Prior to 1748, the divide of the Appalachian Mountains in North America marked the dividing line between two entirely different types of human societies. All of the people on the west side of this divide had been raised in and lived in societies built on the principles of natural law. They had been raised to believe, and raised their children to believe, that humans are residents on this planet but not the owners of the planet. They had been raised to believe that the planet we live on is not a simple possession that can be ‘owned’ by fragile and temporary beings of any kind, not even the animals at the top of the food chain: human beings. The land couldn’t be owned and was not owned.
Since, according to this belief system, no one owns the land, no one owns the gifts it gives. The people who lived in societies west of the Appalachian Mountains had no natural mechanism to determine who got the food and other good things the land produced. They had to have meetings and make joint decisions about how to distribute these things. They shared in whatever way they thought best.
The people on the Atlantic side of the mountains lived in societies based on an entirely different belief system. They were raised to believe that the creator of existence, an entity whose name was ‘God,’ had created the planet in six days. On the final day, God made man and started to give away the land to certain groups of people.
The owners of the land owned in the same way people owned simple consumable goods like apples: if you own an apple, you can do anything you want with it. You can—in fact, you are expected to—destroy it totally for your own benefit, by ‘consuming’ or eating the apple. People in sovereignty-based societies were raised to believe that the owners of land had the same rights: they could do anything they wanted with it, all benefits of its existence belonged to them and, if they wanted to destroy it, they had every right in the world to do this. It had been given to them directly by the Creator of existence, God. Once he gave them the land, he gave them orders to dominate and subdue it.
They were not just allowed to destroy it if they could benefit from this: they were required to do this.
This particular land, the eastern coast of North America, produced immense amounts of food and other crops. It didn’t take a lot of human labor to put the seeds in the ground in the spring and bring in the crops in the fall. After selling all production and paying the cost of the labor (which may be nothing more than the cost of maintaining the slaves), the owners had immense amounts of money left over. The more land they had, the more money they would have at the end of each year. They wanted to own as much land as they could get.
As of 1748, the people on the east side had not tried to take control of the land west of the divide. There are important practical reasons for this. We need to understand these reasons before the events of the next few years will make any sense. Since the events that happened in the late part of the 1700s led to changes that shaped many of the important structures of the world today, we need to understand these events before we can understand the reason the world works as it does now.
The Blue Ridge Divide
The dividing line of the two cultures was called ‘the Blue Ridge Divide.’ This was called a ‘divide’ because it ‘divided’ the waters that fell from the sky as rain. If a drop of rain that fell would eventually end up in rivers that drained to the west, toward the Ohio or Mississippi Rivers, that land was ‘west of the divide.’ If a drop of rain that fell on land would eventually flow toward the east, into one of the rivers that drained into the Atlantic Ocean, it was ‘east of the divide.’
The formal western boundaries of the states of North and South Carolina and Georgia had been drawn exactly at the divide, as formally stated in the land grants to the Virginia Company:
‘At the heads or Sources of any of the Rivers which fall into the Atlantic Ocean from the West and North West’
The lands of the Virginia Company and the lands granted to the proprietors had been not been totally clear about the western boundaries of the land grants. Although the corporations and proprietors did claim some land on the west side of the divide, they hadn’t exploited any land west of the divide forpractical reasons. To understand the important events that changed as of 1748, we have to understand these reasons:
The corporations and proprietors that got the colonial land grants were in business to make money. They had put together a certain system to do this and the system worked well for this. The Virginia Company (the holding company that owned the companies that actually sold the land) provides an example: the company had a committee called the ‘Board of Trade and Plantations.’ This committee made planning decisions.
The members of the committee would pick a tract of land for the corporation to focus on. They would have the area mapped and surveyed. They would plan the way they wanted the developed area to end up, picking the best places for towns, commercial properties, building lots, large farms (plantations), and small farms. They would then create a use plan that would subdivide the land into lots of various sides with different uses. They would design the roads and other structures needed to create a European-style system of working farms, towns, and businesses.
The Virginia Company didn’t actually develop the land itself. Once it had a plan, it would work with smaller development companies to get the improvements made. The development companies would put in the roads and other improvements in exchange for a percentage of the land.
The development companies would have to sell most of the land they got this way to cover their costs; the shareholders in the development companies would then decide what to do with the extra land (the land left over after selling enough to cover all their costs). In some cases, they kept it and turned it into plantations; in other cases, they sold it and distributed the money among shareholders.
At some point, the improvements would be finished, and the development companies would have sold large amounts of land to private owners. These private owners, in the new towns, plantations, and farms, would have a community and markets. The Virginia Company would still own the majority of the land in that area. (The company had only given away part of the land to the development companies.) The Board of Plantations would sell the rest of the land; this would be quite valuable now because the buyers would get land that was already in developed areas, with markets, roads, and all of the structures they needed to have good lives.
The company had not developed any land west of the divide for two reasons:
The first was the cost: the divide is incredibly rugged. To get people to the other side, they would need to build a road. The road would cost a lot of money. Until 1748, the Virginia Company and its subsidiaries still had plenty of land east of the divide and the Board of Trade and Plantations couldn’t justify the enormous cost of building a road across the mountains.
The second reason was political: the company’s land patents ended at the divide. To develop more land, the company would have to go to the British Parliament and get patents to land on the other side. They had not done this as of 1748.
By 1748, the company was running out of land on the eastern side of the divide. Investors began to realize it was only a matter of time before the land to the west was opened up. They began to start planning for this to change.
