The Winning of the West, Volume 4 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 354 pages of information about The Winning of the West, Volume 4.

CHAPTER IV.

INTRIGUES AND LAND SPECULATIONS—­THE TREATIES OF JAY AND PINCKNEY, 1793-1797.

    The Current of Tendency.

Throughout the history of the winning of the West what is noteworthy is the current of tendency rather than the mere succession of individual events.  The general movement, and the general spirit behind the movement, became evident in many different forms, and if attention is paid only to some particular manifestation we lose sight of its true import and of its explanation.  Particular obstacles retarded or diverted, particular causes accelerated, the current; but the set was always in one direction.  The peculiar circumstances of each case must always be taken into account, but it is also necessary to understand that it was but one link in the chain of causation.

    The Causes of the Various Separatist and Filibustering Movements.

Such events as Burr’s conspiracy or the conquest of Texas cannot be properly understood if we fail to remember that they were but the most spectacular or most important manifestations of what occurred many times.  The Texans won a striking victory and performed a feat of the utmost importance in our history; and, moreover, it happened that at the moment the accession of Texas was warmly favored by the party of the slave-holders.  Burr had been Vice-President of the United States, and was a brilliant and able man, of imposing personality, whose intrigues in the West attracted an attention altogether disproportionate to their real weight.  In consequence each event is often treated as if it were isolated and stood apart from the general current of western history; whereas in truth each was but the most striking or important among a host or others.  The feats performed by Austin and Houston and the other founders of the Texan Republic were identical in kind with the feats merely attempted, or but partially performed, by the men who, like Morgan, Elijah Clark, and George Rogers Clark, at different times either sought to found colonies in the Spanish-speaking lands under Spanish authority, or else strove to conquer these lands outright by force of arms.  Boone settled in Missouri when it was still under the Spanish Government, and himself accepted a Spanish commission.  Whether Missouri had or had not been ceded first by Spain to France and then by France to the United States early in the present century, really would not have altered its final destiny, so far at least as concerns the fact that it would ultimately have been independent of both France and Spain, and would have been dominated by an English-speaking people; for when once the backwoodsmen, of whom Boone was the forerunner, became sufficiently numerous in the land they were certain to throw off the yoke of the foreigner; and the fact that they had voluntarily entered the land and put themselves under this yoke would have made no more difference

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The Winning of the West, Volume 4 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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