« AnteriorContinuar »
in the description, that the grant extends, “ throughout the main lands from the western ocean to the south sea.”
Next in order we come to the Connecticut charter. In 1630 the Earl of Warwick, president of the Plymouth council, received a grant of a large tract of land, which he conveyed to Lord Say and Seal, Lord Brook and others, after having obtained the king's charter of confirmation. His deed is dated March 19, 1631, and the following is a copy of the descriptive part: “All that part of New England in America, which lies and extends itself from a river, there called Narragansett river, the space of forty leagues upon a straight line near the shore, towards the southwest, west and by south, or west, as the coast lieth, towards Virginia, accounting three English miles to the league; and also, all and singular the lands and hereditaments whatsoever, lying and being within the lands aforesaid, north and south in latitude and breadth, and in length and longitude, of and within all the breadth aforesaid, throughout the main lands there, from the western ocean to the south sea, and all lands and grounds, place and places, soil, wood and woods, grounds and havens, ports, creeks and rivers, waters, fishings and hereditaments whatsoever, lying within the said space, and every part and parcel thereof; and also all islands lying in America aforesaid, in the said seas, or either of them, on the western or eastern coasts, or parts of the said tracts of lands, by these presents mentioned to be given, granted,” etc.
Again it will be observed that the words of description expressly include " the main lands from the western ocean to the south sea."
This grant having been partially settled, an association, under the name of the colony of Connecticut, purchased out the right of Lord Say and Seal, Lord Brook, and others, for 16,000 pounds sterling. In 1662, April 20, king Charles the 2nd renewed and confirmed the charter, distinctly recognizing the territory as part and parcel of the old Plymouth grant, set off and allotted according to national policy and the royal will. As this is the Connecticut charter proper, we quote the descriptive words.“ To the Governor and company of the English colony of Connecticut, in New England, in America,” with certain privileges and powers of government; and “granted and confirmed to the said Governor and company, and their successors, all that part of our dominions in New England, in America, bounded on the east by Narragansett river, commonly called Narragansett bay, where the said river falleth into the sea; and on the north, by the line of the Massachusetts Plantation; and on the south, by the sea; and in longitude, as the Massachusetts colony, running from east to west, that is to say, from the said Narragansett bay, on the east, to the south sea, on the west part, with the islands thereunto adjoining, together with all firm lands, soils, grounds, havens, ports, rivers, waters, fishings, mines, minerals, precious stones, quarries, and all and singular other commodities, jurisdictions, royalties, privileges, franchises, pre-eminences, and hereditaments whatsoever, within the said tract, bounds, lands, and islands aforesaid, or to them or any of them belonging: To have and to hold the same unto the said Governor and company, their successors and assigns, forever, upon trust; and for the use and benefit of themselves and their associates, freemen of the said colony, their heirs and assigns."
A third time it will strike the reader, the descriptive words distinctly mention, “from the said Narragansett bay on the east, to the south sea on the west.” More particularly is attention directed to the repetition of those words, because Mr. Stone quotes a somewhat recent opinion of Col. Pickering, “ that in early times the continent was (probably) supposed to be of comparatively little breadth." In respect to an opinion from authority so respectable we may observe,
Ist. That several of the Southern colonial charters were also bounded westerly by the south sea. 2nd. A boundary used and repeated many times, for more than fifty years, by a government so intelligent in maritime affairs, and consequently of the position of the ocean's shores, it would be an unwarrantable presumption to suppose them ignorant of. 3rd. That Col. Pickering having removed to Wyoming, as a Pennsylvanian, and suffered violence from the Connecticut settlers, would be little apt to form an impartial opinion on any point connected with the dispute. 4th. And more important, the great extent of those early grants, was matter of profound policy, thereby to appropriate as much of the continent as possible, a settlement on one part of the grant being claimed as possession of the whole, by such means strengthening the claim of England against that of France, or any other nation. It is moreover asserted by Avery, I know not on what authority, that at the time of the Connecticut charter, the distance from the Atlantic ocean to the south sea was spoken of in public documents as about three thousand miles.
A grave question here presents itself. Why, on each new grant growing out of the Plymouth Company's charter, did the Crown renew the conveyance, and issue a new charter ? was it claimed or admitted that the crown could resume its grants at pleasure ?--Certainly not. All the rights of soil and property passed by grants from the proprietors; but the powers of government were considered of a nature so sacred, that they could only be derived directly from the king. It was held, that to assign the powers of government was to relinquish them.
Hence the uniform opinion existed, where mere territory was sold, that a deed from the proprietors was sufficient. Where a new colony, with powers of government was to be established, a release was made to the crown, and a new charter granted, yet expressly recognizing the rights of, and confirming the conveyance from those who had derived title from the old Plymouth Company.
In the Connecticut Charter, it will be noted that no exception in terms is made of lands “actually possessed or inhabited by any other christian power or State,” yet the exception in the patent, or old Plymouth Charter was supposed sufficient, and held to govern in all grants growing out of it. The descriptive words of the charter, east, north and west, are clear and explicit-Narragansett river on the east; on the north by the Massachusetts Plantation—a well established boundary; being the ending of the 42nd, and beginning of the 43rd degree of latitude-on the west the south sea.” It will be seen hereafter that good use was made by England in her negotiations with France, of these extensive charter boundaries, as pres. cient sagacity contemplated, when the grants were originally made. How far south the southern line would have run if accurately defined, it is not necessary here to inquire. A degree of latitude was claimed.—That these boundaries included Wyoming, has never, that we are aware of, been controverted.
