"The Extention of His Majesties Dominions": The Virginia Backcountry and the Reconfiguration of Imperial Frontiers

by Warren R. Hofstra
"The Extention of His Majesties Dominions": The Virginia Backcountry and the Reconfiguration of Imperial Frontiers
Warren R. Hofstra
The Journal of American History
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"The Extention of His Majesties Dominions": The ~irginia Backcountry and the-~econfiguration of Imperial ~rontiers

Warren R. Hofstra

During the 1730s, in Virginia west of the Blue Ridge, a settlement frontier devel- oped whose society and culture contrasted sharply with those already established in the colony. A large majority of the new western inhabitants, unlike Virginians elsewhere, were non-English, predominantly German and Scotch-Irish. Called "for- eign Protestants" and Irish Protestants, they were almost exclusively white-few Africans or African Americans were among them. Settlers practiced dissenting and sectarian faiths, most stressing a common humanity. Elsewhere, not only was Vir- ginia organized under the Church of England but conforming Virginians largely subscribed to the deferential social practice of the established church. Moreover, western settlers were not tobacco producers. They were yeoman farmers instead of planters -smallholders raising grains and livestock, employing family more often than slave labor, practicing handcrafts, and trading locally in the context of com- munity self-sufficiency. '

Warren R. Hofstra is professor of history and director of the Community History Project at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. Portions of this essay were presented at the conference "Americans in Motion: Virginia, the South, Mobility, and the American Dream" at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, Virginia, March 11-12, 1994, and at the eleventh Ulster-American Heritage Symposium at the Ulster-American Folk Park in Omagh, Northern Ireland, August 8-11, 1996.

For their helpful comments and vigorous critiques of earlier drafts of this essay, I would like to thank John M. Hemphill 11, Kenneth E. Koons, Michael N. McConnell, James H. Merrell, Robert D. Mitchell, Gregory H. Nobles, Daniel K. Richter, Ian K. Steele, Thad W. Tate, and the anonymous reviewers for the JournalofAmenian History.

"Foreign Protestants" strictly speaking included only immigrants from outside the British Empire, that is, people who were not natural-born subjects of the English monarch, but the term was commonly used for all the non-English peoples of the eighteenth-century backcountry. On economic diversity and cultural pluralism in the Virginia backcountry, see Richard R. Beeman, The Euolztion of the Sozthern Backcozntry: A Case Stzdy of Lznenbzrg Coznty, Virginia, 1746-1832 (Philadelphia, 1984); Freeman H. Hart, The Valley of Virginia in the Amenian Revolztion, 1763-1789 (Chapel Hill, 1942); James G. Leyburn, The Scotch-Insh: A Social History (Chapel Hill, 1962); Turk McCleskey, 'Across the First Divide: Frontiers of Settlement and Culture in Augusta County, Virginia, 1738-1770" (Ph.D. diss., College of William and Mary, 1990); Robert D. Mitchell, Commercialism and Frontier: Perrpectives on the Shenandoah Wey (Charlottesville. 1977); Albert H. Tillson Jr., Gentry and Common Folk: Political Culture on a Virginia Frontiel; 1740-1789 (Lexington, Ky., 1991); and Klaus Wust, The Virginia Germans (Charlottesville. 1969) 17-199.

The Journal of American History March 1998

The initial distinctiveness of the backcountry raises the question: Why did a society develop on the Virginia frontier whose ethnic and religious diversity, mixed economy, and political outlook fundamentally altered the identity of the colony?2 Although Virginia escaped the violence of the Regulator movements on the Caro- lina frontier in the 1760s and of the Whiskey Rebellion that rocked western Penn- sylvania in the 1790s, the state would cleave in two along the fault lines of frontier settlement during the American Civil War. Conventional answers to the question of backcountry distinctiveness and its genesis have adopted the perspective of those who took up new lands and highlighted their interests. European refugees wanted land, and Virginia let them have it on very attractive terms. Pouring into Pennsyl- vania after 1720 from straitened circumstances in Europe and frustrated by high land prices and political disputes, German and Scotch-Irish immigrants turned south to the Shenandoah Valley, where land was good and land prices low.3

This school of thought derives from a century of frontier scholarship beginning with Frederick Jackson Turner's arguments that the frontier broke down social con- ventions and that settlers reconstituted polities on increasingly democratic foot- ings. Postulating that, although at first the "wilderness masters the colonist. . . . little by little he transforms the wilderness," Turner rested his thesis on what settlers did on the frontier, not why they were there. He convinced generations of Ameri- cans that the frontier was the self-creation of those who settled it and that frontier expansion was an American story. The idea that the motive forces of expansion sprang from American conditions fashioned by settlers themselves dominated later interpretations, including Robert D. Mitchell's account of the eighteenth-century Shenandoah Valley, the lone modern survey of the region.4

From the perspective of these studies, the question of why Virginia fostered the growth of a society alien to well-established cultural norms is very difficult to answer. Never had Virginia freely distributed land to all takers. Virginia history had been the story of the engrossment of land in larger and larger quantities by social and political elites drawing ever closer in the nexus of kinship, land ownership, and

For the argument that backcountry distinctiveness contributed to debates between regions of Virginia in the nineteenth century and the state's division during the American Civil War, see Warren R. Hofstra, "The Virginia Backcountry in the Eighteenth Century: The Question of Origins and the Issue of Outcomes," Virginia Magazine of History andBiography, 101 (Oct. 1993), 485-508. On regional implications of eighteenth-century backcountry migrations, see David Hackett Fischer, Albion? Seed: Four Bri2ish FoMways in America (New York, 1989), 605- 782; Terry G. Jordan and Matti Kaups, The American Backwoods Frontier An Ethnic andEcologicalInterpretation (Baltimore, 1989); Robert D. Mitchell, "The Formation of Early American Cultural Regions: An Interpretation," in European Settlement and Development in North America: Essays on Geographical Change in Honour and Memory of Andrew Hill Clark, ed. James R. Gibson (Toronto, 1978), 66-90; and Milton Newton, "Cultural Pre- adaptation and the Upland South," Geoscience andMan, 5 (June 1974), 143-54. On Virginia, see Charles Henry Ambler, Sectionalism in Virginiafrom 1776 to 1861 (1910; New York, 1964).

3 A classic statement of the position that "settlement of the Southern back country was largely the result of the quest for cheap lands by people from older communities" appears in Oscar Theodore Barck Jr. and Hugh Talmage Lefler, Colonial America (1958; New York, 1968), 255-56. For variants of this position, see Carl Briden- baugh, Myths and Realities: Societies ofthe Colonial South (1952; Westport, 1981), 122; Johanna Miller Lewis, Artisans in the North Carolina Bmkcozntry (Lexington, Ky., 1995), 19, 22, 33, 49-50; Mitchell, Commercialism and Frontiet; 16-19; and Wust, Virginia Germans, 28-30.

4 Frederick Jackson Turner, "The Significance of the Frontier in American History" in Frederick Jackson Turner, The Frontier in American History (New York, 1920), 1-38; Frederick Jackson Turner, "The Old West," ibia!, 67-125; Mitchell, Commercialism and Frontiel:

political power. This elite never achieved stronger and more exclusive control over political power, especially the power to distribute land, than when it was creating a backcountry frontier of outsiders. On the very eve of settlement in the Shenan- doah Valley, for instance, Lt. Gov. William Gooch defended the practice of elites' engrossing land in the Piedmont to the east of the Blue Ridge. Writing to the Board of Trade, the English administrative body charged with overseeing colonial affairs, he reasoned that "where the greatest Tracts have been granted & possessed" by "men of substance" the "meaner sort of People [have been encouraged] to seat themselves as it were under the Shade & Protection of the Greater." Occasionally the Virginia Council, the appointed upper house of the colony's legislature, which also served as a high court and the governor's advisory board, turned down land petitions by strangers. In May 1741, for example, it denied a request for three thou- sand acres, explaining that the "Petitioner is not known to any of the Board and therefore [this quantity is] thought too much for so obscure a Person.">

According to another school of thought, Virginia's Blue Ridge frontier was de- veloped by land speculators under the patronage of the colonial government. Thomas Perkins Abernethy and Richard Lee Morton argued that Virginia responded to the pressures of eighteenth-century migrations with speculative ventures bene- fiting the traditional governing elite. In an explicit attack on Turner's concept of a settler-defined frontier, Abernethy asserted that few pioneers

would have established themselves there had not the speculators paved the way for them. . . . How different would have been the settlement of our early West had it been carried forward by bands of free spirits setting out upon their own initiative, equipped only with the rifle and the axe, to take possession of unoc- cupied lands, with no thought of speculators or surveyors!

In Morton's assessment the "gentlemen of eighteenth-century Virginia, like those of the seventeenth century, did not wait for obscure backwoods hunters, fur traders, cattlemen, and small farmers to blaze the trails to the West and subdue the forests for them; they were themselves pioneers in those ~entures."~

From this perspective, as well, it is difficult to explain the origins of backcountry distinctiveness. In the early 1730s the Virginia Council did issue to individuals grants of land west of the Blue Ridge that were unprecedented in size. Grantees

5 William Gooch to Board of Trade, April 2, 1729, C.O. 5 i 1321, Colonial Office Papers (Public Records Office,

London, Eng.); Wilmer L. Hall, ed., Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia, vol. V (Richmond,

1945), 50. On the Council's intent to reserve large quantities of land for the social class it represented, see, for

example, H. R. McIlwaine, ed., Executive Journals of the Councilof Colonial Virginia, vol. IV (Richmond, 1930),

430-31. On the control of land granting by those in power and prominence in Virginia, see Sarah S. Hughes,

Surveyors andStatesmen: LandMeasuring in Colonial Virginia (Richmond, 1979), 84-85, 107; Turk McCleskey,

"Rich Land, Poor Prospects: Real Estate and the Formation of a Social Elite in Augusta County, Virginia, 1738

1770," Virginia Magazine ofHistoy andBiography, 98 (July 1990), 449-86; Charles S. Sydnor, Gentlemen Free-

holders: Political Practices in Washington > Virginia (Chapel Hill, 1952);and Manning C. Voorhis, "Crown Versus

Council in the Virginia Land Policy," William and Mary Quarterly, 3 (Oct. 1946) 499-514.

6 Thomas Perkins Abernethy, "The First Transmontane Advance," in Humanistic Studies in Honor ofJohn

Calvin Metcalf; ed. James S. Wilson (New York, 1941), 138; Richard L. Morton, Colonial Virginia (2 vols., Chapel

Hill, 1960), 11, 540; Thomas Perkins Abernethy, Three Virginia Frontiers (Baton Rouge, 1940) 29-62. Morton

derives his narrative almost exclusively from Abernethy, as do more recent authors; see W. Stitt Robinson, The

Southern Colonial Frontiel; 1607-1763 (Albuquerque, 1979) 139-50.

were entitled to profit from land sales at prices six times the cost of crown lands elsewhere in Virginia. But whereas the Council and the families that dominated it were the principal recipients of their own largess in distributing Piedmont lands during the 1720s, most of the massive grants issued between 1730 and 1740 west of the Blue Ridge went to men of non-English origin residing outside Virginia and with neither significant ties to the Council nor the social standing to command its attention. Moreover, conditions placed on the grants attracted the immigrant popu- lation that made the colony's mountain region economically and socially distinc- tive. This region lay outside the bounds of any Virginia county. No sheriff's writ ran there, no deeds could be conveyed or property confiscated for debt, and no justice of the peace held jurisdiction over it. Thus no speculator could be assured of profits from land claims. Virginia was not simply responding conventionally to population pressures with land speculation: it was deliberately provoking a migra- tion to its marchlands where a vacuum of local government and colonial authority existed.'

