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with the help of such Indians, added to such forces as were then arrived, and might afterwards arrive, or be sent from Europe, to be in a capacity of making a general attack on the several governments; and, if at the same time a strong naval force should be sent from France, there was the utmost danger that the whole continent would be subjected to that Crown.”
Numerous traces of French enterprise are still to be seen throughout the great valleys of the Ohio and the Mississippi, in their ancient settlements, and in the language, manners, and customs of the people. Fort Du Quesne, now Pittsburg, in Pennsylvania, was one of the most formidable of this line or cordon of forts and trading-posts. Another portion of it, still existing, is the village of Cahokia, in Illinois ; in which is a church, built by the French settlers in 1698, having " battled with the storms of more than a century.” The bell which hangs in its tower was brought from France more than a century and a half ago, and still, on every Sabbath morn, calls the people to the offices of praise and thanksgiving, as it has done for ages past. Numerous other instances might be cited, but it is needless ; every traveller through that district of country can call them to mind.
It is a curious and valuable historical fact, not generally known, that Thomas Jenkins, Esquire, in 1763, submitted to the British ministry a project to prevent the emancipation of the American colonies, and to retain them for ever in their obedience to the crown. His first proposition was, the keeping on foot most of the troops then in America, which were soon after disbanded or recalled at the peace. The forts, which were scattered along the Indian frontier, and which were afterwards demolished or abandoned, were to be preserved. New ones were to be erected on the coast, ostensibly against the invasions of the French. The lands granted to the veterans were always to be within the precincts of a fort, which, on the frontiers especially, must very soon have formed respectable military townships. Jenkins was well acquainted with America, from a residence of considerable length in Pennsylvania and the Carolinas, and he also had some employment in the English army that conquered Canada ; which enabled him to become conversant with the operation of the policy of the French ; and it was
their scheme, somewhat modified, which he thus proposed to the consideration of Lord Bute and his associates. Providence, however, so ordered matters, that the English ministry did not regard this project with any favor, and, by rejecting it, facilitated the progress of the American Revolution.
We have been so long taught to regard the trade of the American colonies previous to our Revolution as trifling, that we are sometimes in doubt as to what could have been the reasons, which actuated two mighty nations to contest with so much pertinacity for the possession of a wilderness. But in that belief of the trifling amount of the early American trade, we are in great error. It was in truth of much importance; and so much so, that, to obtain this trade to themselves exclusively, was the cause of many wars, and much diplomatic chicanery, between England, France, and Spain.
The French, during the three quarters of a century they were in possession of that country, kept up an extensive trade with the Indians, with whom they were on friendly terms, and with their mother country. They also in Illinois cultivated the grape with much success ; and it is recorded, that, in 1769, they there manufactured one hundred and ten hogsheads of wine. From the dedication of a very pretty little work, called “ Puckle's Club," printed at London in the year 1733, it appears, that the duties and customs paid by Micajah Perry, Thomas Lane, and Richard Perry, of London, three “ Virginia merchants,” during the year 1698–9, to the crown of Great Britain, amounted to two hundred and sixty thousand pounds sterling. This amount of duties and customs was paid by them for the articles which they imported from America, and from England sent to other portions of the world, and for goods which they exported to this continent during that single year, commencing March 15th, 1698, and ending March 15th, 1699. This Micajah Perry was an alderman of the city of London in 1740 ; and in that year was nominated, at a meeting of the Livery at Vintper's Hall, as one of the representatives of the city in Parliament. The term “ Virginia merchant,” about that period, and for some considerable time previous, was a very honorable appellation in the mercantile world, and appropriated to a particular class of men, as much as titles of nobility are in the present day. So in the “Gentleman's Magazine,” for July, 1740, in the list of marriages, we find that of “Mr. Buchanan, Virginia merchant, to Miss Wilson.” For commercial purposes, that title, for so it was in reality, was applied to merchants trading with the colonies between New England and Florida, and with the West Indies. Previously to our revolutionary war, the Virginia merchants of Glasgow in Scotland were looked up to as an aristocracy; they had a privileged walk at the Cross, which they trod in long scarlet cloaks and bushy wigs ; and such was then the state of society, that when any of the most respectable master tradesmen had occasion to speak to those merchant lords, he was required to walk on the other side of the street, till he was fortunate enough to meet the eye of the patrician, for it would have been presumption to approach him. The foregoing statements exhibit the colonial trade as being at that early period any thing but limited or triling. And when we consider for but one moment, we see that it could not have been limited ; for almost every article which the colonists made use of in that part of the country above mentioned, except their bread stuffs, and sometimes even those, were imported from Europe. They manufactured scarcely any thing for themselves; and it was the European colonial policy at all times, to prevent them, in the words of one of their legislators, from making among themselves “even a hobnail ” ; and to oblige them to export through the mother country all their products. With such a policy, and the rapid increase of the colonies in population almost imniediately after their settlement, the trade with them' must necessarily have been very extensive and important.
