History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Life and Times of
Sir William Johnson, Bart.,
by William L. Stone
Albany: J. Munsell, 78 State Street, 1865.
Chapter VIII. 1747.
Governor Clinton, who, as already observed in the last chapter, had departed for Albany on the nineteenth of June, did not leave an hour too early, for the military affairs in that quarter were in a deplorable condition. Instead of increasing them, for the purpose of offensive operations, the forces were diminished by sickness and desertion, and the thousand mischances incident to an army of irregulars kept in the field contrary to their own inclinations. In such numbers did they desert, that a party of thirty-eight in a body were fired upon by the officers at AEsopus, and retaken,-two of them being wounded. They were marched back to Albany.(l) The road from Mount Johnson to Oswego, was infested by the enemy; murders were committed at Burnetsfield;(2) so that Colonel Johnson could not forward supplies without a strong guard, thus materially enhancing the expense of executing his contract for that post;(3) while in addition to all, as if grown weary of awaiting an invasion at Crown Point, the French, with their Indians, were again showing themselves in formidable numbers in the vicinity of Saratoga. Colonel Johnson was advised, on the sixteenth of June, by the return of an unsuccessful war-party of the Schoharies,(4) of the approach upon Lake Champlain, of a fleet of three hundred canoes, and admonished to be on his guard against a surprise.(5) Immediately
(1) Manuscript letter: John H. Lydius to Colonel Johnson.
(2) The present village of Herkimer.
(3) Manuscript Letter: Johnson to Clinton.
(4) A clan of the Mohawks.
(5) Manuscript Letter: Lydius to Johnson.
on the arrival of this intelligence at Saratoga, Captain Chew was ordered forth with a detachment of one hundred men to reconnoiter the country between that post and the head of Lake Champlain. Falling in with the enemy on the nineteenth of June, an action ensued in which fifteen of his men were killed, and forty-seven more, with himself, taken prisoners. The detachment encountered by Chew was commanded by M. Lacose, who immediately fell back upon a much larger force, occupying the path of communication between the Hudson and the lake. But Lacose did not fall back without leaving a detachment of three hundred men, under M. Laquel, to lurk about Saratoga, and cut off approaching supplies. According to the representation of one of the enemy's Indians, who deserted and came into Saratoga, the main force of the French at the carrying-place consisted of twelve companies. The Indian informed farther, that Lacose was to advance again immediately with artillery and mining tools, to lay Beige to the fort. Meantime the three hundred who had been left in the environs of the fort, under M. Laquel, performed bold service by appearing openly and attempting to fire a blockhouse, used, as they supposed, as a magazine, by shooting burning arrows against its walls." The person appointed to perform this duty," said the commander of the fort in a letter written to Colonel Johnson, "had a blanket carried before him that he might not discover the fire upon the points of the arrows.(1)" The main body of the enemy soon moved down to Fish Creek, a few miles north of Saratoga, and a detachment of his troops was thrown between that post and Albany. Colonel Schuyler immediately marched with his regiment, and such other forces "could raise on the instant, to meet the invader; who, however, though greatly superior in numbers, retired at his approach and fell back to Crown Point.
The Indian allies of the English were again becoming
(1) Letter to Colonel Johnson, copied in his own hand, but the signature of which is omitted.
much dissatisfied, with the languor pervading the service. After having,, though with great reluctance, been incited to engage in the war, they were desirous of seeing it prosecuted with vigor. A number of their chiefs now met Colonel Schuyler and complained bitterly of the continued and most discouraging delays. They had been chiefly induced to take the warpath against the French by the extraordinary preparations they had marked as in progress for the invasion, and they had not themselves been backward in annoying the enemy; but as they were convinced from the present inactivity of the English, that the design of an invasion must have been laid aside,-a conviction strengthened by the daily and rapid decrease, of the new levies,-they said they should be necessitated to nake peace with the French for themselves, on the best terms they could. Still, if the English would immediately march against Crown Point, they would cheerfully assist them with one thousand of their best warriors.(1)
I have found no record of Mr. Clinton's doings at Albany during this visit, save a single sentence in a letter written by him to the duke of Newcastle upon his return to the city, to the effect that while at Albany, he had prevailed upon two powerful Indian natives-formerly in the French interest-to join the English. The visit, however, was probably a short one, since he was at the council board again in July, but from the letters of Colonel Johnson it appears that he met the governor and concerted arrangements for relieving Oswego,--Lieutenant Visscher having been dispatched thither with a cargo of goods, provisions, and ammunition.
Meantime notwithstanding the loss of so great a portion of the open season, and the utter neglect of the contest by the ministers, so far at least as the colonies were concerned, Governor Shirley was pushing his design of an attack upon Crown Point, with all the zeal and energy of his character, and all the means at his command. There could be no
(1)Gentleman's Magazine, September, 1747.
security for the frontiers either of New York or New England from the devastations of the enemy, until Crown Point, the grand rendezvous of the numerous war-parties continually harassing the border, should be wrested from him; and in order to unity of action, and the organization and concentration of a force adequate to the undertaking, Shirley wrote to Clinton in July, proposing a congress of the colonies from New Hampshire to Virginia, both inclusive, to consult for the common defence, and render their efforts for the prosecution of the war more effective. He informed Mr. Clinton that he had summoned a meeting of the Massachusetts legislature to consider the subject, and he urged a similar course upon New York. He said he had made like communications to the colonies included in the project, urging them all to cooperate,-Massachusetts, at all events, being determined to exert her utmost power in the enterprise. He was very anxious that the Six Nations should be persuaded to greater exertions than they had hitherto made; and for the better security of the northwestern settlements of Massachusetts, he asked that one hundred rangers might be employed by New York between Saratoga and the New England border.(1)
The general assembly of New York came together again for the transaction of business on the fourth of August, when Shirley's letter was laid before them by the governor, accompanied by a message informing them that by the advice of his council he had acceded to the proposal contained in that letter, and that the forces of the province were to be put into action in conjunction with those of Massachusetts and Connecticut. The season for offensive operations, however, was already too far advanced to allow of a meeting of commissioners to make estimates of the expense, and to adjust the proportions which each colony respectively should bear. But on a rough calculation it was thought that fourteen thousand pounds would cover the charges of the intended movement, and his excellency
(1) See Shirley's letter in the minutes of the council board.
trusted that neither of the colonies would be backward in meeting its just share of the amount. Indeed, he thought New York might venture to assume more than its quota, both Massachusetts and Connecticut having advanced considerable sums to stimulate the Six rations in continuing their incursions against the enemy. The governor said he had received the renewed assurances of the good feelings of the Six Nations, with pledges of their most vigorous assistance ; and he had likewise reason to expect the aid of several more distant tribes, heretofore in the interests of the French. He would bring no other subject to the attention of the assembly then, wishing their immediate action upon this important matter, that he might communicate their determination to the other governments forth- with, and thus prevent further loss of time.
The message was not met in a corresponding spirit by the assembly, but on the contrary, the first action was the adoption of a series of resolutions insulting the governor, and evasive as to the object specially pressed upon their consideration. They cautiously declared their willingness to come into any "well-concerted" scheme for annoying the common enemy, but they would not consent to raise moneys upon the "pretense" contained in the message, without a better knowledge of the "grounds" and "reasons." They doubted whether Massachusetts and Connecticut had ever contributed any "considerable sums" for the Indian service, and even if they had done so, New York had paid more than both of them put together,-adding to the sentence the significant insinuation-" and his excellency knows how these sums have been applied." Still, for the promotion of any "well concerted scheme" against the enemy by the three colonies named in the message, they would consent to bear one-third of the expense; believing, however, that the other colonies, not mentioned, ought to contribute to the cause. These negative resolves were adopted on the sixth of August, From that day until the thirty -first, not the least attention was paid by the assembly to the state of the colony,-its time being occupied upon bills of comparatively trifling moment, such as for farming out the excise,-for raising a farther sum by lottery toward founding a college,-and for the examination of the public accounts for the year 1713; for preventing desertions from the forces, &c., &c.
But if the assembly was idle, the enemy was not, and the people of the northern settlements, even of Albany itself, were in a high state of alarm, and that not without reason. Parties of the enemy had penetrated south of the Mohawk; into the valley of the Schohariekil, where a number of men had been killed and scalped. Saratoga was also once more nearly if not quite surrounded by the foeman, and several persons had likewise been killed in that vicinity. How Colonel Johnson was engaged at this time, will appear by the following extracts from a letter addressed by him to the governor:
Colonel Johnson to Governor Clinton.
"MOUNT JOHNSON, August 13, 1747.
