Page images

Search for Treasure in the Well. A venerable Money-digger. Capture of Crown Point by the Patriots. Seth Warner.

ment when they abandoned the fort in 1759. Accordingly, a stock company of fifty men, whose capital was labor, and whose dividends were to be the treasure found, cleared the well of all its rubbish, in search of the gold and silver. One of the company furnished the whisky which was drunk on the occasion, and agreed to wait for his pay until the treasure was secured. The men “kept their spirits up by pouring spirits down,” and before the work was completed nearly three hogsheads of alcohol were swallowed by them. They cleared and drained the well to its rocky bottom, and all the metal which they found was iron in the form of nails, spikes, bolts, axes, shovels, &c. The whisky and the labor were lost to the owners, but they found the saying correct, that “truth lies at the bottom of a well,” for they discovered, when at the bottom, the important truth, which doubtless taught them wisdom, that credulity is a faithless though smiling friend, and a capricious and hard master to serve. Money-digging still continues in the neighborhood, and several excavations within the fort were pointed out as the scene of quite recent labor in that line. In 1844 a venerable, white-haired man, apparently between eighty and ninety years of age, leaning upon a staff, and accompanied by two athletic men, came to the fort and began to dig. They were observed by Mr. B., and ordered away. The old man was urgent for leave to dig, for he had come from the northern part of Vermont, was very poor, knew exactly where the treasure was, as he had assisted in concealing it, and asked but thirty minutes to finish his work. Mr. B. left them, and, returning an hour afterward, saw quite a deep hole, but no man was near. . The diggers were gone, and the impression is that they really “found something !” There has been a great deal of money-digging upon Snake Mountain, on the eastern side of the lake, induced, to some extent, by the wonderful discovery of a crucible there. Among those rugged hills was doubtless the residence of “May Martin,” the lovely heroine of the “Money-diggers.” Crown Point remained in the quiet possession of the British from 1759 until 1775, when it was surprised and taken by a small body of provincials called “Green Mountain Boys,” under Colonel Seth Warner.” I have already mentioned the fact that he attempted its capture on the same day that Delaplace surrendered Ticonderoga to Ethan Allen, but was thwarted and driven back by a storm. That was on the 10th of May. The attempt was renewed on the 12th, with success, and the garrison, consisting of only a sergeant and eleven men, were made prisoners without firing a shot.” Among the spoils were a hundred and fourteen cannons, of which only sixty-one were fit for service. *



*See Thompson's pretty fiction, “May Martin, or the Money-diggers.”

* Seth Warner was born in Woodbury, Connecticut, about 1744. He moved to Bennington, Vermont, in 1773, and was noted for his skill in hunting. He and Ethan Allen were the leaders of the people of the New Hampshire Grants in their controversy with New York, and on the 9th of March, 1774, the Legislature of the latter province passed an act of outlawry against them. After the capture of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, he received a colonel's commission from the Continental Congress, and joined Montgomery in Canada. His regiment was discharged at St. John's, and, after the death of his general, he raised another body of troops and marched to Quebec. He covered the retreat of the Americans from Canada to Ticonderoga, was with the troops when they evacuated that post in 1777, and commanded the rear-guard that fought a severe battle at Hubbardton. He was one of General Starks's aids at the battle of Bennington, and then joined the army under Gates at Stillwater. His health soon afterward gave way, and he died at Woodbury in 1785, aged forty-one years. The state of Vermont gave his widow and children a valuable tract of land.—Allen's American Biography.

* On the day when Allen captured Ticonderoga, he sent a message to Captain Remember Baker, one of his colleagues in the violent boundary disputes between the New Yorkers and the people of the New Hampshire Grants, to join him at that post. Baker obeyed the summons, and when he was coming up


Expeditions of Allen and Arnold against St. John's. Preparations to oppose General Carleton on the Lake.

Arnold arrived at Ticonderoga the same evening, and on the 14th about fifty men, who had enlisted in compliance with his orders given by the way while hurrying on to Castleton to overtake Allen, arrived from Skenesborough, and brought with them the schooner which belonged to Major Skene. He manned this vessel instantly, armed it with some of the guns taken at the fort, and sailed down the lake to St. John's, on the Sorel. There he surprised and made prisoners the garrison, consisting of a sergeant and twelve men; captured a king's sloop with seven men; destroyed five bateaux; seized four others; put on board some of the valuable stores from the fort, and with his prisoners, and favored by a fair wind which had chopped around from south to north just as he had secured his prizes, he returned to Ticonderoga. Colonel Allen, with one hundred and fifty men in bateaux, started upon the same expedition, but Arnold's schooner outsailed the flat-boats, and Allen met him within fifteen miles of St. John's, returning with his prizes. Arnold was on board the king's sloop, where Allen visited him, and, after ascertaining the actual state of affairs, the latter determined to go on to St. John's and garrison the fort with about one hundred men. He landed just before might, marched about a mile toward Laprairie, and formed his men in ambush to attack an expected re-enforcement for the enemy. He soon learned that the approaching force was much larger than his own, and retired across the river, where he was attacked early in the morning by two hundred men. He fled to his boats and escaped to Ticonderoga, with a loss of three men taken prisoners. Thus within one week the strong fortresses of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, with all their dependencies upon the lake, were snatched from the British by the bold provincials, without their firing a gun or losing a man; and their little fleet upon the lake, their only strength left, was captured and destroyed in a day.