Peter Jefferson and his partner Joshua Fry ran one of the development companies that helped the Virginia Company develop its land. Jefferson had done a large development project in Albemarle County, near Charlottesville, Virginia. After selling enough land to cover his costs, he had had an 11,000-acre tract of land left over. He decided to turn this into a plantation. He bought 175 slaves, had them clear the land, and began to use their labor to raise tobacco there. His slaves also built a mansion for him, which he named ‘Shadwell.’ His plantation generated an enormous income for him.
He was now a ‘gentleman investor.’ He no longer cared about small development projects, but he still wanted to make money. He decided to look for an extremely large project that had the potential to make him obscene amounts of money.
Jefferson and Fry’s land development corporation was called the ‘Loyal Land Company of Virginia.’ The company had a large surveying division and team of explorers and map makers. Jefferson and Fry knew that the land on the other side of the divide would eventually be developed. They wanted to know where the best land was so that, when this happened, their company, the Loyal Land Company, would be able to move in and claim the best land. Jefferson and Fry drew up the map shown on the following page, the first known map of land west of the divide.
The map shows the divide as a line of peaks marked ‘The Blue Ridge.’ This ridge starts in the lower right corner and runs upward to the top center of the map. The surveyors looked for places to build roads to provide access to the land.
Qqq Jefferson map page 251
The squiggly line to the east of the divide would run up to a pass that the engineers who designed the road would ultimately name the ‘The Cumberland Gap.’ The major north-south road to the west of the divide would later be named the ‘Great Wagon Road;’ it would provide access for the people with the ownability-based societies to the lands that are now a part of western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.
Jefferson got together with other gentlemen investors to consider the project. They decided it was too big to be done by a single company and eventually decided to build two companies. The lands south of the Ohio River would be developed by the Loyal Land Company, under Jefferson. A second company would be formed to develop the lands north of the river. This company would be called ‘The Ohio Company of Virginia.’ The two companies would have overlapping ownership but would be administered separately. The Ohio Company would be administered by another prominent Virginia family, the Washington family. Jefferson would run the Loyal Land Company.
The other investors in these two companies included all of the men whose names are listed in the text box below.
They had to get the patents on the land before they could even start to raise money for the project; no one would invest unless they had the rights to the land. On November 6, 1747 the two companies filed official petitions with the Virginia Board of Plantations laying out their plans. Jefferson requested 800,000 acres of land south of the Ohio River; Augustus Washington, the largest shareholder in the Ohio Company, requested 200,000 acres north of the river, for a total in land grant requests of one million acres.
The Board of Plantations ruled that it could not grant the request because it didn’t have the rights to any land west of the divide. The Board told the petitioners that they would have to refer their petitions to the Ministry of Colonial Trade and Plantations in London for a decision.
The head of the Ministry was a man named ‘Thomas Pelham,’ (also known as the ‘Duke of Newcastle’). Pelham was solidly behind the project. In fact, he was so solidly behind it, and worked so hard to make it a reality, that most historians who analyze his relationship with the corporations in the colonies claim he was on Washington and Jefferson’s payroll. (Pelham became staggeringly wealthy, presumably from the kickbacks he got from the colonial corporations. He was ultimately able to use this wealth to buy his way into even greater power and became the Prime Minister of England.)
Pelham drafted a measure that would extend the authority of the Virginia Company’s Board of Plantations to allow it to make land grants west of the divide. He didn’t have the authority to grant this right, however. After Pelham drew up the documents, he submitted them to the Privy Council, the council that reviewed requests on behalf of the King George II. He submitted this measure on February 23, 1748.
Many people in the Privy Council opposed the measure.
The main reason involved potential problems with France. England and France were in the final stages of negotiating the peace from their most recent war, which involved disputes in India. The British East India Company and the French East India Company had disagreed on the areas where they had authority in Asia. When the companies began to fight, they called in their respective governments to put military force behind their dispute. This led to a war that is now called the ‘War of Austrian Succession.’ The war had just ended when the Pelham introduced the new measure. (The official treaty ending the war had been negotiated and approved as of the end of February; it was signed in April.)
The Privy Council knew that they might have a similar problem over the land in America. The French government had granted large amounts of land west of the divide to two giant French corporations (these grants are discussed below). The French companies had been granted monopolies, with government protection. If the British government granted land west of the divide to British-chartered corporations, the rulers might wind up back at war with each other.
Pelham lobbied for the proposal personally. He pointed out that the French corporations had not developed any of the land in the proposed land grant area; there were no French settlements, no French forts or even trading posts in this area. This wasn’t like India, where every square inch of land was already generating incomes for the companies. Most of the land west of the divide had relatively thin populations of American natives (the population had recovered a great deal since the great plagues of the 1500s, but it was still not even close to the carrying capacity).
No one was using most of this land.
Pelham argued that, since the French had not settled it, they had forfeited their rights to it and the land was still available to the first to claim it and actually do something with it. The French weren’t there, and the British could make money exploiting it. He worked very hard to get the measure passed.
The Formation of the Ohio Company of Virginia
In late fall of 1748, Pelham wrote Washington and told him that the proposal was likely to be approved. Washington called an investor meeting at his home, Mount Vernon, on October 20, 1748. The lead investors decided that, as soon as the land grants were approved, they would start to sell stock in the company called ‘The Ohio Company of Virginia.’ They decided to start with an initial public offering of 40 shares, which would be sold at an initial price of ₤100 per share (this is about $20,000 per share in 2020 United States money).
They elected the first corporate officer, James Wardrop. He would be the treasurer of the company. As treasurer, he would arrange to take in the letters of credit which guaranteed the payment of the money from prospective shareholders. As soon as the grants were approved, the letters of credit would be replaced by cash and the company could begin to operate. [The full text of the first corporate resolution of the Ohio Company can be found at https://digital.library.pitt.edu/islandora/object/pitt%3A31735057893798.]