"May it please your excellency:
"I enclose the message sent by the New England Indians to their uncles, the Mohawks, and their answer to it, by which all people may see that the Indians are in earnest, and resolved to proceed in the war. I this day had an account by an Indian express from Oswego, that there were a great number of Senecas, and some of the foreign Indians with them, (called the Flat Heads,) coming down to me with several belts of wampum,--one whereof is a vast large one,-almost like the one your excellency gave the Six Nations last summer,-which belt must purport a great deal of news. I expect them here in two days, and am making everything ready for their reception. As soon as I have heard the news, and have done with them, I shall let your excellency know the purport.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
"I spoke to your excellency when in Albany, about necessaries for the men destined for the Indian service, but find nothing done about it. I have not one pair of Indian shoes for them, without which they cannot go through the woods. I proposed doing great service with these men, and the Indians together, hut it seems I may not have the opportunity ; for there is not even one of the companies which were ordered for that service moved up here yet, which makes the Indians think worse and worse of us, after assuring them they should be up very shortly. I lead a most miserable life among them at present, occasioned by so many disappointments.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"There is one thing which I wish your excellency to consider of, which is my extraordinary expense in keeping several hands employed to attend the numbers of Indians I have daily had at my house these twelve months past; as also of a clerk, who, with myself, has more work than men can well bear. This the country is very sensible of. So I shall leave it to your excellency's consideration what to do in it."(l)
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
On the twenty-fourth of August, information was received by the governor from Albany, that the forces stationed there had been withdrawn from the city, and posted on the east side of the Hudson, a mile below, by which movement the city was left defenceless, greatly exposed, and the people much alarmed. Several gentlemen from Albany were examined upon the subject before the legislative council, who confirmed the statement. It farther appeared that depredations had been committed by the enemy in the very precincts of Albany; that there were not more than three hundred of its citizens, old and young, capable of bearing arms; and that all were compelled, from the aged judge of the court to the stripling, to mount guard in turn each one every fourth night,-whereupon an address was presented to the governor praying that the levies at the north be ordered to move into the city and remain there for its protection
(1) Manuscript Letter.
until otherwise directed. The cause of this movement of the troops from Albany nowhere appears. It seems, however, to have been of apiece with the bustling, yet strangely inefficient conduct of the war in this quarter from the beginning.
Impatient, and not without reason, at the inaction of the assembly, the governor sent them a message on the thirty-first of August, informing them explicitly that he would no longer furnish provisions for the four independent companies stationed at Albany, at the expense of the crown, nor for the levies from the southern counties, destined for the Canadian expedition. Neither would he draw any longer upon the crown for the support of the Indian department, although he could not disguise the fact that a failure of supplies for the Indian war-parties, might be followed by frightful consequences. He therefore requested a vote of supplies for those objects of the public service for two months,-by the end of which time he hoped to receive definite information as to his majesty's pleasure respecting the forces at Albany, and also to learn whether the neighboring colonies would contribute toward the defence of the country. He informed them that since the invasion of the enemy at Burnetsfield, Colonel Johnson could no longer supply the post at Oswego, save at double the former expense, nor even then unless furnished with a guard to escort the stores. A vote of supplies for this object, and also to defray the cost of transporting provisions to Saratoga, was necessary, since these expenses could no longer be borne by the crown. Accompanying the message was an extract from a letter from Colonel Johnson, informing the governor that he was about to set out at the head of a considerable party of Christians and Indians in quest of a large body of the enemy and his allies who had been discovered between Saratoga and Crown Point. This letter was dated on the nineteenth of August. Two days afterward another dispatch from the colonel, dated the twenty-eighth, was communicated to the assembly upon the same subject.
The assembly replied by resolutions declaring that neither the crown nor the colony need be at the expense of supporting the four companies of independent fusileers stationed at Albany, they having always subsisted themselves, out of their own pay, save when detached to distant posts as at Oswego, for example, in which cases the colony had always furnished the supplies, as of course they ought. The colony, it was said, had from time to time, and some". times even without his excellency's recommendation, provisioned the sixteen companies of one hundred levies each; and it appeared to the assembly unreasonable that they should be burdened with the farther expense of supporting the forces from the more southern colonies, which ought each to provide for their own. In regard to the Indian service, inasmuch as the crown had authorized the making of such presents to them in 1746, as would secure their hearty cooperation in the war, they urged that his excellency ought to continue drawing upon that source, for that object, at least until his majesty's pleasure should be signified to the contrary,-hoping at the same time-for the house lost no opportunity of renewing, at least by implication, the charge of a former embezzlement of Indian presents,-that his excellency had made such use of the means placed in his hands by the crown for that object, as had been for the advantage of his majesty's service. So of supplying Saratoga, as his excellency's bills for supplying that post had thus far been borne by the crown, he should continue to draw until instructed to the contrary. Respecting the hardship of Colonel Johnson's case, it was held that according to his excellency's own message of December second, 1746, that gentleman had contracted to supply the garrison at Oswego upon the same terms in war as in peace. No additional allowance ought therefore to he made to him for that service, even for defraying the expenses of guards. The pressure of the enemy upon the northern settlements, however, awakened the assembly to a partial sense of duty in the emergency ; and having thus cavalierly discussed those subjects of the message, it had the grace to resolve that provision ought to be made for the pay and subsistence of three companies of rangers, of fifty men each, for the protection of the inhabitants against the skulking parties of the enemy,-one for the defence of Albany, one for Schenectady, and one for Kinderhook. The feelings of Mr. Clinton in regard to these resolutions, may be inferred from the subjoined letter communicating a-copy thereof to Colonel Johnson: It also shows the high estimate which Clinton placed upon the services which Johnson was then rendering to the country:
Governor Clinton to Colonel Johnson.
New York, September 7, 1747.
My last letter to you was dated the twentieth of August. Soon after I received yours of the fourteenth, seventeenth, and nineteenth, acquainting me of your intention of going out with a party of Indians and Christians; and very uneasy I have been ever since, afraid lest that letter should be the means of your laying aside such a glorious design, which must always redound to your honored reputation. You ought to receive the thanks of the whole province for what you have already done for it, but am sorry to say, instead of public thanks, you have the frowns of an inveterate assembly, as you will see by the enclosed resolves. But I hope you will receive thanks from their superiors,.
" I must now acknowledge the receipt of yours of the twenty-eighth of August, which I immediately communicated to the council and assembly, in hopes if would have touched their souls.(1) But notwithstanding it was delivered to them before their resolve about the provisions for
(1) Johnson was very careful in preserving the original draughts of his letters. But the letter we have spoken of, with many hundreds of others, has not survived the ravages of time and chance. According to the entry of its substance in the minutes of the council board, however, the force the colonel was now preparing to lead against the enemy, consisted of "four hundred Christians and about the same number of Indians."
Oswego, it had no effect on them. But I will venture to say, that though these stubborn Dutchmen won't do you the justice they ought, yet when I represent to his majesty the vast progress you have made, (beyond any reasonable expectation,) by your good management, and most extraordinary influence with the Indians, which you surprisingly cultivate continually, your conduct and behavior will be greatly approved by his majesty, and in such a manner as may show these wretches you have merited your royal master's favor, in a great measure preserving not only this but all the northern colonies from ruin.
"I acquainted governor Shirley what you desired in relation to Lydius, who desired I would acquaint you he was sorry you had taken umbrage at Lydius's being concerned with you in what has been done by his government towards securing the Indians of the Six Nations in our interest. He would not have you imagine that himself, or any part of his government, puts Lydius's services in the least computation with your own, or that the Indians have been engaged in acts of hostility against the French, by any person's influence but your own, under my directions; and your uncle Sir Peter, to whom his letters on that head, and the duke of Newcastle, have been shown, can inform you that he has done your merit all the justice in his power.
"For my part I think this expedition you have now undertaken, to be of such infinite service to this and the neighboring colonies, that though I was determined to be at no more charges for the Indians at the expense of the crown, yet I can't avoid doing it again in justice to you and the brave Indians who are on this party with you; for which reason, whatever goods and expense you are at, for satisfying the Indians, on your return I will give you my bills on the treasury therefor. But then I must desire you to give it out, (and to; let nobody know to the contrary) that you take this expense upon yourself from the faith you have in the assembly, which can't refuse to pay you for service that is so absolutely necessary for the safety of the people of this province.
"I would send you up money, but as I writ you word in my letter of the twentieth, I could not get a farthing, on account of a man-of-war going to England. I should therefore be glad if you would take bills for the account you sent me, and add this to it, your uncle can solicit it, and I promise to do all in my power, both with the duke of Newcastle and Mr. Pelham, to get them immediately paid; and I can assure you you may depend on Mr. Shirley's interest in it entirely. I think you had best come down, and we can together settle things to the satisfaction of both of us.
"Commissioners are come from Boston to negotiate a scheme for securing the Indians and frontiers, and I expect others.(1) It will not be amiss to acquaint the Indians of it. I hope Mr. Shirley and I shall soon agree upon something to keep the Indians steadfast in our interest.
"You have several friends on the spot who heartily wish you well, and a great deal of success; and I do assure you nobody does it more heartily than, dear sir,
"Your faithful friend and serv't,
"P. S. I must caution you to be on your guard, for some
people who ought to bear a greater regard for you than they ever showed, considering
the alliance between them and Sir Peter, have some designs not to save you,
take my word, but themselves. I wait with great impatience to hear from you.(2)
" Colonel Johnson."
(1) These commissioners were Samuel Wells, Robert. Hale, and Oliver Partridge. Shirley's letter announcing their appointment, was received and laid before Governor Clinton's council on the fourth of September. On the eleventh, Roger Wolcott, Thomas Fitch, and Benjamin Hall, were announced as the commissioners from Connecticut. On the twenty-second, Philip Livingston, and Joseph Murray, of the executive council, and William Nicholl, Philip Verplanck, and Harry Cruger, of the assembly, were appointed commissioners to the congress on the part of New York.