These events aroused General Carleton, the governor of Canada, and a re-enforcement of more than four hundred British and Canadians was speedily sent to St. John's. It was determined to send small water craft from Chambly and Montreal, to be armed and manned at St. John's; and other measures were planned for dispatching a sufficient force up the lake to recapture Ticonderoga and Crown Point. Tidings of these preparations soon reached the ears of Arnold, and afforded him an opportunity to sever his connection with Allen, so ill suited to his restless and ambitious spirit. A fleet to oppose the enemy was now necessary, and, having had some experience at sea in earlier life, Arnold assumed to be the commander of whatever navy should be fitted out. His assumption was not complained of, and he proceeded vigorously in arming and manning Skene's schooner, the king's corvette, and a small flotilla of bateaux. With these and about one hundred and fifty men, he took post at Crown Point to await the approach of the enemy. There he organized his little navy by the appointment of a captain and subordinate officers for each vessel. He mounted six carriage guns and twelve swivels in the sloop, and four carriage guns and eight swivels in the schooner. He was also active in sending off the ordnance from Crown Point to the army at Cambridge, and at the same time he sent emissaries to Montreal and the Caughnawagas to sound the intentions of the Canadians and Indians, and ascertain what was the actual force under Carleton and the nature of his preparations. He also wrote to the Continental Congress in June, proposing a plan of operations whereby, he confidently believed, the whole of Canada might be conquered by two thousand men. He asserted that persons in Montreal had agreed to open the gates when a strong Continental force should appear before the city; assured Congress that Carleton had only five hundred and fifty effective men under him; and offered to lead the expedition and to be responsible for consequences. His representations were doubtless true, but Congress was not prepared to sanction such an expedition. Allen, in a letter dated Crown Point, June 2d, 1775, made a similar proposition to the Provincial Congress of New York. In the mean while letters had been sent from Ticonderoga to the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, complaining of Arnold's arrogant assumptions, and otherwise dis


the lake with his party, he met two small boats with British soldiers, going to St. John's with the intelligence of the reduction of Ticonderoga, and to solicit a re-enforcement of the garrison at Crown Point. Baker seized the boats, and with his prisoners arrived at the fort just in time to join Warner in taking posses sion of it.—Sparks's Life of Ethan Allen.

Commission from Massachusetts. Re-enforcements for the Lake Forts. Regiment of Green Mountain Boys.

paraging his deeds. A committee of inquiry was appointed, who proceeded to Lake Champlain. Arnold was at Crown Point, acting as commandant of the fort and commodore of the navy, and, not suspecting the nature of their visit, he was enthusiastic in his discourse to them of his expected victories. The first intimation of their errand aroused Arnold's indignation ; and when he fully understood the purport of their commission, he wrote them a formal letter of resignation, discharged his men, and returned to Cambridge, uttering loud complaints of ill usage by the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts. Thus ended the naval operations upon the lake in 1775.

When Ticonderoga and Crown Point were securely in the power of the provincials, Col. onel Easton went to Massachusetts and Connecticut, and explained to the respective gov. ernments all the transactions connected with the reduction of these important posts. The Massachusetts Assembly wrote to Governor Trumbull, of Connecticut, expressing their willingness to allow that colony all the honor, and to withhold all interference in future operations in that quarter. Trumbull immediately prepared to send a re-enforcement for the garrisons, of four hundred men. Meanwhile messages were sent to the Continental Congress, and, through courtesy, to the Provincial Congress of New York, within whose juris. diction the fortresses were situated, to ascertain their views. The Continental Congress approved the measures of Governor Trumbull, and requested the Convention of New York to supply the troops with provisions. The four hundred men were immediately sent, under Colonel Hinman, who superseded Colonel Allen in the command at Ticonderoga. The latter, with Warner, set off for the Continental Congress at Philadelphia, to procure pay for their soldiers, whose terms had expired, and to solicit authority to raise a new regiment in Vermont. The appearance of these men occasioned a great sensation in Philadelphia, and they were introduced upon the floor of Congress, to make their communications to that body orally. Congress at once acquiesced in their wishes, granted the soldiers the same pay as was received by those of the Continental army, and recommended to the New York Convention that, after consulting General Schuyler, they should “employ in the army to be raised in defense of America those called Green Mountain Boys, under such officers as the said Green Mountain Boys should choose.” This resolution was dispatched to the New York Convention, and thither Allen and Warner repaired, and obtained an audience." The Assembly resolved that a regiment of Green Mountain Boys, consisting of seven companies, and not exceeding five hundred men in number, should be raised. The matter was referred to General Schuyler, who immediately notified the people of the New Hampshire Grants, and ordered them to raise the regiment. Allen and Warner were not members of the regiment, but soon afterward they both joined General Schuyler at Ticonderoga, where he was stationed with about three thousand troops from New York and New England, pre- Augu, paratory to an invasion of Canada. Early in September Generals Schuyler and 1775. Montgomery sailed from Ticonderoga and Crown Point with their whole force, and appeared before St. John's, on the Sorel. Let us for a moment take a general view of affairs having a relation to the northern section of operations at this juncture and immediately antecedent thereto. • *

