Chapter IV

Fontaine Leval

WHEN William Bingham had completed his negotiations with the Massachusetts Land Committee, he soon discovered that he had acquired more than land; from Duer and Knox he had inherited as well a problem in the person of Madame Bacler de Leval, a French gentlewoman who had visions of establishing in Maine an asylum for those of her countrymen who found France under the revolutionary government insupportable and who wished to start a new life in a new world. The career of Madame de Leval contributes a minor chapter in the larger story of the emigration of Frenchmen to the United States during this period; to relate her adventures necessitates turning back to 1791, before Duer and Knox had made their first purchase from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.215

Even before her revolution, France had been an attractive field for American speculators. Life in the United States had been idealized in France ever since Franklin’s mission to Paris during the American Revolution, and the dream of a simple, natural existence, uncontaminated by the artificialities of the old regime, was a most seductive one. It was natural, therefore, that speculators in this country should attempt to capitalize on this sympathy for America and to interest members of the French nobility in emigrating to the new world. Among various projects designed to encourage French emigration to the United States, the Scioto Company must occupy a prominent place. There is no occasion for a detailed account of that venture here; suffice it to say that a number of enterprising Americans—chief among them General Rufus Putnam, the Reverend Manasseh Cutler, and William Duer—had prevailed upon Congress to grant six and one-half million acres of land in Ohio to two companies they had formed, the Ohio Company and the Scioto Company. The Ohio Company was a legitimate project and had as its aim the sale of its property to veterans of the Revolution; the Scioto Company, like the Credit Mobilier of another era, was organized for the sole purpose of speculation. Since neither of these companies had anything like adequate cash reserves, resale of some of the acreage acquired became an absolute necessity if payments to the government were to be made promptly. Accordingly, the Scioto directors commissioned Joel Barlow of Connecticut to offer the lands for sale in France. It was hoped that Barlow would be able to dispose of enough of the property to pay the company’s debts, which would leave the remainder as clear profit for the speculators.

Barlow could accomplish little at first, but in the summer of 1789 he met an unscrupulous Englishman named William Playfair who suggested the formation of a separate French company. This measure was successfully carried out, and the Compagnie de Scioto, as the new corporation was called, soon managed to sell 150,000 acres to unsuspecting Frenchmen. The whole venture became much more complicated when a group of the French purchasers decided to emigrate to Ohio and it devolved upon Duer to make the necessary arrangements for their settlement.

What J. S. Davis has called the “Scioto Debacle” followed. Duer’s preparations were culpably inadequate; the French who arrived found nothing had been done to promote their settlement; the title to the lands themselves proved insecure; and the ill-fated trek to Ohio made by some of the French only confirmed their worst fears. If anything more were needed to deliver a coup de grâce to the project, St. Clair’s defeat by the Indians in November, 1791, provided it. Word went back to New York and to France that the colony was all but abandoned. It remained only to salvage as much as possible from the wreckage, and it was to this task that William Duer now turned.

Among the chief investors in the Compagnie de Scioto was a group known as the Société des Vingt-Quatre, under the leadership of a French nobleman named Jacques Duval d’Epremesnil. Though D’Epremesnil himself had not emigrated to this country, others of the society, among them Madame de Leval, had done so. This Frenchwoman was the wife of “Jean Antoine Gontran Marzel de Leval, Seigneur Proprietor of the Seignories and Peerages of Villers Chatel, of Lanoy and Val d’Aguieres in Artois; Counsellor of the King and Ancient Treasurer Paymaster of the Charges Assigned on the Domain of His Majesty in the Department of the Chambres des Comptes of the Kingdom, Excepted That of Paris.”216 Madame de Leval had left her husband in France while she sought to establish a place for them both in the new world. She had a good business head, a great deal of nagging aggressiveness and perseverance, and a determination to find some substitute for the unfortunate Scioto plan. As a representative of a nation to which Americans owed much, and as an unattached lady in a strange country, she soon won for herself several ardent supporters in the United States.

One of the reasons why Duer and Knox had embarked on the Maine speculation in the first place was the chance which it offered to solve some of the problems created by the Scioto collapse. Though this purpose was kept secret from the Massachusetts Land Committee during the negotiations in June, 1791,217 once the contract had been signed, Duer lost no time in conferring with Madame de Leval and two other members of the Société des Vingt-Quatre, Jean Baptiste de la Roche and Count Joseph du Barth, all of whom had had a bellyful of the Scioto Company. Late in August, 1791, a preliminary agreement was drawn up, to be put in proper legal form at some later date if the French approved the property in Maine after having actually seen it:

Preliminary Knox-Duer, Leval-La Roche Agreement, 27 August 1791 [BP]218

The state of confusion in which we at present find the affairs of Scioto caused by the conduct of the agent of Paris; the resignation which Mr. Duer and his company are in some measure constrained to offer to Congress of the pre-emption of three millions of acres which they had contracted for; the uncertainty of obtaining a new contract advantageous for Mr. Duer throws such a veil of obscurity on the future prospects of the emigrants that it would be difficult to conjecture what will be the result of their undertaking. These reasons have determined the undersigned to look forward to more certain prospect of establishing themselves. Having been informed that a company was owner of a large tract in the Province of Maine, we address ourselves to the proprietors in order to be made acquainted with the following particulars:




If before we entreat into any definitive arrangement they would assist in transporting to the place one of the undersigned with surveyors and persons competent to render a faithful and just account of the situation and of the nature and quality of the soil.



Three persons on the part of the proposers shall accompany the agent employed by the company to view the lands.

If it is possible that four of their nation might accompany the surveyors in view of the lands. The intention of the purchasers being to form a French colony, it appears to them to be of consequence that the report to be conveyed in France should be drawn up by Frenchmen.



Mr. Duer is willing to sell five townships including the purchase of Mount Desert Island.

What number of acres or townships the selling company is willing to dispose of to the undersigned.



The proposers may chuse two townships contigeous on our place and three in another. Or they may chuse five together.

Whether we may have the right chusing our location in such place as will to us appear most convenient.



The price to be fixed in the contract to be six livers219 payable one half down, the other half in two years. We the sellers will give an acquittance on the purchase of three livers per acre and for the second payment fix the following terms:

What are the conditions with regard to price of the lands and the terms of payment?

1st one quarter part in the first of May 1793

2d. quarter

1 May 1794

3d. quarter

1 May 1795

4 quarter

1 May 1796



Whenever the purchasers are ready to proceed to the lands in order to begin a settlement, a vessell shall be ready at New York to transport them and their effects. Mr. Duer is of opinion that a survey of the lands in question and a report founded on it may be compleated by the first of October.

At what time may the first settlers hope to commence their establishment; taking into consideration the approaching winter and severity of the climate?



The company will advance to the purchasers a years provisions of beef, pork, flour, fish, corn and rice; twelve milch cows, one bull, eight yoke of cattle and six sows reimbursable in twelve months at the usual price with interest at six per cent till paid. They will always have in store three months flour; the same quantity of meat will [not?] be necessary as fish may be got in abundance. They will also advance what is necessary for transportation of themselves and effects payable in like manner and erect sufficient huts, according to the custom of the country, to cover the first settlers. They will likewise engage, for the purpose of building houses for the principal settlers, eight or ten mechanics and advance the money necessary for purchasing nails, hinges, glass and the materials necessary for constructing their habitations; the huts to cover the cultivaters to the expence of the company; the other advance to be reimbursable at the actual cost on the same terms and conditions as provisions furnished.

What preparations will the selling company make for the reception of the first emigrants?



Answered in the 7th.

What assistance may the first colonists hope for from the company with regard to their subsistence, the company taking into consideration that they will arrive to an uninhabated and uncultivated country?



They will procure legal forms of the engagements in question.

The undersigned desire to know whether they can be furnished with such form of indentures as will secure to them the fullfillment of them on the part of those persons they may engage in France or abroad for a term of years, as their desertion would prove the ruin of the proprietors and consequently the ruin of the colony.



Yes, without difficulty.

As the coast of the lands in question is found to be lined with a vast number of islands, we request to know whether our vessells on their arriving may depend on being supplied with pilots well acquainted with the coast to conduct them to their destination.



Mr. Walker, agent for the company at New York, will keep a correspondence with the purchasers and receive and forward letters to and from France, and to facilitate this object a vessell shall (at least for the first year) at the expence of the company pass continually from the sea port of their establishment to the port of New York.

The selling company being established in New York, the undersigned requests to be informed of the most expeditious means of settling a certain mode of correspondence between them.


The undersigned after their visiting the lands intend to form with the selling company articles, conditions and all arrangements of the purchase of one hundred thousand acres which they have at present in contemplation.

Agreed to, subject to the ratification of Major General Knox, New York, August 27th.

New York 27th August 1791 Signed,

  • William Duer
  • Baclerde Leval
  • Du Barth
  • De la Roche

Knox’s Ratification of the Agreement220

The subscriber most willingly accedes to the general principle of forming a French colony on the lands purchased of him and Mr. Duer in the Province of Main, and of giving all reasonable advantages and facilities to such a colony.

But such facilities and advantages must be specially defined and marked within certain limits, beyond which accomodation from the sellers is not to be expected. Precision is necessary for the continuance of good understanding between both parties.

The arrangement will comprehend, first, the extent of the number of rations to be furnished and the price.

Secondly, the number, size, and sort of houses to be built for the principal emigrants.

Thirdly, that as well for the price of the land as the reimbursement of the rations and all other advances, the land shall be held responsible for the payment.

The subscriber is of opinion that a vessell from New York to the lands in question will not be necessary. The post goes to Boston from New York three times in each week during the summer and twice a week during the winter. Vessells during the summer season are continually passing from Boston to Penobscot Bay and River, or the lands in contemplation, as frequently as vessells pass from New York to Albany.

The ultimate arrangement and agreement upon this subject to be drawn into legal form immediately after the lands shall be viewed and approved.

Given in Philadelphia

this 3d September 1791.

Duer, who had closed this preliminary agreement without Knox, found the Secretary of War completely in accord with what had been done. It now remained to see to it that the French saw Maine under the best possible circumstances. To this purpose Knox wrote Henry Jackson in Boston to make all the necessary preparations to receive the French prospects,221 and on 16 September Duer sent Jackson an express saying that the foreigners were about to leave New York. Jackson immediately went to work to get all in readiness:

H. Jackson to Knox, Boston, 18 September 1791 [KP]222

Boston September 18. 1791

Dear Harry

On Friday evening at 7 o’clock I received an express from Colonel Duer in about 48 hours from New York, informing me that Madam de Laval and Mr. de la Roche would leave that city by the 18th with twenty of her people to proceed immediately to the eastward and who are to be left there, that they may be prepairing for their establishment, whilst she returns to New York to finish the necessary arrangements and conclude the bargain.

Previous to my receiving this express, I had engaged a Hingham packet, well found and good accommodation, for which I was to pay three dollars and half per day, including a good pilot, feeding and paying the hands and providing four beds and beding for the cabin. The vessell with her stores for a twenty five days tour was ready and laying at the wharfe on the 15th instant to receive them the moment they arrived. I shall not now expect them until this day week. I am prepairing the packet for their reception, by building bunks in her hold, and making some sacks fill’d with straw for their beding. As I am convinced it will be much for the advantage of the concern, it is my intention to accompany them.

I am affraid it is too late in the season to make an establishment that will impress their minds favourably as to the climate and situation, and you know that first impressions are the most lasting, but be assured I will put the best face on every appearance, and no exertions of mine shall be wanting to promote the interest of the association. I feel myself well calculated for a business of this kind, and I am satisfied their are but few that has it in their power to do you and them more justice than I can.

I rest all on you, to keep in view and never from your sight, that I must make something out of this concern that will place me where and in a situation that you will wish to see mine. Remember you can place every confidence in me and in whatever will promote your interest, either in this or any other country, command me.

The Committee have engaged the surveyors to run the line of our purchase this fall, in both locations. It is my opinion we had better employ a good man to attend each surveyor, who would be able to furnish us with an accurate map of each tract, and with the information he would obtain, would fully pay the expence. You will give me the directions on this head.

I am your affectionate

H. Jackson

General Knox

On 30 September the French actually arrived in Boston, after having been delayed by bad winds and the failure of the lady’s baggage to show up in New York:

H. Jackson to Knox, Boston, 2 October 1791 [KP]223

Sunday October 2. 1791

Dear Harry

Madam Le Val and etc. arrived here on Friday afternoon and this day at noon we are off with a fine S.W. wind. It is a great undertaking for me, but I am convinced it will be for the good of the concern. I have drawn on Colonel Walker for 550 dollars to pay for the supplies, etc. Of this you will inform him, as I have not one moment to write him. If we have good passage, I am in hopes to return in 15 or 20 days. The season is too late and I think you put too much at hazard—one snow storm before they are well established will damn the whole operation, but you may depend on my good countenance in every circumstance that presents itself.

In haste your affectionate

H. Jackson

General H. Knox

On the second of October a Hingham packet freighted with General Jackson, Madame de Leval, De la Roche, eleven other Frenchmen, and four Germans set sail for the eastward. After being delayed for three days at Nantasket by bad weather, the expedition was rewarded with a smart following wind which took them down to Bucksport in a day and a half. From there they proceeded through Eggemoggin Reach, where a strong head wind forced them to disembark on what was probably Stave Island. The party proceeded to explore the island and planned a big bonfire for the evening, only to have the island’s lone settler warn them that he would charge them three shillings for each tree they cut down. The next day they picked up a local pilot to take them through Mount Desert Narrows to the home of the De Gregoires at Hull’s Cove.