The sailor-governor, who certainly wrote his own letters, although
Colden had the credit of preparing his state-papers, was not the best rhetorician
of his day. Still, he could write well enough to make himself understood.
Colonel Johnson was now evidently in high favor with his excellency, while
the members of the assembly were denounced with emphasis, though in a private
letter, as "wretches." The character of Lydius was questionable
and there was probable cause for the jealousy of Johnson toward him. Lydius
had visited Boston during the preceding month of May, and from the tenor of
a letter addressed to him soon after his return to Albany, by Colonel Stoddard,
of Northampton, which I find among the Johnson papers, he must have succeeded
in imposing himself upon Governor Shirley and his counsellors as a man of
no mean consideration. The postscript to the foregoing letter of Mr. Clinton,
referred, of course, to DeLancey, now become the master-spirit of the assembly,
and who had probably moved the house to the hostile resolution against Johnson.
But the chief justice was too wary to commit himself upon paper,--using Mr.
Horsmanden, his associate upon the bench, as his amanuensis. The resolutions
and addresses of the assembly during this stormy period were understood to
have been written by him, and the day on which he was to be punished for these
labors, was now rapidly drawing nigh. Having invested the chief justice with
a commission irrevocable during good behavior, and therefore being unable
to visit him with his resentment, the governor determined to bestow the full
measure of his vengeance upon his instrument. Accordingly, on the twelfth
day of September, Mr. Horsmanden was suspended from his majesty's service
as a member of the council, and a note of his suspension was directed to be
entered upon the journals. The reasons for this procedure the governor said
he would cause to be laid before his majesty. Having also been previously
named as one of the commissioners to meet the representatives from the other
colonies in congress, Mr. Horsmanden's name was ordered to be stricken from
that commission.(1) Nor was his degradation completed until his removal from
the bench, and from the recordership of the city,-measures that followed in
succession. Yet he continued to hold the pen for the assembly for a considerable time afterward. Being poor, however, he was compelled to rely upon the private bounty of his friends and partisans; and those who know the selfishness and ingratitude of politicians, in all ages, and almost without an exception, may well judge how he fared. In the emphatic language of Smith, he was "employed,applauded,-and ruined.(2)"
The return of Colonel Johnson from his expedition toward Crown Point in search of the enemy, whom he was not able to find, was announced to the governor by express on the thirteenth of September. Very unpleasant intelligence, however, had been received from that direction a few days before, filling the assembly and the people with alarm. The fort at Saratoga was garrisoned by the New Jersey levies, commanded by Colonel Peter Schuyler ; but as Mr. Clinton was inflexible in his purpose of drawing no more upon the crown, there was danger of a speedy evacuation of the post for want of provisions. Indeed, information to that effect from Colonel Schuyler himself, caused the assembly, without waiting for his excellency's answer to their resolutions of the second of September, to address him on the ninth, praying earnestly for the adoption of such
(1) Minutes of the council board.
(2) "Such was his condition, until he raised himself by an advantageous match, and, by forsaking his associates, reconciled himself to Mr. Clinton, when that governor broke with the man whose indiscretion and vehemence the chief justice had improved, to expose both to the general odium of the colony. Until his marriage with Mrs. Vesey, Mr. Horsmanden was an object of pity; toasted indeed as the man who dared to be honest in the worst of times, but at a loss for his meals, and, by the importunity of his creditors, hourly exposed to the horrors of a jail; and hence his irreconcilable enmity to Doctor Colden, by whose advice he fell, and to Sir. DeLancey, whose ambitious politics exposed him to the vengeance of that minister," --"Smith, vol. ii. page 139.
measures as would, prevent the destruction of the forces, and preserve the fortress from falling into the hands of the enemy, with its heavy cannon and stores. In the event of the desertion of the Jerseymen, the house suggested that the post might be regarrisoned by a detachment from the new levies destined against Canada. Or, if these levies were not still within his excellency's command, they prayed that a portion of the independent fusileers might be sent thither, the assembly pledging the necessary supplies for that service. But before this address had been presented, the governor had rendered any answer thereto unnecessary by a message of a very decided character in reply to the resolutions of the house of the preceding week, in which all the demands for supplies contained in his last preceding message, were reiterated with a threat that unless the house should revoke its determination not to provide for the transportation of supplies to the outposts, together with its refusal to allow Colonel Johnson a guard to convey the supplies for Oswego, he should be under the necessity of withdrawing the garrisons both from the last mentioned post, and from Saratoga,-points which would of course be immediately occupied by the enemy. Recapitulating again the history of his own successful negotiations with the Indians, and extolling the services of Colonel Johnson, his excellency reminded the assembly of the great expense to which the crown had been put in bringing the Indians into their present amicable state of feeling toward the English, and insisted that the colony ought in justice to defray the future charge of maintaining those relations. In any event, he demanded appropriations to cover the demands of the service for at least two months, admonishing the assembly that if this demand should again be refused, the responsibility for every calamity that might consequently ensue, would rest upon them. "If," said his excellency in closing, "you deny me the necessary supplies, all my endeavors must become ineffectual and fruitless; I must wash my hands, and leave at your doors the blood of the innocent people that may be shed by a cruel and merciless enemy." This message was received, by the house on the tenth, and referred to a committee. One day after, the committee deputed to wait upon his excellency with the resolutions of the ninth, reported that they had discharged their duty, but that the governor had declined answering them. Whereupon it was forthwith resolved that his excellency be again addressed to the same effect as before in regard to the perilous condition of Saratoga ; and on the sixteenth another series of resolutions was adopted, embodying the exact substance of those of the ninth, save that the assembly now avowed a willingness, should Colonel Johnson, by any unforeseen accident, be a sufferer in the execution of his contract for supplying the garrison at Oswego, to take his case into consideration, and do for him whatever might appear to be reasonable. But upon every other point the house insisted upon its former positions.
This vexatious game of cross purposes was interrupted by successive adjournments, by command of the governor, until the fifth of October, not, however, without a remonstrance by the assembly against these interruptions, and a vote of censure for the inconvenience to which his excellency was subjecting the members. Yet Mr. Clinton deserved not the censure, being engaged, during the recess in active negotiations with the commissioners from the several colonies then in session, and not desiring the presence of the assembly until the results of those negotiations could be communicated. Meantime, as volunteers could not be obtained for recruiting the garrison at Oswego, Colonel Philip Schuyler was ordered to draft the requisite number of men for that service from his own regiment; and Colonel Roberts was directed to send three companies of levies to Saratoga, with instructions that should it be found impossible to maintain that post, the fort and blockhouses must be destroyed, and the cannon and military stores removed to Albany.(1)
(1) Journals of the council board.
Very shortly afterward advices were received that the latter clause of the instructions had been obeyed to the letter. The fort had been burnt and the stores removed as directed,-by which measure of questionable necessity the northern frontiers was left entirely uncovered. (1)
At the earnest solicitation of the governor, Colonel Johnson had now arrived in New York for consultation respecting the condition of the colony at large; and on the third of October, a committee of the executive council was directed to summon the colonel before them for examination, with special relation to Indian affairs and the measures proper to be pursued in their immediate administration. The examination was held on the ninth. The colonel's advice was, that an agent should be dispatched to Oswego without delay, with suitable presents for distribution among the Indians, in order to preserve their existing good disposition. He stated that when he first engaged in the management of the affairs of that department their sachems were chiefly in the French interest, and had actually received belts from them which they had since given up, receiving belts from him in their stead, in behalf of the English. He believed that unless proper measures were taken to secure them in their present favorable mood, there would be great dissatisfaction and danger resulting from repeated disappointments. He stated that the Indians had been detained from hunting during the whole year, by the directions of the governor, and were consequently in a state of destitution,-actually suffering for many necessaries for themselves and their families. Should not the necessary measures be taken for their relief, he felt that he himself would be obliged to leave his Mohawk settlement, and his removal would of course be the signal for a general flight of the people from that valley also. He furthermore thought it of importance that the English should build a fort in the Oneida country, and another among the Senecas. The Indians would be gratified at the adoption of measures
(1) Journals of the council board.
like these, which in themselves would go far to secure their confidence. At the close of his examination the colonel made a complaint on oath against several persons for selling rum to the Indians, and the attorney-general was instructed to institute prosecutions for the offense.(1)
The commissioners of Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York having closed their deliberations, Mr. Clinton communicated the result of their conferences to the general assembly on the sixth of October. Long and tedious as had been the procrastination, the expedition against Crown Point and the invasion of Canada, was still uppermost in the minds of Shirley and Governor Clinton ; and the message announced a compact agreed upon by the commissioners, for the immediate prosecution of the long-deferred enterprise. By the terms of that compact, New York was bound to have a certain number of men in readiness to march on a certain day ; and supplies were demanded for raising and paying the levies, and for covering all other expenses connected with that service, gave for arms, ammunition, and camp equipage, which were to be provided by the crown. But the season for warlike operations in the north had again so nearly passed away, that it was yet again found necessary to defer the expedition until the ensuing spring. Nevertheless, contrary to Mr. Clinton's wishes, and indeed against his earnest entreaties, the commissioners had concerted nothing for the security of the frontiers of New York, nor for the equally important object of preserving the friendship of the fitful Indians. For both these objects, therefore, supplies were needed. Mr. Clinton again reviewed the history of his own labors in the Indian department;-taking care to mention that since the treaty of the preceding year, Massachusetts had given presents to the Six Nations to the amount of one thousand pounds, and Connecticut to the amount of three hundred; while neither at the treaty referred to, nor since, had New York been put to any expense for that service,-the whole having
(1) Minutes of the council board.