To explain the movement of peoples to the Virginia frontier during the eigh- teenth century requires a new perspective that connects the concerns of settlers and the interests of speculators with the geopolitical and imperial forces that defined frontiers and made their settlement both possible and expedient. The buffer set- tlements of European Protestants that the colonial government established west of the Blue Ridge between 1730 and 1745 were part of a larger effort to check French expansion across the interior of North America, extend English dominion, secure a western periphery destabilized by Indian conflict, and occupy mountain fast- nesses otherwise a refuge to runaway slaves. What met the needs of Europeans look- ing for land and economic competence in property ownership also served the in- terests of colonial officials. Events in the Virginia backcountry from 1730 to 1750, moreover, reflected imperial responses to developments between 1700 and 1722 when France laid the basis for a continental empire, northern and southern Indians resumed disruptive wars across that continent, and African slavery came to define the southern colonial labor system. English colonial governments sought ways to secure established, plantation regions from the threats posed by those changes. Williamsburg and London therefore provide the perspective for explaining why a so- ciety that differed so significantly from Virginia traditions developed on a strate- gically sensitive frontier and under the auspices of the elite that governed the colony in its own interest.

Developments in Virginia compose a case study of change in the eighteenth-

'The 1720 act establishing Spotsylvania County located its western boundary along the Shenandoah River. This boundary remained fixed until Orange County was established in 1734 extending westward to the full extent of Virginia claims. Only then were settlements west of the Shenandoah River absorbed within the legal limits of Virginia counties. Although the Northern Neck counties of Stafford and Prince William were unbounded to the west, they never possessed any jurisdiction beyond the Blue Ridge. See William W. Hening, ed., The Statztes at Large: Being a Collection ofAll the Laws of Virginia, from . . . 1619. . . . (13 vols., Richmond, New York, and Philadelphia, 1819-1823) IV, 77-79, 303, 450-51; Fairfax Harrison, Landmarks of Old Prince William: A Study of Ongins in Northern Virginia (2 vols., Richmond, 1924), I, 311-14.

century backcountry, conceived for the first time as extending continuously from Nova Scotia south to the Carolinas and, eventually, to Georgia. As William Gooch and the Virginia Council began issuing orders for land west of the Blue Ridge, the Board of Trade and the governor of South Carolina matured plans to lay out frontier towns surrounding that colony's Low Country plantations. Similarly, the board and the government of New York were negotiating the establishment of a chain of forts and settlements that would extend English control north and west from Albany to the centers of French power along the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes. Farther east, on the coasts of present-day Maine and Nova Scotia, colonial agents were formulating additional settlement projects. The distinctiveness of the entire backcountry was in part the inevitable consequence of the cultures immigrant peoples brought to the region. But in reconfiguring frontiers, British officials on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean came to see predominantly white, Protestant, yeo- man societies as distinctively advantageous to securing a continental frontier. Else- where, as in Virginia, backcountry settlement developed out of a coincidence of interests among settlers, speculators, and imperial authorities, but the key to the social construction of this frontier lay with the imperatives of empire.8

In Virginia those interests and imperatives met in the forces that transformed what Europeans called wilderness or waste land into property. From the viewpoint of imperial officials, land grants west of the Blue Ridge represented the extension of sovereignty over unorganized territory through the authority of the state in the person of the king to fabricate property. From the viewpoint of European immi- grants, however, rights to land meant economic competence and independence from the subject relations of feudal society. Once on the land, these men and women established dispersed communities of enclosed or self-contained farms and household economies lacking the centers of power and forms of administrative control English authorities associated with what the Virginia Council described as "the Extention of His Majesties Dominions."g

Exercising dominion in Virginia, therefore, depended upon the formation of county government. The justices of the county court represented the authority of the royal governor, who appointed them, and of the king, who appointed the governor. As the institutional center of the county, the court became the local agent for the

On South Carolina, see C.O. 5 I 360-64, 388, 400-401, Colonial Office Papers; on New York, see C.O. 5 1 1052-55, 1085-86, 1092-93, 1124-25, ibid; and on Nova Scotia, C.O. 217 13-7, 218 I 2, ibid In 1733 the gov- ernor of New York, William Cosby, wrote to the duke of Newcastle, the British secretary of state responsible for colonial affairs: "the most effectual way to extend our settlements is to erect Forts in places more advanced towards Canada . . . such a line of frontier Garrisons would keep the French from incroaching upon us . . . and would encourage our Planters to extend their settlements to our advanced Garrisons." See Edmund Bailey O'Callaghan, ed., Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New-York (15 vols., Albany, 1853-1887), V,

972. On the coincidence of interests between settlers and surveyors on the Virginia frontier, cf. Turk McCleskey, "Shadow Land: Provisional Real Estate Claims and Anglo-American Settlement in Southwestern Virginia,'' in From the Good Earth: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Frontier Communities, ed. David C. Crass et al. (Knoxville, forthcoming).

9 H. R. McIlwaine, ed., Legislative Journals oftbe CouncilofVirginia (1918-1919; Richmond, 1979), 864. On squatting, see Hughes, Surveyors and Statesmen, 111, 127; Leonidas Dodson, Alexander Spotswood~ Governor of Colonial Virginia, 1710-1722 (Philadelphia, 1932), 133-56; and Manning C. Voorhis, "The Land Grant Policy of Colonial Virginia, 1607-1774" (Ph.D. diss., University of Virginia, 1940), 87-165.

transformation of waste land into property.1° It functioned as a criminal court as well as a court of record for property ownership and conveyance and civil court for resolving disputes over property. By establishing roads and thus defining the rights and routes by which people could communicate among properties, the court also encouraged economic development and community formation. For the security of the frontier, militia units were mustered in county commands, and the court swore officers to their commissions.~~

Insofar as England settled its Virginia frontier through the extension of property rights from the Crown to those taking up land and through the authority of county governments to secure property, facilitate economic development, and provide for the common defense, it was colonial officials, not settlers, who defined the process. Officials could exploit it for their speculative interests, but they also had to act on behalf of the Crown. l2

The frontier then was an imperial story. In Virginia the creation of the backcoun- try constituted a narrative of property formation and county organization in an un- bounded region. Colonial officials timed this process according to the imperial in- terests new settlements were intended to fulfill. Procedures varied in other colonies. New York, for example, resisted the privatization of property in the hands of small- holders, and the Carolinas delayed the extension of effective county government to backcountry areas. '3 In all cases, however, the English occupation of the North American interior, for the most part by non-English peoples, served the interests of empire.

The forces that set the European occupation of the Virginia backcountry in motion can be traced to three sets of developments in the interlude between the close of

lo In 1710 the governor and Council stipulated that grants for more than four hundred acres required an order of council, but headrights (rights to fifty acres of land due free immigrants or their dependents) to land were still acquired at the county courts. Treasury rights (purchased rights to land) were available only from the receiver general of the colony until 1717, when Lt. Gov. Alexander Spotswood proclaimed that they could be purchased from county sulveyors. See H. R. McIlwaine, ed., Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia, vol. 111 (Richmond, 1928), 580-82; Dodson, Alemnder Spotswood, 135-36; Hughes, Surveyors and Statesmen, 107; Voorhis, "Land Grant Policy of Colonial Virginia," 111-12.

On the county as a "militarized social model," see Stephen Saunders Webb, The Governors-General: The English Army andthe Dejinition ofthe Empire, IIj69-1681 (Chapel Hill, 1979), 437. See also Richard R. Johnson, "The Imperial Webb: The Thesis of Garrison Government in Early America Considered," William andMary Quar- terly, 43 (July 1986) 408-30; and a response: Stephen Saunders Webb, "The Data and Theory of Restoration Empire," ibid , 431-59.

lZ By the eighteenth century the power to determine county and parish boundaries resided in the colonial legislature, but it had earlier been a prerogative of the governor, which Spotswood unsuccessfully attempted to revive. See Dodson, Alemnder Spotswood, 226-27. On the shiring of Ireland in the sixteenth century as analogous to the formation of counties on colonial frontiers, see D. W. Meinig, The Shaping of America: A Geographical Perspective on 500 Ears of Histoy, vol. I: Atlantic America (New Haven, 1986), 29.

'3 The refusal of colonial officials to establish adequate county institutions on the frontiers of the Carolina colonies underscores the unsystematic nature of imperial decision making and the variations in colonial admin- istration. That circumstances in Virginia compelled officials to employ the county as an instrument of imperial security goes a long way in explaining the absence of the social discontent that led to the Regulator controversies in the Carolinas. These controversies themselves affirm the importance of county formation to the settlement process.

the War of the League of Augsburg in 1697 and the opening of the War of the Spanish Succession five years later. Those developments set the stage upon which imperial officials reconceptualized English frontiers in colonial North America. In its influential report of September 8, 1721, the Board of Trade moved beyond a colony-by-colony consideration of defense issues and set forth proposals about the security of English colonies based on a continental reconfiguration of the American backcountry.14 The implementation of these proposals in the decades after 1720 helps explain events in Virginia and elucidates connections between imperial de- cision making and the evolution of backcountry society.

The first development occurred in Virginia during the peace of 1697-1702, when a boom in the tobacco economy stimulated investments in land and slaves bringing more than one million acres into private hands and three thousand slaves to the colony. Within two decades the number of slaves brought annually to Virginia ap- proached two thousand, and the black population nearly doubled. Territorial ex- pansion and the continuing threat of war in Europe led to an increased concern for colonial defenses. French Huguenot refugees were established at Manakin Town on the James River beyond the fall line in 1700 and later organized as an infantry company. The colonial Council took steps to improve militia discipline, and the whole legislature, the General Assembly, passed a land act in 1701 that encouraged companies of armed men to take up frontier tracts. Although unsuccessful, these measures helped establish the principle of colonial defense through a combination of military force and induced settlement.15

In a second set of developments, the region between English Carolina and Span- ish Florida became contested ground for European powers and Native Americans. From 1698 to 1699 France initiated colonizing efforts in the Gulf of Mexico, Spain responded by establishing the presidio of San Carlos de Austria at Pensacola, South Carolina attempted to extend its Indian trade to the Mississippi, and the English colonizer Daniel Coxe endeavored to plant a Huguenot colony at the mouth of that river. Within three years France had extended its grasp on the North American interior with posts and forts at Cahokia and Kaskaskia in the Illinois Country and along the Great Lakes at Detroit. Native Americans strove to keep all these forces at bay. Virginia governors during the ensuing half century fretted increasingly over the possibility of a French commercial link-an imperial "communication''- between outposts in Canada and Louisiana. But the influence among western Indians that France could achieve through trade and the trouble these Indians

I4 Board of Trade to the king, Sept. 8, 1721, C.O. 324 110, Colonial Office Papers.

'5 Warren M. Billings, John E. Selby, and Thad W. Tate, Colonial Virginia: A History (White Plains, 1986), 173; James R. Bugg Jr., "The French Huguenot Frontier Settlement of Manakin Town," Virginia Magazine ofHis- tory andBiography, 61 (Oct. 1953), 359-94; John M. Hemphill 11, Virginia and the English CommerczdSystem, 1689-1733: Studies in the Development and Fluctuations of a Colonzal Economy under Impenul Control (New York, 1985), 14-25; Hening, ed., Statutes, 111, 204-9; H. R. McIlwaine, ed., Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia, vol. I1 (Richmond, 1927) 172-77; Edmund S. Morgan, Amencan Slavery, American Free- dom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia (New York, 1975), 301, 420-23; Robinson, Southern Colonial Frontiel; 121-27; U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, HiftoncalStatistics of the UnitedStates: Colonial Times to 1970 (2 vols., Washington, 1975), 11, 1168, 1172.

could make for Virginia represented a far greater peril to the colony's security than French military power, at least until 1750.16

Thus the French threat magnified the third development of the European peace: the entanglement of the Five Nations of Iroquoia in the imperial contentions of the Southeast. In separate agreements concluded in Montreal and Albany in 1701, the Five Nations abandoned violent efforts to engross the northern peltry trade and adopted instead a policy of neutrality between France and England. The Five Nations then resumed domestic mourning-wars against the Cherokees, Catawbas, Creeks, and Yamasees. These conflicts were intended to replenish kinship circles with captives and to vitalize tribal leadership through opportunities for young war- riors to gain stature in feats of bravery. The Five Nations could also use threats of southern warfare as a bargaining chip in diplomatic efforts to maintain neutrality with France and England."