De Gregoire and his wife gave their fellow countrymen valuable information on the country and showed them maps of the surrounding territory, but the visitors were disturbed to learn that most of the shore property had already been preëmpted. The next day a visit was made to Colonel Nathan Jones224 at Gouldsborough. After he had been apprised of their desire to obtain a township on the seacoast which would connect with the back country they proposed to buy, he suggested a sight-seeing expedition to Taunton Bay, up the Taunton River.

Accordingly, the party set out to view this part of the country, and after stopping to pay their respects to Paul Dudley Sargent225 at Sullivan, they proceeded through Taunton Bay into Hog Bay, where they disembarked and climbed to the summit of Schoodic Mountain. The day was clear, with a touch of frost in the air, and from this point of vantage, the alien visitors could see far out over the country they were interested in buying. Even on Hog Bay, however, the best sites had been preëmpted, and when a squatter was approached and sounded out as to how much he would take for his hundred-acre lot, he demanded five hundred pounds. The would-be settlers finally decided on a stretch of coast on the north shore of Hog Bay near the present town of Franklin, and though it, too, was occupied, the ever-obliging General Jackson promised to purchase the property for them the following spring.

It remained to find some temporary lodgement for those of Madame de Leval’s followers who planned to spend the winter down east, and it was decided to select a farm in Trenton, in the midst of the territory which Jackson had acquired from De Gregoire. With the help of Colonel Jones, a farm in what is now Lamoine was purchased from a settler who was glad to sell his holdings for one hundred dollars, and immediately, says the diarist of the expedition, the place was named for “notre amazone,” Fontaine Leval. It took the former owner but two hours to move out; meanwhile in celebration the French party built a big fire, and danced and drank and sang until they could take possession.

After the supplies had been unloaded and some cattle obtained from Colonel Jones, those who were returning to the westward prepared to leave, their satisfaction with the prospect marred only by some “maladroit” who dropped and broke the thermometer with which they had been religiously taking readings. By the time the packet weighed anchor for Boston, on 24 October, a start had been made on the erection of some additional buildings, and despite several unseasonable snowstorms, the morale of the outfit was high. The return voyage was accomplished with little difficulty, though a storm off Cape Ann made “tout le monde malade à bord jusqu’au capitaine.”226

In short, General Jackson’s promotional tour down east proved a success. Had he not been along, he wrote modestly to Knox, the whole sale to the French would have fallen through.227 On his return to Boston early in November he reported to the Secretary of War:

H. Jackson to Knox, Boston, 6 November 1791 [KP]228

Boston November 6. 1791

Dear Harry

Since my return from the eastward my time has been so much taken up with necessary attentions on the Lady and Mr. de la Roche and procuring the supplies to be sent down immediately that it was out of my power to write you by the last post.

Trenton being incorporated, their views and intentions as it respected that town for their seaport were wholly at an end, and we were sometime looking for a spot to answer that purpose and finaly they concluded upon a situation laying on Taunton River in No. 8 and No. 9 townships. The ground they have determin’d on is occupied by three farmers, each holding one hundred acres, on the shore. As I considered it an object with the concern to establish these emigrants, I concluded that one thousand or even two thousand dollars was not to [be] considered in the negotiation. Accordingly I engaged to them to purchase those two townships, and remove every dificulty as it respected the three farms, provided they determined to purchase agreeably to their provisional agreement with you, which they assented to, to effect which I empowered Mr. Jones and Mr. Bruce229 to make the purchase, as you will observe by my instructions to them, and since my return I have made application to the Committee on the sale of Eastern Lands for the purchase of these two townships and have also included No. 7 and No. 10 in my proposals, and I am certain of effecting the object of at least the two first mentioned; therefore you may go forward with your agreement in the greatest confidence of my making the purchase.

In order to place their people in a comfortable situation for the winter, I found it necessary to purchase a farm of one hundred and sixteen acres of land in the town of Trenton, on which there was a house, barn and ten or twelve acres of cleared land. For this I gave one hundred and forty dollars.

When we were at the eastward, Mr. de Gregoire observed to a gentleman that I had not purchased the town of Trenton. This I mentioned to Madame de la Val. At the same time assured her I bought every acre the property of Mr. de G. the first of June last, as you will observe by my agreement with him on the 29th July, which is clear, explicit, and unequivocal. Therefore there cannot be any doubt or difficulty on this head.

Colonel Nathan Jones, who owns about seven or eight thousand acres of the best land in the town of Trenton,230 will sell it at half a dollar per acre and make the payment easy to the purchaser. You will see the situation of it on the map.

I have an offer of about twelve thousand acres in the town of Gouldsborough.231 It has the best harbour in the eastern country and is well situated as a door to our inland purchase, and by removing a few squaters from the shore, it will make the best situation for a seaport that I know of. This I can purchase at 1/6 lawful money per acre, one quarter paid down on signing the papers, one quarter in six months, one quarter in twelve months, and one quarter in eighteen months. You will please to let me hear from you on this purchase without loss of time as I am to give my answer the moment it can be obtained from New York.

The inclos’d is a copy of the supplies and other expences on our tour, the estimates left with me to furnish immediately, and for five months further supply will amount to eight hundred dollars more.

If you should disapprove of my making a purchase of those townships, or the farms, you will please to give me the earliest information that I may govern myself accordingly. I hope you will be satisfied I have done every thing in my power for the interest of the concern, and if you should find it necessary to see me in New York before you make your final agreement with Madame de Laval, I will make you a visit for that purpose.

Your affectionate

H. Jackson


I have writen Colonel Duer and sent a copy of the inclosed.


Knox replied approving the purchase of the additional townships, of the farms on Taunton Bay, and of the property in Trenton.232 Jackson, therefore, went ahead with these projects, while at the same time he attempted to keep satisfied those of Madame’s party who had been left to the mercies of a Maine winter at Fontaine Leval.

Madame de Leval and Monsieur de la Roche soon returned to New York, where they drew up a comprehensive report on the property for Duer and Knox:

Leval and La Roche to Duer and Knox, New York, 4 December 1791 [KP]233

New York 4th December 1791


After the measures taken in concert with you last September, we undertook and made a journey in that part of the Province of Maine in which is the land you own. Although you well know what our views were when we took these steps, we think proper to trace them back in these so as to put more clearness in the course of this letter.

We sought

1st, a place of meeting for our emigrating country-men or to emigrate from France or the French islands.

2d, it was our wish that place of meeting would offer at once the advantages of agriculture, by the quality of land, and the nature of the climate; and those of commerce by the facility of transportation.

3d, it was our wish to find a pretty large extent of territory easy of access so that the increase of its value would immediately yeld a proffit from its settlement which would be the cause thereof.

4th, it came within our views to settle upon unincorporated land so as to enjoy of the benefit of the incorporation in obtaining it ourselves, that is to say, by the nomination of our own officers and of such reserves made in all the United States for the support of worship and for houses of publick education.

5th, we did desire finally that the price of the land was moderate, that the terms of payment would be more distant, and besides, provisions and cattle which could render the situation of the colonists tolerable at least in the first year of their settlement.

It is by the necessary combination of these respective advantages of which you have judged as well as ourselves, gentlemen, on which will depend the succes of the whole of the French settlement in that country, and you have proposed to us the lands you possess in the Province of Maine as if we might depend upon them. We have been on the spot, and the local inspection in verifying several of the easinesses which had been declared to us has nevertheless offer’d several important obstacles. Such are—the impossibility of settling on the sea shore where the most propitious parts are taken up, and that of making any settlement in the interior part of the country for the want of ways proper for communication.

The situation of your land, by the inspection of the map, presented a great inconveniency. It was from the sea shore of six, eight, and the most part thereof twelves miles distant. To avoid that inconveniency which strocke us, you thought to purchase some of the townships which lay between your land and the bay. That of Trenton appear’d to answer to your object, and in buying it you have thought to help us with a disencumbered purchase (excepting few plantations) upon which we could make our first settlement. Meanwhile it must be taken for granted that all the parts of those townships bordering on the Bay or on the rivers are entirely taken up and that we have not been able to find that our expectation might be answer’d towards our object.

Thus it is with the other townships which border on the sea shore. Every where we found them settled, and even incorporated, two advantages infinitely important for us. The prospect of Trenton offer’d to us meanwhile several advantageous positions, and we thought that it could be one of the principal entrances for the interior parts. We afterwards repaired towards Taunton’s Bay. That Bay, which goes nearly eight miles into the country, borders by its extremity on two townships numbered on the map 8 and 9. Mr. Jacson assured us that although these two townships did not belong to you he was about purchasing them and sure of the purchase, if the thing was thought convenient. But we still found the same difficulty, that is, inhabitans occupying the best part of them. We visited particularly the country joining the further end of the Bay which appear’d to answer our views, and we have looked upon that place joining the two townships as one of the most interesting entrances amongst those we ought to make the most of, so as to penetrate into the country. Neither of these two townships is incorporated—obstacle of less to be encounter’d—and as the Bay forms there but one bason, therefore less land is left on the shore, less plantations than any where else, and consequently less inhabitants to dispossess.

Township No. 7 offers a third entrance and borders by one of its angles on Gouldsborough’s Bay, and is not incorporated. It does not neither make part of your acquisition, but it is to be sold. Above the part of that township which borders on the Bay there are but few settlements; that parcell as it is to be seen on the map is of a little extent, but it is susceptible to become larger, by the purchase they could make of part of the land now belonging to Goulds’s Bourough, which could be detached therefrom and join it to No. 7. That opperation is easy and even proposed by the actual owners of that land.

Such are, gentlemen, the three principal entrances which you have to open to us to penetrate into your land, one to the south-west by Union River, one to the south by Taunton’s Bay, and the third to the south-east by Goulds’s Bourough’s Bay. But the difficulty lays in dispossessing the actual owners, and to leave us free in each of these parcells a pretty considerable extent of land to cultivate for us, and not for others, in forming thereon our first settlement.

The second difficulty lays in being not able to penetrate in the interior parts of the country and consequently be unable to carry on any kind of settlement for the want of proper communication. The trees are exceedingly close there, and the small space they afford between them is either crowded by roots or other felled trees, and render thereby the acces of the woods almost impracticable. There is in the township of Trenton the beginning of two settlements in the interior parts of the country, but which the owners have forsaken who, disheartened by the difficulty of communication, have left good land and come back on the shore of the Bay to take up with what is very indifferent.

High ways are thus exceedingly necessary to the settlement of that country, but before they are traced out, it is indispensable to obtain an exact survey of its interior parts, to be acquainted with the situation of the waters, that of the mountains, the course of creeks and their communication. The map we have has been found accurate to what relates the sea shore, but we discover’d that exactness ceases as they go in the interior part of the country, where certainly the surveyors have not been. By every information the northern part of those tracts of land is crossed from east to west by a creek which makes a communication from Schoodick River to that of Penobscot. A road which wou’d lead from that creek to the Bay would afford immediately three very interesting branches of communication. We think the road you have to make ought to be drawn from south to north and render’d as practicable as the nature of the place may afford. A person deprived of being seated on the banks of a river, or on the shores of a Bay, may be indemnifyed by having an easy communication of good roads. Government has already caused a road to be traced from east to west; and as soon as the country will settle, the inhabitants will themselves make roads in all directions for a more easy communication; but they ought to find some already made so as to have acces to their land, which they will buy and offer them the means of conveying with ease their produce to the place of consumption, which naturally ought to be situated on the shore of the Bay.

In the hopes, gentlemen, that you will be in sentiment with us, it would conduce greatly to the succes of our undertaking to remove these two difficulties. We will pass on to the other means to carry it into execution.

By the provisional agreement made between us last September, we postponed to terminate all the diffinitive arrangements untill our return. The knowledge we have of the place and the observations we made on the spot give us now a clearer insight to judge of the conveniencies, and we will communicate to you our ideas with the same impartiality as if we were strangers to the business and only advised upon the means to make it succeed. The agreement rests upon three principal points: the price of the land, the terms of payment, and the advances.

As to the price of the land put at £300;234 we reckon that it does not offer any proffit, and rather a likelyhood of loss even if we sell it at £600, for if we buy 200 thousand acres, we have to pay you 200 thousand French half crowns and as we must reckon a large third of the land which we will not be able to dispose of and that afterwards the sale of 134 thousand remaining at the rate of £600 per acre giving £800,000 does not offer for us but a benefice of £200,000. Now if they reckon all the expenses to which we are exposed, all the land that we must give away, all the sacrifices that the magnitude of such an undertaking renders necessary, that beneffit of £200,000 will appear inadequate to compensate all charges; and we would find ourselves loaded with all the immense evils of details without reaping the least advantage. No doubt, gentlemen, you will think it equitable to leave us some certainty of these advantages; and it is easy for you to find that compensation in allowing us a commission on the sale of the remainder of your land; especially if you consider that their quick sale will be by the natural consequence of our labour and successes.

