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Chapter 13

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
History of North Carolina

The Lewis Publishing Company
Chicago and New York, 1919
Volume I by
R. D. W. Connor

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 15
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

Vol. I
p239
Chapter 14
Inter-colonial and Imperial Relations

The change from a proprietary to a crown colony swept North Carolina more fully than ever into the current of inter-colonial and imperial affairs. Its administration now passed under the immediate supervision of a committee of the Privy Council officially entitled the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, but better known as the Board of Trade. To enable this board, to which was committed the general supervision of colonial affairs, to carry out its task, power was given to it to recommend to the king in Council suitable persons for governor, councillors, judges and other colonial officials; to draft instructions to governors, and to correspond with them; to examine laws passed by colonial assemblies and to recommend to the king in Council those which ought to be approved and those which ought to be vetoed; to hear complaints of oppression and mal-administration in the colonies and to report its findings to the king in Council; to require accountings of public funds voted by colonial assemblies; to "execute and perform all other things necessary or proper for answering our royal intentions in the premises;" and, finally, in order to make its power effective, to send for persons and papers, and to examine persons under oath. Although it had no executive power of its own, nevertheless its advice was sought and generally adopted by the Privy Council which had ultimate authority in colonial affairs. The Board of Trade, writes Andrews, "developed fairly definite ideas as to what the British policy towards the colonies should be; it maintained in the Plantation Office a permanent staff of secretaries and clerks who became the guardians of the traditions of the office; and upheld, during periods of political manipulation and frequent change, a more or less fixed colonial program."1

The Board of Trade displayed remarkable consistency in p240its colonial program and held tenaciously to certain principles of imperial government. It sought to make the governments of the colonies, as far as possible, conform to a single administrative type and by retaining control of the executive and judiciary to preserve and strengthen their dependence upon the home government. North Carolina felt the influence of these policies even before the purchase by the Crown. We have already seen how the Board of Trade sought to bring North Carolina under its administrative control, first through action by Parliament, then through quo warranto proceedings; and however, when both of these methods failed, through gradual encroachments upon the chartered rights and privileges of the Lords Proprietors, it finally forced them to surrender their charter. Similar proceedings, at times even more arbitrary ones, were taken with other proprietary colonies. Closely allied with this policy were the efforts of the board to strengthen its authority over the colonies through undivided control over their executive and judiciary officers. Even in the proprietary governments, an act of Parliament required nominees of the Proprietors for governor to be approved by the king before they could qualify. In the royal colonies the board undertook to establish permanent civil lists in order that the governors, judges and other officials might be independent of the assemblies for their salaries and hence be free to carry out imperial policies unhampered by local interests. With the same object in view it required judges to be commissioned during the king's pleasure only.

These policies met with intense opposition in the colonies. In North Carolina Burrington and Johnston, in obedience to their instructions, called upon the Assembly to provide permanently "a competent salary" for the governor, but the Assembly replied that if the king wished the governor's salary to be so fixed, he could pay it out of his quit rents. The Board of Trade accordingly adopted the suggestion, but the collection of quit rents depended upon legislation by the Assembly, and the Assembly, as we have seen, refused to obey instructions relating to them. Quit rents, therefore, were so seldom collected in North Carolina that Burrington's salary was never paid, while Johnston's, at the time of his death, was thirteen years in arrears. In its instructions to Dobbs, the Board of Trade introduced an additional clause, common to its instructions to governors of other colonies, that the Assembly should fix a civil list "without limitation in point of time." But the Assembly steadfastly refused. "I can see no prospect p241of getting a fixed salary to the Governor or his successors," wrote Dobbs to the Board of Trade." * * * There seems to be an established maxim fixed in the several Assemblies of the Colonies to keep the Governors and Government as much in their power as they can." Like his predecessors, Dobbs was compelled to look elsewhere for his compensation.

Control of the judiciary in the imperial interests turned less upon the question of salary than upon the tenure of the judges. The colonies insisted that judges be commissioned during good behavior, but the Board of Trade instructed the governors to issue no commissions except during the king's pleasure. In 1754 Governor Dobbs was compelled to break through his instructions on this point and consent to an act which provided for judges during good behavior, but the king, upon the advice of the Board of Trade, promptly repudiated his action. In 1761 the Board of Trade assumed an inflexible attitude on this point. It removed the governor of New Jersey from office for failure to enforce this policy. In the same year it reported adversely upon two judiciary acts of the North Carolina Assembly largely because they provided for judges during good behavior, for it confessed that in other respects, the acts were "not only regular and uniform" in themselves, but were also "consonant to the principles and Constitution of the Mother Country" and "properly adapted to the situation and circumstances" of the colony. Thus in one colony after another the judiciary was brought under the control of the Crown and after 1762 all judges held office during pleasure only. The colonies never became reconciled to this policy and when they came in 1776 to declare their independence of the mother country, they listed it among those things which justified their action.