been borne by the crown. " But," said his excellency, " I can no longer, and will no longer, continue this charge on the crown." The views of Colonel Johnson were enforced, especially his suggestions that forts should be erected in the several cantons of the Six rations. The Indians were yet friendly; but they had been so frequently disappointed in their expectation that Canada would before now have been strongly invaded by sea and land, that the most wise and efficient measures would be necessary for preserving their confidence. Although the entire charge of the Indian; service, and the defence of the frontiers, would henceforward devolve upon the colony, yet his excellency said he intended to make an appeal to the governments of the colonies south, as far as, and including Virginia, to contribute to the expense-the public defence being an object common to all. In conclusion, after a variety of suggestions as to the best method of raising and sustaining the quota of levies falling upon New York, the message stated that the sachems of the Six Nations were then in the city, awaiting the determination of the house, concerning themselves and what was to be done for them. They had been accompanied by Colonel Johnson, "whose name," said the governor, "I cannot mention without grateful remembrances of the services he has done his country." These sachems were impatient to be gone; and the message strongly urged upon the assembly the immediate adoption of such measures as would soothe their feelings, and send them away with presents so liberal as to be satisfactory.
According to the articles of the compact founded by the commissioners, Crown Point was first to be reduced. The number of troops to be raised for the expedition, was four thousand, exclusive of all the Indians who could be brought into the service. Of these four thousand levies, New York was to furnish twelve hundred from its own territory, and four hundred more, to be drawn from Massachusetts, and paid for by New York,-bounties, wages and supplies. For the Indian service of the campaign, Massachusetts stipulated, to pay nine-twentieths of the expense, New York eight-twentieths, and Connecticut; three. Every Indian & warrior was to be equipped to the value of five pounds, and at the close of the expedition, a present to the same amount. The three colonies were to appoint and commission the three general officers who were to conduct the expedition. Applications are to be made to the other colonies, from New Hampshire to Virginia inclusive, to exert themselves to the extent of their ability in the prosecution of the war, and generally for the common defence. They were also to be invited to send delegates to meet in a grand committee of conference at Middletown, in Connecticut, in December. Meantime an application was to be made to the crown to create a diversion in Canada by sending a large fleet into the St. Lawrence, to attack the citadel of Quebec in accordance with the plan concerted two years before. In the event of a refusal on the part of ministers thus to cooperate in the grand design, the colonies were to create the diversion themselves, by fitting out such a fleet as they might, to act in concert with such ships of war as might chance to be cruising upon the American station. In case of a failure of both branches of the enterprise, the first three parties to the agreement, were each to employ a corps of rangers to harass the border settlements of the enemy, and make war upon their allies, as best they could -the other colonies being invited to aid in this description of service likewise. In the event of an invasion of either of the colonies, parties to the agreement, the others were to march to their assistance. The forces to be directed against Crown Point, were to rendezvous at Albany as early as the fifteenth of April then ensuing,-1748. The concluding article of the compact set forth as a reason for this alliance the utter inability of the colonies, singly, to maintain a sufficient force to guard so extensive a frontier,-it being five hundred miles in length. Already they had suffered severely from the repeated and frequent incursions of the enemy, the loss of life, and the destruction of their towns and hamlets. To put an end to such a harassing species of warfare, the reduction of Grown Point was indispensable; and the commissioners strongly appealed to the other colonies, less exposed only because guarded and protected by them, and who were in fact better able to defray the charges of this war than themselves, to come to their assistance. Nothing could have been more reasonable than such an appeal, but its reception was more cold than redounded to the credit of the parties directly appealed to, either for their patriotism or liberality.
Mr. Clinton had requested a speedy answer to his message communicating these important arrangements, and it was given two days afterward in a series of resolutions, in part, at least, very little to his liking. Although the assembly voted with alacrity for everything essential to the Canadian invasion, for the defence of the frontier during the intervening winter, and supplies for making suitable presents to the Indians chiefs brought to the city by Colonel Johnson, yet among the resolutions were some breathing a spirit of rank and bitter hostility. Of this description was one setting forth that although his excellency had made large drafts upon the crown for the Indian service during the preceding summer, no disposition of the avails had been heard of. But the importance of preserving the alliance of the Six Nations was so great that they would nevertheless vote for the sum of eight hundred pounds for that object, to be placed in the hands of proper persons for disbursement. This provision was but a thinly disguised impeachment of the executive integrity. In reference to the building of forts in the Indian country, for the security of the women and children and old men while the warriors were absent in the service, the vote was conditional that the other colonies must share the expense. The forces at Albany destined for the defence of that section of the frontier during the approaching winter, the house was not inclined to take into pay unless their discharge should be directed by his majesty. News of the destruction of the fort at Saratoga not having yet reached the ears of the assembly, it was voted that tgat oist should be preserved at all events; and a resolution of censure was added because the governor had not responded to the proceedings of the house in respect to that fortress, on the ninth and eleventh of September.
The wrath of the governor was kindled by these resolutions to vehemence as will sufficiently appear by the following laconic reply:
By your votes I understand you are going upon things very foreign to what I recommended to you: I will receive nothing from you at this critical juncture, but what relates to the message I last sent you, viz : By all means immediately to take the preservation of your frontiers, and the fidelity of the Indians into consideration. The loss of a day may have fatal consequences; when that is over, you may have time enough to go upon other matters.
"'The effect of this message was like the casting of a live coal into a magazine of gunpowder. In its consideration the doors of the assembly were shut, locked, and the key laid upon the table in the due and ancient form in cases of alleged breaches of privilege; and a series of resolutions was passed, nemine contradicente, wherein it was declared to be the undoubted right and privilege of the house to proceed upon all proper subjects for their consideration, in such order, method and manner as to themselves should seem most convenient;--that any attempt to direct or prescribe to the house the manner in which they must proceed in their discussions of public affairs, was a manifest breach of the rights of the house and the people;-that the declaration of the governor that he would receive nothing from the house at that time but what had been recommended in his message, was irregular and unprecedented-tending to the subversion of the rights, liberties and privileges of the house and the people;-and that whoever had advised that message had attempted to undermine those rights and privileges, and to subvert the constitution of the colony, and was moreover an enemy to its inhabitants. The resolutions were followed up immediately by an address, or remonstrance to his excellency, extending to the great length of eight printed folio pages, conceived in the same acrimonious spirit which had indeed characterized the proceedings of both parties for many months. It professed to review the whole controversy between the governor and themselves from its inception, being his excellency's message of June sixth, 1746. Down to that period, the remonstrance declared that the utmost harmony had existed between them, and their distractions had only arisen since his excellency " had thought fit to place his sole confidence in that person who styles himself the next in administration, and been pleased to submit himself to his direction and influence." This individual, Dr. Golden, was bitterly denounced. In reviewing the late proceedings both of the governor and themselves, in connexion specially, with the Indian affairs, the executive was severely censured for taking the management of those affairs from the hands of the Indian commissioners at Albany, and confiding them to other individuals, the chief of whom, of course, was Colonel Johnson. Much of the ill-feeling of the Indians, prior to the treaty of 1746, was attributed to the intrigues of designing men, seeking to supplant the commissioners for interested and mercenary purposes. Instead of the course the governor had pursued by the summary employment of individuals, if dissatisfied with the conduct of old commissioners, he should have caused them to be suspended by new appointments issued in a regular manner.
This attack upon Colonel Johnson showed very conclusively that he was at that time in no favor with his relative, Mr. DeLancey. His excellency had repeatedly advocated, in his late messages, not, indeed without an air of self-complacency, to his successful diplomacy with the Indians, whereby he had changed their policy, and defeated the designs of the people of Albany, whose aim it was keep the Indians from the warpath, and allow them to maintain the position of neutrals. Upon this point the address avowed the opinion, distinctly, that it would have been far better had the Indians been left in that position. His excellency had indeed told them that the Six Nations had engaged heartily in the war; but the house was yet in ignorance touching any engagement in which they had participated. All the evidence of their prowess, which they had seen, consisted in the exhibition in the city, by a small party of Indians, of three scalps, and a few French prisoners, Again, on the subject of Indian expenditures, they hinted at the misapplication of funds said to have been laid out for presents; and considering the heavy drafts upon the crown for this service during the late summer, they intimated a belief that notwithstanding his excellency's call for appropriations, he must have already a considerable sum in bank. They treated his excellency's frequent expressions of concern for the welfare of the people with ridicule, charging upon him and his adviser the guilt of the massacre of Saratoga in the autumn of 1745, which event, they alleged, could not have taken place but for the rash withdrawal of the garrison from that place. Many other charges of faults and official delinquencies, civil and military, were set forth and commented upon with biting irony. They declared that from a very early time of his administration, he had treated with contempt the people of the colony in general, and the members of the house in particular ; and that he had applied to them in terms so Opprobrious as to render them unfit for publication. They complained of the many short and inconvenient adjournments to which they had been subjected, and were particularly displeased that they had not been kept in session during the recent negotiations with the Massachusetts and Connecticut commissioners, "that they might have been daily advised with, and their opinions consulted from time to time as to the matters under consideration,"-forgetting, probably, in the ardor of their patriotism, that the house of assembly was not exactly the executive council, and that by the English constitution the treaty-making power resides not in the house of commons. They thought it very likely his excellency had been advised that the best way to manage an assembly was to harass them by frequent and short adjournments ; but they assured him that with them, such a course would be vain and fruitless. "No treatment your excellency can use toward us, no inconveniences how great soever that we may suffer in our own persons, shall ever prevail on us to abandon or deter us from steadily preserving the interest of our country."