Pelham was very persuasive and able to overcome the resistance in the Privy Council. The council approved the request in May of 1749 and King George II signed it into law on June 4. On July 11, 1749, the Virginia Company’s Board of Plantations approved the grant of 800,000 acres that Jefferson had requested for the Loyal Land Company and the grant of 200,000 acres that Washington had submitted for the Ohio Company. Two other parties had assisted with the lobbying and these people were granted an additional 450,000 acres. The initial land grants totaled 1,450,000 acres of land.
This land grant was made in exchange for an agreement to build a road across the mountains, the road that eventually became known as the ‘Cumberland Gap Road.’ The Ohio Company of Virginia (Washington’s company) would be the lead company on the project.
The French Actions
As noted above, two French corporations had interests in the area. It may help to understand the events that followed if you understand these interests:
In the early 1600s, Samuel Champlain explored the Great Lakes on behalf of a French trading firm. In 1637, he returned to France to form a trading company of his own. He got together with a group of investors to form a company called ‘Compagnie des Cent-Associés’ (company of 100 associates). This company obtained patents on all of the land that is now eastern Canada in the Great Lakes region, and all land north of the 45th parallel west of the Great Lakes all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
The company created a development plan for the eastern part of New France (later renamed ‘Canada’), and founded the cities of Quebec, Montreal, and Toronto.
In the late 1600s, a second French company, the Compagnie Française Pour Le Commerce Des Indes Orientales (the French East India Company) petitioned the French government for the right to begin operating in the area around the mouth of the Mississippi River. The company obtained patents for large amounts of land and founded the cities of New Orleans, Mobile, and Biloxi. The company made requests for land grants further north on the Mississippi River. The French government eventually granted patents that extended all the way up to the headwaters of the Ohio River, bringing them to within a few miles of the Great Lakes and the land grants of the other French Company.
As of 1750, neither of these companies had even explored the land in the Ohio River Valley. In fact, they had built only one settlement of any size upriver, the town of Ste-Geneviève (now Ste-Geneviève Mo). The most northern trading post the French East India Company had was St. Louis, which was more than 600 miles away from the land grants of the Ohio Company of Virginia.
Qqq land grants in French and English north America 256
The French claimed the land, but they hadn’t developed it. The British knew all this when they considered the requests to allow settlement west of the divide. They guessed that France would not interfere in their operations in the Ohio Valley, because the French companies had not shown any interest in the area.
But this guess turned out to be wrong.
The Ohio Company started active work in 1750. Their first actions involved transporting the equipment they would need to begin construction across the mountains. They built storehouses which had to be guarded to protect them from both the French and the American native people. They were building small forts. The French found out about this right away. The French companies called shareholder meetings and discussed what to do. They finally decided they would not allow the British to create a presence in these lands. They were going to keep them out. Most of the shareholders in the French corporations had high positions in the French government. Saying ‘the shareholders decided to keep them out’ was the same as saying ‘the French government was going to keep them out.’ The government ordered the French military to begin building a network of forts in the Ohio River Valley.
The first fort was to be called ‘Fort Le Boeuf.’ This fort was at the site of the current city of Erie, Pa., on Lake Erie. The second was to be called ‘Fort Duquesne.’ It would be at the current site of the city of Pittsburgh, Pa. Other forts would fill in the area between these two main forts, creating a line that the French could defend.
The new forts were clearly designed to prevent the British companies (The Ohio Company of Virginia and the Loyal Land Company, both chartered in England) from developing their land. Washington and Jefferson found out about this right away. They were going to use all of the power they controlled in the British Parliament to make sure that the French attempts didn’t succeed. They had been granted the land through legal processes: it was theirs. Their government was required to defend the legal rights to land it had granted. They wanted to make sure the government got involved and prevented the French from interfering.
The conflict would bring England and France back to war. The war spread very quickly and eventually had theaters of action all around the world. In the end, 12 different countries would be involved.
Different historians call this war by different names, depending on the country they wrote for. United States historians call this the ‘French and Indian War.’ In French-speaking Canada, it would come to be known as the ‘War of the Conquest.’ British and French children would come to call it the ‘Seven Years’ War.’ Swedish and Prussian (German) children would be taught to call it the ‘Pomeranian War.’ Historians on the Indian subcontinent would call it the ‘Third Carnatic War.’ In the Balkans and Eastern Europe, and areas that were part of the Austrian empire, historians would call it the ‘Third Silesian War.’
Although this war would get different names in different theaters, it was really all the same war. Some historians believe that the standard numbering of the world wars is in error as this particular war was actually the first global conflict and should therefore be called ‘World War One.’ The second world war started in 1918; the third world war started in 1938. But whether we call it a ‘world war’ or not, it was definitely a global conflict. There is no dispute about the events that started it or the identity of the person behind these events: George Washington.
This war was fought over the rights of corporations. The corporations got their governments to grant them land with overlapping patents. The corporations then had their governments bring in their armies to defend their patents.
This was not the first time that corporations had used governments of nations to protect their interests. England and Holland had had five separate wars over the rights of their respective trading corporations (the Dutch East India Company and the British East India Company).
France and England had been at war as recently as 1748 over the rights of their respective corporations in India (French East India Company and the British East India Company). Although this was not the first ‘war where corporations used nations as tools,’ the 1754-1763 war was critically important because of events that eventually forced the corporate leaders in parts of North American to declare independence from their parent country. They then created a new country that was built around entirely different principles than the countries of the past.