The Board of Trade kept constantly in view not only the relations of the colonies to the empire, but their relations to each other and to the savage nations with which they came in contact. Many of its most important activities concerned inter-colonial relations and Indian affairs. Under its supervision came such problems as boundary line controversies, inter-colonial trade policies, and the relations of the several Indian nations to each other as well as to the whites.

Prior to 1700 few of the colonies had such well defined boundaries as to be free from boundary disputes which always involved questions that could not be settled by those directly interested in them. In those between crown colonies and proprietary colonies, as illustrated in the North Carolina-Virginia p242 boundary dispute, both king and proprietors had interests to be considered. The colonies themselves were deeply concerned as the controversies frequently involved the enforcement of criminal laws, the execution of judicial processes, the collection of taxes, service in the militia, Indian affairs, and other governmental problems. Private interests too were numerous and complicated. Titles to land along the contested lines rested upon the right of the government under which they were claimed to issue the grants, and conflicting claims often led to disorders, riots, and bloodshed.

No better illustration of conditions growing out of a disputed boundary can be found than those which arose along the North Carolina-South Carolina border from 1753 to 1764. As early as 1735 commissioners representing the two provinces had agreed upon the thirty-fifth parallel of latitude as the boundary but many years passed before it was located by survey. In 1753 complaint was made to the North Carolina Council that South Carolina surveyors had entered the Waxhaw settlement north of the thirty-fifth parallel and were surveying under grants from South Carolina tracts of land which were "the property of several persons * * * within this Province to the great Disturbance of their Peace and Quiet." The Council thereupon advised the governor to issue orders to both the civil and military authorities to arrest all such surveyors and bring them to trial. Two years later Governor Dobbs charged that Governor Glen of South Carolina had "spirited up some of the settlers" on his lands, which had been patented under the laws of North Carolina in 1746, "to take out warrants of survey from him and he would support them," adding, "When Mr. Glen would begin with me, it may be presumed no private person could escape him." But the chief sufferer in these disputes was Henry McCulloh whose grants lay along the border. In 1756 it was charged that Governor Glen was "daily granting warrants of survey" within McCulloh's tract. Conflicts between rival surveyors, and between those claiming under their surveys, were often attended with fatal results. Anarchy and lawlessness prevailed in many border communities for the region in dispute became "a kind of sanctuary to Criminals and Vagabonds by their pretending as it served their purpose that they belonged to either Province."

But there were other actions of the South Carolina authorities which were even more irritating to North Carolina officials than the surveys. The governor of South Carolina, for instance, p243 required settlers north of the thirty-fifth parallel to attend his militia musters and undertook to impose fines upon those who refused to obey his summons, commissioned justices of the peace north of that line, encouraged settlers there to refuse to pay taxes to the North Carolina government, and warned Governor Dobbs himself "not to molest them." Encouraged by his support, a band of settlers in Anson County fell upon the sheriff while he was collecting taxes and imprisoned him, and Dobbs, "to prevent further confusion, was obliged to overlook it." At times officials of the two provinces actually came into armed conflict. In 1755, in a letter to Dobbs, Glen denounced "several outrages" by citizens of North Carolina upon inhabitants of South Carolina, "which," he added, "having been committed under the colour of authority by persons pretending to be officers of your Government, the offense was the more intolerable." To which Dobbs that the North Carolina officials had "only repelled an invasive force" sent from South Carolina to survey land, collect taxes, and impose fines within the jurisdiction of North Carolina.

These charges and counter-charges finally led to an open breach between the two governors. They were in truth too much alike to get along together harmoniously. What Dobbs said of Glen applies with equal truth to himself, that he was "too opinionated and self-sufficient to have any dealings with him." Glen's air of superiority and condescension ruffled his adversary's sense of dignity. Your letter, wrote Dobbs, in reply to a letter just received from Glen, was written "in a very extraordinary style, I may say dictatorial, not as one Governor to another having equal powers from his Majesty, and independent of each other, but as if I was dependent upon you, and obliged to give you an account of my behaviour in transacting affairs of this Government." Throwing aside all pretense of diplomacy Dobbs wrote to the Board of Trade that he would have no further dealings with Glen, and in this position the board seems to have sustained him for, greatly to Dobbs' satisfaction, it removed Glen from office.

