Front Page Titles (by Subject) CCCCLXX: SETTLEMENT ON THE OHIO RIVER 1 - The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. V Letters and Misc. Writings 1768-1772
Return to Title Page for The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. V Letters and Misc. Writings 1768-1772
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
CCCCLXX: SETTLEMENT ON THE OHIO RIVER 1 - Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. V Letters and Misc. Writings 1768-1772 
The Works of Benjamin Franklin, including the Private as well as the Official and Scientific Correspondence, together with the Unmutilated and Correct Version of the Autobiography, compiled and edited by John Bigelow (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). The Federal Edition in 12 volumes. Vol. V (Letters and Misc. Writings 1768-1772).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
SETTLEMENT ON THE OHIO RIVER1
Report of the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, on the Petition of the Honorable Thomas Walpole and his Associates, for a Grant of Lands on the River Ohio, in North America.
Pursuant to your Lordships’ order of the 25th May, 1770, we have taken into our consideration the humble memorial of the Honorable Thomas Walpole, Benjamin Franklin, John Sargent, and Samuel Wharton, Esquires, in behalf of themselves and their associates, setting forth among other things, “That they presented a petition to his Majesty in Council, for a grant of lands in America (parcel of the lands purchased by government of the Indians), in consideration of a price to be paid in purchase of the same; that, in pursuance of a suggestion which arose when the said petition was under consideration of the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, the memorialists presented a petition to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, proposing to purchase a larger tract of land on the river Ohio in America, sufficient for a separate government; whereupon their Lordships were pleased to acquaint the memorialists they had no objection to accepting the proposals made by them with respect to the purchase-money and quit-rent to be paid for the said tract of land, if it should be thought advisable by those departments of government to whom it belonged to judge of the propriety of the grant, both in point of policy and justice, that the grant should be made; in consequence whereof the memorialists humbly renew their application that a grant of said lands may be made to them, reserving therein to all persons their just and legal rights to any parts or parcels of lands which may be comprehended within the tract prayed for by the memorialists”; whereupon we beg leave to report to your Lordships:—
I. That, according to the description of the tract of land prayed for by the memorialists, which description is annexed to their memorial, it appears to us to contain part of the dominion of Virginia, to the south of the river Ohio, and to extend several degrees of longitude westward from the western ridge of the Appalachian Mountains, as will more fully appear to your Lordships from the annexed sketch of the said tract, which we have since caused to be delineated with as much exactness as possible, and herewith submit to your Lordships, to the end that your Lordships may judge, with the greater precision, of the situation of the lands prayed for in the memorial.
II. From this sketch your Lordships will observe that a very considerable part of the lands prayed for lies beyond the line which has, in consequence of his Majesty’s orders for that purpose, been settled by treaty, as well with the tribes of the Six Nations and their confederates, as with the Cherokee Indians, as the boundary-line between his Majesty’s territories and their hunting-grounds; and as the faith of the crown is pledged in the most solemn manner, both to the Six Nations and to the Cherokees, that, notwithstanding the former of these nations had ceded the property in the lands to his Majesty, yet no settlement shall be made beyond that line, it is our duty to report to your Lordships our opinion that it would on that account be highly improper to comply with the request of the memorial, so far as it includes any lands beyond the said line.
It remains, therefore, that we report to your Lordships our opinion, how far it may consist with good policy and with justice that his Majesty should comply with that part of the memorial which relates to those lands which are situated to the east of that line, and are part of the dominion of Virginia.