War parties crossing Virginia territory threatened the colony's frontier inhabi- tants and disrupted Virginia Indians. Meherrins and Nottoways were Iroquoian peoples and Saponies, Siouan. Iroquois-speaking Tuscaroras of Virginia and the Carolinas were linked to the Five Nations and constituted the sixth when some members moved north between 1713 and 1720. Saponies associated with Siouan- speaking Catawbas of the Carolinas. Entwined affiliations inevitably drew ~irginia Indians into distant wars, and their tributary agreements with Williamsburg en- meshed the colonial government in those wars. The movement of non-English Europeans into the region west of the Blue Ridge during the next interval in the imperial wars of England and France, 1713-1744, resulted from attempts by Virginia's governors to resolve the costly conflicts on the colony's frontiers develop- ing out of Indian hostilities and the French connection.ls

That the southeastern frontier was now contested territory was borne out during the War of the Spanish Succession. Between 1702 and 1710 South Carolina forces eradicated the Spanish mission presence north of Florida and nearly took forts at St. Augustine and Pensacola, while combined Spanish-French expeditions twice at- tacked the South Carolina capital at Charles Town. New England forces established a second zone of contention on the northern perimeter of English settlement with

l6 On the four-way struggle between England, France, Spain, and Native Americans for the Southwest, see Charles M. Andrews, The Colonial Period of American History, vol. 111: The Settlements (New Haven, 1937), 235-36; Verner W. Crane, The Southern Frontier, 1670-1732 (1928; New York, 1981), 47-70; W. J. Eccles, France in America (East Lansing, 1990) 107-9; Daniel H. Usner Jr., Indians, Settlers, & Slaves in a Frontier Exchange Economy (Chapel Hill, 1992); and David J. Weber, The Spanish Frontier in North America (New Haven, 1992), 147-58.

'7 Richard Aquila, The Iroquois Restoration: Iroquois Diplomacy on the Colonial Frontiel; 1701-17% (Detroit, 1983), 205-45; Francis Jennings, The Ambiguous Iroquois Empire: The Covenant Chain Confederation ofIndian Tribes with English Colonierfrom Its Beginnings to the hncaster Treaty of 1744 (New York, 1984), 210-12; Michael

N. McConnell, A Country Between: The Upper Ohio Wey andlts Peoples, 1724-1774 (Lincoln, 1992) 15-17; James H. Merrell, The Indians' New World, Catawbas and Their Neighborsfrom European Contact through the Era ofRemoval(Chape1 Hill, 1989), 41-42, 78, 89, 97-98, 113-22, 135-36, 159-60, 244-45; Daniel K. Richter, The Ordeal of the Longhouse: The Peoples of the Iroquois League in the Era of European Colonization (Chapel Hill, 1992), 32-38, 236-80; Ian K. Steele, Warpaths: Invasions of North Amenca (New York, 1994) 148-50, 166-67.

l8 Billings, Selby, and Tate, Colonial Virginia, 175-76, 179-80, 195-96; Dodson, Alexander Spotswood, 70-111; Merrell, Indians' New World, 25, 49-167.

the capture of Port Royal, the capital of French Acadia, in 1710. The Peace of Utrecht three years later guaranteed continued conflict over these southern and northern frontiers by failing to establish boundaries between English and French claims in North America and by incorporating three thousand French citizens within the new English province of Nova Scotia. The movement of armies through the Rhine Valley as Catholic France fought to destroy the area's strategic importance also unleashed the first refugee movement of foreign Protestants to North America under the aegis of the British Crown.l9

These distant developments intensified Virginians' fears about frontier upheavals during the Tuscarora War. Angered by English encroachment on their land and enslavement of their people, Tuscaroras attacked Carolina colonists in 1711. The Tuscaroras' northern ties ensured the support of the Five Nations against Catawbas, Creeks, and Cherokees, now allied with the English. Hints of Meherrin participa- tion in some of the worst fighting in North Carolina inflamed fears of a French- inspired, Pan-Indian war that would engulf the English colonial world from the Carolinas to New York.z0 Instead, a South Carolina force defeated the Tuscaroras in March 1713. But for Lt. Gov. Alexander Spotswood and the Virginia government, the conflict carried important lessons about protecting the colony's frontiers. Mili- tary units raised in response to the emergency were ineffective and expensive. Rang- ers often proved too weak to attack Indian counterparts, and many settlers lay be- yond what protection rangers could provide. Force alone was clearly not the answer to frontier sec~rity.~~

Spotswood's response developed in two stages. Blaming the conflict on the "Clandestine" nature of the Indian trade, he defined the first stage in 1714 with colonial legislation granting a monopoly of the trade to the Virginia Indian Com- pany. He also set out to establish a series of Indian and European settlement buffers to protect the settled regions of Virginia. With Nottoways, Meherrins, Saponies, and Tuscaroras he concluded treaties that relocated them along the Roanoke, James, and Rappahannock river peripheries of the colony. He next fixed a community of German miners at Germanna to fortify the forks of the Rappahannock as well as to work nearby iron deposits.22

'9 Crane, Southern Frontier, 71-107; Eccles, France in America, 110-24; Gregory H. Nobles, American Frontiers: CulturalEncounters and Continental Conquest (New York, 1997), 65-73; Robinson, Southern Colonial Frontiet; 98-107; A. G. Roeber, Palatines, Liberty, and Property: German Lutherans in ColonialBn>ish America (Baltimore, 1993), 9-14; Ian K. Steele, Politics ofColonialPolicy: The Boardof Trude in Colonial Administration, 1696-1720 (Oxford, Eng., 1968), 116-24; Weber, Spanish Frontier in North America, 158-60.

Aquila, Iroquois Restoration, 209-10; Jennings, Ambiguous Iroquois Empire, 262; Nobles, American Fron- tiers, 73; Richter, Ordealofthe Longhouse, 238-39; Robinson, Southern ColonialFrontiet; 107-10; Steele, Warpaths, 159-60. The clothing of North Carolina German casualties turned up among the Meherrins in 1711; see McIlwaine, ed., Executive Journals ofthe Council of Colonial Virginia, 111, 291.

l1 Billings, Selby, and Tate, Colonial Virginia, 179; Dodson, Alexander Spotswood, 73-78; McIlwaine, ed., Executive Journals ofthe Council of Colonial Virginia, 111, 298, 342; Morton, Colonial Virginia, 11, 429-32.

l2 H. R. McIlwaine, ed., Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, 1712-1 714, 171J, 1718, 1720-1 722, 1723-1726 (Richmond, 1912), 47, 79-80, 116; Abernethy, "First Transmontane Advance," 122; Billings, Selby, and Tate, Colonial Virginia, 175, 180-81, 185; Dodson, Alemnder Spotswood, 76-78, 82-99, 228-32; McIlwaine, ed., Executive Journals of the Councilof Colonial Virginia, 111, 363-64, 366, 368; Merrell, Indians' New World, 49-91; Morton, Colonial Virginla, 11, 434-37, 454-55; Roeber, Palatines, Liberty, and Property, 101-9; Wust, Virginia Germans, 20-25. For copies of the Indian treaties, see C.O. S 11344, Colonial Office Papers. In 1710 Spotswood had proposed to the Board of Trade a plan to facilitate settlement along the James River for the purpose of

Alexander Spotswood, pictured here in a portrait by Charles Bridges, was lieutenant governor
of Virginia from 1710 to 1722. Influenced by a previous military career of more than
fifteen years, he pursued Indian diplomacy and encouraged European settlement
to establish the Blue Ridge Mountains as Virginia's defensive perimeter.

Courtesy Colond Wdhamsburg Foundation.

This initial defense policy of regulating the Indian trade and establishing settle- ment buffers proved a failure. The Virginia Indian Company was never successful, and opposition to its monopoly led to its disallowance in 1717. The Indians refused to observe the settlement treaties, and in May 1718 Spotswood complained to the

encouraging the Indian trade and checking French expansion. Developed before the Tuscarora War and the end of European hostilities, the project entailed neither foreign Protestants as settlers nor motives of defense; see Dodson, Alexander Spotswood, 237-38.

assembly: "if these Tributarys had all of them Complyed with their Engagements I cannot but think your ffrontiers might have been constantly provided with a Standing Guard at a very moderate Expence." The Germanna colony, however, did serve as a model for the second stage of Spotswood's frontier defense pr0gram.~3

The Yamasee War provided the immediate stimulus for change. The appropri- ation of their lands and the enslavement of their people to pay off trading debts had angered the Yamasees. They nearly annihilated South Carolina in 1715 before Cherokee support saved the colony.24 The war fueled fears in South Carolina that behind all the difficulties with the Indians lay the influence of the French, and the Board of Trade soon passed warnings about French expansion on to Spotswood. The governor responded that a communication between Canadian and Mississippi settlements would allow the French to monopolize the trade with western Indians and harass English settlements. He stressed the urgency of securing newly discovered passes over the Blue Ridge before the French could exploit them to menace Vir- ginia. Fortifying the passes and establishing the Blue Ridge as a barrier against the assaults of the Indians and the designs of the French soon became the key elements in Spotswood's plan for protecting Virginia's frontier.25

In November 1720 the governor challenged the assembly to seize the opportunity of promoting the landed interests of Virginia elites, including himself, and to de- fend the royal prerogative through what he now termed a "Political Creed." "If a Conscientious discharge of our duty engages us Governours to be Specially mindful of Great Britains Interest yet I cannot See why that may not go hand in hand with the prosperity of these plantations." Land granted to Virginians, in other words, could facilitate settlement as a means to secure the colony against the Indians and the French.26

The governor then asked the assembly, not to fortify, but to possess the mountain passes. He pointed to the "naked State" of the frontiers and called on the members to give "Encouragement for Extending your Out Settlements to the high Ridge of Mountains [as] the best Barrier that nature could form to Secure this Colony, from the Incursions of the Indians and more dangerous Incroachments of the French." The assembly responded by creating two new counties. Spotsylvania County was to command the northern gap over the Blue Ridge at Swift Run while Brunswick

23 McIlwaine, ed., Journals ofthe House ofBurgesses . . . , 1712. . . . , 189; McIlwaine, ed., Executive Journalr
of the Council of Colonial Virginia, 111, 396, 400-401.


Aquila, Iroquois Rertoration, 210-11; Dodson, Alexander Spotswood, 99-100; Jennings, Ambiguous Iro- quois Empire, 248-79; McIlwaine, ed., ExecutiveJournals ofthe Councilof Colonial Virginia, 111, 400; Merrell, Ina'zanr' New World, 89; Nobles, Amencan Frontiers, 74; Richter, Ordeal ofthe Longhouse, 240-41; Robinson, Southern Colonial Frontiel; 110-20; Steele, Warpathr, 165-66.

2' Billings, Selby, and Tate, Colonial Virginia, 183-84; Crane, Southern Frontiel; 208-9; Dodson, Alexander Spotswood, 238-44; John Fontaine, The JournalofJohn Fontaine: An Inih Huguenot Son in Spain and Virginia, 1710-1719, ed. Edward P. Alexander (Williamsburg, 1972). Spotswood reported the discovery of the passes over the Blue Ridge to the Council on June 12, 1716, but he seriously underestimated the distance to the Great Lakes, suggesting that the center of French power lay only five days march away. See McIlwaine, ed., Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia, 111, 428; Dodson, Alexander Spotswood, 24041. For another estimate of the distance to the lakes, see John Hart to Board of Trade, Aug. 8, 1720, C.O. 5 i 717, Colonial Office Papers.

