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except through the United States. The way, through Lake Superior and the Northwestern country open by that way, was remote and almost useless. The great body of Indian trade up to that time had been through Detroit for the region south and west of it, and through Michilimackinac and Green Bay for the country west of Lake Michigan. The business near the head of Lake Michigan was done through both places.
Before ratifications were exchanged, the trading interests actively opposed the boundary adoption, and did what they could to have it changed. It was too late for that. But at once an official course was resorted to of temporizing and scheming with a view of practically shutting us out from our possessions. When a demand was made on General Haldimand for possession of the posts, he evaded it by pleading want of instructions and other similar excuses. After some further time had elapsed, other devices were adopted; and finally, after disputes had arisen on some other subjects, these were seized upon as convenient pretexts. The absurd, although apparently plausible pretext, was also set up that Great Britain had no right to cede the country of the Indians; and fear was expressed that, with the Western forts in their hands, the United States would not respect the rights of the British allies. As the whole country had been included in the province of Quebec, and as Great Britain had undertaken to cede it, this was a transparent trick.
But the dissolution of the army of the confederation made it impossible for us to occupy the country by military means, and the weakness of the confederated systein encouraged our enemies to think we might go to pieces and leave them a residuary inheritance.
The Haldimand papers show that before the treaty was ratified and effectual, General Haldimand had determined on a course of obstruction, which was approved at home. In February, 1783, he wrote home: “If the rebels are not restrained from taking possession of that valuable tract of country which by treaty is the undoubted property of the Indians, they will, in a very few years, establish themselves so firmly, that upon a future occasion they will find but little difficulty in dispersing the Indians, and making themselves masters of Upper Canada. (“ Mills'” Documents relating to the boundaries of Ontario, page 306.) It is worthy of remark that this last consideration of danger to the Canadas continued to be uppermost; and in 1794, when Dorchester (Sir Guy Carleton) and Simcoe built the British fort at the Maumee Rapids, the real reason for doing so was to check Wayne's advance, which they believed would lead him to Detroit, “as in all probability, if he be permitted to establish himself at the Detroit, it may eventually occasion their loss.” (Id. 319.) If Wayne, instead of Hull, had commanded at Detroit in 1912, this prophecy would have been fulfilled.
Until the adoption of the Constitution and the organization of the Government under it in 1789, our authorities were in no position to vindicate their rights. In the meantime, while keeping on the safe side, so far as professions went, the actual conduct of affairs indicated a purpose, if not of directly destroying our Western interests, at least of benefiting by their destruction and encouraging it. In 1784, Colonel John Hay, who had been for more than twenty years at Detroit, and had been made Indian agent at the close of the Pontiac war at the express request of the Indians, was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Detroit. This office had not been filled since the departure of LieutenantGovernor Hamilton, who was captured by General Clark, at Vincennes, in the winter of 1778-9, and held with Hay in close confinement in Virginia. Hay was an able man, connected by marriage with leading French and English families in Detroit, and thoroughly respected. Up to this time the possession had been purely military. Perhaps its character was not materially changed by the appointment, but it is probable this was meant as an opening for regular government. It was at least an assertion of civil jurisdiction, not over a fort, but over territory. During this same period and for some years later, Patrick Sinclair was continued as Lieutenant-Governor at Mackinaw. In 1785, Governor Hay died, and there was a good deal of difficulty in determining what to do. No one but a person of military standing and recognized ability could hold that office without trouble with the military commandant. It was finally determined to make no further appointment, and to leave the commanding officer supreme. There are some indications that at this time there was some uneasiness lest the posts would have to be given up.
During all this time there was constant intriguing with the Indians, and emissaries, with or without ostensible authority to slo so, were urging the tribes to resist the encroachments of the United States. These became more and more marked as the United States became stronger. In 1788, Lord Dorchester, who never ceased his efforts to shut us out from the country, established civil and criminal courts in Upper Canada, with the other means of civil government. Detroit was made the seat of justice of the District of Hesse, afterwards the Western District; and, when Upper Canada 'was organized, was represented in its Legislature, and so continued till 1796. Mackinaw was also, with all of the Northwest country, brought within the civil authority. In 1783, a fur company was organized which soon acquired control of all the Indian traffic and fur trade on the American territory north of the Wabash settlements, and this organization was one of the most efficient means for keeping practical possession of the country.