III. And, first, with regard to the policy, we take leave to remind your Lordships of that principle which was adopted by this Board, and approved and confirmed by his Majesty, immediately after the treaty of Paris, viz.: the confining the western extent of settlements to such a distance from the sea-coast as that those settlements should lie within the reach of the trade and commerce of this kingdom, upon which the strength and riches of it depend, and also of the exercise of that authority and jurisdiction which was conceived to be necessary for the preservation of the colonies in a due subordination to, and dependence upon, the mother country. And these we apprehend to have been two capital objects of his Majesty’s proclamation of the 7th of October, 1763, by which his Majesty declares it to be his royal will and pleasure to reserve under his sovereignty, protection, and dominion, for the use of the Indians, all the lands not included within the three new governments, the limits of which are described therein, as also all the lands and territories lying to the westward of the sources of the rivers which fall into the sea from the west and northwest; and by which all persons are forbid to make any purchases or settlements whatever, or to take possession of any of the lands above reserved, without special license for that purpose.
IV. It is true, indeed, that, partly from want of precision in describing the line intended to be marked out by the proclamation of 1763, and partly from a consideration of justice in regard to legal titles to lands which had been settled beyond that line, it has been since thought fit to enter into engagements with the Indians, for fixing a more precise and determinate boundary between his Majesty’s territories and their hunting-grounds.
V. By this boundary, so far as regards the case now in question, your Lordships will observe, that the hunting-grounds of the Indians are reduced within narrower limits than were specified by the proclamation of 1763. We beg leave, however, to submit to your Lordships that the same principles of policy, in reference to settlements at so great a distance from the sea-coast as to be out of the reach of all advantageous intercourse with this kingdom, continue to exist in their full force and spirit; and, though various propositions for erecting new colonies in the interior parts of America have been, in consequence of this extension of the boundary line, submitted to the consideration of government (particularly in that part of the country wherein are situated the lands now prayed for, with a view to that object), yet the dangers and disadvantages of complying with such proposals have been so obvious as to defeat every attempt made for carrying them into execution.
VI. Many objections, besides those which we have already stated, occur to us to propositions of this kind; but as every argument on this subject is collected together with great force and precision, in a representation made to his Majesty by the Commissioners for Trade and Plantations in March, 1768, we beg leave to state them to your Lordships in their words.
In that representation they deliver their opinion upon a proposition for settling new colonies in the interior country as follows, viz.:
“The proposition of forming inland colonies in America is, we humbly conceive, entirely new. It adopts principles in respect to American settlements different from what has hitherto been the policy of this kingdom, and leads to a system which, if pursued through all its consequences, is, in the present state of that country, of the greatest importance.
“The great object of colonizing upon the continent of North America has been to improve and extend the commerce, navigation, and manufactures of this kingdom, upon which its strength and security depend.
“1. By promoting the advantageous fishery carried on upon the northern coast.
“2. By encouraging the growth and culture of naval stores, and of raw materials, to be transported hither in exchange for perfect manufactures and other merchandise.
“3. By securing a supply of lumber, provisions, and other necessaries, for the support of our establishments in the American islands.
“In order to answer these salutary purposes, it has been the policy of this kingdom to confine her settlements as much as possible to the sea-coast, and not to extend them to places inaccessible to shipping, and consequently more out of the reach of commerce; a plan which, at the same time that it secured the attainment of these commercial objects, had the further political advantage of guarding against all interfering of foreign powers, and of enabling this kingdom to keep up a superior naval force in those seas, by the actual possession of such rivers and harbors as were proper stations for fleets in time of war.
“Such, may it please your Majesty, have been the considerations inducing that plan of policy hitherto pursued in the settlement of your Majesty’s American colonies, with which the private interest and sagacity of the settlers coöperated from the first establishments formed upon that continent. It was upon these principles, and with these views, that government undertook the settlement of Nova Scotia in 1749; and it was from a view of the advantages represented to arise from it in these different articles that it was so liberally supported by the aid of Parliament.
“The same motives, though operating in a less degree, and applying to fewer subjects, did, as we humbly conceive, induce the forming the colonies of Georgia, East Florida, and West Florida, to the south, and the making those provincial arrangements in the proclamation of 1763, by which the interior country was left to the possession of the Indians.
