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The Winning of the West, Volume Three The Founding of the Trans-Alleghany Commonwealths, 1784-1790 By Theodore Roosevelt Characters: 101836

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

It was important for the frontiersmen to take the Lake Posts from the British; but it was even more important to wrest from the Spaniards the free navigation of the Mississippi. While the Lake Posts were held by the garrisons of a foreign power, the work of settling the northwestern territory was bound to go forward slowly and painfully; but while the navigation of the Mississippi was barred, even the settlements already founded could not attain to their proper prosperity and importance.

Need of Free Navigation of the Mississippi.

The lusty young commonwealths which were springing into life on the Ohio and its tributaries knew that commerce with the outside world was essential to their full and proper growth. The high, forest-clad ranges of the Appalachians restricted and hampered their mercantile relations with the older States, and therefore with the Europe which lay beyond; while the giant river offered itself as a huge trade artery to bring them close to all the outer world, if only they were allowed its free use. Navigable rivers are of great importance to a country's trade now; but a hundred years ago their importance was relatively far greater. Steam, railroads, electricity, have worked a revolution so stupendous, that we find it difficult to realize the facts of the life which our forefathers lived. The conditions of commerce have changed much more in the last hundred years than in the preceding two thousand. The Kentuckians and Tennesseans knew only the pack train, the wagon train, the river craft and the deep-sea ship; that is, they knew only such means of carrying on commerce as were known to Greek and Carthaginian, Roman and Persian, and the nations of medieval Europe. Beasts of draught and of burden, and oars and sails,-these, and these only,-were at the service of their merchants, as they had been at the service of all merchants from time immemorial. Where trade was thus limited the advantages conferred by water carriage, compared to land carriage, were incalculable. The Westerners were right in regarding as indispensable the free navigation of the Mississippi. They were right also in their determination ultimately to acquire the control of the whole river, from the source to the mouth.

Desire to Seize the Spanish Lands.

However, the Westerners wished more than the privilege of sending down stream the products of their woods and pastures and tilled farms. They had already begun to cast longing eyes on the fair Spanish possessions. Spain was still the greatest of colonial powers. In wealth, in extent, and in population-both native and European-her colonies surpassed even those of England; and by far the most important of her possessions were in the New World. For two centuries her European rivals, English, French, and Dutch, had warred against her in America, with the net result of taking from her a few islands in the West Indies. On the American mainland her possessions were even larger than they had been in the age of the great Conquisadores; the age of Cortes, Pizarro, De Soto, and Coronado. Yet it was evident that her grasp had grown feeble. Every bold, lawless, ambitious leader among the frontier folk dreamed of wresting from the Spaniard some portion of his rich and ill-guarded domain.

Relations of the Frontiersmen to the Central Government.

It was not alone the attitude of the frontiersmen towards Spain that was novel, and based upon a situation for which there was little precedent. Their relations with one another, with their brethren of the seaboard, and with the Federal Government, likewise had to be adjusted without much chance of profiting by antecedent experience. Many phases of these relations between the people who stayed at home, and those who wandered off to make homes, between the frontiersmen as they formed young States, and the Central Government representing the old States, were entirely new, and were ill-understood by both parties. Truths which all citizens have now grown to accept as axiomatic were then seen clearly only by the very greatest men, and by most others were seen dimly, if at all. What is now regarded as inevitable and proper was then held as something abnormal, unnatural, and greatly to be dreaded. The men engaged in building new commonwealths did not, as yet, understand that they owed the Union as much as did the dwellers in the old States. They were apt to let liberty become mere anarchy and license, to talk extravagantly about their rights while ignoring their duties, and to rail at the weakness of the Central Government while at the same time opposing with foolish violence every effort to make it stronger. On the other hand, the people of the long-settled country found difficulty in heartily accepting the idea that the new communities, as they sprang up in the forest, were entitled to stand exactly on a level with the old, not only as regards their own rights, but as regards the right to shape the destiny of the Union itself.

The Union still Inchoate.

The Union was as yet imperfect. The jangling colonies had been welded together, after a fashion, in the slow fire of the Revolutionary war; but the old lines of cleavage were still distinctly marked. The great struggle had been of incalculable benefit to all Americans. Under its stress they had begun to develop a national type of thought and character. Americans now held in common memories which they shared with no one else; for they held ever in mind the feats of a dozen crowded years. Theirs was the history of all that had been done by the Continental Congress and the Continental armies; theirs the memory of the toil and the suffering and the splendid ultimate triumph. They cherished in common the winged words of their statesmen, the edged deeds of their soldiers; they yielded to the spell of mighty names which sounded alien to all men save themselves. But though the successful struggle had laid deep the foundations of a new nation, it had also of necessity stirred and developed many of the traits most hostile to assured national life. All civil wars loosen the bands of orderly liberty, and leave in their train disorder and evil. Hence those who cause them must rightly be held guilty of the gravest wrong-doing unless they are not only pure of purpose, but sound of judgment, and unless the result shows their wisdom. The Revolution had left behind it among many men love of liberty, mingled with lofty national feeling and broad patriotism; but to other men it seemed that the chief lessons taught had been successful resistance to authority, jealousy of the central Government, and intolerance of all restraint. According as one or the other of these mutually hostile sets of sentiments prevailed, the acts of the Revolutionary leaders were to stand justified or condemned in the light of the coming years. As yet the success had only been in tearing down; there remained the harder and all-important task of building up.

Task of the Nation Builders.

This task of building up was accomplished, and the acts of the men of the Revolution were thus justified. It was the after result of the Revolution, not the Revolution itself, which gave to the governmental experiment inaugurated by the Second Continental Congress its unique and lasting value. It was this result which marks most clearly the difference between the careers of the English-speaking and Spanish-speaking peoples on this continent. The wise statesmanship typified by such men as Washington and Marshall, Hamilton, Jay, John Adams, and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, prevailed over the spirit of separatism and anarchy. Seven years after the war ended, the Constitution went into effect, and the United States became in truth a nation. Had we not thus become a nation, had the separatists won the day, and our country become the seat of various antagonistic States and confederacies, then the Revolution by which we won liberty and independence would have been scarcely more memorable or noteworthy than the wars which culminated in the separation of the Spanish-American colonies from Spain; for we would thereby have proved that we did not deserve either liberty or independence.

Over-Mastering Importance of the Union.

The Revolutionary war itself had certain points of similarity with the struggles of which men like Bolivar were the heroes; where the parallel totally fails is in what followed. There were features in which the campaigns of the Mexican and South American insurgent leaders resembled at least the partisan warfare so often waged by American Revolutionary generals; but with the deeds of the great constructive statesman of the United States there is nothing in the career of any Spanish-American community to compare. It was the power to build a solid and permanent Union, the power to construct a mighty nation out of the wreck of a crumbling confederacy, which drew a sharp line between the Americans of the north and the Spanish-speaking races of the south.

In their purposes and in the popular sentiment to which they have appealed, our separatist leaders of every generation have borne an ominous likeness to the horde of dictators and half-military, half-political adventurers who for three quarters of a century have wrought such harm in the lands between the Argentine and Mexico; but the men who brought into being and preserved the Union have had no compeers in Southern America. The North American colonies wrested their independence from Great Britain as the colonies of South America wrested theirs from Spain; but whereas the United States grew with giant strides into a strong and orderly nation, Spanish America has remained split into a dozen turbulent states, and has become a byword for anarchy and weakness.

The Separatist Feeling.

The separatist feeling has at times been strong in almost every section of the Union, although in some regions it has been much stronger than in others. Calhoun and Pickering, Jefferson and Gouverneur Morris, Wendell Phillips and William Taney, Aaron Burr and Jefferson Davis-these and many other leaders of thought and action, east and west, north and south, at different periods of the nation's growth, and at different stages of their own careers, have, for various reasons, and with widely varying purity of motive, headed or joined in separatist movements. Many of these men were actuated by high-minded, though narrow, patriotism; and those who, in the culminating catastrophe of all the separatist agitations, appealed to the sword, proved the sincerity of their convictions by their resolute courage and self-sacrifice. Nevertheless they warred against the right, and strove mightily to bring about the downfall and undoing of the nation.

Evils of the Disunion Movements.

The men who brought on and took part in the disunion movements were moved sometimes by good and sometimes by bad motives; but even when their motives were disinterested and their purposes pure, and even when they had received much provocation, they must be adjudged as lacking the wisdom, the foresight, and the broad devotion to all the land over which the flag floats, without which no statesman can rank as really great. The enemies of the Union were the enemies of America and of mankind, whose success would have plunged their country into an abyss of shame and misery, and would have arrested for generations the upward movement of their race.

Eastern Jealousy of the Young West.

Yet, evil though the separatist movements were, they were at times imperfectly justified by the spirit of sectional distrust and bitterness rife in portions of the country which at the moment were themselves loyal to the Union. This was especially true of the early separatist movements in the West. Unfortunately the attitude towards the Westerners of certain portions of the population in the older States, and especially in the northeastern States, was one of unreasoning jealousy and suspicion; and though this mental attitude rarely crystallized into hostile deeds, its very existence, and the knowledge that it did exist, embittered the men of the West. Moreover the people among whom these feelings were strongest were, unfortunately, precisely those who on the questions of the Union and the Constitution showed the broadest and most far-seeing statesmanship. New England, the towns of the middle States and Maryland, the tidewater region of South Carolina, and certain parts of Virginia were the seats of the soundest political thought of the day. The men who did this sane, wholesome political thinking were quite right in scorning and condemning the crude unreason, often silly, often vicious, which characterized so much of the political thought of their opponents. The strength of these opponents was largely derived from the ignorance and suspicion of the raw country districts, and from the sour jealousy with which the backwoodsmen regarded the settled regions of the seaboard.