The terms of payment are in too quick a succession when we consider all what is to be done before the sale begins. It is unquestionable that by conveying Frenchmen on the spot immediately, that others will go and join them; they must consequently invite the first settlers, by all possible advantages. These advantages should consist either in setting the land at a cheaper rate, in granting easy terms for payments, or in selling them the said lands on a redeemable rent; and finally in leasing those lands to them. It is by those means that we could begin our settlements with a number of Frenchmen dispersed throughout this continent that the unhappy events of their country have reduced the greatest part of them to the only resources of their spirit and industry. Mean while, the terms of our provisional agreement deprive us of those means, both by the clause which obliged us not to sell under £600 per acre as well as the one which obliges us to remitt to you the fourth part of the price of our own purchase the first day of May 1793 and the other three fourths the following years at the same period. We then ask of you, gentlemen, to take the whole of these matters into your consideration and convinced that the glory of your being usefull to your country, in settling one of its unhabitted provinces, must equall the pecuniary advantages for you which will result there-from. We do not hesitate to propose to you, firstly, to postpone for one year the term of our first payment, and afterwards to fix and divide the other payments in such a manner as to be more analogous with our views and means.

The provisional agreement leaves the article of the advances, by the reasons which are necessary to ascertain. Colonel Duer has since acquainted us with ideas on the arrangements to take on that account. But as these arrangements appear to issue from the whole of the business, we will make it the particular subject of a letter to him hereafter.

We wish also to converse with you, gentlemen, respecting the survey of the land. That object is of the greatest importance. It is by the celerity and accuracy with which it will be performed that depend the whole succes of that business. Our intention is to cause a survey to be made and an exact description of each lot, which will be exposed for sale, but this opperation is subordinate to yours from which it is but a subdivision. If it is requisite that our purchasers should know what we sell to them, it is natural that we should on our part know what we buy. An exact division of each township, their survey, and their interior description: this is what regards you. The subdivision of each township, the survey of each lot, and the particular description is what is left for us to do; but we cannot begin this work untill such time that yours will end; and what renders it the most urgent is that we cannot publish a plan, nor open any sale untill our own survey is made, and that all the points upon which we are now treating be entirely determined.

We have in the survey that the Baron de Steuben has caused to be made of his lands in the county of Montgomery,235 the most perfect model of what you and us have to make, so as to put our land in a proper train for sale; and in what concerns us, we mean to follow the plan that he has executed, and which he has had the kindness to shew to us.

The provisional agreement mentions of a vessel which for the first year ought to be to your own charges, and designed to transport the emigrants from New York to the place; but this article has remained in suspense. We can assure you, gentlemen, that not any thing would be more usefull than the execution of that idea which was suggested to us by Colonel Duer.

Communications are really frequent from Boston to Penobscot, but scarce from Penobscot to Frenchman’s Bay, although it be nearer. Besides, the existing communications betwixt these two last mentioned places is done but by crafts which would not answer our object. The emigrants would be obliged to stop at Boston and at Penobscot, and there wait for their passages, and exposed to expences which such a delay would occasion and which our intention is to avoid, as well for their as our own interest. We think that the sum to buy and equip that vessel in question would before long produce its interest; it could be look’d upon as a packet upon which every body would pay his passage, the price of which would be gradual even by the emigration; besides the emigrants, this vessell could be proffitably employed in shipping all necessary materials for the colony, and other materials called for by private individuals who will begin to trade. An arrangement of this kind will secure a more active and brisk communication and present means of economy which alone can influence many to join our settlement.

Without doubt, gentlemen, you will also think proper to stipulate in the definitive arrangement which we are on the eve of terminating some conditions which have not been otherwise but verbal between us. Such are that you will not begin the sale of your land but one year after the sale of ours, that of not selling the said land at a lower price that we will set upon ours. Finally that you will reserve for us some of the townships joining to the land which we are now about buying and not to open your sale but in the adjoining townships.

Such are, gentlemen, the demands we are about making to you; we thought it convenient to accompany with motives that induced us to make them, and we hope that they will appear to you founded upon sound principles and equity.

The recapitulation is:

1st, to clear the sea shore and particularly the three points described on Union Bay, on that of Taunton, and on that of Gould’s bourough’s, which we look upon as the most interesting entrances which we may open and upon which places we mean to carry on our first settlements.

2d, to begin as soon as the season allows it to open roads so as to penetrate in the interior parts of the country.

3d, to begin also as quick as possible a survey and a general description of the country and the exact division of its townships.

4th, we ask an interest in the sale of the remainder of your land which may offer us an ascertained compensation that we are not able to find in the actual price and arrangements.

5th, more indulgence for the terms of payment considering that we must grant it ourselves.

6th, an exact answer to the letter we address to Colonel Duer.

7th, that a vessell be ready in March for the use of the emigrants and the colony.

8th, that the company doeth bind itself not to expose its own land for sale but at least one year after our sales are opened.

9th, that the aforesaid company engages it self to sell the said land upon the same terms as ours.

10th, that the aforesaid company obliges it self likewise not to expose for sale the townships joining ours to any other person or persons and to reserve them for us.

We will conclude, gentlemen, with reminding you how interesting it is for the succes of the whole of this business that neither of the parties experiences the least delay, and to improve the time that remains from this to next spring, to prepare all the materials and conclude the whole of our projects, so as to leave nothing else to do, but to put them into execution as soon as the working season will allow it. To aid that celerity which we think so important, we will go to Philadelphia as soon as you will think proper and that you will warn us of it.

We have the honor to be with greatest consideration gentlemen

your most humble and most obedient servants

Bacler de leval

De la Roche

A translation from the French.

At the same time, they prepared a statement in French for the information of their fellow countrymen who might be interested in joining them in their attempt to provide in Maine an asylum for French displaced persons:

Plan of Association for the Settlement of Maine Lands on the Part of Madame de Leval [undated] [BP]236

Dans la scituation, ou se trouvent a la fois beaucoup de français, dans leur Patrie, dans les colonies, & nombre de ceux qui dans ce moment si sont Rependus sur le territoire des Etats Unis; plusieres personnes ont pensé, que Travailler au Moyen de réunir leurs Compatriottes, en allant choisir eux mêmes quelque place, ou cette Réunion put s’efectuer avec Avantage, étoit une Entreprise digne des français, & si sont Aventures.237

La situation de l’affaire du Scioto, le sort Incertain des français, qui sont Etablis dans cette Partie, la Guerre qui Existe de ce costé, désigné dans le Principe aux Emigrains, comme un point de Railliement; son Eloignment des Provinces attlentiques, & la difficulté des Communications, on déterminé beaucoup de Collons a en Revenir, & Empêché beaucoup d’autres de sy rendre; il a donc falu chercher, dans le Continent, un Nouveau point, pour y Receuiller & fixer Nombre de familles; & de gens honetes, qui n’ont pas encore pu y trouver la vie Independente & tranquille, qu’ls y étaient venus Chercher.

Les Renseignements, que l’on avait donné sur les terres de la Province du Maine, ont déterminé quelques personnes, a Entreprendre le Voyage pour virifier par elles mêmes, la situation des Lieux, & les avantages quel on en pouroit Espérer; voicy les Observations Généralls qu’elles ont été aportée de faire sur le Pays.

La Situation

Depuis la Baye de Penobscot, ou en partant de Boston, l’on commence a se raprocher des terres; le Pays se represente d’une Maniére Infiniment favorable.

Le continent séparé de L’ocean par une longue suite D’Isles, qui le couvre, se trouve par tout bordé par des Bayes spacieuses & d’une Navigation aisée; il n’y a peutêtre pas dans le Mond entier d’endroit aussi Abondent en havres commodes & surs; les cotes ni sont point Escarpées, mais dessendent en pente douce & Facile, vers le Rivage; plusieres rivieres apres avoir arosé L’Interieur du pays, viennent se jetter dans les Bayes, qui souvent se prolongent elles mêmes dans les terres, & par ce Moyen Multiplient les Communications.

Son Climat

Le Pays dont il sagit, est situé entre le 44 & le 45e degré de Latitude; c’est a dire, 3 degres moins au Nord que Paris.

D’aprés les Observations Miteorologiques faites a New York, Boston, & sur les Lieux; on est absolument fondé a croire, que le froid n’y est pas plus fort qu’a Boston, & peut être même qu’á New York; surtout lors que le Pays sera decouvert: suivant le Raport des habitans, les Neiges couvrent la terre, commencement 3 mois de l’annee; mais aussitost qu’elles sont tombées, le tems est beau souvent pour un mois entier, & la force du soleil, fait alors Éprouver la Chaleur, en dépit de L’hyver! la Durée de ces Neiges retarde, il est vrai, la Vegetation; mais, elles dédomage amplement de ca Retard, en lui procurant plus d’activité. L’automne, y est toujours beau, le Climat Générallement sain, & on remarque parmi les habitans, un air de fraicheur, & de santé, peu common dans le reste du Continent.

Qualité des Terres

Celles qui bordent les Bayes, nous ont paru Excellentes, pour former des Prairies; beaucoup d’entre elles cependant sont Employées a la Culture, a mesure que l’on s’eloigne du Rivage, le sol Change sensiblement de Nature; & suivant le Raport de trois Cultivateurs allemands, Envoyes Expres, & qui ont pénétré jusqu’à 20 Milles dan L’Interieur du pays, on peut compter trouver des Terres propres a toutes Espéce de Culture!

Productions du Pays.

On y trouve le froment, le seigle, le Maiz, l’avoine, l’orge, le Pois, le Chamuze, & le lin, les Patades, les Carottes, les Navets, les Panays, choux, Citrovilles, Bettraves etc;238 tous ces objets y sont en asses grande quantité, & abundance ches quel qu’habitants, qui cultivent avec plus de soin, que la plus part des autres; pour nous donner la Certitude que des Agriculteurs places plus avant dans les terres, y cultiveroient avec le plus grand succes; non seulement toutes ces Productions, mais beaucoup d’autres encore jusqu’à ce Moment Etrangeres a ce pays. Le Chesne, le Pin, de plusieures espèces, le Chataignier, L’herable a sucre, y sont en asses grand quantité, le hêtre, le Boulleau, le Charme, le Tillientle, le Noisetier, le Noyer, le Cerisier sauvage, & les Cedre,239 sont les arbres que nous avons trouves de tous ces Cotes; les Rivages sont couverts d’une herbe Marine, qui parmi tous les avantages qu’on en peut tirer, offre Principalement un angrais aussi abondant qu’utile pour les terres.


Depuis l’Entrée de la Baye de Penobscot, il est tres rare que nous ayons vû sur le Rivage, plus de Deux Milles de distance, d’une habitation a une autre. Les Isles qui bordent le Continent; & qui forment la Baye, sont presque toutes habitées; nous comptions trouver le pays moins peuplé, a mesure que nous nous Eloignons; mais dans tous les points ou nous nous sommes portes, dans toutes les Bayes que nous avons visitées, toujours nous avons trouvé le rivage habité.


Si l’on en Excepte quelqu’ habitans appartenant a des personnes qui y ont porté des moyens, & quelque Connoisances euralles, L’agriculture est Infiniment néglegcé dans ce pays, nous y avons vû des fermes Etablis, & possedées par les mêmes propriétaires depuis 20 a 28 ans, sur les quelles a peine auroit on pu trouver 12 acres de terre en valeur. L’Education des Bestiaux, y est un Objet tres Important, mais leur Beauté est moins l’effect des soins que prennent les habitants pour les Elever, que celui des gras & Excellents Paturages, que la Nature a Placé dans cette Contrée.

La Pêche est Une de leur Principalles occupations, il y a peu d’endroits dans la monde, ou elle soit plus abondante; les Bayes & les rivières, leur fournissent des Poissons de toutes Espèces; le saumon surtout, y est en tres grande quantité; nous avons vû sous l’habitation d’une famille francaise, Etablie dans ce Pays, les Os de Neuf Baleines, qui avoient ete Bechées la saison derniere.

La Coupe des bois, est Une autre Branche de leur Industrie, les uns coupent le bois a brusler, ou Choisissent les bois propres a la Nature, qui y sont entre grande quantité; les autres font des Lattes, des Bardeaux, pour couvrir les Maisons, d’autres Exploitent dans leurs moulins, a faire des Planches, & des Madriers; plusieurs s’occupent avec Succés, a faire de la soude, de la Potasse, du Bray; & ils transportent le tout a Boston, ou ils peuvent se rendre en 36 heures, avec un Vent favorable, & ou Ils trouvent le débit facile de tous ces objets. La Chasse dont Ils s’occupent, Principalement pendant l’hyver, leur fournit tout le Gibier de Plume, qul’ on trouve dans le reste de L’amerique, le lievre, le Cerf, le Daim, & l’ours y sont en tres grande quantité. Nulle partie du Continent reproduit le Chamize, & le Lin, d’une plus belle qualité; mais Ils ne s’occupent point asses de cette Production Interessante, & dont Il est facile de tirer le plus grand parti.