26 McIlwaine, ed., Journals ofthe House ofBurgesses . . . , 1712. . . . , 250; Billings, Selby, and Tate, Colonid

Virginia, 180-94.

defended Rockfish Gap to the south. Incentives for settling the areas spreading east- ward from these gaps included a ten-year remission of local taxes, colonial appro- priations for military supplies and public buildings, deferral of land payments, and provision of arms and ammunition at public expense. Spotswood then demon- strated his seriousness about uniting the interests of empire and colonial land- owners by obtaining warrants for forty thousand acres of land for himself and petitioning the Crown to exempt everybody who settled in the new counties from quitrents. Rightly concerned that some Virginians would exploit these incentives to engross large speculative tracts in the Piedmont, the Privy Council limited grants to one thousand acres but concurred with the need to secure the mountain passes and granted the quitrent exemption.27

Spotswood and the assembly also took decisive steps to end the violence on the Virginia frontier by establishing the Blue Ridge as a barrier between the Five Nations and Indians living in Virginia. Spotswood had already presented the Five Nations with a plan for limiting their travel to a corridor west of the Blue Ridge. He promised that the Virginia Indians would remain to the east. By 1721 all parties had come to terms, and Spotswood traveled to Albany the next year to conclude negotiations personally, making the Albany Treaty the last act of his administration.28

By 1722, when Spotswood left office, his administration had hammered out prin- ciples that would shape how royal officials established new settlements in Virginia. Spotswood's experiences demonstrated that threats to the colony from the Indians and the French came separately. But trade and diplomacy inextricably linked the fortunes of all nations, Indian and European. Virginia, however, lacked sufficient trade to forge alliances with Native Americans that could secure the colony's fron- tiers. Military force by itself was also inadequate to safeguard Virginia. Only settle- ment buffers could accomplish the task. Indians, however, refused to be exploited for this purpose because land to them never entailed dependence on royal author- ity. Only subject Europeans could be mobilized into settlement buffers through land grants; foreign Protestants seemed most likely to lend themselves to this use. Finally, the Blue Ridge formed a natural barrier against both the French and Indians. Securing it with settlement buffers was a primary objective.

While Governor Spotswood of Virginia pursued the plan of fortifying and settling the Blue Ridge barrier, the Board of Trade conceived its program of defense and

27 McIlwaine, ed., Journals of the House ofBurgesses . . . , 1712, . . . , 250; Hening, ed., Statutes, IV, 77-79; Billings, Selby, and Tate, Colonial Virginia, 192-94; Dodson, Alexander Spotswood: 244-49; Voorhis, "Land Grant Policy of Colonial Virginia," 137-48. By the time the Privy Council reached its decision on quitrents in 1723 and imposed the one-thousand-acre limit on land grants in the new counties, the Virginia Council had already issued grants there far in excess of the limit and created controversies for years to come.

2s Aquila, Iroquois Restoration, 212-17; Billings, Selby, and Tate, Colonial Virginia, 195-96; Dodson, Alexander Spotswooa', 99-109; Jennings, Ambiguous Iroquois Empire, 278-81, 294-98; McIlwaine, ed., Journals of the House ofBurgesses . . . , 1712. . . . , 300-301; McIlwaine, ed., Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia, 111, 532-34; Richter, Ordeal of the Longhouse, 240-43.

security for a continuous English colonial frontier stretching from Nova Scotia to the Carolinas. In that program Spotswood's barrier ridge played a critical role. The compatibility of the board's proposals and Spotswood's actions was a product both of Spotswood's willingness to mesh the imperatives of empire with the interests of Virginia and of the board's procedure of gathering information for its report of Sep- tember 8, 1721, directly from colonial governors. Just as the Yamasee War had pushed Spotswood and the Virginia government to establish Spotsylvania and Brunswick counties and to negotiate the Albany Treaty, so that conflict raised the issue of colonial defense to the level of imperial decision making.

Wartime disruptions unsettled the proprietary powers governing South Carolina and emboldened the antiproprietary party, which condemned proprietary misgov- ernment for the colony's distress. Both sides complained to London. Antipropri- etary forces blamed the French for inciting the Yamasees and exploited the threat of French encirclement in arguing for royal government. The proprietors sought the aid of the Privy Council, which instructed the Board of Trade to prepare a report on "the state of the government and the trade" of the plantations. Proprietary gov- ernment fell in November 1719, but Paris negotiations that same year over imperial boundaries in North America, although unsuccessful, heightened the London government's need for information about all the colonies.29

The Board of Trade queried colonial governors and agents and others knowledge- able on colonial affairs about the "number of the Militia" or "forts and places of defense" in each colony, the "number of Indians . . . and how are they inclined," their "strength," and the "strength of your neighbouring Europeans." "What effect," the board wanted to know, "have the French Settlements on the Continent of America upon H.M. Plantations?'' The construction of a fort by the French at Niagara and the growing French influence among the Seneca that blocked the Albany trade were major concerns of New York. From William Keith, lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, the board heard that only in cultivating the Indian trade could the English hope to preserve themselves and break the hold of the French on the interior and its inhabitants. Keith drew heavily upon a paper provincial sec- retary James Logan had prepared in 1718. Logan had observed that the French have "with great care settled a communication between Canada and the Southern coun- tries" on the Mississippi River. He suggested that "to prevent the designs of the French" the English government must "preserve the Iroquese," "encourage the Gov- ernment of Virginia to Extend their settlements beyond the mountains," and advise colonial governors to "take special care of the commerce with the Indians." "By these means all the Indians . . . may be very much united to the British interest," he concluded. The board learned from John Barnwell and Joseph Boone, agents for South Carolina, that the "Method of the French" was to "build Forts on their Frontiers." The English ought "to do likewise, not only to preserve Our Trade with

Charles M. Andrews, The ColondPeriodofAmerican History, vol. IV: Englandi Commerchland Colonial Policy (New Haven, 1938), 389; Crane, Southern Frontlet; 162-86, 206-9, 224-26, 255-57, 287-89; Gary B. Nash, Red, White, and Black: The Peoples of Early North America (1974; Englewood Cliffs, 1992) 137-43.

the Indians and their Dependance upon Us, bur to preserve our Boundaries." Of immediate concern to South Carolina was the exposed region between the Savan- nah and Altamaha rivers recently vacated by the defeated Yama~ees.3~

After deliberating nearly a year, the board on September 8, 1721, forwarded to the king a report on the "state of your Majesty's Plantations on the Continent of America." In most respects the report mirrored the recommendations of colonial governments. About Nova Scotia the board observed that "it is absolutely necessary for your Majesty's service, that these French inhabitants should be removed." In New York the board recommended that forts be built "where they may best serve to secure and enlarge our trade and interest with ye Indians, and break the designs of ye French."31

For Virginia, where "strength and security . . . in a great measure, depend upon their Militia; their plantations being usually at too great a distance from one an- other to be cover'd by forts or towns," the board endorsed Spotswood's "scheme for securing ye passes over the great ridge of mountains." Of greatest concern were the multiple security risks of South Carolina. The first was internal. Economic growth had increased the "number of black slaves who have lately attempted and were very near succeeding in a new revolution." Meanwhile, "frequent massacres committed of late years by the neighboring Indians at the instigation of the French and Span- iards, has diminished the white men." Externally the colony was "exposed in case of a rupture on the one side to the Spaniards, on the other to the French, and sur- rounded by savages." As remedies, the Board of Trade called for forts on the colony's rivers, more British troops, and the immigration of more "white servants for the fut~re."3~

Having dealt with each colony separately, the board then addressed common de- fense and security issues. Because French encirclement threatened all the colonies collectively and the destabilizing influences of Indian conflicts engulfed the inter- colonial interior, the frontier had to be conceived on the scale of the continent. Thus the board called for "making ourselves considerable at the two heads of your Majesty's Colonies north and south; and [for] building of forts, as the ~rench have done, in proper places on the inland frontiers. . . . naturally fortify'd by a chain of mountains, that run from the back of South Carolina as far as New York, passable but in few places." Significantly, the board added that "altho these mountains may serve at present for a very good frontier, we should not propose them for the bound- ary of your Majesty's Empire in America. On the contrary it were to be wished that

3O William Popple to agents for the governments on the continent of America, Aug. 10, 1720, C.O. 323 14, Colonial Office Papers. On William Keith's message to the board, see Crane, Southern Frontiel; 210-31, esp. 223-

24. The 1718 report by James Logan appears as an enclosure in Patrick Gordon to Board of Trade, March 15, 1731,

C.O. 5 i 1268, Colonial Office Papers. Dodson, Alexander Spotswooa', 240-44; Eccles, France in America, 115-16; Robinson, Southern Colonial Frontiel; 139-41. 3' Board of Trade to the king, Sept. 8, 1721, C.O. 324 i 10, Colonial Office Papers.

Ibid. In 1720 South Carolina experienced its first major slave rebellion, which one correspondent to the colony's London agent described as a "designe to destroy all the white people in the country and then to take the towne [Charles Town] in a full body." See letter to [Joseph] Boone, June 24, 1720, C.O. 5 1358, ibid.; and Peter H. Wood, Black Majori2y: Negroes in ColonialSouth Carolinafrorn 1670 through the Stono Rebellion (New York, 19751, 298-99.

the British settlements might be extended beyond them and some small forts be erected on ye great lakes."33

Indian relations likewise had to be approached as a matter of imperial interest, and the board reasoned that "the Indian trade, if properly carried on, would greatly contribute to the increase of your Majesty's power and intrest in America." Indians ought to be furnished "at honest and reasonable prices with the several European commodities they may have occasion for," and commerce with Native Americans ought to be extended "westward upon the lakes and rivers behind the mountains [where] forts should be built and garrisons settled in proper places." To implement all its proposals and "render the several provinces on the Continent of America, from Nova Scotia to South Carolina, mutually subservient to each other's support," the board in conclusion recommended that the king "put the whole under the Gov- ernment of one Lord Lieut. or Captain General" who with two councilors from each colony would possess the power to issue orders to colonial governors "in all cases for your Majesty's service."34

Not only did the board reconfigure the North American frontier as a single entity with an interior mountain barrier and zones of contention at northern and southern perimeters, but the periphery of colonial settlement came to be regarded as an area of internal as well as external threat. Any frontier presented a constant temptation to enslaved Africans to rise up and seek asylum beyond the bounds of British authority. Alexander Spotswood placed this construction on the mountains he himself explored when he reported to the Virginia Council in 1721 that "diverse Negro's . . . have lately run away & suspected to be gone towards ye Great Moun- tains, where it may be hard to apprehd 'em, & if they shou'd encrease there, it might prove of ill consequence to ye Peace of this Colony." Unoccupied areas such as the Shenandoah Valley or the region between the Savannah and Altamaha rivers in South Carolina possessed neither Indian nor European inhabitants to thwart maroons or resist French and Spanish intrusions. Th.e dual responsibilities of colo- nial militias for resisting invasion and quelling domestic unrest were difficult to reconcile in such areas. Mobilization to the frontier to counter foreign assaults could leave interior areas exposed to slave uprisings. European enemies could also disrupt English societies by liberating escaped slaves, an effect Spain achieved in 1733 when it promised freedom to English bondsmen who reached St. Augustine. Not until 1738 did any black refugees from South Carolina receive freedom in Span- ish Florida, but the attraction of Florida helped precipitate the Stono rebellion the following year. 35

"Board of Trade to the king, Sept. 8, 1721, C.O. 324 110, Colonial Office Papers. According to Ian K. Steele, "Attention to French expansion [in the report] was new and formed the crucial argument for all that the Board was proposing. The sense of urgency was increased by the Board's inaccurate account of the strength of the Indian tribes in league with the French." See Steele, Politics of Colonial Policy, 165-70.

34 Board of Trade to the king, Sept. 8, 1721, C.O. 324 110, Colonial Office Papers.

fl McIlwaine, ed., Executive Journals of the CouncilofColonial Virginia, 111, 549-50. On the Stono rebellion and the appeal of Spanish Florida, see Nash, Red, White, andBlack, 169-70, 185, 293-95; Wood, Black Majority, 303-26.

By the early 1720s, therefore, the Board of Trade had succeeded in redefining North American frontiers according to the natural and political geography of English, French, Spanish, and Native American settlement. To counter the threats posed by the frontier, the board had developed an arsenal of weapons including forts, garrisons, British regulars, and manipulation of the Indian trade. But most important for the social construction of the emerging backcountry were the nu- merous proposals for settling vacant and sensitive areas with dependents of the English Crown.36 From the perspective of imperial officials in London and the colo- nial capitals, new immigrants annually increasing in numbers during the late 1710s and 1720s from the north of Ireland and central Europe possessed characteristics ideal for these backcountry buffer settlements. They were white, Protestant, and yeoman.

