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for Detroit, or for the banks of the Mississippi. 95 As early
as the spring of 1776, indeed, Congress did contemplate an
expedition against Detroit. 96 In view of the disaffection
in Illinois, the well-known attitude of the Spanish power
on the Mississippi, and the uncertainty felt about the
Indians, it is not strange that Rocheblave concluded that
his position was undesirable and his task doomed to failure.
In May, 1777, David Abbott, a British commandant,
arrived at Vincennes. 97 He tried to bring order out of
chaos, formed militia companies, and erected a stockade,

90 Colls. III. St. Hist. Lib., II, xxviii ; for his activity in the fur
trade in Illinois see Rept. on Can. Archives, 1886, 509.

91 Colls. III. St. Hist. Lib., II, xxviii, note 2.

92 Houck, op. cit., II, 109.

93 Calendar of Virginia State Papers, II, 675 ; Colls. Ill St. Hist.
Lib., II, xxxv.

94 Butterfield, op. cit., 518-519.

95 Rocheblave to Stuart, 4 July, 1777; Bancroft MSS., N. Y. Pub.
Lib.

98 Journals Cont. Cong., Ford's ed., IV, 373.
47 Butterfield, op. cit., 49 and his authorities.



ILLINOIS UNDER GREAT BRITAIN. 33

known as Fort Sackville. Rocheblave regarded Abbott as
his superior and wanted him to come to Kaskaskia and
assume command as Captain Lord's successor. 98 Abbott
seems to have been welcomed by the French inhabitants of
Vincennes. But the neighboring tribes had been tampered
with by rebel emissaries, and his efforts to secure their
friendship were not very successful." He was unable to
make the necessary presents, and, to save expense, returned
to Detroit in February, I778. 100 On his departure he left
Legras, a French Creole, in command of the Vincennes
militia. 101

While Rocheblave was fearing a rebel attack on Illinois,
British Indian agents in the south were expecting similar
attacks on Pensacola and along the southern Mississippi. 102
When he learned of the expedition of Captain James Will-
ing, who had been sent in the spring of 1778 to attack the
British posts in that quarter, he feared a comprehensive
plan of the enemy to sweep the British power from the Mis-
sissippi valley. A rumor reached him in March that a party
of rebels was building a fort on the lower Ohio. "This
being true," he wrote, "we are on the eve of great events
in this country." 103

98 Mason, Early Chic, and III., 391.

99 Butterfield, op. tit., 50.

100 Mich. P. Colls., IX, 488.

101 Butterfield, op. tit., 50.

102 Ross to Stuart, New Orleans, 5 Mar., 1778, Bancroft MSS.
108 Mason, Early Chic, and III., 409.



CHAPTER III.

THE WESTWARD EXPANSION OF VIRGINIA AND GENESIS OF
THE EXPEDITION OF 1778.

The western claims of Virginia, based on her old charter
of 1609, have been referred to. This charter, it is true, was
revoked in 1624 when Virginia became a royal province,
and all ungranted and unsettled lands in royal provinces
were subject to any disposition which the crown might see
fit to make. 1 Extensive areas, carved out of the territory
included within the boundaries of the grant of 1609, had
been regranted, and removed from the jurisdiction of
Virginia. This was the case with the provinces of Mary-
land, Carolina and Pennsylvania. But the Old Dominion,
though proud of its connection with the crown, cherished
with tenacity the claims which were supposed to be derived
from the charter, and regarded all territory included in the
old grant, except those parts which had been specifically
regranted, as rightfully within its jurisdiction. It was on
this hypothesis that Virginia maintained her claims to the
West before and during the Revolution. 2

In 1720, the General Assembly took the first step, in the
sphere of legislative action, in what may be called the move-
ment of westward expansion. As already explained, the
presence of the French on the Great Lakes and on the Mis-
sissippi aroused interest in the country beyond the moun-
tains. In that year, partly as a measure of defense against
the French, Spotsylvania and Brunswick counties were
established, including passes over the mountains within
their boundaries. 3 In 1734, a division of Spotsylvania was
made by the assembly to take effect the next year. The

