps, had been contemplated, that they might, more easily, divide the spoil, under a ratification of Congress, and have their troops ready to guarantee such division.
The business was necessarily of a private nature; nothing could be written with safety to Vermont; one person was better than more, as cross questions might arise, and no one could divine what questions and propositions might come from the British, respecting the past and future conduct and intentions of the principal characters of Vermont. Besides, there was much danger, in the negociation, to the Governor, Council, and especially their agent, from the spies of the claiming States and Congress, who would labour hard for proof of a criminal correspondence, to expose life and property; but it was considered, that unless this measure was pursued, there was danger of being annihilated as a State, and being subjected by a power greatly promoted by the exertions of the people of Vermont. Under these circumstances, perseverance in an attempt to obtain an armistice, was resolved on, at every possible hazard. At this time, only eight persons were in the secret,* but more were added, as circumstances required. Colonel Allen preferred the first day of May, (it being the anniversary of his birth,) for his departure on this important business; he took with him one subaltern,† two serjeants, and sixteen privates, and, with a fair wind, soon arrived at l'Isle aux Noix, and was kindly and politely received by Major Dundas, Commandant at that place, who provided convenient apartments for Colonel Allen and his suite, and he daily dined with him at the mess. The next day, the commissioners met to settle a cartel for the exchange of prisoners. Major Dundas, Captain Sherwood, and George Smith, Esq. produced their credentials, as also Colonel Allen; and they adjourned to the following day. Captain Sherwood walking next morning with Colonel Allen, told him that Major Dundas had no knowledge of any business, except the exchange of prisoners, and that he and Mr. Smith were the commissioners to settle the armistice, and to concert with him measures to establish Vermont a colony under the crown of Great Britain. Whether Major
* The following are the names of these persons, as stated by Dr Williams in his history of Vermont, viz Thomas Chittenden, Moses Robinson, Samuel Safford, Ethan Allen, Ira Allen, Timothy Brownson, John Fassett, Joseph Fay.
† Lieutenant Simeon Lyman.
Dundas was, or was not, unacquainted with the main business, he conducted hi inselt' as if he was not, for which reason the papers respecting the exchange of prisoners, were kept by themselves for public inspection. What concerned the armistice was more verbal than written. In the eoufirences respecting the temper and disposition of the inhabitants of Vermont, and their extreme hatred to the system and government of New-York, it was observed, that Congress was making use of every art to bring Vermont in subjection to New-York, and that the people of Vermont would, rather than yield to it, see Congress subjected to the British government, provided Vermont could be a distinct colony under the crown, on safe and honourable terms ; that the people of Vermont were not disposed, any longer, to assist in establishing a government in America, which might subject them and their posterity to New-York, whose government was more detested than any in the known world, and under which the people of Vermont could never be safe, in person or property ; therelMe, they would not submit to be subjected to the jurisdiction of New-York, on any terms ; that the most discerning part of the citizens were weary of the war, and turning their attention to retirement and safety ; but how to effect their objects was the question.
The replication to the foregoing observations was, that the territory of Vermont could be a colony under the crown, with privileges equal to those enjoyed by any other colony ; and that those who assisted in effecting such an event, would be duly honoured and rewarded. Both parties joined in opinion, that Vermont must become a British colony ; but the methods to e&ct it, consistent with the interests of both, were to be discovered. Much conversation passed on the subject, and Captain Sherwood wrote to General Haldimand, and stated matters, but nothing was decisively done for some time. The negociations caused the army to remain inactive, which gave Colonel Allen reason to persevere, with hopes.
Colonel Allen asked leave to go and wait on General Haldimand, at _ Quebec, but was refused ; when he wrote to General Haldimand, in abstruse terms, on the subject of his mission. General Haldimand answered his letter, and sent Major Lunno, Adjutant General of the army, to join the Commissioners at Isle aux Noix. On his arrival, be had a long conference with the two other Commissioners, utter which, a private interview took place between the parties in a bye part of the island, unknown to Major Dundas, respecting the armistice, and the motives which induced the people of Vermont to consent to become a British colony. The next day, Colonel Allen and Major Lunno met at the same place, and the Major requested Colonel Allen to put down, in writing, the most important matters for the consideration of the Commander in Chief, who would then come to a final conclusion. Colonel Allen declined writing any thing on the subject, lest his writings should be exposed (which would be dangerous to him in the States, and destroy his influence there) as he lead wrote to General Haldimand, and, by accident, the copy of his letter, which was couched in very ambiguous terms, was enclosed to Major Dundas, who was angry to think Colonel Allen had wrote off the island without his consent, and declared to the officers that he would con fine Colonel Allen in irons; the impropriety of which was urged by the
officers, as there could be, and was, no harm in it, as it was to the Commander in Chief, who had duly answered it. Colonel Allen said, he would verbally state the business, which Major Lunno might write and communicate to the Commander in Chief, with perfect safety and secrecy, on which the whole business depended, as the zealous Whigs would listen to no proposals until they saw and felt the benefits of an armistice; and the loyal subjects, who were scattered through the state, must be employed to change the minds of the Whigs by degrees. Major Lunno, at once, adopted Colonel Allen's mode to inform the Commander in Chief, and proceeded in the following manner:—
Question. — Did not the people of Vermont take an early and active part in the rebellion?
Answer. — The people of Vermont were informed that hostilities had commenced at Lexington, by an express from the Governor and Council of Connecticut, to Colonel Ethan Allen, who requested him immediately to raise the Green Mountain Boys, and, without loss of time, to march and take the forts Tyconderoga and Crown Point, which Colonel Allen complied with, and also took the King's sloop of war with 16 guns, then lying off Fort St. John's.
Question. — Have the people of Vermont continued their exertions in the course of the war?
Answer. — No people in America have exerted themselves more than those of Vermont; they, with the assistance of the militia from the State of New-Hampshire, and from the county of Berkshire, gave the first check to General Burgoyne's army by the victory at Bennington; and by other exertions, greatly contributed to the capture of his whole army at Saratoga.
Question. — What were the motives which stimulated the people of Vermont to such violent measures?
Answer — The inhabitants of Vermont principally came from Connecticut and the other New-England States, and, as brethren, felt for them, in a high degree, when hostilities first commenced; besides, they were of the same opinion as entertained by their brethren in New-England, that the Parliament of Great Britain had no right to bind and control the colonies, in all cases whatsoever, and that representation ought to precede taxation.
Question. On what principles do the people of Vermont act, by endeavouring to obtain an armistice, and the privilege of being a colony under the crown, after taking so decided a part as you say, on similar principles to those of their brethren in New-England?
Answer.— When the people of Vermont first took an active part against Great Britain, they were, in principles, agreed with their brethren in the other colonies, to oppose the claims of the Parliament on America, and fought in their country's cause, expecting to enjoy equal privileges with their neighbours, in chusing and establishing their own form of government, and in sharing with them all the advantages which might result from their united efforts in the common cause. But after all, they have found to their sorrow, by acts and resolutions of Congress, and proceedings of other states, that they intend to annihilate. the new state of Ver‑
mont, and annex its territory to New-York, whose government is perfectly hated and detested by the people of Vermont. To effect this plan, the frontiers of Vermont have been left naked and exposed to the wasting sword of the British troops, with a view to depopulate the country, and give the New-York monopolists possession. This usage being too much for human nature to bear, the citizens of Vermont think themselves justifiable, before God and man, in seeking an armistice with the British, and ceasing further to support a power that has too soon attempted to enslave a brave and generous people.