But all this for later. Let’s consider the first war first:
When the French military began building forts, the shareholders of the Ohio Company called several meetings to decide how to respond to these French. One key shareholder of the Ohio Company, Robert Dinwiddie, was the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and in charge of the Virginia Militia. Dinwiddie wrote a letter to the commander of the French forces on the letterhead of the Virginia Militia. This letter claimed that colonial officials had received about French It claimed that France had acted
The letter then orders the French to leave the area peacefully; it threatens war if they did not do this. Dinwiddie was essentially pretending to be an agent of the British military, with the authority to make war on behalf of England. (He most definitely did not have that authority; the Virginia Militia was a private army run and controlled by the Virginia Company, not affiliated with the British military in any way.)
The full text of the letter can be found at http://explorepahistory.com/ odocument.php?docId=1-4-1A.
All plantation owners in Virginia had to put together militia squads that would be under the direction of the Virginia militia. The plantation owners would create the units, train them, and equip them at the expense of the plantation owners. The units would work for the plantation owners most of the time, mainly keeping the slaves under control. If the Virginia Company had to do something that required a lot of troops, it would call the units together.
The Mount Vernon plantation had its own military unit. George Washington’s brother, Lawrence, had commanded this unit, with a rank of major. When Lawrence Washington died in 1752, George took over command, inheriting the rank of major. Washington’s family had more at stake in removing the French than anyone else, as they owned the majority interest in the Ohio Companies of Virginia. Washington met with Dinwiddie and asked him to let Washington carry the letter to the French personally.
He wanted to do this in part because he wanted to visit the French Fort to access its defenses to see if the Virginia Militia could overcome them. He was planning for the war that he hoped to create. George was 21 years old at the time.
Washington carried the letter to the French fort. The French commander—Legardeur De Saint-Pierre—read it. The next day, he wrote a reply and sent it back with Washington. The reply basically said that Saint-Pierre was a French military officer acting under orders. He did not have the authority to abandon the fort, but he would forward the letter to his superiors and would follow their orders, whatever they were. The complete text of the reply letter can be found at http://explorepahistory.com/odocument.php?docId=1-4-18.
Washington went back and had another meeting with Dinwiddie. They had threatened war if the French didn’t leave. The French commander had said he wouldn’t abandon his post, a clear rejection of the ultimatum. They started to plan for war. They sent letters to their representative in England (Thomas Pelham, who was the Prime Minister of England at this time) asking England to declare war on France.
Washington was very impatient. He didn’t want to wait for a reply. He wanted to start the war right away. He called up his full militia unit which, including reserves, consisted of 140 men. He left two colleagues, William Trent, the operations manager for the Ohio Company of Virginia, and Joshua Fry, the second largest shareholder in the Loyal Land Company, to go to Dinwiddie, inform him of their actions, and put together another unit to assist. He headed west.
Washington intended to build a fort. When it was finished and fully equipped, he would bring in enough troops from Virginia to remove the French from their forts, one at a time. But Washington was impatient. He wanted to start killing people right away. He got his chance.
On May 26, Washington’s scouts told him of a party of French in the vicinity. The party turned out to be headed by a French diplomat named Joseph Jumonville. The French wanted to keep good relations with the native people and hired professionals to make treaties with these people and make sure that the natives saw the French as their friends. This was Jumonville’s job. When the French found out that Washington was coming to build a fort, they sent Jumonville to try to convince Washington to leave, hopefully without bloodshed.
It is important to note that France and England were at peace at the time. The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle had been signed on April 28, 1748, ending the most recent war between the two countries. This was a very rare period of peace and less than a month into the peace, Washington was determined to make sure it didn’t last.
To his dying day, Washington claimed that he had been absolutely certain at the time that Jumonville and his men were a hostile military force who had been sent to attack and kill all British in the area, including himself. They were not wearing uniforms. Washington claimed this was a violation of the international rules of war: all warring military forces have to wear uniforms. He believed—or at least claimed he believed—that they were the spearhead of an offensive that was intended to fight its away across the mountains and drive the British from all of the colonies. He claimed England was under attack and he had an obligation as a member of the British military (he was not, but he said he was, claiming the Virginia Militia was a military unit authorized by the British government) to remove them.
The night of May 26, his 140 men surrounded the French party, which had a total of 32 men. At daybreak, the battle was to begin. Washington gave very clear and explicit orders to his men: Washington was to fire the first shot. No one else would fire until after their commander began shooting. At the very first light of dawn, Washington began firing. No one in the French party was yet awake. Washington was firing into their tents while they were still asleep.
The French Version
When Jumonville heard the shooting, he got out of his tent and started shouting for people to cease firing. Washington’s men complied.
Jumonville realized that Washington was there. Jumonville was under orders to deliver a message written by the French and addressed directly to George Washington: he was to arrange to collect the things he had brought over the mountains, transport them home, and leave the land forever. If not, the French military would seek authorization to remove him and his men by force and this would lead to war.
After the attackers had stopped firing, Jumonville began to read the ultimatum out loud, in French. His adjutant was standing beside him translating it into English. No one was shooting. Jumonville was a professional diplomat. He had an air of authority and expected people to listen while he talked. He read the entire ultimatum through. Then he paused and Washington shot him in the head, killing him.
The second shot started the melee again. In the entire engagement, Washington’s men killed 10 members of the party. Another 21 surrendered and were eventually executed. One member of the French party escaped into the woods. He was the only French to survive the engagement. Washington’s party had no casualties. Washington called it a ‘successful military engagement.’ The French called it a massacre.
The Frenchman who had escaped went to Fort Duquesne to inform them about the engagement.
Different historians describe what happened next slightly differently, but in his own journals Washington claims that he scalped Jumonville and then ordered his men to begin scalping and mutilating the other bodies. He claimed he did this because this was what the Indians did to their enemies and he had to do it to impress the Indians so they would respect him. (It was NOT their practice; the Indians who were watching the activity were so horrified that they sided solidly with the French in the war that followed. In every war between the Indians and any country Washington was fighting for from then on, the Indians sided against Washington; when they found that Washington was fighting against England in later wars, they sided with England.)
