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Aour mills in Richmond afterwards belonging to the Haxalls. His house, a wooden building on a cliff overlooking the James River, was still standing in 1860. Mr. Jacqueline Ambler, the Treasurer, was a son of Richard Ambler of Yorktown, who had been a friend and correspondent of Colonel Mason's mother. And Colonel Wood was connected with him by marriage, as he has said. Extracts from a letter of Mrs. Wood's have been given in a former chapter. Councillor Carter wrote two letters to George Mason in August, 1791, asking him "to sit as referee " in a case where his (Robert Carter's) action as trustee of his father-in-law's estate had been called in question. “The representatives” (the family of Mrs. Elizabeth Lowndes of Bladensburg, a daughter, as was Mrs. Carter, of the Hon. Benjamin Tasker], writes Colonel Carter, “are dissatisfied with my conduct in the business mentioned before, and we have mutually chosen you to hear and determine the matter of right." The 20th of September was named as the time appointed for the decision, which date apparently interfered with business of Colonel Mason's, and his correspondent therefore proposed that the former should appoint“ both time and place for the hearing of the matter."
i Carter Letter-Books.
The new government had not been long in operation before the contingency anticipated by George Mason in respect to the Indiana Company arose-the company bringing up its claim against Virginia. There were other land schemes agitated at this time also, such as the project of Morgan and Gardoqui, which were calculated to affect seriously Virginia's interests, and which were closely watched by her representatives in Congress.' Colonel Morgan issued a handbill, “ inviting a settlement under the authority of Spain at New Madrid, near the mouth of the Ohio, on the Spanish side," as William Grayson writes Patrick Henry in 1789. The colonists were promised the free navigation of the Mississippi, and a market at New Orleans free from duties for all the produce of their lands. Morgan was a member of the Indiana Company, and at the session of the Virginia Assembly, October, 1791, he presented a “memorial of the proprietors and share-holders of a tract of land called Indiana." It set forth “that in the year 1776 they did inform the General Assembly of the title to the said tract of land, by a memorial then presented to them; that although the legislature did afterward direct the said land to be sold for the benefit of the State, and did refuse to allow the memorialists any compensation therefor—yet they are convinced that this proceeded from a want of information
Virginia Calendar Papers," vol. iv., p. 534.
not then attainable ; and praying that their right to the said land may be investigated in the manner most satisfactory to the General Assembly, and in case it is established, that such compensation may be made to them therefor, as is consistent with equity." Roger West, one of the delegates in the Assembly from Fairfax County, consulted George Mason as to the course to be pursued, and the latter replied in the following letter, from which extracts have been given in a preceding chapter.
GUNSTON HALL, November 9th, 1791. DEAR SIR :
Your favor of the 4th did not come to my hands until last night, and the post leaving Colchester early to-morrow morning does not leave me time to answer you upon so important a subject as the Indiana claim, either to your satisfaction or to my own. I have searched all my papers, endeavoring to find my former argument in the Assembly, when I was appointed to collect the evidence and manage the business on behalf of the Commonwealth, which (if I could have found it) would have given the fullest information, but I imagine I must have lent it to some member of the Assembly, who has never returned it, and conceiving the matter after so full an investigation and positive determination as it then had, forever at an end, I was the less careful in preserving my notes and papers. Several depositions were then produced and some witnesses examined at the bar of the House, proving the mysterious and clandestine conduct of Sir William Johnston (the King's agent) at the treaty at Fort Stanwix, when the Indiana Company obtained their deed from the Indians. The council books were also produced, in which were many entries, previous to the Indiana Company's purchase, for lands much further to the westward. The Indiana Company's deed from the Indians was set aside and a declaratory act passed upon the subject, as well as my memory serves me, in the May session of 1779, principally upon the following points. First, the purchase of the same lands from the Six Nations of Indians, at the treaty of Lancaster in the year 1744, for the use of Virginia, and paid for with our money. The book containing the records
Journal of the Assembly.
LETTER TO ROGER WEST.
of this treaty and the deed of purchase was then produced, but I have understood has been since destroyed, as well as all the other Indian treaties, made here under the king's government, with the books and papers of the council and of the Committee of Safety, when General Arnold's troops burned the foundry at Westham in which they had been placed upon the enemy's marching towards Richmond. Second, because the Six Nations, who claimed the lands by conquest, had lost their title (even if they had not sold them at the treaty of Lancaster) by the same means by which they first gained it-conquest-their tributaries and tenants, the Shawnese and Delawares, with a mixture of the Six Nations having been expelled, and driven over the Ohio (from whence they never returned) and the lands on this side the Ohio conquered in the war which happened a little before the Indiana Company's purchase. Third, independent of the above reasons, the deed to the Indiana Company by the law of Virginia ought to have been recorded (like all other deeds) either in the county where the land lay, as in Augusta, which was the then frontier county of Virginia, or in the General Court, that for the want of this the deed (if there had been no other objection) was void as to all subsequent purchasers, and that the settlers upon the land under Virginia titles, of which there were a great many before the deed was recorded in Augusta, were in the equitable construction of the law, to be considered as purchasers. Fourth, because the consideration of the deed was a compensation to the Indian traders, for the losses they had suffered, and it was thought they had no more right to require compensation than a merchant who had his ship taken by an enemy's privateer, or any other sufferer in the common calamities of war. Fifth, because the traders to whom the Indian deed was made, being every one of them citizens of Pennsylvania, from which this trade with the Indians was carried on, if they had been entitled to compensation at all, ought to have had such compensation out of the lands under the chartered territory of Pennsylvania (for whose benefit the trade had been carried on, by her own citizens) and not out of the lands of Virginia, and this appeared in the strongest, or if I may be allowed the expression, more barefaced point of view as Pennsylvania had at that same treaty of Fort Stanwix made a large purchase from the Indians of lands within her own charter.
I presume the legislature cannot regularly give any decision in favor of the Indiana Company without repealing the before mentioned declaratory act, and the consequences of such a repeal may extend much further and produce effects which may not at first be foreseen. Among other things it would certainly open a door to the revival of Col. Henderson's and Company's claim to Kentucky, nor can any man tell when it would end.
In my humble opinion the matter's having been fully investigated, the Indiana Company heard by their counsel at the bar of the House, a dozen years ago, when there was much better evidence both written and oral, than can now possibly be had, and a solemn determination then made, is a sufficient reason against giving any decision upon
it when some of the witnesses are dead, some removed we don't know where, and when even the record evidence has been destroyed in the events of the late war. The present applicant Mr. Morgan is entitled to as much justice as any other man, but surely a man who has endeavored to depopulate the United States by seducing their citizens to quit their own country and settle in the Spanish territory has little pretensions to favor from us.
I have thus, sir, given you the best information upon the subject the short time I had would allow. I remember the Indiana Company when their claim at their own request was before the Assembly in 1779 produced in Williamsburg some English lawyers' opinions in their favor, upon a printed state of their case. show you (and if you think fit the Assembly) what sort of opinions the English lawyers were accustomed to give, when the poor American colonies and their rights were in question, I enclose you an opinion of Mr. Attorney-General Pratt's in the year 1760 upon a dispute between the then proprietor of Maryland and the people. Yet this is the same Mr. Pratt who has been since transformed into Lord Camden, the champion of liberty and the defender of the rights of the people. I have long kept it as a curiosity, you will therefore be pleased to take care of it and return it to me.
I thank you exceedingly for getting Mr. John Hooe's petition for a ferry postponed until the petition against it comes down. It is still out among the people of this county, but I will endeavor to get it as soon as possible and forward it to the Assembly, and