Such incidents showed the necessity for an impartial tribunal with power to settle controversies between colonies. This tribunal was found in the Board of Trade. One of its first problems concerning the Carolinas after their transfer to the Crown was the settlement of their boundary. At the time the transfer was completed both George Burrington and Robert Johnston, the newly appointed royal governors, were in London p244awaiting their instructions, and since both had been officials under the Lords Proprietors and were supposed to be familiar with colonial conditions, the Board of Trade directed them to agree on a boundary line between their provinces. After a conference, in which they were joined by "some other gentlemen belonging to those provinces," they reached an agreement which the Board of Trade approved. Accordingly it issued instructions directing the two governors to appoint commissioners to run a line to begin at the sea thirty miles southwest of the mouth of Cape Fear River, and keeping that distance from the river, to run parallel with it to its source, thence due west as far as the South Sea. Afterwards at the suggestion of Governor Johnson, and without consulting Burrington, the board added as an alternative, that if the Waccamaw River lay within thirty miles of Cape Fear River, then it should be the line from the sea to its source; for which the line should continue parallel with the Cape Fear River at a distance of thirty miles to its source, thence due west to the South Sea.

Disputes of course arose over the meaning of these instructions. The source of the Waccamaw was found to be within thirty miles of the Cape Fear and this fact gave Burrington basis for claiming the Waccamaw as the boundary; its mouth, on the contrary, was at least ninety miles from Cape Fear, and Johnson insisted that the word "mouth" be read into the instructions as its omission "was only a Mistake in the wording of it." Burrington in a public proclamation warned all persons against taking out warrants from the South Carolina authorities for land north of Waccamaw River, and Johnson in a similar proclamation replied to him. The two governors could not agree and were compelled to call in the Board of Trade to decide between them. Governor Johnson declared that Burrington's interpretation "would bring his boundary into the bowels of our present settlements," and urged a "speedy running" of the line according to the claims of South Carolina. But North Carolina was not satisfied with the Cape Fear River as her western boundary, as such a line would cut her off from any westward development. Burrington, therefore, urged upon the board reasons for changing the line from the Cape Fear River to the Pee Dee River, saying that the former line was "intricate and difficult," and that the expense of running it would be £2,000 sterling, while the Pee Dee was a natural boundary open to neither of these objections. If the whole region between the Cape Fear and the p245Pee Dee were sold, he added, probably with a sardonic grin, "it would not prove sufficient to pay commissioners, chains, carriers, and labourers," necessary to run the Cape Fear line. The North Carolina Council endorsed Burrington's suggestion and advised him not to appoint commissioners until the Board of Trade had passed upon it. But the board promptly rejected it, saying that it would not think of altering its instruction "upon hearing one party only" and directed Burrington to "put that instruction in execution." But George Burrington was determined that the line should not be so run and he never lacked expedients for carrying his purposes into effect. By prolonging the debate on the advantages of the Pee Dee line, and when defeated in that, by referring to the Board of Trade the problem of paying for the survey, he managed to postpone the running of the line for three years, so that when he was recalled in 1734, nothing had been done. Whatever one may think of the ethics of his tactics, their success is not open to criticism for they saved to North Carolina that vast region west of Cape Fear River and between the thirty-fifth and thirty-sixth parallels of north latitude, now the richest section of the commonwealth.

In 1734 Gabriel Johnston succeeded Burrington. Upon his arrival at Cape Fear, he was asked by Governor Johnson whether he "had not brought over a more plain instruction about the dividing line," to which he replied in the negative, at the same time stating his intention of carrying the old instruction into execution. Further interchange of views led to an agreement to appoint commissioners to adjust the differences between the two governments. In 1735, therefore, Governor Johnson appointed Alexander Skene, James Abercrombie, and William Walters to represent South Carolina, and Governor Johnston appointed Robert Halton, Eleazer Allen, Matthew Rowan, Edward Moseley, and Roger Moore to represent North Carolina. The commissioners met at Lilliput, the home of Eleazer Allen on the Cape Fear, in March, 1735, and remained in session for six weeks. A spirit of compromise pervaded their deliberations. The South Carolina commissioners, wrote Governor Johnston, "desired that without adhering with too much rigour to the words of the instruction, which favoured our pretensions very much, we would agree to such reasonable propositions as they designed to make us, and then join our endeavours to get this agreement ratified at home." The North Carolina commissioners met this suggestion in the spirit in which it was offered, the governor p246himself setting the example. "After many conferences held during the space of six weeks," wrote the South Carolina commissioners, "by the kindly interposition of Gabriel Johnston * * * [we] had the happiness to remove a difference which had long subsisted between the two provinces and finally to settle and adjust the limits to the mutual satisfaction of both."

