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Letter from James Tilghman and Andrew Allen to Lord Dunmore



No˙ 3.

Williamsburg, May 25, 1774.

MY LORD: We are honoured with your Lordship' s answer of yesterday, to our proposals of a boundary line or lines, to ascertain, for the present, the jurisdiction between the Colonies of Virginia and Pennsylvania, to which your Lordship will be pleased to indulge us in a reply which we are induced to make, from a persuasion that if we can be so happy as to support the principles upon which we founded our proposals, or to point out just objections to your Lordship' s reasoning, we may still come to such an understanding as may answer the good purposes for which we waited on your Lordship. We thought the western boundary of Pennsylvania, when clearly understood, ought to be one of the lines of jurisdiction. Your Lordship is of this same sentiment, by offering to make what you conceive to be our western bounds, the line of jurisdiction, but you are pleased to differ with us in the construction of the grant. If we have a just apprehension of your Lordship' s meaning, you suppose that a meridian line drawn from the end of five degrees of longitude from Delaware, at the beginning of the forty-third degree of latitude, ought to


determine the western boundary of Pennsylvania. We are at a loss to conceive from what expression of the Charter your Lordship can collect that the western boundary of Pennsylvania should be a meridian line, or why that meridian should be drawn rather from the north than the south boundary of the Province. The Charter expresses that the Province shall extend five degrees of longitude from its eastern boundary. The eastern boundary is the Delaware in genial; but if the western bounds are to be determined by a meridian line, the Province will extend in some parts more, and in others less than five degrees of longitude from its eastern boundary. This we conceive to be against the terms of the grant, which we are of opinion cannot be satisfied by any other than a line or lines corresponding with the courses of the Delaware, and this is the only construction we have ever heard made of that pan of the Charter.

Your Lordship, after expressing a doubt, whether that part of the country now in dispute was within the King of England' s Dominions, at the time of making the Pennsylvania grant, is pleased to contend "That, though it were possible for you to admit our construction of the Royal grant we contend for, should be within the limits of Pennsylvania, according to such construction, yet Fort Pitt, and the country thereabouts, for want of the Proprietors of Pennsylvania supporting their claim, and ascertaining their boundaries in due time, was suffered to be claimed and possessed by an enemy, from whom it was conquered by his Majesty' s arms, and by whom it was confirmed to his Majesty, in a treaty, and consequently, that no legal title can be set up to any of that territory, but under the grant of the Crown, subsequent to such possession, conquest, &c."

Not to enter in a discussion of the facts of claim and possession by an enemy, and conquest by his Majesty' s arms, and the enemy' s confirmation, or the effect of them upon the right of his Majesty' s subjects, which we think needless, we shall only observe, that your Lordship' s argument militates equally against Virginia, as against Pennsylvania, since there has been no new grant that we know of subsequent to such possession, conquest, &c˙; and that therefore, in our opinion, your Lordship ought not upon your own principles, to have extended the jurisdiction of Virginia to Fort Pitt, and the country thereabouts. Your Lordship seems to allow that there was a prior exercise of jurisdiction on the side of Pennsylvania, and you urge this as a reason of your interposition, and are pleased to think that Virginia is entitled to an apology from the Government of Pennsylvania, for thus exercising a jurisdiction, without the sanction of the Crown' s participation. Were it undeniably true, that the Government of Pennsylvania had knowingly extended their jurisdiction beyond the limits of the Charter, we should be far from vindicating such a conduct. And we are certain, that if any of our officers have acted officially, beyond the known limits of the Province, they will be censured, rather than supported, by the Government. But, assured as we are, that Fort Pitt must be within our Charter limits, we cannot be induced to think that our Government were improper in exercising their jurisdiction there; and we are inclined to be of opinion, that if your Lordship, when an application was first made to you, to take that place under the Government of Virginia, had thought fit to have given the least intimation of your designs to the Governour of Pennsylvania, much of the disagreeable consequence which has followed, would probably have been prevented.

We are really concerned, to find that our conceptions of the extent of Pennsylvania are so very different, but we are not without hope, that your Lordship will, upon reconsidering the subject, be of opinion that your construction is liable to the objections we have made. And, although we are satisfied that we shall be supported in ours, yet we are not so tenacious of our first proposals, as to adhere strictly to them, while we have any hopes that a reasonable departure from them will produce so desirable an effect as the settlement of harmony and peace between the two Colonies. And for that valuable purpose, we shall, be willing to recede so far from our Charter founds, as to make the river Monongahela, from the line of Dixon and Mason downward, the western boundary of jurisdiction, which would at once settle our present disputes, without the great trouble and expense of running lines, or the inconvenience


of keeping the jurisdictions in suspense. This we assure your Lordship, is the farthest we can go in point of concession, and if your Lordship is determined to adhere to your proposal of a meridian line, or indeed to insist upon retaining the jurisdiction of Fort Pitt, or the lands to the eastward of the Monongahela, we can treat no farther. But, we cannot quit the subject, without expressing our concern that your Lordship should entertain a doubt of the sincerity of our desire to settle all disputes between Virginia and Pennsylvania, as we are not conscious of having done any thing that could give your Lordship so unfavourable an impression. And we beg leave to assure your Lordship, that nothing less than a most sincere wish and desire to restore peace and harmony, and to settle our disputes, with a due regard to the just pretensions of both Colonies, could have actuated our Government to send us hither, or could have induced us to undertake a journey of such length, and so very inconvenient to us. We think the proposals we have made, contain the most reasonable concessions, and it will give us real concern, should your Lordship' s ideas be so different, from ours, that the desired accommodation cannot be effected. We thank your Lordship for your ready consent to join our Proprietors in an application to the Crown to settle our bounds, and have the honour to be, with great regard, your Lordship' s most obedient, and most humble servants,


His Excellency Lord Dunmore.