“Having thus briefly stated what has been the policy of this kingdom in respect to colonizing in America, it may be necessary to take a cursory view of what has been the effect of it in those colonies where there has been sufficient time for that effect to discover itself, because if it shall appear from the present state of these settlements and the progress they have made that they are likely to produce the advantages above stated, it will, we humbly apprehend, be a very strong argument against forming settlements in the interior country, more especially when every advantage derived from an established country would naturally tend to draw the stream of population, fertility of soil and temperature of climate offering superior incitements to settlers, who, exposed to few hardships, and struggling with few difficulties, could, with little labor, earn an abundance for their own wants, but without a possibility of supplying ours with any considerable quantities. Nor would these inducements be confined in their operation to foreign emigrants, determining their choice where to settle, but would act most powerfully upon the inhabitants of the northern and southern latitudes of your Majesty’s American dominions; who, ever suffering under the opposite extremes of heat and cold, would be equally tempted by a moderate climate to abandon latitudes peculiarly adapted to the production of those things which are by nature denied to us, and for the whole of which we should, without their assistance, stand indebted to, and dependent upon, other countries.
“It is well known that antecedent to the year 1749 all that part of the sea-coast of the British empire in America which extends northeast from the province of Maine to Canceau, in Nova Scotia, and from thence north to the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, lay waste and neglected, though naturally affording, or capable by art of producing, every species of naval stores, the seas abounding with whale, cod, and other valuable fish, and having many great rivers, bays, and harbors fit for the reception of ships of war. Thus circumstanced, a consideration of the great commercial advantages which would follow from securing the possession of this country, combined with the evidence of the value set upon it by our enemies, who, during the war which terminated at that period, had, at an immense expense, attempted to wrest it from us, induced that plan for the settlement of Nova Scotia, to which we have before referred, and which, being prosecuted with vigor, though at a very large expense to this kingdom, secured the possession of that province, and formed those establishments which contributed so greatly to facilitate and promote the success of your Majesty’s arms in the late war.
“The establishment of government in this part of America having opened to the view and information of your Majesty’s subjects in other colonies the great commercial advantages to be derived from it, induced a zeal for migration, and associations were formed for taking up lands and making settlements in this province by principal persons residing in these colonies.
“In consequence of these associations upwards of ten thousand souls have passed from those colonies into Nova Scotia, who have either engaged in the fisheries or become exporters of lumber and provisions to the West Indies. And further settlements, to the extent of twenty-one townships, of one hundred thousand acres each, have been engaged to be made there by many of the principal persons in Pennsylvania, whose names and association for that purpose now lie before your Majesty in Council.
“The government of Massachusetts Bay, as well as the proprietors of large tracts to the eastward of the province of Maine, excited by the success of these settlements, are giving every encouragement to the like settlements in that valuable country lying between them and Nova Scotia; and the proprietors of the twelve townships lately laid out there, by the Massachusetts government, now solicit your Majesty for a confirmation of their title.
“Such, may it please your Majesty, is the present state of the progress making in the settlement of the northern parts of the sea-coasts of North America, in consequence of what appears to have been the policy adopted by this kingdom; and many persons of rank and substance here are proceeding to carry into execution the plan, which your Majesty (pursuing the same principles of commercial policy) has approved, for the settlement of the islands of St. John and Cape Breton, and of the new-established colonies to the south; and, therefore, as we are fully convinced, that the encouraging settlements upon the sea-coast of North America is founded in the true principles of commercial policy; and as we find, upon examination, that the happy effects of that policy are now beginning to open themselves, in the establishment of those branches of commerce, culture, and navigation upon which the strength, wealth, and security of this kingdom depend, we cannot be of opinion that it would in any view be advisable to divert your Majesty’s subjects in America from the pursuit of those important objects, by adopting measures of a new policy, at an expense to this kingdom which in its present state it is unable to bear.
“This, may it please your Majesty, being the light in which we view the proposition of colonizing in the interior country, considered as a general principle of policy, we shall, in the next place, proceed to examine the several arguments urged in support of the particular establishments now recommended.