Telles sont en General, les Observations que l’on a été aportée de Faire, sur les lieux mêmes; & leur résultat a été de convaincre que tous homme, ou toute Société qui partere dans cette Contrée du Courage, & de l’industrie, poura avec de faibles Moyens, s’y procurer, d’abord les Résources Nécessaries a la Vie; & avant peu tout ce qui concourre a la rendre Commode & Agrèable; Pénétres de cette Vérité, apres avoir analizé, avec soin, les Resources qu’offrait cette Contrée, avoir opposé scrupuleusement ses Inconveniens, & ses avantages, la Masse des derniers ayant paru si forte audessus de Celle des autres, ils seront détermines a sy fixer; & a y choisir Egalement la retraite de plusieures familles françaises, qui leur avoient donné leur Confiance; & pour les quels Ils avoient pouvoir d’agir; leurs vües & leurs Résolutions ont été Partagés, des L’Instant même, par les Cultivateurs dont ils s’etient fait accompagner dans leur Examen, & Ils n’ont point hezité, quoy que l’on étoit deja au mois de Novembre, a Rester sur les lieux, dans une habitation Acquise pour les loger; de retour pres des Proprietaires de ses terres, ces personnes ont Acquis une quantité asses considérable, pour y former Une Colonie Respectable, & Ils se proposent de Concèder, ou Ceder, une partie de ces terres, a ceux de leurs Compatriottes qui voudront se joindre a Eux.

Plan D’association

La Portion de terre acquise est d’environs 116 Mil acres, tout d’un Morceau, faisant cependant partie de plusieurs Acquisitions; le Propriétaire de cette Portion, destine 60 Mil acres de ses terres, a être divisées en lots de Mil acres, & Cedées a 60 familles de ses Amis & des leurs, aux Conditions suivantes.

1. l’action sera de prix Principal, 5000 . . Payable en quatre Payements Egaux de 1250 le premier du en souscrivant, & les autres trois d’annee en annee, du jour de la souscription; mais comme dans toutes affaires, ou les fonds se sont a Epoque, Il est Essentiel d’assurer les rentrées, & par consequent de prendre des mesures, qui éloignent du Nombre des soucripteurs, toutes personnes qui voudroient s’aventurer légerement dans cette Affaire; L’actionnaire qui Manqueroit a son Second Payement; perdra son premieur payament; & son Action rentrera dans la Masse de celles a Placer; les 1250 provenant du premieur Payement, seront verses dans une Caisse Généralle de la société, pour être Employes a quelqu’objet d’utilité Publique.

2. a l’Epoque de la souscription, Il sera delivré un titre D’action, a L’actionnaire, qui luy donnera droit a Mil acres de Terres; & deux lots de Ville, Movennant par luy de Remplir les Engagements attaches a la d’Action.

3. a l’Epoque de son Second Payement, it luy sera delivré un contrat en forme de Mil acres de terres, sur lequel Il Sera gardé un hypotique, pour les deux Payements a faire.

4. les mil acres seront en un lot de 920 acres, a Choisir sur une portion de 100, Mil acres; mais cependant tout d’un morceau, & seulement a Choisir sur les Terrains vacants. 2. en un lot de 80 acres, dans la banlieu de la Ville.

5. chaque actionnaire aura Attaché a son action deux lots de Ville, d’un tiers D’acre.

6. L’arrivée de L’actionnaire, ou sa Procuration, sera le seul Rang pour la préférance du Choix des Terres Anexées a l’action, & ce Choix ne poura Exister que sur les Terres non Choisies, & non occupées; S’il arrivoit plusieurs Actionnaires, ou plusieurs Procurations, la datte de leur souscription, ou le sort, décidera des Rangs pour la préferance du Choix.

7. Plusieurs personnes pouront se Réunir & se partager, une Action; mais l’action ne sera jamais qu’une, pour toutes les Conditions Réciproques.

8. Un Actionnaire ne poura avoir plus de deux actions en propriété, amoins qu’il n’ait des Enfants, presqu’ en Age de Majorité.

9. Tout actionnaire, sera Obligé de faire son choix des Terreins annexes a l’action, dans les premieurs six mois, apres la souscription.

10. Tout Propriétaire de lot de Ville, sera tenu a Batir dessus, une Barrique quelconque, dans l’année, de sa souscription; & a une Rente anuelle de 6, qui sera Employée a former Un Revenue A la Ville, pour être Employé a la Construction des Objets de première Nécessité, Telle qu’une Eglise, Une Maison pour Recevoir les Malades, pour y être traites par le Médicin Chirurgien de la société.

11. Tout actionnaire, en souscrivant, sera Tenu a Rembourcer les frais D’arpentage de ses lots, & au défrichement de ses lots de Ville; ce qui sera a peu pres une somme de 48.

12. Lorsque 12 Actions seront souscrites, il sera choisi, par les souscripteurs, un bon Chirurgien Medecin, aqui Il sera assuré une pension ou traitement de 2400; a la Charge par luy de fournie les drogues, & de Traiter tous les Malades de la société; pour cet Objet il sera fait un Appel de fonds de 200 par actionnaire; & a Sure & mesure que les actionnaires arriveront, cette Charge sera partagée, & les premiers actionnaires seront Rembources au Prorata.

13. Lors qu’il y aura 24 Actions de souscrittes, Il sera Choisi un Prêtre, a qui on fera une Pension de 2400; a la Charge par luy d’éxercer son Ministere, & de se procurer ce qui est nécessaire pour cela.

14. les Commissions se seront par tous entre les mains de ceux qui en auront les pouvoirs da la société.

15. Les Scoucriptions ne se feront qu’a Boston, & devront être faites dans les six Mois de la Soumission, au Bureau que la société désignera & que Mr. Perkins240 Indiquera, le Premier Payement se fera a la Banque de Boston ou Ils resteront déposes, pour le Payement des Terres.

16. En souscrivant, il sera payé 48 pour les frais D’arpentage, donc

l’action sera de prix Principal


A la Pension faite au Medecin & Curé de 80 ce qui est un Capital de


La Rente de 12 pour les deux lots de Villedont le Capital


Ce qui porte L’action a 6.11.6241


17. Il ne sera fait aucun Appel de fonds, autre que ceux Mentionnes dans le précédent article; & l’actionnaire ne sera pas Obligé, d’entrer dans Aucunes spéculations Particulières, autre que celle Relative a son Action.

18. S’il se construit sur les terres destinées a l’Emplacement de la Ville, des Maisons asses Grandes & Clauses pour Contenir L’actionnaire, sa famille ses Ouvriers, & ses effets; les quelles seront vendües, ou Loüées a l’actionnaire, au prix courant, compris L’Interets des Avancees a 6%.

19. Il sera fourni sur les lieux, toutes les Provisions & Marchandises de premiere Nécessité, au prix Courant, jusqu’a ce que l’actionnaire ait pris des Arrangements, pour se les procurer luy même.

20. la Premiere loy de la société de l’Union française, devant être de se rendre Mutuellement service, tout actionnaire sera administrateur, & Régisseur, & les Premiers Arrives Recevront les autres; & les dirigeront dans leur démarché, relativement a leur Etablissement; a fin de leur Éviter de fausses démarchés, & des Dépences Inutiles.

21. Ceux qui seront Authorises a placer des actions, parmi leurs Parents, & leurs Connoissances, se souviendront que le Choix de L’actionnaire, étant Regardé, comme le Baze sur laquelle Posera L’Etablissement, & le Bonheur de la Colonie, Ils auront soin de ne placer d’actions, qu’a des personnes asses Raisonnables, pour Oublier le passé, & pour Employer le Present, a se procurer un avenir heureux & tranquil; pour Eux & leurs Enfants, ils se souviendront, que nous desirons former une société de soixante familles honetes, a peu près du même sistême & opinion & Education; a fin d’éviter ces discutions qui entrainment l’aigreur, & les disputes; que nous desirons enfin nous Convenir, & que prives des Agréments de notre Ancienne patrie, nous puissons Retrouver dans celle cy, le Charme de la société; ce Beaume si nécessaire pour nous Consoler de nos pertes, & nos Malheurs; telles sont, telles doivent être les Principes de la société de L’union française; nous devons respecter & suivre les Loix qui sont Etablis dans le Pays ou nous trouvons un Azille; pendant six ans nous devons jouir de l’Exemption des Taxes & L’Etat de Masachusette s’occupe dans ce Moment de faire un loy, qui nous assure toute sûreté pour nos acquisitions; sans être obligées a la Naturalisation, n’y sujets au droit D’aubenne,242 & on sollicitera Une loy, qui nous Permet L’Importation de tous les meubles & Effets a nôtre Usage, avec Exemption de droits; nous aurons le droit de nous faire Incorporer en société, c’est a dire que la société se gouvernera par elle même, d’apres les loix & Coutumes Etablies dans les Etats Unis, & Nommera ses Representans, ses Juges, & tous les officiers de Justice.

Enfin nous sommes assures de la Protection & dépendance Immediate de l’Etat de Masachusette, dont nous faisons nôtre Patrie; on a cru devoir joindre a ce plan & association quelques Nottes sur différents Objets, a fin que ceux qui voudront prendre Interets dans cette Affaire, puissent se former Une Idée des différentes spéculations qu’il voudront faire, soit particulier, soit en l’associants plusieurs Ensemble pour le même Objet, ce qui sera toujours d’un Grand Avantage.

Nottes ou Observations

La Maniére d’affermer, est de partager les bénéfices, ou produits par Moytié.

Ordinairement les Beaux sont de 3.6. & 9 annees; on prendre pour Exemple une ferme de 100 Acres.

Il faut qu’il y ait 20 acres de défriches, ce qui coûte 42 par acre



Les 100 acres a 5



Il faut les Bâtiments, de la ferme, ce qui peut être Evalué a



M. Il faut




2 Beufs



2 vaches



6 moutons



2 cochons



Poulles, Dindons & Canards






Suposons 600.


Mais il ne faut compter que la Rente a 6%



Il en est de même de la Maison



De qui ajouté au prix des terres






On peut donc calculer que la ferme ne coûtera de Principal que



Mais dans le Moment elle est de



Les 20 acres de terres doivent produire au moins 15 Boisseaux Nimporte de quoy Bled, Avoine, Pommes de Terres, ou l’Equivalent en foin; on ne compter a que 10 Boisseaux par acre, que il porterai a 50 l’un portant l’autre, quoy quils se vendent 4 & meme. 5 . .

Les 20 acres Rapporteront 200 Boisseaux a 50243 £500. . Moité cy—£250 .. par ce qui n’a Couté de Principal que 2500, c’est comme si l’on voit place son argent a 10 P. Cent.

Mais le fermier obligé de rendre aussi motié des Bestieux produits par ceux qui luy naissent dans l’année; & outre cela, Il fault quil Entretriume sa ferme, & au bout de leurs Beaux, Ils sont Obligés de Remettre la ferme, dans l’Etat quils l’ont Recüe; & on les oblige a un défrichement de 2 a 3 acres par année.

Note Relativement aux Ouvriers

Pour le siotto on Engageoit pour 3 ans, on payoit le Passage de france en Amérique, & du port sur lex lieux; on le Nourissoit, & l’habilloit, & au bout de 3 ans, on leur donnoit 50 acres de Terre, la Nouriture pour Une année, Une Vache & Ustancilles Nécessaire; mais tout cela a la Charge de la Redevance d’un Boisseau par acre.

On peut bien juger qu’un Pareil Engagement ne pouvoit pas être protegé par la Loy; était il juste de faire payer une Redevance de plus de motié de la valeur du prix de l’acre de terre? était il juste d’Exiger 50 Boisseaux de Redevance? lorsque pour ce prix, Il pouvoit avoir l’acre en propriété? aussi est il arrivé qu’aucune personne venüe pour le siotto, n’a pu garder un seul de ses ouvriers; ils sont tous desertes, & Comme les Engagements faits avec eux étaient Injustes, les maitres n’ont pas pu faire agir la loy; & ils en ont été pour leurs frais de Transport.

On peut dans la province Du Main, faire des arrangements plus a l’avantage des ouvriers; les Résources, l’avantage que peut procurer la Proximité de Boston; la scituation de l’Etablissement sur les bords de la mer, rend les défrichements une Branche de spéculation; on peut dont donner a un bon ouvrier 300 de Gages, & la Nouriture, ce qui en tout achetant ne peut pas passer 600, & voiez, comme on peut calculer la Chose.

Un Ouvrier peut au moins faire sa Corde de bois par jour; mais nous ne Compterons que 300 Cordes de bois; ce qui est vendu sur les lieux meme 2/6 de Boston, ou 44 de france, ce qui fait 660. ..

L’acre de Terre Contient de 3 a 400 Cordes de bois, un homme peut donc défricher un acre, & en mettre les arbres en corde dans un an, &

pour défricher un acre, nous avons dit qu’il en coutoit


ainsy 300 Cordes que l’ouvrier a tire




L’ouvrier a donc porte & il coute que


reste—positivement en Benefice

102 cy £102

Il faut a present Cauculer, que l’acre défriché & mis en valeur, doit Rapporter au moins 10 Boisseaux de Grains quelconques, & compter seulement a 50, qui feroient 25, Otons en la moytée & frais de culture, & suposons même que l’acre ne Rapporte que 6, c’est un

un Capital de


donc L’ouvrier Rapportera


Ce Calcul i est fait sur le bois a Brusler, parce que tout Ouvrier peut faire du bois en Corde; mais si l’on faisoit ce Calcul sur tous les objets, dont on peut tirer avantage, par les défrichements dans cette partie de l’Amérique, telle que les Essentes, les merains, les Bardeaux, les Lattes, les Planches, les Potasses,244 alors l’on trouveroit un Bénéfice Incroyable mais icy on se borne a prouver que les défrichements de 300 Acres seront suffisants pour payer les ouvriers, les terres, & même l’Etablissement, & donnerons outre cela Un Revenu plus que suffisant pour vivre heureux dans ce pays.