The line agreed upon was to begin at the sea, thirty miles southwest of the mouth of Cape Fear River, to run thence in a northwest course to the thirty-fifth parallel of north latitude, thence due west to the South Sea; if before reaching the thirty-fifth parallel, it came within five miles of the Pee Dee River, it should then run parallel with the Pee Dee at a distance of five miles to the thirty-fifth degree, thence due west to the South Sea; provided that at no point should it approach nearer than thirty miles to the Cape Fear River; and provided, further, that when it reached the reservation of the Catawba Indians, it should be so run as to throw those Indians into South Carolina. This agreement, which the South Carolinians "consented to with great joy," was signed by all the commissioners, April 23, 1735, and later was approved by the Board of Trade which wrote, "We shall always have a proper regard to so solemn a determination agreed to by persons properly empowered by each of the Provinces." The commissioners hastened to carry their agreement into effect. They began their survey May 1, 1735, and during the summer and fall ran the line something over 100 miles from the coast. A deputy surveyor afterwards took the latitude of Pee Dee River at the thirty-fifth parallel and set up a marker there which for several years was considered to be the boundary at that place. In their work, the commissioners "endured vast fatigue." Most of the line ran through uninhabited woods in many places impassable until they had cleared the way. There were, too, several large and rapid rivers which were crossed only with great danger and difficulty. In spite of these hardships and difficulties, testified Governor Johnston, they "performed their business with great diligence and exactness." Although their work did not put an end to the controversies between the two provinces, it fixed the line from which no substantial deviations were afterwards made. Surveys in 1737, in 1764, and in 1772 carried it as far west as Tryon Mountain where it stopped until after North Carolina and South Carolina had ceased to be British colonies.

The boundary dispute between the two provinces was intimately connected with their trade relations. For commercial p247reasons the settlers along the upper waters of the Pee Dee and Catawba rivers wanted the line to be so run as either to throw them into South Carolina, or to leave the Pee Dee River wholly in North Carolina. The explanation of their wishes is found in the fact that Charleston was their chief market. An inhabitant of Mecklenburg County, writing in 1768 about the building of a palace for the governor at New Bern, declared that "not one man in twenty of the four most populous counties will ever see this famous house when built, as their connections and trade do, and ever will, more naturally centre in South Carolina." It was much easier for them to float their produce down the Pee Dee and Catawba rivers to Charleston than to carry them overland to Wilmington and New Bern.

Instead of encouraging this trade, South Carolina in the supposed interest of her own merchants, laid heavy duties on products imported from North Carolina. In 1762 the Council petitioned the king to order the southern boundary of the province to be carried farther south to Winyaw where the Pee Dee River enters the Atlantic Ocean "as by our having one side of Winyaw we should have a free navigation to the Sea and enjoy the Benefit of the inland Navigation of the Yadkin, Rocky, Great and Little Pee Dee Rivers, which though they all run through the Heart of this province enter the Sea at Winyaw, and as there are heavy Dutys laid in South Carolina upon the produce of this province we [they] are from that reason rendered totally useless to both provinces as the Boundary now stands." Thus the North Carolina settlers were caught between the devil of geographical obstacles to trade on the one side and the deep blue sea of artificial restrictions on the other. The Board of Trade to which they appealed, admitted that South Carolina's policy "must in its consequence destruct the Commerce of His Majesty's subjects in North Carolina," and promised relief. But nothing came of this promise, and North Carolina began to seek measures of retaliation and relief on her own account. In 1751 the Assembly levied heavy duties on spirituous liquors imported into Anson County from South Carolina, and later forbade the ranging of South Carolina cattle within the bounds of North Carolina.

But retaliatory measures and vain petitions to the Crown were less effective than the constructive measures which accompanied them. Such a measure was the act, passed in 1762, for the incorporation of a market town called Campbellton at the head of navigation of the Cape Fear River. One of the p248reasons cited for the passage of this act was the hope that "the trade of the counties of Anson and Rowan which at present centers in Charlestown, South Carolina, to the great prejudice of this Province, will be drawn down to the said town." To promote this result acts were also passed for the building of roads from the Dan River on the Virginia line and from Shallow Ford on the Yadkin to Campbellton. These wise measures ultimately turned much of the trade of the back country from Charleston to Campbellton, thence down the Cape Fear to Wilmington, brought the West into closer relations with the East, and checked the tendency of the western counties of North Carolina to become mere outlying districts of South Carolina.