Some historians have gone so far as to claim that Washington didn’t order the mutilation of the bodies; he tried to prevent it. They claim that as soon as the firing stopped the Indians rushed in and began taking scalps. Washington tried to prevent it but was powerless against the claimed overwhelming Indian action. This claim goes totally against Washington’s own words, both in his journals and in other official documents where he admitted the actions; it also goes against the eyewitness accounts and testimony at the French military inquest. But it the only way that historians have been able to twist the report to make it appear that Washington was on the side of good.
Washington also ordered the bodies to be left above ground, even though his own men wanted to bury them. This seems like a strange order on the surface, but if Washington was trying to start a war with the French, it makes sense. He wanted to commit an atrocity that was so egregious that the French couldn’t help but respond, and he needed to make sure they found the bodies. (He didn’t know that one of the French had escaped.) Again, Washington blamed the ‘Indians.’ He claimed he left the bodies above ground because this was ‘the Indians’ practice.’ Again, he either misunderstood the ways of the Indians or simply made this up as an excuse thinking that people who had been raised to think of the Indians as primitive savages would believe it. In fact, the tribes in the area considered it a religious responsibility to bury the dead, without regard to tribal affiliation.
The next day, the French soldier who had escaped made it back to the fort and explained the situation to the French commander. Here is the account of the response, from the official records at Fort Duquesne:
The commander endeavored to discover the place where the Murderers had retired. He was informed that Mr. Washington, with his detachment, was in a little fort which the English had built and called ‘Fort Necessity.’ He set out a detachment to recover, if possible, the French prisoners, or at least to oblige the English to withdraw. Colonel Louis Coulon De Villiers, the brother of M. De Jumonville, was charged with that commission. He was expressly commanded not to use any violence if the English would retire peacefully.
He [De Villiers] left Fort Duquesne on the 28th of June. Having passed the place where the Murders had been committed and where the remains of the French still lay, he arrived, the third of July, in sight of Fort Necessity. The English who were without the fort fired a volley and retired into it. The fort was immediately set ablaze and attacked. De Villiers put a stop to it about eight o’clock at night, in order to propose the English to surrender. The proposal was accepted and the surrender document drawn up. [Jacob-Nicolas Moreau, A Memorial, containing a summary view of facts, with their authorities : in answer to the Observations sent by the English ministry to the courts of Europe, 1757. The text of the surrender document can be found at https://www.nps.gov/fone/learn/historyculture/capitulation.htm.]
The surrender document required that Washington he admit he had committed the atrocities described above. Washington signed the document. Historians have a hard time explaining this. Why would he admit to something that they claim he didn’t do? The standard altered version of history holds that the confession was not explained to Washington. It was in French and Washington couldn’t read French. He thought he had been signing something entirely different and had been tricked into signing the confession.
De Villiers followed his orders. He had been ordered to allow the British to leave unmolested if they agreed to do so. Washington agreed (he had no choice: De Villiers had total military control of the situation and could have wiped everyone out).
Washington returned to Virginia to plan his next move. He and Dinwiddie got together to write a letter to the Thomas Pelham, the Prime Minister of England who had always worked tirelessly to advance the interests of the American corporations. They claimed that they had been in the area doing a survey and were attacked without warning; they had to kill the attackers (Jumonville and the others) to protect themselves from slaughter. The French had started a war. The British had to respond.
The Prime Minister, Thomas Pelham, did exactly what Washington had hoped for. The enemy had gained military control of the territory and were infringing on British sovereignty. They had to be removed. Under Pelham’s urging, the Parliament approved sending two regiments (about 2,000 men) to America to defend the disputed land.
The French pushed a measure through the French government to send six regiments, three times the British forces, to defend the disputed land.
The British military planners decided to try to wage the war on the sea. They blockaded the entrances to harbors and waterways in New France and began commandeering or sinking ships they suspected of carrying troops or military cargo. The British had to remove warships from Gibraltar and various sites in the Mediterranean to blockade New France. France took advantage of this and began to attack the weakened positions in Europe.
To do this, the French military had to draw troops from its border defenses. Fredrick II of Prussia (the nation to the east of France) saw the weakening of the border defenses as a great time to have a war with France. He ordered his troops to attack France from the east. To do this, he had to pull troops from his border with Russia. Russian military planners decided this was a perfect time to attack Prussia from the east. This put Prussia in a war on two fronts, the east and the west.
Austrian and Swedish military planners could see that Prussia, which was now in a two-front war on the east and west, couldn’t defend its northern and southern borders. They mounted a coordinated attack from the south and north in 1757. (This would be almost comical if it didn’t involve death on such a vast scale.)
England had to remove troops from India, where the troops had been defending the British East India Company, to defend its possessions in the Mediterranean Sea, now under attack from French forces. This allowed the French East India Company to successfully drive the British out of areas they had conquered in India.
Fredrick of Prussia turned out to be a very capable military commander. Even though his nation was at war on four fronts, he managed to drive back the invaders and gain back all of the land the invaders had tried to take. This allowed him to focus on the war with France again, and he began to conquer large amounts of French territory. The French now had no choice but to move troops from other theaters of war to defend their homeland. They were desperate and pulled most of the forces out of India, allowing the British to take back their lands there.
Then they began to pull their troops out of New France. This left their possessions in America vulnerable to attack.
The British moved in and took control of all important cities in New France.