En Planches

Beaucopy de Moulins sont Etablis dans cette partie, le maitre rend Motiés, c’est a dire que si un arbre porté au Moulin donne 200 pieds de Planches, Il y en a 100 pour le propriétaire de l’arbre; on vend sur les lieux le pied 7d. suposons qu’il ne revient au Propriétaire qu 3d. par pied, or une logue d’un pied de Diamettre, dont donner au moins 8 Planches d’un pouce sur 20 de Long; suposons motié, a qui fait 72 pieds de planchs, par arbre, ce qui fera pour le propriétaire 17/6; Je suppose que 4 arbres fassent la Valeur d’une Corde, ce qui Rapportera 3–8245 Je ne porterois en Recette que 44 par jour, l’on voit donc par ces deux calculs, que l’ouvrier est toujours d’un grand Bénéfice, & que ce qui n’est pas propre a Brusler, l’est a faire des Planches, ou bois Equarry, & Je laisse la Partie des Essentes, lattes, Bardeaux, Merains, Potasses en Memoire pour être faits pendant les mois D’hyver.

Spéculation d’un Navire de go Tonneaux

Une Gaulette ou Sloop coûte a Boston de hazard

pres $1200

Tout Neuf


a peu pres en argent de france


Il fait de Boston a la Colonie, & de la Colonie a Boston 16 Voyages; il porte 50 Cordes de bois, ou 50 Mil de Planches, 400 Milles Chingles, ou Essentes 25 Milles de Mairains a sucre, ou 45000 de Briques.

Le bois a Brusler est vendu en Général, de 15 a 20 schellings, ce qui fait argent de france 13.10; un Sloop en portera dans L’année 800 Cordes ce qui fait

£10 800

Ordinairement on partage par tiers, un tiers au Marchand de bois, un tiers au Propriétaire & un tiers pour les frais du Capitaine, & de l’equipage.

Si le Marchand de bois a Un Sloop a luy II a les 2/3


Il faut d’eduire le prix de la façon a 44 sols par Corde




Donc en deux ans le Sloop peut être Remboursé.

Les Planches sont vendues dans L’Est de 5 a 6 Piastres,246 & Rendües a Boston de 8 a 10 Piastres les Mil Pieds.

Un sloop en peut Charger 50 Mil Pieds pour


par voyage,

si on les achete II faut deduire la Moitee



& Il restera

125.0 a


16 voyages luy Rapportereont



les frais de l’Equipages sont de 40 Piastres par mois, Il


ne faut compter que 8 mois ce qui fait 320 Piastres




Pendant les 4 Mois d’hyver le Sloop peut être Envoyé aux Isles.

Travaïl de Vouvrier

Pour abattre les arbres d’un Acre de Terre, Il faut en Général 3 Journées d’un bon Ouvrier. Pour les Ebrancher 12 Journées. Entout 15 Journées.

On peut donc sans l’Exagerer Croire qu’un ouvrier peut defricher entièrement deux acres par mois; suposons 20 dans son Année.

Nous avons dit que l’ouvrier couteroit par an


Je suppose que l’acre ne Raporte que 6., les 20 Rapporteront 120


ce qui fait Un capital de


Si on vouloit entrer dans tous les Calculs, des différentes Branches de spéculation que présente la scituation, & les Productions de la Province Du Main, on donneroit Un Tableau si séduisant, que l’on pouroit le croire Exagéré; on se borne donc a ce qui vient d’être dit, pour prouver que tous ceux qui avec du Courage, de L’Intelligence, & quelques Moyens, viendront se Fixer dans cette Partie pouront être amplement dédomages des Peines Inséparables de tout Nouvel Etablissment; tout dépendra du Caractère que l’on Apportera dans cette Entreprise, & du Choix que l’on fera des ouvriers: on Conseil que Actionnaires d’en avoir au moins de Basse Cour, & fïlleuses, les Bûcherons, les faireurs de Mairins, des Lattes, & de Bardeaux, d’essentes, & de Briques Maçons & Charpentiers sont les Ouvriers qui sont Preferables, dans les Commencements; des allemands, des gens de la Nouvelle Angleterre, sont ceux a qui on doit donner la Préférence; Il seroit dangereux dans ce moment, de prendre des ouvriers de france.

Engager un homme pour plusieures années, s’est s’exposer a avoir pendant ce tems un Mauvais sujet; Il vaut donc mieux l’Engager par mois, ou faire avec luy telle Condition qu’il ne poura pas s’en aller de L’année, mais qu’il poura être Renvoyé, s’il étoit Mauvais sujet; parce qu’il faut quelque Chose qui Lie, sans cela, le moindre Caprice pouroit le Faire quitter son Maitre, & alors l’on se trouveroit sans ouvriers, dans des Moments Urgents: out [?] Ouvrier Engage Volontairement, & par devant deux témoins, & l’Engagement Ratifié devant le Juge a la Paix de l’Endroit ou l’on demeure, est Maintenu par la Loy, avec la plus grande Rigueur, Un Maitre peut Reprendre par tout son Ouvrier; se faire dêdomager par ce luy qui l’auroit Recü, ou débauché, & l’ouvrier obligé de servir, deux fois autant de tems qu’il a été dehors, audessus de son tems d’Engagement; ce Renseignement est suffisant, pour Indiquer la Manière d’Engager des Ouvriers.

En General la Nouriture est Calcullée sur deux livres de Pain, une livre de viande sallée, & un Verre de Rum.

A present la viande sallée coûte 5s 3d la Livre, & les habitants du pays Échangent si l’on veut deux livres de Viande fraiche, contre une de sallée.

En General le Baril de Beuf sallé Coûtea Boston 8 Dollars


Le Baril de 200d pezt.


LePorkde 10 a 11 Do


La farinne 6 Do

33. 8

farinne seigle 3 Do


Le Ris 3 Piastres le 100 [?] pezt.


Le Rum par Gallon de 4 Boutelle 3—10


La Viande fraiche se procure sur les lieux meme.


Beuf & veau

4 a 6


la farinne a peu près

3 a 3.8


le Pain doit etre a peu près



Un Sloop de 90 Tonneaux Peut Porter


En sucre

60 a 65 Bariques


En farinne

700 a 750 Bis. de 200


En Essentes

350 a 400 Bottes de 1000


En Planches

45 a 50 Mil pieds


En Mairins a sucre

22 a 25 Bottes de Mil


En Briques

40 a 45 Milliers


Les Essentes se vendent a Boston de 10 a 12 schellings de 8.15 a 10.10

Les Briques se vendent a Boston 4 Piastres, 21., & elles ne Couteront pas plus de 2 a faire Faire Au Main, ou la Terre est Excellente pour cela, dans beaucoup d’endroits près de la mer.

Une Charüe Complette Coûtera sur les lieux 8 piastres ou 42.

Un Joug Complet 2 Drs.


une hache a Boston 1 Do


Un Chariot a peu près 20 Do

108 ..

la Construction d’un Moulin a scie Environ


En General la main d’oeuvre est très chere en Amérique.

Un Maître Charpentier, Maçon, Menuisier, Briquetier, Coûte a peu près trois louis par Mois; & Il faut les Nourir, loger, & Blanchir.

Un Domestique Coûte de 6 a 8 Piastres par mois & Noury—£42

Une servante par semaine 2.19.6 par an 130 a 150

Une Tonne de Foin pezant 2000 d.—42

Une Charge de Paille pezt 1000d—10.16

En General tous les Objets D’ammeublements, & d’Usage particuliers, ils se trouvent en Amérique; mais très Chers; & on Conseil a ceux qui auront leurs Meubles, & leurs Linges, de l’aporter; parceque le port ne Coûtera jamais aussi cher, que d’acheter icy ces Objets.

Le Fil, les souliers, le Papier, le Vin, L’Eau de vie, les livres, sont dans ce Pays d’une Chereté Extravagante.

Map of Madame de Leval’s First Purchase from Duer and Knox. The handwriting is that of Madame de Leval.

Map of Madame de Leval’s holdings in Trenton, where the headquarters of the French colony were to be.

So far, the prospects were pleasing. The French were satisfied with the lands themselves, and their requests for “doors” on seashore could probably be met without much difficulty. Late in 1791 General Jackson journeyed to Philadelphia to give his principals the latest information he had on the matter, and on 14 January 1792 a contract was drawn up:

Knox-Duer, La Roche-Leval Contract, 14 January 1792 [BP]248

ARTICLES of agreement made and entered into this fourteenth day of January one thousand seven hundred ninety two between Henry Knox and William Duer of the first part and Jean Baptiste de la Roche and Madame B. de Laval of the second part, viz.:

Article 1st.

It is agreed between the parties that the parties of the first part shall sell, and they do hereby agree to sell, to the parties of the second part a tract of land situated in the Province of Maine so called, lying between the bays of Penobscot and Passamagoddy and consisting of the Townships Nos. 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16 west of Machias, and one half of such parts of the township of Trenton as are undisposed of by Mr. Gregoire or unclaimed by setlers, the said half to be taken as much as possible in one tract and to border on Township No. 8 and on the township of Sullivan.

Article 2.

The parties of the second part do hereby agree to purchase of the parties of the first part the tract of land above mentioned and to pay for the same at the rate of three livres or fifty six cents for every acre which shall be conveyed to them to be paid in six yearly instalments, that is to say one sixth part to be paid on the first of May one thousand seven hundred ninety four, one sixth part to be paid on the first of May one thousand seven hundred ninety five, one sixth part to be paid on the first of May one thousand seven hundred ninety six, one sixth part to be paid on the first of May one thousand seven hundred ninety seven, one sixth part to be paid on the first of May one thousand seven hundred ninety eight, and one sixth part to be paid on the first of May one thousand seven hundred ninety nine.

Article 3d.

It is agreed between the parties of the first and second part that the Townships Nos. 20, 21, 22, 26, 27 and 28 west of Machias shall not be disposed of to any other person before the first of January one thousand seven hundred ninety three in order that the parties of the second part may have their option, during the whole of that period, of taking those townships on the same terms as to price and periods of payment as are stipulated for the townships now actually contracted for and first above mentioned.

Article 4.

The parties of the first part do hereby agree not to offer any of their lands lying between the bays of Passamagoddy and Penobscot for sale in France, previous to the first of January one thousand seven hundred and ninety three, nor will they sell any single townships in America at less price than two thirds of a dollar per acre during the same period.

Article 5.

The parties of the first part do hereby agree that the Townships Nos. 8 and 9 shall be cleared of setlers, and a road be cut through each of the townships now contracted for at their own expence.

Article 6.

It is further agreed that a proper survey of the bounds of each township now sold shall be made as early as possible at the expence of the parties of the first part, and that as far as is consistent with such survey, it shall be accompanied with a general discription of each township.

Article 7.

The parties of the second part do hereby agree that a proper vessell shall be kept going from the setlement to such part as may be necessary for the use of the colony to be provided and kept at their own expence.

Article 8.

The parties of the first part do hereby agree to advance to the parties of the second part the sum of fourteen thousand dollars, reimboursable one half in one year, and the other half in two years from the time of the advances with interest at six per cent per annum, the said advances to be applied to promoting the actual setlement of the lands now contracted for, and such expences as are necessarily incident thereto.

Article 9.

It is mutually agreed that the sum mentioned in the foregoing article shall be paid in manner following, to wit, to Madame de Leval previous to her departure for France one thousand one hundred and ten dollars or six thousand livres. To Mr. de la Roche on or before the first of April one thousand one hundred and ten dollars or six thousand livres. And the remainder of the sum shall be drawn for from time to time as disbursments on account of the setlement shall render it necessary.

Article 10.

In order to render the terms of reimbursement more clearly understood, it is agreed that the period of reimbursement of the several sums advanced shall be esteemed to commence from the time each thousand dollars is advanced, that is, so soon as any sum not less than one thousand dollars is advanced, such sum shall be payable with interest one half in one year, and one half in two years from the time such advance was compleated.

Article 11.

The parties of the first part do further agree that they will execute good and sufficient warrantee deeds for the lands before mentioned, to wit: for the Townships Nos. 8, 9, 14, 15, 16 and part of Trenton as specified in the first article of this agreement and on delivery of the said deeds, the parties of the second part do agree to execute a sufficient mortgage of the whole of the said lands to the parties of the first part, as well for securing the reimbursement of the advances before mentioned as for securing the several payments stipulated in the second article.

In witness whereof, the parties to these presents have herewith set their hands and seals the day and year above mentioned.

Sealed and delivered in the presence of

Witnesses to the parties of the first part

    • Ben Walker
    • Johannes Le Feber [?]

Witnesses to the parties of the second part

    • H Knox
    • Wm. Duer

[Seals torn off]

    • De la Roche
    • Bacler de Leval
    • Lezay-Marnésia249

With this contract drawn up, it now became necessary for Henry Jackson to acquire the additional land which the French wanted. His dealings with the Massachusetts Land Committee in connection with the purchase of six additional townships have already been discussed.250 Now he wrote Major Lemuel Trescott of Passamaquoddy to buy the farms on Hog Bay and to pick up as well that part of Trenton which Colonel Nathan Jones had purchased of De Gregoire.251 Once these additional properties had been acquired, the French colony would have easy access to Frenchman’s Bay and the Atlantic.

