Images de page
PDF
ePub

principally by Virginians. It was Virginian in sympathies and characteristics, except that there was no slavery. The people were Episcopalian in religion and in general brought in customs more like those of their English ancestors than any of the other settlers in Ohio.

The Ohio Company's district, with Marietta as the centre, was strongly permeated by New England influences. There were striking differences between these descendants of the Puritans and the children of the Cavaliers in the Virginian section; both were strongly English, but English institutions had attained their development in the one case differently from the other. In their religion, too, the differences were also marked, the Marietta people being strongly influenced by New England Congregationalism.

The part of Ohio nearest the Pennsylvania line was settled by people from that State of distinctive characteristics. Some of these settlers were Quakers, the descendants of those who had come over with Penn. Others were the descendants of Germans who had been later comers to Penn's colony, and they carried into Ohio the language and peculiarities of the Pennsylvania Dutch. The Germans were not an important element numerically.

In the northeast of Ohio was the Western Reserve, owned and settled by Connecticut, and thoroughly like its parent State in almost every way; so that the Western Reserve was appropriately called New Connecticut.

The section which became the States of Indiana and Illinois extended north and south four hundred miles, with the northern part in the latitude of New England, and the southern reaching well into slave territory. In the north the settlers were largely from New England and New York. Often men of wealth and generally of thrift, they made good use of the natural advantages of their location and built up prosperous communities. Much of the rapid growth of Illinois and Indiana in commerce, agriculture, and manufacturing is due to the wise use which these early pioneers made of their opportunities.

Southern Illinois and Indiana had a population made up of French, Pennsylvania Dutch, a few Scotch-Irish and some Germans, but the great majority of them were native Americans from the Southern States, especially Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia. There were scattered families from New York and New England, but their lives were not happy, because their neighbors from the South looked upon them with contempt and did not consider them fit persons for associates. They were regarded as mean and crafty and were continually under suspicion. Many of the immigrants from the South had come north of the Ohio, partly because of the desire to try their fortunes in a new country, and partly because they were very poor and had no manual labor in Kentucky and Tennessee; they hoped to escape here the humiliation of being "poor white trash." They formed a more or less transient class. Many of these men lived by hunting and fishing, and when they found that their circumstances did not improve, or the population became too dense, they moved on.

In addition to this less desirable Southern element there were men from the South opposed to slavery, who had come to southern Illinois and Indiana because they could here find fertile lands in a congenial climate. These men made up a permanent element in the population. They were small farmers or merchants, living, like the early settlers in Kentucky, in cabins of one or two rooms, and, when not on isolated farms, gathering in little villages of from twenty to two hundred people.

There were also a few of the southern immigrants who had not been slaveholders but wished to become such. They were generally careless, desirous of having a good time, despising the thrifty Yankee settler in the north and in turn were despised by him. The differences between north and south were therefore very strongly marked, and when there was a demand for the expenditure of money for improvements in the north, there was opposition from the south for fear that it might bring in more Yankees.

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Proclamation of Winthrop Sargent, acting as governor of the Ter

ritory of the United States northwest of Ohio River.

in the collection of Colonel C. M. Burton, of Detroit.

From the original

The views of these southern settlers on the slavery question, as we have already seen, differed in a marked degree from their fellow citizens in the northern parts of the same States.

These pioneers had entered the Northwest for the purpose of bettering their condition. They had been impoverished by the Revolution and hoped to gain a comfortable living on the fertile lands of the West. Before them were the usual pioneer hardships and the dangers which come to those who blaze the way into an unknown country. Some of these men were well educated, men of refinement and culture in the East, but, surrounded by the wilderness in which they had made their new home, there was danger that they might themselves become careless of the better things of life with all their finer instincts stifled in the hard struggle for subsistence. If their early training enabled them to overcome this danger, there was a probability that their children might retrograde in culture, but neither of these calamities occurred. The escape is due to the force of character of the pioneers themselves, and to the civilizing, refining influence of the circuit rider, the settled pastor, and the schoolmaster. With wise foresight, Manasseh Cutler and his fellow statesmen cared for religion and education in the future commonwealth. It is impossible to overestimate the influence of these two forces in laying the foundation of the future prosperity of the Northwest. No one denomination is entitled to all the credit for this work. The first settlers in the Northwest were New England Congregationalists. It might seem that Congregationalism with its flexibility and democracy would be specially fitted for frontier conditions, and that the advantage gained through the early settlement of New England Congregationalists would be followed up; but the members of that old New England sect had so little faith in its adaptability to frontier conditions that they freely gave their men and money for the organization of Presbyterian churches, apparently thinking that Congregationalism was not a workable polity west

« PrécédentContinuer »