Question. — Should the Commander in Chief consent to an armistice with Vermont, for the time being, and admit it to be a British colony, with as extensive privileges as any colony ever had, what would be an adequate compensation for the inactivity of the army? and how soon can Vermont furnish a regiment to be put on the establishment, and march with the army against Albany; and what other assistance can Vermont give in such an expedition?
Answer. — The advantages to Great Britain by making an armistice, and receiving Vermont as a colony, will be great. After the propositions of Colonel Beverley Robinson, in his letter of March 30th, 1780, to General Ethan Allen, the Cabinet Council of Vermont have not been inattentive to a peace and union with the British government. Governor Chittenden, last July, sent a flag to the British Commodore, on Lake Champlain, with a letter to General Haldimand, requesting the exchange of some prisoners, which produced a truce, last autumn. General Ethan Allen included the frontiers of New-York, to Hudson's river, with Vermont, which produced very good effects, and made the people, among whom are many loyalists, on that district, friendly and anxious to come under the jurisdiction of Vermont. The Legislature of Vermont, on their petition, and, in consequence of measures, New-York, &c. were pursuing against her, extended her jurisdictional claim over that part of New-York: the territory thus added to the state of Vermont, is bounded south by a line due west from the south-west corner of Vermont to the Hudson's river, thence up the said river to its source, and by a line due north, to the south line of Canada, thence east to the north-east corner of Vermont. Articles of union are forming, and no doubt but that district will be duly represented in the next session of the Legislature of Vermont. In like manner, has been added to the jurisdiction of the state, on petition of the inhabitants, all the territory lying east of Connecticut river, and west of Mason's patent, which takes away, at least, one third part of the state of New-Hampshire. These additional territories will give strength to Vermont and weaken Congress. The extent of country, and the return of such a body of people to their allegiance, with the effects it may have on the people in the other states, many of whom are sick of the dispute, in consequence of the taxes and hardships already experienced, most likely will be of greater consequence than the operation of an army of ten thousand men. As to an army marching against Albany, it will operate against the union of the New-York district, and that of New-Hampshire, now forming with Vermont. This business requires time and moderation, with the address of some discreet loyalists, now in Canada, who
may visit their friends in those districts, and let them know that Vermont is on good terms with the British.
In Vermont are plenty of men who would be fond of commissions on the British establishment, and could raise a regiment in a few weeks; but this, with sundry other things, can be better ascertained after the session of the General Assembly, at Bennington, next June.
A cartel for an exchange of prisoners was completed. Thus terminated this negociation in May, 1781, after seventeen days, on a verbal agreement, that hostilities should cease between the British and those under the jurisdiction of Vermont, until after the session of the Legislature of Vermont, and until a reasonable time after, for a commissary of prisoners to come on board the Royal George in Lake Champlain, and even longer, if prospects were satisfactory to the Commander in Chief.
In the mean time Vermont was to consolidate her unions, to weaken Congress, permit letters to pass through Vermont, to and from Canada, and take prudent measures to prepare the people for a change of government.
The Commissioners parted in high friendship, and Major Dundas furnished Colonel Allen and his suite with ample stores to return home. On Colonel Allen's return to Castletown, Captain Hurlbert and others waited on him, and desired to be advised whether to remain or move to the interior parts of the country; the Colonel advised them to remain quiet on their farms; that the Governor and Council would provide the best means for their safety; that they must not be surprised if there was not a powerful army to protect the frontiers; should any event make it necessary, for the safety their families, to move, they might depend on seasonable information: he had a similar interview with Major Hebar Allen, the Rev. Mr. Hibbard, &c. in Poultney.
The Colonel went to Sunderland, and made his report to the Governor and Council, who took measures to curry into effect the stipulations he had made. In June, the Assembly met at Bennington, and received the Representatives from the east and west unions.
Many jealousies having arose amongst the zealous whigs in the United States and Vermont, that some negociations were carrying on between the British in Canada and Vermont, which occasioned several men of discernment to be sent from the neighbouring states, as well as many in Vermont, to collect and see, if, at the sessions of the Legislature, they could find any measures were pursuing, that might eventually be injurious to the United States, or the common cause of America.
On the other hand, the British in Canada were anxious to know whether Col. Allen and his friends would be faithful, and conduct matters so as to give a reasonable prospect of success, that might be adequate to a further suspension of hostilities; with these views, two opposite parties attended the Legislature; as the Assembly convened in the Meeting-House, the spectators sat in the galleries.
In a few days after their meeting, the Assembly sent a message to the Governor and Council, requesting them to join in committee of both Houses on the subject of Colonel Allen's mission to the British in Canada, &c. The Governor and Council attended in the Assembly, and re-
solved both Houses into a committee of the whole, when the Governor proceeded to state the facts; that in consequence of application from several persons, praying that some measures might be taken to procure the exchange of their friends, who were prisoners in Canada, in the recess of the Legislature, he had, with the advice of Council, appointed and authorized Colonel Ira Allen to go to the Isle aux Noix to settle a cartel for the exchange of prisoners, in behalf of the state. That Colonel Allen went to the Isle aux Noix, where he met the British Commissioners, and, with difficulty, had completed the business, in behalf of Vermont, though no such exchange had taken place with the United States, or any other state in the northern department; that if the grand committee wished for further particulars, respecting the mission and conduct of Colonel Allen, he was then present, and could best inform; to whom he referred. them.
The committee then requested Colonel Allen to inform them respecting his commission, and what effects it had produced. Colonel Allen rose, and observed to the committee, that he had received an appointment and commission from the Governor and Council, to go and settle a cartel with the British, in Canada, for an exchange of prisoners; that he had, very happily, succeeded in his mission, and made his report to the Governor and Council; but not expecting to be called on by the committee, had left the commission and all the papers at home; nevertheless, was ready to give a verbal statement of the whole transactions, or, if more agreeable to the committee, he would, by leave of the Governor and Council, go home, and produce the writings for the inspection of the committee, next day. The committee desired Colonel Allen would lay the papers before them, the next day.
Accordingly, he attended the committee with the papers, and made a short verbal statement, that the papers might be the better understood; they were read, and, on the whole, it appeared, that the British had shewn great generosity in the business. Colonel Allen then rose, and stated sundry things, which occurred while he was in Canada, and mentioned that he had discovered among the British officers, a fervent wish for peace; and that the English government was as tired of the war, as the United States;— then concluded with a desire, that if any Member of the committee or auditor in the gallery, wished to ask any further questions respecting the business, he was ready to answer them.
All seemed satisfied that nothing had been done inconsistent to the interest of the States; and those who were in the interest of the United States, paid their compliments to Colonel Allen, for his open and candid conduct. In the evening he had a conference with the Canadian spectators, on the business of the day, and they appeared to be as well satisfied as those from the neighbouring States and Vermont. Is it not curious to see opposite parties perfectly satisfied with one statement, and each believing what they wished to believe, and thereby deceiving themselves! Major Joseph Fay was then appointed Commissary of prisoners, and after the session of the Assembly, went, in July, on board the Royal George, in Lake Champlain, obtained the exchange of prisoners, and a further extension of the armistice.