It is well-known that in the interval between the peace of 1783 and the final relinquishment of the Western posts, relations had become strained between the people south of the Ohio and west of the Alleghanies and the rest of the United States, and the difference was aggravated by the failure to secure the navigation of the Mississippi. Various schemes of disaffection were undertaken, and some very prominent men took part in them. These were fermented by Spanish, French and British agents, and each aimed at taking advantage of any separation from the Union to secure such alliances or union with the seceding country as they could get. There is no doubt that the British authorities here, if not at home, contemplated getting access to the Mississippi and the Gulf in some way, and were disposed, if possible, to acquire Spanish territory. In 1790, when there was likelihood of war between Great Britain and Spain, General Washington asked the views of his Secretary of State, Mr. Adams, as to what should be done in view of the probability of a movement from Detroit, and a possible request for leave to march troops through our territory to the Mississippi. (12 Niles Reg., 289), and expressed anxiety concerning the effect on the Western settlements of having the British surrounding us. At various times, both before and after the
peace of 1783, these schemes against Louisiana and our own Southwest were entertained, and preparations are said to have been made, but nothing came of them, in favor of Great Britain, beyond uneasiness. That they did not succeed was probably due to the activity of our movements to secure control of our own legitimate possessions. But they never ceased from one quarter or another until after our acquisition of Louisiana. Even them the condition of things, which led to Burr's plans, was very unsettled. It is safe to say that a hope of our going to pieces continued to be entertained by the British a long time.
In 1796 General Victor Collot, a distinguished French officer, who had been captured by the British in the West Indies, and claimed he had been landed in the United States against the terms of his. surrender and subjected to a malicious prosecution, came westward at the instigation of the French minister, with his aide, M. Warin, to reconnoiter the country with a view to getting a renewed foothold for the French in their old possessions. He made a minute topographical survey of the Ohio river and a part of the Mississippi, and finally was captured--not very unwillingly —and taken to New Orleans. He eluded all the efforts made under General Washington's orders to capture him. Probably the disaffected people did not take much interest in the matter, as he evidently could have been easily pursued. In his published memoirs he gave it as the result of his examinations that the whole Western region would separate from the Union and form new connections. He had an unpleasant experience with British purposes. He and his associate were dogged through a large part of their journey by Indian emissaries from Canada seeking a chance to assassinate them, and near the end of their explorations. of the Ohio, when they were temporarily separated, Warin, who was a man of fine presence, was killed by mistake for Collot by these Indians. Collot met a Detroit trader of prominence in the same country who satisfied him it would not be safe for him to visit Detroit, although he had been supplied by the French government with a very accurate map of the Detroit river and its surroundings in view of such a visit, and the post had been, or was about to be, turned over to the United States. There was danger in this quarter, but the British had no lawful reason to hinder his presence anywhere, and their conduct, if he was correct, can only be traced to a sinister one.
In 1797 Mr. Blount, a Senator from Tennessee, was expelled from the Senate for complicity in a British plot to take forces through our territory (through the Straits of Mackinaw) down the Mississippi to capture Louisiana, and form relations with our Western States.
In the proceedings against Aaron Burr many of these machin
ations were referred to, and the characters of some prominent persons have never been fully cleared up. In the Spanish intrigues the agents were not Spanish. Two, at least, were British, and it is by no means clear that the plotters who took their pay from Spain had not two strings to their bow.
After the Northwest Territory was organized and more or less settlements were started in Ohio, the British agents kept actively stirring up the Indians against the whites. Brant was one of the prominent figures among them, but the work was chiefly done through the trio of McKee, Elliott and Girty, all of whom detested the Americans, and were as cordially hated in return. Lord Dorchester was evidently disposed to do what he could to retain the country, and the jealousies in different parts of the Union, both West and East, were looked upon hopefully. In all of the battles with the Indians, traces were found of British friendship and material aid, hardly disguised. The effect of this warfare was to keep out settlers, and that was its avowed purpose. In Michigan and Wisconsin no lands were allowed to be granted, and no title existed except in Detroit and among the old French claims. Population probably diminished instead of increasing. The Indians were completely subservient to the British agents and traders. An attempt was made, however, to enlarge the population of upper Canada by grants of land to refugees, and along the Detroit river and the north shore of Lake Erie a good many of these grants were occupied. But the whole course indicated a purpose to retain the country north and west of Detroit permanently if possible. The scanty settlements were carefully hemmed in. A large share of the merchants in Detroit, and all of the traders in the more northern posts, were decided loyalists. During General Washington's administration he made several attempts to get access for commissioners through Lake Erie to the tribes of the Northwest, but in every instance was thwarted by the interference of the Canadian officers. They succeeded in getting the Indians to insist on having them admitted to the Councils, and the tribes refused to act without them. About 1791, Lord Dorchester addressed to the Indians a strong appeal to resist our encroachments, and prophesied war with the United States, and from the statements made subsequently to General Wayne, it would seem that they were all along assured there would be war between us and the British. As Wayne advanced in his cam