« PrécédentContinuer »
clearness what ought to be fundamental in a government of free men, and there has been no need of essential changes in their plans even to the present day. No better way has been found for governing dependent territory than that which was discovered by these men.
The confederation was face to face with a new problem. Here was a great extent of country held absolutely by the United States to be governed as they should decide. They had before them the experience of other countries in governing subject territory but they did not follow these examples. They would naturally turn to England as the people with institutions most like their own for guidance in this critical period. But their own experience of England's colonial policy would not give them much help. It had been essentially selfish. The ruling thought suggested by Lord Hillsborough's paper to the Board of Trade had been to use the colonial possessions as a means of enriching the home country, hampering their growth so as to keep them dependent on England. Spain and Portugal, the other colonizing nations, had been even more selfish, so that no help could be found in their experience, except that they gave an example of dangers to be avoided. We must credit these men of the Confederation with a far look into the future. The nation did not care to have dependencies, so as soon as the district was able to take upon itself the duties of self-government it was to be allowed to do so. As soon as they were able they were to be allowed to enter into statehood on an equality with the original States. There were sound reasons for this liberal policy. It was quite evident that the new territory must be peopled by eastern men who were accustomed to liberty. They would not go into new sections unless they were assured of as good government as they enjoyed at home.
These men of the east knew from experience what kind of government they and their neighbors desired. They were educated men, and they wished their children to have a better chance to obtain an education than they had had
themselves. They did not care for a State church, but, realizing that no State would be successful unless it was governed and peopled by God-fearing men, they provided for a freedom of education and religion which did credit to their liberality of thought.
The Ordinance was influential in determining what the character of the population of the Northwest should be, and it was planned from the first that this should be the The government was of such a nature that it would appeal to the people of the north, especially of the northeast. After the ordinance was passed, prospective emigrants from this section knew that they were to live under a government similar to that to which they had been accustomed in Massachusetts or Connecticut, and provided with such safeguards that it would remain essentially a New England government, without the introduction of features which would be obnoxious to them. From the first they could feel that the Northwest Territory was a part of the Union. These first settlers, as their successors have been, were always strongly loyal. The Separatist movement had little influence upon them, although their natural outlet was the Mississippi. They did not flee from the home State because of disorder and mismanagement, as the founders of some of the western settlements had done. Their interests remained identical with those of their old neighbors, who remained in the east. The slavery regulation determined that the section should be peopled from the north rather than from the south. The southerner would not go where he could not employ slave labor, so that the southern emigration was toward the west along the same parallel of latitude, into territory where slavery was admitted.
The best evidence of the wisdom of the Ordinance was the successful way in which it worked. It was not always found to be perfectly clear, and the provisions-notably that of the division into States-were sometimes disregarded, but in time this Territory emerged into States and others were modelled after them.
THE WORK OF THE GREAT LAND COMPANIES
In the colonies there was much of the land hunger which has remained a characteristic feature of American life. The settler in the wilderness laid claim to as much land as he could. If he had no immediate use for it, he could hold it for a future increase in value, confident that there would be such an increase. Land speculation on a large scale held out promise of great wealth, when vast tracts could be bought from the colonies or the Indians for a few cents an acre. A large number of land companies were formed before the Revolution and many more after the rush of settlers to the west commenced, in the decade following the close of the Revolution. Some of the promoters of these companies used unscrupulous methods. False representations of the land to be sold were made and because of them much money was lost by the confiding public. Yet, almost without exception, the originators themselves lost money. They paid very little for the land, it is true, but it was at the best worth very little, on account of its distance from civilization and the great amount of unoccupied land available to all settlers: Often, too, after the purchase price had been paid it was found that the transfer was not legal, either because the Indian title had not been extinguished or because rival colonial land claims made it impossible for anyone to sell the land with a clear title to it.
The treaty of Fort Stanwix gave an impulse to land speculation and to the formation of various land companies
for taking up and settling the territory which it covered. None of these companies were successful, because of the attitude of the British government, which was consistently unfriendly to inland colonies. One of them, however, came very near success. If success had actually been reached there would have been fourteen instead of thirteen colonies at the outbreak of the Revolution. In 1766, Sir William Johnson proposed to Dr. Franklin, then in London, a plan for a new colony and asked his aid in carrying it out. Franklin approved the project, but a change in the ministry made it impossible to accomplish the scheme. A few years later this company was organized with Sir Thomas Walpole, a London banker of prominence, at its head, and in 1772 the company succeeded in obtaining a large tract of land west of the Alleghanies as the place for a colony. The promoter gave the tract the name of Vandalia, but it is generally called, from the name of the leading man in the company, the Walpole Grant. The stock of the company was divided into seventy-two shares. The promoters desired to buy from the Indians the land west of the Alleghanies, south of Ohio River and north of North Carolina-a tract including about two million four hundred thousand acres. For a form of government it was proposed to take the charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The plan was strenuously opposed by Lord Hillsborough, who wrote a report to the Board of Trade. Hillsborough objected to the project because the lands asked for, had, in part, been given to the Indians by treaty. He especially emphasized the fact that such territorial acquisition would be contrary to the policy of the Board of Trade. This policy, as we have seen, was to keep the settlers near to the eastern seaboard, so that they would be within easy control of the Board of Trade and beneficial to the commerce of England. To an allegation that the distance of the proposed colony from the seaboard was so great that supplies could not be transported profitably to the coast, Franklin answered that the actual cost of transportation per hundredweight would be less than