Western settlements before 1763.—But it was the backwoodsmen, and not the corporations, who opened the Trans-Alleghany country. Before the war a few settlements had been made on the western waters, In 1748 Draper's Meadows, on the Greenbrier, in West Virginia, were settled. Between 1750 and 1752 a settlement was made by the Ohio Company at Redstone on the Monongahela. By 1758 several small settlements had been made on the Holston, Watauga, and Cheat Rivers. But during the war these western settlements were abandoned, and the frontier pushed eastward a hundred miles or more.
The westward movement after the war.—The French and Indian War was scarcely over when the westward movement began again, regardless of proclamations or the deliberations of the Board of Trade. In 1760 Daniel Boone, from the Yadkin in North Carolina, "cilled a bar" on the Watauga River. Between 1761 and 1765 Wallen annually led hunters to the west. In 1765 Croghan surveyed the Ohio River, and the next year James Smith and others explored the Tennessee. In 1767 Finley was in Kentucky, and Stoner, Harrod, and Lindsay were at French Lick (the site of Nashville). In 1767 and 1770 Boone was "prospecting" for Judge Richard Henderson, a land speculator of North Carolina. At the same time Mansker led a party down the Cumberland and on to Natchez. By this time others had wandered far beyond the Mississippi and were causing the Spanish officials anxiety.
The hunters, traders, and prospectors were followed by surveyors and settlers. The chief participants in the movement were from the middle region and the South: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. Prominent among the pioneers on the western waters were the Scotch-Irish who had settled the back country of the older colonies and stood waiting at the western passes.
The Appalachian barrier.—To reach the Mississippi Valley the frontiersman was forced to pass the Appalachian barrier, extending from Maine to Georgia. The easiest pass through it, by way of the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers, was impeded by the Six Nations who stood between the western frontier of settlement and the vacant lands beyond. Farther south the barrier was traversed by a series of interlocking rivers, flowing in opposite directions, whose valleys afforded trails. The Susquehannah led to the Alleghany, the Potomac to the Monongahela, the James and Roanoke to the Great Kanawha, the Great Pedee, the Yadkin, and Catawba to the head waters of the Tennessee. A series of longitudinal valleys on the eastern front of the southern Appalachians gave access from Virginia and North Carolina to the upper Tennessee, from whose valley an easy pass was found to Kentucky by way of Cumberland Gap.
The Indian barrier.—The Iroquois Confederacy, though friendly, was a retarding force to the northern stream of emigration. The Algonquin tribes north of the Ohio had been friendly with the French, and after the French and Indian War they favored the French traders rather than those from the seaboard colonies. At the southern end of the Appalachians westward expansion was retarded by the strong confederacies of the Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, and Chickasaws. The region between the Ohio and the Tennessee was the "dark and bloody ground" between the northern and southern tribes, but permanently inhabited by neither. It was this region which was opened to settlement by the Indian cessions between 1768 and 1770. The cessions were followed immediately by a movement of settlers into the area.
THE SETTLEMENT OF EASTERN TENNESSEE
The North Carolina Regulators.—The movement across the mountains was stimulated by a popular upheaval in the back country of North Carolina. Shortly before 1740 the Scotch-Irish and German migration reached North Carolina and by 1765 the lands along the headwaters of the Yadkin, Haw, Neuse, Tar, Catawba, and Deep Rivers had been occupied. Many English and Welsh also had settled in the same region. Between the Piedmont and the coastal plain was a sparsely settled country of pine forests. "Cut off ... from the men of the east, the men of the 'back country' felt no more sympathy for the former than they received from them." The coast country controlled the legislature and the courts. The men of the West complained that they were forced to pay excessive taxes, that the sheriffs were dishonest, and fees extortionate. An additional grievance was the scarcity of money. During 1765-1767 the frontiersmen began to organize and from 1767 to 1771 the back country was in a state of rebellion. Lawyers were seized and whipped, and the Hillsboro court was broken up. In 1771 the Regulators were defeated by Governor Tryon's troops in the battle of the Alamance and the rebellion soon subsided. During those troubled years many had sought new homes in the western valleys.
The Watauga settlement.—Permanent settlement was made in eastern Tennessee in 1769. In that year a band of pioneers moved down the valley from Virginia and settled on the Watauga River, a branch of the Tennessee, thinking that they were still in Virginia. A short time afterward they were joined by settlers from North Carolina, within whose bounds the colony proved to be. Two able leaders soon emerged. James Robertson, a backwoodsman and a "mighty hunter," went to Watauga in 1770 and took thither a colony of sixteen North Carolina families in 1771. A year later arrived John Sevier, a Virginian of Huguenot extraction. Like Robertson, he was an able Indian fighter and a leader of men.
The Watauga Association.—Finding themselves outside of Virginia and beyond the reach and protection of the North Carolina administration, the settlers, like the Pilgrim Fathers in a similar situation, reverted to the social compact—familiar to Scotch-Irish Presbyterians and to back-country North Carolinians who had "regulated" horse stealing—and formed a government for themselves. In 1772 a convention of the settlers created an independent government called the Watauga Association. It had a written constitution, vesting the administration in an executive committee of five, two of whom were Sevier and Robertson. This committee exercised most of the powers of sovereignty, making treaties, administering justice, granting lands, and making war on the Indians. In 1776 the Watauga Association, realizing the need of help, petitioned the Council of North Carolina to extend its government over the new settlements, and in 1777 they were organized as Washington County.
