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Letter from James Hogg to Richard Henderson
Hogg, James, 1729-1804
Volume 10, Pages 373-376

[Reprinted from the American Archives. Vol. 4. Page 543.]
Report from James Hogg, Agent for Transylvania, to Colonel Richard Henderson.

Dear Sir:

On the 2d of December I returned hither from Philadelphia; and I have now set down to give you an account of my embassy, which you will be pleased to communicate to the other gentlemen, our co-partners, when you have an opportunity. I waited for Messrs. Hooper and Hewes a day and a half at Richmond, but they were detained by rainy weather for several days, so that they did not overtake me till I was near Philadelphia, where I was kept two days by heavy rain, though they had it dry where they were. It was the 22d day of October when we arrived at Philadelphia. In a few days they introduced me to several of the Congress gentlemen, among the first of whom were, accidentally, the famous Samuel and John Adams; and as I found their opinion friendly to our new Colony, I showed them our map, explained to them the advantage of our situation, &c., &c. They entered seriously into the matter, and seemed to think favourably of the whole; but the difficulty that occurred to us soon appeared to them. “We have petitioned and addressed the King,” said they, “and have entreated him to point out some mode of accommodation. There seems to be an impropriety in embarrassing our reconciliation with anything new; and the taking under our protection a body of people who have acted in defiance of the King's proclamations, will be looked on as a confirmation of that independent spirit with which we are daily reproached.” I then showed them our memorial, to convince them that we did not pretend to throw off our allegiance to the King, but intended to acknowledge his Sovereignty whenever he should think us worthy of his regard. They were pleased with our memorial, and thought it very proper; but another difficulty occurred. By looking at the map they observed that we were within the Virginia Charter. I then told them of the fixing their boundaries, what had passed at Richmond in March last, and that I had reason to believe the Virginians would not oppose us; however, they advised me to sound the Virginians, as they would not choose to do anything in it without their consent. All the Delegates were, at that time, so

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much engaged in the Congresses from morning to night that it was some days before I got introduced to the Virginians; and before then I was informed that some of them had said, whatever was their own opinion of the matter, they would not consent that Transylvania should be admitted as a Colony, and represented in Congress, until it originated in their Convention, and should be approved by their constitutents. Some days after this, I was told that Messrs. Jefferson, Wythe, and Richard Henry Lee were desirous of meeting with me, which was accordingly brought about; but, unfortunately, Mr Lee was, by some business, prevented from being with us, though I had some conversation with him afterwards. I told them that the Transylvania Company, suspecting that they might be misrepresented, had sent me to make known to the gentlemen of the Congress our friendly intentions towards the cause of liberty, &c., &c., but said nothing of our memorial, or my pretensions to a seat in Congress. They said nothing in return to me, but seriously examined our map, and asked many questions. They observed that our purchase was within their Charter, and gently hinted, that by virtue of it, they might claim the whole. This led me to take notice, that a few years ago, as I had been informed, their Assembly had petitioned the Crown for leave to purchase from the Cherokees, and to fix their boundaries with them, which was accordingly done, by a line running from six miles east of the long island in Holston, to the mouth of the Great Kanawha, for which they had actually paid twenty-five hundred pounds to the Cherokees; by which purchase, both the Crown and their Assembly had acknowledged the property of those lands to be in the Cherokees. Besides, said I, our settlement of Transylvania will be a great check on the Indians, and consequently be of service to the Virginians.

They seemed to waive the argument concerning the right of property; but Mr Jefferson acknowledged, that in his opinion, our Colony could be no loss to the Virginians, if properly united to them; and said, that if his advice was followed, all the use they should make of their Charter would be, to prevent any arbitrary or oppressive Government to be established within the boundaries of it; and that it was his wish to see a free Government established at the back of theirs, properly united with them; and that it should extend Westward to the Mississippi, and on each side of the Ohio, to their Charter line, But he would not consent that we should be acknowledged by the Congress, until it had the approbation of

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their Constituents in Convention which he thought might be obtained; and that, for that purpose, we should send one of our Company to their next Convention. Against this proposal, several objections occurred to me, but I made none.