1 Osgood, The American Colonies in the Seventeenth Century, III,
91-92.

2 Secret Journals of the Acts and Proceedings of Congress, III,
169; Hening, Statutes at Large, X, 527.

8 Hening, op. at., IV, 77.



WESTWARD EXPANSION OF VIRGINIA. 35

western part was formed into Orange County, which was
bounded on the west by "the utmost limits of Virginia." 4
As early as 1738 settlers from Virginia had crossed the
Blue Ridge. This expansion of settlements was viewed with
favor by the Virginia authorities as tending to safeguard
the frontier. In that year all of Orange extending north,
west and south, beyond the Blue Ridge "to the utmost
limits of Virginia," was separated from the rest and erected
into two counties. The northern was named Frederick,
the southern Augusta. Each was to remain part of Orange
till it contained a sufficient number of inhabitants to warrant
the appointment of justices of the peace and the creation
of county courts. 5 As has been shown, the proclamation
of 1763 temporarily forbade settlements beyond the Alle-
ghanies. But in 1770, by the Treaty of Lochabor, the line
of permitted settlements was extended to the Kanawha.
Beyond this river, however, the British government refused
to permit the frontiers to be advanced. 6 Nevertheless in
1769 the 'Virginia Assembly divided Augusta into two
counties, the northern to retain the name of Augusta, while
the southern was called Botetourt County, 7 and settlements
"on the waters of the Mississippi" were mentioned as
lying in Botetourt. These, the assembly declared, would
probably soon be formed into a separate county. 8 Dunmore
himself favored the extension of settlements beyond the
Lochabor line, but his conduct in the matter called forth
a reprimand from the home government. 9 In 1772, Fred-
erick was divided into three counties, known as Frederick,
Berkeley and Dunmore, 10 while Botetourt was curtailed by
the formation of its western part into the county of
Fincastle. 11

4 Ibid., 450.

6 Ibid., V, 78-79.

6 Colls. Mass. Hist. Soc., 4th series, X, 727.

7 Hening, op. cit., VIII, 395-396.

8 Ibid., 398.

* Colls. Mass. Hist. Soc., 4th series, X, 726-727.

10 Hening, op. cit., VIII, 597-598.

11 Ibid., 600.

4



36 TRANSITION IN ILLINOIS.

In the policy of restricting western settlement, Great
Britain was aided by the presence in the country beyond
the mountains of formidable Indian tribes. To the colonists
these furnished a more potent argument against westward
expansion than nullified edicts and unen forcible boundary
lines. Between the Tennessee river and the Gulf of Mexico
were the so-called Appalachian confederacies. Of these,
the two most powerful and most exposed to the white
advance were the Cherokees, dwelling in what is now east-
ern Tennessee, northeastern Alabama and northwestern
Georgia, and the Creeks, their southern neighbors. North-
west of the Ohio dwelt the Algonquin tribes, less civilized
but more warlike than the Cherokees. They were generally
hostile to the southern Indians, and the uninhabited land
between the Ohio and the Tennessee was in dispute between
the two. Before the colonists could cross the mountains
and settle in numbers, the Indian claims had to be
extinguished.

The Treaty of Fort Stanwix was an important event
in the westward expansion of Virginia. Into the country
to which the Six Nations ceded their claims, Virginia
pioneers found their way. The first cabin on the Watauga
is said to have been built in 1769. The first attempt to
colonize Kentucky was made by Daniel Boone in I773, 12
and the following year a settlement was made at Harrods-
burg. The Kentucky country was at this time included in
Fincastle County. Before its settlement could progress,
however, the inevitable conflict between the frontiersmen
and the Indian tribes had to be fought out. In 1772, Hills-
borough expressed the opinion that the extension of settle-
ments beyond the line of 1763 would probably cause a
general Indian war, since the right of the Six Nations to
cede territory south of the Ohio was denied by other
tribes. 13

As early as 1768 persons from the different colonies,
many apparently of dubious character, had made settlements

12 Ranck, "Boonesborough," Filson Club Publications, No. 16, 146.
18 O'Callaghan, op. cit., II, 577.



WESTWARD EXPANSION OF VIRGINIA. 37

on Redstone creek, an affluent of the Monongahela, which
were, of course, in violation of the proclamation of 1763."
From Fort Pitt as a center backwoodsmen began restlessly
pushing down the Ohio. Acquiring no attachment to
localities, they imagined that distant lands were better than
those which they had reached. "The established authority
of any government in America, and the policy of Govern-
ment at home," wrote Dunmore, "are both insufficient to
restrain the Americans." 15 Removed from the restrictions
of civilization, the frontiersmen could not be brought to
entertain a belief in the sanctity of treaties made with the
savages, whom they considered "as but little removed from
the brute creation." 16 The enmity of the Indians, which had
not completely subsided since Pontiac's War, was revived. 17
The Shawnees were especially dissatisfied with the Treaty
of Fort Stanwix, and asserted claims to lands above the
Kanawha south of the Ohio. 18 Conditions along the west-
ern border were critical; it behooved the Virginia author-
ities to assume a tactful attitude.