But when these sound political thinkers permitted their distrust of certain sections of the country to lead them into doing injustice to those sections, they in their turn deserved the same condemnation which should be meted to so many of their political foes. When they allowed their judgment to become so warped by their dissatisfaction with the traits inevitably characteristic of the earlier stages of frontier development that they became opposed to all extension of the frontier; when they allowed their liking for the well-ordered society of their own districts to degenerate into indifference to or dislike of the growth of the United States towards continental greatness; then they themselves sank into the position of men who in cold selfishness sought to mar the magnificent destiny of their own people.

Blindness of the New Englanders as Regards the West.

In the northeastern States, and in New England especially, this feeling showed itself for two generations after the close of the Revolutionary War. On the whole the New Englanders have exerted a more profound and wholesome influence upon the development of our common country than has ever been exerted by any other equally numerous body of our people. They have led the nation in the path of civil liberty and sound governmental administration. But too often they have viewed the nation's growth and greatness from a narrow and provincial standpoint, and have grudgingly acquiesced in, rather than led the march towards, continental supremacy. In shaping the nation's policy for the future their sense of historic perspective seemed imperfect. They could not see the all-importance of the valley of the Ohio, or of the valley of the Columbia, to the Republic of the years to come. The value of a county in Maine offset in their eyes the value of these vast, empty regions. Indeed, in the days immediately succeeding the Revolution, their attitude towards the growing West was worse than one of mere indifference; it was one of alarm and dislike. They for the moment adopted towards the West a position not wholly unlike that which England had held towards the American colonies as a whole. They came dangerously near repeating, in their feeling towards their younger brethren on the Ohio, the very blunder committed in reference to themselves by their elder brethren in Britain. For some time they seemed, like the British, unable to grasp the grandeur of their race's imperial destiny. They hesitated to throw themselves with hearty enthusiasm into the task of building a nation with a continent as its base. They rather shrank from the idea as implying a lesser weight of their own section in the nation; not yet understanding that to an American the essential thing was the growth and well-being of America, while the relative importance of the locality where he dwelt was a matter of small moment.

Eastern Efforts to Shear the West's Strength.

The extreme representatives of this northeastern sectionalism not only objected to the growth of the West at the time now under consideration, but even avowed a desire to work it harm, by shutting the Mississippi, so as to benefit the commerce of the Atlantic States-a manifestation of cynical and selfish disregard of the rights of their fellow-countrymen quite as flagrant as any piece of tyranny committed or proposed by King George's ministers in reference to America. These intolerant extremists not only opposed the admission of the young western States into the Union, but at a later date actually announced that the annexation by the United States of vast territories beyond the Mississippi offered just cause for the secession of the northeastern States. Even those who did not take such an advanced ground felt an unreasonable dread lest the West might grow to overtop the East in power. In their desire to prevent this (which has long since happened without a particle of damage resulting to the East), they proposed to establish in the Constitution that the representatives from the West should never exceed in number those from the East,-a proviso which would not have been merely futile, for it would quite properly have been regarded by the West as unforgivable.

A curious feature of the way many honest men looked at the West was their inability to see how essentially transient were some of the characteristics to which they objected. Thus they were alarmed at the turbulence and the lawless shortcomings of various kinds which grew out of the conditions of frontier settlement and sparse population. They looked with anxious foreboding to the time when the turbulent and lawless people would be very numerous, and would form a dense and powerful population; failing to see that in exact proportion as the population became dense, the conditions which caused the qualities to which they objected would disappear. Even the men who had too much good sense to share these fears, even men as broadly patriotic as Jay, could not realize the extreme rapidity of western growth. Kentucky and Tennessee grew much faster than any of the old frontier colonies had ever grown; and from sheer lack of experience, eastern statesmen could not realize that this rapidity of growth made the navigation of the Mississippi a matter of immediate and not of future interest to the West.

Failure to Perceive Truths Now Regarded as Self-Evident.

In short, these good people were learning with reluctance and difficulty to accept as necessary certain facts which we regard as part of the order of our political nature. We look at territorial expansion, and the admission of new States, as part of a process as natural as it is desirable. To our forefathers the process was novel, and, in some of its features, repugnant. Many of them could not divest themselves of the feeling that the old States ought to receive more consideration than the new; whereas nowadays it would never occur to anyone that Pennsylvania and Georgia ought to stand either above or below California and Montana. It is an inestimable boon to all four States to be in the Union, but this is because the citizens of all of them are on a common footing. If the new commonwealths in the Rocky Mountains and on the Pacific slope were not cordially accepted by the original Thirteen States as having exactly the same rights and privileges of every kind, it would be better for them to stand alone. As a matter of fact, we have become so accustomed to the idea of the equality of the different States, that it never enters our heads to conceive of the possibility of its being otherwise. The feeling in its favor is so genuine and universal that we are not even conscious that it exists. Nobody dreams of treating the fact that the new commonwealths are offshoots of the old as furnishing grounds for any discrimination in reference to them, one way or the other. There still exist dying jealousies between different States and sections, but this particular feeling does not enter into them in any way whatsoever.

The East Distrusts the Trans-Alleghany People.

At the time when Kentucky was struggling for statehood, this feeling, though it had been given its death-blow by the success of the Revolution, still lingered here and there on the Atlantic coast. It was manifest in the attitude of many prominent people-the leaders in their communities-towards the new commonwealths growing up beyond the Alleghanies. Had this intolerant sectional feeling ever prevailed and been adopted as the policy of the Atlantic States, the West would have revolted, and would have been right in revolting. But the manifestations of this sectionalism proved abortive; the broad patriotism of leaders like Washington prevailed. In the actual event the East did full and free justice to the West. In consequence we are now one nation.

Separatist and Disunion Feeling in the West.

While many of the people on the eastern seaboard thus took an indefensible position in reference to the trans-Alleghany settlements, in the period immediately succeeding the Revolution, there were large bodies of the population of these same settlements, including very many of their popular leaders, whose own attitude towards the Union was, if anything, even more blameworthy. They were clamorous about their rights, and were not unready to use veiled threats of disunion when they deemed these rights infringed; but they showed little appreciation of their own duties to the Union. For certain of the positions which they assumed no excuse can be offered. They harped continually on the feebleness of the Federal authorities, and the inability of these authorities to do them justice or offer them adequate protection against the Indian and the Spaniard; yet they bitterly opposed the adoption of the very Constitution which provided a strong and stable Federal Government, and turned the weak confederacy, despised at home and abroad, into one of the great nations of the earth. They showed little self-control, little willingness to wait with patience until it was possible to remedy any of the real or fancied wrongs of which they complained. They made no allowance for the difficulties so plentifully strewn in the path of the Federal authorities. They clamored for prompt and effective action, and yet clamored just as loudly against the men who sought to create a national executive with power to take this prompt and effective action. They demanded that the United States wrest from the British the Lake Posts, and from the Spaniards the navigation of the Mississippi. Yet they seemed incapable of understanding that if they separated from the Union they would thereby forfeit all chance of achieving the very purposes they had in view, because they would then certainly be at the mercy of Britain, and probably, at least for some time, at the mercy of Spain also. They opposed giving the United States the necessary civil and military power, although it was only by the possession and exercise of such power that it would be possible to secure for the westerners what they wished. In all human probability, the whole country round the Great Lakes would still be British territory, and the mouth of the Mississippi still in the hands of some European power, had the folly of the separatists won the day and had the West been broken up into independent States.

Shortcomings of the Frontiersmen.

These shortcomings were not special or peculiar to the frontiersmen of the Ohio valley at the close of the eighteenth century. All our frontiersmen have betrayed a tendency towards them at times, though the exhibitions of this tendency have grown steadily less and less decided. In Vermont, during the years between the close of the Revolution and the adoption of the Constitution, the state of affairs was very much what it was in Kentucky at the same time. [Footnote: Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, xi., No. 2, pp. 160-165, Letters of Levi Allen, Ethan Allen, and others, from 1787 to 1790.] In each territory there was acute friction with a neighboring State. In each there was a small knot of men who wished the community to keep out of the new American nation, and to enter into some sort of alliance with a European nation, England in one case, Spain in the other. In each there was a considerable but fluctuating separatist party, desirous that the territory should become an independent nation on its own account. In each case the separatist movements failed, and the final triumph lay with the men of broadly national ideas, so that both Kentucky and Vermont became States of one indissoluble Union.

Final Triumph of the Union Party.

This final triumph of the Union party in these first-formed frontier States was fraught with immeasurable good for them and for the whole nation of which they became parts. It established a precedent for the action of all the other States that sprang into being as the frontier rolled westward. It decided that the interior of North America should form part of one great Republic, and should not be parcelled out among a crowd of English-speaking Uruguays and Ecquadors, powerful only to damage one another, and helpless to exact respect from alien foes or to keep order in their own households. It vastly increased the significance of the outcome of the Revolution, for it decided that its after-effects should be felt throughout the entire continent, not merely in the way of example, but by direct impress. The creation of a nation stretching along the Atlantic seaboard was of importance in itself, but the importance was immensely increased when once it was decided that the nation should cover a region larger than all Europe.

Excuses for Some of the Separatists.

While giving unlimited praise to the men so clearsighted, and of such high thought, that from the beginning they foresaw the importance of the Union, and strove to include all the West therein, we must beware of blaming overmuch those whose vision was less acute. The experiment of the Union was as yet inchoate; its benefits were prospective; and loyalty to it was loyalty to a splendid idea the realization of which lay in the future rather than in the present. All honor must be awarded to the men who under such conditions could be loyal to so high an ideal; but we must not refuse to see the many strong and admirable qualities in some of the men who looked less keenly into the future. It would be mere folly [Footnote: R. T. Durrett, "Centenary of Kentucky," 64.] to judge a man who in 1787 was lukewarm or even hostile to the Union by the same standard we should use in testing his son's grandson a century later. Finally, where a man's general course was one of devotion to the Union, it is easy to forgive him some momentary lapse, due to a misconception on his part of the real needs of the hour, or to passing but intense irritation at some display of narrow indifference to the rights of his section by the people of some other section. Patrick Henry himself made one slip when he opposed the adoption of the Federal Constitution; but this does not at all offset the services he rendered our common country both before and afterwards. Every statesman makes occasional errors; and the leniency of judgment needed by Patrick Henry, and needed far more by Ethan Allen, Samuel Adams, and George Clinton, must be extended to frontier leaders for whose temporary coldness to the Union there was much greater excuse.