Between the Albemarle section of North Carolina and Virginia existed trade relations similar to those between the back country and South Carolina. Those relations and Virginia's hostile policy based on them have already been discussed. But while North Carolina remained a proprietary colony no tribunal existed sufficiently interested in its welfare with power to grant relief. Its transfer to the Crown, however, placed it in a much more favorable position with respect to its more powerful northern neighbor. The Albemarle planters were quick to understand their new status, and in 1731 sought relief by appealing to the Board of Trade to repeal the Virginia statute of 1726, originally passed in 1679, which prohibited the shipment of North Carolina cotton through Virginia ports. The petitioners declared that tobacco was the chief product by which they "subsisted and provided their families with all kinds of European goods," that they could not export it through their own ports because of the shallow inlets along the North Carolina coast, and that unless the relief they sought was granted they would either be reduced to poverty or be compelled to "fall upon such usefull Manufactorys" as would render unnecessary the importation of European goods "and consequently be prejudicial to the Trade of Great Britain." Suggestions that the colonies might establish manufacturing enterprises always frightened British statesmen, and the hint of the Albemarle planters had the desired effect. The Board of Trade adopted their view of the Virginia statute, and upon its recommendation the king repealed the obnoxious act, November 25, 1731.

The repeal of this statute and the settlement of their boundary line removed the chief causes of controversy between the two colonies. Another source of ill feeling was removed p249when North Carolina assumed the dignity of a crown colony, a change which made necessary the adoption by the Virginia government of a more respectful official attitude toward the younger colony. But perhaps the most important element in drawing the two colonies together was the influence of the German and Scotch-Irish settlers who, after 1735, poured into the back country of both provinces. Coming in search of good land, these settlers cared little whether they found it on the headwaters of the James or on the headwaters of the Yadkin. They brought with them none of the ancient prejudices that existed in the older communities of both provinces. Members of the same family setting out together from Philadelphia would often separate, some finding the object of their search in Virginia, others passing on into North Carolina. Their church organizations, too, Presbyterian, Lutheran, German Reformed, and Moravian, existing independently of vestry laws, took no account of provincial boundary lines. Finally, the presence on their frontier of powerful savage nations which struggled desperately to stay their advance, was an ever-present common danger which drew them into the bonds of a common defence. Under the stimulus of these influences ancient prejudices and feelings of hostility between the two colonies gradually gave way to sentiments of genuine respect and mutual good will.

The presence of powerful Indian tribes on their western frontier gave the governments of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia many common problems which drew them into closer relations with each other. Unfortunately these relations were not always of a friendly character. Speaking broadly and with respect only to their relations to the English colonies, there were two classes of Indian nations. First there were those who had been reduced to the position of tributaries to the whites; secondly, those whose territory had not yet been violated by the feet of white settlers and who were still sufficiently numerous and powerful to maintain their independence. Each of the colonies had taken certain of the former class under their protection, was keenly jealous of its authority over them, eager to engross their trade, and quick to resent any encroachments upon their rights and interests. Indian affairs in general, however, came within the activities of the Board of Trade which exercised a general supervision over them and determined the broad lines of policy to be followed.

In 1730 the board instructed Burrington to make a report p250on the several tribes in North Carolina and their numbers. In Eastern North Carolina he found representatives of six nations. One of these had formerly been tributary to Virginia but had recently, by the running of the Carolina Virginia boundary line, been brought within the jurisdiction of North Carolina. The other tribes were the Hatteras, the Mattamuskeets, the Pottasketes, the Chowanocs, and the Tuscarora. None of them, except the Tuscarora, exceeded twenty families. They were indeed but miserable remnants of the once powerful tribes of the ancient lords of the forest. The greater part of the Tuscarora had been driven out of the province as a result of the wars of 1711‑1713, and that nation, formerly so formidable and warlike, whose power had been all but sufficient to destroy the English colony, was now reduced to about 200 fighting men who had been preserved only through the timid and treacherous policy of their chief, Tom Blunt. In 1730 these nations all lived within the English settlements on reservations set apart for them by the provincial government. After the Tuscarora War the Assembly, in 1715, passed an "Act for Restraining the Indyans from molesting or Injureing the Inhabitants of this Government and for Secureing to the Indyans the right and property of their lands." Commenting on this act after fifteen years of trial, Burrington said, "This Law has proved very convenient to prevent any irregularities and misunderstandings with the Tributary Indians that live among us who have ever since behaved peaceably and are now excepting the Tuscaroras decayed and grown very inconsiderable."