Fort Pitt, as already explained, had been evacuated in
1772, but was reestablished in 1774. Connolly, Dunmore's
agent in the West, was denounced by the home government
for his supposed unauthorized activities there. 19 It was
learned with alarm that Virginians were injuring the
Indians and arousing their resentment. 20 Affairs at Fort
Pitt, indeed, were in dire confusion. Pennsylvania, claim-
ing that it lay within her limits, 21 attempted to extend her
authority over it by the creation of Westmoreland County.
The authority of Virginia, also, was extended over it in
I774. 22 Both claims were, of course, based on charters.

"Archives of Md., XIV, 468.

"Thwaites and Kellogg, Doc. Hist, of Dunmore's War, 371.

"Ibid.

"Ibid., 373-

18 O'Callaghan, op. cit., II, 577.

"Force, Am. Archives, 4th series, I, 774.

20 Ibid.

21 Ibid., 260.

22 Ibid., 271.



38 TRANSITION IN ILLINOIS.

Connolly was arrested by the Pennsylvania authorities, 23
but the latter were unpopular with the settlers, and in May,
1774, between five and six hundred of them petitioned
Virginia to take them under its protection. 24 Though the
country was finally awarded to Pennsylvania, the home
government was at this time inclined to favor Virginia's
claim 25 and it was some years before the dispute was
settled.

In the spring of 1774, rumors of a general Indian war
were rife all along the frontiers. The panic became general
when Connolly issued a circular asserting that a state of
war existed and calling the borderers to arms. 26 On the
last day of April occurred the murder of the family of
the famous Mingo chief, Logan ; and on June 10, Governor
Dunmore issued a circular letter, calling on the county-
lieutenants in the western counties to mobilize the militia. 27
In the same month he started for Fort Pitt to make an
armed demonstration among the hostile tribes, for by this
time the Shawnees of the Scioto valley had taken up the
hatchet. 28 He wrote to Colonel Andrew Lewis, com-
mander-in-chief of the southwestern militia, to meet him
at the mouth of the Great Kanawha, or at Wheeling, with
as many men as possible. 29 Early in October, Lewis arrived
at Point Pleasant, near the mouth of the Great Kanawha,
where, on October 10, the decisive battle of the war was
fought. On both sides the losses were heavy, but the
Shawnees, who had crossed the Ohio to attack Lewis, were
forced to retire. 30 This battle was won by the western
militia, not by British troops, and it was later believed, or
at least stated, by members of the revolutionary party in
Virginia, that Dunmore had not been pleased at the fron-

23 Force, Am. Archives, 4th series, I, 275.

24 Ibid., 275-276.

28 Ibid., 252 et seq.

26 Thwaites and Kellogg, Doc. Hist, of Dunmore' s War, xiii.

27 Ibid., 33-35.

28 Ibid., 383-385-

29 Ibid., 97-98.

80 For descriptions of the battle by participants see ibid., 253 et seq.



WESTWARD EXPANSION OF VIRGINIA. 39

tiersmen's victory. 31 The Shawnees gave hostages, and
agreed to regard the Ohio as their southern boundary. A
greater idea of colonial prowess was impressed upon their
minds, and the victory had the important effect of keeping
the northwestern tribes quiet during the early years of the
Revolution and making possible the settlement of Kentucky.
That it "extinguished the rancor" felt by the frontiersmen
towards the Indians, as Dunmore hoped, 32 there is little
reason to believe.

The Six Nations and the Shawnees having thus aban-
doned all claims to territory south of the Ohio, the way
was paved for the enterprise associated with the name of
Richard Henderson of North Carolina. In March, 1775,
the Transylvania Company, of which he was the leading
member, negotiated a treaty with the Cherokees, by which
the latter ceded their claims to an extensive tract between
the Tennessee and the Ohio, comprising a large part of the
present state of Kentucky. 33 The name Transylvania was
given to this purchase, and Henderson's desire was to erect a
proprietary colony, with a legislature representing the inhabi-
tants. 34 The Transylvania "House of Delegates" actually
met in May, 1775, at the new settlement of Boonesborough,
and its journal has been preserved. 35 Land was sold by
the company. 36 Transylvania, however, did not enjoy a
long existence. Before Henderson's treaty with the Chero-
kees, the proposed purchase had been denounced as illegal
by the governors of Virginia and North Carolina. 37 The
company petitioned the Continental Congress to add the
colony of Transylvania to the thirteen original colonies, and
a delegate was actually sent to Philadelphia, 38 but Congress

31 Bland Papers, I, 42.

32 Thwaites and Kellogg, Doc. Hist, of Dunmore 's War, 386.
83 The deed made by the Cherokees is in Ranck, op. cit., 151-156.
For the Transylvania enterprise, see Alden, op. cit., 49 et seq.