The colony of Connecticut then, claimed west of Delaware river the forty-second degree of latitude, west, until bounded by the south sea. The territory east of the Delaware within that parallel of latitude to the line dividing New York and Connecticut, being in possession of the Dutch when her charter was granted, was of course excepted out of the grant.
In that part of America claimed by England, three requisites were demanded to render title to lands perfect.–First,-a grant or charter from the king ;-Secondly,-a purchase of the soil from the Indians ;—Thirdly, possession. Having exhibited the Connecticut claim by charter, we proceed briefly to examine their title by purchase of the natives.
In 1754 a Congress of Delegates, from a number of the British colonies was called, with the approbation of the Crown, to assemble at Albany, to hold a conference with the Six Nations of Indians, and consult together of the general welfare. That Pennsylvania was fully and ably represented, will be seen when we state that her delegation consisted of John Penn, Isaac Norris, Benjamin Franklin, and Richard Peters.
The preceding year, 1753, a number of persons had united, with a view to purchase the Indian title, within the charter limits of the colony of Connecticut, on the waters of the Susquehanna.
The persons so uniting were styled “ The Connecticut Susquehanna. Company,” and consisted, at first, of eight hundred and forty persons, including a large proportion of the leading men of the colony. Afterwards the number of proprietors was augmented to twelve hundred. It may be regarded as an unofficial popular movement of the colony itself.—Meaning fairly, they proceeded openly. That a time should have been selected for the negotiation and purchase, when so large an assembly of delegates had convened, would seem to evince consciousness of right and fairness of purpose. In error they might have been; ignorant or stupid they were not; and yet to suppose they selected the time of such a public meeting, to make clandestinely a fraudulent Treaty with the Six Nations of Indians, would be the imputation of unexampled folly.
During the session of this Congress, under the eye of the Pennsylvania Delegation, a treaty with the Indians, the acknowledged proprietors of the territory, was executed, dated July 11, 1754, and a purchase of land made. “After describing the grantors, and their right and authority, as chiefs, sachems and heads of the Five Nations, and the native proprietors of the land, and that the same lies within the limits of the Royal Charter to Connecticut; mentioning the application of the grantees being subjects of king George the Second, and inhabitants of Connecticut, and expressing the good understanding which had mutually subsisted between the parties, their wish for its continuance, and the benefits which would result from a settlement on the premises, the deed contains these words :• Now, thereupon, for and in consideration thereof, and for the further, full and ample consideration of the sum of two thousand pounds of current money, of the province of New York, to us, to our full satisfaction, before the ensealing hereof, contented and paid, the receipt whereof, to our full content, we do hereby acknowledge; thereupon do give, grant, bargain, sell, convey, and confirm to,' etc. (Here follow the names of the grantees, etc.) “Which said given and granted tract of land is butted, bounded and described as followeth, viz.—Beginning from the one and fortieth degree of north latitute, at ten miles distance east of Susquehanna river, and from thence, with a northerly line ten miles east of the river, to the fortysecond, or beginning of the forty-third degree of north latitude, and to extend west two degrees of longitude, one hundred and twenty miles, and from thence south to the beginning of the forty-second degree, and from thence east to the aforementioned bounds, which is ten miles east of the Susquehanna river, together with all and every the mines, etc., and all other the hereditaments, etc., to have and to hold the above granted and bargained premises, etc., to them and to their heirs and assigns forever," etc. There are also the usual covenants of seizin and warranty."
The deed was signed by eighteen chief sachems of the Six Nations. It is stated that the consideration money was counted out in the stoop of Col. Lydius, agent and interpreter for the Company, taken by the Indians in a blanket, in open day, into an orchard, and there divided among them. The Rev. Mr. Heckewelder states, that one principal reason given by the Christian Indians, at Wyalusing, for wishing to remove to the Ohio was, that the Six Nations had sold the lands they resided on, to the New England people. The Rev. Samuel Kirkland, a missionary to the Six Nations, in an affidavit taken on the subject, some years after; “ deposeth, that soon after he came to reside among the five confederate nations of Indians, which was in 1765, an Indian chief with whom he resided near two years in the Seneca country, told him that the Five Nations (or Six Nations as they were then styled,) had sold a large tract of land on the Susquehanna, or Wyoming, to the New England people, and had received a large sum of money for it; and that one Lydius, of Albany, was concerned in the purchase, as interpreter or principal agent. This information, with many other transactions of a similar nature, the said deponent received from the Indians, at their own voluntary motion, while they were giving him an historical account of their country, and various negotiations of the white people. The same account of the Susquehanna purchase, and others similar to it, the deponent has frequently heard related by different Indians of the Five Nations, having resided in their territory for near thirty years, and scarce ever absent from them more than three months at a time, during that term; and never, to his remembrance, heard any of the said Indians complain of said purchase."
Subsequently to the Susquehanna Company's purchase; a second association of persons took place in Connecticut, styled “The Dela