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of two pence on each acre on every town in this state lying on Lake Champlain, of one penny on each acre in the towns in the second tier from the said lake, and one half penny on each acre on the towns in the third tier, with the direction in the act for the monies arising from the profits of such shares to be paid into the treasury of the respective towns so taxed in due proportion, all which is submitted by
LUKE KNOULTON, for Committee.
In a postscript to this report, the committee further recommended, in case the House accepted the report, "that the representatives of the towns concerned nominate the persons who are to transact the business, as it is not expected that the state treasurer will be concerned in the matter." After debate, it was resolved to postpone the subject until the next session; but on the 2d of Nov. Elisha Sheldon of Sheldon introduced a bill entitled "An act enabling all the organized towns in this state to tax themselves for the purposes therein mentioned ;" and Nov. 8th it became a law. The preamble of this act was as follows:
Whereas the legislature of the state of Newyork have established a company in said state, called and known by the name of the President, Directors, and Company of the northern inland lock navigation from the now navigable part of Hudson's river to Lake Champlain ; & have enabled said company to receive and enjoy certain profits which may arise therefrom. And whereas the President of said Company has made application to this legislature to subscribe for fifty shares thereof, -And although it appears to the legislature, that the purchase of said shares, for the purpose of encouraging said undertaking, would be highly beneficial to the state at large, yet as it would be more particularly beneficial to the western and north western parts thereof, the legslature do not think fit to purchase said shares with money taken from the public treasury, but for the purpose of encouraging an undertaking so laudable and beneficial to mankind, the legislature have thought fit to enable such towns as, from a spirit of liberality and enterprize, shall have a wish to become stockholders in said company, to tax themselves for the purpose.
Therefore the act authorized and empowered organized towns to levy a tax not exceeding six per cent. on the grand list, or a land-tax not exceeding three pence per acre payable in money only, for the purpose stated, and went on to provide for the collection of the taxes. It is not known that this act was in any degree successful, but it is worthy of notice as being the precedent for several acts of recent date, and also of the existing general statute, authorizing towns to aid, by bonds or stock, in the construction of railroads.
While Gen. Schuyler was endeavoring to push on the work of his company in New York, the men of enterprise in the valley of Connecticut river were not idle. By companies chartered by Vermont, and in one instance at least by a lottery, means were raised for clearing the bed of the river, and constructing the necessary canals and locks. Massachusetts and Connecticut co-operated in the work, and finally the river was made available for transportation by flat-boats and rafts, much to the
'See Laws of 1796, pp. 42–47.
advantage of the inhabitants of the valley in Vermont and New Hampshire. These improvements were specially advantageous to those engaged in the lumber trade; and the canals still furnish water-power for manufactures of great value. In 1830, a small steam-boat ascended the Connecticut to Wells River Village; in 1831, five additional boats were built and put on the river at different sections between Hartford, Conn., and Wells River Village, and were run about a year; but in 1832 the company failed, and the boats were withdrawn.
1 Vermont Historical Magazine, Vol. II, p. 955.
SURVEILLANCE OF THE NORTHERN FRONTIER BY BRITISH TROOPS-1783 to 1796.
It has already been stated, in Vol. 1, pp. 395–6 and 400, that in 1784, British garrisons were maintained at Dutchman's point in North Hero, Vt., one half mile south of Alburgh, at Point au Fer in N. Y., opposite to Alburgh, and also at various points from Ogdensburgh to Michilimackinac, covering the northern frontier of the United States from Vermont to Lake Superior. To these facts is to be added another, that a British armed schooner, with a full complement of sailors, gunners and marines, was stationed at Windmill bay, between Alburgh and Point au Fer, and its commander had supervision of all boats passing through the Lake in any direction, co-operating with the garrisons, which were materially strengthened in 1791. Alburgh was chartered to Ira Allen Feb. 23 1781, but had no legally organized government, under any authority, until June 7 1792, when the people, by the direction of Gov. Chittenden, met and organized as a Vermont town. Down to that date, there was no serious disturbance from the British garrisons in the neighborhood; and for a year previous, any difficulty with them on account of the act of Congress making Alburgh the port of entry and residence of the collector of the district, had been obviated by Secretary Hamilton, who delayed execution of the act. With the organization of the town, however, interferences were commenced by the British officers, and were continued with much annoyance until late in 1794; and a correspondence ensued, in which Gov. Chittenden of Vermont, Lieut. Gov. Clarke of the province of Quebec, Lord Dorchester the Governor General of the Canadas, Geo. Hammond the British minister at Philadelphia, and the U. S. Secretaries of State, Thomas Jefferson and Edmund Randolph, took part.
Before giving such parts of the correspondence as relate to Vermont, showing the assumption of jurisdiction by Vermont over the town of Alburgh, and the difficulties with the British that ensued, it is necessary
I See Vermont Journal of June 28 1791.