Over the affairs of these tributary nations, in their relations with the whites and with each other, the provincial government exercised complete control. The Indians could sell no land without the approval of the governor in Council; they were forbidden to hunt beyond the bounds of their reservations without special license; their commercial dealings with white traders were subjected to rigid supervision. These restrictions were imposed upon them less to restrain their freedom than to protect them against injustice from their white neighbors. In 1741 the Council took the precaution to have the bounds of the Tuscarora reservation surveyed and recorded in the secretary's office "to prevent any Incroachments or disputes with the white people who live round about them." If a tribe wanted to sell any of its land, its chiefs were called into the presence of the governor and Council, the deed was read and explained to them, and upon their acknowledgment that p251they had received the money and were satisfied, the governor approved the sale. To protect them from the machinations of unscrupulous traders, the Council in 1731 appointed five commissioners of Indian affairs to supervise their commercial dealings with the whites. An illustration of the care with which the Council guarded these commercial transactions occurred at its session on October 14, 1736, when a petition was presented on behalf of Susanna Everard, executrix of Sir Richard Everard, "setting forth that the Tuskarrora Indians are indebted to the said Susanna £203 in Drest Deer Skins and praying that they may be compelled to discharge the same." The Council refused to act on the petition but referred it to the commissioners for Indian affairs and to prevent frauds from being practiced upon the Indians passed an order that "for the future the Indians Traders do not presume to trust or give any credit to the Indians and that the aforesaid Commissioners take care to see this Order observed." How complete was the government's authority over these tributary tribes appears from the act of the Tuscarora in 1739 in petitioning the governor for permission to choose a "king." The governor granted the petition, fixed the time and place of election, and directed that the Indians "present to his Excellency for his approbation such Person as they shall agree upon and make choice for their King."

The government's control over the Indians' inter-tribal relations was necessary to the preservation of peace in the settlements, for while these tributary tribes were subdued by the whites they still nourished their hereditary enmities among themselves which might at any time involve the whites as well as the red men. The Tuscarora were particularly hard to hold in the leash. They could not forget that in the days of their power they had domineered over the surrounding tribes, nor altogether forego that pleasure in the days of their decline. In 1730 they fell upon "the Saponies and other petty Nations associated with them," in Virginia, and drove them to seek refuge among the Catawba. For the Catawba they cherished a consuming hatred. In their life-and‑death struggle against European civilization in 1711‑1713, Catawba warriors had gone to the aid of their enemies, and half a century later, when Bishop Spangenberg passed through their reservation on his way to the Catawba country they sent by him a message of defiance to their enemies asking him to tell them "that there were enough young men among them who knew the way to the Catawba Town." In 1732 Burrington wrote that "there happens p252small acts of Hostility now and then in hunting on the upper parts of Cape Fear River between our Indians and the Cataubes of South Carolina, which we look to be for our advantage, thinking Indians love and will be doing a little mischief, therefore had rather they should act it upon their own tawny race than the English."

But Burrington overlooked the danger of this policy to the whites, arising from the jealousy with which each colony guarded the interests of its tributary tribes. In 1730 the Virginia government protested vigorously to the North Carolina government against the attacks of the Tuscarora on the Saponies and trouble between the two colonies was averted only by Burrington's prompt action in demanding redress from the Carolina Indians. The mutual hostility between the Tuscarora and the Catawba continually stirred up ill feeling between the two Carolinas. The Catawba dwelt along the waters of the Catawba River and were well known to the Carolinians as allies in the Tuscarora War and as enemies in the Yamassee War. When John Lawson passed through their country in 1701 he found them a "powerful nation." They then numbered perhaps 7,000 people, were able to call 1,500 warriors to battle, and dwelt in numerous towns scattered over an extensive territory. Thirty years later continuous warfare with the more powerful Tuscarora and Cherokee nations, small-pox, and various forms of debauchery introduced by white traders had decreased their number to less than 500 warriors, reduced their towns to six miserable villages, and contracted their territory to a narrow strip along the Catawba River not more than twenty miles in length. Except in 1715, when they joined the Yamassee conspiracy, they had been constant and loyal friends of the English. South Carolina asserted jurisdiction over them and, as we have seen, in her boundary line agreement with North Carolina, stipulated that the line should be so run as to throw their reservation wholly within her territory.

The Catawba were hereditary enemies of the Tuscarora, who constantly raided their possessions in South Carolina. Unfortunately in these raids they were often joined by warriors from the Five Nations who seized or destroyed horses, cattle, slaves, and other property without inquiring whether they belonged to their enemies or to the whites. These raids finally became so numerous and so destructive that in 1730 the settlers complained to Governor Johnson and Johnson sent William Wattis as his agent to the p253Tuscarora to demand satisfaction for their past conduct and guarantees for the future. At his request Burrington summoned the Tuscarora chiefs to a conference with himself and the Council and in their presence Wattis presented South Carolina's complaints and demands. He sought to frighten the Tuscarora chiefs into compliance by telling them that if they refused "our Governor would look on them as Enemys and send the Cherokees and Catawbos to cut them off." His charges they met with denial of guilt, and his threat they received with scorn. The only interest they showed in it was to ask whether any "white men would come with the Catawbos to war," and to demand "why could we not let them that were Indians alone make war against Indians without meddling with it."