THE BEGINNINGS OF KENTUCKY
The surveyors and first settlers.—Settlement had also begun in what is now Kentucky. Ahead of the settlers went the prospectors and surveyors, who descended the Ohio and the Kanawha to select and survey lands. In 1770 and 1772 George Washington explored lands in what is now northeastern Kentucky. In 1773 the McAfees led a party of surveyors down the Ohio, crossed Kentucky, and returned over the Cumberland Mountains. In the following year several parties of surveyors and land hunters were sent by Virginia officials to lay out bounty lands for soldiers. Others went without official sanction. One party was led by John Floyd from Fincastle County, Virginia, who descended the Kanawha and Ohio to the Falls, crossed Kentucky, and returned by Cumberland Gap. During his expedition he surveyed lands for George Washington, Patrick Henry, and others. Attempts at settlement had already been made. In 1773 Daniel Boone led a colony from North Carolina toward Kentucky, but was driven back by Indians. The next year Harrod, of Virginia, founded a settlement in Kentucky called Harrodsburg, but it was broken up by Indians, whose hostilities drove out all settlers and land hunters.
Indian ravages.—The border war which now occurred was the culmination of a long series of troubles between the frontiersmen of Pennsylvania and Virginia, and the Indians of the Ohio Valley. The Delawares had been pushed over the Pennsylvania Mountains to the Muskingum and Tuscarawas Rivers. Among them settled the Moravian missionaries, who formed them into Christian towns and kept them peaceful when others were hostile. The Shawanee had been pushed north to the Scioto River, whence they marauded the Virginia border. Behind them were the hostile tribes who had taken part in Pontiacs War. Through 1773 an Indian uprising was threatening, and preparations were made in the westernmost settlements of Virginia. Early in 1774 many settlers fled from the Holston and Clinch Valleys. Minor outrages being committed along the Ohio, alarm, spread, and in April there was a retreat across the Monongahela, which was crossed by more than a thousand refugees in a single day.
Lord Dunmore's War.—Governor Dunmore now prepared for war, which, there is some ground for thinking, he helped to bring on as a means of strengthening Virginia's claims to the Northwest. To warn the surveyors and settlers Colonel Preston, lieutenant-sheriff and surveyor of Fincastle County, Virginia, sent Boone and Stoner through Kentucky. They went as far as the Falls of the Ohio, and saved most of the men on the frontier. The governor organized a campaign, himself leading the Virginia regulars down the Ohio, while the frontier levies were led by Colonel Andrew Lewis. They were to meet at the mouth of the Great Kanawha. When Lewis reached that point he was attacked before the arrival of Dunmore by the Indians under Chief Cornstalk, whom he defeated. Thereupon the Indians sued for peace with Dunmore, who had entered their country north of the Ohio. In the following October a treaty was made at Fort Pitt which kept the northern Indians quiet during the first two years of the Revolution and made it possible to settle Kentucky.
Henderson and Transylvania.—Harrodsburg was now refounded by Virginians (1775) who constituted the majority of the settlers. Henderson, the North Carolina land speculator, formed a land company, called the Transylvania Company. To improve his title in 1775 he made a treaty with the Overhill Cherokees paying them £10,000 for their claims to lands along and between the Cumberland and the Kentucky. Boone, with a party of thirty men, was sent ahead to clear a road for Henderson's colony from the Holston River to the Kentucky (1775). It became the famous highway known as the Wilderness Road. Henderson followed with his colony, founded Boonesborough, built a fort, and opened a land office, naming his colony Transylvania. He attempted to set up in the wilderness a modified proprietary régime. Having established his colony, he called a convention; the delegates made laws which Henderson approved, and a compact was formed between the delegates and proprietors defining the irrespective rights. The proprietors retained control by reserving to themselves the veto power.
Transylvania absorbed by Virginia.—Henderson's procedure was regarded as illegal, and he was denounced by the governors of both Virginia and North Carolina. When the Revolution broke out the proprietors sent a delegate to the Continental Congress and appealed to that body for protection, but, largely through Virginia's influence, the delegation was rejected. The Virginia settlers in Kentucky, led by Harrod, opposed Henderson's claim to lands, appealed to Virginia, and sent George Rogers Clark to the assembly. Virginia asserted sovereignty over Kentucky, and stormy times continued till 1777, when Kentucky with her present boundaries was organized as Kentucky County, Virginia.
THE UPPER OHIO AND MIDDLE TENNESSEE
Westsylvania.—While Henderson was founding Transylvania another region west of the mountains was being settled and was struggling for independent statehood. Emigrants from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and other states had crossed the mountains and settled on the tributaries of the upper Ohio in what are now western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and eastern Ohio. By the middle of 1776 there were said to be 25,000 families on the tributaries of the Ohio above the Scioto River. But the land which they occupied was in dispute between Virginia and Pennsylvania, and the Indiana and Vandalia Companies, and the settlers took up the struggle, quarreling over land titles and jurisdiction. The disorders prevented effective organization against the Indians. Shortly after the Declaration of Independence the settlers memorialized Congress, asking independent statehood as a "sister colony and fourteenth province of the American confederacy," under the name of Westsylvania, whose boundaries they described, but the request was not granted.
The Cumberland settlement.—Robertson was the type of frontiersmen desirous to be ever on the move. In 1779 he prospected at French Lick, returned to Watauga, raised a colony, and in the fall led it forth. The women and children were conducted by Donelson down the Tennessee and up the Cumberland, while Robertson, guided by Mansker, led the men overland. Nashborough, now Nashville, was founded at the Cumberland Bend, and other stations were occupied along the river. In 1780 a convention formed an "Association" much like that of Watauga, but after three years of independence the district became Davidson County, North Carolina.
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