In July, 1781, General Ethan Allen was informed by one of his neighbours, that some of his friends, from Canada, wished to speak with him in the dusk of the evening of that day; that he would shew him the place, if he chose to see them;— at the time appointed, General Allen, with his cane only in his hand, cheerfully went to a British guard under arms, and received a packet from the British in Canada. In the twilight of the next day he met them again, and returned an answer;— this mode of correspondence was continued, and whenever dispatches came in this way, General Ethan Allen or Colonel Ira Allen (as they both lived in one house) went and received them, and returned an answer, not trusting any other person with these dispatches. It is worthy of remark, that Sunderland, where they lived, was more than sixty miles from the frontiers; yet a serjeant and six or eight men frequently passed with their arms, in 1781 and 1782, without being discovered by any that would inform against them.
In these times, party spirit ran so high against tories, or any correspondence with the British, that a person in Arlington, who had, on these occasions, rendered himself obnoxious to some brave and spirited people in Manchester, &c. a party collected and set out to pull his house down; their plan was discovered by Colonel Gideon Brownson and Captain Eli Brownson, who met said party in Sunderland, interposed by their advice, to prevent so rash a procedure. — Colonel Ira Allen soon came to their assistance; by their united influence, with difficulty they persuaded said party quietly to return home. That the same evening, Colonel Ira Allen, crossing the same ground, where said party were persuaded to return back, met a British guard under arms, received a packet, and returned an answer, next evening.
This shows the vicissitudes of human affairs, and the dangers individuals are frequently exposed to, for the best good of the whole.
The Assembly, during their June session, appointed Jonas Fay, Ira Allen, and Bezaleel Woodward, Esquires, agents to Congress. On their way to Philadelphia, and on the same day of their arrival, they, at an inn, saw, in a newspaper, a letter from Lord George Germain to Sir Henry Clinton, dated Whitehall, February 7th, 1781, which had been taken by the French and carried to Paris, and by Dr. Franklin, forwarded to Congress, who had ordered it to be printed, containing, among other things, the following: "The return of the people of Vermont to their allegiance is an event of the utmost importance to the King's affairs; and, at this time, if the French and Washington really meditate an irruption into Canada, may be considered as opposing an insurmountable bar to the attempt. General Haldimand, who has the same instructions with you, to draw over those people, and give them support, will, I doubt not, push up a body of troops, to act in conjunction with them, to secure all the avenues through their country into Canada; and when the season admits, take possession of the upper parts of the Hudson's and Connecticut rivers, and cut off the communication between Albany and the Mohawk's country. How far they may be able to extend themselves southward or eastward must depend on their numbers, and the disposition of the inhabitants."
This information had greater influence on the wisdom and virtue of Congress, than all the exertions of Vermont in taking Ticonderoga, Crown Point, and the two divisions from General Bourgoyne's army, or their petition to be admitted as a state in the general confederation, and offers to pay their proportion of the expences of the war."*
In September, 1781, the negociation was renewed at Skeensboro; at which time, Colonel Allen was associated with Major Joseph Fay, an additional agent on the part of Vermont. We are again indebted to Allen's history, for the following account of the proceedings, at this interview.
"The plan of governement for the colony of Vermont was taken into consideration, which was, for some time, debated; when it was agreed, that his Majesty in Council should appoint the Governor, but it was expected, to be a subject in the colony; that the people should appoint a Lieutenant Governor and twelve counsellors, who should form one branch of the Legislature, and the other should consist of one member from each town, who were to be annually elected by the people, similar to the present form, who should have a right to enact provincial laws, &c. similar to the colony of Connecticut.
The British Commissioners suggested an instruction from the Commander in Chief, to send scouts and make prisoners of several persons in Vermont, that were most violently opposed to negociations with the British government.
This, the agents of Vermont opposed, reprimanding the conduct of the officer, who presumed to send a scout to, and wound, Major Younglove, within Vermont, as being a violation of the armistice agreed on; that every measure of that kind would stimulate a spirit that must be conciliated, before a completion of the object wished for.
The object was then relinquished by the Commissioners, as being discretionary with them, after a conference with the agents of Vermont.
The British Commissioners insisted that Vermont should declare itself a British colony, offering to put on the British establishment one Brigadier General, two Colonels, and other officers, for two regiments, all to be named by certain men in Vermont, with other advantageous and lucrative offers, proposing an expedition against Albany; that, by uniting the British troops and the Vermontese, they would form a strong barrier, and be able to defend themselves against the States; that the Commander in Chief was determined not to lose the campaign inactively; that something effectual must be determined on, before they parted, or the armistice must cease.
The agents of Vermont treated this proposition with candour and deliberation, stating the local situation of Vermont, and the extent of frontier opposed to the United States to be about two hundred and fifty miles, including her unions, bounding on as thick settlements as any in the United States; that amongst the body of the people, were as staunch whigs as any part of America; that the ties of consanguinity, neighbourly and
* Allen's history p. 150-1. 153-5,161-177.
personal friendship, &c were opposed to fighting each other; that, in the ancient district, as also the unions of Vermont, were some of the most zealous supporters of the independence of America; that to change the temper and disposition of such men, heated with a revolutionary frenzy, must be a work of time, and moderation in the time of an armistice, shewing them the blessings of repose under a permanent government.
That, considering the extent of the frontiers of Vermont, that a range of green mountains divides it near the centre, through which roads were almost impossible; under these considerations, it might not be in the power of his Majesty's troops to defend the said frontiers, especially in the winter; and should they be compelled to retire to Canada, for winter quarters, it would ruin their friends in Vermont, and spoil their best services. The question, therefore, was, whether, considering the letter from President Weare to Congress, in which he acknowledges that the State of New-Hampshire cannot furnish her quota of men and money, for the service of the United States, in consequence of one third part of the State having revolted and joined the new State, and more, he expected, would follow their example; that another union, to include Berkshire county, in the Massachusett's, might, in the course of events, take place; that such measures, with their effects on the people through the States, might be of more service to the King's cause, than any other thing in the power of Vermont to accomplish.
The British Commissioners took down, in writing, the heads of those objections, for the information of the Commander in Chief. They then suggested an instruction, which they said they were not at liberty to deviate from, without putting an end to the armistice, — which was, that his Excellency General Haldimand should, in pursuance of full powers vested in him, by his Majesty and Privy Council, issue his proclamation, offering to confirm Vermont as a colony under the crown, with the full extent of her claims, confirming the principles of government as aforesaid, provided the people would return to their allegiance; that an army should come up the lake in October, with said proclamations, during the session of the Legislature, and distribute them; when the Legislature must accept the same, and, with the British, take measures for their common defence, &c.
The Agents of Vermont were unpleasantly situated on these proposals; they reinforced the preceding arguments, with these remarks, that the season was too far advanced for such important operations, considering the climate, badness of roads, that no fortifications or preparations were made on the frontiers for defence, that one winter would have great effect in changing the minds of the people for a new order of things, &c. and that the Commander in Chief, on full consideration of these matters, might be of a different opinion; but should he not, they hoped the General, who brought forward such proclamations, would learn the temper and dispositition of the people before he distributed them; on these principles they consented to have the proclamations brought up the lake rather than break the armistice.