Characteristics of the Frontiersmen.

When we deal, not with the leading statesmen of the frontier communities, but with the ordinary frontier folk themselves, there is need to apply the same tests used in dealing with the rude, strong peoples of by-gone ages. The standard by which international, and even domestic, morality is judged, must vary for different countries under widely different conditions, for exactly the same reasons that it must vary for different periods of the world's history. We cannot expect the refined virtues of a highly artificial civilization from frontiersmen who for generations have been roughened and hardened by the same kind of ferocious wilderness toil that once fell to the lot of their remote barbarian ancestors.

The Kentuckian, from his clearing in the great forest, looked with bold and greedy eyes at the Spanish possessions, much as Markman, Goth, and Frank had once peered through their marshy woods at the Roman dominions. He possessed the virtues proper to a young and vigorous race; he was trammelled by few misgivings as to the rights of the men whose lands he coveted; he felt that the future was for the stout-hearted, and not for the weakling. He was continually hampered by the advancing civilization of which he was the vanguard, and of which his own sous were destined to form an important part. He rebelled against the restraints imposed by his own people behind him exactly as he felt impelled to attack the alien peoples in front of him. He did not care very much what form the attack took. On the whole he preferred that it should be avowed war, whether waged under the stars and stripes or under some flag new-raised by himself and his fellow-adventurers of the border. In default of such a struggle, he was ready to serve under alien banners, either those of some nation at the moment hostile to Spain, or else those of some insurgent Spanish leader. But he was also perfectly willing to obtain by diplomacy what was denied by force of arms; and if the United States could not or would not gain his ends for him in this manner, then he wished to make use of his own power. He was eager to enter in and take the land, even at the cost of becoming for the time being a more or less nominal vassal of Spain; and he was ready to promise, in return for this privilege of settlement, to form a barrier state against the further encroachment of his fellows. When fettered by the checks imposed by the Central Government, he not only threatened to revolt and establish an independent government of his own, but even now and then darkly hinted that he would put this government under the protection of the very Spanish power at whose cost he always firmly intended to take his own strides towards greatness. As a matter of fact, whether he first established himself in the Spanish possessions as an outright enemy, or as a nominal friend and subject, the result was sure to be the same in the end. The only difference was that it took place sooner in one event than in the other. In both cases alike the province thus acquired was certain finally to be wrested from Spain.

Spanish Dread of the Westerners.

The Spaniards speedily recognized in the Americans the real menace to their power in Florida, Louisiana, and Mexico. They did not, however, despair of keeping them at bay. The victories won by Galvez over both the British regulars and the Tory American settlers were fresh in their minds; and they felt they had a chance of success even in a contest of arms. But the weapons upon which they relied most were craft and intrigue. If the Union could be broken up, or the jealousies between the States and sections fanned into flame, there would be little chance of a successful aggressive movement by the Americans of any one commonwealth. The Spanish authorities sought to achieve these ends by every species of bribery and corrupt diplomacy. They placed even more reliance upon the war-like confederacies of the Creeks, Cherokees, Choctaws, and Chickasaws, thrust in between themselves and the frontier settlements; and while protesting to the Americans with smooth treachery that they were striving to keep the Indians at peace, they secretly incited them to hostilities, and furnished them with arms and munitions of war. The British held the Lake Posts by open exhibition of strength, though they too were not above conniving at treachery and allowing their agents covertly to urge the red tribes to resist the American advance; but the Spaniards, by preference, trusted to fraud rather than to force.

Negotiations between Spain and the United States Concerning the Free Navigation of the Mississippi.

In the last resort the question of the navigation of the Mississippi had to be decided between the Governments of Spain and the United States; and it was chiefly through the latter that the westerners could, indirectly, but most powerfully, make their influence felt, in the long and intricate negotiations carried on towards the close of the Revolutionary War between the representatives of Spain, France, and the United States, Spain had taken high ground in reference to this and to all other western questions, and France had supported her in her desire to exclude the Americans from all rights in the vast regions beyond the Alleghanies. At that time the delegates from the southern, no less than from the northern, States, in the Continental Congress, showed much weakness in yielding to this attitude of France and Spain. On the motion of those from Virginia all the delegates with the exception of those from North Carolina voted to instruct Jay, then Minister to Spain, to surrender outright the free navigation of the Mississippi. Later, when he was one of the Commissioners to treat for peace, they practically repeated the blunder by instructing Jay and his colleagues to assent to whatever France proposed. With rare wisdom and courage Jay repudiated these instructions. The chief credit for the resulting diplomatic triumph, almost as essential as the victory at Yorktown itself to our national well-being, belongs to him, and by his conduct he laid the men of the West under an obligation which they never acknowledged during his lifetime. [Footnote: It is not the least of Mann Butler's good points that in his "History" he does full justice to Jay. Another Kentuckian, Mr. Thomas Marshall Green, has recently done the same in his "Spanish Conspiracy."]

Jay and Gardoqui.

Shortly after his return to America he was made Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and was serving as such when, in the spring of 1785, Don Diego Gardoqui arrived in Philadelphia, bearing a commission from his Catholic Majesty to Congress. At this time the brilliant and restless soldier Galvez had left Louisiana and become Viceroy of Mexico, thus removing from Louisiana the one Spaniard whose energy and military capacity would have rendered him formidable to the Americans in the event of war. He was succeeded in the government of the creole province by Don Estevan Miro, already colonel of the Louisiana regiment.

Gardoqui was not an able man, although with some capacity for a certain kind of intrigue. He was a fit representative of the Spanish court, with its fundamental weakness and its impossible pretensions. He entirely misunderstood the people with whom he had to deal, and whether he was or was not himself personally honest, he based his chief hopes of success in dealing with others upon their supposed susceptibility to the influence of corruption and dishonorable intrigue. He and Jay could come to no agreement, and the negotiations were finally broken off. Before this happened, in the fall of 1786, Jay in entire good faith had taken a step which aroused furious anger in the West. [Footnote: State Dep. MSS., No. 81, vol. ii., pp. 193, 241, 285, etc.; Reports of Sec'y John Jay.] Like so many other statesmen of the day, he did not realize how fast Kentucky had grown, and deemed the navigation question one which would not be of real importance to the West for two decades to come. He absolutely refused to surrender our right to navigate the Mississippi; but, not regarding it as of immediate consequence, he proposed both to Congress and Gardoqui that in consideration of certain concessions by Spain we should agree to forbear to exercise this right for twenty or twenty-five years. The delegates from the northern States assented to Jay's views; those from the southern States strongly opposed them. In 1787, after a series of conferences between Jay and Gardoqui, which came to naught, the Spaniard definitely refused to entertain Jay's proposition. Even had he not refused nothing could have been done, for under the confederation a treaty had to be ratified by the votes of nine States, and there were but seven which supported the policy of Jay.

Washington and Lee agree with Jay.

Unquestionably Jay showed less than his usual far-sightedness in this matter, but it is only fair to remember that his views were shared by some of the greatest of American statesmen, even from Virginia. "Lighthorse Harry" Lee substantially agreed with them. Washington, with his customary broad vision and keen insight, realized the danger of exciting the turbulent Westerners by any actual treaty which might seem to cut off their hope of traffic down the Mississippi; but he advocated pursuing what was, except for defining the time limit, substantially the same policy under a different name, recommending that the United States should await events and for the moment neither relinquish nor push their claim to free navigation of the great river. [Footnote: "The Spanish Conspiracy," Thos. Marshall Green, p. 31.] Even in Kentucky itself a few of the leading men were of the opinion that the right of free navigation would be of little real benefit during the lifetime of the existing generation. [Footnote: State Dept. MSS., Madison Papers, Caleb Wallace to Madison, Nov. 21, 1787. Wallace himself shared this view.] It was no discredit to Jay to hold the views he did when they were shared by intelligent men of affairs who were actually in the district most concerned. He was merely somewhat slow in abandoning opinions which half a dozen years before were held generally throughout the Union. Nevertheless it was fortunate for the country that the southern States, headed by Virginia, were so resolute in their opposition, and that Gardoqui, a fit representative of his government, declined to agree to a treaty which if ratified would have benefited Spain, and would have brought undreamed of evil upon the United States. Jefferson, to his credit, was very hostile to the proposition. As a statesman Jefferson stood for many ideas which in their actual working have proved pernicious to our country, but he deserves well of all Americans, in the first place because of his services to science, and in the next place, what was of far more importance, because of his steadfast friendship for the great West, and his appreciation of its magnificent future.

Methods of the River Trade.

As soon as the Revolutionary War came to an end adventurers in Kentucky began to trade down the Mississippi. Often these men were merchants by profession, but this was not necessary, for on the frontier men shifted from one business to another very readily. A farmer of bold heart and money-making temper might, after selling his crop, build a flatboat, load it with flour, bacon, salt, beef, and tobacco, and start for New Orleans. [Footnote: McAfee MSS.] He faced dangers from the waters, from the Indians, from lawless whites of his own race, and from the Spaniards themselves. The New Orleans customs officials were corrupt, [Footnote: Do. VOL III-8] and the regulations very absurd and oppressive. The policy of the Spanish home government in reference to the trade was unsettled and wavering, and the attitude towards it of the Governors of Louisiana changed with their varying interests, beliefs, caprices, and apprehensions. In consequence the conditions of the trade were so uncertain that to follow it was like indulging in a lottery venture. Special privileges were allowed certain individuals who had made private treaties with, or had bribed, the Spanish officials; and others were enabled to smuggle their goods in under various pretences, and by various devices; while the traders who were without such corrupt influence or knowledge found this river commerce hazardous in the extreme. It was small wonder that the Kentuckians should chafe under such arbitrary and unequal restraints, and should threaten to break through them by force. [Footnote: Va. State Papers, iv., 630.]