The Board of Trade and colonial governors made explicit their intention to popu- late the backcountry with white people. The report of September 1721 had recom- mended white servant immigration as an antidote to South Carolina's black ma- jority. Eleven years later the board could advise the Privy Council that "it has been the constant sense of this Board, that all ye British Colonies and especially the two frontiers, should be peopled as amply and as soon as possible wh. white inhabi- tants." In the interim the board had endorsed numerous proposals for Swiss, Ger- man, or Irish settlements in the backcountry from Nova Scotia to the Carolinas. It acted further to entice white settlers to backcountry areas by remitting quitrents and encouraging colonies to offer settlement bounties and land grants to immi- grants. In this light the proscription in the Georgia charter against slavery appears less an attempt to create a preserve for the landless poor of Great Britain than an effort to exploit them as a white buffer for the slave property of Carolina planters. In 1734 the Board of Trade advised the secretary of state that "nothing can be more conducive to the service of the Crown, and the general interest of Great Britain, than that all your Majesty's Colonies in America and particularly the two frontier provinces of Nova Scotia and South Carolina, should be fully peopled with white inhabitantsU37

Protestantism, too, was a required asset for English buffers against the Catholic monarchies of France and Spain. Imperial wars for territory and trade waged from

36 One of the most ambitious settlement projects came from Jean Pierre Purry, a Swiss who secured the support of the Board of Trade and the proprietors of South Carolina for founding a Swiss-German settlement, Purrysburg, in South Carolina during the 1730s. See Crane, Southern Frontiel; 283-87; Roeber, Palatznes, Liberty, andprop- erty, 210-11; and C.O. 5 1359, 361-65, 383, 387-88, 393,400-401, Colonial Office Papers. In 1729 Daniel Hintze and others obtained the Board of Trade's approval of a proposal for settling German and Irish Protestants in Nova Scotia. See Daniel Hintze to Alured Popple, May 1, 1729, C.O. 5 1870, ibrd ; Board of Trade to Privy Council, May 14, 1729, C.O. 5 1916, zbid

37 Board of Trade to Privy Council, May 26, 1732, C.O. 5 1 401, Colonial Office Papers (emphasis added); Board of Trade to Lord Harrington, Dec. 5, 1734, C.O. 41383, ibid; Board of Trade to the king, Sept. 8, 1721, C.O. 3241 10, ibid The Board of Trade also drafted instructions to the governor of South Carolina. in 1730 allowing him to grant fifty acres clear of quitrent for ten years to "all white servants men, or women" at the conclusion of their sewice. See Board of Trade to duke of Newcastle, May 10, 1730, C.O. 5 1400, ibid As an inducement for frontier settlement the Privy Council approved the remission of quitrents and treasury rights contained in the Virginia act establishing Spotsylvania and Brunswick counties; see W. L. Grant, James Munro, and Almeric W. Fitzroy, eds., Acts of the Privy Council of England] Colonzal Series (6 vols., 1910-1912; Lichtenstein, Germany, 1966), 111, 23.

the seventeenth to the eighteenth centuries were also religious wars between the cultures of Protestantism and Catholicism for the souls, lands, and wealth of the un- committed. The dangers posed by Catholic inhabitants of an English frontier were made plain in Nova Scotia, where the Acadians threatened English dominion. In 1735 one correspondent of the Board of Trade advised that "it cannot be pre- sumed that the French inhabitants who remain there by virtue of the Treaty [of Utrecht] . . . being all papists would be faithful to your Majesty's interest in case of a warr" and recommended that "it would be highly conducive to the interest of this Kingdom to setle without loss of time a competent number of industreous protestant familys in this said province, which is the northern frontier of your Majesty's Dominions in America." In the case of the Scotch-Irish, English imperial- ists had earlier organized the plantation of Ireland by large numbers of Scottish Protestants to neutralize a Catholic presence uncomfortably close to English shores. Among German and Swiss Protestants, recent French occupations of the Rhineland had left a legacy of anti-Catholicism and a sympathy for the commercial values and Protestant temper of Great Britain.38

Other qualities of white, Protestant immigrants rendered their communities nat- ural buffers against both internal and external threats to the settled areas of English America. Most came from diversified, small-farm economies in Europe and mi- grated to the English colonies as families seeking the independence that a com- petence in landholding, family labor, and diversified agriculture could provide. A mentality of competence combined with modest means to encourage the formation of socially and economically integrated communities of middling landholdings averaging usually less than four hundred acres. Slavery was neither alien nor anti- thetical to these yeoman peoples, but mixed farming on small holdings did not generate a significant demand for bonded labor beyond what could be provided by white indentured servants. Yeoman societies did not produce black majorities. And communities of independent smallholders had long been recognized as the essential element of the best militia forces.39

If eighteenth-century backcountry societies were culturally diverse and character- ized by freeholding yeoman farm families pursuing an array of interdependent economic activities, these traits owed as much to the cultures of constituent peoples as to the use made of those cultures by imperial officials engaged in a struggle for colonial security. The qualities that made the backcountry a distinctive region in early America were not, however, the product of an explicit British colonial policy. The report of September 1721 was not a policy paper. But in effecting a continental reconfiguration of North American frontiers, it accomplished for all the British mainland colonies what Spotswood achieved for Virginia in the 1720 land act and

38 Memorial of Thomas Coram to the king, May 1, 1735, C.O. 217 17, Colonial Office Papers; Roeber, Palatines, Liberty, and Property, 63.

39 On yeomen and militia, see Webb, Governors-General,452. Approximately 95% of landholdings acquired from the Crown in Augusta County between 1736 and 1779 contained four hundred or fewer acres. See Mitchell, Commercialirm andprontiel; 66. The same county in 1760 had only 60 blacks in a population of more than 6,800. See Chester R. Young, "The Effects of the French and Indian War on Civilian Life in the Frontier Counties of Virginia, 1754-1763" (Ph.D. diss., Vanderbilt University, 1969), 432.

the Albany Treaty. Moreover, most of the report's recommendations, with the no- table exception of the proposal for a captain general, were eventually realized in practice, not because the board imposed its proposals as policy, but because they represented working assumptions widely shared by officials at all ranks in the Brit- ish colonial system. Insofar as colonial governors and members of colonial councils also shared those assumptions, they possessed a remarkably free hand in acting on them. Thus imperial efforts varied from colony to colony and from one decade to another. Spotswood's endeavors in Virginia stimulated the westward expansion of plantation culture into that colony's Piedmont. Buffer settlements of predomi- nantly non-English immigrants beyond the Blue Ridge, however, were the work of Spotswood's successor, William Gooch. The steps he took expressed the working assumptions of the report of 1721, the actions of his predecessor in Williamsburg, and his own combined strategy of enlarging English dominion by the extension of property rights in frontier small holdings and the progressive expansion of county government.

On June 8, 1728, William Gooch, in office as lieutenant governor for less than twelve months, informed the Board of Trade that the "great number of Petitions for Land . . . will be an Evidence of the Increase of the colony, and the flourishing Condition of the King's Revenue." It was one year later that this governor defended large grants in Spotsylvania County on the social theory that the "Shade & Protection of the Greater" gave "encouragement to the meaner sort." But from 1730 to 1732 the governor and Council issued nine grants to individuals and groups for a total of 385,000 acres in the Shenandoah Valley outside the bounds of Spotsyl- vania County. With the exception of William Beverley, an Essex County planter with close ties to the Council, and his partners, none of these grantees were Vir- ginians, English, or the "men of substance" that Virginia governors and the Council had depended upon to organize settlement in the Piedmont. The governor there- fore fixed upon them a requirement to recruit and settle one family for every one thousand acres granted. Settlers were to receive patents for their land through the colony's grantees. That these men's ties lay largely among recent immigrants from the German Palatinate and the north of Ireland practically guaranteed cultural di- versity on the Shenandoah Valley frontier. Alexander Spotswood may have estab- lished the principle that foreign Protestants made excellent settlement buffers, but Gooch's actions in bringing them into positions customarily reserved for Virginia elites and in locating them outside the limits of established counties, in places where the gentry feared to tread, requires explanation.40

40 Gooch to Board of Trade, June 8, 1728, April 2, 1729, C.O. 5 11321, Colonial Office Papers. On June 13, 1728, the Virginia Council issued orders for land west of the Blue Ridge but explicitly within Spotsylvania County in three tracts to Spotsylvania land speculators. By 1732 no patents had been issued for these lands. See McIlwaine, ed., Executive Journals ofthe Councilof Colonial Virginia, IV, 180-81, 271. For the nine grants in the Shenandoah Valley, see ibid, 223-24, 229, 249-50, 253, 270, 295. The purchase of headrights or treasury rights was set aside in those grants. Settlers purchased land directly from the Council's grantees, who then arranged for surveys and patents.

By 1730 and the third year of his administration, Gooch was experiencing pres- sures to expand Virginia's zone of security. Whether or not he read the report of 1721 is unknown. He never explicitly referred to it or its injunction to extend British settlements beyond the mountains with white, Protestant, small-farm buffers. That a Crown appointee would have been unfamiliar with the Board of Trade's thinking on the colonies is unlikely. The pressures that the governor experienced in Virginia were those that shaped the board's recommendations, and Gooch's actions were in tune with the principles of the report. The governor did not notify the Board of Trade of his actions until July 10, 1731, a full year after the first grant had been made, but he justified his efforts in language familiar to the report of 1721. It was, he wrote, "for H.M. interest to encourage such settlements, since by that means we may in a few years get possession of the Lakes, and be in a condition to prevent the French surrounding us by their settlements."41 Indian troubles were multiply- ing. A year before Gooch's arrival Senecas had killed a Virginian. The Council pointed out that, if tolerated, such killings would render the Albany Treaty mean- ingless. Shortly thereafter, Robert Carter, president of the Council and acting gov- ernor, warned the Board of Trade of a "threatned invasion from the Western Indians." Gooch had arrived in Virginia in the midst of disputes among Meherrins, Tuscaroras, Saponies, and Catawbas that reflected ethnic conflicts embroiling the backcountry from New York to the Carolinas. By 1729 the governor complained to the Board of Trade that "I every day expect to hear of an Encounter between them which will certainly happen, whenever they meet in their Hunting. . . . But as our Frontier Inhabitants lye at the same time exposed to the barbarous Insults of these Indians, and the foreign Nations they call in to their aid, this in all prob- ability will involve us in continual Skirmishes & Alarms."42

The proprietary of the Northern Neck posed another problem. Proprietary rights to the land between the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers had been established by royal charters during the seventeenth century. By the 1720s, these rights had de- volved on Thomas, sixth Lord Fairfax. On June ll, 1729, Fairfax's Virginia agent, who was none less than Robert Carter, petitioned his fellow councilmen "that the governor will not pass any patent or patents for any lands lying" within proprietary boundaries. Quoting a 1707 instruction that the Virginia governor be "very watch- ful that his Majesty's lands be not invaded under any pretence of a Grant to any Proprietor," Gooch responded that he "absolutely refused the suspension of grant- ing of Patents notwithstanding the remonstrances of the proprietor's Agent." A battle was joined that would soon pit the colony's claim to the entire lower Shen- andoah Valley against the proprietary's and give the governor a powerful motive for granting land there as a confirmation of colonial claims.43

41 Gooch to Board ofTrade, July 10, 1731, C.O. 5 11322, Colonial Office Papers. For instructions to the governor, see Entry Books for Virginia, 1717-1727, C.O. 5 11365, ibid

42 Robert Carter to Board of Trade, 1727, C.O. 5 11320,ibid ; Gooch to Board of Trade, March 26, 1729, Sept. 21, 1727, Feb. 12, 1728, C.O. 5 1 1321, ibid ;McIlwaine, ed., Executive Journals ofthe Council of Colonial Virginia, IV, 125-26, 144-45, 152-53.

