314 | To the Earl of Halifax

    Boston Novemr. 9. 1764

    My Lord

    Being apprehensive that very soon, if it is not at present, a New Arrangement of New England may be taken into consideration,1 I think it is my Duty to make your Lordship ^acquainted^ with my Sentiments upon this subject. I have long had it in my thoughts, having been convinced that the present Distribution of the lands between New York & Nova Scotia must, sooner or later, be put under new Establishments. This Business seems only to have waited for a proper time; & probably that time is now come.

    The Country Westward of Boston is sufficiently well known; & so is that to the Eastward as far as Casco bay, & also in some degree to Kennebeck river, & beyond it, to the West side of Penobscot Bay. ^But further^ It is but late that the Land has been explored; only since the Reduction of Quebec, & the submission of the Indians in consequence thereof has made it safe for Englishmen to visit it. And all the surveys by actual measure of the Country between Penobscot & St. Croix that I know of; have been taken by my directions, & some of them under my own Eye.

    The Division of New England into Governments of suitable size & with proper boundaries, is by no means a difficult task, if it was unimbarrast with the politicks, prejudices, & humours of the People. These create some apparent difficulties, but in my opinion, no more that what , Conduct, Perseverance, & Authority will easily get the better of. At present I will waive the consideration of these, & only regard the topographical state of the Country, & from thence conclude what would be the most convenient Division of it into separate Governments, if the People in general were indifferent about it.

    And first I will suppose that the two Republicks of Connecticut & Rhode Island are to be dissolved: Without that a New Arrangement of New England would be impracticable at least Very imperfect. I will also suppose that it would be most agreable to his Majesty that the Government of New York should be extended as far as Connecticut river. The Dividing Connecticut in this manner will create some internal Difficulties, which are obvious to those who know the temper & disposition of the People of that Colony.2 But certainly The River Connecticut is the most proper boundary to New York: and therefore I will suppose in the New Arrangement that River to be the boundary of New York.

    The first province then (reckoning from the Westward) would be thus composed. That part of the Colony of Connecticut which lies on the East side of the River Connecticut, All the Colony of Rhode Island, that part of the province of Massachusetts Bay lying Westward of New hampshire, & all the Province of New hampshire. The Breadth of this united Province, a reckoning by roads, & and not by a geographical line, would be 160 miles. But by a parallell drawn from the Connecticut & the Nichywanock being the two boundary river3 it would not be above [blank] miles wide. Boston would be a very convenient Capital, as it is as much in the Ce[ntre]4 as can well be. And tho’ this would be one of the finest provinces in America, It would be so by populousness & close settling, & not by extension of boundaries, which would be very sufficiently confined.

    The next Province should consist of the Province of Maine, & such part of Acadie or the Territory of Sagadahock  or Acadie as lies westward of the River Penobscot, that is all the Country between Piscataqua & Penobscot. The length of this in a right line along the Coast is about 150 miles; tho’ by a geographical paralell between the divisional line at the head of Nychiwannock & the river Penobscot It would be considerably less, not above [blank] miles. The Town of Falmouth in Casco bay5 here offers itself as a very proper Capital, being 60 miles from Piscataqua, & 90 from Penobscot bay; This Town is now growing with great rapidity; it has a large trade in Ship building, & is becoming a principal Seaport for masts: & if it was made the Seat of a Government, it would soon become worthy of being one. This would make a good Province, & would show at present the middle state of one, between infancy & maturity.

    The third Province would contain the remainder of the Territory of Sagadehock with so much of the Continent of Nova Scotia as shall be thought proper to add to it: for instance, from the River Penobscot to the river St Johns. This would be not less than 180 miles in a strait line, due West & East, which is the Course of great part of the Coast.6 This would truly be an infant Province & a very helpless one too. The Whole of this Tract would at this time have been an uninhabited Wast, if it had not been for the efforts of the Province of Massachusets bay about 3 years ago to settle 13 Townships on the East side of Penobscot, the grants of which still want his Majesty’s Confirmation, upon account of the Provinces title to make such grants being questioned. In some of these towns there are sevral settlers, at a considerable expence; at one particularly, where Money and spirit have not been wanted, 60 families, the whole required by the Terms of the grant, are settled at the expence of 1000 pounds sterling out of the Pockets of 2 or 3 persons only. Nevertheless I dont believe there are above 150 families in all these townships, (including the Island of Mount desert where there are at present about 20 families) which together with about 30 families in the bay of Machias, who are settled under no Authority at all, make in the whole 180 families. All these except 1, 2 or three leading men in each township, are extremely poor & worth nothing but their lot of land, & the miserable dwelling with the little clearances they have made upon it. This is a true state of the Country between Penobscot & St Croix, the whole length of which, I have reconnoitred in Person.