The most successful traders were of course those who contrived to establish relations with some one in New Orleans, or perhaps in Natchez, who would act as their agent or correspondent. The profits from a successful trip made amends for much disaster, and enabled the trader to repeat his adventure on a larger scale. Thus, among the papers of George Rogers Clark there is a letter from one of his friends who was living in Kaskaskia in 1784, and was engaged in the river trade. [Footnote: Draper MSS. Letter of John Williams, June 20, 1784.] The letter was evidently to the writer's father, beginning "My dear daddy." It describes how he had started on one trip to New Orleans, but had been wrecked; how, nothing daunted, he had tried again with a cargo of forty-two beeves, which he sold in New Orleans for what he deemed the good sum of $738; and how he was about to try his luck once more, buying a bateau and thirty bushels of salt, enough to pickle two hundred beeves.

Risks of the Traders.

The traders never could be certain when their boats would be seized and their goods confiscated by some Spanish officer; nor when they started could they tell whether they would or would not find when they reached New Orleans that the Spanish authorities had declared the navigation closed. In 1783 and the early part of 1784 traders were descending the Mississippi without overt resistance from the Spaniards, and were selling their goods at a profit in New Orleans. In midsummer of 1784 the navigation of the river was suddenly and rigorously closed. In 1785 it was again partially opened; so that we find traders purchasing flour in Louisville at twenty-four shillings a hundred-weight, and carrying it down stream to sell in New Orleans at thirty dollars a barrel. By summer of the same year the Spaniards were again shutting off traffic, being in great panic over a rumored piratical advance by the frontiersmen, to oppose which they were mustering their troops and making ready their artillery. [Footnote: Draper MSS. J. Girault to William Clark, July 22, 1784; May 23, 1785; July 2, 1785; certificate of French merchants testified to by Miro in 1785.]

Among the articles the frontier traders received for their goods horses held a high place. [Footnote: Do. Girault to Clark July 9, 1784.] The horse trade was risky, as in driving them up to Kentucky many were drowned, or played out, or were stolen by the Indians; but as picked horses and mares cost but twenty dollars a head in Louisiana and were sold at a hundred dollars a head in the United States, the losses had to be very large to eat up the profits.

Creole Traders.

The French Creoles, who carried on much of the river trade and who lived some under the American and some under the Spanish flag, of course suffered as much as either Americans or Spaniards. Often these Creoles loaded their canoes with a view to trading with the Indians, rather than at New Orleans. Whether this was so or not, those officially in the service of the two powers soon grew as zealous in oppressing one another as in oppressing men of different nationalities. Thus in 1787 a Vincennes Creole, having loaded his pirogue with goods to the value of two thousand dollars, sent it down to trade with the Indians near the Chickasaw Bluffs. Here it was seized by the Creole commandant of the Spanish post at the Arkansas. The goods were confiscated and the men imprisoned. The owner appealed in vain to the commandant, who told him that he was ordered by the Spanish authorities to seize all persons who trafficked on the Mississippi below the mouth of the Ohio, inasmuch as Spain claimed both banks of the river; and when he made his way to New Orleans and appealed to Miro he was summarily dismissed with a warning that a repetition of the offence would ensure his being sent to the mines of Brazil. [Footnote: State Dept. MSS., No. 150 vol. iii., p. 519. Letter of Joseph St. Mary, Vincennes, August 23, 1788.]

Retaliation of the Frontiersmen.

Outrages of this kind, continually happening alike to Americans and to Creoles under American protection, could not have been tamely borne by any self-respecting people. The fierce and hardy frontiersmen were goaded to anger by them, and were ready to take part in, or at least to connive at, any piece of lawless retaliation. Such an act of revenge was committed by Clark at Vincennes, as one result of his ill-starred expedition against the Wabash Indians in 1786. As already said, when his men mutinied and refused to march against the Indians, most of them returned home; but he kept enough to garrison the Vincennes fort. Unpaid, and under no regular authority, these men plundered the French inhabitants and were a terror to the peaceable, as well as to the lawless, Indians. Doubtless Clark desired to hold them in readiness as much for a raid on the Spanish possessions as for a defence against the Indians. Nevertheless they did some service in preventing any actual assault on the place by the latter, while they prevented any possible uprising by the French, though the harassed Creoles, under this added burden of military lawlessness, in many instances accepted the offers made them by the Spaniards and passed over to the French villages on the west side of the Mississippi.

Clark Seizes a Spanish Boat.

Before Clark left Vincennes, he summoned a court of his militia officers, and got them to sanction the seizure of a boat loaded with valuable goods, the property of a Creole trader from the Spanish possessions. The avowed reason for this act was revenge for the wrongs perpetrated in like manner by the Spaniards on the American traders; and this doubtless was the controlling motive in Clark's mind; but it was also true that the goods thus confiscated were of great service to Clark in paying his mutinous and irregularly employed troops, and that this fact, too, had influence with him.

The Backwoodsmen Approve Clark's Deed.

The more violent and lawless among the backwoodsmen of Kentucky were loud in exultation over this deed. They openly declared that it was not merely an act of retaliation on the Spaniards, but also a warning that, if they did not let the Americans trade down the river, they would not be allowed to trade up it; and that the troops who garrisoned Vincennes offered an earnest of what the frontiersmen would do in the way of raising an army of conquest if the Spaniards continued to wrong them. [Footnote: Draper MSS. Minutes of Court-Martial, Summoned by George Rogers Clark, at Vincennes, October 18, 1786.] They defied the Continental Congress and the seaboard States to interfere with them. They threatened to form an independent government, if the United States did not succor and countenance them. They taunted the eastern men with knowing as little of the West as Great Britain knew of America. They even threatened that they would, if necessary, re-join the British dominions, and boasted that, if united to Canada, they would some day be able themselves to conquer the Atlantic Commonwealths. [Footnote: State Dept. MSS. Reports of John Jay, No. 124, vol. iii., pp. 31, 37, 44, 48, 53, 56, etc.]

Both the Federal and the Virginia authorities were much alarmed and angered, less at the insult to Spain than at the threat of establishing a separate government in the West.

The Government Authorities Disapprove.

From the close of the revolution the Virginian government had been worried by the separatist movements in Kentucky. In 1784 two "stirrers-up of sedition" had been fined and imprisoned, and an adherent of the Virginian government, writing from Kentucky, mentioned that one of the worst effects of the Indian inroads was to confine the settlers to the stations, which were hot-beds of sedition and discord, besides excuses for indolence and rags. [Footnote: Va. State Papers, III., pp. 585, 589.] The people who distrusted the frontiersmen complained that among them were many knaves and outlaws from every State in the Union, who flew to the frontier as to a refuge; while even those who did not share this distrust admitted that the fact that the people in Kentucky came from many different States helped to make them discontented with Virginia. [Footnote: Draper MSS. Clark Papers, Walter Darrell to William Fleming, April 14, 1783.]

Georgia and the Frontiersmen

In Georgia the conditions were much as they were on the Ohio. Georgia was a frontier State, with the ambitions and the lawlessness of the frontier; and the backwoodsmen felt towards her as they did towards no other member of the old Thirteen. Soon after Clark established his garrison in Vincennes, various inflammatory letters were circulated in the western country, calling for action against both the Central Government and the Spaniards, and appealing for sympathy and aid both to the Georgians and to Sevier's insurrectionary State of Franklin. Among others, a Kentuckian wrote from Louisville to Georgia, bitterly complaining about the failure of the United States to open the Mississippi; denouncing the Federal Government in extravagant language, and threatening hostilities against the Spaniards, and a revolt against the Continental Congress. [Footnote: Do., Letter of Thomas Green to the Governor of Georgia, December 23, 1786.] This letter was intercepted, and, of course, increased still more the suspicion felt about Clark's motives, for though Clark denied that he had actually seen the letter, he was certainly cognizant of its purport, and approved the movement which lay behind it. [Footnote: Green's "Spanish Conspiracy," p. 74.] One of his fellow Kentuckians, writing about him at this time, remarks: "Clark is playing hell…eternally drunk and yet full of design. I told him he would be hanged. He laughed, and said he would take refuge among the Indians." [Footnote: Va. State Papers, IV., 202, condensed.]

Public disavowal of Clark's Actions.

The Governor of Virginia issued a proclamation disavowing all Clark's acts. [Footnote: Draper MSS. Proclamation of Edmund Randolph, March 4, 1787.] A committee of the Kentucky Convention, which included the leaders of Kentucky's political thought and life, examined into the matter, [Footnote: State Dept. MSS., No. 71, vol. ii., p. 503. Report of Dec. 19, 1786.] and gave Clark's version of the facts, but reprobated and disowned his course. Some of the members of this Convention were afterwards identified with various separatist movements, and skirted the field of perilous intrigue with a foreign power; but they recognized the impossibility of countenancing such mere buccaneering lawlessness as Clark's; and not only joined with their colleagues in denouncing it to the Virginia Government, but warned the latter that Clark's habits were such as to render him unfit longer

to be trusted with work of importance. [Footnote: Green, p. 78.]

Experience of a Cumberland Trader.

The rougher spirits, all along the border of course sympathized with Clark. In this same year 1786 the goods and boats of a trader from the Cumberland district were seized and confiscated by the Spanish commandant at Natchez. [Footnote: State Dept. MSS., No. 124, vol. iii. Papers transmitted by Blount, Hawkins, and Ashe, March 29, 1787, including deposition of Thomas Amis, Nov 13, 1786. Letter from Fayettsville, Dec. 29, 1786, etc.] At first the Cumberland Indian-fighters determined to retaliate in kind, at no matter what cost; but the wiser among their leaders finally "persuaded them not to imitate their friends of Kentucky, and to wait patiently until some advice could be received from Congress." One of these wise leaders, a representative from the Cumberland district in the North Carolina legislature, in writing to the North Carolina delegates to the Continental Congress, after dwelling on the necessity of acquiring the right to the navigation of the Mississippi, added with sound common-sense: "You may depend on our exertions to keep all things quiet, and we agree entirely with you that if our people are once let loose there will be no stopping them, and that acts of retaliation poison the mind and give a licentiousness to manners that can with great difficulty be restrained." Washington was right in his belief that in this business there was as much to be feared from the impetuous turbulence of the backwoodsmen as from the hostility of the Spaniards.