* The Assembly of New York was embarrassed when Allen and Warner appeared at the door of its hall and asked for admission, and a warm debate ensued. During the then recent controversy of the Legislature of New York with the people of the New Hampshire Grants, these men had been proclaimed outlaws, and that attainder had never been wiped off by a repeal. There were members of that body who had taken a very active part, personally, in the controversy, and they were unwilling to give their old enemies a friendly greeting. Their prejudices, and the scruples of others who could not recognize the propriety of holding public conference with men whom the law of the land had declared to be rioters and felons, produced a strong opposition to their admission to the hall. The debates were becoming very warm, when Captain Sears (the noted “King Sears”) moved that “Ethan Allen be admitted to the floor of the House.” It was carried by a very large majority, as was also a similar resolution in regard to Warner. Allen afterward wrote a letter of thanks to the New York Assembly, in which, after referring to the formation of the battalion of Green Mountain Boys, he concluded by saying, “I will be responsible that they will reciprocate this favor by boldly hazarding their lives, if need be, in the common cause of America.”

General View of Affairs. The “Canada Bill.” Opposition to it in Parliament. Denunciations of Barré.

The British ministry, alarmed at the rapid progress of the rebellion in America, and particularly at the disaffection to the royal government which was manifest in Canada, and observing that all their coercive measures in relation to Massachusetts had thus far augmented rather than diminished the number and zeal of the insurgents in that colony, determined, in 1774, to try a different policy with Canada, to secure the loyalty of the people. A large proportion of the inhabitants were of French descent, and members of the Romish communion. Those who composed the most influential class were of the old French aristocracy, and any concessions made in favor of their caste weighed more heavily with them than any that might be made to the whole people, involving the extension of the area of political freedom, an idea which was a mere abstraction to them. Religious concessions to the other and more ignorant class were a boon of great value, and by these means the king and his advisers determined to quiet the insurrectionary spirit in Canada. A bill was accordingly introduced into Parliament, “For making more effectual provision for the government of the province of Quebec, in North America.” It provided for the establishment of a Legislative Council, invested with all powers except that of levying taxes. It was provided that its members should be appointed by the crown, and continue in authority during its pleasure; that Canadian subjects professing the Catholic faith might be called to sit in the Council; that the Catholic clergy, with the exception of the regular orders, should be secured in the enjoyment of their professions, and of their tithes from all those who professed their religion; that the French laws without jury should be re-established, preserving, however, the English laws, with trial by jury, in criminal cases. The bill also provided that the limits of Canada should be extended so as to inclose the whole region between the lakes and the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, regardless of the just claims of other colonies under old and unrepealed charters.” These liberal concessions to the Canadians would have been highly commendable, had not other motives than a spirit of liberality manifestly actuated ministers. The most obtuse observer could plainly perceive their object to be to secure a strong footing north and west of the refractory colonies, where troops might be concentrated and munitions of war collected, to be used at a moment's warning, if necessary, in crushing rebellion near. Such a design was at once charged upon ministers by the ever-vigilant Colonel Barré, on the floor of the British House of Commons. “A very extraordinary indulgence,” he said, “is given to the inhabitants of this province, and one calculated to gain the hearts and affections of these people. To this I can not object, if it is to be applied to good purposes; but if you are about to raise a popish army to serve in the colonies, from this time all hope of peace in America will be destroyed. The Americans will look on the Canadians as their task-masters, and, in the end, their executioners.” It was urged by ministers that common justice demanded the adoption of such a measure, for a very large proportion of the people of Canada were Roman Catholics.” Edmund Burke, Thomas Townshend, Charles Fox, Sergeant Glynn, and others joined Colonel Barré in his denunciations of the bill, particularly in relation to the clauses concerning the Roman Catholic religion, and that providing for the establishment of a Legislative Council to be appointed by the crown. The former were considered a dangerous precedent for a Protestant government, and the latter was regarded as shadowing forth the ultimate design of the king and his ministers to subvert the popular form of government in America, and to make the legislators mere creatures of the crown. By its provisions the Governor of Canada was vested with almost absolute and illimitable power, and permitted to be nearly as much a despot, if he chose, as any of the old Spanish viceroys of