When the French sued for peace in 1763, they were in a hopeless situation in America. They had lost all of their land there from New Orleans to the North Atlantic. As a gesture of generosity, the British allowed them to keep the city of New Orleans, but nothing else in America.
Treaty of Paris
Before the Treaty of Paris, the colonial powers had never formally agreed to the limits of authority of the different countries in America. As noted earlier, English courts had ruled that the colonies were sovereign territories under the control of the corporations, not a part of England.
The treaty formally granted all land east of the Mississippi River to England.
Here are the words from the treaty:
In order to reestablish peace on solid and durable foundations, and to remove for ever all subject of dispute with regard to the limits of the British and French territories on the continent of America; it is agreed, that, for the future, the confines between the dominions of his Britannick Majesty and those of his Most Christian Majesty, in that part of the world, shall be fixed irrevocably by a line drawn along the middle of the River Mississippi, from its source to the river Iberville, and from thence, by a line drawn along the middle of this river, and the lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain to the sea; and for this purpose, the Most Christian King cedes in full right, and guaranties to his Britannick Majesty the river and port of the Mobile, and every thing which he possesses, or ought to possess, on the left side of the river Mississippi, except the town of New Orleans and the island in which it is situated, which shall remain to France.
England now had clear title to 6.5 million square miles of land. Most of this land was in Canada or east of the Appalachian divide and had never belonged to England before. Included in the massive tracts of land that now formally belonged to England was the tiny strip of land that had been under the control of British corporations and proprietorships before the war. This land had a total area of roughly 360,000 square miles, less than 7% of the total land that England had gained.
Trouble In Paradise
The Washingtons, Jeffersons, and other key shareholders in the corporations that had rights to western lands, had cause to celebrate. The French had moved out of their lands. George Washington had made a huge gamble and it appeared to have paid off. Their side had won.
They naturally expected that they would now begin to move onto their lands and start making money, to compensate for the immense amounts they lost when the French moved in. But this didn’t happen. The British government had changed leadership. The new leader of England, King George III, had an entirely different attitude about the western lands than the leaders at the beginning of the war. The earlier leaders had been pro-exploitation, pro-expansion, and pro-corporation.
King George III was none of these things. He had a particular problem with George Washington and clearly refers to him and his corporation several time in the proclamation that he issued immediately after the war was over. Washington and the expansionists in the cabinet had perverted the law to gain control of immense amounts of land. Washington’s companies had no right to this land and would not be able to keep it. In fact, if Washington or anyone else associated with the colonies even set foot on the land west of the divide, they would be guilty of high treason and executed (the exact words follow on page 270; they are a part of the Proclamation of 1763 below).
If England had had a constitutional system, where the government was bound to support the rulings of past leaders and were prevented from changing past policies by the highest laws of the land, the corporations may have had a chance. But England did not have a constitutional government; it had a monarchy. The king could decide he didn’t like the policies of the past and change them, and this is exactly what happened. The king issued a proclamation that announced that the shareholders of the Ohio Company and Loyal Land Company would never get their land back, and there wasn’t anything they could do about it.
The Real Story of George III
According to American History books, George III was an evil monster, with no regard for the rights of law-abiding citizens and insatiable hunger for power, control, and tax revenues from the hard-working colonies. It may help you to understand what happened over the next two decades (from 1763 to 1784, when the Second Treaty of Paris was negotiated) if you know a little about his background:
King George III was the third in a line of rulers called the ‘Hanover line.’ He was the first in this line to have been born and raised in England, the first to be educated in England, and the first to speak English as his native language. He became ruler when his grandfather, George II, died in 1760.
As a result of some arcane provisions of the secession laws, the leadership of England had passed completely out of England to the first ‘Hanover’ king in 1714. Hanover was a part of Germany and the first Hanover King, King George I, didn’t even speak English. His son, George II, was the second ‘Hanover king.’ George II was born and raised in Hanover. His native language was German; he only learned English late in life and never became fluent in it.
These men had never really been active in affairs of England. They let their English ministers do pretty much whatever they wanted to do. The first king, George I, couldn’t really interfere in affairs of England because he didn’t speak the language. The second, George II, spent almost all of his time in his native Hanover; he wasn’t in a position to affect affairs in England because he was almost never there.
George III was George II’s grandson. He was born in London and raised in England. He became king in October of 1760, about ¾ of the way through the war. George III was 22 years old when he took office. He was young and idealistic.
He believed that the war had changed something fundamental and basic with regards to England’s authority in America. Before the war, the British had almost no presence in America. A tiny strip of land along the Eastern seaboard was under the control of British corporations and proprietors; all land to the north, south, and west, belonged either to France or Spain. After the treaty was concluded, England had more land in America than the entire area of Europe. All of the major powers of Europe had signed the Treaty that granted this land to England. All agreed that it was England. King George III believed he had the obligation to administer this land in a moral and responsible way.
Unlike the members of the previous administration, George III was no friend to corporations. He didn’t like them. He felt that he couldn’t leave the land in America to be exploited by profit-motivated corporations. He had to change the way things worked in America and decided to make changes that would roll back the powers of the corporations and deprive them of their gains.
In the three years between 1760 and 1763, George had gotten rid of all of the pro-corporate people his father had hired. The Pelham brothers (first Henry, then Thomas) had been prime ministers since 1643. They had filled the ministries with people who agreed with their viewpoint. George III had removed the ministers, one at a time, and then in 1762, removed Pelham himself. After removing the people that the Pelham’s had put into power, King George put his own people in, people who agreed with his ideas.
On October 7, 1763 the new king, then 25 years old, issued new law of the land for America, called the ‘Proclamation of 1763.’ It announced several radical changes to British policy in America. It announced that the corporations would be stripped of most of their power. As soon as the details were worked out, they would lose the right to control the governments of America. New governments that represented all of the people (not just landowners and shareholders) would be put into place.