This was the substance of our conference, with which I acquainted our good friends, Messrs Hooper and Hewes, who joined me in opinion that I should not push the matter further; and they hinted to me, that, considering the present very critical situation of affairs, they thought it was better for us to be unconnected with them. These gentlemen acted a most friendly part all along, and gave a favourable account of our proceedings. Indeed I think the Company under great obligations to them, and I hope they will take it under their consideration. I was frequently with parties of the Delegates, who, in general think favourably of our enterprise.

All the wise ones of them, with whom I conversed on the subject, are clear in opinion that the property of the lands are vested in us by the Indian grant; but some of them think, that by the common law of England, and by the common usage in America, the sovereignty is in the King, agreeable to a famous law opinion, of which I was so fortunate as to procure a copy. The suffering traders, and others, at the end of last war, obtained a large tract of land from the Six Nations, and other Indians. They formed themselves into a company, (called, I believe, the Ohio,) and petitioned the King for a patent, and desired to be erected into a Government. His Majesty laid their petition before Lord Chancellor Camden and Mr Charles Yorke, then Attorney-General, and afterwards Chancellor. Their opinion follows:

“In respect to such places as have been, or shall be acquired by treaty or grant from any of the Indian Princes or Governments, your Majesty's letters patent are not necessary; the property of the soil vested in the grantee by the Indian grants, subject only to your Majesty's right of Sovereignty over the settlements, as English settlements, and over the inhabitants as English subjects, who carry with them your Majesty's laws wherever they form Colonies, and receive your Majesty's protection by virtue of your Royal charters.” After an opinion so favourable for them, it is amazing that this Company never attempted to form a settlement, unless they could have procured a charter; with the hopes of which, it seems, they were flattered, from time to time. However our example has roused them, I am told, and they are now setting up for our rivals.

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Depending on this opinion, another company of gentlemen of few years ago, purchased a tract between the forks of the Mississippi and Ohio, beginning about a league below Fort Charters, and running over towards the mouth of the Wabash; but whether or not their boundary line is above or below the mouth of the Wabash, the gentlemen who showed me their deed could not tell, as it is not mentioned, but is said to terminate at the old Shawanese town, supposed to be only thirty-five leagues above the mouth of the Ohio. And the said company purchased another larger tract, lying on the Illinois River. It was from one of this company that I procured a copy of the above opinion, which he assured me was a genuine one, and is the very same which you have heard was in possession of Lord Dunmore, as it was their company that sent it to him, expecting he would join them.

I was several times with Mr Deane of Connecticut, the gentleman of whom Mr Hooper told you, when here. He says he will send some people to see our country; and if their report be favourable, he thinks many Connecticut people will join us.

This gentleman is a scholar, and a man of sense and enterprise, and rich; and I am apt to believe, has some thoughts of heading a party of Connecticut adventurers, providing things can be made agreeable to him. He is reckoned a good man and much esteemed in Congress; but he is an enthusiast in liberty, and will have nothing to do with us unless he is pleased with our form of Government, He is a great admirer of the Connecticut Constitution, which he recommended to our consideration, and was so good as to favour me with a long letter on that subject, a copy of which is enclosed. You would be amazed to see how much in earnest all these speculative gentlemen are about the plan to be adopted by the Transylvanians. They entreat, they pray, that we may make it a free Government, and beg that no mercenary or ambitious views in the Proprietors may prevent it. Quit-rents, they say, is a mark of vassalage, and hope they shall not be established in Transylvania. They even threaten us with their opposition, if we do not act upon liberal principles when we have it so much in our power to render ourselves immortal. Many of them advised a law against Negroes.

Enclosed I send you a copy of a sketch by John Adams which I had from Richard Henry Lee.