34 Cal. Va. St. Papers, I, 307.

35 Ranck, op. cit., 196-212.

38 Cal. Va. St. Papers, I, 282.

"Ranck, op. cit., 147-150, 181-182.

88 Colls. Conn. Hist. Soc., II, 318, note.



40 TRANSITION IN ILLINOIS.

could not grant such a request without exceeding its
powers and angering Virginia, which claimed most of the
territory in question. The petition was accordingly refused.
The Virginia Assembly later declared Henderson's purchase
null and void, 39 though it was held to be valid as against
Indian claims. The company, however, had performed some
real service in employing Boone to open up a route, the
famous Wilderness Road, to the banks of the Kentucky.
This long remained one of the most important lines of
communication between the country east and west of the
mountains. And in helping to extinguish Indian claims to
Kentucky, they facilitated the western movement. Most
of the Transylvania purchase was soon organized in the
new county of Kentucky.

Among the Virginia pioneers in the Ohio valley was a
youth about to play an important role in the annals of
the West. George Rogers Clark was born on November
19, 1752, near Monticello, in Albemarle County, Virginia. 40
He had a taste for mathematics, and his fondness for sur-
veying exercised an important influence over his career;
for it opened to him a calling in great demand at a time
when settlement was rapidly expanding, and one calculated
to bring him closely in touch with the westward march of
civilization. He did not attend William and Mary, and
from the standpoint of the tide-water planter he was a man
of little cultivation. Indeed, the comparative culture of the
older settlements had little attraction for him. He was by
nature a pioneer and a pathfinder. His first journey west
occurred in 1772, when he remained for several weeks as
a member of an exploring party in the upper Ohio valley. 41
Much of his time during the next few years was spent in
this region, where he devoted himself to surveying, hunting,
fishing, and locating for himself a tract of land near the
modern city of Wheeling. By 1773 pioneers were settling
as far down the Ohio as the mouth of the Scioto. 42 Clark

39 Ranck, op. cit., 253.

40 For Clark's early life see English, op. cit., I, ch. 2.

41 Ibid., 60 et seq.

42 Ibid., 63.



WESTWARD EXPANSION OF VIRGINIA. 41

became an expert with ax and rifle, and his craft as a woods-
man was nearly equal to that of the Indian. Though he
frequently visited the East, his real home was the wilder-
ness, and his career became yoked with that of the new
country. He was involved in some of the disturbances
which led to Dunmore's War; and he joined the force led
by the governor in person, in which he held a position of
some importance.

In 1775, after the war, Clark went to Kentucky, in the
forefront of the tide of western migration. He was much
impressed with the beauty of the blue-grass country, then
virtually an unbroken wilderness, and with the fertility of
the soil in the valley of the Kentucky river, and predicted
a rapid growth of settlement. Becoming thoroughly
acquainted with the whole region, he determined to make it
his home, and returned east in the autumn of 1775 to settle
up his affairs there. In Virginia he found the Transylvania
enterprise viewed askance, and also heard doubts expressed
whether Virginia could properly claim Kentucky. He was
opposed to the company, and believed that their purchase
from the Cherokees was worthless since, in his opinion, the
latter had possessed no valid claim to the country. The
company had opened a land office at Boonesborough, and
were beginning to raise the price of land, which caused
dissatisfaction among the settlers. 43

Clark returned to Kentucky in the spring of 1776. That
he played as important a part in frontier politics as his
memoir, written by him years later, would lead one to
infer, 44 may reasonably be doubted ; for Clark, in this docu-
ment, was anxious to emphasize his own share in the events
described. The majority of the Kentucky settlers, in the
conflict which had begun between England and the colonies,
were strongly on the patriot side. 45 If the settlements were
to survive, immediate measures for their defense were

43 Clark's Memoir, English, op. cit., I, 457.

"See Butterfield, op. cit., 546-557, for the reliability of Clark's
Memoir.

45 See Petition of the Committee of West Fincastle, Butterfield,
op. cit., 29.



42 TRANSITION IN ILLINOIS.

imperative. A meeting of the Kentucky pioneers was held
at the settlement of Harrodsburg in June, 1776. Delegates
were chosen to petition the Virginia Assembly to take the
Kentucky settlements under their protection. Clark, though
he says that he "appointed" it, did not take an active part
in the meeting. He tells us that he desired the appointment
of "deputies" to treat with Virginia, and, if favorable
terms were not secured, the establishment of "an indepen-
dent government." 48 If this was really his desire, he made
no serious effort to have his plan adopted. 47 He and John
Gabriel Jones were selected as delegates to the Virginia
Assembly, and soon started east for Williamsburg, where
that body was in session.