The proclamation announced that the laws the corporations had passed to help them exploit the lands would be replaced by new laws that were ‘as close to the laws of England as practical.’
One very important change involved slavery. Slavery was not legal in England. Once the new laws were put into place, it would not be legal in America either.
British courts had held that all persons were entitled to equal protection of the law, regardless of their race. The courts had specifically ruled on Negroes. The British courts had determined that Negroes were true human beings and their rights would be projected on British soil. The law held that ‘as soon as a Negro reaches British soil, he becomes free.’ The land in America was now British soil. The proclamation would allow a transitional period so that the change could be smooth, but the lands in America would have to bring their laws into conformity with British law. That not only meant that they would have to free all Negro slaves: they would also grant them the same rights as whites and make sure that they had these rights. (If you live in the United States now, you will realize that this still hasn’t been done.)
The biggest change the proclamation announced, however, involved the rights of American natives. All corporate land grants west of the divide of the Appalachians were nullified. The corporations owned no land at all in these areas and would never own any. If they sent people into areas that had been designated as native reserves without written permission from the natives, they were guilty of high treason against the crown and their own government would punish them by hanging. The divide of the Appalachian Mountains had been the unofficial border between two types of societies. It would become the official border.
These changes totally altered the realities of existence for the wealthy and powerful people of the part of North America that had been settled by the corporations and proprietorships. They would lose their total control over the government, their ability to enslave people (both black and white) for their benefit, and their ability to use fraud, trickery, deceit, and genocide to remove the races they considered to be inferior from land so they could sell it.
As we will see shortly, the corporations would have only one way to prevent the edicts in this document from taking effect; they would have to fight to become a separate nation, with the authority to make its own laws.
Let’s consider the exact words of the proclamation:
The Proclamation of 1763
BY THE KING. A PROCLAMATION
Whereas We have taken into Our Royal Consideration the extensive and valuable acquisitions in America, secured to our Crown by the late definitive Treaty of Peace, concluded at Paris, the 10th day of February 1763; and being desirous that all Our loving Subjects, as well of our Kingdom as of our Colonies in America, may avail themselves with all convenient Speed, of the great Benefits and Advantages which must accrue therefrom to their Commerce, Manufactures, and Navigation, We have thought fit, with the Advice of our Privy Council, to issue this our Royal Proclamation, hereby to publish and declare to all our loving Subjects, that we have, with the Advice of our Said Privy Council, granted our Letters Patent, under our Great Seal of Great Britain, to erect, within the Countries and Islands ceded and confirmed to Us by the said Treaty, Four distinct and separate Governments, styled and called by the names of Quebec, East Florida, West Florida and Grenada.
Before this time, the chartered corporations and proprietors, through their administrative bodies, made their own laws.
The corporations and proprietors wanted to make money.
They made laws that made it easier for them to make money.
People who bought large tracts of land got rights to participate in the ‘upper house’ of government, the house that made all important rules. People who bought smaller tracts could vote for the elections of the ‘lower house,’ and have some say in the operation of the nation. People who did special favors for the corporation, or had large numbers of shares, would be given large tracts of land and the governmental power that went with the land. People who didn’t own corporate shares or land, and didn’t know people who could help them in either the government or the corporations, couldn’t participate in government at all.
This would change. The British government was announcing new governments that would work in this different way:
As the state and circumstances of the said Colonies will admit thereof, they shall, summon and call General Assemblies within the said Governments respectively, in such Manner and Form as is used and directed in those Colonies and Provinces in America which are under our immediate Government:
And We have also given Power to the said Governors, with the consent of our Said Councils, and the Representatives of the People so to be summoned as aforesaid, to make, constitute, and ordain Laws. Statutes, and Ordinances for the Public Peace, Welfare, and good Government of our said Colonies, and of the People and Inhabitants thereof, as near as may be agreeable to the Laws of England, and under such Regulations and Restrictions as are used in other Colonies.
In the mean Time, and until such Assemblies can be called as aforesaid, all Persons Inhabiting in or resorting to our Said Colonies may confide in our Royal Protection for the Enjoyment of the Benefit of the Laws of our Realm of England; for which Purpose We have given Power under our Great Seal to the Governors of our said Colonies respectively to erect and constitute, with the Advice of our said Councils respectively, Courts of Judicature and public Justice within our Said Colonies for hearing and determining all Causes, as well Criminal as Civil, according to Law and Equity, and as near as may be agreeable to the Laws of England, with Liberty to all Persons who may think themselves aggrieved by the Sentences of such Courts, in all Civil Cases, to appeal, under the usual Limitations and Restrictions, to Us in our Privy Council.
Only a small part of the lands Britain had acquired had any Euro-Americans on them at all. Virtually everyone on the western 4/5th of the land England had acquired were members of the races that the people on the other 1/5th of the land typically called ‘savages.’ British courts had already ruled that these people were real human beings, with the same rights as other human beings. If these people were given the same power as Euro-Americans in the government that the king intended to form, the ‘savages’ would control the great majority of the land of the continent, all with the backing of this new king.
The Euro-Americans had many reasons to fear this change. Even in the eastern areas, Euro-Americans were not in the majority in many places. Roughly ¼ of the total population of the area west of the divide were slaves of African heritage. In areas where the plantation system prevailed, a tiny number of Euro-Americans owned an enormous number of Afro-Americans. (George Washington owned 311 slaves for example, and Thomas Jefferson owned 175.) If every human being had an equal say in government, in the plantation areas (where slaves outnumbered masters) the Afro-Americans would have more power than the Euro-Americans.
