Imágenes de páginas

mained on the bench in Illinois but a short time, being changed to Missouri. His successor was Stanley Griswold, a good lawyer and an honest man, who, as Gov. Reynolds says in his Pioneer History, "paid his debts and sung David's Psalms." He was afterwards transferred to, Michigan, and Thomas Towles became his successor. William Sprigg was born and reared in Maryland, where his brother attained to the high office of governor. His education was classical and he was deeply read in the law. He was a man of singular purity of heart and simplicity of manner-lacking totally in all the arts of the politician."

Nathaniel Pope, a relative of the governor, was appointed secre. tary of the territory. He was born in Kentucky, at the Falls of the Ohio, in 1784. His education was collegiate, being one of the early graduates of Transylvania University, at Lexington. His natural endowments of head and heart, were very superior. To a fine analy tical mind, he added a genial and benevolent disposition, and great dignity of character. He selected the law for a profession, and soon mastered its intricacies. At the age of 21, he emi. grated to St. Genevieve, then Upper Louisiana, where he learned to speak French quite fluently. Five years later, he was appointed secretary of the Illinois territory. As such, in the absence of the governor, he was empowered, under the ordinance of 1787, to discharge the duties of the executive office. On the 25th of April, 1809, at St. Genevieve, before Judge Shrader, he took the oath of office, and coming to Illinois, inaugurated the new government on the 28th instant, by issuing his proclamation to that effect. The counties of St. Clair and Randolph were reinstated as the two counties of the Illinois territory. On the 3d of May, he appointed and commissioned Elias Rector attorney-general, John Hay sheriff, Enoch Moore coroner, and 17 justices of the peace.

On the 11th of June following, Governor Edwards assumed the duties of his office. He had taken the oath of office in Kentucky, before his departure. Upon his arrival at Kaskaskia, his Excel- . lency was tendered a flattering public address by the citizens, in which he was asked to espouse the side of the “virtuous majority.” by whose patriotic exertions the territory had been divided and he had attained his high station, and to whom ought to be distributed the offices in his gift, rather than to those who never ceased to oppose the measure and heap calumnies and indignities upon its friends. The governor, unwilling to become a partisan on either side, made a felicitous but non-committal reply. He re-appointed John Hay clerk of St. Clair county, and, as a curious instance of official self-succession to office in this country, we will mention that he held that public trust from thence on, until hiş decease, in 1845. In place of Rector, Benjamin H. Doyle had been appointed attorney-general, and he resigning, John J. Crittenden, of Kentucky, was appointed; but the latter, after holding the office a few months, also resigned, when his brother, Thomas L., succeeded him.

On the 16th of June, 1809, the governor, joined by Judges Stuart and Sprigg (Thomas being still absent in Washington), constitut.

*Reynolds, in his Pioneer History, says that Sprigg accompanied Governor Edwards in his campaign against the Indians on Peoria Lake, in 1812, unencumbered by gun or other weapon indicating belligerency. "His pacific and sickly appearance, together with his perfect philosophic indifference as to war or peace, life or death made hin the subject of much discussion among the troops. He was the only savant in the army."

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

ing a legislative body in the first grade of territorial government,
under the 5th section of the ordinance of 1787, met and re-enacted
such of the laws of the Indiana territory, with which the people,
who for nine years had formed a part thereof, were familiar, and
as were suitable and applicable to Illinois, and not local or special
to Indiana. Many of these laws were those which, without change
of phraseology, had either been originally imported or enacted by
the authorities of the old Northwestern territory.

Thus was put into operation the machinery of civil government
in the Territory of Illinois; but Governor Edwards, owing to the
local political dissensions, growing out of the question of territor-
ial division, which had degenerated into personal animosities, met
with no inconsiderable difficulties in avoiding the meshes of these
factions, struggling fiercely for respective ascendancy. He re-
solved not to be caught in the toils of either party, and for the
interests and prosperity of the country, sought to ignore the entire
question that it might pass into oblivion. At that day, the militia
system, which had received the earnest recommendation of Gover-
nor Harrison, and which was also a necessity of the times, was in
full and effective operation. With the dissolution of the Indiana
territory, it became the duty of Governor Edwards to re-organize
the militia for the new territory of Illinois. The separationists
urged his Excellency to appoint none to office in the militia who
had ever opposed the division of the territory; but this would
hare committed him contrary to his judgment. The anti-separa-
tionists pressed him to re-appoint all the old officers; but as a new
commission would have voided all offenses for which any officer
might have been tried and punished by dismissal, he refused to
accede to that also. To steer clear of both Scylla and Charibdis,
he referred the question to the people, by directing the militia
companies to elect the company officers, and the latter to choose
the field officers. With these orders, his Excellency retired from
the field of contention to Kentucky, to wind up some unfinished
court business, and upon his return, late in the fall, he issued an
address to the people, explanatory of his course, and commissioned
the militia officers returned to him as elected.