These arguments appear to us reducible to the following general propositions, viz.:
First, That such colonies will promote population, and increase the demands for, and consumption of, British manufactures.
Secondly, That they will secure the fur trade and prevent an illicit trade, or interfering of French or Spaniards with the Indians.
Thirdly, That they will be a defence and protection to the old colonies against the Indians.
Fourthly, That they will contribute to lessen the present heavy expense of supplying provisions to the distant forts and garrisons.
Lastly, That they are necessary in respect to the inhabitants already residing in those places where they are proposed to be established, who require some form of civil government.
After what we have already stated, with respect to the policy of encouraging colonies in the interior country as a general principle, we trust it will not be necessary to enter into an ample discussion of the arguments brought to support the foregoing propositions.
We admit, as an undeniable principle of true policy, that, with a view to prevent manufactures, it is necessary and proper to open an extent of territory for colonization proportioned to the increase of people, as a large number of inhabitants cooped up in narrow limits, without a sufficiency of land for produce, would be compelled to convert their attention and industry to manufactures; but we submit whether the encouragement given to the settlement of the colonies upon the sea-coast, and the effect which such encouragement has had, have not already effectually provided for this object, as well as for increasing the demand for, and consumption of, British manufactures, an advantage which, in our humble opinion, would not be promoted by these new colonies, which, being proposed to be established at the distance of above fifteen hundred miles from the sea, and in places which, upon the fullest evidence, are found to be utterly inaccessible to shipping, will, from their inability to find returns wherewith to pay for the manufactures of Great Britain, be probably led to manufacture for themselves; a consequence which experience shows has constantly attended, in a greater or lesser degree, every inland settlement, and therefore ought, in our humble opinion, to be carefully guarded against, by encouraging the settlement of that extensive tract of sea-coast hitherto unoccupied; which, together with the liberty that the inhabitants of the middle colonies will have (in consequence of the proposed boundary line with the Indians) of gradually extending themselves backwards, will more effectually and beneficially answer the object of encouraging population and consumption, than the erection of new governments. Such gradual extension might, through the medium of a continued population, upon even the same extent of territory, preserve a communication of mutual commercial benefits between its extremest parts and Great Britain, impossible to exist in colonies separated by immense tracts of unpeopled desert.
As to the effect which it is supposed the colonies may have to increase and promote the fur trade, and to prevent all contraband trade or intercourse between the Indians under your Majesty’s protection and the French or Spaniards; it does appear to us, that the extension of the fur trade depends entirely upon the Indians being undisturbed in the possession of their hunting-grounds; that all colonizing does in its nature, and must in its consequences, operate to the prejudice of that branch of commerce; and that the French and Spaniards would be left in possession of a great part of what remained, as New Orleans would still continue the best and surest market.
As to the protection which it is supposed these new colonies may be capable of affording to the old ones, it will, in our opinion, appear upon the slightest view of their situation, that, so far from affording protection to the old colonies, they will stand most in need of it themselves.
It cannot be denied that new colonies would be of advantage in raising provisions for the supply of such forts and garrisons as may be kept up in the neighborhood of them; but, as the degree of utility will be proportioned to the number and situation of these forts and garrisons, which, upon the result of the present inquiry, it may be thought advisable to continue, so the force of argument will depend upon that event.
The present French inhabitants in the neighborhood of the Lakes will, in our humble opinion, be sufficient to furnish with provisions whatever posts may be necessary to be continued there; and as there are also French inhabitants settled in some parts of the country lying upon the Mississippi, between the rivers Illinois and the Ohio, it is to be hoped that a sufficient number of these may be induced to fix their abode where the same convenience and advantage may be derived from them. But, if no such circumstance were to exist, and no such assistance to be expected from it, the objections stated to the plan now under our consideration are superior to this, or any other advantage it can produce; and although civil establishments have frequently rendered the expense of an armed force necessary for their protection, one of the many objections to these now proposed, yet we humbly presume there never has been an instance of a government instituted merely with a view to supply a body of troops with suitable provisions; nor is it necessary in these instances for the settlements, already existing as above described, which, being formed under military establishments, and ever subjected to military authority, do not, in our humble opinion, require any other superintendence than that of the military officers commanding at these posts.”