The bankruptcy of Duer came as a severe body blow to those engaged in this promising venture. As with the rest of his concerns, Duer’s difficulties brought plans for the French colony to a standstill. Obviously, the promised advances could not be made, and as has been previously related, there was grave question whether or not the basic contract itself could be fulfilled. What was more to the point, if the payments to Massachusetts were not promptly made, Duer and Knox could not possibly give the French their deeds. And the French, quite understandably, were chary of embarking on deedless land ventures, all the more so after the Scioto fiasco. Finally, the success of Fontaine Leval and the colony as a whole depended upon inducing French families to emigrate from Europe, and without a secure title, this would be difficult to accomplish in view of the bad name which the Scioto affair had given American land companies.

In desperation Madame de Leval now turned to Colonel Benjamin Walker, a New Yorker who had long been associated with Duer. Walker it was who had been sent by the directors of the Scioto Company to France in 1790 to investigate the reasons for Barlow’s failure as a land agent. Though there is no specific record of his having known Madame de Leval in France, he was intimately associated with the whole Scioto development, and since he returned to the United States in the spring of 1791, he was presumably in close touch with the problems of the French who had been dupes of the Scioto speculators.252 In any event, Walker proved to be very sympathetic to the plight of the lady and her followers. Though he failed in his attempts to get help from Duer and Knox, he promised to keep the interests of the French close to his heart. Duer himself, characteristically, went right ahead as if nothing had happened. Late in April he wrote D’Epremesnil urging him to accept the Maine lands instead of those in Ohio,253 while at the same time he made arrangements with one of D’Epremesnil’s agents, Bancel de Confoulens, to tour the Frenchman’s Bay region and report to France.254 To take care of the expenses of Bancel’s exploration, Duer coolly gave the Frenchman an order on Knox for fifty dollars.255 Finally, Royal Flint and Knox himself were able to scrape together some two thousand dollars for Madame de Leval, and with this backlog, she set out for Maine late in May, 1792.256 The lady stopped off in Boston to see General Jackson on her way down east; “Madame Laval is yet here, I wish her gone,” he wrote plaintively to Knox. After protesting to the General about her lack of deeds, she finally left for Fontaine Leval.257

“Notre amazone” was not to leave the promoters in peace for long however. Early in the summer she returned, claiming that her contract of the previous January had been broken and demanding a new one. Again she turned to Benjamin Walker, who wrote her:

Copy of a Letter from Benjamin Walker to Madame Leval, New York, 6 August 1792 [BP]

New York August the 6th 1792.

My dear Madam:

I am ashamed to have had a letter from you laying by me so long. The truth is that I felt so much for your situation and had so little encouragement to give you that I scarcely knew what to say to you. Before Mr. Casanove came on, Mr. Duer had been attempting to make some arrangements with his creditors to take the lands. But they did not seem inclined to take the affair up in any way that could prove beneficial. I went to Philadelphia and talked with General Knox and I believe that rather than the affair should have been totally lost he would have tried to exert himself, and I brought a letter from him pressing Mr. Duer to come to some positive determination as to what he would finally do. But you know how difficult it is to get him to any definite arrangements now. However I am happy to say that he is decided in accepting the propositions Mr. Casanove brought on. He is convinced that it is the best thing that could happen and promises that every thing on his part shall be done to facilitate your arrangements. The great difficulty that presented itself in this business was to furnish you the means of supporting what you have already done until these new arrangements can be carried into execution. You know that situated as he is, to raise money was impossible. Knox is not here and if he was it is not certain he would do anything. I was in hopes that Mr. Casanove, knowing as he does the situation of the affair, would have come forward on this occasion, but he shews no disposition. For myself I need not tell you the absolute impossibility of involving myself any further with Mr. Duer. In fact I am already ruined. And yet I am well aware that to leave you unsupported in the present moment is to destroy an affair which has now the most favourable prospects. I am convinced, to, that there is not a moment to lose. Under these considerations and with the implicit confidence I have in yourself and my good friend La Roche I have determined to exert myself and shall accordingly send you with this 1983 10/100 dollars. But in advancing this money you, my dear friends, must consider me as paying so much towards your new company, for which I am to have an interest in it in proportion to the amount. Such is my confidence in you both, and so firmly am I persuaded of the solidity of the affair if prudently managed that I risk this with a certainty that it will eventually help to retrieve my own affairs.

I take it for granted that to bring this matter to a conclusion it will be necessary for you to come on here and in this case I hope you will do Mrs. Walker and myself the pleasure of making our house your home. The children shall not disturb you. But before you come arrange everything. Consult your friends in Boston. Have your plans well digested and your papers all modelled and even drawn up ready to sign. I flatter myself we can push the matter through here in a very short time. We shall always find Duer at home. You cannot immagine how much pleasure I have felt from this prospect of relieving you from the cruel situation you have so long been kept in, and that our friend Duer’s interest is at the same time promoted adds to the pleasure. But let us strike whilst the iron is hot. I take it for granted you are sure of the State. Adieu. Be assured of the sincere attachment with which

I have the honor to be, etc

(signed) Ben Walker

By the end of August Duer and Knox proved willing to reopen negotiations with Madame de Leval, not because they had any deep sympathy with her unfortunate position, but rather because they hoped to use her to help extricate themselves from their difficulties with Massachusetts. If arrangements could be made with the State to have the French make payments directly to the Treasurer of the Commonwealth, at the rate of twenty cents an acre, for fourteen of the townships in the Penobscot Million, Duer and Knox might yet escape the consequences of their financial irresponsibility.258 Accordingly, in September, a new contract was drawn up:

Duer-Knox, Leval-La Roche Contract, 11 September 1792 [BP]259

It is agreed this day betwixt Jean Baptiste de la Roche, and Madame Bacler de la Val on the one part, and William Duer and Henry Knox, on the other part, in the manner, and form following, to wit,

1st. That the contract passed betwixt Henry Knox, and William Duer, on the one part, and Monsieur de la Roche and Madame Bacler de la Val on the other part of the 15th260 January last shall be considered as null and void: and that the same, being cancelled, shall be mutually exchanged, within thirty days from the present date.

2d. That William Duer and Henry Knox shall authorise the Committee of Lands for the State of Massachusetts to sell to Monsieur de la Roche, and Madame Bacler de la Val the following townships of land lying betwixt the rivers Schoodick and Penobscot, to wit, Townships Nos. 9, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28, 32, 33, 34, and that part of No. 8 which is not included in the grant of the State to Monsieur de Gregoire.

3d. That the terms on which the said sale shall be made shall be as follows, viz.,

1st. That the price of the lands shall be twenty cents per acre payable at the same periods as the general annual payments specified in the contracts of Messrs. Jackson and Flint and subject to the same rate of interest.

2d. That of the above sum, one moiety shall be past to the credit of the two last installments due on the general contract of Messrs. Jackson and Flint, of the first of July 1791, and the other moiety as a payment for the lands sold to Monsieur de la Roche, and Madame de le Val; provided always that the payments due on the contract of Jackson and Flint shall be respectively advanced one year from the periods heretofore agreed on; that is to say, that the payment due on the first day of June 1792 shall not be demanded before the first day of June 1793, that the payment due on the first day of June 1793 shall not be demanded before the first day of June 1794, and so on with all the other payments.

3d. That Mr. de la Roche and Madame de la Val shall covenant with the Committee to place on the lands ceded to them, twelve hundred and fifty settlers in the space of twelve years computed from the first day of July 1791, of which number four hundred settlers shall be settled in five years from the above date, one hundred settlers annually for the space of six years, and two hundred in the seventh year computed from the expiration of the above five years.

4th. That the whole number of settlers placed on the lands ceded to Monsieur de la Roche and Madame da la Val shall be past to the credit of the general contract of Messrs. Jackson and Flint of the first of July 1791

5. That the sale to Monsieur de la Roche and Madame de la Val shall be considered as a security to the State for bonds of sixty thousand dollars, as specified in the fourth article … of the contract of Messrs. Jackson and Flint of the 1st July 1791; provided always that the advantage of the sale of the above townships shall enure to, and be considered for the benefit of the State, if default should be made by Messrs. Jackson and Flint in the payments due on the said contract, agreeably to the above stipulations.

4th. Article. It is further agreed that Messrs. William Duer and Henry Knox shall sell to Mr. de la Roche and Madame de la Val that part of the township of Trenton which was included in the former contract of the fifteenth of January 1792; that is to say, one moiety of the lands purchased of Monsieur de Gregoire and lying in the above township; the above moiety to be taken within a line drawn from Jourdan River to Skilling River, and be bounded by the township of Sullivan.261

5th. That the price of the above land shall be twenty five cents per acre; and that the same price shall be allowed to Henry Knox and William Duer for the lands ceded in the Townships Nos. 8 and 9, notwithstanding it is exprest in the second article that the price to be paid to the State for the above townships shall be only twenty cents per acre.

6th. That the purchase made of Fontain de la Val shall be the right of Madame Bacler de la Val, and the titles of the same given to her.

7th. That on the agreement proposed to the State of Massachusetts by Messrs. Jackson, and Flint (as agents for Henry Knox and William Duer) taking effect, the advances made on account of the former agrement of the 15th of January last shall not be demandable; any thing in the said agreement to the contrary notwithstanding.

8th. That the payment of the lands lying in the township of Trenton shall be secured by a bond and mortgage given in the name of Henry Jackson with lawful interest, till paid, the said bond and mortgage to be given at the time when the deeds for the same are given by Henry Jackson, and to be payable in four years.

9th. It is understood that if it should be judged necessary by Madame de la Val and Monsieur de la Roche to run their line from the head of Jourdan River to No. 8, they are to be at liberty so to do; provided always that if by such mode of running the dividing line there should be, within the tract sold to Mr. de la Roche and Madame de la Val, a greater quantity of land than the moiety proposed to be sold by the fourth article, the quantity equal to such surplus shall be considered to be the property of Henry Knox and William Duer, subject however to the general regulations which may be established by Mr. de la Roche, Madame la Val, and their associates for the improvements of the lands in the township of Trenton.

10th. It is further agreed that the part of Township No. 8 which is included in the grant of the State to Mr. Gregoire is to be included in the sale made to Monsieur de la Roche and Madam de la Val, at the rate specified in the fifth article.

11th. It is mutually covenanted and agreed that, on the application of either of the parties to this agreement, such further legal instruments shall be executed for carrying into effect the intentions of the respective parties as exprest in the above articles, as by counsel learned in the law may be judged adviseable.

In witness whereof the parties to these presents have hereunto interchangeably set their hands and seals this eleventh day of September one thousand seven hundred and ninety two.

Sign’d, seal’d, and delivered in the presence of (the word “last” in the 8th line, Ist page, being first interlined),

  • Royal Flint
  • Robt. Wilson
  • Bacler de Leval, attorney for
  • J. B. de la Roche
  • Bacler de Leval
  • Wm. Duer
  • Wm. Duer, attorney for
  • Henry Knox

Coupled with this new contract was an agreement made a few days later between Duer and Charles Felix Bue Boulogne for the sale of all of the Penobscot Million that was not pledged to De Leval and De la Roche. By this arrangement Bue Boulogne was to make all the remaining payments to Massachusetts on the contract of 1 July 1791, which would leave the Kennebec Million as clear profit for the original promoters.262 This ingenious scheme for passing off on the French the entire financial responsibility for the speculation came to naught when the Massachusetts Land Committee, quite naturally, would have none of it. They had already reported the original contract to the legislature, they said, and would be severely criticized were they to change it. As Jackson wrote Knox:

H. Jackson to Knox, Boston, 23 September 1792 [KP]263

Boston September 23. 1792

My dear friend:

I have your favor of the 16th instant.

Madam Laval is here and very urgent to effect the object in view. On Wednesday last I handed Mr. Phillips and Mr. Jarvis (they are all the Committee present—Mr. Read is on a visit to Kennebec, and Mr. Wells and Coney are at their homes) our proposals to relinquish to the State 300,000 acres on the terms therein proposed. After two or three days conference on the subject and every influence made use of by Mr. Higinson264 and others, the Committee determined that as they had reported our agreement of July 1, 1791 to the legislature, which they had accepted and approved, it was out of their power to make any alteration in it without refering to the legislature. This was the determination of the two gentlemen and Mr. Phillips returned the same day to his family in Andover. As Mr. Read is expected this day or tomorrow, Mr. Jarvis was urged to send to Mr. Wells and have him here by the last of the week, which was concluded upon, and when he arrives Mr. Phillips can be here in twelve hours, then four out of five of the Committee will be present. Mr. Jarvis and Mr. Higinson are of opinion that the Committee will finally consent, provided we allow them the year’s interest which they will otherways loose by puting the whole of the payments one year forward. The interest will amount to near fifteen thousand dollars. I disputed allowing it with a determination to give it up if it finally rested on that point, as its clear the only object you had in view was time to make our first payment.

Thus the business at present rests.

As you say you have not heard from Mr. Duer since you left New York, I herewith enclose you a copy of all the papers I have received on the subject of the present negotiation, and I am clear in the opinion that if the Committee or the legislature finally acceed to the views of Madam Laval, it will be wholly owing to the advantages to the State, of the 5 article of the 3d article in Mr. Duer’s agreement with Mrs. Laval or the fourth article in Flint’s and my proposal to the Committee, for in fact, as that stands, should the Committee never be able or willing to give us the survey, they will have a right to demand the payment next June and if we are then deficient, on any other payment in the contract, even ever so small a part, we shall forfeit the whole of our advantage in the contract with Madam Laval, which will be more than 30,000 dollars. This will be held over us as a rod through the whole payments in the contract. I am also of opinion that your letter of the 22d of August to Mr. Duer did not authorise or imfower him to make any such article, and if Madam succeeds, it be wholly on the advantage of that article. This the Committee sees, and will improve it.

