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ware Company," who bought with less formality, the Indian title, from certain chiefs, of all the land, bounded east by Delaware river, within the forty-second degree of latitude, west to the line of the Susquehanna purchase, to wit, ten miles east of that river.
“In May, 1755, a committee of the Susquehanna Company, consisting of Phineas Lyman and others, petitioned the Assembly of Connecticut, reciting their purchase aforesaid of the Indians, and praying the acquiescence of the Assembly, and their consent for an application to his Majesty, to erect them into a new colony or plantation. Whereupon it was, among other things, resolved by the Assembly, that, they accordingly hereby manifest their ready acquiescence therein,” etc. During the same year, the Company sent surveyors to begin the laying out of the land; but the war with the French prevented any actual settlements.”
Two of the three requisites for the acquisition of a perfect title, having, as alleged, been obtained, namely, the Charter Right and Indian Title, the Proprietors next proceeded to add the third, by taking possession of the soil.
So early as 1757, a settlement was commenced by the Delaware Company at Coshutunk, to establish a colony on the Delaware river, which flourished for several years, having in 1760, thirty dwelling houses, a block-house for defence, with a grist-mill and saw-mill. A previous attempt to establish a colony, made by people of Connecticut, in 1670, at the Minissinks, was almost immediately abandoned, the Indian title not having been extinguished ; and the fact is thought worthy of preservation, chiefly as it proves the opinion, then existing, that the Charter, passing over New York, was in full force west of that province.
We have, before, recorded the attempted settlement in 1762, at Wyoming, and the massacre the year following. In 1769, the settlement was renewed, and with various interruptions, rendered permanent.
The adverse claim of Pennsylvania we shall endeavour to set forth with equal precision and fairness. To do so, we copy “ The Statement and Representation" of Messrs. Bradford, Reed, Wilson, and Sargeant, agents, on the part of the State, at the Trenton trial.
“ To the Honorable the Commissioners and Judges, appointed to hear and finally determine the controversy subsisting between the State of Pennsylvania and the State of Connecticut. The Agents of the State of Pennsylvania beg leave, humbly, to state and represent in behalf of the said State,
“Ist. That king Charles the Second, then king of Great Britain, on the 4th day of March, in the year of our Lord, 1681, by bis letters patent, dated on the same day and year aforesaid, did grant to William Penn, the first proprietary and governor of Pennsylvania, his heirs and assigns, .all that tract or part of land in America, with the islands therein contained, as the same is bounded on the east by Delaware river, from twelve miles distance northward of Newcastle town, unto the three and fortieth degree of northern latitude, if the said river doth extend so far northward ; but if the said river shall not extend so far northward, then by the said river so far as it doth extend, and from the head of the said river the eastern bounds are to be determined by a meridian line to be drawn from the head of the said river unto the said forty-third degree; the said land to extend westward five degrees in longitude, to be computed from the said eastern bounds; and the said lands to be bounded on the north by the beginning of the three and fortieth degree of northern latitude, and on the south by a circle drawn at twelve miles distance from Newcastle, northward and westward unto the beginning of the fortieth degree of northern latitude, and then by a straight line westward to the limits of longitude above mentioned.' By which letters patent the jurisdiction and right of government within the limits aforesaid, and also the right of soil were conveyed, and under which Pennsylvania hath been held, settled and possessed.
“ 2d. That the said William Penn, and the succeeding proprietaries of Pennsylvania, at different periods, purchased from the native Indians their right of soil within different districts of the limits aforesaid, and received deeds of them for the same, and particularly on the 25th day of October, in the year of our Lord, 1736, the said Indians conveyed to Thomas Penn and Richard Penn, the then proprietaries of Pennsylvania, the full and absolute right of pre-emption of, and in all the lands not before sold by them to the said proprietaries, within the limits aforesaid.
“3d. That the southern bounds of Pennsylvania, so far as the same adjoins on Maryland, have been long since settled ; and the same, so far as the State adjoins upon Virginia, have also been settled by a line, called Mason and Dixon's line, continued to the end of five degrees of longitude from the river Delaware; that the northern bounds have always been deemed to extend to the end of the fortysecond degree, where the figures 42 are marked on the map, the river Delaware being found to extend so far north, and farther; that the said river, pursuing the east or main branch thereof above the forks at Easton, hath ever been deenied to be one boundary of Penn
sylvania, from twelve miles above Newcastle, on the said river, to the said end of the forty-second degree, and that a straight line, from thence to the place where the same shall intersect another straight line, drawn from the end of the said southern line of boundary of Pennsylvania, commonly called Mason and Dixon's line, continued to the extent of five degrees of longitude from the river Delaware, is another boundary of the said State of Pennsylvania.