In addition to this opinion of the Board of Trade, expressed in the foregoing recital, we further beg leave to refer your Lordships to the opinion of the commander-in-chief of his Majesty’s forces in North America, who, in a letter laid before us by the Earl of Hillsborough, delivers his sentiments with regard to settlements in the interior parts of America in the following words, viz.:
VII. “As to increasing the settlements to respectable provinces, and to colonization in general terms in the remote countries, I conceive it altogether inconsistent with sound policy; for there is little appearance that the advantages will arise from it which nations expect when they send out colonies into foreign countries. They can give no encouragement to the fishery, and though the country might afford some kind of naval stores, the distance would be too far to transport them; and for the same reason they could not supply the sugar islands with lumber and provisions. As for the raising wine, silk, and other commodities, the same may be said of the present colonies, without planting others for the purpose at so vast a distance; but, on the supposition that they would be raised, their very long transportation must probably make them too dear for any market.
“I do not apprehend the inhabitants could have any commodities to barter for manufactures, except skins and furs, which will naturally decrease as the country increases in people and the deserts are cultivated; so that, in the course of a few years, necessity would force them to provide manufactures of some kind for themselves; and, when all connection upheld by commerce with the mother country shall cease, it may be expected that an independency on her government will soon follow; the pretence of forming barriers will have no end; wherever we settle, however remote, there must be a frontier; and there is room enough for the colonists to spread within our present limits, for a century to come.
If we reflect how the people of themselves have gradually retired from the coast, we shall be convinced they want no encouragement to desert the sea-coast, and go into the back countries, where the lands are better and got upon easier terms; they are already almost out of the reach of law and government; neither the endeavors of government, nor fear of Indians, has kept them properly within bounds; and it is apparently most for the interest of Great Britain to confine the colonies on the side of the back country, and to direct their settlements along the sea-coast, where millions of acres are yet uncultivated. The lower provinces are still thinly inhabited and brought to the point of perfection that has been aimed at for the mutual benefit of Great Britain and themselves.
Although America may supply the mother country with many articles, few of them are yet supplied in quantities equal to her consumption; the quantity of iron transported is not great, of hemp very small, and there are many other commodities, not necessary to enumerate, which America has not yet been able to raise, notwithstanding the encouragement given her by bounties and premiums. The laying open new tracts of fertile territory in moderate climates might lessen her present produce; for it is the passion of every man to be a landholder, and the people have a natural disposition to rove in search of good lands, however distant. It may be a question likewise, whether colonization of the kind could be effected without an Indian war and fighting for every inch of ground. The Indians have long been jealous of our power, and have no patience in seeing us approach their towns, and settle upon their hunting-grounds; atonements may be made for a fraud discovered in a trader, and even the murder of some of their tribes, but encroachments upon their lands have often produced serious consequences. The springs of the last general war are to be discovered near the Alleghany Mountains, and upon the banks of the Ohio.
It is so obvious that settlers might raise provision to feed the troops cheaper than it can be transported from the country below that it is not necessary to explain it; but I must own I know no other use in settlements, nor can give any other reason for supporting forts than to protect the settlements and keep the settlers in subjection to government.