43 McIlwaine, ed., Executive Journals ofthe Council of Colonial Virginia, IV, 205; Gooch to Board of Trade, June 29, 1729, C.O. 5 11322, Colonial Office Papers. Gooch's reference to the 1707 instruction reflected the Board of Trade's hostility toward proprietary colonies and its support for the resumption of governments chartered by

Gooch perhaps felt an additional pressure to hasten settlement west of the Blue Ridge-the possibility that unoccupied mountain lands would become a haven for runaway slaves and a stimulus for slave uprisings. Spotswood had earlier pointed to this possibility. The English colony of Jamaica lay in the grips of a maroon war that would not be resolved for another decade. Concern for the internal security of black-majority colonies such as South Carolina had produced the "constant sense" among members of the Board of Trade that colonial frontiers must be white. Virginia's slave population had reached thirty thousand, the largest of any in the English mainland colonies. In June 1729 the governor reported to the board that approximately fifteen refugees from a James River plantation "formed a Design to withdraw from their master and to fix themselves in the fastnesses of the neigh- bouring Mountains." Stealing arms and tools, they settled themselves in a "very obscure place among the 'Mountains', where they had already begun to clear the ground" when they were discovered and forcibly returned to slavery. "So [was] pre- vented for this time a design," Gooch observed, "which might have proved as dangerous to this country, as is that of the negroes of the mountains of Jamaica to the inhabitants of that island." The governor concluded that "Tho' this attempt has happily been defeated, it ought nevertheless to awaken us into some effectual measures for preventing the like hereafter." In 1728 the assembly had passed an act "for making more effectual provision against Invasions and Insurrections," and the governor had subsequently commissioned an adjutant to train local militias against slave uprisings. The mountains unfortunately lay beyond the pale of militia organization.44

Indian conflicts, French expansion, proprietary claims, and black maroons all in- creased the pressure on the Gooch administration to strengthen and extend western settlement buffers, but the governor turned to foreign Protestants in response to a proposal for a mountain colony of Swiss farmers. Swiss and German promoters had long voiced an interest in colonizing the Virginia mountains. In 1707 Franz Ludwig Michel, a Swiss merchant, had explored and mapped the lower Shenan- doah Valley as the likely setting for an immigrant colony. Two years later he ob- tained royal orders for land there, but a Swiss nobleman, Christopher, baron de Graffenried, diverted the project to North Carolina. Graffenried's interest in Vir- ginia silver mines, however, led several years later to the immigration of German miners, whom Spotswood appropriated for Germanna.45

the Crown. See Steele, Politics of Colonial Policy, 60-81. On the Northern Neck proprieta~y and its struggle with the colony over land rights, see Stuart Brown, Virginia Baron: The Sto? of Thomas 6th Lord Fairfax (Berryville, 1965), 26-100; Douglas Southall Freeman, George Washzngton: A Biography (7 vols., New York, 1948-1957) I, 447-525; and Morgan, American Slave?, American Freedom, 244-45.

44 Gooch to Board of Trade, June 29, 1729, C.O. 5 11322, Colonial Office Papers; Hening, ed., Statutes, IV, 197-204; Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics of the Unitedstates, 11, 1168. For other reports of slave dis- turbances by Gooch, see Gooch to Board of Trade, Sept. 14, 1730, Feb. 12, 1731, C.O. 5 11322, Colonial Office Papers. Alison Gilbert Olson argues that Gooch's efforts to stimulate backcountry settlement were motivated by his need for a following among immigrant landowners to counter the political power of Virginia's ruling elite. See Alison Gilbert Olson, Making the Empire Work: London and American Interest Groups, 1690-1790 (Cambridge, Mass., 1992), 126-30.

*5 Mitchell, Commercialirm and Frontiel; 2 5-26; Wust, Virginia Germans, 17-22.

Gooch's policy of encouraging buffer settlements of foreign Protestants west of the Blue Ridge was apparently stimulated by proposals in the late 1720s from an- other Swiss entrepreneur, Jacob Stover. Stover had immigrated to New York in 1709 with a group of impoverished Germans and Swiss under the charity of the English Crown. He soon acquired land in Pennsylvania and gained a reputation for develop- ing frontier settlements. After a three-month exploration of the Shenandoah Valley in 1728 or 1729, he proposed a thirteenth mainland colony, named "Georgia," to be settled by German and Swiss immigrants he would recruit. Flattering a monarch with a name indicated Stover's capacity to pull the right strings and to play on fears of the French and the Indians. In proposals to the Board of Trade he pointed out that Georgia would "not only form a strong and sufficient Barrier to all the British Colonies aforesaid against any opposite Interest or Enemy whatsoever but will also secure the Trade Friendship and Correspondence of the said Western or Naked Indians," objectives of the report of 1721. "If it is neglected to extend the bounds of Great Britain beyond these mountains to the West," he warned, "it is probable that the ffrench in a short time may take possession thereof and if so the English Nation will Loose this fine opportunity."*6

Stover's proposals were rejected on account of objections by Fairfax and other proprietary claimants to western lands, but William Gooch saw the opportunity. Although Gooch understandably discouraged the Board of Trade from carving new colonies out of Virginia territory, he repeatedly urged the commissioners during the early 1730s to resolve the difficulties with the Northern Neck proprietary quickly so that he could get on with establishing the kind of buffer settlements Stover proposed. Thus he wrote to

demonstrate to your Lordships how soon that part of Virginia on the other side of the great Mountains may be Peopled, if proper Encouragements for that Pur- pose were given: Most of these Petitioners are Germans and Swissers lately come into Pensilvania, where being disappointed of the quantity of land they expected . . . have chosen to fci their habitations in this uninhabited part of Virginia . . . for by this means a strong Barrier will be Settled between us and the French; and not only so, but if by encouraging more Foreigners to come Hither, we can once gett the Possession of the Lakes, which are not very far distant, we shall be then able to cutt off all Communication between Cannada and Mississippi, and thereby so much weaken the Power of the French as to have little to fear from that Quarter hereafter.47

46 Petitions of Thomas Gould, John Ochs, Jacob Stover, and Ezekiel Harlan to Board of Trade [I728 or 17291, received March 30, 1731, in "Documents Relating to a Proposed Swiss and German Colony in the Western Part of Virginia," ed. Charles E. Kemper, Virginia Magazine ofHistoy andBiography, 29 (April 1921), 183-88, 287-90. On Stover, see Mitchell, Commercialism and Frontiel; 26-28; and Wust, Virginia Germans, 30-32.

47 Gooch to Board of Trade, May 24, 1734, C.O. 5 11323, Colonial Office Papers. Gooch must have been aware of Jacob Stover's proposals by late 1729 or 1730. In June 1730 the Council awarded Stover a grant of ten thousand acres; see McIlwaine, ed., Executive Journals ofthe CouncilofColonial Virginia, IV, 224. The Board of Trade first ordered that materials concerning Stover's proposals to the Crown be sent to Gooch on September 13, 1732; see Journalofthe Commissioners for Fade andPlantationsf70m Januay 1728-9 to December 1734, vol. VI (London, 1928), 318-19. On Gooch's desire that the controversy with the Northern Neck proprietary be settled, see Order in Council, Nov. 29, 1733, C.O. 5 11323, Colonial Office Papers; Gooch to Board of Trade, July 10, 1731, Feb. 8, 1733, C.O. 5 11322, 1323, ibid

"Draught of a Tract of Land on the northwest side of Virginia petitioned for by Sir William
Keith and others." Submitted by Jacob Stover and associates to the Board of Trade,
May 11, 1731, with petitions for a new mainland colony named Georgia
along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.

C.O. 700/Virginia 7, Colonial Office Papers (Public Record Ofice, London).
Conrtesy Public Records Ofice.

Stover's proposals also contained a strong argument for reversing the theory that new lands could be most effectively settled under the influence of "men of sub- stance." One of Stover's most prominent supporters was William Keith, whose ad- ministration in Pennsylvania had ended in 1726. In memorials to the Board of Trade endorsing Stover's plans, Keith contended that "Persons of a low Degree in life who are known amongst their equals to be morally Honest and industrious will sooner persuade a multitude into a Voluntary Expedition of this Nature than those of greater Wealth and Higher Rank who are ever liable to the suspicion and Jealousy of the Vulgar." Whether Gooch heard this argument is unknown, but he did ap- point persons of a low degree to stimulate settlement in the Shenandoah Valley. An early land grant in the valley went to a partnership headed by Jost Hite and Robert McKay. McKay had Scotch-Irish origins, and Hite was a Pennsylvania Ger- man who had accompanied Stover in the 1709 immigration. After petitioning the Virginia Council on October 21, 1731, that "Families to the number of one hundred are desirous to remove from thence [Pennsylvania] & seat themselves on the back of the great Mountains," he received orders for one hundred thousand acres along the Opequon Creek in the lower Shenandoah Valley with instructions to settle the one hundred families in two years. A year earlier, Alexander Ross, an Irish Quaker immigrant from Pennsylvania, had received a similar grant with Morgan Bryan, an- other Pennsylvanian. Stover himself settled for ten thousand acres on the South Fork of the Shenandoah in return for recruiting ten families.48

Gooch's efforts to establish buffer settlements of white, Protestant, yeoman peoples west of the Blue Ridge by relying upon the attractions of property holding had important consequences for the emerging social landscape of the eighteenth- century frontier. Reflecting the aggregate outcome of individual searches for good land, the morphology of Gooch's settlements was, in an immediate sense, the col- lective expression of those people who took up the land. The governor's policies, for instance, did not require the concentration of population around fortifications, towns, or townships. Nor did early settlements reflect the controlling hand of Abernethy's "speculators or surveyors" or Morton's "gentlemen." Colonial authori- ties, however, never lost sight of the larger purposes for which backcountry settle- ments existed. Having drawn people to the Virginia frontier with the allurement of "free" land and allowed for their "disorderly" dispersal, the governor and Council then overlaid the institutions of county government on the frontier incrementally, during two decades, in a pattern that ordered the backcountry according to the interests of the colony and coincidentally with the concerns of settlers.

The first description of settlements in the Shenandoah Valley came from the Philadelphia naturalist John Bartram. On October 22, 1738, while on a botanizing venture for the British scientist Peter Collinson, this meticulous observer stood on the Blue Ridge and described a "fine prospect of A spacious vail & ye next great ridge northward." During the following two days he traveled through the vale and the Opequon Settlement there, noting that it was "very thinly inhabited with [people] that is lately settled there & lives A lazy life & subsists by hunting." By 1735 the Virginia government had issued eighty-seven patents throughout a broad territory stretching forty-five miles south from the Potomac River and occupied by a total of perhaps 160 families. As a later Virginia governor put it, they "scattered for the Benefit of the best Lands."49

48 William Keith to Board of Trade, Aug. 30, 1731, in "Colony West of the Blue Ridge, Proposed by Jacob Stauber and Others, 1731, etc.," ed. Ann V. Strickler Milbourne, Virginia Magazine of Histoly and Biography, 35 (April 1926), 185-87; Keith to Board of Trade, April 6, 1730, in "Documents Relating to a Proposed Swiss and German Colony," ed. Kemper, 188-90; McIlwaine, ed., Executive Journals of the Councilof Colonial Virginia, IV, 253, 224, 229; Mitchell, Commercialism and Frontiel; 28-31; Wust, Virginia Germans, 32-37. The first Shenandoah Valley grants were issued to Isaac and John Van Meter and Jacob Stover on June 17, 1730. Hite later purchased the Van Meter grants. See McIlwaine, ed., Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia, IV, 223-24.