This address was reported by Mr. Clarkson, from a committee previously appointed upon the subjection the ninth of October. Immediately upon its reading, the speaker, David Jones, was directed to sign, and a committee consisting of Messrs. Clarkson, Phillipse, Thomas, Cruger, Beekman, Lott and Chambers, were designated as a committee to present it to his excellency. This duty was promptly discharged; but the irascible governor would neither allow the chairman to read it to him, nor leave it in his chamber.
Three days afterward, before the assembly had taken any farther action in the controversy,-unless a request for information as to the state and condition of the forts and garrisons of Saratoga and Oswego might be considered of that character,-the governor sent down a message in answer to the assembly's resolutions of the eighth, almost as long, and if possible, even more vituperative than the address of the house. In the first place, however, the governor expressed the pleasure he felt at the ready approbation which the house had given to the compact of the commissioners for the invasion of Canada. The scheme contemplated by that compact closely resembled the project between himself, Mr. Shirley and Sir Peter Warren, the year before; and had it then been executed it would have been at the expense of the crown. Now, however, it must be done entirely at the charge of the colonies. His excellency was also pleased, at being able to announce that one or more forts, by the arrangement of the commissioners, sanctioned by the unanimous vote of his council, -were to be erected at the carrying-place. This expense also, would fall exclusively upon the colonies;-whereas but for the conduct of the commissioners appointed by the house, in regard to the transportation of provisions and general supplies for the forces, those defences would likewise have been constructed at the cost of the crown.
His excellency next proceeded to vindicate his own conduct from the aspersions so frequently cast upon it in connection with his management of the Indian department, and the oft-repeated insinuation of a misapplication of the money drawn from the crown for that branch of the service. The house had asserted, in one of its resolutions respecting this money, " that no disposition thereof for the purpose intended had yet been heard of." In this resolution, Mr. Clinton now charged the house with uttering "as bold a falsehood as ever came from a body of men." In vindication of himself, and in refutation of the assertion, the message pointed to a long chain of operations in the Indian department, known to them all, and sufficient to absorb a very large sum, but for which not a shilling had been paid by the colony. The Indians had all been armed, clothed, and provisioned by him ; numerous war-parties had been kept in constant motion, and at one time as many as six hundred warriors were marching together.
The services of Colonel Johnson in that department, were adverted to in terms of high praise. Before the governor's interview with the Indians at Albany the previous year, it was a difficult matter to prevail upon a dozen or twenty of them even to go forth upon a scout. Now, however, Colonel Johnson engages to bring a thousand warriors into the field upon any reasonable notice. Through his influence the chiefs had been weaned from their intimacy with the French, and many distant Indian nations were now courting the friendship of the English, As to the money he had received from the crown for this service, the governor said he was in no way accountable to the house for its application. Not having supplied a penny of it, they had nothing to do with it. In this connection, inveighed against the proviso of the resolution appropriating eight hundred pounds for the Indian service, to be placed for disbursement in other hands than those of the executive. This condition disclosed the motive for the slander against him, it being nothing less than a determination to violate an undisputed prerogative of the crown, and to wrest his majesty's authority from the executive hands.
The conditional resolve concerning the supplies for the forces at Albany, was likewise denounced as an interference with the military prerogative of his majesty ; in connection with which his excellency tauntingly inquired whether the house had received any advices or orders from his majesty, or his ministers, upon the subject of the army regulations. "The forces at Albany are under my command only," said he; "and you will never know anything of his majesty's pleasure about these forces, but from me, or from my successor." * * * "His majesty will not part with the least branch of his military prerogative; nor dare I, nor will I, give up the least branch of it on any consideration, however desirous you may be to share it, or to bear the whole command." In this spirit the crown had sent him orders relating to Saratoga; and while they knew that he was heartily inclined to do what they desired of him in that matter, they also, some of them, knew it was impracticable.
He had formerly told them that the fort at Saratoga was inadequate for the security of that section of the frontier; and of what has happened to it they had been forewarned, unless proper assistance should be afforded for its preservation. The position of that fort was unfavorable; it had been maintained at great expense, and more lives had been lost by reason of its disadvantageous situation, than by any other cause since the war. It had been placed there by commissioners recommended by his council; but it had been discovered that their object in selecting that site was not the protection of the country, but of quantities of wheat growing in its neighborhood. The work itself being of no substantial use as a military position, and finding it impossible longer to maintain it without hazarding the total dissolution of the forces at Albany, the cannon and stores had been withdrawn and the fortification destroyed. In addition to all which, the conduct of the assembly itself had compelled him to abandon the place by their opposition to every measure proposed by him for its preservation.
On the subject of his endeavors to confine the action of the house exclusively to his recommendations for the welfare and protection of the colony, especially in regard to his brief message of the eighth, his excellency attempted ft justification. His design was simply to secure in the first instance, such action as would guaranty the safety of the province. There would afterward be time enough for the consideration of as many other subjects as they could desire. He taunted them sharply for what he called the farce of locking the door and laying the key with solemn form upon the table,-asking them whether there were any suspicious people without the doors of whom they were afraid, and whether they apprehended that any of their own members were intent upon running away. If not,-it was really an attempt to shut him out so that he could not communicate by message,-then the act was a high insult to the royal authority, and for the time being a withdrawal of their allegiance. He declared that by their resolutions of the ninth, they had assumed all the rights and privileges of the house of commons of Great Britain. Such an assumption was nothing less than claiming to be a branch of the legislature of the kingdom, or in other words a denial of subjection to the crown and parliament. He reasoned the point to show that it could not be so; the supreme power had a right to put limitations upon their proceedings; and he told them not only that these and some subjects which they had no right to discuss, but that "he had his majesty's express command not to suffer them to bring some matters into the house, nor to debate upon them." It was for that reason that the clerk of the house was required every day to lay before the governor the minutes of their proceedings, that the governor may put a stop to them when they become disorderly or undutiful.
He reproved them for having recently adopted the disrespectful and unmannerly practice of ordering resolutions to be served upon him from time to time ; and censured them severely for their rudeness on a late occasion, when, within a quarter of an hour after they had served him with a copy of their resolutions of the ninth, several of the members of their body thrust themselves upon him in an apartment of his own house, without previous notice of to read "a large bundle of papers," which they called a remonstrance from the house. Every private man in the country considered his own house his castle, and his excellency demanded whether their governor was not entitled to the same privilege ? Whether he must be thus intruded upon, and bear it with patience ? Under the circumstances of the case, he had but too much reason to refuse to receive the remonstrance ;--and he then gave them warning that he would never again receive from them a document in public, which had not first been communicated to him in private.
He reminded them of another act of incivility. At the opening of the session, they had not, as usual, acquainted him with their organization,-an omission without precedent, and evidently by design. They had resolved forthwith to enter upon the consideration of the state of the province, without having received any information as to what its condition was. They also resolved to make a remonstrance upon the condition of the colony, without resolving what should be the subject matter of the document,-ordering their committee to draw it up without instructions. That committee presented the report so soon, and the house adopted it so hastily, as to preclude the exercise of any rational judgment upon the subject. No precedents could be found for their conduct, save in the course taken by the house of commons when they had determined to take away the king's life, and overthrow the established government. This allusion was certainly not malapropos. The same leaven was doubtless at work in Clinton's little parliament, which, in the greater, had sent the unhappy Stuart to the block.
Various other points of the controversy were passed in review. The house had been insolent toward him, and forgotten all kind of decency and regard for the authority vested in him by his majesty. They had endeavored to deprive him of the esteem of the people. They had witholden supplies for the public service; and for the purpose of justifying themselves to their constituents, had endeavored to induce a belief that he had applied the public money to his own use. To refute this idea he now stated that during the few years of his administration no more than one thousand eight hundred pounds currency of the colony had passed into his hands for the Indian service; and the account he then gave of the uses to which the money had been applied, and the benefits secured by its expenditure, when viewed at this distance of time, proves very clearly that the expenditure was made with wisdom, prudence and economy. Upon this point his excellency insisted that if they had really entertained any suspicions of his integrity, they should have instituted an investigation. But they had not done so, although they had seemed to act as though he was the only man in the province who could misapply the public revenues; for more than sixty thousand pounds had passed through the hands of their own commissioners, while no reports as to the manner of its disbursement had been exacted, nor any inquiry made.