I frequently talk with Cousin Isaac.265 He appears willing, but there are difficulties with some of the branches of the family. It must take its own time.

I rejoice with you in the comfortable situation of Mrs. Knox. The little stranger is the finest and most healthy child of any you have had.266 Tender my particular regards to your brother. I think he has done right to return.

Your affectionate

H. Jackson

Thus matters rested for the time being. In October Madame de Leval and Monsieur de la Roche arrived in Boston to badger Jackson for the deeds to that part of Trenton which had been acquired by the speculators from De Gregoire. Since the title to this was clear, they said, there was no reason why this much of their property could not be transferred.267 They started their campaign by drawing up a protest before a notary public for nondelivery of deeds, and then threatened to go to court over the whole matter.268 This threat, and the bad public relations which a lawsuit of such a nature would give to the whole speculation, finally brought Knox around. He wrote Jackson to give them the desired deeds.269 Since no accurate survey had yet been completed, Jackson was in a difficult position, but he finally sold them their whole Trenton tract for twelve hundred pounds, with the understanding that the price would be recalculated at twenty-five cents per acre after the survey had been completed.270 Late in December, Jackson reported on further developments in Boston:

H. Jackson to Knox, Boston, 23 December 1792 [KP]271

Boston December 23. 1792

Dear Harry:

I have received yours of the 14 instant. I am all anxiety for fear that D— may ruin the business at last. His want of cander and decision is so evident in every part of his conduct that you have reason to apprehend every thing from him. Therefore have nothing at loose, but push him to a point and then fix him. As to his friendship for you, he has none detached from his own private interest, and I am sure you must have reason to think with me, and that he would sacrifice you and every one else to his own views and wishes. Be on your guard and not trust him in any instance whatever. The following is a copy of a letter I received from Madame Laval a few days since:

Boston December 17. 1792


Mr. de la Roche embark’d for Trenton in full expectation that we should be able to obtain the 300,000 acres upon the terms expressed in the last contract with Mr. Knox and Duer. As respecting price, terms of payment, and mode of settlement, we thought it expedient to make the advances that Mr. de la Roche has with him on receiving deeds of Trenton, but we cannot think of taking any other steps until we shall be assured that the situation of our contract will warrant, and therefore request it as a favor that you will without loss of time inform your friends of Mr. la Roches and my fix’d determination on this point.

Believe me your friend forever.

Your most humble servant,

(signed) Bacler de Laval

To Henry Jackson

Boston   Copy

Altho Mr. de la Roche and Madame Laval appear well satisfied with the arrangements made of Trenton and No. 8, purchased of De Gregoire, yet by the above letter, they hold up their full expectation of your complying with the terms of the last contract, as to the quantity of acres, price, terms of payment, and mode of settlement, but not a word of the 60,000 dollar bonds, which was the great principal on which that contract was bottomed. In my opinion the present moment is the best to annul and make void all contracts passed between you, or I am affraid they will trouble you at some future day, or hold them as a rod over you in negotiating any new contracts. They are artfull and cunning. I have reason to suppose if its in their power, they will take any and every advantage of you.

Yesterday I received a letter from Europe from our particular friend B.H.272 dated October 16th, of which the following is an extract.

With regard to Madame L. V., I must tell you that at present she has no resources beyond herself, nor any means of making good her contracts but from the lands. She does not represent a company nor has she any combinations of persons or property to support the enterprise. Her friends appear astonishd at the boldness of her undertaking and the confidence which the Americans have placed in her. This open and full caution I give you for your own use, but for Gods sake don’t communicate it to your best friends. Her husband is a diminutive idle man, not in possession of a liver. He lost by the change of government, it is true, a place procured by her influence worth £1500 or £2000 a year but that is over. They have genteel connections and are of a good family.

Altho I am laid under injunction not to communicate this information, yet I feel it my duty to make it known to you, to govern you in any future negotiation, but you will keep this information entirely to yourself. I hope you received the contracts etc. which I forwarded you by the last Mondays post, and that they were all the papers you requested. I shall wait with impatience until the 15th January, the time you mention, and every moment of that period will make me unhappy.

Our friends at Hingham are well.

Your affectionate

H. Jackson

General Knox

“We have been lead equally to blind men who are conducted,” the lady wrote Knox, and added that the settlers she had persuaded to settle on her lands would soon depart elsewhere, were she not able to give them deeds.273 Yet better news was at hand. Once Knox had signed his agreement with Bingham, he lost no time in writing the lady to give her renewed hope. He explained to her the formation of the new “company,” assured her that Bingham would be favorably disposed toward her, and expressed the belief that if she were only patient, she could found a “Colony in the East, which will add to the happiness of the human race.”274

Once she learned that Bingham was the man to see, Madame de Leval simply transferred to him all the enthusiasm for her venture which had hitherto proved so tiresome to Knox, Jackson, and Duer. She at once demanded an interview in Philadelphia, and when she finally learned that Bingham had gone to Boston to treat with the Massachusetts Land Committee, she pursued him there and deluged him with requests for interviews. In the course of her correspondence she roundly damned Duer and Knox for deceiving her, claimed that she had over one hundred French, some twenty German, and eleven Scotch families ready to go to Maine, and finally wound up by threatening suit.275 Bingham, however, was not to be pushed. There was nothing in his agreement with either Knox or Duer that bound him to recognize the French claims. He was too busy to see her in Boston,276 but after his return to Philadelphia, he wrote her that he would be glad to consider her case:

Bingham to Leval, 8 February 1793 [BP]277

Philadelphia February 8th 1793


The delay that I met with in the progress of my business at Boston occasioned the necessity of my immediate return to this city as soon as it was compleated. This circumstance prevented a reply to the letter which you did me the honor of addressing to me, previous to my departure.

I cannot enter into a discussion concerning the contracts and engagements you made with General Knox and Mr. Duer. You are sufficiently acquainted with the causes that prevented their fulfillment of the Articles of Agreement made with the company on the part of the Commonwealth.

As you have turned your attention towards the establishment of a colony in the Province of Maine, the company who have now acquired the property where you wish to [illegible] will have no objection to [illegible] a large body of land, in order to carry your views into effect, provided they can have security for the payment of the purchase money, at the different periods the installments may fall due.

The company expects an assurance that may be relied on, of the prospected establishment being carried on with vigor and dispatch, which I am confident, you will consider as a reasonable proposition.

With respect to the Plan of Arrangement you have formed for procuring and fixing the settlers, I am not able to give a competent opinion of its merits.

The proposals you make for considerable advances to be reimbursed from precarious sources of supply by no means merit the acquiescence of the company. It is an object foreign to their views.

You doubtless cannot have undertaken a project, which must necessarily involve a considerable expenditure, without having formed an association possessed of sufficient capital to carry it into complete execution—presuming this to be the case, your disappointment in the company’s not accepting your proffered terms of making advances (which would at least amount to forty thousand dollars) can have no effect in frustrating the objects, in impeding the progress, of the intended establishment.

I can assure you that the company have the best disposition towards facilitating your views. The proposals they may make for their own security in the sale of their lands will be such as prudence justifies, and which are consonant to practice in all similar cases. You could not, Madam, wish to acquire the property on any other terms.

The company means to have their lands surveyed as soon as possible, in order to determine the various quality of the soil, and the most eligible spots for forming establishments.

I have the honor to be with perfect respect,


Your obedient and very humble servant

Wm. Bingham

Madame de Leval.

From Boston, Jackson wrote Knox, praying, among other things, for some final settlement that would end his persecutions once and for all.

H. Jackson to Knox, Boston, 17 [?] February 1793 [KP]278

Boston February 17 [?] 1793

My dear Harry:

I have your favor of the 8th instant.

I am glad to hear that Mr. Bingham arrived well. He moved with great rapidity and expedition.

As Madam Laval is with you, I please myself you will come to some compromise with her, so as to attach her to our interest, but you ought to keep in view, in any negotiations with her, the sacrifice we made in sale of Trenton etc. at 25 cents per acre, which is worth at or near 6/ lawful money per acre. This has been an unpleasant connection from the beginning, but I hope you will devise some plan of accommodation that will give satisfaction to all parties. To have her opposed to you in law suits etc. will injure the whole concern and particularly you at this time. The principle motive with me in leting her have Trenton was to stop her tongue which was very limber, and never idle in proclaiming her difficulties and distress’s, and the causes of them. If a revolution should take place in England, Ireland, etc., as there is every appearance, it will be a most fortunate circumstance to our speculation—in that case, we ought at all hazards to hold on the last purchase.279 I entered into no engagements with Mr. B. respecting it. But to satisfy the Committee and to induce them to proceed in the two first contracts, it was proposed in order to secure that payment that I should give Mr. B. my note payable in three months, to which he consented. You and he will settle the terms and conditions as it respects that tract, but you must immediately get a conveyance from Mr. Flint of his right in that purchase. This must be done without delay. Write me what I shall do with Tudor. Its out of my power to procure any true information respecting the last tract, unless I send persons on purpose to explore it, which will be attended with considerable expence and length of time. Enclosed you have a copy of the journal of the route on the Kennebec tract.280 I have enclosed one to Mr. B.

No time is to be lost in purchasing up the lands I mentioned to you and Mr. B. in my last, as they will rise in value in proportion to our exertions and prospects of sale and settlement. One of the brokers in this town advertized last week to purchase and to give the highest price for the lottery certificates. These amount to 90,000 acres.

I hope you will conclude with one or other of the terms proposed to you by the Winslows, etc. I am satisfied they will not take one farthing less. I wish you to close with them, and get the whole of that tract into your hands. It will then be an object for your particular attention, and if you will live on it, I will certainly be your neighbour. The Treasurer of this Commonwealth informed me yesterday that he had directed the sheriff of the county to sell of the patent as much land as would pay the tax’s due, which amounts to 5 or £600, lawful money. The amiable Mrs. Fluker is here. I suppose she will write by this post.281

Your affectionate

H. Jackson

General H. Knox

Throughout February and early March the urbane Bingham and the volatile French lady argued back and forth over her earlier contracts. Bingham refused to be bound by these earlier agreements, while Madame de Leval insisted that the first one was binding. By 10 March she was threatening lawsuits again, and had prevailed upon her friend Benjamin Walker to come over to Philadelphia and help her in the negotiations.282 He put the French case very concisely to Knox:

Walker to Knox, Philadelphia, [?] March 1793 [KP]283

Philadelphia March [?] 1793

My dear General:

I must apologize for not attending you this morning, as I had promised, by informing you that I was with Mr. Bingham ’till near eleven o’clock having had a conference with him of two or three hours to very little purpose.

My regard for you as well as the friendship I feel for Madam de Leval has induced me to exert myself all in my power to effect an accomodation between you, and I have sacrificed to this business much time to the prejudice of my own affairs. Seeing, however, that there is no prospect of bringing you together on the question, I owe it to myself to quit a business in which I have no interest whatever and attend to my own concerns which are sufficiently important at this moment to occupy all my attention.

To convince you, however, that I have not quit my interference whilst there was any prospect of accomodation I will just state to you what appears to me to be the result of Madam de Leval’s judgments in the affair. You will see how very widely you differ.

The substance then of the different conversations I have had with her appears to be this: that the first contract is a positive and absolute contract; that tho’ she was willing in order to accomodate to circumstances to change the terms to those contained in the second contract, yet as that contract never was performed in any of its parts she still stands on her original ground and thinks herself justly entitled to the execution of the first contract to its full extent; that this opinion was supported by all her friends in Boston especially by Mr. Tudor; that since she has been here the contracts together with all the correspondance has been laid before Mr. Higgenson and Mr. Jared Ingersoll,284 whose opinions correspond exactly with those given her in Boston, with this addition: that besides the execution of the contract she has an equitable claim for an indemnification for the delays in its execution; that thus supported in her opinion of what she thinks right, she cannot but feel sensibly what she considers as an attempt to deprive her of every advantage held out in the contract—that it was in consideration of those advantages that the high price of fifty six cents was agreed to be given at a time when the lands were but little known and when the actual price could not be considered more than twenty cents, and that, in fact, she cannot consent to relinquish the advantageous deputations of the contract without some equivalent.

That tho’ she cannot but think herself cruelly treated in the whole progress of this business, she wishes rather to attribute it to circumstances than to any disposition especially on your part, and so far from wishing to claim more than she thinks herself intitled to, her anxiety to close a transaction which has occasioned her so much pain is such that she would relinquish much to effect an accomodation.

On the subject of the advances she says that no such sum as nine thousand dollars has ever been advanced to her, that sum she supposes must include the whole monies advanced on every account; that all the expences of the first voyage to view the lands was explicitly to be at your own expence; that it is true several sums have been given to her and la Roche, but not for the purpose stipulated but for temporary expedients obliged to be made for want of being in a situation to go on with the plan first adopted; that however if the rest of the stipulations of the contract are fulfilled, she is willing that any indifferent men should form a view of all circumstances [and] declare what part of the monies received ought to be considered as having gone to the purposes of the contract.