    It seems therefore too early to make a separate Government of this Country at present; tho’ it may be very proper even now to make a designation of it, & even to form the plan, to be executed when it has a sufficient population. In the mean time it may be best to let the Parts which are to compose this Government be divided by the bounds of Nova Scotia; that is, that Country which lies on the East of St Croix to remain to the Government of Nova Scotia, & that Country which lies on the West of St. Croix to remain to the Government of Main & Sagadehock: And let them be settled under these respective Governments, untill they have acquired a sufficient Number of People to make one of their own. As for a Capital, It would be too early to determine upon that now: it would be perhaps the best way to let the sevral towns advance themselves as they can & then to pick & choose among them. At present, for the situation of a Capital we should ballance between the Bay of St Croix (or more properly the bay of Passimaquoddy) & the Bay of Machias. The former I know very well having lived there at Anchor 4 days & having had the whole of it to the Westward of the River St. Croix surveyed & planned. The Bay of Machias I know only by report & a sea View of it, not being able to go in for want of a Pilot who knew it.

    Having gone thro the Topography of the Country, I must return to the Westward to take notice of the difficulties, which the Politicks, prejudices, & humours of the People may create there. And these seem all to arise from the bad Policy of establishing republican forms of Government in the British Dominions. It was a strange oversight in Charles the second, when Monarchy was restored in Great Britain, to confirm the republick in America. Hence has arisen a Notion that The People on one side of a river have a right to a greater degree & a different mode of liberty than their fellow subjects on the other side. Hence it probably will be, that the Western part of Connecticut will be unwilling to be united to New York, & the Province of Main will be unwilling to be seperated from the Massachusets. But If the Form of the Massachusets Government should be so far altered as to remove the little remains of its republican cast, the Distinction between that & the adjoining Governments would be less regarded. As for the Religious Divisions,7 they are become so entirely subservient to Politicks, that if the State of the Governments is reformed, & a perfect toleration secured, Religion will never give any trouble.

    Your Lordship knows perhaps, that it is my opinion, that the most perfect form of Government for a mature American Province remains still to be designed. The Desideratum is a third legislative Power, which shall be or at least appear to be, independent of the King & People. Without this, the Constitution of an American Government is not made so similar to that of the Mother Country as it is capable of being, & therefore hath not received its greatest possible perfection. To effect this, The Function, of the present Council should be separated, & that Body divided into a legislative Council8 & a Privy Council: the former to be appointed by his Majesty for Life, removable only for misdemeanours by the Judgement of their own body; the latter to be appointed by his Majesty during his pleasure, & to be composed of the Members of either house, or of persons belonging to neither, as there shall be occasion.9

    To show what great Steadiness such appointments would give to a Government, & in what manner & by what means they would operate, would exceed the bounds of this letter. It is sufficient for the present purpose to say that the Province of the Massachusets, united as aforesaid, will afford a fine opportunity for trying the experiment; (if a Regulation founded upon fixed & certain principles & allready fully proved & approved can be called an Experiment) ^as^ it would certainly be an improvement of the Government of the Massachusets, whatever it might be of others.10 It is well known that the appointment11 of the Council by annual Election is a very faulty part of the Government of the Massachusets: It cannot be denied but that to have the Members of the middle legislative body removeable at pleasure by the people is unconstitutional. But then the People will say that it is as unconstitutional for such members to be removeable at pleasure by the King: to answer the purposes of a mediating power they should be independent of both King & People. If therefore the alteration of the appointment of the Council was made in the manner before proposed, The Arguments in favour of it would be unanswerable: It might be truly said, that thereby, the Form of the Government was meliorated upon principles of independence. And yet the Crown would receive a considerable accession of strength therefrom: but it would be of constitutional strength, such as could give no just cause of umbrage to the People.

    But this is not all that is wanting: it will be absolutely necessary to establish a certain & sufficient Civil List for the support of such officers of the Crown as fall under that establishment in Great Britain; that they who hold the reins of Government & the ballance of justice, may no way be subject to popular influence. And this is wanting, not only to make them independent, but to pay them adequately; the appointments in this, & all other Governments where they are paid by the people, being scandalously unequal to the rank & business of their sevral Offices: and this will never be remedied but by a superior power. Such an establishment will not only give firmness to the Governments for the future, but will greatly assist the reforming them at present. It is now no secret that Honours & Posts of Profit are the chief Weights in the royal Scale which keep the12 balance of political power in Equilibration: and It is not too much to say that to this influence Great Britain at present owes its very being. Why then13 should not the application of the same influence be equally beneficial to America? It certainly will: & I will venture to say that the Honours & places of profit incidental to a mature Government established upon the foregoing principles will be sufficient to support all the powers & faculties of it, & will place the Seat of the Governor, (provided his Administration is conducted with some prudence, much patience, & a little publick spirit,) upon a Rock.