' Thomas and John Penn, son and grandson of William Penn, then the proprietaries of Pennsylvania and Delaware, entered a protest against the boundary section of this bill, because it contemplated an encroachment upon their territory. Burke, who was then the agent of the colony of New York, also opposed this section of the bill for the same reason, in behalf of his principal. The letter of that statesman to the Assembly of New York on the subject is published among the Collections of the New York Historical Society, and is said to be the only one known to be extant of all those which he wrote to that body.

* Governor Carleton asserted, on oath, before a committee of Parliament, that there were then only about three hundred and sixty Protestants in Canada, while the Roman Catholics numbered one hundred and fifty thousand.

Passage of the “Canada Bill.” Effect of the Measure in the Colonies. Boldness of Orators and the Press,

South America. On this point Lord Chatham (William Pitt) was particularly eloquent, and he also took ground against the religious features of the bill, as an innovation dangerous to the Protestant faith and to the stability of the throne. The bill, however, with all its exceptionable clauses, was adopted by quite a large majority in both Houses, and received the royal assent on the 22d of June. It was introduced into the House of Lords by the Earl of Dartmouth, and passed that House without opposition. This bill is reserred to in our Declaration of Independence as one of the “acts of pretended legislation” that justified the separation from the parent country. While this act, with the Boston Port Bill, that for the subversion of the charter of Massachusetts, and the law authorizing the transportation of criminals to Great Britain for trial, were in transit through Parliament and receiving the royal signature, the colonists were preparing to make a successful resistance against further legislative encroachments. Throughout the whole summer and autumn of 1774 the greatest excitement prevailed. The committees of correspondence were every where active and firm, and were constantly supplied with minute knowledge of all the movements of the home government by secret agents in the British metropolis. The people by thousands signed non-importation agreements, and otherwise attested their willingness to make personal sacrifices in the cause of freedom. The press spoke out boldly, and orators no longer harangued in parables, but fearlessly called upon the people to UNITE. The events of the French and Indian war had demonstrated the prowess and strength of the Anglo-Americans against the foes of Britain, and they felt confident in that strength against Britain herself, now that she had become the oppressor of her children, if a bond of union could be made that should cause all the colonies to act in concert. A general Congress, similar to that which convened in New York in 1765, was therefore suggested. Throughout the colonies the thought was hailed as a happy one, and soon was developed the most energetic action. The Congress met in September, adopted loyal addresses to the king and Parliament, to the people of the colonies, of Canada, of Ireland, and of Great Britain, and took precautionary measures respecting future aggressions upon their rights. The people, highly indignant, every where evinced the strength of that feeling by open contempt for all royal authority exercised by officers of the crown. The acts alluded to were denounced as “barbarous and bloody,” the British ministry were published in the gazettes, and placarded upon the walls as papists and as traitors to the Constitution, and the patriots even had the boldness to lampoon the king and Parliament. (For an illustration, see next page.) Such was the temper of the Americans at the opening of the year 1775. The events at Lexington and Concord added fuel to the flame of indignation and rebellion. As we have seen, Ticonderoga and other posts on Lake Champlain were assailed, and fell into the hands of the Americans. In June the battle of Bunker Hill was fought. A Continental Junen. army was speedily organized. Hope of reconciliation departed. The sword was 1775. fairly drawn, and at the close of summer an expedition was arranged to invade Canada, for which an armament was collected at Ticonderoga. Such a step seemed essential for two reasons: first, to confirm the Canada patriots (who were chiefly in the neighborhood of Montreal) in their opposition to Great Britain by the pressure of armed supporters; and, secondly, to secure the strong-hold of Quebec while its garrison was yet weak, and before General Carleton could organize a sufficient force to defend it. That officer, it was well known, was vested with almost unlimited power as governor of the province, under the act which we have just considered; and it was also well known that he was using every means at his command to induce the Canadians to take up arms against the rebellious colonists. Neither bribes nor promises were spared. The imperial government resolved to send out fifteen thousand muskets to arm the French Catholics, and agents of the crown were busy among the Indian tribes upon the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa, inciting them to an alliance with the army of the king. Congress had already sent an affectionate address “To the oppressed inhabitants wers, of Canada,” and its effects were so palpable to Governor Carleton, that he feared 1775.



« PreviousContinue »