I conceive that to procure all the commerce it will afford, and at as little expense to ourselves as we can, is the only object we should have in view in the interior country for a century to come, and I imagine it might be effected by proper management without either forts or settlements. Our manufactures are as much desired by the Indians as their peltry is sought for by us. What was originally deemed a superfluity or a luxury by the natives is now become a necessary. They are disused to the bow, and can neither hunt nor make war without fire-arms, powder, and lead. The British provinces can only supply them with their necessaries, which they know, and for their own sakes would protect the trader, which they actually do at present. It would remain with us to prevent the traders being guilty of frauds and impositions, and to pursue the same methods to that end, as are taken in the southern district, and I must confess, though the plan pursued in that district might be improved by proper laws to support it, that I do not know a better or more economical plan for the management of trade; there are neither forts nor settlements in the southern department, and there are both in the northern department, and your Lordships will be the best judge which of them has given you the least trouble; in which we have had the fewest quarrels, with or complaints from, the Indians.
I know of nothing so liable to bring on a serious quarrel with Indians as an invasion of their property. Let the savages enjoy their deserts in quiet. Little bickerings that may unavoidably sometimes happen may soon be accommodated, and I am of opinion, independent of the motives of common justice and humanity, that the principles of interest and policy should induce us rather to protect than molest them. Were they driven from their forests, the peltry trade would decrease, and it is not impossible that worse savages would take refuge in them; for they might then become the asylum of fugitive negroes, and idle vagabonds escaped from justice, who in time might become formidable, and subsist by rapine, and plundering the lower countries.”
VIII. The opinions delivered in the foregoing recitals are so accurate and precise as to make it almost unnecessary to add any thing more. But we beg leave to lay before your Lordships the sentiments of his Majesty’s governor of Georgia upon the subject of large grants in the interior parts of America, whose knowledge and experience in the affairs of the colonies give great weight to his opinion.
In a letter to us on the subject of the mischiefs attending such grants, he expresses himself in the following manner, viz.:
“And now, my Lords, I beg your patience a moment, while I consider this matter in a more extensive point of view, and go a little further in declaring my sentiments and opinion, with respect to the granting of large bodies of land, in the back parts of the province of Georgia, or in any other of his Majesty’s northern colonies, at a distance from the sea-coast, or from such parts of any province as is already settled and inhabited.
And this matter, my Lords, appears to me in a very serious and alarming light, and I humbly conceive may be attended with the greatest and worst of consequences. For, my Lords, if a vast territory be granted to any set of gentlemen, who really mean to people it, and actually do so, it must draw and carry out a great number of people from Great Britain; and I apprehend they will soon become a kind of separate and independent people, and who will set up for themselves; that they will soon have manufactures of their own; that they will neither take supplies from the mother country, nor from the provinces, at the back of which they are settled; that, being at a distance from the seat of government, courts, magistrates, etc., etc., they will be out of the reach and control of law and government; that it will become a receptacle and kind of asylum for offenders, who will fly from justice to such new country or colony; and therefore crimes and offences will be committed, not only by the inhabitants of such new settlements, but elsewhere, and pass with impunity; and that, in process of time (and perhaps at no great distance), they will become formidable enough to oppose his Majesty’s authority, disturb government, and even give law to the other or first-settled part of the country, and throw every thing into confusion.
My Lords, I hope I shall not be thought impertinent, when I give my opinion freely, in a matter of so great consequence as I conceive this to be; and, my Lords, I apprehend that in all the American colonies great care should be taken that the lands on the sea-coast should be thick settled with inhabitants, and well cultivated and improved; and that the settlements should be gradually extended back into the province and as much connected as possible, to keep the people together in as narrow a compass as the nature of the lands and state of things will admit of; and by which means there would probably become only one general view and interest amongst them, and the power of government and law would of course naturally and easily go with them, and matters thereby properly regulated and kept in due order and obedience; and they would have no idea of resisting or transgressing either, without being amenable to justice, and subject to punishment for offences they may commit.
But, my Lords, to suffer a kind of province within a province, and one that may, indeed must, in process of time, become superior, and too big for the head, or original settlement or seat of government, to me conveys with it many ideas of consequences of such a nature as I apprehend are extremely dangerous and improper, and it would be the policy of government to avoid and prevent, whilst in their power to do so.
