25 November 2021

How the United States was divvied up

"[Daniel] Boone's early, temporary excursions into the "Land of Tomorrow" [Kentucky] gave him a sense of the beauty and unknown dangers he could expect... The trips also led to property claims on the land by the travelers, in turn prompting a demand for surveyors to record those claims.  One such team of surveyors put their lives on the line to parcel off two thousand acres below the Elk River for George Washington, then a representative to the Virginia legislature, and in two other spots recorded seven thousand acres for another legislator, Patrick Henry, who was ready to carve out a large piece of property in a place unknown to him.  Washington and Henry, like other influential politicos, believed they could get rich from pushing into the territory.

"Years earlier, the British had forbidden private purchase of lands from American Indians such as the one Henderson engineered, having cited 'the great dissatisfaction of the said Indians' involved in such transactions." 

---- excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Taking of Jemima Boone: Colonial Settlers, Tribal Nations, and the Kidnap that Shaped America, by Matthew Pearl (HarperCollins, 2021). 

7 comments:

  1. Our Founding Fathers also risked everything when they declared independence and would likely have been left with little or nothing (possibly even risked death) had the colonies not been victorious in their revolution. 2,000 acres for Mr. Washington, about 3 square miles? Pardon me if that does not cause me much anguish.

    As for the British, they treated the Natives as inferior humans and believed they stood in the way of their God-given right to the land in America and subjected the Natives to their laws as they established their colonies. Colonists were forbidden from buying land from the British. The British had no such ban, they simply took the land they wanted. Let's not hold the British as icons of morality in their treatment of the native people, nor of the African natives they brought to the colonies.

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    1. I've deleted my editorial comment and will let the passage stand on its own.

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    2. Making a distinction between "Our Founding Fathers" and the British is quite the rhetorical trick, especially when it comes to morality in their treatment of the native people and Africans.

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  2. "Patrick Henry, who was ready to care out a large piece of property in a place unknown to him."

    Should be "ready to carve out a large piece...?"

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    1. I was typing rather than copypasting. Fixed. Tx.

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  3. I looked for the book in the internet and as usually happens, learned something along the way. I was not familiar with the story of Jemima Boone (and the Callaway girls), so I learned about that. I also learned that the incident is notable for inspiring the chase scene in James Fenimore Cooper's "The Last of the Mohicans." Interesting.

    One of the Callaway girls later married John Holder, a man of some note in the history of Kentucky. Holder was a man of property who claimed, through military pensions, more than one hundred thousand acres of land in Kentucky.

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  4. Jemima Boone is my great-great-... grandmother. I for one am glad Daniel rescued her (and her friends) :)

    I just finished reading and can recommend a new book by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin called "Blood and Treasure: Daniel Boone and the Fight for America's First Frontier"

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