Wrath over Jay's Negotiations.

The news of Jay's attempted negotiations with Gardoqui, distorted and twisted, arrived right on top of these troubles, and threw the already excited backwoods men into a frenzy. There was never any real danger that Jay's proposition would be adopted; but the Westerners did not know this. In all the considerable settlements on the western waters, committees of correspondence were elected to remonstrate and petition Congress against any agreement to close the Mississippi. [Footnote: Madison MSS. Letter of Caleb Wallace, Nov. 12, 1787.] Even those who had no sympathy with the separatist movement warned Congress that if any such agreement were entered into it would probably entail the loss of the western country. [Footnote: State Dept. MSS., No. 56. Symmes to the President of Congress, May 3, 1787.]

Inconsistencies of the Frontiersmen.

There was justification for the original excitement; there was none whatever for its continuance after Jay's final report to Congress, in April, 1787, [Footnote: W. H. Trescott, "Diplomatic History of the Administrations of Washington and Adams," p. 46.] and after the publication by Congress of its resolve never to abandon its claim to the Mississippi. Jay in this report took what was unquestionably the rational position. He urged that the United States was undoubtedly in the right; and that it should either insist upon a treaty with Spain, by which all conflicting claims would be reconciled, or else simply claim the right, and if Spain refused to grant it promptly declare war.

So far he was emphatically right. His cool and steadfast insistence on our rights, and his clearsighted recognition of the proper way to obtain them, contrasted well with the mixed turbulence and foolishness of the Westerners who denounced him. They refused to give up the Mississippi; and yet they also refused to support the party to which Jay belonged, and therefore refused to establish a government strong enough to obtain their rights by open force.

But Jay erred when he added, as he did, that there was no middle course possible; that we must either treat or make war. It was undoubtedly to our discredit, and to our temporary harm, that we refused to follow either course; it showed the existence of very undesirable national qualities, for it showed that we were loud in claiming rights which we lacked the resolution and foresight to enforce. Nevertheless, as these undesirable qualities existed, it was the part of a wise statesman to recognize their existence and do the best he could in spite of them. The best course to follow under such circumstances was to do nothing until the national fibre hardened, and this was the course which Washington advocated.

Wilkinson Rises to Prominence.

In this summer of 1787 there rose to public prominence in the western country a man whose influence upon it was destined to be malign in intention rather than in actual fact. James Wilkinson, by birth a Marylander, came to Kentucky in 1784. He had done his duty respectably as a soldier in the Revolutionary War, for he possessed sufficient courage and capacity to render average service in subordinate positions, though at a later date he showed abject inefficiency as commander of an army. He was a good-looking, plausible, energetic man, gifted with a taste for adventure, with much proficiency in low intrigue, and with a certain address in influencing and managing bodies of men. He also spoke and wrote well, according to the rather florid canons of the day. In character he can only be compared to Benedict Arnold, though he entirely lacked Arnold's ability and brilliant courage. He had no conscience and no scruples; he had not the slightest idea of the meaning of the word honor; he betrayed his trust from the basest motives, and he was too inefficient to make his betrayal effective. He was treacherous to the Union while it was being formed and after it had been formed; and his crime was aggravated by the sordid meanness of his motives, for he eagerly sought opportunities to barter his own infamy for money. In all our history there is no more despicable character.

He Trades to New Orleans.

Wilkinson was a man of broken fortune when he came to the West. In three years he made a good position for himself, in matters commercial and political, and his restless, adventurous nature, and thirst for excitement and intrigue, prompted him to try the river trade, with its hazards and its chances of great gain. In June, 1787, he went down the Mississippi to New Orleans with a loaded flat-boat, and sold his cargo at a high profit, thanks to the understanding he immediately established with Miro. [Footnote: Wilkinson's Memoirs, ii., 112.] Doubtless he started with the full intention of entering into some kind of corrupt arrangement with the Louisiana authorities, leaving the precise nature of the arrangement to be decided by events.

The relations that he so promptly established with the Spaniards were both corrupt and treacherous; that is, he undoubtedly gave and took bribes, and promised to intrigue against his own country for pecuniary reward; but exactly what the different agreements were, and exactly how far he tried or intended to fulfil them, is, and must always remain, uncertain. He was so ingrainedly venal, treacherous, and mendacious that nothing he said or wrote can be accepted as true, and no sentiments which he at any time professed can be accepted as those he really felt. He and the leading Louisiana Spaniards had close mercantile relations, in which the governments of neither were interested, and by which the governments of both were in all probability defrauded. He persuaded the Spaniards to give him money for using his influence to separate the West from the Union, which was one of the chief objects of Spanish diplomacy. [Footnote: History of Louisiana, Charles Gayarre, in., 198.] He was obliged to try to earn the money by leading the separatist intrigues in Kentucky, but it is doubtful if he ever had enough straightforwardness in him to be a thoroughgoing; villain. All he cared for was the money; if he could not get it otherwise, he was quite willing to do any damage he could to his country, even when he was serving it in a high military position. But if it was easier, he was perfectly willing to betray the people who had bribed him.

His Corrupt Intrigues with the Spaniards.

However he was an adept in low intrigue; and though he speedily became suspected by all honest men, he covered his tracks so well that it was not until after his death, and after the Spanish archives had been explored, that his guilt was established.

He returned to Kentucky after some months' absence. He had greatly increased his reputation, and as substantial results of his voyage he showed permits to trade, and some special and exclusive commercial privileges, such as supplying the Mexican market with tobacco, and depositing it in the King's store at New Orleans. The Kentuckians were much excited by what he had accomplished. He bought goods himself and received goods from other merchants on commission; and a year after his first venture he sent a flotilla of heavy-laden flat-boats down the Mississippi, and disposed of their contents at a high profit in New Orleans.

The River Trade and the Separatist Spirit.

The power this gave Wilkinson, the way he had obtained it, and the use he made of it, gave an impetus to the separatist party in Kentucky. He was by no means the only man, however, who was at this time engaged in the river trade to Louisiana; nor were his advantages over his commercial rivals as marked as he alleged. They, too, had discovered that the Spanish officials could be bribed to shut their eyes to smuggling, and that citizens of Natchez could be hired to receive property shipped thither as being theirs, so that it might be admitted on payment of twenty-five per cent. duty. Merchants gathered quantities of flour and bacon, but especially of tobacco, at Louisville, and thence shipped it in flat-boats to Natchez, where it was received by their correspondents; and keel boats sometimes made the return journey, though the horses, cattle, and negro slaves were generally taken to Kentucky overland. [Footnote: Draper MSS. John Williams to William Clark, New Orleans, Feb. II, 1789; Girault to Do., July 26, 1788, from Natchez; Do. to Do., Dec. 5, 1788; receipt of D. Brashear at Louisville, May 23, 1785.] All these traders naturally felt the Spanish control of the navigation, and the intermittent but always possible hostility of the Spanish officials, to be peculiarly irksome. They were, as a rule, too shortsighted to see that the only permanent remedy for their troubles was their own absorption into a solid and powerful Union. Therefore they were always ready either to join a movement against Spain, or else to join one which seemed to promise the acquisition of special privileges from Spain.

Robertson Talks of Disunion.

The separatist feeling, and the desire to sunder the West from the East, and join hands with Spain or Britain, were not confined to Kentucky. In one shape or another, and with varying intensity, separatist agitations took place in all portions of the West. In Cumberland, on the Holston, among the western mountains of Virginia proper, and in Georgia-which was practically a frontier community-there occurred manifestations of the separatist spirit. A curious feature of these various agitations was the slight extent to which a separatist movement in any one of these localities depended upon or sympathized with a similar movement in any other. The national feeling among the separatists was so slight that the very communities which wished to break off from the Atlantic States were also quite indifferent to the deeds and fates of one another. The only bond among them was their tendency to break loose from the Central Government. The settlers on the banks of the Cumberland felt no particular interest in the struggle of those on the head-waters of the Tennessee to establish the State of Franklin; and the Kentuckians were indifferent to the deeds of both. In a letter written in 1788 to the Creek Chief McGillivray, Robertson alludes to the Holston men and the Georgians in precisely the language he might have used in speaking of foreign nations. He evidently took as a matter of course their waging war on their own account against, and making peace with, the Cherokees and Creeks, and betrayed little concern as to the outcome, one way or the other.

Robertson's Letter to MacGillivray.

In this same letter, [Footnote: Robertson MSS., James Robertson to Alexander McGillivray, Nashville, Aug. 3, 1788.] Robertson frankly set forth his belief that the West should separate from the Union and join some foreign power, writing: "In all probability we can not long remain in our present state, and if the British, or any commercial nation which may be in possession of the Mississippi, would furnish us with trade and receive our produce, there cannot be a doubt but the people on the west side of the Apalachian mountains will open their eyes to their real interests." At the same time Sevier was writing to Gardoqui, offering to put his insurrectionary State of Franklin, then at its last gasp, under the protection of Spain. [Footnote: Gardoqui MSS., Sevier to Gardoqui, Sept. 12, 1788.]

British Intrigue.