    As to the manner of conducting the new Arrangement of these Governments, I shall not presume to offer my thoughts upon it, any further than what relates to the part the people here are allowed to bear in it. It seems that there are but two ways of proceeding 1, by the King in Council, 2, by the King in parliament. In the first Case the Consent of the Colonies will be absolutely necessary; in the second Case, It will not be necessary, tho’ Very expedient. Where it is necessary, it will be harder to obtain, & will require perhaps a good deal of time as well as some Management. Where it is not necessary, it will probably come more easily, will be best conducted in a public manner, & may soon be brought to a conclusion. In this last Case all that the Provinces & Colonies can expect, will be to have the plan laid before them, & time given them to make their objections to it. It will go down more hardly with the two Colonies: I cannot think, if it is anything like what is before proposed, that it will meet with much difficulty in this Province, being manifestly greatly for its advantage.

    I have before informed your Lordship that I have taken great pains to make myself well acquainted with the Territory of Sagadehock. I have made three Voyages thither at my own Expence, & this year I went to the Extremity of it, to the Bay of St Croix, which is 350 miles from Boston.14 I have kept up a continual correspondence with all the Indians living in that Territory, & ha[ve]15 gained their Confidence by means of deeds as well as well as of Words.16 Last Winter I prevailed upon the Assembly to authorise me to employ Surveyors as many as I wanted, for surveying & reconnoitring that Country: And by these means I have this Summer done the following Works.

    I have sent a party,  associated with Indians, from Fort Pownall up Penobscot river thro’ the river Chaudiere to Quebec, who returned part of the Way by a different rout from what they took going. They made observations for drawing plans of both passages by taking the sevral bearings & computing the distances & noting the particulars of land & Water. The same party afterwards went from Fort Pownall  thro’ the river Sebesticook to Fort Halifax on Kennebeck, & took observations as before.17 Another party took a survey of the Bay of Passimaquoddy  with the Islands therein as far as the Mouth of St. Croix & some few miles beyond it; & also went up the rivers of St Croix & Passimaquoddy for about 15 miles each. Afterwards part of the same party associated with Indians went up the River Passimaquoddy  to the head of the West branch, & thence thro’ a multitude of lakes to the river Penobscot about 70 miles above Fort Pownall & down the river to the Fort, & took all necessary observations for a plan. This last passage together with that from Fort Pownall to Fort Halifax, make an inland line from Passimaquoddy to Kennebeck, not less than 300 miles in length. I have also run a line from Fort Pownall to George’s River, being the most easterly settlement on that side of Penobscot, & have had an horse-road  cut thro’ the whole, being the length of 50 miles: this addition makes a clear land passage from Boston to Fort Pownall, which will be soon continued, whenever the Settlements on the East side of Penobscot shall be allowed to be improved.

    At Sea I have had two parties of Surveyors employed all this Summer in surveying the Islands on the East Side of Penobscot Bay , called the Fox Islands, which are very numerous, & some of them considerably large. They have also connected those Islands with the Continent by trigonometrical lines, by which means, & by the survey of the Sea Coast in the laying out the 12 Townships granted by this Province, We shall have a regular Chart of all the Sea Coast for near 50 miles East of Penobscot. In the mean time there has been another party of Surveyors, being the fifth employed this Summer, engaged in running inland lines thro’ & above the said Townships,  by which the rivers & principal inland waters will be made known. After this there will be only wanting the Sea Coast between the East end of the 12 townships unto the Bay of Passimaquoddy, which is about 70 or 80 miles more, to compleat the Survey of the whole Coast between the rivers Penobscot & St Croix; which would have been an easy Summer’s Work, if I could go on with it; But this must be deferred untill the designation of the Country is determined: as I cannot now ask our Assembly for more money for this business.

    It will be the Work of great part of this Winter to get all these Surveys protracted, & Copies of them made: the first I can get properly finished, I shall transmit to your Lordship together with more particular Accounts of the Country thro’ which these routs have been made.18 And I shall at the same time, as I do now, make an offer of my best Services for the settling & improving this great Wast, whether it shall be allowed to be within my Government or not.

    I am, with great respect, My Lord, your Lordships, Most obedient & most humble Servant.

    Fra Bernard

    The Right Honble The Earl of Halifax.

    ALS, RC CO 5/755, ff 135-142.