In a word all the charges and insinuations of the house against the governor, were pronounced to be false, and their conduct toward those who had endeavored to support his administration against their opposition, was declared to be malicious. Their long-continued unbecoming conduct, in the view of his excellency, could arise but from one of the following causes:
I. A firm principle of disloyalty, with a desire to deliver the country up to the king's enemies:
II. The desire of some individuals for such a shameful neutrality as was established in the war of Queen Anne's time.
III. A design to overturn the constitution, and throw everything into confusion ;
IV. The gratification of the pride and private malice and rancor of a few men, at the hazard of the lives and estates of their constituents. It was added-"That there are such men in this country, is no secret, nor what share they have in your private consultations."
The governor then drew a contrast showing how widely different had been his conduct from their's. "When he discovered that they had fallen into a state of unreasonable heat and passion, he had adjourned or prorogued them, that they might have time to cool down. And on their reassembling, although he had endeavored to forget past differences, they would strive by every means to revive them. Even now, although they had every just reason to expect the manifestation of strong resentment from him, yet he was resolved to disappoint them. He therefore in conclusion again exhorted them to make the proper provisions for the care and safety of the province,-admonishing them, however, to beware of attempting any measures that might clash with his instructions from the crown, or infringe upon the royal prerogative. " The ill effects of the condescensions of former governors of the province," were now too sensibly felt to justify any further concessions.
It appears by the assembly's journal, that after referring the message to a committee, the house entered upon the consideration of public affairs with a commendable degree of diligence. On the fifteenth day of October they requested, the governor to execute one of the projects agreed upon by the commissioners, by sending gunsmiths and assistant artizans into the country of the Six Nations among all the tribes beyond the Mohawks, pledging the ways and means, in the full confidence, however, that Massachusetts and Connecticut would defray their respective proportions of the expense. On the next day the governor communicated a table of estimates requiring appropriations for the winter service,-stating that it was his intention to invite the cooperation of the colonies south to the Carolinas, for the common defence. Having ordered the proper arrangements for the security of the colony during the repose of winter, it was thought the assembly might be safely adjourned-to be aroused into action again in the spring, when the bugle should sound to arms for the actual invasion of Canada.
But the hopes and the high expectations of the colonies, especially those of New York and New England, were again dashed by disappointment alike mortifying and severe. On the nineteenth of October, orders were received from the duke of Newcastle, signifying the royal approbation of the preparations made jointly by Shirley and Clinton, for the intended expedition, but nevertheless directing them to desist from that expedition, and to disband all the levies engaged for that service, retaining such a number of the New England forces as might be judged necessary for the protection of Nova Scotia. The colonies were directed to pay off the levies, and transmit the accounts to be reimbursed by parliament. Mr. Clinton immediately transmitted these disheartening orders by message to the assembly, with a recommendation that so many of the levies at Albany as might be deemed necessary for the defence of the north might still be retained in the service, and provision be made for their subsistence. This suggestion was followed by a vote of the assembly to retain eight full companies at Albany until the ensuing month of August, if their service should so long be necessary; but in view of the heavy expenses to which the colony had already been subjected by the war, and the almost ruined condition of the colony, the house felt itself obliged to decline advancing either money or credit for the payment of the forces in arrears. With this exception, the assembly proceeded with apparent calmness to make just and proper appropriations for various objects, such as the employment of a corps of rangers to traverse the northern border, and for repairing sundry forts. Appropriations were also voted for divers other matters, among which was one for the completion of the governor's house. But the calm was short, if not delusive, and the storm directed against the executive broke out on the twenty-sixth of October with unabated violence. It appears that two days before that date, it being on Saturday, the governor, by a written order under his own hand, had forbidden Mr. James Parker, printer to the assembly, to publish in the journals of that body the celebrated remonstrance of the ninth, of which a copious analysis has already been given. Parker had refused to recognize the validity of a verbal order to the same effect, communicated by his excellency's secretary, Mr. Catherwood; and this written mandate he was required to publish in his newspaper, which he accordingly did on Monday morning,-together with the paragraph contained in the governor's message of the thirteenth, wherein his excellency had charged the committee of the house, bearing the said remonstrance, with obtruding themselves rudely into a private apartment of his domicile. Chafed at this arbitrary mandate to Parker, and smarting yet from the imputation cast by the governor upon the committee, Mr. Clarkson rose in his place on Monday, and called the attention of the house to the contents of the newspaper. The publication having been read, Mr. C. proceeded to relate, and his colleagues of the committee to confirm, the history of the transaction in question. The committee "knocked at the outward door, and told the servant who attended, that they had a message. Retiring into an inner room, the servant soon returned, accompanied by a gentleman, who showed them into the presence of the governor, by whom they were received without any manifestation of displeasure. They informed his excellency that they came as a committee of the house with a remonstrance, which they offered to read; but his excellency refused either to hear it, or even to allow them to read it, upon the ground that such a procedure, without the presence of the speaker, was not parliamentary. The next step was to order the attendance of Parker at the bar of the house, to produce the original order from the governor, a copy of which had been published in his newspaper. This being done, resolutions were passed declaring that the attempt to prevent the publication of their proceedings, was a violation of the rights and liberties of the people, and an infringement of their privileges; that the remonstrance was a regular proceeding; that the governor's order was unwarrantable, arbitrary and illegal, a violation of their privileges, and of the liberty of the press, and tending to the utter subversion of all the rights and liberties of the colony ; and that the speaker's order for printing the remonstrance, was regular and consistent with his duty."(1) Parker preferred to identify his fortunes with those of the popular party, rather than to obey the behest of the crown, as expressed by its representative. The governor's order was therefore disregarded, and the remonstrance printed as directed by the house. The controversy was maintained with increasing intensity, for many days; in the course of which the house, in order, doubtless, as much to reassert its own power as to annoy the governor, directed Parker to reprint the offensive document, and furnish each member with two copies; thereof,-"that their constituents might know it was their firm resolution to preserve the liberty of the press."
But while these proceedings were yet in progress, the governor startled the assembly by a message announcing that he might find it necessary to detach large bodies of
(1) Smith, vol. ii, pp. 132,133. Vide also journals
of the colonial assembly.
the militia for the defence of the frontiers, and requiring a contingent appropriation to meet the expense. This species of service was not only burdensome, but particularly irksome to the people, and the house was thrown into fermentation by the requisition. The message was referred to a committee which a week afterward reported in substance, that they were amazed that his excellency should have sent them such a message, since he had so recently given them to understand that he should rely - upon the levies already at Albany for the public defence; for the pay and subsistence of whom the house was even then taking the necessary measures. In conclusion the committee avowed the belief that while his excellency was governed by such unsteady and ever-varying counsels, and while he continued to send them messages conceived in such doubtful and ambiguous terms as had of late marked his communications to them, it would be difficult to make such provision for the defence of the frontiers as seemed necessary. Nevertheless it was acknowledged to be their duty to adopt such measures as the exigency of the case appeared to require.
This report had no sooner caught the eye of the governor while examining the copy of the assembly's journal as presented for his inspection by the clerk, than he turned the tables upon his opponents, and demonstrated beyond doubt the factiousness of their cause. He first reminded them of their vote upon his message of the nineteenth of October, refusing to pay the arrears of the levies. They had indeed voted to retain eight companies of the levies at the north, but not upon the terms suggested in his message, viz: the continuance of full pay; instead of which they had cut the officers and subalterns down to less than one half of the compensation allowed upon the regular military establishment. Upon these terms it was not to be expected that the levies would remain in the service. Indeed men fit to serve ought not to remain. And he begged the assembly to consider wat would be the condition of things, were the levies to disband themselves and return to their homes, unpaid and without clothes,-leaving the northern frontier entirely uncovered. As to the charge of vacillation in his councils, the governor said they must necessarily vary with changes of circumstances; but in the present instance it was the conduct of the assembly alone that had caused the variation. Still duty required him to do all in his power to avert the mischiefs arising from their conduct, and also to take care of the people.