The Commissioners and Agents then separated, on terms of mutual friendship.
In October, 1781, the Legislature met at Charlestown, in the East Union, when the government of New-Hampshire sent a Major Runnals, with two hundred men, as was supposed, to stop the election, and session of the Legislature. The friends of Vermont advised the Major, if he had any instructions from New-Hampshire, which were hostile to Vermont and the East Union, that it would be, for the sake of humanity, adviseable for him to keep them to himself, as his force would not avail: this he prudently did, and the Assembly convened and proceeded to business, without opposition. In the mean time, General St. Leger, at the head of the British army from Canada, ascended the Lake Champlain, and rested at Tyconderoga; while General Enos had the command of the troops of Vermont, on the frontiers, and his head quarters at Castleton. The General, and a number of officers under him, were fully acquainted with the negociations with the British in Canada; in particular, Colonels Fletcher and Walbridge. Notwithstanding, it became necessary to keep up appearances, by sending frequently small scouts to Champlain, to observe the movements of the enemy.) One of these scouts fell in with a party of General St. Leger's; some shots were exchanged; Sergeant Tupper, who commanded the scout from Vermont, was killed on the spot, and his men retreated: the body was decently buried, and General St. Leger sent all his clothes, with an open letter, to General Enos, informing him of his regret for the fate of the serjeant, and made an apology for his death. Perhaps this was done to try the spirit and disposition of the inhabitants, previous to the publication of the proclamation, as conceded to, at Skeensborough, the September before. The dispatch and apparel were publicly delivered to General Enos, which made considerable noise among the troops.
General Enos, and Colonels Fletcher and Walbridge, wrote letters, and sent, immediately, an express to Governor Chittenden, at Charlestown, announcing the arrival, at Tyconderoga, of the British army; wherein they blended public matters and private negociation. Mr. Hathaway, the messenger, not being in the secret, failed not to proclaim the extraordinary message of General St. Leger through the streets of Charlestown, till he came to the Governor, which happened in the recess of the Legislature, and occasioned crowds of people to follow, to hear the news. The Governor and others were sitting in a large room, amongst whom were some persons that were eager to learn the negociations that were generally supposed to be carried on between the British in Canada and Vermont, to make an ill use thereof. The Governor opened one of the letters; he thought it prudent to peruse it himself, before he allowed it to be publicly read. These letters were found to contain both public and private information, which occasioned some change of letters between the Governor, and Messrs. Brownson and Fassett, who were in the secret, and next to the Governor. In this confused moment, Major Runnals came in, and inquired of Colonel Ira Allen, what was the reason that General St. Leger was sorry that Serjeant Tupper was killed? Mr. Allen said that he could not tell. Mr. Runnals repeated the question; and Mr. Allen observed, that good men were sorry when good men were killed, or met with misfortune, which might be the case with General St. Leger. — This
answer enraged Mr. Runnals; and he again loudly enquired what reasons could possibly induce a British General to be sorry, when his enemies were killed, and to send his clothes to the widow? Colonel Allen then requested Major Runnals to go at the head of his regiment, and demand the reasons of his sorrow, and not stay there, asking impertinent questions, eating up the country's provisions, doing nothing when the frontiers were invaded. Very high words passed between the Major and Colonel Allen, till Mr. Runnals left the room. This manœuvre drew all the attention from said letters. It was then proposed that the Board of War should he convened; and the Governor then summoned the members of the Board of War to appear, as soon as possible, in his chamber, leaving Mr. Hathaway to detail the news to the populace, — the Board of War being all in the secret. New letters were made out from General Enos, Colonels Fletcher and Walbridge's letters, and, for the information and satisfaction of the public, read in council and assembly, for the originals, and then returned to the Governor. Those letters contained every thing but the existing negotiations, which prudence and policy dictated to be separated from the other part of said letters.
In the mean time, Colonel Allen and Major Fay wrote to the British Commissioners, who were with General St. Leger, on the subject of their former negociations, in which they gave a list of the names of the members of the Legislature, with marks, denoting the new members, from which the change appeared great. They suggusted the capture of Lord Cornwallis and his army, and added that, whether true or not, it had the same effect upon the people, who soon hoped for better news. In this critical situation, they thought it improper to publish the proposed proclamation, as several changes and circumstances seemed to presage more happy events, that would soon make all right. The packet, containing Colonel Allen and Major Fay's letter, was delivered at Tyconderoga, about ten o'clock in the morning. About an hour after, an express arrived from the southward, which was supposed to contain the news of the capture of Lord Cornwallis and his army; for, before evening, the troops, stores, &c. were embarked, and, with a fair wind, returned to Canada. — Thus ended the campaign of 1781, with the accidental loss of only one man, on the extensive frontiers of Vermont, exposed to an army of ten thousand men; yet she did not incur any considerable debt. — Such were the happy effects of these negociations."*
We do not learn that any further interview took place between the Agents of Vermont and the British Commissioners. Several communications, on this subject, passed from Canada to Vermont, in the year 1782, as appears from the following extract from Allen's history, — with which we close the account of this interesting negociation.
"In the winter of 1782, the British in Canada were impatient to learn what effect the capture of Lord Cornwallis had produced. Their anxiety, and confidence in the people of Vermont, will best appear from the stile,
* Allen's history, p. 185—193.
in the extract of the following letter from the British agent, dated February 28th, 1782. "My anxiety to hear from you, induced me to apply to his Excellency (General Haldimand) for leave to send the bearer with this; which having obtained, I earnestly request you to send me, in the most candid, unreserved manner, the present wishes and intentions of the people, and leading men of your State, respecting our former negociations; and what effect the late catastrophe of Lord Cornwallis has on them. Will it not be well to consider the many chances and vicissitudes of war? However brilliant the last campaign may appear, the next may wear a very different aspect. Add to this, the great probability of your being ruined by your haughty neighbours, elated by (what they call) a signal victory; and I hope you will see, as I do, that it is more than ever your interest, to unite yourselves with those who wish to make you a happy and free government. Will there be a proper time to send the proclamations? I repeat my request, that you will tell me, without reserve, what may be expected in future."
April 22d, 1782, the British agents wrote, — "in confidence, we take this opportunity to acquaint you, by the authority of his Excellency General Haldimand, that he is still inclined to treat amicably with the people of Vermont; and these his generous and humane inclinations, are now seconded by much stronger powers from his Majesty, than he has hitherto enjoyed for that purpose. We do, in confidence, officially assure you, that every article proposed to you, in his Excellency's former offer, as well as the confirmation of the east and west unions, in their utmost limits, will be amply and punctually complied with. We hope your answer may be such, as to unburden our anxious minds" Extremely fearful about the event, and impatient at not receiving an answer, on April 30th, they wrote again, and carried their offers and promises to a still greater extent:— "His Excellency has never lost sight of his first object; and I am happy to be able, in this, to inform you, that the General has lately received, by way of Halifax, full powers from the King to establish V———t government, including the full extent of the east and west unions, with every privilege and immunity, formerly proffered to you; and he is, likewise, fully authorized, as well as sincerely inclined, to provide amply for *****, and to make ***** Brigadier General, in the line, — ********** field officers, with such other rewards, as your sincerity, and good services in bringing about the revolution, may, in future, merit. In short, the General is vested with full powers to make such rewards, as he shall judge proper, to all those who distinguish themselves in promoting the happy union. And, as his Excellency has the greatest confidence in you, and *****, much will depend on your recommendations."