49 John Bartram, Journal of a Trip to Maryland and Virginia, 1738, folder 14, vol. 1, John Bartram Papers (His-

Open-country neighborhoods of dispersed small farms clustered fanlike around the drainages of Opequon Creek or tributaries such as Mill Creek.50 Situated within property holdings and reflecting close attention to topography and resources, dwell- ings for single families stood at one-quarter- to one-half-mile intervals on stream terraces or rudimentary roads. Subsistence farming yielded a familiar patchwork of fields and woodlands. Although by the end of the 1730s many households pro- duced hides, butter, and even linen for market, most families organized the land in a ramshackle pattern of small enclosures, fencing livestock out of planted land around dwellings. "Ye people most of them came from Jersey or Pensilvania," ob- served Bartram, "sows wheat & oats flax & hemp on ye high ground & hath fine meadows on ye low." Although slavery was not unknown, the large majority of laborers were white, and even by the 1750s blacks constituted less than 4 percent of the population in the Shenandoah Valley.51

The process of fabricating property out of waste land revealed most clearly how the world of Opequon evolved as the interests of settlers were made to meet the security needs of colonial authorities. Acknowledging "his Majesty having by his Governour & Council agreed to grant us those Lands upon the Consideration of settling so many Families . . . for the Defence and Extension of the Frontier of his Government,"Jost Hite formed "a Guard to protect them agt. small parties of Hos- tile Indians, while they were surveying & settling in this Rugged Wilderness." According to Lord Fairfax, who objected to Hite's practices as well as colonial claims, Hite and others had sold land "to that person that would give the greatest Price and that too in such Quantities figures and Positions as the several Pur- chasers thought proper without Regard to form order Custom Usage Equity or Laws of the Colony." Hite, according to Fairfax, "suffered the Purchasers to make their Surveys in what manner they thought best suited their Interest." Hite re- sponded that

torical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa.); Edmund Berkeley and Dorothy Smith Berkeley, eds., The Corre- spondence ofJohn Bartram, 1734-1777 (Gainesville, 1992), 121-22; Robert A. Brock, ed., The Oficial Record ofRobert Dinwiddie, Lieutenant-Governor ofthe Colony of Virginia, 17J1-17J8. . . . (2 vols., Richmond, 1883), I, 389. On land patents and settler families, see Land Patent Books, 15, 16, 17 (Library of Virginia, Richmond); Brown, Virginia Baron, 74, 163, 166-67; and HopewellFriends History, 1734-1934 (Strasburg, Va., 1936), 12-39. Although the lower Shenandoah Valley beginning in the 1730s was called Opequon (after the Opequon Creek), one of t'he earliest explicit references to "opickin Settlement" appeared in 1744; see Bringburst u. Bladburn, May

1744, Ended Causes, 1743-1909, Frederick County Court Papers (Library of Virginia).

'O Conrad Arensburg first applied the term "open-country neighborhood" to dispersed, small-farm commu- nities of the Middle Atlantic region and the southern backcountry. See Conrad Arensburg, "American Com- munities," American Anthropologist, 57 (Dec. 1955), 1143-62.

"John Bartram, "Trip to Virginia, Western Pennsylvania and Maryland in 1761," folder 66, vol. 1, Bartram Papers. See also Berkeley and Berkeley, eds., Correspondence ofJohn Bartram, 536-37. The landscape description for Opequon is derived from Clarence R. Geier and Warren R. Hofstra, "An Archaeological Survey of and Man- agement Plan for Cultural Resources in the Vicinity of the Upper Opequon Creek," 1991 (Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Richmond, Va.); Jordan and Kaups, AmeriGan Backwoods Frontier, 94-134; and Mitchell, Commercialism and Frontier, 133-60. The black population in the Shenandoah Valley was calculated from tithable lists provided by Chester R. Young; see Young, "Effects of the French and Indian War," 432, 436. On the produce of the backcountry, see Gooch to Board of Trade, July 3, 1739, C.O. 5 11324, Colonial Office Papers; and Miles Malone, "Falmouth and the Shenandoah: Trade before the Revolution," American Historical Review, 40 (July 1935), 693-703.

in 1730 when the Country was unsettled, & a Wilderness was to be explored whose Surface was Rocks & Mountains, & it's Inhabitants Wildbeasts or Hostile Indians, without any necessarys, but what were carried with them at great expence; noth- ing but a preference to the choice lands, would tempt men to become adven- turers, and therefore the Governor & Council very properly indulged Mr. Hite & his partners in this prefference.52

William Rogers, a migrant from Pennsylvania, testified to the way the quest for good land also produced a landscape of economic competence and family settle- ment. "When he came up from Pensylvania," Rogers observed,

he was an entire Stranger to the methods that he found since used . . . of getting Orders of Council to take up tracts of Land to make sale of and therefore asked no Questions concerning the same but his business being to seek Land in order to make a Settlement for himself and family did make search to find such as he might think would do for him for that purpose and accordingly found a piece he like very well. . . . [Hite] telling him he should have it as he had let others have hertofore.

Surveyors such as Robert Brooke or speculators such as Hite made no attempt to impose a spatial order on settlement. According to the chain carrier John Dixon, when the surveyor "came to the corner of the line wch was to divide between [John] Keywood and [Abraham] Vanmetre he [Vanmeter] was called on by the surveyor, who said to him, 'as you and Keywood has agreed the matter come and set the com- pass to run this land' upon wch Vanmetre stepped up, and looking through the sight of the compass turned it a small matter, and raising himself up said, 'I believe this will do.' "53

The surveying and dispensing of land in the Shenandoah Valley occurred squarely in the path of the Six Nations, whose right to travel west of the Blue Ridge had been defined by the Albany Treaty in 1722. Ensuing conflicts between settlers and Native Americans drove the colony to complete the settlement process and impose its own order on the backcountry by progressively erecting the institutions of county government. While responding to changing circumstances, the colony remained within the assumptions of the 1721 report. Settlers petitioned the Council in April 1734 that "some persons may be appointed as Magistrates to determine Differences and punish Offenders in regard the Petitioners live far remote from any of the es- tablished Counties within the Colony." The Council replied by designating Jost Hite and others who administered colonial land grants as justices of the peace "until there be a sufficient Number of Inhabitants on the North West side of the said Mountains to make a County of itself." The qualification that these men "be

52 Joh~Hite etal: v. Lordfiirfaxet al., transcript by Hunter Branson McKay, pp. 1532, 1547, Additional Manu- script 15317 (British Museum, London, Eng.). (I used a copy of the transcript in the Handley Library Archives, Winchester, Va.) Case of the respondents Hite et al. in the appeal of Lord Fairfax, folio 715, folder 100, Clark-Hite Papers (Filson Club, Louisville, Ky.); folio 116, ibid Lord Fairfax referred to colonial legislation requiring that the "breadth of the tract . . . bear at least the proportion of one third part of the length; see Hening, ed., Statutes, IV, 37-42.

53 Hite v. Fairfax, transcript by McKay, pp. 1575, 1791.

not Oblidged to give their Attendance as Justices of the Court of the County of Spotsylvania" was indicative of the caution with which the Council conferred local government on western settlements. Later in 1734 the assembly created Orange County out of the Spotsylvania piedmont and extended it "westerly, by the utmost limits of Virginia" thus incorporating the Shenandoah Valley settlements for the first time within the bounds and protections of Virginia counties.54

When the Williamsburg government subsequently established counties exclu- sively within the Shenandoah Valley, however, it was responding, not to increases in western population, but to Indian conflicts. During the mid-1730s Gooch and the Council sought a negotiated end to the wars of the northern and southern Indians. On May 5, 1736, the Council noted "the dangers which may happen to the Inhabitants of this Country by the Northern Indians Marching through the Frontiers . . . in Order to Attack the Cattawbaws, & other Southern Indians with whom they were at War" and ordered that "the Southern & Northern Indians be severally Invited to meet here next April for setling a peace between those Nations as the best way for securing the quiet of Our Frontier Inhabitants." But the Six Nations refused to treat anywhere except Albany, and the Cherokees declined to travel that far north into the heart of Iroquoia. The war continued unabated, so that in April 1738 inhabitants on the Shenandoah River petitioned the Council for arms and ammunition because the "Northern Indians frequently passing through their plantations Commit frequent Outrages and have lately killed one of their men." In the absence of a county militia, the governor and Council dis- patched munitions from Williamsburg and commissioned local leaders to organize the defense. Later that summer a party of Iroquois, after suffering a defeat by the Catawbas on the banks of the upper Potomac, fell upon an English settlement and killed eleven people from three families. Additional petitions followed that next fall, and when the governor faced the assembly on November 1, he complained of "the late Incursions of the Indians, and the Murders they have perpetrated on the Inhabitants beyond the great Ridge of Mountains." He reviewed his attempts to "negotiate a Peace between the Northern Indians, under the Government of New-Yorh, and the Cattabaws and ChenXees" and concluded that "fresh Hostilities committed by the former, leaving no Hopes of Success, the Safety of That Frontier must depend on your Councils and Assistance."55

On November 8 the House of Burgesses took up a measure "For making more

'4 McIlwaine, ed., Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia, IV, 318-19; Hening, ed., Statutes, IV, 450-51. In addition to Hite, the new Spotsylvania justices included Morgan Morgan, John Smith, Benjamin Borden, and George Hobson. All joined the commission of the peace for Orange County when it first met in January 1735. On Benjamin Borden's land grants, see McIlwaine, ed., Executive Journals of the Councilof Colonial Virginia, IV, 351, 408-9; and Mitchell, Commercialism andFrontiet; 31-34.

55 McIlwaine, ed., Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia, IV, 370, 414, 383, 398, 404; H. R. McIlwaine, ed., Journals of the House ofBurgesses of Virginia, 1727-1734, 1736-1740 (Richmond, 1910), 320-21; Gooch to Board of Trade, Sept. 20, 1738, C.O. 5 11324, Colonial Office Papers; McIlwaine, ed., Lgiative Journals of the Council, 864-65; Samuel Hazard, ed., Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania (16 vols., Harris- burg, 1838-1853), IV, 203-4; Virginia Gazette, April 7, June 30, July 21, 1738. William Gooch later claimed that it was the southern Indians, not the northern, who killed the English people on the upper Potomac River; see O'Callaghan, ed., Documents Relative to the ColonialHistoly of the State of New-York, VI, 171-72.

effectual provision against Invasions and Insurrections," which the governor signed into law on December 21. That same day he approved "An Act, for erecting two new Counties, and Parishes; and granting certain encouragements to the Inhabi- tants." In an obvious ploy for the extension of royal authority, the new counties were named Frederick and Augusta after the Prince and Princess of Wales. They incor- porated all the land Virginia claimed west of the Blue Ridge, including territory disputed by Fairfax. Inhabitants were "exempted from the paiment of all public, county, and parish levies," and the governor was authorized to "grant letters of nat- uralization to any such alien" who took the proper oaths and tests. Like religious toleration, which Gooch extended to western dissenters the next year, easing nat- uralization had long been a cause among foreign imrnigrants.56

The establishment of local government in the two new counties, however, was delayed until ordered by the governor and Council. The administration was in some- thing of a bind. In conflicts with the Indians the best means of defense clearly lay in settlement and county organization. Gooch assured the Board of Trade that "en- larging the frontier Settlements and Strengthening them by proper encourage- ments for Cohabitation hath always proved the most effectual Method Securing the Country against the Indians." But in a candid explanation for delaying the appoint- ment of a court, Gooch admitted to the board that "because most of the People likely to settle there are illeterate and many of them not yet understanding the English Language, it is left to the Governor and Council to fix the time, when Justices and other officers are to be established." What the administration wanted was the power to move quickly, without relying on the legislature, to install local governments and provide for the common defense in case an all-out Indian war engulfed Virginia. But it also needed to buy time in view of doubts about the ability of the new inhabitants to govern themselves. In June 1739 the Council read but declined any action on a petition from more than fifty backcountry inhabi- tants praying that the "County of Frederica may immediately take place" because the "Difficulty of obtaining Justice" in the distant court of Orange County caused many crimes to go unpunished and encouraged "Persons of a Scandalous life" to settle among them. Efforts by the settlers to establish internal control would not coincide with the colony's need to impose external order for several years to come.57

Other Virginians shared both the government's advocacy of backcountry settle- ment and its mistrust of the settlers. As early as 1728 William Byrd had written that "it therefore concerns his Majesty's Service very nearly, and the Safety of His

56 Hening, ed., Statutes, V, 24, 78-80; McIlwaine, ed., Journals of the House ofBurgesses . . . , 1727. . . . , 386-87. Gooch to the Synod of Pennsylvania, May 28, 1739, as quoted in Morton, Colonial Virginia, 11, 584. In his petitions to the Crown, Jacob Stover had asserted that "Naturalization for this People as Forreigners is most humbly desir'd, that they may be qualified to Serve Offices and to have a lawfull right to their Lands." See Jacob Stover to Board of Trade, n.d., in "Colony West of the Blue Ridge," ed. Milbourne, 184.