“4th. That the late province of Pennsylvania, on the 4th day of July, in the year of our Lord, 1776, did join with the other twelve late provinces, now States, in the declaration of independence, and soon after established a Constitution and Government, founded on the authority of the people, which they continue still to exercise and enjoy; and they did also join in the Articles of Confederation of the United States; and that being so independent and sovereign, on the 27th day of November, in the year of our Lord, 1779, they did by an act of their Legislature, consisting of the representatives of the freemen of the said Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in General Assembly met, duly made and passed according to the directions of their frame of government, vest the right of soil and estate of the late proprietaries of Pennsylvania in the said Commonwealth ; and that by means thereof, and of the several matters and things herein before set forth, the said Commonwealth, or State of Pennsylvania, is entitled to the right of jurisdiction, and right of soil, within all the limits aforesaid.”
The charter of Pennsylvania, was, therefore, in 1681, nineteen years after that to Connecticut. It would hence appear, that both cover the controverted territory.
The Pennsylvania Agents do not set forth a conveyance of the land from the Natives; but a deed of pre-emption, or the promise to convey at some future time.
No settlement or possession is alleged.
From this fair and candid statement of the facts in the case, we infer, confidently, and claim for Connecticut, and the early settlers, this verdict :—That, without deciding the nice question of absolute right, the reasons of the case were so strong in favour of Connecticut, that intelligent and honorable men may have regarded her title so far just—that the Susquehanna and Delaware Companies, and the settlers under them, may have felt warranted in taking possession of the lands, and defending them by all fair and lawful means, until legally dispossessed by a solemn judicial decision.
So much for the outline. In our next we shall proceed to more minute, but we trust, not uninteresting particulars.
A more detailed view of the controversy - Objections to the Connecticut Claim by Charter Intervening settlements of the Dutcb-Dividing line between New York and Connecticut-Letter of King Charles-Final adjustment of that line, and plausible inferenceGov. Penn-Pratt (British Attorney General's) opinion-Col. Dyer sent to EnglandCounter opinions of Wedderburne, Thurlow, Jackson and Dunning-Powerful argument of a known, but nameless American-Rev. Dr. Smith-Tench Coxe Esq.
In the preceding letter we have endeavored to present a brief but clear exhibit of the titles respectively of Pennsylvania and Connecticut. The cursory reader, seeking amusement and studious of novelty, may deem such general view sufficient. But as almost every interesting event in the history of Wyoming, had its origin in these conflicting claims, it seems fitting that a more full and detailed statement should be made of them, than has been attempted by any recent historian.
For half a century the subject occupied no inconsiderable share of public attention; engaged the pens of many a ready writer, and enlisted on one side or the other, both in England and America, the best talent and the ablest counsel that a popular controversy, embracing millions in value, or liberal retaining fees could command. Every weapon of party warfare was employed with zeal. The newspaper paragraph, the eloquent debate, the Legislative protest, elaborate essays, and numerous pamphlets now before me, show the interest and ability which the contest awakened. If the matter itself be regarded as dry and forbidding, we can promise some relief from enlisening incident, more from studied brevity, and most from the assurance that this and the succeeding letter, are indispensable to a just comprehension of the subject.
Shaking then from these multitudinous papers, the venerable dust with which antiquity had shrouded them, we proceed with cheerful alacrity to our task.
It was objected : 1st. That the Crown must have been deceived, and the Connecticut Charter could never have been intended to cover so vast an extent of territory as was claimed under it.
In reply it was said—that it embraced no more than the Charter of Massachusetts: That those grants were, for state reasons, purposely extensive. That being made to a numerous company, it was less comparatively than that to Mr. Penn, an individual. That the Colonial Congress at Albany, in 1754, acting in reference to conflicting English and French claims, made a report containing this express recognition, viz: “ The ancient colonies of the Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut, were by their respective charters made to extend to the south sea," which was transmitted by Messrs. Penn, Peters, Norris and Franklin, to the Government in Philadelphia, and entered on the records.
It was objected -2d. That in establishing the county of Litchfield, the act declares it located in the north-west corner of the colony; acknowledging, therefore, that the charter extended no further west; or that, if before the charter had greater limits, this was a waver of all claim beyond the bounds assigned to Litchfield.
In answer it was said : That the relinquishment of so important an interest could not, by any fairness, be predicated upon an expression, so manifestly in relation to the great question of charter bounds, inconsiderate and inapplicable. That if a farmer had a plantation half a mile wide, east and west, and two miles long, north and south-100 acres on one end in cultivated fields—the rest a wilderness--were he, in a lease, to speak of the most distant cleared field adjoining the forest, as the outer limits of his farm, no one would assume it as an abandonment of what lay beyond, being fourfifths of his whole estate. The construction would be forced and unnatural. And indeed it was maintained that the absurdity of such plea was evidence that no sufficiently valid objection existed, or one so preposterous would not be urged.
3d. A far more grave and weighty objection next presents itself for consideration ; which was carried up before the king in council, and engaged the first talents on the stage of action at that period, distinguished for eminent legal abilities. Platt, afterwards Earl Camden; Wedderburne, afterwards Lord Loughborough, Thurlow, Dunning and Jackson, gave opinions upon the point.
The early settlements upon Hudson river by the Dutch from New York to Albany, are presumed to be familiar to the reader. On the west, the claims of the Dutch were clearly defined, the Delaware