Extract front General Haldimand's letter in the summer of 1782.
"You may rest assured that I shall give such orders, as will effectually prevent hostilities of any kind being exercised in the district of Vermont, until such time as a breach on your part, or some general event, may make the contrary my duty. And you have my authority to promulgate, in such manner as you shall think fit, this my intention, to the people of the said district, that they may, without any apprehension, continue to
encourage and promote the settlement and cultivation of that new country, to the interest and happiness of themselves, and their posterity."*
One of the British agents wrote, March 25th, 1783, after some reports of peace, and before officially made known, in this stile:
"I am commanded to acquaint you, that, actuated from the beginning, by a sincere desire of serving you, and your people, as well as of promoting the royal cause, by re-uniting you with the mother country, his Excellency never lost an opportunity of representing every circumstance that could be advanced in your favour, to the King's ministers, in the hope of accomplishing a reconciliation. His Excellency will continue, by such representations, to do all in his power to serve you; but what effect it may have, at this late period, is very uncertain. While his Excellency sincerely regrets the happy moment, which it is much to be feared, cannot be recalled, of restoring to you the blessings of the British government, and views with concern the fatal consequences approaching, which he has so long, and so frequently predicted, from your procrastination, he derives some satisfaction from a consciousness of not having omitted a circumstance, which could tend to your persuasion, and adoption of his desired purpose. In the present uncertain state of affairs, uninformed as his Excellency is, of what is doing, or perhaps done, in a general accommodation, he does not think fit, until the result shall be known, to give any opinion, which may influence you, perhaps, to the prejudice of your interests, or that might interfere with the views of government. If the report, now prevailing, has any foundation, a very short time will determine the fate of Vermont. Should any thing favourable present, you may still depend on his Excellency's utmost endeavours, for your salvation."†
Thus terminated a negociation, by which Vermont, abandoned, and exposed, at every point, was protected, as if by magic, from the overwhelming power of the enemy; while, at the same time, and by the very same means, she added to her importance in the estimation of Congress, and secured a more respectful hearing of her claims to independence!
From the history of this negociation we now turn to an examination of the Proceedings relative to the admission of Vermont into the union.
Immediately after the formation of the western union, viz. on the 22d of June, 1781, the Legislature of Vermont appointed Jonas Fay, Ira Allen and Bezaleel Woodward, Esquires, delegates "to repair to the American Congress, with full powers to propose to, and receive from them, terms for an union of Vermont with the United States, and to take seats in Congress, as delegates from Vermont, when terms of union should be agreed on and ratified."‡
* Haldimand's letter to Governor Chittenden, dated Quebec, 8th Augnst, 1782.
† Allen's history, P 240-4.
‡ Journals of Vermont.
On the 7th of August, the subject was brought before Congress, and the following resolutions were adopted.
"Whereas the States of New-Hampshire and New-York, have submitted to Congress the decision of the disputes between them and the people inhabiting the New-Hampshire grants, on the west side of Connecticut river, called the State of Vermont, concerning their respective claims of jurisdiction over the said territory, and have been heard thereon; and whereas, the people aforesaid claim and exercise the powers of a sovereign independent state, and have requested to be admitted into the fœderal union of the United States of America: in order thereto, and that they may have an opportunity to be heard in vindication of their said claim:
Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed to confer with such person or persons, as may he appointed by the people residing on the New-Hampshire grants, on the west side of Connecticut river, or by their representative body, respecting their claim to be an independent state, and on what terms it may be proper to admit them into the fœderal union of these states, in case the United States, in Congress assembled, shall determine to recognize their independence, — and thereof make report:
And it is hereby recommended to the people of the territory aforesaid, or their representative body, to appoint an agent or agents to repair immediately to Philadelphia, with full powers and instructions to confer with the said committee on the matters aforesaid, and on behalf of the said people, to agree upon, and ratify, terms and articles of union and confederation with the United States of America, in case they shall be admitted into the union: and the said committee are hereby instructed to give notice to the agents of the states of New-Hamphshire and New‑York, to be present at the conference aforesaid.
Resolved, That, in case Congress shall recognize the independence of the said people of Vermont, they will consider all the lands belonging to New-Hampshire and New-York, respectively, without the limits of Vermont aforesaid, as coming within the mutual guarantee of territory contained in the articles of confederation; and that the United States will, accordingly, guarantee such lands and the jurisdiction over the same, against any claims or incroachments from the inhabitants of Vermont aforesaid."
On the 17th of August, the committee of Congress were specially instructed to confer with the agents from Vermont; as appears by the following extract from the journals of that day.
Friday, August 17th, 1781
"Congress took into consideration a report of the committee, appointed in pursuance of the resolution of the 7th, to confer with agents to be appointed by the people of the New-Hampshire grants, on the west side of Connecticut river; and to whom was referred a letter from Jonas Fay, Ira Allen, and Bezaleel Woodward, wherein they represent that the said J. Fay, I. Allen, and B. Woodward have produced to them a commission, under the hand of Thomas Chittenden, Esquire, empowering them, a-
mong other things, to repair to the American Congress, and to propose to, and receive from, them, terms of union with the United States: whereupon,
Resolved, That it be an instruction to the committee, to confer with the said Jonas Fay, Ira Allen, and Bezaleel Woodward, on the subject of their mission."
On the 18th, the following conference took place, between the committee of Congress and the agents of Vermont.
"Question 1st. Are the boundaries, set forth in the written propositions delivered in by the said agents, at this time, claimed by the State of Vermont, as the lines of jurisdiction, the same as contained in the resolution of Congress of the 7th of August instant?
Answer. They are the same, with the addition of part of the waters of Lake Champlain, for the benefit of trade.
Question 2d. What part do the people of Vermont mean to take, as to the past expences of the present war, and what aid do they propose to afford as to men and money, to the common defence?
Answer. Such proportion as shall be mutually judged equitable, after their admission to a seat in Congress, which has been, at several different times, officially proposed by agents on the part of Vermont.
Question 3d. What are the ideas of the people of Vermont relative to the claim of private property, under grants or patents from New-Hampshire, or New-York, previous to the present revolution?
Answer. Although the State of Vermont have not, hitherto, authorized any Courts to take cognizance of such causes, as respect titles of lands, nevertheless, they have had, and still have it in contemplation to adopt such modes, as the circumstances, arising out of each case, may justify, without adhering to the strict rules of law.
Question 4th. What are the intentions of your constituents, in regard to the patents that were granted on conditions of settlement within a given time, and which have been prevented by the claims of the people of Vermont, and the present revolution?
Answer. No forfeitures have been taken by the State of Vermont, on any such grants, for non-performance of conditions of settlement, and we conceive it to be the intention of our constituents to grant a further reasonable time for fulfilling such conditions.
Question 5th. What are the number of inhabitants within the lines mentioned in the propositions above mentioned?
Answer. As the citizens of Vermont have not been lately numbered, we can therefore only estimate them at thirty thousand, which we conceive to be nearly a true estimate.