South Carolina's threat alarmed Burrington much more than it did the Tuscarora. The latter, having received assurances of support from the Five Nations, told Burrington that while they desired to keep the peace with the whites, yet if South Carolina sent white men against them "it may bring on a Warr with the English in General, and may be a matter of consequence to the Country." Burrington knew this was no idle threat but was unable to impress the seriousness of the situation on Governor Johnson. He therefore turned to the Board of Trade to which he wrote: "We expect our Indians will be attackt by those of South Carolina. The Northern Indians called the Five Nations are in Alliance and Amity with ours and have promised to assist them with a Thousand men part of which are already come into this Province." The Board of Trade fully appreciated the gravity of the matter and wrote at once to both Burrington and Johnson to hold their Indians in check and directed Governor William Cosby of New York "to interpose his authority with the five Indian Nations" to keep them quiet. It thought the situation so grave that it appealed to the queen, then acting as regent in the absence of the king, to use her personal authority with the governors of the Carolinas to prevent a war that would certainly "be of the most fatal Consequences to both these Colonies."

South Carolina therefore did not carry out her threat, but the situation strained her relations with North Carolina for a long time. Although the Catawba were allies of the English, and tributaries to a sister colony, they offered every obstacle in their power to the settlement of the region in North Carolina along the upper Pee Dee and Catawba rivers which the p254governors of South Carolina, particularly Governor Glen, insisted ought to be given to that colony. About 300,000 acres of the McCulloh grant were within this region and were "claimed by the Catauboe Indians and which they will by no means permit any white Settlers thereon." Again, in 1749, "several wicked and evil disposed Persons in Anson County * * * had the boldness and Insolence to declare that the present Settlers in that County had no right to the Lands by them possessed and that even his Majesty had no right to those Lands. Which declaration was made to and in presence of the Catawba Indians to the apparent disturbance of the said settlement of Anson County and tending to breed and foment a misunderstanding between his Majesty's said subjects and the said Catawba Indians." The North Carolinians believed — and during the administration of Governor Glen, 1743‑1756, had grounds for their belief — that these activities were instigated and supported by officials of the South Carolina government.

To the west of the Catawba dwelt their powerful and inveterate enemies, the Cherokee. With the exception of the Five Nations, the Cherokee were historically the most important Indian nation in American history. They were, as already stated, "the mountaineers of the South, holding the entire Allegheny region from the interlocking headstreams of the Kanawha and Tennessee southward almost to the site of Atlanta, and from the Blue Ridge on the east to the Cumberland Range on the west, a territory embracing an area of about 40,000 square miles, now included in the states of Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama."2 Those who dwelt in the Keowee Valley in South Carolina were known as the Lower Cherokee, those on the Little Tennessee as the Middle Cherokee, and those on the Holston as the Upper Cherokee. According to the best authorities they had in 1735 "sixty-four towns and villages, populous and full of children," with a total population of not less than 17,000 of whom 6,000 were fighting men. Four years later an epidemic of small-pox, brought to Carolina in a slave ship, swept away nearly half their number. The awful mortality was due largely to their ignorance of this new and strange disease. Knowing no proper ready for it, the poor savages sought relief in the Indian's universal panacea for p255all "strong" sickness, viz., cold plunge baths in the running streams. No worse treatment could have been devised. The pestilence swept unchecked from town to town. Despair fell upon the nation. The priests, losing faith in their ancient ordinances, threw away their sacred paraphernalia. Hundreds of warriors on beholding their frightful disfigurement committed suicide. In spite of these losses, however, the Cherokee remained strong in numbers and in geographical position. Before 1730 they treated with the white man on terms of equality and had never bowed to his yoke; while both French and English eagerly sought alliance with them in their struggle for the mastery in North America.