57 Hening, ed., Statutes, V, 78-80; Gooch to Board of Trade, Feb. 22, 1739, C.O. 5 11324, Colonial Office

Papers; Petition of the Inhabitants of "Frederica" County, item 2, folder 41, Colonial Papers (Library of Virginia);

William P. Palmer, Sherwin McRae, Raleigh Colston, and H. W. Flourney, eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers

and Other Manusc+ts, 16S2-1781 (12 vols., 1875-1893; New York, 1968), I, 233.

Subjects in this part of the World, to take Possession of so important a Barrier [the Blue Ridge] in time, lest our good Friends, the French, and the Indians, thro' their Means, prove a perpetual Annoyance to these Colonies." By the mid-l730s, how- ever, he was complaining to his correspondents Collinson and Bartram about the "Scots-Irish . . . who flock over thither in such numbers, that there is not elbow- room for them. They swarm like the Goths and Vandals of old, & will over-spread our continent soon." But hoping to populate his own western lands, Byrd admitted he would be "glad" to tempt Germans "to remove hither."58

Within two months of the passage of the militia and county measures, Gooch was explaining to the Board of Trade that he knew "not in what state they [the Cherokees and Catawbas] are in with the Northern Nations, . . . But if Spring tempts them to renew their Hostilitys, and to make the like return of Barbarity through our inhabitants, 'tis not to be imagined that People who have now Arms in their hands, will suffer the Heathens to insult them with Impunity." In July 1739 Gooch received word from the governor of New York that a combined French and Indian force was on its way south to attack Indians friendly to Virginia. New and even more serious difficulties were also developing with the Six Nations. Not only did they now "insist upon it as agreed by the Treaty [of Albany] that as they were not to Pass to the Eastward, the English were not to get to the Westward" of the Blue Ridge, but the Indians also laid exclusive claim "to the Lands on Shenando River." This position varied considerably from the colony's understanding that the treaty conferred only rights of travel, not claims to land. When the Iroquois acted on their interpretation, the Gooch administration moved quickly to effect the final stage of settlement organization west of the Blue Ridge.59

On July 19, 1742, William Gooch received a warning from Maryland lieutenant governor Samuel Ogle of an alliance of Indians led by the Six Nations against in- habitants in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. A subsequent letter explained that the Indians planned to attack "if they did not receive Satisfaccion for certain Lands lying on Susquehanna Cheseapeak Ifanandowa [Shenandoah] & parts adja- cent belonging (as they say) to them the said Indians for which they have never been paid and are now possessed by the people of Maryland & Virginia." The Indians sought compensation, but "threaten in Case they have not that they are able & will do themselves Ju~tice."~o

58 William Byrd, The History of the Dividing Line betwixt Virginia and North Carolina run in the year of ourLord1728 (1929; New York, 1967), 240; Marion Tinling, ed., The Correspondence ofthe Three William Byrds of Westover, Virgrnia, 1684-1776 (2 vols., Charlottesville. 1977), 11, 492-94, 529-30.

59 Gooch to Board of Trade, Feb. 15, Aug. 1, 1739, C.O. 5 11324, Colonial Office Papers; Board of Trade to duke of Newcastle, Oct. 18, 1739, C.O. 5 11366, ibid In October 1736 the Six Nations solicited the Pennsylvania Council's aid in warning the governors of Maryland and Virginia "that all the Lands on Sasquehannah & at Chanandowa were theirs, & they must be satisfied for them." Uncertain of these claims, however, the Council failed to act, and William Gooch apparently heard nothing of them until five and one-half years later; see Hazard, ed., Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania, IV, 90-95.

60 Hall, ed., Executive Journals ofthe Councilof Colonial Virginia, V, 94-95, 98. See also Hazard, ed., Minutes of the Provincial Councilof Pennsylvania, IV, 569-76; and Gooch to Board of Trade, July 31, 1742, C.O. 5 11235, Colonial Office Papers.

'~ustice" swept down on Virginians the following December. Warriors from the Six Nations appeared in Augusta County "in an hostile manner," reported one white official, "killing and carrying off Horses" and stealing provisions. Accord- ing to the Indians, however, "there was no more Deer to be killed, and they had been Starved to Death if they not killed a Hog now and then." When an armed force confronted the Indians, a fight broke out, and eleven whites and almost as many Indians died. Both sides claimed they were fired upon first. One Virginian thought he saw "some white men (whom we believe to be French) among the Indians." The war Virginians had feared for almost half a century seemed to be upon them.61

The governor and Council acted quickly. By the end of December, they had dis- patched arms and ammunition to the people of Augusta and ordered the militias of Orange and Fairfax counties to "hold themselves in Readiness to March to their Assistance upon any Emergency or Apprehension of another Attack." But hearing the "Indian side of the Story" and fearing that armed conflict could spread quickly if not checked, George Thomas, lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, wrote to Gooch in early 1743 urging caution "that Justice may be done, and the ill Conse- quences which otherwise might happen to the back parts of most of the British Colonies in America be prevented." In April the Council reconsidered the 1739 petition from backcountry inhabitants, and the governor appointed a commission OFthe peace for Frederick County to be sworn the following October. In early May, Gooch reassured Thomas that "you may depend upon it no fresh Hostilities shall be Exercised against" the Indians. Forces set in motion as early as 1699 had come to bear on this act, which formalized the settlement of the Virginia backcountry.62

On October 29, 1745, the Council ordered that a commission of the peace be appointed for Augusta County. Six months earlier the Privy Council had settled the dispute with the Northern Neck proprietary in Fairfax's favor while confirming all colonial grants. Winchester, the county town for Frederick, had already been laid out, and Staunton in Augusta was soon to emerge. And Virginia had, at least tem- porarily, settled its differences with the Six Nations at the 1744 Treaty of Lancaster. There the Indians were compensated for land claims in the Shenandoah Valley and agreed to restrict travel to the so-called Warriors Path along its length. Gooch could tell the legislature that he had "concluded a Treaty of Peace and Friendship with the Northern Indians; and procured for our Inhabitants seated to the Westward of the Mountains, a quiet Possession of all the Lands to which those Nations claimed a Right." A good thing it was, too, because England was by then at war with France. Possessing the land and organizing a county court to secure the rights of property and to provide for its development and for common defense would

61 James Patton to Gooch, Dec. 18, 23, 1742, enclosure in Gooch to Board of Trade, Feb. 14, 1743, C.O. 5 11325, Colonial Office Papers; Hazard, ed., Minutes of the Provincial CouncilofPennsylvania, IV, 644, 93-95, 630-46; Jennings, Ambiguous Iroquois Empire, 354-55; O'Callaghan, ed., Documents Relative to the Colonial Histoly of the State of New-Erk, VI, 230-42; Pennsylvania Gazette, Jan. 27, March 31, 1743.

62 Hall, ed., Executive Journals ofthe Councilof Colonial Virginia, V, 112-13, 116-17; Hazard, ed., Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania, IV, 654, 630-55.

afford Virginia the best protection the colonial and imperial governments could command. Decades of experience had indicated that county militias, when prop- erly trained, could best secure frontier areas and that those militias were natural to settlement buffers of white Protestant smallholders. If European settlers were for the most part Scotch-Irish or German Palatinates, so much the better, because both groups had long served the interests of European states by occupying the con- tested areas of national and imperial ~truggle.~3

By the mid-1740s the period when speculative interests were muted by the coincidence of settler demands for land and the pursuit of imperial and colonial security was over; new land grants were overtly speculative and firmly controlled by Virginia elites. In 1743 the Virginia Council had denied a petition from James Patton for one hundred thousand acres on the New River but promised the grant if war broke out with France. The Council fulfilled its promise in April 1745, simultaneously granting one hundred thousand acres on the Greenbrier River to Council president John Robinson and others who formed the Greenbrier Company. Only with the Privy Council's endorsement and at the recommendation of the Board of Trade, however, did the Council in 1749 grant the Ohio Company two hundred thousand acres at the strategic forks of the Ohio, surely designing to force the hand of the French in the contest for the Ohio Valley. That same year, 1749, the Council also granted eight hundred thousand acres near Cumberland Gap to the Loyal Company. The members of the land companies, unlike the colony's grantees of the 1730s, were prominent leaders of Virginia's planter class, now eager to take advantage of the speculative possibilities unleashed by earlier settlement activities. That "foreign Protestants" figured significantly as settlers in all these ven- tures represented nothing new, but the scale of the efforts and their location deep in the contested interior of North America suggest an unprecedented aggressive- ness in British plans for territorial conquest.64

This essay began with a question about the origins of the eighteenth-century backcountry, its social construction, and the exercise of power at the highest levels of colonial government. Traditional answers depending on the interests of settlers or speculators alone fail to account for the role of the governor and Council of

H. R. McIlwaine, ed., Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, 1742-1747, 1748-1749 (Richmond, 1909), 75-76; Hall, ed., Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia, V, 191; Order in Council, April 11, 1745, C.O. 5 11325, Colonial Office Papers. On the negotiations at the Treaty of Lancaster, see enclosure in Gooch to Board of Trade, Dec. 21, 1744, ibid;Jennings, Ambiguous Iroquois Empire, 356-65; Francis Jennings, Empire of Fortune: Crown, Colonies, and Tribes in the Seven Ears War in America (New York, 1988), 10, 39; and McConnell, Country Between, 80, 95. For an argument that Celtic peoples were exploited by the English to secure frontiers in both Ireland and North America, see Rodger Cunningham, Apples on the Flood The South- ern Mountain Experience (Knoxville, 1987). The immigrant peoples of the backcountry were not unwitting, com- pliant tools of empire; by resisting militia duty during the Seven Years' War, they demonstrated that property holding brought not only economic competence but also the liberty to defy authority. See Warren R. Hofstra, "A Parcel of Barbarian's and an Uncooth Set of People': Settlers and Settlements of the Shenandoah Valley," in George Washington andthe Virginia Backcountry, ed. Warren R. Hofstra (Madison, 1997), 87-114.

6* Kenneth P. Bailey, The Ohio Company of Virginia and the WestwardMovement, 1748-1792: A Chapter in the Hirtory of the Colonial Frontier (Glendale, 1939) 17-31; Alfred P. James, The Ohio Company: Its Inner History (Pittsburgh, 1959) 1-27; Hall, ed., Executive Journals ofthe Councilof Colonial Virginia, V, 134, 172-73, 295-97; Voorhis, "Land Grant Policy of Colonial Virginia," 166-80.

Virginia in establishing a culturally distinctive frontier. A new frontier narrative requires a different perspective encompassing the entirety of British North America and beginning at the onset of the eighteenth century. Faced with potential French encirclement and, more immediate to this story, with real conflict waged by Native Americans across the continent, colonial governors and their councils explored vari- ous defensive strategies to secure their frontiers. Most attractive were the opportu- nities presented by European migrants uprooted by imperial strife and seeking land and opportunity in America. The interests of white Protestant yeoman peoples stim- ulated settlement schemes from Nova Scotia to the Carolinas. That speculative interests also helped drive the settlement process is no surprise.

What is new in this story derives from the decades prior to 1730, when colonial experience came to be woven into the process of imperial decision making and forced London officials to conceive a continental frontier and an integrated program for its defense. In Virginia this new way of thinking about the margins of empire assumed material form in the decades after 1730, first in ethnically and economi- cally diverse settlements built upon the institution of private property and then in the incorporation of varied peoples and their dispersed landscape within the polity of the county. Developments in Virginia gained significance through the re- configuration of colonial frontiers but also through the global conflict they pro- voked. The settlement activities of the colony forced Native Americans to take a stand during the Seven Years' War in the defense of tribal homelands and to seek the assistance of the French, themselves eager to contend for the Ohio country. These developments thus bear no small responsibility for the British Empire that emerged from the war and the continuing hostilities that empire spawned.

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