Robertson spoke with indifference as to whether the nation with which the Southerners allied themselves should happen to be Spain or Britain. As a matter of fact, most of the intrigues carried on were with or against Spain; but in the fall of 1788 an abortive effort was made by a British agent to arouse the Kentuckians against both the Spaniards and the National Government, in the interest of Great Britain. This agent was Conolly, the unsavory hero of Lord Dunmore's war. He went to Louisville, visited two or three prominent men, and laid bare to them his plans. As he met with no encouragement whatever, he speedily abandoned his efforts, and when the people got wind of his design they threatened to mob him, while the officers of the Continental troops made ready to arrest him if his plans bore fruit, so that he was glad to leave the country. [Footnote: Do. Gardoqui to Florida Blanca, Jan. 12, 1789, inclosing a letter from Col. George Moreau. See Green, p. 300. Also State Dept. MSS., No. 150, vol. iii., St. Clair to John Jay, Dec. 15, 1788. This letter and many others of St. Clair are given in W. H. Smith's "St. Clair Papers." VOL III-9]

Other Separatist Movements.

These movements all aimed at a complete independence, but there were others which aimed merely at separation from the parent States. The efforts of Kentucky and Franklin in this direction must be treated by themselves; those that were less important may be glanced at in passing. The people in western Virginia, as early as the spring of 1785, wished to erect themselves into a separate State, under Federal authority. Their desire was to separate from Virginia in peace and friendship, and to remain in close connection with the Union. A curious feature of the petition which they forwarded to the Continental Congress, was their proposition to include in the new State the inhabitants of the Holston territory, so that it would have taken in what is now West Virginia proper, [Footnote: State Dept. MSS., Memorials, etc., No. 48, Thos. Cumings, on behalf of the deputies of Washington County, to the President of Congress, April 7, 1785.] and also eastern Tennessee and Kentucky.

The originators of this particular movement meant to be friendly with Virginia, but of course friction was bound to follow. The later stages of the agitation, or perhaps it would be more correct to say the agitations, that sprang out of it, were marked by bitter feelings between the leaders of the movement and the Virginia authorities. Finding no heed paid to their requests for separation, some of the more extreme separatists threatened to refuse to pay taxes to Virginia; while the Franklin people proposed to unite with them into a new State, without regard to the wishes of Virginia or of North Carolina. Restless Arthur Campbell was one of the leaders of the separatists, and went so far as to acknowledge the authorship of the "State of Franklin," and to become one of its privy councillors, casting off his allegiance to the Virginian Government. [Footnote: Va. State Papers, IV., pp. 5, 31, 32, 75, etc.] However, the whole movement soon collapsed, the collapse being inevitable when once it became evident that the Franklin experiment was doomed to failure.

Gradoqui's Residence in the United States.

The West was thus seething with separatist agitations throughout the time of Gradoqui's residence as Spanish Envoy in America; and both Gardoqui and Miro, who was Governor of Louisiana all through these years, entered actively into intrigues with the more prominent separatist leaders.

Miro and Navarro.

Miro was a man of some ability, and Martin Navarro, the Spanish Intendant of Louisiana, possessed more; but they served a government almost imbecile in its fatuity. They both realized that Louisiana could be kept in possession of Spain only by making it a flourishing and populous province, and they begged that the Spanish authorities would remove the absurd commercial restrictions which kept it poor. But no heed was paid to their requests, and when they ventured to relax the severity of the regulations, as regards both the trade down the Mississippi and the sea-trade to Philadelphia, they were reprimanded and forced to reverse their policy. This was done at the instance of Gardoqui, who was jealous of the Louisiana authorities, and showed a spirit of rivalry towards them. Each side believed, probably with justice, that the other was influenced by corrupt motives.

Miro and Navarro were right in urging a liberal commercial policy. They were right also in recognizing the Americans as the enemies of the Spanish power. They dwelt on the peril, not only to Louisiana but to New Mexico, certain to arise from the neighborhood of the backwoodsmen, whom they described as dangerous alike because of their poverty, their ambition, their restlessness, and their recklessness. [Footnote: Guyarré, p. 190. He was the first author who gave a full account of the relations between Miro and Wilkinson, and of the Spanish intrigues to dissever the West from the Union.] They were at their wits' ends to know how to check these energetic foes. They urgently asked for additional regular troops to increase the strength of the Spanish garrison. They kept the creole militia organized. But they relied mainly on keeping the southern Indians hostile to the Americans, on inviting the Americans to settle in Louisiana and become subjects of Spain, and on intriguing with the western settlements for the dissolution of the Union. The Kentuckians, the settlers on the Holston and Cumberland, and the Georgians were the Americans with whom they had most friction and closest connection. The Georgians, it is true, were only indirectly interested in the navigation question; but they claimed that the boundaries of Georgia ran west to the Mississippi, and that much of the eastern bank of the great river, including the fertile Yazoo lands, was theirs.

Spaniards Incite the Indians to War.

The Indians naturally sided with the Spaniards against the Americans; for the Americans were as eager to seize the possessions of Creek and Cherokee as they were to invade the dominions of the Catholic King. Their friendship was sedulously fostered by the Spaniards. Great councils were held with them, and their chiefs were bribed and flattered. Every effort was made to prevent them from dealing with any traders who were not in the Spanish interest; New Orleans, Natchez, Mobile, and Pensacola were all centres for the Indian trade. They were liberally furnished with arms and munitions of war. Finally the Spaniards deliberately and treacherously incited the Indians to war against the Americans, while protesting to the latter that they were striving to keep the savages at peace. In answer to protests of Robertson, setting forth that the Spaniards were inciting the Indians to harry the Cumberland settlers, both Miro and Gardoqui made him solemn denials. Miro wrote him, in 1783, that so far from assisting the Indians to war, he had been doing what he could to induce McGillivray and the Creeks to make peace, and that he would continue to urge them not to trouble the settlers. [Footnote: Robertson MSS., Miro to Robertson, New Orleans, April 20, 1783.] Gardoqui, in 1788, wrote even more explicitly, saying that he was much concerned over the reported outrages of the savages, but was greatly surprised to learn that the settlers suspected the Government of Spain of fomenting the warfare, which, he assured Robertson, was so far from the truth that the King was really bent on treating the United States in general, and the West in particular, with all possible benevolence and generosity. [Footnote: Gardoqui MSS., Gardoqui to "Col. Elisha Robeson" of Cumberland, April 18, 1788.] Yet in 1786, midway between the dates when these two letters were written, Miro, in a letter to the Captain-General of the Floridas, set forth that the Creeks, being desirous of driving back the American frontiersmen by force of arms, and knowing that this could be done only after bloodshed, had petitioned him for fifty barrels of gunpowder and bullets to correspond, and that he had ordered the Governor of Pensacola to furnish McGillivray, their chief, these munitions of war, with all possible secrecy and caution, so that it should not become known. [Footnote: Do., Miro to Galvez, June 28, 1786, "que summistrase estas municiones a McGillivray Jefe principal to las Talapuches con toda la reserve y cantata posible de modo que ne se transiendiese la mano de este socorro."] The Governor of Pensacola shortly afterwards related the satisfaction the Creeks felt at receiving the powder and lead, and added that he would have to furnish them additional supplies from time to time, as the war progressed, and that he would exercise every precaution so that the Americans might have no "just cause of complaint." [Footnote: Do., "sera necessaria la mayor precaucion, y ma?a para contenerle ci?endose à la suministracion de polvora, balas y efectos de treta con la cantata posible para no dar a los Americanos justos motivos de gueya."] There is an unconscious and somewhat gruesome humor in this official belief that the Americans could have "no just cause" for anger so long as the Spaniards' treachery was concealed.

Spanish Duplicity.

Throughout these years the Spaniards thus secretly supplied the Creeks with the means of waging war on the Americans, claiming all the time that the Creeks were their vassals and that the land occupied by the southern Indians generally belonged to Spain and not to the United States. [Footnote: Do.] They also kept their envoys busy among the Chickasaws, Choctaws, and even the Cherokees.

In fact, until the conclusion of Pinckney's treaty, the Spaniards of Louisiana pursued as a settled policy this plan of inciting the Indians to war against the Americans. Generally they confined themselves to secretly furnishing the savages with guns, powder, and lead, and endeavoring to unite the tribes in a league; but on several occasions they openly gave them arms, when they were forced to act hurriedly. As late as 1794 the Flemish Baron de Carondelet, a devoted servant of Spain, and one of the most determined enemies of the Americans, instructed his lieutenants to fit out war parties of Chickasaws, Creeks, and Cherokees, to harass a fort the Americans had built near the mouth of the Ohio. Carondelet wrote to the Home Government that the Indians formed the best defence on which Louisiana could rely. By this time the Spaniards and English realized that, instead of showing hostility to one another, it behooved them to unite against the common foe; and their agents in Canada and Louisiana were beginning to come to an understanding. In another letter Carondelet explained that the system adopted by Lord Dorchester and the English officials in Canada in dealing with the savages was the same as that which he had employed, both the Spaniards and the British having found them the most powerful means with which to oppose the American advance. By the expenditure of a few thousand dollars, wrote the Spanish Governor, [Footnote: Draper Collection, Spanish MSS. State Documents. Baron de Carondelet to Manuel Gayrso de Lemos, Aug. 20, 1794; Carondelet to Duke Alcudia, Sept. 25, 1795; Carondelet's Letter of July 9, 1795; Carondelet's Letter of Sept. 27, 1793. These Spanish documents form a very important part of the manuscripts in the Library of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. I was able to get translations of them through the great courtesy of Mr. Reuben Gold Thwaites, the Secretary of the Society, to whom I must again render my acknowledgments for the generosity with which he has helped me.] he could always rouse the southern tribes to harry the settlers, while at the same time covering his deeds so effectually that the Americans could not point to any specific act of which to complain.

Spanish Fear of the Americans.

There was much turbulence and some treachery exhibited by individual frontiersmen in their dealings with Spain, and the Americans of the Mississippi valley showed a strong tendency to win their way to the mouth of the river and to win the right to settle on its banks by sheer force of arms; but the American Government and its authorized representatives behaved with a straightforward and honorable good faith which offered a striking contrast to the systematic and deliberate duplicity and treachery of the Spanish Crown and the Spanish Governors. In truth, the Spaniards were the weakest, and were driven to use the pet weapons of weakness in opposing their stalwart and masterful foes. They were fighting against their doom, and they knew it. Already they had begun to fear, not only for Louisiana and Florida, but even for sultry Mexico and far-away golden California. It was hard, wrote one of the ablest of the Spanish Governors, to gather forces enough to ward off attacks from adventurers so hardy that they could go two hundred leagues at a stretch, or live six months in the wilderness, needing to carry nothing save some corn-meal, and trusting for everything solely to their own long rifles.