The assembly rejoined in a bad spirit, reiterating the charge of inconsistency against the governor, and accusing him of pursuing measures purposely intended to cause the disaffection and desertion of the levies, that a plausible pretext might thereby be afforded for wantonly harassing the poor people of the colony by dragging them into the military service. Under all the circumstances of the case, therefore, they had arrived at the conclusion that to retain the levies would now be impossible, and that as a consequence immediate provision must be made for raising a sufficient number of volunteers for the public defence. The committee's report was concurred in nemine contradicente; and on the fifth of November resolutions were passed directing the employment of eight hundred volunteers, for two hundred and seventy days service, and appropriating the sum of eighteen thousand pounds for their subsistence. Contemporaneously with this procedure, the house was notified by the legislative council that they had passed its bill for the supply of the eight full companies of levies already at Albany, as heretofore mentioned, This scheme however, having been virtually abandoned by the house, a resolution was adopted, declaring the impracticability of retaining those eight full companies of levies in the service, and praying the governor to issue warrants for raising thirteen companies of volunteers of sixty men each, with the promise of commissions to those who should actually recruit them, at the reduced rates of compensation to which his excellency, in respect to the retention of the levies, had objected, as being altogether inadequate to the employment of respectable men. A committee of which Colonel Schuyler was chairman, Waited upon his excellency with this resolution, but he declined answering it. Three days afterward, to wit on, the tenth of November, the assembly deputed another committee to wait upon his excellency, and inform him of their apprehensions that the river navigation to Albany would close before the necessary winter supplies for the forces at the north could now be sent up, and praying his assent to the subsistence bill, which, having passed both houses, now awaited only his signature to become a law. But his excellency, like Richard, was "busy,"-preparing dispatches as he alleged, for Boston,-and would receive no message from the house otherwise than at the hand of their speaker. On the thirteenth, the request was renewed by a formal address presented by the house in a body-the speaker of course being at their head. From the reply of his excellency, it appeared that his reluctance to sign the bill in question, had arisen from an objectionable principle involved therein. He had on two previous, occasions given his assent to bills involving the same principle, and had been censured at home for so doing. His excuse to the crown had been the pressing necessity of the public service, and he hoped the same excuse would avail again, as he had made up his mind to sign the bill. He took occasion, moreover, to admonish the house in regard to the bill for the pay of the forces to be raised, then pending, not to incorporate in its provisions any thing that might in anywise interfere with the prerogatives of the crown. The bill thus specially referred to, authorized the raising of the sum of twenty-eight thousand pounds, by a direct tax, for the military service, and the like sum by an issue of bills of credit, with provisions for sinking and canceling the same. In closing his reply, the governor farther informed the house that the officers of the four companies of fusileers stationed at Albany had notified him that for the want of supplies they were on the point of dissolution.
On the twenty-fifth of November his excellency commanded the attendance of the house in the council chamber, when he approved the bill for victualling the forces and also the important revenue bill just spoken of. Two other bills of minor importance, likewise received his excellency's signature; whereupon, finding that the controversy in which he had so long been engaged with the assembly had evidently become past healing,-indeed that on the contrary the breach was daily becoming wider and yet wider,-the general assembly was dissolved. His excellency commenced his speech announcing the dissolution, by referring to the votes of the house in the case of Parker. He maintained that their remonstrance, of which he had forbidden the republication from the journals in Parker's newspaper, was a false, scandalous, and malicious libel upon him throughout; and he therefore had a right, for the protection of his own character, to inhibit the publication of a document surcharged with falsehood, as they very well knew it to be. As to the popular outcry which they had attempted to raise about the liberty of the press, he said it was a liberty very liable to be abused, and against which there ought to be a remedy. Nor could the application of a proper remedy be considered a restraint upon a just degree of liberty. He charged them with a design, as was obvious from their whole course, to usurp the supreme authority of the government, and in support of the charge the governor again entered upon a summary review of the conduct of the assembly, rehearsing its sins both of omission and commission. Among the former, he observed that notwithstanding the frequency and earnestness of- his appeals to them for the Indian service, and the importance of preserving the existing amicable relations with the Confederates, the assembly had not made the slightest provision for that object. The house had complained that he had kept secret from them the orders he had received for discharging the forces intended for the Canada expedition until the hour had arrived for their execution. His reply to this charge was an ample justification of his course. It was necessary to keep those orders from the knowledge of the enemy lest advantage should be taken of them, and the frontiers invaded, before the necessary preparations could be made for their defence. He had, however, given them timely notice of what was to happen; and had the suggestions he had made to them been seasonably acted upon, the object of security could have been attained at an expense forty thousand pounds less than what would now be the cost to the colony. In reviewing his own exertions for the public defence, and his endeavors to preserve a force at Albany so large as to render drafts upon the militia unnecessary, his excellency charged upon the assembly the design of usurping the command of the militia, and with having passed resolutions calculated to produce disobedience to orders, and which, in fact, had produced such disobedience. Their refusal to pay the arrears of the forces on the credit of the king, showed what little regard they had either for his majesty's pleasure, or for the interests of those who had willingly exposed their lives for the defence of the country. It was now well known, that had his advice been followed in the first instance, a sufficient number of the levies might have been retained at Albany. Equally well was it now known that the necessary force could not now be readily obtained. The consequence was that by the advice of his council he should now be obliged to apply to some of the other colonies for assistance. Other points were raised in the speech which have become familiar in the history of this protracted controversy. Even now, in one of the bills to which he had just placed his signature, they had inserted a clause that would very likely defeat its object. He referred to a section placing the provisions and ammunition for the public service under the exclusive control of persons of their own nomination, without consulting the governor in the appointment of those persons,-they, too, having it in their power to control any order which the governor might give ! He had been compelled by the public danger, to sign that bill, though contrary to the express instructions of the crown. In a word, they had done all they could to traduce his character; to encourage disobedience ; to inflame the passions of the people; and to paralyze his exertions for the safety of the province. Near the close of the speech the following passage occurs, which was true beyond a doubt:
"Your continued grasping for power, with an evident tendency to the weakening of the dependency of the province on Great Britain, accompanied with such notorious and public disrespect to the character of your governor, and contempt of the king's authority entrusted with him, cannot be hid longer from your superiors, but must come under their observation, and is of most dangerous example to your neighbors."
Knowing, therefore, that great-numbers of the inhabitants disapproved of their proceedings, and for the purpose of giving them an opportunity of vindicating their loyalty to their prince, as well as their love of country, his excellency declared the general assembly to be dissolved.
This act appears to have come somewhat suddenly upon the assembly, a committee having at the time been engaged in the preparation of another address to his excellency, similar in tone and character to the late remonstrance, but much larger, and more elaborate. The dissolution laving prevented the house from giving an official impress to the document, it was shortly afterward published in the form of "A letter from some of the representatives in the late general assembly to his excellency the governor, in answer to his message of October thirteenth, and to his dissolution speech." This document comprised a very extended review of the whole controversy between the parties, dwelling upon each and every particular point with exceeding minuteness, and evidencing considerable powers of reasoning and analysis. There was no abatement in the bitterness of its tone, either toward the governor, or his chief confidential adviser, Doctor Colden. But from the historical sketch already given of the controversy, no necessity exists for a synopsis of this formidable paper-sufficient, of itself, to fill one hundred pages of an ordinary octavo. Smith attributes the authorship to Judge Horsmanden,-Doctor Colden being also charged with the composition of his excellency's state papers. These suppositions were probably correct. Indeed Mr. Horsmanden had been summarily degraded from his station for his officiousness in this respect; and Doctor Golden had entered several protests upon the journals of the legislative council, bearing strong family resemblances to the papers bearing the signature of Mr. Clinton. Among these was a protest against a bill from the assembly, which passed the council on the third of November, instituting a committee to examine the public accounts of the colony from the year 1713. The doctor protested against this bill, first, as being an infringement upon the royal prerogative. The moneys, he asserted, had been raised for the service of the king, and his majesty, or his representative, had therefore an undoubted right to appoint the persons charged with the proposed examination, especially in regard to their expenditure, whereas the governor had not even been consulted as to the persons constituting the commission. Secondly, the commissioners named were merchants. As the revenues were in a great measure raised from duties and imposts, he held that a mercantile commission was improper. The revenues from those sources were not half as much as they would be if honestly collected. These commissioners, if merchants, could connive with their friends for the concealment of frauds. Other exceptions were taken to the details of the bill; but those just mentioned are the most important. The doctor also protested against a bill from the assembly canceling certain bills of credit, together with the special revenue bill for the prosecution of the war, upon the old ground of collision with the kingly prerogative. The last mentioned bill it was averred was specially objectionable because it usurped the executive power for the appointment of troops and officers, and provided for the disbursement of money from the treasury without the governor's warrant.
Although from a very early date in the history of this protracted controversy, it became inexcusably personal, yet it is not difficult to perceive that it was in reality one of principle. On the one hand, the infant Hercules, though still in his cradle, was becoming impatient of restraint. The yoke of colonial servitude chafed the necks, if not of the people, at least of their representatives. The royal governor was not slow to perceive what kind of leaven was fermenting the body politic; and hence he became perhaps over-jealous in asserting and defending the prerogatives of his master. Doubtless in the progress of the quarrel there were faults on both sides. Of an irascible and overbearing temperament, and accustomed in his profession to command rather than to persuade, he was ill qualified to exercise a limited or concurrent power with a popular assembly equally jealous of its own privileges and of the liberties of the people; watching with sleepless vigilance for every opportunity to circumscribe the influence of the crown; and ready at every moment to resist the encroachments of arbitrary power. Still, however patriotic the motives, under the promptings of DeLancey, their opposition to Mr. Clinton became factious; and it is not difficult even for a republican to believe that he was treated not only with harshness, but with great injustice, especially in regard to his measures, and his personal exertions for the public defence and the prosecution of the war.