The population of the territory, at the time of its organization was estimated at 9000; the census of 1810 returned it at a total of 12,282–11,501 whites, 168 slaves, 613 of all others, except Indians -being an increase of some 400 per cent during the preceding decade. The frontiers had been steadily advanced by the adventurous pioneers. To the north, the settlements had extended to the Wood river country, in the present Madison county; eastward, on Silver creek and up the Kaskaskia river; south and east, "from Kaskaskia, some 15 miles out on the Fort Massac road; the Birds had located at the mouth of the Ohio; at old Massac and the Ohio salines, there had been nuclei of settlements for some time; Shawneetown,* the nearest point on the Ohio to the sa!t wells, 12 miles west, had contained a few straggling houses

'Shawneetown, which derives its name from a dissatisfied band of that tribe of Indians located there from 1735 to about 1760, was laid out by the direction of the United States goverment, in 1813-14, and for a quarter of a century was the principal town in the State. The site, chosen with reference to its contiguity to the United States salines, was an unfortunate one, being subject to repeated inundations. In 1813, a flood rose to the ridge poles on the roofs of many of the log houses, and swept 40 of them away, besides other damage to stock, fencing, etc, Petitions to change the location to the mouth of the Saline creek, 8 miles below, were disregarded.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


since 1805; along the west side of the Wabash, opposite Vincennes, were scattered a few families, one McCawley having penetrated inland to the crossing of the Little Wabash by the Vincennes road, but the latter were mostly abandoned during the war of 1812. Indeed, the new settlements were very sparse and all feeble, and from 1810, until the close of the war, 4 years later, immigration was almost at a stand. Nine-tenths of the territory was a howling wilderness, over which red savages held dominion and roamed at will, outnumbering the whites at least three to one.



OF 1812

The Country put in a State of Defence by the Organization of Rang. ing Companies and the Building of Block-house and Stockade Forts-Governor Edwards Sends an Envoy to Gomo's VillageBattle of Tippecanoe, Indian Council at Cahokia.

The British, after the war of Independence, relinquished with great reluctance, as we have seen, their hold upon the northwestern territory. The confederated tribes of the Northwest only ceased their warfare when they found their last hope of British aid cut off by Jay's treaty at London, November, 1794; but this treaty did not cover all the outrageous pretensions of Great Britain. In her desperate war with France, later, she boldly boarded American vessels on the high seas, searching for English-born seamen, impressing them into her marine service upon the ground of “once an Englishman, always an Englishman," and denying expatriation and American citizenship by naturalization. Nor did she scrutinize very closely as to the nationality of the seamen impressed, as in the case of the Chesapeake, boarded off the coast of Virginia, where, of four of the crew taken as deserters, three were of American birth. In the retaliatory measures between France and England, to prevent trade and commerce with either power, our vessels, as neutrals, became the prey of both hostile nations. The affair of the Chesapeake intensified the feeling already deep; Jefferson ordered all British ships-of-war out of the waters of the United States, and congress laid an embargo on American vessels, forbidding them to leave port, to the great injury of American commerce.

In the West, British emissaries were busy arousing the north- Western savages to war against the United States. Harrison's zeal and activity in divesting the Indian titles to western lands, was no inconsiderable provocative. In September, 1809, he had held a treaty at Fort Wayne with the Delawares, Potawattomies, Miamis, Kickapoos, Weas and Eel River Indians, who, in consideration of $2,350 as annuities, and $8,200 of presents in hand, ceded to the United States a large tract of country, comprising near three million acres of land in Indiana, extending up the Wabash above Terre Haute, and interiorly to include the middle waters of White river, and trenching upon the home and hunting ground of the great Shawnee warrior, Tecumseh, whose nation was not a party to the treaty, and who denounced it as unjust and illegal

At a council, invited by Governor Harrison and held at Vincennes, August 12, 1810, Tecumseh, followed by 400 warriors, inaintained that all the north western tribes were one nation, holding their lands in common, and that without the consent of all the tribes concerned, no treaty of purchase and cession was valid; that his purpose was to wrest power from the village chiefs and put it in the hands of the war chiefs. Nor did he deny baving threatened to kill the chiefs who had treacherously signed the treaty. An angry discussion arose between Harrison and Tecumseh, the latter boldly avowing his purpose to hold the lands conveyed by the treaty, and resist the further intrusion of the whites. He made an impassioned and bitter recital of the wrongs and aggressions of the whites upon the Indians, declaring they had been driven back from the sea coast now to be pushed into the lakes. Harrison ridiculed his pretensions and the wrongs of his people, whereupon Tecumseh sprang to his feet, and excitedly charged his Excellency with cheating and imposing upon the Indiaus. His red warriors, inflamed by his vehement manner, simultaneously siezed their tomahawks and brandished their war clubs, as if ready for the work of massacre. A moment of silent but awful suspense to the whites, who were unarmed, followed. No further demonstration was however made, and Tecumseh, spurned by Harrison, retired, determined to adhere to the old boundary. The ill-feeling, steadily on the increase, between the United

, , States and Great Britain, was early apprehended by the savages through the machinations of British agents and traders on the northwestern frontier. Nicholas Jarrott, of Cahokia, having just returned from a trip to Prairie du Chien, made affidavit, June 28, 1809, that British agents and traders at that post, and on the frontiers of Canada, were inciting the Indians to hostility, and fitting them out with guns and ammunition for demonstrations against the western settlers.* The savages were greatly emboldened by these friendly offers to commit depredations upon the American settlements. In July, 1810, a band of Potawattomies, from Illinois, made a raid upon a settlement in Missouri, opposite the mouth of the Gasconade, stealing horses and other property. The owners, with their friends to the number of six, made pursuit. The Indians, who were discovered at the distance of a few miles, to baffle their pursuers, changed their course. The whites, after a fatiguing march, went into camp, and neglecting to post a guard, fell soundly asleep. In the night, the Indians, with demoniac yells, pounced upon the sleepers and tomahawked all but two. The survivors speedily spread the dreadful tidings, which created great excitement at the time. The proof from various circumstances being clear that the murderers were Potawattomies, the governor of Missouri made a requisition upon the governor of Illinois for them. During the same year, hostile demonstrations were made by the Sac and Fox nations, of Illinois, against Fort Madison, situate on the west bank of the Mississippi, above the Des Moines Rapids. Hostilities also existed between the Iowas and Osages, both resid.

*Annals of the West,-Appendix. This was, however, denied by a communication from Messrs. Bleakly and Portier, the parties implicated, of Prairie du Chien.

« AnteriorContinuar »