So strongly imbued were the political economists of Europe with this colonial policy, that even after our revolutionary contest, many of them were inclined to regard the results of that policy as arising from the natural state of this country, rather than from the curbs and restraints imposed upon the activity and energy of the people.
And about the year 1790, most of the European writers in relation to the United States regarded this country as purely agricultural, and as destined from natural causes ever to remain so. The Abbé Raynal, we think, went so far as to bold, that the United States could never advance beyond the condition of a purely agricultural people ; and that the character of the soil was such, that not more than ten millions of inhabitants could obtain a reasonable subsistence from even that pursuit.
The old map of Vander Donck has led us in quite a discursive route, but we trust not entirely uninstructive ; for much of the matter of which we have discoursed by the way, - in rather a colloquial manner, we admit, — is not to be met with in any history that we have ever seen.
The first article in this volume is the “ Anniversary Discourse delivered by Chancellor Kent before the Historical Society, on the 6th of December, 1838, of which it is only necessary to say, that it sustains the high reputation as a writer hitherto acquired by that distinguished jurist. In it he pays a merited compliment to the exertions of the associations of a similar character in other States, “and particularly in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania " ; speaks of them as having “ hitherto surpassed us in the extent and value of their researches ” ; and expresses the hope, that the Society he was addressing would feel an additional stimulus to acquit themselves of their duty, and throw back upon the annals of the Empire State, “ some of the light and lustre which emanate from the spirit of the age.” The volume now before us is an evidence, that the hope thus expressed is not doomed to disappointment.
This discourse presents an able and concise view of the domestic history of New York, with reflections necessarily arising from the subject.
Chancellor Kent takes a very proper view of the importance of such historical inquiries, and one which cannot in our judgment be commended too highly to the consideration of our citizens. He observes ;
“ The Eastern descendants of the pilgrims are justly proud of their colonial ancestors ; and they are wisely celebrating, on all proper occasions, the memory and merits of the original founders of their republics, in productions of great genius and classical taste."
“Why should we, in this State, continue any longer comparatively heedless of our own glory, when we also can point to a body of illustrious annals ?
And,- as offering a strong inducement to exertion,- while portraying the character of the original Dutch settlers, he speaks of the origin of his city and State, in the following beautiful manner ;
“Our origin is within the limits of well-attested history. This at once dissipates the enchantments of fiction ; and we are not permitted, like the nations of ancient Europe, to deduce our lineage from super-human beings, or to clothe the sage and heroic spirits, who laid the foundations of our Empire, with the exaggerations and lustre of poetical invention. Nor do we stand in need of the aid of such machinery. It is a sufficient honor to be able to appeal to the simple and severe records of truth. The Dutch discoverers and settlers of New Netherlands, were grave, temperate, firm, persevering men, who brought with them the industry, the economy,
the simplicity, the integrity, and the bravery of their Belgic sires ; and with those virtues they also imported the lights of the Roman civil law, and the purity of the Protestant faith. To that period we are to look with chastened awe and respect, for the beginnings of our city, and the works of our primitive fathers,
our Albani patres, atque allæ mænia Romæ.”
The second article which presents itself, is the celebrated Voyage of John De Verrazzano, along the North American coast, from Carolina to Newfoundland, in the year 1524. This appears in the original Italian, and also in a good translation, made by Joseph G. Cogswell, Esquire, a member of the Society. This account of Verrazzano's first voyage to the Western continent is in a letter written by bim to Francis the First, of France, by whose order he had undertaken it. The translation is said to be made from a copy of the original manuscript existing in the Magliabecchian Library, at Florence, presented to the Society by G. W. Greene, Esquire, Consul of the United States at Rome.
This document is in itself very interesting, and becomes more important from the fact of its being the earliest original account of the Atlantic coast of the United States now in existence. It is worthy of remark, that the name by which this continent is now known, is not used by Verrazzano in his description of his voyage. On this point we would here remark, that in A piani's Cosmography," a very curious work, printed in 4to., at Antwerp, in 1564, — and containing one of the oldest maps of the World, upon which the continents of North and South America are laid down, that we have had the good fortune to meet with, — what we now call North America is described as a narrow tongue of land projecting