Question 6th. What quantity of land is contained within the said bounds?
Answer. There has been no accurate survey of the State of Vermont, but we conceive it to contain about five millions of acres.
Question 7th. What applications have been made, either publicly or privately, by the enemies of the United States, or their adherents, to draw
off the people of Vermont from their affection to the United States of America?
Answer. The honourable committee are possessed of copies of Bev. Robinson's letters, inclosed in Brigadier General Allen's letter of the 9th of March last, to the then President of Congress; and any private offers we cannot avouch for.
Question 8th. In case the enemy should attempt an invasion of the northern frontiers, what aid, as to men and provisions, could be raised in the State of Vermont, for the public defence, (you can suppose the invasion made in different quarters) and in what time?
Answer. The number of militia, within the lines herein limited, we suppose to be about seven thousand, are in general well armed and accoutred, and have ever shown themselves spirited in case of alarms, &c. In regard to provisions, the country is fertile, but new, and considerable emigrations from other states to Vermont — The Legislature, at their session, in October last, levied a tax on the inhabitants, sufficient for victualling one thousand five hundred troops in the field, for twelve months; and we are of opinion a larger store may be, in the same manner, collected, the ensuing autumn."
On the 20th of August, the committee of Congress made a report to that body; — whereupon, Congress came to the following important resolution.
"It being the fixed purpose of Congress to adhere to the guarantee to the States of New-Hampshire and New-York, contained in the resolutions of the 7th instant:
Resolved, That it be an indispensable preliminary to the recognition of the independence of the people inhabiting the territory, called Vermont, and their admission into the fœderal union, that they explicitly relinquish all demands of lands or jurisdiction on the east side of the west bank of Connecticut river, and on the west side of a line, beginning at the north west corner of the state of Massachusetts, thence running twenty miles cast of Hudson's river, so far as the said river runs north easterly in its general course; then by the west bounds of the townships granted by the late government of New-Hampshire, to the river running from South-Bay to Lake Champlain, thence along the said river to Lake Champlain, thence along the waters of Lake Champlain to the latitude of forty-five degrees north; excepting a neck of land between Missiskoy Bay and the waters of Lake Champlain."
Both Vermont and New-York appear to have been dissatisfied with this resolution; — the former, because it contemplated, as a condition of her admission into the union, the dissolution of the connexions she had just formed, and the latter, because it recognized the claim, against which she had, so long and so earnestly contended:— the one, because Vermont was too much reduced, — the other, because she had any thing left which she could call her own
We now proceed to gratify the curiosity of the reader, by presenting the following Proceedings of the Legislatures of Vermont and New-York, on the reception of the foregoing resolutions.
Proceedings of the Legislature of Vermont.
"STATE OF VERMONT, Charlestown, October 16th, 1781.
The Governor and Council having joined the general assembly, in a committee of the whole, to take into consideration the report of the honorable Jonas Fay, Ira Allen and Bezaleel Woodward, Esquires, who were appointed by the Legislature of this State, in the month of June last, to repair to the American Congress, with powers to propose to, and receive from, them, terms for an union of this, with the United States, &c.
His Excellency THOMAS CHITTENDEN, Esquire, in the chair
The said agents laid before the committee the following papers, which were read by the secretary in their order, viz.
1st. and 2d. A copy of their letter to the President of Congress, of the 14th of August last, enclosing a duplicate of their commission.
3d. The resolutions of Congress, of the 7th and 8th of August last.
4th. Brigadier General Bellows, mid associates, petition to New Hampshire, 25th of May, 1781.
5th. Petition of the selectmen of Swanzy to New-Hampshire, June 9th, 1781.
6th. Honorable Mesheck Weare's letter, to be laid before Congress, dated 20th June, 1781.
7th. Messieurs Duane and Ezra L'Hommedieu's memorial and prayer to Congress, of the 3d day of August, 1781; together with Ira Allen and Stephen R. Bradley, Esquire's remonstrance to Congress, dated September 22d, 1780.
8th. Resolve of Congress, dated 17th August, 1781.
9th. Written proposals to committee of Congress, dated August 18th, 1781.
10th. Questions proposed to the agents of Vermont by the committee of Congress, August 18th, 1781.
11th. The foregoing questions, with the answers annexed.
12th. Resolutions of Congress of the 20th August, 1781.
The further consideration of the report being referred, adjourned till to-morrow morning, nine o'clock.
Met, according adjournment.
The committee proceeded to the consideration of the resolutions of Congress, of the 20th day of August aforesaid, and other papers mentioned in the report of said agents; and, after some time spent thereon, resolved that, in the opinion of this committee, the Legislature cannot comply with the resolutions last referred to, without destroying the foundation of the present universal harmony and agreement that subsists in this state, and a violation of solemn compact entered into, by articles of union and confederation.
The further consideration of the report being postponed, adjourned to nine o'clock to-morrow morning.
The committee having resumed the further consideration of the said report:
Resolved, That, inasmuch as the resolutions of Congress of the 7th and 20th of August last, did, by no means, comport with, but entirely preclude, any propositions made by our agents; it is, therefore, the opinion of this committee, that the propositions made by our agents to the committee of Congress, on the 18th of August last, ought not, in future, to be considered as binding on the part of Vermont.
Resolved, That it be and is hereby recommended to the Legislature of this state, that their thanks be returned to their honourable agents, for their good services in behalf of this state, on the business of their late mission to the Congress of the United States of America.
And this committee recommend to the Legislature of this state, to remain firm in the principles on which the state of Vermont first assumed government; and to hold the articles of union which connect each part of the state with the other, inviolate; and, for the further information and satisfaction of the honourable the Congress, and the world, do recommend to the Legislature to publish the following articles, which respect the admission of Vermont into the fœderal union, viz.
ART. 1st. That the independence of the state of Vermont be held sacred, and that no member of the Legislature shall give his vote, or otherwise use his endeavours, to obtain any act or resolution of Assembly, that shall endanger the existence, independence and well being of said state, by referring its independency to the arbitrament of any power.
ART. 2d. That whenever this state becomes united with the American States, and there shall then be any disputes between this and any of the United States, the Legislature of the state of Vermont will then, (as they have ever proposed) submit to Congress, or such other tribunal as may be mutually agreed on, for the settlement of any such disputes.
And that the impartial world may be fully convinced of the good and laudable disposition of Vermont, and of her readiness to comply with any reasonable proposal, for the adjustment of the disputes, respecting boundary lines, between this and the neighbouring states of New-Hampshire and New-York, this committee further recommend to the Legislature to make the following proposals to the said states of New-Hampshire and New-York respectively: that whereas, disputes have arisen between the states of New-Hampshire and Vermont, relative to jurisdictional boundary lines, &c. the Legislature of Vermont, being willing and desirous, as much as in them lies, to promote unity and good accord between the two states, do propose to the state of New-Hampshire, that all matters relating to the aforesaid dispute, shall be submitted to five, or more, judicious, unprejudiced persons, who shall be mutually agreed on, elected and chosen by a committee of Legislature, on the part of each state, respectively.
And that the states of New-Hampshire and Vermont do pledge their faith, each to the other, that the decision had, by the persons so elected,
being made up in writing, signed by the President of such Commissioners, and delivered to the secretary of each state, respectively, shall be held sacredly binding on each of the said states of New-Hampshire and Vermont for ever.