But the principles for which Hambden bled, and Sidney died on the scaffold, were striking deeper root in British America every day,-an additional proof of which fact, not easily to be misunderstood, was manifested about this time by a transaction at Boston. Time immemorial the crown had claimed the right in periods of war, of raising and equipping its fleets by impressing the ships of merchants, and seamen to man them. In the feudal ages indeed, the claim had been asserted much farther, and the right of impressment exerted in respect to every description of force, as the public service required, including even the members of the medical profession.(1) But with the growth of a permanent national marine, the impressment of merchant ships could only be necessary as transports, and the practice had been narrowed down to the employment of press-gangs for the procurement of common sailors. Fortified by the opinions of the law-officers of the crown, the ministers had repeatedly asserted the right of extending the right of this odious practice to the colonies. The claim, however, had been uniformly resisted by the people, and nowhere more strenuously than in Virginia,-held at the time to be the most loyal of the province. Indeed it was in Virginia, that the first act of resistance to the practice was made, and in every instance in which the right was attempted to be put in exercise, the officers of the crown were defeated by popular interposition.(2)No experiment of the kind, however, had as yet been made in New England; and the honor of the first attempt, and of experiencing a signal defeat, was
(1) It appears from Rymer's Foeders, that king Henry V, in 1417, authorized John Morstede, to press as many surgeons as he thought necessary for the French expedition, together with persons to make their instruments. It is also true, and appears in the same book of records, that with the army which won the day at Agincourt, there had landed only one surgeon, the same John Morstede, who indeed did engage to send fifteen more for the army, three of which, however, were to act as archers ! With such a professional scarcity, what must have been the state of the wounded on the day of battle ?--Andrews's Great Britain.
(2) Grahame,-who says that Franklin was the first writer by whom its indefensible injustice was demonstrated.
reserved for Commodore Snowies, then governor, of Cape Breton, and the successor of Sir Peter Warren in the naval command of the American station. Visiting the waters of Massachusetts with his squadron, and lying at Nantasket about the middle of November, the commodore lost a number of his sailors by desertion, the places of whom he determined to supply by a vigorous act of impressment in Boston. Detaching a number of boats to the town at an early hour in the morning, a sweep was made of all the seamen found on board the vessels lying at the wharves, and also of a number of ship carpenters, with their apprentices, together with several landsmen. The act was executed with such suddenness that the men were far down the bay on their way to the fleet, when the transaction had become generally known to the people. But when known, such a popular fermentation ensued as had never before taken place in Boston. All classes of the people were greatly excited; but the rage of the lower classes knew no bounds. Seizing whatever arms they could find, spears, clubs, pitchforks and guns, the mob rushed together, determined upon vengeance, or a rescue, or both. A lieutenant of the fleet falling first within their power, was seized, and would have been treated with violence but for the interposition of the speaker of the provincial legislature, then in session, who assured the multitude that this officer had not been concerned in the transaction. The next movement of the mob was directed against the house of the governor, Shirley, who was at the very time entertaining several captains of the fleet. Of these officers the rioters resolved to demand satisfaction, and the house was speedily surrounded by the infuriated legion. The officers within doors being supplied with firearms, determined to defend themselves, and there would doubtless have been a serious effusion of blood, had not a number of the more considerate citizens insinuated themselves among the rioters, and dissuaded them from the commission of actual violence. Among the peace-officers on duty was a deputy sheriff, who was irreverently seized and borne off to the stocks, with the practical use of which invention he was made acquainted, both his legs being made fast therein. There was a dash of the ludicrous in this exploit, of the " sovereigns," creating merriment, and serving for a while to moderate, though it did not appease their anger. The deepening of the twilight into night, however, was a signal for renewed outrages, and the deliberations of the legislature, or general court, as it was called, were disturbed by the breaking of their windows, and other riotous proceedings. The governor, with several distinguished gentlemen and counselors, ascended to the balcony, whence they addressed the people in the most soothing and considerate manner,-rebuking their turbulence, it is true, but at the same time expressing strong disapprobation of the outrage of which they complained, and promising their utmost exertions to obtain the discharge of every man who had been kidnapped and carried away. But the tempest was not to be thus easily hushed, and the arrest and detention of every officer of the squadron in town, was demanded as the only measure that would answer the purpose. Such being the temper of the populace, it was judged advisable that the governor should withdraw from the scene of tumult to his own house,-to which he was accompanied by several officers, civil and military, and also by a small party of personal friends. Meantime it was bruited that a barge had come up to the town from the fleet, whereupon the rioters rushed headlong to the wharf to seize it. The report was not true, for no such barge had arrived. Yet the populace thought otherwise, and a huge boat, lying at the dock, belonging to a Scotch merchantman, was taken by mistake, and drawn through the street, as though no heavier than a birchen canoe. It was at first resolved to kindle a bonfire with this unlucky craft in front of the governor's house; but a suggestion that lighting a fire there would jeopard the town; the mob drew away, and indulged their heated design in & place of greater security. Thus ended the proceedings of the first day. On the next, the governor ordered the militia under arms for the preservation of peace; but the drummers were interrupted in beating to arms, and the militia, with a surprising degree of unanimity, refused to parade. Several of the British officers, on shore had been seized by the populace, by whom they were retained as hostages. Of this number was Captain Ersldne, of the Canterbury. He was taken in Roxbury, But was speedily liberated on giving his parole not to go on board until the difficulty should be adjusted. Such being the temper of the people,-the entire militia refusing obedience to their officers,-it was thought expedient, as well for the personal security, as for the power, of the governor, whose authority was thus virtually suspended, that he should retire to the castle-Fort William. From this place Mr. Shirley wrote to Commodore Knowles, informing him of the high exasperation into which the people had been thrown by his proceedings, and urging an immediate release of the persons impressed, as the only means of restoring the public tranquility. But the commodore declined even to entertain the proposition until those of his officers who had been caught on shore should be liberated. The first suggestion of Knowles was to land a body of marines to aid the governor in quelling the disturbances; but Shirley was too wise a man, and understood too well the character of the New England people to second such a proposition. The commodore thereupon became enraged, and threatened to burn the town,-directing at the same time certain movements of his ships which for a few hours caused much uneasiness. During the eighteenth and nineteenth days of the month the town was under the entire control of the mob,-the general court feeling reluctant to interpose, even for the preservation of order, lest their action should be construed as favoring the conduct of Knowles. The provocation had been great; and although the prevailing spirit of insubordination was indefensible yet it was regarded by every American with greatly mitigated displeasure. Still, the danger of allowing the town longer to remain under the away of an infuriated populace, and the impropriety of leaving the governor, whose conduct had not only been wise and patriotic, but blameless, thus unsupported, was perceived before the close of the day last mentioned, and a series of resolutions was adopted by the house of representatives, strongly condemning the tumultuous proceedings of the people; pledging themselves, their lives and estates, to sustain the executive authority; but at the same time declaring that they should put forth their utmost exertions to redress the grievances which had provoked the riots. Simultaneously with this procedure the council passed an order for restoring Captain Erskine and the other officers in actual custody, to their liberty, and declaring them to be under the protection of the government,-which order was concurred in by the house of representatives. These measures had the effect of allaying the excitement, and the rioters soon began to disperse. A town meeting was holden in the afternoon; and although it was urged by the less discreet portion of the assemblage that a suppression of the tumults would have the effect of encouraging his majesty's naval commanders in the commission of similar outrages in future, yet the counsels of the more prudent prevailed, and the town, by solemn vote, condemned alike the riotous proceedings of the people, and the injury and insult by which those proceedings had been provoked. Not anticipating so favorable a turn of affairs, so soon, the governor had made preparations for calling to his assistance the provincial troops of the circumjacent towns, horse and foot; but on the following morning the militia of Boston paraded spontaneously, and many citizens were in arms who had seldom been seen in arms before. In the course of the day the governor was escorted from the castle back to his house with great parade, and law and order resumed their wonted sway. Commodore Knowles dismissed all, or nearly all, the subjects of the impress, and sailed for Louisburg, to the great and irrepressible joy of the people.(1) But his sovereign had little cause to thank him for an act which awoke a spirit that slumbered not until the richest jewel was torn from his diadem.
There remains little more to be written of the border troubles of New York during the year 1747. Small parties of the enemy continued to hover about the new settlements until the depth of winter, and several additional murders were committed. One of their autumnal forays was melancholy and bloody. A party of woodmen, engaged in cutting timber, about four miles west of Schenectady, was fallen upon, and thirty-nine of their number killed. Along the confines of Massachusetts and New Hampshire these murders or assassinations were yet more frequent during the autumn than in New York. Skirmishes between the enemy and the borderers, were common, and in one of these a French officer of some consideration, named Pierre Ramboert, was wounded and taken.(1)
Late in November, Governor Clinton pressed the command of the northern frontier upon Colonel Johnson. The people were strongly in favor of that appointment (2) and it was ultimately accepted. But aside from this command, the colonel had full employment upon his hands for the winter, independently of his Indian charge. The militia of Albany county, then embracing all the northern and western settlements beyond Ulster and Dutchess, had fallen into a state of sad demoralization ; and to Colonel Johnson Mr. Clinton entrusted the duty of effecting a complete reorganization. All confidence was reposed in him; and in the removal of incompetent officers, and the appointment of new ones, his word was law. " Send down a list immediately, of those you think proper, and look upon it as done."(4)
(1) Hutchinson. Grahame.
(2) Hoyt's Antiquities.
(3) Manuscript letter of Jacob Glen.
(4) Manuscript letter; Major Rutherford, of the executive council, to Colonel Johnson.
(There appears to be two #1s on this page and no #3. I would think the second #1 should be a two and two should be three. ajberry, typist)
Thanks to James F. Morrison for loaning his book for the purpose of putting it on the internet.
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