The Great Divide
The next section of the proclamation required all Euro-Americans west of the divide to move east of the divide, abandon their territory, and never return except with the express permission of American natives:
And whereas it is just and reasonable, and essential to our Interest, and the Security of our Colonies, that the several Nations or Tribes of Indians with whom We are connected, and who live under our Protection, should not be molested or disturbed in the Possession of such Parts of Our Dominions and Territories as, not having been ceded to or purchased by Us, are reserved to them, or any of them, as their Hunting Grounds.
We do therefore, with the Advice of our Privy Council, declare it to be our Royal Will and Pleasure, that no Governor or Commander in Chief in any of our Colonies of Quebec, East Florida, or West Florida, do presume, upon any Pretence whatever, to grant Warrants of Survey, or pass any Patents for Lands beyond the Bounds of their respective Governments as described in their Commissions: as also that no Governor or Commander in Chief in any of our other Colonies or Plantations in America do presume for the present, and until our further Pleasure be known, to grant Warrants of Survey, or pass Patents for any Lands beyond the Heads or Sources of any of the Rivers which fall into the Atlantic Ocean from the West and North West, or upon any Lands whatever, which, not having been ceded to or purchased by Us as aforesaid, are reserved to the said Indians, or any of them.
And We do further declare it to be Our Royal Will and Plea-sure, for the present as aforesaid, to reserve under our Sovereignty, Protection, and Do-minion, for the use of the said Indians, all the Lands and Territories not included within the Limits of Our said Three new Governments, or within the Limits of the Territory granted to the Hudson’s Bay Company, as also all the Lands and Territories lying to the Westward of the Sources of the Rivers which fall into the Sea from the West and North West as aforesaid.
And We do hereby strictly forbid, on Pain of our Displeasure, all our loving Subjects from making any Purchases or Settlements whatever, or taking Possession of any of the Lands above reserved, without our especial leave and Licence for that Purpose first obtained.
And We do further strictly enjoin and require all Persons whatever who have either willfully or inadvertently seated themselves upon any Lands within the Countries above described or upon any other Lands which, not having been ceded to or purchased by Us, are still reserved to the said Indians as aforesaid, forthwith to remove themselves from such Settlements.
Qqq proclamation of 1763 273
All Euro-Americans who lived west of the divide would have to abandon their land and move east of the divide. They would not be compensated for their lost land. The proclamation explains the reason that the king had decided not to compensate the people who had lost the western lands:
He had reviewed the documents and discussed the issue with his agents that dealt with the American natives and determined that they had not really sold any of the land at all. They had been tricked into putting ‘X’ marks on pieces of paper that said things that were entirely different than they were told they said. The land had been stolen from them, so the thieves would not be compensated:
And whereas great Frauds and Abuses have been committed in purchasing Lands of the Indians, to the great Prejudice of our Interests and to the great Dissatisfaction of the said Indians: In order, therefore, to prevent such Irregularities for the future, and to the end that the Indians may be convinced of our Justice and determined Resolution to remove all reasonable Cause of Discontent, We do, with the Advice of our Privy Council strictly enjoin and require that no private Person do presume to make any purchase from the said Indians of any Lands reserved to the said Indians, within those parts of our Colonies where, We have thought proper to allow Settlement: but that, if at any Time any of the Said Indians should be inclined to dispose of the said Lands, the same shall be Purchased only for Us, in our Name, at some public Meeting or Assembly of the said Indians, to be held for that Purpose by the Governor or Commander in Chief of our Colony respectively within which they shall lie: and in case they shall lie within the limits of any Proprietary Government, they shall be purchased only for the Use and in the name of such Proprietaries, conformable to such Directions and Instructions as We or they shall think proper to give for that Purpose: And we do, by the Advice of our Privy Council, declare and enjoin, that the Trade with the said Indians shall be free and open to all our Subjects whatever, provided that every Person who may incline to Trade with the said Indians do take out a Licence for carrying on such Trade from the Governor or Commander in Chief of any of our Colonies respectively where such Person shall reside, and also give Security to observe such Regulations as We shall at any Time think fit, by ourselves or by our Commissaries to be appointed for this Purpose, to direct and appoint for the Benefit of the said Trade:
And we do hereby authorize, enjoin, and require the Governors and Commanders in Chief of all our Colonies respectively, as well those under Our immediate Government as those under the Government and Direction of Proprietaries, to grant such Licences without Fee or Reward, taking especial Care to insert therein a Condition, that such Licence shall be void, and the Security forfeited in case the Person to whom the same is granted shall refuse or neglect to observe such Regulations as We shall think proper to prescribe as aforesaid.
And we do further expressly conjoin and require all Officers whatever, as well Military as those Employed in the Management and Direction of Indian Affairs, within the Territories reserved as aforesaid for the use of the said Indians, to seize and apprehend all Persons whatever, who standing charged with Treason, Misprisions of Treason, Murders, or other Felonies or Misdemeanors, shall fly from Justice and take Refuge in the said Territory, and to send them under a proper guard to the Colony where the Crime was committed of which they, stand accused, in order to take their Trial for the same.
Given at our Court at St. James’s the 7th Day of October 1763, in the Third Year of our Reign.
George Washington had personally surveyed most of corporate lands in western Pennsylvania. Under the new law, he couldn’t even go back there without being arrested for treason. The shareholders of the Ohio Company had put up millions of dollars (in current monetary equivalent) to develop the land. If they even went back there to try to visit what had been ‘their’ land again, they could be arrested and hanged.
In fact, all of the people who thought they had a comfortable lifestyle that would continue indefinitely could see their lives crashing down around them. They would not only have to give up their slaves, property, and power, they would have to give up their way of life.
They didn’t want to do this.