And that proposals of the same tenor, be also made to the Legislature of New-York.
And this committee do further recommend, that nine persons be elected Commissioners, by the Legislature, on the part of Vermont, to treat with Commissioners to be elected on the part of New-Hampshire and New-York, respectively, for the adjusting the aforesaid jurisdictional boundary lines.
And that they be commissioned by his Excellency the Governor, and the faith of this state be by him pledged in behalf of the state, that the decision, thus had, shall, in future, be held as sacredly binding on the part of Vermont.
The committee further recommend to the Legislature, that the Proceedings of this committee, be officially transmitted to the Congress of the United States; and that they be enclosed in a letter, under the signature of his Excellency the Governor, and directed to the President of Congress.
And this committee do further advise the Legislature to recommend to the authority in every part of the state, to remain firm in the support of government, and the punctual execution of the laws, notwithstanding the various measures taken to create divisions and discord.
The commissioners chosen for the above purpose, — the honourable Elisha Paine, Jonas Fay, Ira Allen, and Peter Olcott, Esquires, Daniel Jones, Esquire, Colonel Gideon Warren, Phineas Whiteside, Esquire, Colonel Joseph Caldwell, and Ezra Stiles, Esquire.
Resolved, That it be an instruction to the said Commissioners, that they prepare, and make, the necessary defence in the premises, and that they introduce the said matters to New-Hampshire and New-York, in such way as to them shall appear best.
October 19, 1781.
Voted that tins committee be dissolved.
(Signed) BEZA. WOODWARD, Clerk of Committee."
"STATE OF VERMONT, IN GENERAL. ASSEMBLY,
Charlestown, October 19th, 1781.
The aforesaid report being read, and question being put, it was unanimously approved and accepted.
(Signed) ROSWELL HOPKINS, Clerk.
In Council, October 19th, 1781.
Read and concurred,
(Signed) JOSEPH FAY, Secretary."
Proceedings of the Legislature of New-York.
"STATE OF NEW-YORK.
In Senate and Assembly, the fifteenth and nineteenth days of November, in the sixth year of the independence of the said state, one thousand seven hundred and eighty one:
Resolved, That it appears, from sufficient evidence, that Congress did, by their act of the 24th of September, 1779, inter alia, earnestly recommend to the states of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay and New-York, to pass laws, expressly authorising Congress to hear and determine all differences between them, relative to their respective boundaries, in the mode prescribed by the articles of confederation; and also, by express laws for the purpose, to refer to the decision of Congress all differences or disputes between them, relative to jurisdiction, which they might, respectively, have with the people of the district, called the New-Hampshire grants; and also, to authorise Congress to proceed to hear and determine all disputes subsisting between the grantees of the said states, respecting titles to lands lying within the said district; and also, that Congress did, thereby, pledge their faith, after a full and fair hearing of all the said differences and disputes, to decide and determine the same, according to equity, and carry into execution and support their determinations and decisions in the premises.
Resolved, That it appears from the like evidence, that, at the time of passing the said act, and for above a century and an half before, to wit, from the first settlement of the colony of New-York, now the state of New York, the said colony and this state included, by most indubitable right and title, both of jurisdiction and property, all the lands, among others to the westward thereof, lying north of the north bounds of the Massachusetts-Bay, up to the latitude of forty-five degrees north, and extending between those boundaries, from Hudson's river to Connecticut river, including the waters of the northern lakes, and other waters within those boundaries: that the above extent of territory, which includes the district, called the New-Hampshire grants, was, by a decree of the British King, to whom the sovereignty thereof, as parcel of the colony of New York, belonged, made in his Privy Council, the twentieth day of July, one thousand seven hundred sixty-four, between the colonies of New-York and New-Hampshire, declared to be parcel of the said colony of New-York: that, in consequence thereof, the government of the colony of New-Hampshire, expressly ceded and relinquished all claim and title of jurisdiction to the above territory: that, thereupon, the same was, by acts of legislation of the colony of New-York, formed into counties, and such parts thereof as were settled, were represented in the Legislature of that colony: that they were also represented in the Provincial Congress and Convention of this State of New-York; received aids from them, as parcel of this State, both before and after the declaration of the independence of these United States; assisted, by their representatives, in forming the constitution of this state, and fully submitted to the jurisdiction thereof, till in the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy seven.
Resolved, That it appears of record, that, notwithstanding the above
clear and conclusive evidence of right, on the part of this state of New-York, to the territory above described, including, as aforesaid, the New-Hampshire grants, and though the Legislature of this state might, therefore, consistently with the strictest justice, have asserted their dignity and sovereignty over the district of the New-Hampshire grants; yet they, respectfully adopting the sentiments of Congress, that it was essential to the interest of the whole confederacy, carefully to avoid all intestine dissentions and maintain domestic peace and good order, acquiesced in the submission recommended by the said act of Congress, and, accordingly, on the 21st day of October, one thousand seven hundred and seventy nine, passed a law of this state for that purpose.
Resolved, That it satisfactorily appears that, in consequence of said law, the agents, thereby appointed to manage the controversy on the part of this state, at very great public expence, collected the necessary evidence to support the facts asserted in the second above mentioned resolution; and that, after many and repeated delays, they were, at length, on the nineteenth day of September, one thousand seven hundred and eighty, in the presence of all the parties interested (except the state of Massachusetts-Bay, who had not passed the necessary act of submission) indulged with an hearing before Congress; in the course of which, such evidence as above mentioned, was produced on the part of this state, as, in the opinion of the agents of this state, fully proved to Congress, the several facts contained in the said second above mentioned resolution; and that, on the twenty-seventh day of the same month, all parties being present, (except the state of Massachusetts-Bay, and Messrs. Allen and Bradley, agents for the people of the New-Hampshire grants, claiming to be a separate independent jurisdiction, who, though duly notified, then declined any further attendance) the state of New-Hampshire, who had also submitted by their legislative act, had an hearing in Congress, in support of their claim to the jurisdiction over the district, called the New Hampshire grants; that this state has, on their part, fully complied with every requisite contained in the said act of Congress, of the twenty fourth day of September, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-nine, and has, accordingly, from that day to this, abstained from the grant of any lands within the said district, and also from the exercise of jurisdiction over any of the inhabitants of the said district, who had not acknowledged the same; that, on the contrary, the revolted inhabitants of the said district having arbitrarily erected themselves into a separate and independent state, unrecognized as such, until this day, by this state, or the other United States, and, having framed a government, they have passed laws, granted lands, and exercised civil and military authority over the persons and property of those inhabitants, who profess themselves to be subjects of this state, in manifest subversion of the right of sovereignty and property of this state, and in direct contempt and infringement of several acts of Congress: that, although they had contented themselves with the exercise of jurisdiction principally up to a line running nearly parallel to Hudson's river, at twenty miles distant therefrom, until the month of June last: yet, at that time, notwithstanding the censure and prohibition of Congress, and in contempt of their recommendation and authority, by