Spaniards Invite Americans to Become Colonists.

Next to secretly rousing the Indians, the Spaniards placed most reliance on intriguing with the Westerners, in the effort to sunder them from the seaboard Americans. They also at times thought to bar the American advance by allowing the frontiersmen to come into their territory and settle on condition of becoming Spanish subjects. They hoped to make of these favored settlers a barrier against the rest of their kinsfolk. It was a foolish hope. A wild and hardy race of rifle-bearing freemen, so intolerant of restraint that they fretted under the slight bands which held them to their brethren, were sure to throw off the lightest yoke the Catholic King could lay upon them, when once they gathered strength. Under no circumstances, even had they profited by Spanish aid against their own people, would the Westerners have remained allied or subject to the Spaniards longer than the immediate needs of the moment demanded. At the bottom the Spaniards knew this, and their encouragement of American immigration was fitful and faint-hearted.

Many Americans, however, were themselves eager to enter into some arrangement of the kind; whether as individual settlers, or, more often, as companies who wished to form little colonies. Their eagerness in this matter caused much concern to many of the Federalists of the eastern States, who commented with bitterness upon the light-hearted manner in which these settlers forsook their native land, and not only forswore their allegiance to it, but bound themselves to take up arms against it in event of war. These critics failed to understand that the wilderness dwellers of that day, to whom the National Government was little more than a name, and the Union but a new idea, could not be expected to pay much heed to the imaginary line dividing one waste space from another, and that, after all, their patriotism was dormant, not dead. Moreover, some of the Easterners were as blind as the Spaniards themselves to the inevitable outcome of such settlements as those proposed, and were also alarmed at the mere natural movement of the population, fearing lest it might result in crippling the old States, and in laying the foundation of a new and possibly hostile country. They themselves had not yet grasped the national idea, and could not see that the increase in power of any one quarter of the land, or the addition to it of any new unsettled territory, really raised by so much the greatness of every American. However, there was one point on which the more far-seeing of these critics were right. They urged that it would be better for the country not to try to sell the public land speedily in large tracts, but to grant it to actual settlers in such quantity as they could use. [Footnote: St. Clair to Jay, Dec. 13, 1788.]

Failure of These Colonization Schemes.

The different propositions to settle large colonies in the Spanish possessions came to naught, although quite a number of backwoodsmen settled there individually or in small bands. One great obstacle to the success of any such movement was the religious intolerance of the Spaniards. Not only were they bigoted adherents of the Church of Rome, but their ecclesiastical authorities were cautioned to exercise over all laymen a supervision and control to which the few Catholics among the American backwoodsmen would have objected quite as strenuously as the Protestants. It is true that in trying to induce immigration they often promised religious freedom, but when they came to execute this promise they explained that it merely meant that the new-comers would not be compelled to profess the Roman Catholic faith, but that they would not be allowed the free exercise of their own religion, nor permitted to build churches nor pay ministers. This was done with the express purpose of weakening their faith, and rendering it easy to turn them from it, and the Spaniards brought Irish priests into the country and placed them among the American settlers with the avowed object of converting them. [Footnote: Guyarre, III., 181, 200, 202.] Such toleration naturally appealed very little to men who were accustomed to a liberty as complete in matters ecclesiastical as in matters civil. When the Spanish authorities, at Natchez, or elsewhere, published edicts interfering with the free exercise of the Protestant religion, many of the settlers left, [Footnote: Va. State Papers, IV., 30.] while in regions remote from the Spanish centres of government the edicts were quietly disobeyed or ignored.

Founding of New Madrid.

One of the many proposed colonies ultimately resulted in the founding of a town which to this day bears the name of New Madrid. This particular scheme originated in the fertile brain of one Col. George Morgan, a native of New Jersey, but long engaged in trading on the Mississippi. He originally organized a company to acquire lands under the United States, but meeting with little response to his proposition from the Continental Congress, in 1788 he turned to Spain. With Gardoqui, who was then in New York, he was soon on a footing of intimacy, as their letters show; for these include invitations to dinner, to attend commencement at Princeton, to visit one another, and the like. The Spainard, a cultivated man, was pleased at being thrown in with an adventurer who was a college graduate and a gentleman; for many of the would-be colonizers were needy ne'er-do-wells, who were anxious either to borrow money, or else to secure a promise of freedom from arrest for debt when they should move to the new country. Morgan's plans were on a magnificent scale. He wished a tract of land as large as a principality on the west bank of the Mississippi. This he proposed to people with tens of thousands of settlers, whom he should govern under the commission of the King of Spain. Gardoqui entered into the plan with enthusiasm, but obstacles and delays of all kinds were encountered, and the dwindling outcome was the emigration of a few families of frontiersmen, and the founding of a squalid hamlet named after the Iberian capital. [Footnote: Gardoqui MSS., Gardoqui to Morgan, Sept. 2, 1788. Morgan to Gardoqui, Aug. 30, 1788. Letters of Sept. 9, 1788, Sept. 12, 1788; Gardoqui to Miro, Oct. 4, 1788, to Floridablanca, June 28, 1789. Letter to Gardoqui, Jan. 22, 1788.]

Clark's Proposal.

Another adventurer who at this time proposed to found a colony in Spanish territory was no less a person than George Rogers Clark. Clark had indulged in something very like piracy at the expense of Spanish subjects but eighteen months previously. He was ready at any time to lead the Westerners to the conquest of Louisiana; and a few years later he did his best to organize a freebooting expedition against New Orleans in the name of the French Revolutionary Government. But he was quite willing to do his fighting on behalf of Spain, instead of against her; for by this time he was savage with anger and chagrin at the indifference and neglect with which the Virginian and Federal Governments had rewarded his really great services. He wrote to Gardoqui in the spring of 1788, boasting of his feats of arms in the past, bitterly complaining of the way he had been treated, and offering to lead a large colony to settle in the Spanish dominions; for, he said, he had become convinced that neither property nor character was safe under a government so weak as that of the United States, and he therefore wished to put himself at the disposal of the King of Spain. [Footnote: Gardoqui MSS., Clark to Gardoqui, Falls of the Ohio, March 15, 1788.] Nothing came of this proposal.

The Proposal of Wilkinson, Brown, and Innes.

Another proposal which likewise came to nothing, is noteworthy because of the men who made it, and because of its peculiar nature. The proposers were all Kentuckians. Among them were Wilkinson, one Benjamin Sebastian, whom the Spaniards pensioned in the same manner they did Wilkinson, John Brown, the Kentucky delegate in Congress, and Harry Innes, the Attorney-General of Kentucky. All were more or less identified both with the obscure separatist movements in that commonwealth, and with the legitimate agitation for statehood into which some of these movements insensibly merged. In the spring of 1789 they proposed to Gardoqui to enter into an agreement somewhat similar to the one he had made with Morgan. But they named as the spot where they wished to settle the lands on the east bank of the Mississippi, in the neighborhood of the Yazoo, and they urged as a reason for granting the lands that they were part of the territory in dispute between Spain and the United States, and that the new settlers would hold them under the Spanish King, and would defend them against the Americans. [Footnote: Gardoqui MSS., Gardoqui to Floridablanca, June 29, 1789.]

This country was claimed by, and finally awarded to, the United States, and claimed by the State of Georgia in particular. It was here that the adventurers proposed to erect a barrier State which should be vassal to Spain, one of the chief purposes of the settlement being to arrest the Americans' advance. They thus deliberately offered to do all the damage they could to their own country, if the foreign country would give them certain advantages. The apologists for these separatist leaders often advance the excuse-itself not a weighty one-that they at least deserved well of their own section; but Wilkinson and his associates proposed a plan which was not only hostile to the interests of the American nation as a whole, but which was especially hostile to the interests of Kentucky, Georgia, and the other frontier communities. The men who proposed to enter into the scheme were certainly not loyal to their country; although the adventurers were not actuated by hostile designs against it, engaging in the adventure simply from motives of private gain. The only palliation-there is no full excuse-for their offence is the fact that the Union was then so loose and weak, and its benefits so problematical, that it received the hearty and unswerving loyalty of only the most far-seeing and broadly patriotic men; and that many men of the highest standing and of the most undoubted probity shared the views on which Brown and Innes acted.

Wilkinson's Advice to the Spaniards.

Wilkinson was bitterly hostile to all these schemes in which he himself did not have a share, and protested again and again to Miro against their adoption. He protested no less strongly whenever the Spanish court or the Spanish authorities at New Orleans either relaxed their vigilant severity against the river smugglers, or for the time being lowered the duties; whether this was done to encourage the Westerners in their hostilities to the East, or to placate them when their exasperation reached a pitch that threatened actual invasion. Wilkinson, in his protests, insisted that to show favors to the Westerners was merely to make them contented with the Union; and that the only way to force them to break the Union was to deny them all privileges until they broke it. [Footnote: Guyarré, iii., 30, 232, etc. Wilkinson's treachery dates from his first visit to New Orleans. Exactly when he was first pensioned outright is not certain; but doubtless he was the corrupt recipient of money from the beginning.] He did his best to persuade the Spaniards to adopt measures which would damage both the East and West and would increase the friction between them. He vociferously insisted that in going to such extremes of foul treachery to his country he was actuated only by his desire to see the Spanish intrigues attain their purpose; but he was probably influenced to a much greater degree by the desire to retain as long as might be the monopoly of the trade with New Orleans.

The Spanish Conspiracy.

