« PrécédentContinuer »
the city of Toledo, was in dispute. The territory was in possession of Michigan in reality, and the Ohio State officials could not interfere. Michigan organized townships and built roads.
But matters came to a crisis over the question of the canal which was to join Miami and Maumee Rivers. Toledo was a rapidly growing village in the disputed territory, and it could gain more advantage from the canal if it was in Ohio. In 1835, Governor Lucas brought the matter before the legislature of Ohio in a special message, and the legislature extended the boundary to the Harris line, and divided the land in controversy into townships. When Mason, Governor of Michigan, learned of the message of Lucas, he prepared for trouble. He ordered out the militia, and, with a force of about a thousand men, encamped in Toledo prepared to resist any invasion of what he considered was Michigan Territory. General Bell and six hundred of the Ohio militia were present to sustain the claims of their State. The two parties were greatly excited and there was a prospect of bloodshed, but the contest was finally settled because of political conditions in Washington. President Jackson did not know what to do, but he knew that an election was approaching and that Illinois and Indiana were interested in the dispute and favored Ohio. He sent commissioners to bring about peace in the district in contention. Congress, in June, 1836, gave the decision of the question to Ohio and admitted Michigan on condition that she accept the decision, but as compensation gave Michigan the lands, later to be so immensely valuable, in the upper peninsula.
SPANISH LOUISIANA AND THE WEST
WHEN the British were victorious on the Plains of Abraham in 1759, the French power in North America came to an end. By the Treaty of Paris, in 1763, France surrendered to Great Britain all her lands east of the Mississippi, excepting the Isle of Orleans at the mouth of the river. In the preceding November, by the Treaty of Peace between France and Spain, the latter country had acquired all the land known by the name of Louisiana, including New Orleans and the island upon which the city stood. In the war, Spain had been an ally of France. During hostilities Havanna had been captured by the British. Havanna was of immense importance to Spain and to regain it, she surrendered Florida to Great Britain and received as compensation from France all the latter's possessions in North America which did not pass to England. The result was that at the outbreak of the Revolution, the North American continent was divided between Spain and Great Britain, with the Mississippi, for nearly its whole length as the boundary line. With the Treaty of Peace, the boundaries of the United States were, naturally, those of the lands won from Great Britain, and the rights in the navigation of the Mississippi, which had belonged to Great Britain by treaty also passed. The treaty of 1763 had guaranteed to the subjects of France and Great Britain the right to free navigation of the Mississippi, in its whole
breadth and length from its source to the sea. Spain objected to a transfer of this right, claiming that it could not be transferred. The reasons why Spain thus turned against her former ally are not difficult to understand. There were already evidences of the future growth of these struggling colonies in the Mississippi Valley; even during the Revolution the emigrants had been coming into the western lands by thousands, and it was evident that the movement would be kept up. These enterprising colonists might prove very troublesome neighbors. It would be better to have the British as neighbors, because they could keep their former colonists in check. It would be still better if there could be a neutral zone, inhabited only by Indians. If the Americans were allowed to come to the Mississippi, they might some day, when their own lands were filled up, look with greedy eyes to the equally fertile lands across the river. One way of stopping their growth was by shutting them out from access to the river. If they could not use that as a way by which their surplus products could be carried to market, then the settlement of the western lands would be very slow and much of the danger would be removed. Undoubtedly there were dreams of a great empire when the gain in America might make up for what Spain had lost in the old world, when the Gulf of Mexico would again be a closed sea under the control of Spain, and the rivers flowing into it open only to those who paid tribute to Spain.
Spain claimed that the United States should extend no farther west than they were allowed to do by the proclamation of 1763, that they should have no territory on Mississippi River and therefore no right to navigate it, and that lands east of the river in which settlements were prohibited should be retained by the British. Even before the signing of the Treaty of Peace, by which the United States obtained all the rights of Great Britain in the Mississippi, there was strong opposition in the south and southwest to the claims of Spain. Settlements had been already made on the Western Waters, and the importance of the right
to navigate the river became evident to settler and statesman alike. The natural outlet for the Central States was
Spain sought in various ways to prevent Americans from living on the lands which she regarded as her own. Many of the massacres among the backwoodsmen were instigated by Spaniards, who furnished the Indians with arms. Perhaps there may have been a hope that, with the help of the Indians, Spain's territory might be extended as far north as Ohio River. But while this warfare was distressing, the outcome was never in doubt. The whites were rapidly filling up the western country, and Indian wars were soon to end in the expulsion or extermination of the aborigines. When the Revolution closed and Spain saw the new nation changed from an ally into a rival by the generous terms granted by Great Britain, she withdrew the privilege of trade and free navigation along the lower Mississippi which had been previously granted. This would have made little difference if the Americans along the bank and branches of the river had been content to remain hunters and trappers, but many of the settlers had become farmers with grain and other bulky commodities to sell, and these could not be carried profitably over the mountains, but with great profit could be floated down the river and exported from New Orleans. The Americans claimed the right to do this by the treaty, but Spain quickly asserted that the boundaries between the United States and Louisiana and the Floridas had not been rightly stated in the treaty, and until they were accurately defined, she would assert her claim to the exclusive control of Mississippi River, and she proposed to exclude boats belonging to the United States from the river while it was under her control. This determination on the part of Spain aroused different feelings in the minds of the Americans according to their geographical location. To the New Englander, especially if he was jealous of the growing strength of these distant settlements, it was not a matter of much importance either way, certainly not enough
to fight about; there was so much land nearer home; this might be a matter of moment in a century or two, but at present there were more important affairs that needed attention. But to the settler just beginning to cultivate his fields on the banks of the Kentucky or the Tennessee it was a matter of vast and immediate concern. If he could not get the right to the ocean in any other way, he would be glad to fight for it. But the right he must have in some way. While affairs were in this condition, the representative of the Spanish court arrived at Philadelphia in the spring of 1783, with a commission to settle the Mississippi matter and negotiate a commercial treaty with America.
Don Diego de Gardoqui was appointed encargado de negocios by the King of Spain with full power to come to some understanding about the disputed navigation of the Mississippi and to settle the question of the boundary between the two nations. Congress appointed John Jay, secretary of foreign affairs, to treat with him. The authorization was later modified so that Mr. Jay was bound to hold to the territorial bounds of the United States and the free navigation of the Mississippi from the source to the ocean as established in the treaties with Great Britain. Jay had no power to conclude any treaty until he had submitted it to Congress and gained the approval of that body. Jay and Gardoqui were unable to come to any conclusion. The Spanish negotiator would not yield to Jay's contention that the United States had a right to the navigation of the Mississippi. Gardoqui held firmly to the position that the Spanish king would not allow any nation to navigate between the two banks belonging to his majesty. He further represented to Congress the importance of peace and good understanding with Spain because the Algerian pirates were in close alliance with Spain, and if the friendly Spanish influence were to be withdrawn the results might be disastrous to American commerce in the Mediterranean. And he added that it was also important for the United States to be on good terms with Spain because Spain was such a large