My ideas, my Lords, are not chimerical; I know something of the situation and state of things in America; and from some little occurrences or instances that have already really happened, I can very easily figure to myself what may, and, in short, what will, certainly happen, if not prevented in time.”
IX. At the same time that we submit the foregoing reasons against colonization in the interior country to your Lordships’ consideration, it is proper we should take notice of one argument, which has been invariably held forth in support of every proposition of this nature, and upon which the present proponents appear to lay great stress. It is urged, that such is the state of the country now proposed to be granted, and erected into a separate government, that no endeavors on the part of the crown can avail to prevent its being settled by those who, by the increase of population in the middle colonies, are continually emigrating to the westward, and forming themselves into colonies in that country, without the intervention or control of government, and who, if suffered to continue in that lawless state of anarchy and confusion, will commit such abuses as cannot fail of involving us in quarrel and dispute with the Indians, and thereby endangering the security of his Majesty’s colonies.
We admit that this is an argument that deserves attention; and we rather take notice of it in this place, because some of the objections stated by Governor Wright lose their force, upon the supposition that the grants against which he argues are to be erected into separate governments. But we are clearly of opinion that his arguments do, in the general view of them, as applied to the question of granting lands in the interior parts of America, stand unanswerable; and, admitting that the setlers in the country in question are as numerous as report states them to be, yet we submit to your Lordships that this is a fact which does, in the nature of it, operate strongly in point of argument against what is proposed; for, if the foregoing reasoning has any weight, it certainly ought to induce your Lordships to advise his Majesty to take every method to check the progress of these settlements, and not to make such grants of the land as will have an immediate tendency to encourage them; a measure which we conceive is altogether as unnecessary as it is impolitic, as we see nothing to hinder the government of Virginia from extending the laws and constitution of that colony to such persons as may have already settled there under legal titles.
X. And there is one objection suggested by Governor Wright to the extension of settlements in the interior country, which, we submit, deserves your Lordships’ particular attention, viz.: the encouragement that is thereby held out to the emigration of his Majesty’s European subjects, an argument which, in the present peculiar situation of this kingdom, demands very serious consideration, and has for some time past had so great weight with this Board, that it has induced us to deny our concurrence to many proposals for grants of land, even in those parts of the continent of America where, in all other respects, we are of opinion that it consists with the true policy of this kingdom to encourage settlements; and this consideration of the certain bad consequences which must result from a continuance of such imigrations as have lately taken place from various parts of his Majesty’s European dominions, added to the constant drains to Africa, to the East Indies, and to the new-ceded islands, will, we trust, with what has been before stated, be a sufficient answer to every argument that can be urged in support of the present memorial, so far as regards the consideration of it in point of policy.
XI. With regard to the propriety, in point of justice, of making the grant desired, we presume this consideration can have reference only to the case of such persons who have already possession of lands in that part of the country, under legal titles derived from grants made by the governor and council of Virginia, upon which case we have only to observe that it does appear to us that there are some such possessions held by persons who are not parties to the present memorial; and therefore, if your Lordships shall be of opinion that the making the grant desired would, notwithstanding the reservation proposed, in respect to such titles, have the effect to disturb those possessions, or to expose the proprietors to suit and litigation, we do conceive that, in that case, the grant would be objectionable in point of justice.
XII. Upon the whole, therefore, we cannot recommend to your Lordships to advise his Majesty to comply with the prayer of this memorial, either as to the erection of any parts of the lands into a separate government, or the making a grant of them to the memoralists; but, on the contrary, we are of opinion that settlements in that distant part of the country should be as much discouraged as possible; and that, in order thereto, it will be expedient, not only that the orders which have been given to the governor of Virginia, not to make any further grants beyond the line prescribed by the proclamation of 1763, should be continued and enforced, but that another proclamation should be issued, declaratory of his Majesty’s resolution not to allow, for the present, any new settlements beyond that line, and to forbid all persons from taking up or settling any lands in that part of the country.
We are, my Lords,
Your Lordships’ most obedient and