« FöregåendeFortsätt »
would make a better use than the French do.. . . The Atlantic coast, as far as Florida, was usurped from the French, to whom it belonged then, and to whom it belongs now.” England, as he thinks, is bound in honor to give back these countries to their true owner; and it is also the part of wisdom to do so, since by grasping at too much, one often loses all. But France, out of her love of peace, will cede to England the countries along the Atlantic, from the Kennebec in New France to the Jordan 2 in Carolina, on condition that England will restore to her all that she gave up by the Treaty of Utrecht. When this is done, France, always generous, will consent to accept as boundary a line drawn from the mouth of the Kennebec, passing thence midway between Schenectady and Lake Champlain and along the ridge of the Alleghanies to the river Jordan, the country between this line and the sea to belong to England, and the rest of the continent to France.
If England does not accept this generous offer, she is to be told that the King will give to the Compagnie des Indes (Law's Mississippi Company) full authority to occupy “all the countries which the English have usurped from France;” and, pursues Father Bobé, “it is certain that the fear of having to do with so powerful a company will bring the English to our terms.” The company that was thus to strike the British heart with terror was the same which all the tonics and stimulants of the government could not save from predestined ruin. But, concludes this ingenious writer, whether England accepts our offers or not, France ought not only to take a high tone (parler avec hauteur), but also to fortify diligently, and make good her right by force of arms." Three years later we have another document, this time of an official character, and still more radical in its demands. It admits that Port Royal and a part of the Nova Scotian peninsula, under the name of Acadia, were ceded to England by the treaty, and consents that she shall keep them, but requires her to restore the part of New France that she has wrongfully seized, - namely, the whole Atlantic coast from the Kennebec to Florida; since France never gave England this country, which is hers by the discovery of Verrazzano in 1524. Here, again, the voyages of the Cabots, in 1497 and 1498, are completely ignored. “It will be seen,” pursues this curious document, “that our kings have always preserved sovereignty over the countries between the thirtieth and the fiftieth degrees of north latitude. A time will come when they will be in a position to assert their rights, and then it will be seen that the dominions of a king of France cannot be usurped with impunity. What we demand now is that the English make immediate restitution.” No doubt, the paper goes on to say, they will pretend to have prescriptive rights, because they have settled the country and built towns and cities in it; but this plea is of no avail, because all that country is a part of New France, and because England rightfully owns nothing in America except what we, the French, gave her by the Treaty of Utrecht, which is merely Port Royal and Acadia. She is bound in honor to give back all the vast countries she has usurped; but, continues the paper, “the King loves the English nation too much, and wishes too much to do her kindness, and is too generous to exact such a restitution. Therefore, provided that England will give us back Port Royal, Acadia, and everything else that France gave her by the Treaty of Utrecht, the King will forego his rights, and grant to England the whole Atlantic coast from the thirty-second degree of latitude to the Kennebec, to the extent inland of twenty French leagues [about fifty miles), on condition that she will solemnly bind herself never to overstep these limits or encroach in the least on French ground.”
1 “De manière qu'on puisse arrêter les Anglois, qui depuis longtems tachent de s'emparer de l'Amérique françoise, dont ils conoissent l'importance et dont ils feroient un meillieur usage que celuy qui les françois en font.”
: On the river Jordan, so named by Vasquez de Ayllon, see “Pioneers of France in the New World," 11, 39, note. It was probably the broad river of South Carolina.
1 Second Mémoire concernant les Limites des Colonies presente en 1720 par Bobe, prétre de la Congregation de la Mission (Archives Nationales). vol. 11. — 4
Thus, through the beneficence of France, England, provided that she renounced all pretension to the rest of the continent, would become the rightful owner of an attenuated strip of land reaching southward from the Kennebec along the Atlantic seaboard. The document containing this magnanimous proposal was preserved in the Château St. Louis at Quebec till the middle of the eighteenth century, when, the boundary dispute having reached a crisis, and commissioners of the two powers having been appointed to settle it, a certified copy of the paper was sent to France for their instruction. 1
Father Bobé had advised that France should not trust solely to the justice of her claims, but should back right with might, and build forts on the Niagara, the Ohio, the Tennessee, and the Alabama, as well as at other commanding points, to shut out the English from the West. Of these positions, Niagara was the most important, for the possession of it would close the access to the Upper Lakes, and stop the western tribes on their way to trade at Albany. The Five Nations and the governor of New York were jealous of the French designs, which, however, were likely enough to succeed, through the prevailing apathy and divisions in the British colonies. “If those not immediately concerned,” writes a member of the New York council, “only stand gazing on while the wolff is murthering other parts of the flock, it will come to every one's turn at last.” The warning was well founded, but it was not heeded. Again: “It is the policy of the French to attack one colony at a time, and the others are so besotted as to sit still."? For gaining the consent of the Five Nations to the building of a French fort at Niagara, Vaudreuil trusted chiefly to his agent among the Senecas, the bold, skilful, and indefatigable Joncaire, who was naturalized among that tribe, the strongest of the confederacy. Governor Hunter of New York sent Peter Schuyler and Philip Livingston to counteract his influence. The Five Nations, who, conscious of declining power, seemed ready at this time to be all things to all men, declared that they would prevent the French from building at Niagara, which, as they said, would “shut them up as in a prison.”* Not long before, however, they had sent a deputation to Montreal to say that the English made objection to Joncaire's presence among them, but that they were masters of their land, and hoped that the French agent would come as often as he pleased; and they begged that the new King of France would take them under his protection.” Accordingly, Vaudreuil sent them a present, with a message to the effect that they might plunder such English traders as should come among them.”
1 Demandes de la France, 1723 (Archives des Affaires étrangères).
2 Colonel Heathcote to Governor Hunter, 8 July, 1715. Ibid, to Townshend, 12 July, 1715.
Yet so jealous were the Iroquois of a French fort at Niagara that they sent three Seneca chiefs to see what was going on there. The chiefs found a few Frenchmen in a small blockhouse, or loopholed storehouse, which they had just built near Lewiston
1 Journal of Schuyler and Livingston, 1720. * Vaudreuil au Conseil de Marine, 24 Octobre, 1717. * Vaudreuil et Bégon au Conseil de Marine, 26 Octobre, 1719.