The Intendant Navarro, writing to Spain in 1788, dwelt upon the necessity of securing the separation of the Westerners from the old thirteen States; and to this end he urged that commercial privileges be granted to the West, and pensions and honors showered on its leaders. Spain readily adopted this policy of bribery. Wilkinson and Sebastian were at different times given sums of money, small portions of which were doubtless handed over to their own agents and subordinates and to the Spanish spies; and Wilkinson asked for additional sums, nominally to bribe leading Kentuckians, but very possibly merely with the purpose of pocketing them himself. In other words, Wilkinson, Sebastian, and their intimate associates on the one hand, and the Spanish officials on the other, entered into a corrupt conspiracy to dismember the Union.

Wilkinson's Intrigues.

Wilkinson took a leading part in the political agitations by which Kentucky was shaken through out these years. He devoted himself to working for separation from both Virginia and the United States, and for an alliance with Spain. Of course he did not dare to avow his schemes with entire frankness, only venturing to advocate them more or less openly accordingly as the wind of popular opinion veered towards or away from disunion. Being a sanguine man, of bad judgment, he at first wrote glowing letters to his Spanish employers, assuring them that the Kentucky leaders enthusiastically favored his plans, and that the people at large were tending towards them. As time went on, he was obliged to change the tone of his letters, and to admit that he had been over-hopeful; he reluctantly acknowledged that Kentucky would certainly refuse to become a Spanish province, and that all that was possible to hope for was separation and an alliance with Spain. He was on intimate terms with the separatist leaders of all shades, and broached his views to them as far as he thought fit. His turgid oratory was admired in the backwoods, and he was much helped by his skill in the baser kinds of political management. He speedily showed all the familiar traits of the demagogue-he was lavish in his hospitality, and treated young and old, rich and poor, with jovial good-fellowship; so that all the men of loose habits, the idle men who were ready for any venture, and the men of weak character and fickle temper, swore by him, and followed his lead; while not a few straightforward, honest citizens were blinded by his showy ability and professions of disinterestedness. [Footnote: Marshall, I., 245.]

It is impossible to say exactly how far his different allies among the separatist leaders knew his real designs or sympathized with them. Their loosely knit party was at the moment united for one ostensible purpose-that of separation from Virginia. The measures they championed were in effect revolutionary, as they wished to pay no regard to the action either of Virginia herself, or of the Federal Government. They openly advocated Kentucky's entering into a treaty with Spain on her own account. Their leaders must certainly have known Wilkinson's real purposes, even though vaguely. The probability is that they did not, either to him or in their own minds, define their plans with clearness, but awaited events before deciding on a definite policy. Meantime by word and act they pursued a course which might be held to mean, as occasion demanded, either mere insistence upon Kentucky's admission to the Union as a separate State, or else a movement for complete independence with a Spanish alliance in the background.

It was impossible to pursue a course so equivocal without arousing suspicion. In after years many who had been committed to it became ashamed of their actions, and loudly proclaimed that they had really been devoted to the Union; to which it was sufficient to answer that if this had been the case, and if they had been really loyal, no such deep suspicion could have been excited. A course of straightforward loyalty could not have been misunderstood. As it was, all kinds of rumors as to proposed disunion movements, and as to the intrigues with Spain, got afloat; and there was no satisfactory contradiction. The stanch Union men, the men who "thought continentally," as the phrase went, took the alarm and organized a counter-movement. One of those who took prominent part in this counter-movement was a man to whom Kentucky and the Union both owe much: Humphrey Marshall, afterwards a Federalist senator from Kentucky, and the author of an interesting and amusing and fundamentally sound, albeit somewhat rancorous, history of his State. This loyal counter-movement hindered and hampered the separatists greatly, and made them cautious about advocating outright disunion. It was one of the causes which combined to render abortive both the separatist agitations, and the Spanish intrigues of the period.

Gardoqui's Intrigues.

While Miro was corresponding with Wilkinson and arranging for pensioning both him and Sebastian, Gardoqui was busy at New York. His efforts at negotiation were fruitless; for his instructions positively forbade him to yield the navigation of the Mississippi, or to allow the rectification of the boundary lines as claimed by the United States; [Footnote: Gardoqui MSS., Instructions, July 25 and October 2, 1784.] while the representatives of the latter refused to treat at all unless both of these points were conceded. [Footnote: Do., Gardoqui's Letters, June 19, 1786, October 28, 1786, December 5, 1787, July 25, 1788, etc.] Jay he found to be particularly intractable, and in one of his letters he expressed the hope that he would be replaced by Richard Henry Lee, whom Gardoqui considered to be in the Spanish interest. He was much interested in the case of Vermont, [Footnote: Do., May II, 1787.] which at that time was in doubt whether to remain an independent State, to join the Union, or even possibly to form some kind of alliance with the British; and what he saw occurring in this New England State made him for the moment hopeful about the result of the Spanish designs on Kentucky.

Gardoqui was an over-hopeful man, accustomed to that diplomacy which acts on the supposition that every one has his price. After the manner of his kind, he was prone to ascribe absurdly evil motives to all men, and to be duped himself in consequence. [Footnote: John Mason Brown, "Political Beginnings of Kentucky," 138.] He never understood the people with whom he was dealing. He was sure that they could all be reached by underhand and corrupt influences of some kind, if he could only find out where to put on the pressure. The perfect freedom with which many loyal men talked to and before him puzzled him; and their characteristicly American habit of indulging in gloomy forebodings as to the nation's future-when they were not insisting that the said future would be one of unparalleled magnificence-gave him wild hopes that it might prove possible to corrupt them. He was confirmed in his belief by the undoubted corruption and disloyalty to their country, shown by a few of the men he met, the most important of those who were in his pay being an alleged Catholic, James White, once a North Carolina delegate and afterwards Indian agent. Moreover others who never indulged in overt disloyalty to the Union undoubtedly consulted and questioned Gardoqui about his proposals, while reserving their own decision; being men who let their loyalty be determined by events. Finally some men of entire purity committed grave indiscretions in dealing with him. Henry Lee, for instance, was so foolish as to borrow five thousand dollars from this representative of a foreign and unfriendly power; Gardoqui, of course, lending the money under the impression that its receipt would bind Lee to the Spanish interest. [Footnote: Gardoqui MSS., Gardoqui to Floridablanca, December 5, 1787; August 27, 1786; October 25, 1786; October 2, 1789, etc. In these letters White is frequently alluded to as "Don Jaime."]

Madison, Knox, Clinton, and other men of position under the Continental Congress, including Brown, the delegate from Kentucky, were among those who conferred freely with Gardoqui. In speaking with several of them, including Madison and Brown, he broached the subject of Kentucky's possible separation from the Union and alliance with Spain; and Madison and Brown discussed his statements between themselves. So far there was nothing out of the way in Brown's conduct; but after one of these conferences, he wrote to Kentucky in terms which showed that he was willing to entertain Gardoqui's proposition if it seemed advisable to do so.

Brown and His Party Work for Disunion.

His letter, which was intended to be private, but which was soon published, was dated July 10, 1788. It advocated immediate separation from Virginia without regard to constitutional methods, and also ran in part as follows: "In private conferences which I have had with Mr. Gardoqui, the Spanish Minister, I have been assured by him in the most explicit terms that if Kentucky will declare her independence and empower some proper person to negotiate with him, that he has authority and will engage to open the navigation of the Mississippi for the exportation of their produce on terms of mutual advantage. But this privilege never can be extended to them while part of the United States. … I have thought proper to communicate (this) to a few confidential friends in the district, with his permission, not doubting but that they will make a prudent use of the information."

At the outset of any movement which, whatever may be its form, is in its essence revolutionary, and only to be justified on grounds that justify a revolution, the leaders, though loud in declamation about the wrongs to be remedied, always hesitate to speak in plain terms concerning the remedies which they really have in mind. They are often reluctant to admit their purposes unequivocally, even to themselves, and may indeed blind themselves to the necessary results of their policy. They often choose their language with care, so that it may not commit them beyond all hope of explanation or retraction. Brown, Innes, and the other separatist leaders in Kentucky were not actuated by the motives of personal corruption which influenced Wilkinson, Sebastian, and White to conspire with Gardoqui and Miro for the break-up of the Union. Their position, as far as the mere separatist feeling itself was concerned, was not essentially different from that of George Clinton in New York or Sumter in South Carolina. Of course, however, their connection with a foreign power unpleasantly tainted their course, exactly as a similar connection, with Great Britain instead of with Spain, tainted the similar course of action Ethan Allen was pursuing at this very time in Vermont. [Footnote: Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, XI., No. 2, p. 165. Ethan Alien's letter to Lord Dorchester.] In after years they and their apologists endeavored to explain away their deeds and words, and tried to show that they were not disunionists; precisely as the authors of the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions of 1798 and of the resolutions of the Hartford Convention in 1814 tried in later years to show that these also were not disunion movements. The effort is as vain in one case as in the other. Brown's letter shows that he and the party with which he was identified were ready to bring about Kentucky's separation from the Union, if it could safely be done; the prospect of a commercial alliance with Spain being one of their chief objects, and affording one of their chief arguments.

Failure of the Separationist Movements.

The publication of Brown's letter and the boldness of the separatist party spurred to renewed effort the Union men, one of whom, Col. Thomas Marshall, an uncle of Humphrey Marshall and father of the great Chief-Justice, sent a full account of the situation to Washington. The more timid and wavering among the disunionists drew back; and the agitation was dropped when the new National Government began to show that it was thoroughly able to keep order at home, and enforce respect abroad. [Footnote: Letter of Col. T. Marshall, September 11, 1790.]

These separatist movements were general in the West, on the Holston and Cumberland, as well as on the Ohio, during the troubled years immediately succeeding the Revolution; and they were furthered by the intrigues of the Spaniards. But the antipathy of the backwoodsmen to the Spaniards was too deep-rooted for them ever to effect a real combination. Ultimately the good sense and patriotism of the Westerners triumphed; and the American people continued to move forward with unbroken front towards their mighty future.

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