The French, after planting their first permanent settlement in the South at Biloxi Bay, in 1699, had made rapid advances upon the back country of the Carolinas. By 1714 they had reached the Coosa River on which, a few miles above the site of Montgomery, they had built Fort Toulouse, known to the English as "the fort at the Albamas." They were so much more successful in their dealings with the Indians than the English that by 1730 most of the tribes between the settlements of the European rivals were either in active alliance with them or strongly disposed in their favor. In 1721 the Board of Trade in a report to the king described the situation as follows: "The Indian Nations lying between Carolina and the French settlements on the Mississippi are about 9,200 fighting men of which number 3,400 whom we formerly Traded with are entirely debauched to the French Interest by their new settlement and Fort at the Albamas. About 2,000 more * * * Trade at present indifferently with both, but it is to be feared that these likewise will be debauched by the French unless proper means be used to keep them in your Majesty's Interest. The remaining 3,800 Indians are the Cherokees, a Warlike Nation Inhabiting the Apalatche Mountains, these being still at enmity with the French might with less difficulty be secured, and it certainly is of the highest consequence that they should be engaged in your Majestys Interest, for should they once take another part not only Carolina but Virginia likewise would be exposed to their Excursions."

Recognizing the wisdom of this advice, the royal government immediately after the transfer of the Carolinas to the Crown, dispatched Sir Alexander Cumming on a secret mission to the Cherokee. The king's envoy met the Cherokee chiefs and warriors at their ancient town of Nequassee, the p256present Franklin, North Carolina, in April, 1730. His bold bearing so impressed the red men that they conceded all of his demands and agreed to an alliance with the English. In order to cement this alliance, Cumming persuaded them to send a delegation of seven chiefs to England. At Whitehall these grim savages of the New World were received by the king with great solemnity, and there in the name of their people, did homage to him by laying at his feet the "crown" of their nation which consisted of four scalps of enemies and five eagle tails, the "feathers of peace," On September 9, 1730, they concluded with the Board of Trade a treaty in which they stipulated: To live together with the English "as the children of one Family whereof the Great King is a kind and loving Father;" to be "always ready at the Governor's command to fight against any Nation whether they be white men or Indians who shall dare to molest or hurt the English;" to "take care to keep the trading path clean and that there be no blood in the path where the English white men tread;" not "to trade with the white men of any other Nation but the English nor permit white men of any other Nation to build any Forts, Cabins, or plant corn amongst them;" to apprehend and deliver "any Negro slaves [who] shall run away into the woods from their English masters;" to leave to punishment by due process of English law any Indian who should kill an Englishman, and any Englishman who should kill an Indian. This treaty was confirmed with solemn ceremony by both the contracting parties. The English as a token of friendship gave the red men a substantial supply of guns, ammunition, and red paint, while Chief Scalilasken Ketaugusta, in behalf of his colleagues, concluded an eloquent harangue by "laying down his Feathers upon the table," and saying, "This is our way of talking which is the same to us as your letters in the Book are to you, and to you Beloved Men we deliver these feathers in confirmation of all we have said and of our Agreement to your Articles." Soon after this ceremony the chiefs took ship for Carolina where they arrived, wrote Governor Johnson, "in good health and mightily well satisfied with His Majesty's bounty to them."

The relations of the colonies with the great Indian nations, such as the Iroquois, the Cherokee, and the Creeks, grew in importance as the rivalry between the French and the English grew in intensity. These tribes occupied such vast stretches of territory which touched upon so many colonies, that it soon became apparent that questions growing out of their relations p257could not be considered merely as provincial questions. In 1757, the North Carolina Assembly declared that the "many flagrant Frauds and Abuses" committed by white traders in their commercial relations with the Indians, "cannot but tend to alienate their Affections, and give the French the greater opportunity of insinuating themselves and carrying on their destructive Schemes against the British Colonies." Both the mother country and the colonies, therefore, came to see that all such Indian affairs were really imperial questions, and the king acting upon the advice of the Board of Trade decided to take them under the immediate supervision of the Crown. In 1757, therefore, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia were erected into a southern department for Indian affairs and Edmund Atkins was commissioned by the Crown "Agent for and Superintendent of the Affairs of the several Nations or Tribes of Indians inhabiting the Frontiers of [those provinces] and their Confederates." The object aimed at, as Governor Dobbs said, was "to connect all our Indian Allies in one Interest in Conjunction with the other provinces in which the Indians reside." Its success of course depended upon the sympathetic co-operation of the several colonies. In December, 1757, therefore, the North Carolina Assembly passed an act which placed trade with the Catawba, Cherokee and other "Western Indians within the limits of this Province" completely under the supervision of Atkins and his successors, and clothed them with ample power to enforce their authority. In 1763 Atkins was succeeded by Captain John Stuart who continued in office until after the Revolution had removed the British government as a factor in Indian affairs.


The Author's Notes:

1 Andrews, Charles McLean: The Colonial Period, p136.

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2 Mooney, James: Myths of the Cherokee. (Nineteenth Annual Report of American Bureau of Ethnology, Part I, p14.)


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