an act of their usurped government, they extended a jurisdictional claim over all the lands situate north of the north line of the state of Massachusetts, and extending the same to Hudson's river, then east of the centre of the deepest channel of said river, to the head thereof, from thence east of a north line, being extended to latitude forty five degrees, and south of the same line, including all the lands and waters to the place where the said pretended state then assumed to exercise jurisdiction; inserting, at the same time, in their said act, a clause not to exercise jurisdiction within their jurisdictional claims, for the time being: that, of all these matters Congress have been fully apprized, and though repeatedly solicited thereto, by the delegates of this state, have not, hitherto, made any decision and determination of the said controversy, according to equity, as by their said act of the twenty-fourth day of September, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-nine, they pledged themselves, and by the law of this state they were authorised to do: that, to put an end to this delay; so injurious to the jurisdiction of this state, so subversive of its interests, peace and policy, so promotive of a repetition of those violent acts of usurped civil and military authority, which, in the judgment of Congress, declared in their resolution of the second of October, one thousand seven hundred and eighty, were highly unwarrantable and subversive of the peace and welfare of the United States, and from which they require the people inhabiting the said grants to desist, until the decision and determination of Congress in the premises, they have actually presumed to exercise sovereign authority and jurisdiction, to the full extent of their said jurisdictional claim, by appointing civil and military officers, making levies of men and money, rescuing delinquents from the hands of justice of this state, at the expence of the blood and the loss of the life of one of the subjects of this state, in the execution of his lawful duty, and forbidding the officers of justice of this state to execute their offices, as appears from the papers attendant on his Excellency the Governor's speech, and other due information; that, among these, to shew the actual exercise of jurisdiction by the usurped government of the said grants, by the stile and title of the state of Vermont, over the territory contained within the said jurisdictional claim, is the copy of a certain proclamation, bearing date the eighteenth day of July, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-one, purporting to be under the seal of the said pretended state, signed by Thomas Chittenden, who stiles himself their governor, which, after divers falsities and absurdities therein contained, asserts that commissions, both civil and military, had then been lately issued by the supreme authority of the said pretended state, to persons chosen agreeable to the laws and customs thereof, in the several districts and corporations within the limits of the above mentioned western or jurisdictional claim; strictly requires; charges and commands all persons, of whatsoever quality or denomination, residing within the said western claim of jurisdiction, to take due notice of the laws and orders of the said pretended state, and to govern themselves accordingly, on pain of incurring the penalties therein contained; and strictly requires, charges and commands all magistrates, justices of the peace, sheriffs, constables, and all other civil and all military officers, to be active and vigilant in executing the laws aforesaid, without partiality.
Resolved, That the Legislature of this state is greatly alarmed at the evident intention of Congress, from political expedience, as it is expressed in a letter from his Excellency the President of Congress, to his Excellency the Governor of this state, of the 8th of August last, and as is evinced in their arts of the 7th and 20th of the same month, enclosed therein, to establish an arbitrary boundary, whereby to exclude out of this state the greatest part of territory described in the second resolution above mentioned, belonging, most unquestionably, to this state, as part, parcel and member thereof, and to erect such dismemberment, possessed by the revolted subjects of this state, into an independent state, and, as such, to admit them into the fœderal union of these United States; especially as the two last mentioned acts seem to express the sense of Congress, that the territories of this state, by the articles of confederation are, and, as in fact and truth they are, by the second and third articles thereof, guaranteed, and still more especially, as by a proviso in the ninth article, it is provided that no state shall be deprived of territory for the benefit of the United States.
Resolved, That it is the sense of the Legislature, that Congress have not any authority, by the articles of confederation, in any wise, to intermeddle with the former territorial extent of jurisdiction or property of either of these United States, except in cases of disputes concerning the same, between two or more slates in the union, nor to admit into the union, even any British colony, except Canada, without the consent of nine states, nor any other state whatsoever, nor, above all, to create a new state, by dismembering one of the thirteen United States, without their universal consent.
Resolved, That in case of any attempt by Congress to carry into execution their said acts of the seventh and twentieth of August last, this Legislature, with all due deference to Congress, are bound, in duty to their constituents, to declare the same an assumption of power, in the face of the said act of submission of this state, and against the clear letter and spirit of the second, third, ninth and eleventh articles of the confederation, and a manifest infraction of the same; and do, therefore, hereby solemnly protest against the same.
Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be forthwith made and certified by the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the Assembly, in presence of his Excellency the Governor, as who is hereby requested to attest the same with the great seal of this state. and transmit it, without delay, to Congress, to the end that the saw may be entered on their journals, or filed in their archives, in perpetuam rei memoriam; and that another copy, so certified as aforesaid. be delivered to the delegates of this state, for their use and guidance, and that they be, and hereby are expressly directed and required to enter their dissent on every step which may be taken in, and towards, carrying the said two last mentioned acts of Congress into execution."
Among the early statesmen of Vermont, few probably, watched the course of events with more sagacity and vigilance, or felt a solicitude for the state, more intense and unwearied, than Governor Chittenden
Finding its affairs approaching a dangerous crisis, on the 14th of November, 1781, he addressed General Washington, on the subject. It is to be regreted that a copy of this communication is not to be found. We are only able to state from Dr. Williams' history, that he "explained to General Washington the situation, difficulties and views of Vermont, and gave him an account of the transactions with the enemy; assigning, as the reason, that 'Vermont, drove to desperation, by the injustice of those who should have been her friends, was obliged to adopt policy, in the room of power.' With regard to the last resolution of Congress, he ascribed it to the true cause, — not the influence of their friends, but the power of their enemies:— 'Lord George Germain's letter* wrought on Congress, and procured that for them, which the publick virtue of this people could not obtain."
This communication was answered by General Washington, on the 1st of January, 1782. The following extract from his answer is preserved in Williams' history.
"It is not my business, neither do I think it necessary, now, to discuss the origin of the right of a number of inhabitants, to that tract of country, formerly distinguished by the name of the New-Hampshire grants, and now known by that of Vermont. I will take it for granted that their right was good, because Congress, by their resolve of the 7th of August, imply it; and by that of the 21st, are willing fully to confirm it, provided the new state is confined to certain described bounds. It appears, therefore, to me, that the dispute of boundary, is the only one that exists, and that being removed, all other difficulties would be removed also, and the matter terminated to the satisfaction of all parties. You have nothing to do but withdraw your jurisdiction to the confines of your own limits, and obtain an acknowledgment of independence and sovereignty, under the resolve of the 21st of August, for so much territory as does not interfere with the ancient established bounds of New-York, New-Hampshire and Massachusetts. In my private opinion, while it behoves the delegates to do ample justice to a body of people, sufficiently respectable by their numbers, and entitled, by other claims, to be admitted into the confederation, it becomes them also, to attend to the interests of their constituents, and see, that under the appearance of justice to one, they do not materially injure the rights of others. I am apt to think this is the prevailing opinion of Congress."
This communication exerted a powerful influence upon the minds of the leading men in Vermont. At the following session of the Legislature, the subject was again taken up, and the condition embraced in the resolution of Congress, was complied with. The following extracts from the journals, exhibits an account of the proceedings, which resulted in a dissolution of the eastern and western unions.
* See page 150
"STATE OF VERMONT, Bennington, Feb. 19th, 1782.
The Governor and Council having joined the General Assembly, in a committee of the whole, to take into consideration the resolutions of Congress of the 7th and 21st of August last.