2 See affidavit of Benjamin Marvin, dated Oct. 18 1792, post.
Albany Gazette, copied in the Vermont Gazette of Oct. 17 1791.
to say that the French line of latitude, 45° north, had been agreed upon in 1766 by Sir Henry Moore, then governor of the province of New York, and Brig. Gen. Guy Carleton, then in Canada, and that this line was acknowledged by Great Britain, in the treaty of 1783, to be the northern boundary of the United States so far as Vermont and part of New York were concerned. The maintenance of British posts south of this line, from 1783 to 1796, was therefore a plain infraction of the treaty. The representatives of Great Britain so confessed, but excused the offence on the ground that the United States were at the same time violating the fourth, fifth, and sixth articles of the same treaty. Other important facts necessary to be stated are, that on the first day of November 1744, the King of France had granted the township of Alburgh to Francis Focault; that after the conquest of Canada, this grant had been confirmed by the King of Great Britain; that the title had passed from Focault through Gen. Haldimand aud Henry Caldwell to John Caldwell-all British subjects; and that, at the time of this controversy, many citizens of Caldwell's upper manor, alias Alburgh, were in possession of their land under the Caldwells, either by deeds or as lessees. Hence, in the British point of view, the title in Focault's successors was good. Moreover, the fifth article of the treaty of 1783 stipulated
That the Congress shall earnestly recommend [as it did] to the legislatures of the several states, to provide for the restitution of all estates, rights and properties which have been confiscated, belonging to real British subjects, and also of the estates, rights and properties of persons resident in districts in the possession of his majesty's arms, and who have not borne arms against the United States.
Great Britain insisted that this article had been violated by the United States; and when Gov. Chittenden organized Alburgh as a Vermont town in 1792, it is certain that Henry Caldwell regarded it as fatal to his title. It therefore may be concluded, though it is not so stated in terms in any part of the correspondence to which access has been had, that Lord Dorchester and the British minister also regarded the action of Vermont as being dangerous to the Caldwell title, and a violation of the treaty.
On the other hand, Gov. Chittenden had far stronger reasons for asserting the jurisdiction of Vermont over that town. By an act, to which Lord Dorchester himself was a party in 1766, the town was severed from Canada and became and remained a part of New York, in law, until the controversy between Vermont and New York had been settled; it was assigned to Vermont by the resolution of the Continental Who had become Lord Dorchester at the time of this controversy.
As to the title of Focault and his successors, see letter of Henry Caldwell to Gov. Chittenden, and the documents therein referred to, post, p. 456.
The Caldwell title finally failed because, as one ground at least, it had not been recorded in New York.
Congress of Aug. 20 1781,' to which New York consented in 1790; by the treaty of 1783 Great Britain confirmed it to Vermont, and Congress also confirmed it by the act of 1791 which admitted the State into the Union. Thus in 1792 Gov. Chittenden had a perfect right, in every point of view, to assert the jurisdiction of Vermont, and also to assert that the establishment of civil government there had no bearing whatever upon the legal rights of citizens of the town claiming or possessing land there, or of Caldwell or other British subjects. The former had ample remedy in the state courts; and the latter, under the treaty of 1783 and the federal constitution, in the courts of the United States. Thus, in the Vermont point of view, Gov. Chittenden was clearly right, in spiritedly resenting the intrusion of British troops, as well as prudent in committing to President Washington the management of a business which became very dangerous to the peace of the country.
The claim of the Caldwells, father and son, as Focault's successors, really does not belong to this question, except so far as it served as an excuse for the British officers. So much has here been conceded to them. But Gov. Chittenden was aware, quite as well as they, of the grounds of the Caldwell claim, and perhaps better aware than they of its weakness. The following letter preceded the organization of Alburgh by more than seven years:
Henry Caldwell to Gov. Chittenden.3
BELMONT Near Quebec 29th March 1785S-I had the Honor of writing to Your Excly the 29 of Feby last, to which refer, Since which time I have had the pleasure of seeing Coll Ira Allen & we have had frequent Conversations respecting my property to the Southward of this province, his Claim he tells me is founded on a late Grant from Vermont State in Consideration of his services & the Expences he has been at on Acct of the State, that he had asked for that land in preference to any other, from liking its Situation & the goodness of the Soil, not Knowing any thing of my Claim to it, that however he is very willing to relinquish his Claim provided he gets an Equivalent from your State elsewhere, & I believe he is very well Satisfy'd of the justice of your Adopting that measure,
I have mentioned to him what I now have the Honor of mentioning to you, that it would be in vain for me to Contend with him in your
'In the Vt. Hist. Magazine, Vol. II, p. 496, this resolution is so construed as to exclude Alburgh from Vermont; which is precisely the reverse of its true meaning. Ira Allen drew the line adopted in that resolution, shortly after he had obtained the charter of Alburgh, and by no means intended to give the town to New York.-See his statement in Vol. II, pp. 319, 320.
These remedies were afterward resorted to, when both Caldwell's and Allen's titles failed, and the landholders of Alburgh gained title by possession. See Vt. Hist. Magazine, Vol. II, pp. 489, 492; and Vermont Reports, Vol. 3, p. 542.
From the original letter, in Ms. Vt. State Papers, Vol. 24, p. 13.