They arrived in the East only to learn that the
assembly had adjourned. Clark remained to interview the
governor, Patrick Henry. Jones returned west to the
Watauga and Holston settlements, to take part in an Indian
war which was just beginning.

The growth of these settlements angered and alarmed
the Cherokees, who replied by ravaging the American fron-
tier, even invading Georgia and South Carolina. They
were driven back, however, and their attacks on the
Watauga and Holston were defeated by forces under James
Robertson and John Sevier. The Cherokees ceded most
of their claims between the Cumberland and the Tennessee ;
and Kentucky was thus secured from Indian attacks from
the south. This war of 1776, like that of 1774, stimulated
the western movement.

Governor Henry lay sick at Hanover, and thither Clark
repaired with his credentials. 48 He asked for a supply of
gunpowder, the article most immediately needed in Ken-
tucky. The governor, realizing the importance of defending
the Kentucky settlements, wrote to the executive council
on the subject. The council hesitated to grant Clark's
request, which would have been exceeding their powers.

48 English, op. cit., I, 458.

47 Ibid.

46 Clark's Memoir, ibid., 461-462.



WESTWARD EXPANSION OF VIRGINIA. 43

Clark informed them that the situation in Kentucky was
critical in view of probable Indian attacks, and that the
settlements might be destroyed for want of the powder.
Further hesitation on their part led to his blunt state-
ment that a country which was worth claiming was
worth protecting. The council finally yielded, and ordered
five hundredweight of powder to be sent to Fort Pitt,
delivered to the officer commanding there, and by him
delivered to Clark or his order for the defense of
Kentucky. 49

The revolutionary government of Virginia had now
acknowledged its responsibility for the defense of Ken-
tucky. In spite of opposition from various sources, that
territory, with its present boundaries, was erected into a
county of Virginia in October, 1776. Henceforth it was
entitled to representation in the Virginia Assembly, the laws
of Virginia were extended to it, and it was included in the
military and judicial systems of the state. A county court
was commissioned by the governor of Virginia to take
charge of internal administration. For the work of defense,
Colonel John Bowman was commissioned county-lieuten-
ant. 51 Clark was commissioned major of the Kentucky
militia and had it enrolled by March 5, I777- 62 He was
thus closely identified with the founding of Kentucky.

So far as the Revolution on the western frontier was con-
cerned, the conflict was between the American pioneers and
the Indian tribes in alliance with the British government.
Stuart, British agent among the Indians of the Southern
District, with headquarters at Pensacola, was actively and

* For the order of the council see Henry, Patrick Henry, Life,
Correspondence and Speeches, I, 472. For Clark's relations with the
council see his Memoir, English, op. cit., I, 462.

"At the same time the rest of Fincastle was formed into the
counties of Washington and Montgomery, and the name Fincastle, as
applied to a county, became extinct. Hening, op. cit., VIII, 600, note.

81 For the county organization of Kentucky, see Roosevelt,
Winning of the West, I, 322.

62 Clark's Diary, English, op. cit., I, 579.



44 TRANSITION IN ILLINOIS.

successfully negotiating with the southern tribes, 53 with
whom American agents also had endeavored to treat. 54
But the leader in the work of arousing and instigating the
western Indians against the rebel frontiers was Lieutenant-
Governor Hamilton at Detroit. The task imposed upon him
was to keep the northwestern tribes firm in their attachment
to England. But his zeal carried him further than this,
and he suggested the employment of the tribes to harass
the American frontiers. The British government author-
ized such use of the Indians against the frontiers of Vir-
ginia and Pennsylvania in March, I777; 55 and Stuart was
instructed to instigate the Creeks to attack the frontiers of
Georgia and the Carolinas. 56 The British government thus
hoped to destroy all the American settlements west of the
mountains. The belief that this policy of employing
savages was favored by only a few of the most truculent
of the British officers and officials is an error. Even so
humane an officer as General Howe favored it. 57

Early in September, 1777, Hamilton had more than eleven
hundred warriors dispersed over the frontiers, seven hun-
dred of whom received ammunition from Detroit. 58 About
this time the management of the war upon the northwestern
frontier was taken out of the hands of Carleton, then gov-
ernor of Quebec, and intrusted directly to Hamilton, in
whom the British government reposed great confidence. 59

B3 Germain to Stuart, 7 Feb., 1777, Bancroft MSS.

M Stuart to Knox, 10 March, 17/7, ibid.

**Mich. P. Colls., IX, 346-348.


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