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portion of the disputed territory for herself, were it to be cut in pieces, is not known.
Dispute before Congress.—Congress could not now well avoid noticing the matter, and that body earnestly recommended that the three claiming States should authorize Congress to determine their boundaries. This recommendation treated the entire matter as a dispute among the three States regarding their boundaries, recognizing no such power as the Vermont government. Naturally this did not please the Vermont people, who realized that they must either submit to the overthrow of their territory or support with firmness their independent jurisdiction. They determined upon the latter course. New York and New Hampshire agreed to comply with the recommendation of Congress; but Massachusetts neglected to do so, perhaps to prevent the sacrifice of Vermont; at any rate, she later agreed to relinquish her claim on the condition that Congress should declare the independence of Vermont.
Vermont enlightens the Public Mind.--The day for the hearing before Congress had been set for February 1, 1780. To further her cause Vermont made good use of her time in taking measures to enlighten the public mind in regard to her right to independence.
Ethan Allen prepared an elaborate pamphlet, which was signed by the Governor and Council, setting forth the cause of Vermont; and Ira Allen was appointed by vote of the Assembly to visit the legislatures of several of the States, confer with their members, distribute the pamphlets among them, and thus produce a favorable impression of the just rights of Vermont to independence. He seems to have met with considerable success.
The famous “Appeal to the Candid and Impartial World” was also published and circulated freely among influential men throughout the country. This was the production of Hon. Stephen Row Bradley, one of the best lawyers of that time, and was conceded to be a strong and able paper. After giving a fair statement of the claims of neighboring States and asserting the right of Vermont to independence, it declared, among other things, that the State existed independently of the thirteen United States and was not accountable to them for liberty, the gift of the beneficent Creator alone ; that since Vermont was not represented in Congress, it could not submit to resolutions passed without its consent or even knowledge ; that after four years of war with Great Britain it would not give up everything worth fighting for, the right of making its own laws and choosing its own mode of government, to the decision of any man or body of men under heaven.
Postponement of the Decision.—Jonas Fay, Moses Robinson, and Stephen Row Bradley were appointed by the State to be in attendance at Philadelphia in February, the time set by Congress to consider what disposition should be made of the disputed territory.
Twice the subject was taken up during this session of Congress, but no decided action was taken upon it. pretext and another the settlement of the dispute was postponed. It was evidently the policy of Congress to pacify, if possible, all parties while the war lasted, not deeming it wise to take steps in any direction for fear of incurring the enmity of the contesting States, needing as it did the co-operation of all in the greater struggle in which it was involved that of the Revolution. This undoubtedly was the course most favorable to Vermont at that time, for it is not probable that a decision would then have been made in her favor.
On one CHAPTER XX
EVENTS OF THE BURNING OF ROYALTON
The Burning of Royalton.--In October, 1780, Major Carleton came up Lake Champlain with a fleet of eight ships and about 1,000 men. This invasion caused great alarm, but in reality meant little danger to the Vermonters; the reason for which will be explained later on. Passing up the lake they took a few small forts and then returned to Canada.
While this invasion was going on, a force of about 300 men, all Indians except four, set out from Canada, with the avowed object of capturing a Lieutenant Whitcomb, at Newbury, who, several years before, while scouting on the Richelieu, had killed and robbed a British general. They proceeded from Lake Champlain up the Winooski River past rich meadows and deserted houses, till they came to the place where our State capital now stands, but which was then a wilderness overgrown with spruces, hemlocks, pines, and maples. Here they came upon several hunters from Newbury, whom they took prisoners. But the wily captives succeeded in turning them from their purpose by causing them to believe the town was strongly fortified, which was contrary to the reality.
The Indians were greedy for plunder and unwilling to return from a fruitless excursion. Partly to pacify them, the guide, a despicable villain by the name of Hamilton, now conducted them toward Royalton, passing through the present limits of Barre and Chelsea to Tunbridge. Here they encamped over Sunday to make plans for an attack on Royalton and neighboring places.
Hamilton was well acquainted with this locality. He had been captured with Burgoyne and had been on parole the previous summer at Newbury and Royalton. On a pretense of wishing to do some surveying at the north, he had escaped to the British.
Royalton had been chartered but the year before, though quite a settlement had been made previously; and the town was then in a very thriving condition. Barns and storehouses were filled with the garnered harvests, and large herds of cattle grazed in the meadows. So far removed were they from the noise of the war, that they feared no danger; and had, indeed, a short time previous to this, removed the small garrison by which they had been defended, to the fort at Bethel.
On the 16th, in the gray of the morning, when many of the inhabitants were still in their beds, the invaders fell upon the unsuspecting inhabitants. By the time the day
the Indians had killed two men, taken twenty-six men and boys prisoners, burned over twenty houses and nearly as many barns, destroyed all household goods that they could not take away with them, killed a large number of cattle, sheep, and swine, captured a number of horses, which they appropriated to their own use, driven helpless women and children into the forests for safety, and had themselves started for Canada.
They encamped over night near Randolph, where they killed two of their prisoners. Here they were overtaken by a rescue force under Colonel House, of Hanover. As they
threatened to kill all their prisoners should he attack them, House decided to encamp for the night a few miles away ; but by so doing he allowed the enemy an opportunity to escape. The Indians moved on in the early morning, changing their course to evade their pursuers. This brought them past the house of Zadock Steele, whom they took prisoner, after burning his house.
Most of the prisoners were exchanged and returned to their homes the following summer ; but Steele, and Simeon Belknap, who was taken at Royalton, were separated from the rest and imprisoned elsewhere, and did not escape for two years after their capture.
This sketch of the burning of Royalton would be incomplete without relating two interesting stories connected with the event those of Mrs. Hendee and Zadock Steele.
Mrs. Hendee's Story.-On learning of the approach of the enemy, Mr. Hendee instructed his wife to take the boy and girl, both children under seven years, to a neighbor's for safety, as he was going to Bethel for the purpose of giving the alarm at the fort. She had gone but a short distance when she was met by a party of Indians, who took the boy away from her.
Mrs. Hendee was a woman who wasted little energy in vain lamentations, but, on the contrary, saved her strength for fighting purposes; and she now followed on after them with a strong determination to rescue her son. In her search for the commander she was obliged to ford a brook ; and an Indian, seeing that she wished to do so, offered to carry her over on his back. At irst she refused the proffered aid, but allowed him to carry her little daughter; but, coming to a place where the water was pretty deep, she finally consented to let him carry her the rest of the way.