Such, as nearly as I can recollect, have been the substance of her conversations on the subject. On asking her this morning to give me definitely what she would relinquish and what she would expect, she handed me a paper of which the inclosed is a translation.285 You will judge if there is any hope of accomodating when you differ so widely. To the article of advances I could not get Mr. Bingham to listen.

Thus are you situated. I can do no more in the business and must therefor quit it.

I am, dear General,

Sincerely yours

Ben Walker

Finally on 15 March 1793 a new contract was drawn up which, it was the fervent hope of all concerned, would settle the matter once and for all. According to this agreement, Bingham sold to Walker, who promised to act as trustee for the French, some 107,000 acres of land in Hancock County, including Townships Nos. 8, 9, 14, 15, and 16, minus the lottery prizes. In return, Walker agreed to pay for this property $54,000 in six annual installments, starting on 1 May 1795. In addition, Bingham agreed to advance money to help start the settlements, insisting, however, that some $8,000 already advanced by Duer be credited to his account. The deeds were to be lodged in escrow in Philadelphia until the payments had been made, an arrangement similar to that which Bingham himself had agreed to in his dealings with the Massachusetts Land Committee.286 Once again the affairs of the French colony looked hopeful; once again Madame de Leval set out for Frenchman’s Bay. But before she left, Bingham wrote her a very warm letter, full of encouragement and good wishes:

Bingham to Leval, Philadelphia, 29 March 1793287

Philadelphia March 29th. 1793

I shall always be happy, Madam, to afford you every assistance in establishing the settlement which you are about forming in the Province of Maine, and of imparting to you every important information relative to that country. I will, according to your request signified in your letter of the 27th288 have a copy taken of General Lincoln’s answers to my queries, and forwarded to you by a private opportunity, as it is too voluminous to convey by post. At the same time I will inclose you the answers to the same queries, as returned to me by a Committee of the Members from the Province of Maine in the General Court.289

As I am entirely unacquainted with the real situation and circumstances of that tract of country, on Mount Desert, which you are desirous of purchasing, I cannot for the moment give you any decided answer on the subject. I expect in the course of the summer to make an excursion to the eastern country, when I will pay attention to the subject on which you have done me the honor to write me, and will be enabled to give you a more explicit answer.

I observe your intention is to encourage your friends, whose political sentiments are congenial with your own, to purchase, and assist in settling, your lands. I am well convinced, from the numerous and uncommon advantages they enjoy, from favorable situation, as well as promotions [?], that it is only necessary that they should be known, in order to allure settlers from all quarters.

The intercourse that they are susceptible of enjoying to a great extent with the West Indian Islands is a very prominent advantage which does not exist with regard to any other unlocated lands in the United States.

When you have finished your prospectus, I will thank you for a copy of it, as I wish to be acquainted with the result of your reflections on that country.

The accounts and vouchers which you mention have been already forwarded to Mr. Walker. I do not see any difficulty that can arise in ascertaining the exact sum that is chargeable to your establishment, as the accounts specify for what purpose the advances were made.

I observe the embarassment you will lye under with regard to some German families that you wish to place on the lands that your company has purchased.

However, I hope the difficulties will be removed by furnishing you with the means of accomplishing your object. If it was convenient to me, I would readily have accepted the former proposals of advancing, which would have been much more advantageous than sacrificing so large a portion of territory as part of Trenton and of No. 8. Of this, I am well convinced your good sense must have fully informed you. Indeed it was not from a want of confidence, but from having my resources so dispersed that I could not conveniently command them, that I was induced to decline a compliance.

I have the honor to be with respect and consideration,


Your obedient humble servant

William Bingham

Madame de Leval

If Bingham and his associates thought that this was to be the end of the business, they were sadly mistaken. Madame de Leval spent the summer down east and immediately ran into trouble. She had trouble with the squatters, some of whom had to be given hundred-acre lots. She had trouble with the lumber thieves, who pillaged her lands at will. Above all, she had trouble because she could not sell any of her lands at retail, since the deeds were in escrow in Philadelphia. How could she hope to make the coming payments if she could not give a clear title to the property she might sell to those whom she had prevailed upon to join her? Still, she wrote Bingham, she was determined to “vaincre ou mourir.”290

By November she was again in Philadelphia, as full of discontent as ever. The substance of her grievances can be seen from the following letters, which may serve in addition as examples of many similar jeremiads:

Leval to Knox, Philadelphia [?], 6 December 1793 [KP]291

December 6 1793.

My dear Sir:

I was in hopes I shou’d have the pleasure to see you before now, and I went out on that purpos Sunday last at the same time you came to see me, but in the first house I went to I found leters from France that acquinted me of the death of several of my friends and particularly of my sister. Has been [?] these bad news put me out of power to visite any body and since that day I was keep at home for business. I thought that by comming mys self I shou’d have an end to every article that add been determin last year but I go with only letters for your dear frind Jackson and indeed the man is so much ingaged in the public bilding292 that he do not know what he is a bout. I wish, my dear sir, you wou’d writt to him to make an end of all these triffling because endeed it is a great injury to my business. I shou’d be very sorry to ask any thing that as not been agreed. You know if I am difficul in arrangement and if I deserv’d to be constantly stoped. The fact is that I have not yet been able to survey, devide, nore injoie of my property, and that, for the lack only of formes not fulfil by your company. I wish to god you had not joint your self your name; your caracter and your honnet dispositions wou’d have done more than all the money of your great associet. He as a maner of treating business that will not engage to put confidence in what he says and his friend Jackson wil not take it. In France people there are as cuning [?] as he can be. I go tomorow, my dear sir. I wish to see you before I go. You know that my frienship for you is equal to my consideration for your caracter. Believe me for hever in those sentiments

Bacler de Leval

Excuse my bad inglish. It is indeed of my best.

Translation of Undated Letter from Leval to Knox [?] [BP]293

No doubt, Sir, it will surprise you to hear I am again in Philadelphia and you will confess it is very cruel to be, as I am, obliged to brave fatigue and weather, and to waste as I do one’s money and time upon the highways. I was entitled to believe that the friendly arrangements I had made last year with you would put an end to that cruel way of going blindfold in a business which should not admit of the least obscurity. I did not hesitate to come here from the eastward in order to bring Mr. Bingham to a determination upon several articles of my conventions with you, which were not yet regulated. What success did I meet with? Mr. Bingham, without the least consideration for the fatigue I had been exposed to, sent me back to Mr. Jackson for things which he could decide himself since Mr. Jackson declares he can do nothing before Mr. Bingham’s answer to his letters.

I submit to Mr. Bingham himself the question relating the advances I have agreed to reimburse. I put all the vouchers in his hands trusting absolutely to his own decision; instead of acknowledging my delicate proceeding, Mr. Bingham comes and tells me I am not concerned in that business, that he has nothing to do but with Mr. Walker and that his not having stept forward within the time prescribed, amounts to a confession of the debt of 8500 dollars for which, of consequence, he must give his bonds to be paid with the lands. On my representing that Mr. Walker is but a trustee, Mr. Bingham persists, telling that he has no concern but with Mr. Walker, and I know he said to Mr. Bancel, it was absolutely indifferent for him whether I should succeed or not in my undertaking, that Mr. Walker had given his bonds, and these were for him a sufficient security. I have written to Mr. Bingham, I have frankly expressed to him my way of thinking upon Mr. Walker’s solidity. I have proposed him several arrangements, safer for him, and more adapted to facilitate the success of my business.294

Frankness and honesty being always the basis of my propositions, it always seems to me impossible for any one to judge of them differently, in consequence of which, I’ll make that confession to you. I expected Mr. Bingham should come again to see me, but, far from it. It was not even possible for me to have again my papers I had trusted him with and which it would have been at least necessary I should have delivered to Mr. Walker.

Out of conceit with a way of treating business so ill adapted to my character of frankness, I was bent upon repairing to my good town of Boston, where I am known, beloved, and where I am at any time sure to find in the bosom of my friends a compensation for the troubles I am obnoxious to wl [?]295 New York or Philadelphia; but on my arrival in the first city, I found several interesting families disposed to settle in the eastward and to buy parcels of my lands: having conceived a favourable idea of the country from my perseverance and the certitude I gave them, I should fix myself there and be followed by my friends from France. But when we came to enter upon the execution of that plan and consequently to examine my titles and procurations, I found myself stopped from the very first step. I have nought to sell by parcels. I had made constantly that observation last year, but I had been told that a well enounced procuration from Messrs. Bingham and Walker would answer for any occurences. That power of attorney has been effectively given to me; but worded so ambiguously as to leave no field open but to chicanry. First, that power is revocable and I am only to enjoy it during the joint will and pleasure of these gentlemen, which might cease tomorrow. True, this would have no effect since I have an act from Mr. Walker which sets me above all difficulties of that nature. But all this quibbling upon is nothing more than bones for lawyers to feed upon which is to be avoided for the common interest of all parties. My power ought to be irrevocable untill the extinction of my rights upon the 100,000 acres which cannot be taken away from me if I pay 54,000 dollars. Then my power should subsist untill the last term of payment. It is so in fact. There is nothing consequently to alter now but a formality. It must also be expressed that I am intitled to sell by parcels and to give accordingly deeds to the purchasers, for it will enter in no one’s head that you should have sold me 100,000 acres of land, that I should have purchased it, taken terms for the payments, etc., and finally be in the impossibility to make partial sales. Where is, in effect, the man who will buy 1,000 acres of land, pay them, improve them and stand responsible for the payment of 99,000 acres in which he has not the least concern. It is needless for me to step forward in a business defective in essential formalities. I have smarted too much for having followed uncertain measures. I mean to induce no one in error. I know very well that all difficulties in law would be settled in favour of my purchasers settled upon their lands. I am not ignorant of the advantages presented to me by the nature of my acts. I am conscious that for what belongs to the main point of the business, all is in perfect order. But proper forms have not been employed and this I want to be well cleared up. If I am refused, I must of course renounce the idea of forming a settlement in the eastward. But this will not induce me to give up the business. The chance is by too many odds in my favor. But if I [am] cut out from the possibility of selling by parcels and giving all security to purchasers, I have but one door left. It is to make a speculation instead of a settlement, which certainly will not be difficult for me. But if I am under the necessity to transfer to, or associate with speculators you must not expect they will be such dupes as to make a settlement. They will leave to Mr. Bingham the care to treble the value of my acquisition, whose territorial produce will be more than sufficient to discharge interest and capital, although I have paid for my lands very dear in comparison of what Mr. Bingham has given for his. I make more of my 100,000 acres than of his million of acres without my I have for.296 To balance all, I am in front, my payments are not yet due, I enjoy during seven years exemption of taxes, I am under no obligation to place families. Union River seems to flow there only to enhance the value of my lands, to cover them with immense meadows which of themselves will over pay the whole. I have besides that part of Trenton which is the only advantageous position on the sea shore. Nothing in the world can take from me that part of my bargain. So in any light Mr. Bingham may consider the business, my purchase will always be a shade to his. It is then more advantageous for him to facilitate me the means to pursue my plan of settlement, than to reduce me to speculations, associations, law suits, difficulties, etc. I have done too much in that business not to go to the end one way or another. I am interested to form a settlement such as I have planned it. I am interested to have done paying Mr. Bingham rather the second year than the sixth; since the sooner I cease to have engagements, the sooner I will be rid of this form of trustee which put numberless shackles in my business, first on account of Mr. Leval’s situation, who being a State creditor in France would soon be declared emigrant, were I to make use of his name; secondly on account of the differences between the law of France and that of this country, which, allowing a married woman to possess, prevents her from acquiring. All these several points of right oblige me now and perhaps will also for the future to take different precautions, because I am unwilling to leave seeds of law suits to the prejudice of my daughter and purchasers. I came in this country seeking for rest and tranquility. Circumstances which we can never master have quite contrary launched me in business of moment. It was certainly neither my choice nor my desire, but since I am involved in it, since, in spite of me, I find myself held out to public sight, I should have courage and fortitude enough to defend myself from being made a laughing stock. Mr. Bingham has piqued my self-love by saying in Boston, I was for him an unconceivable being, that I had no inferiority, that I could do a great deal or nothing at all. More moderate however than he thinks I am in the first case, not so void of means than he imagines me to be in his last supposition, I hope he will be obliged to render me that justice. I can content myself with keeping a safe medium. Pride nor covetousness are not my leading principles, much less yet, intrigue. My aim is to fulfill the engagements I have contracted, and to render no one victim of the trust he reposed in me. To obtain it, I have much to do; much to endure, sometimes from contradictions, sometimes from injustices whether in facts or in opinions which I do not deserve, and sometimes from the ingratitude of those I had most subject to depend upon. But I am resigned to, and ready for any thing. It would be an ample compensation for all my sufferings, were I to succeed in the scheme I have planned to collect around me a society of friends with whom I could be enjoy those little advantages that will satisfy my ambition in respect to wealth. This would be full enough to make me forget there was ever such thing as a revolution that drove me from my native country.

I send you, sir, the substance of my propositions. They are intended to answer the end of the arrangements we made last year. In this business, Mr. Bingham cannot be seen by me in any other light but that of your associate. My concern with him is only owing to circumstances. It is not a purchase I made from him. It is an arrangement I entered into with you in exchange of our former contract. Then it is to you I must apply for the execution of the said arrangements. You will observe I desire no change in the bottom of the business; the alterations are only in the forms and tend to cut of[f] any seed of law suits. I do not ask to pay less, nor to have more advantages. I wish to be put in such situation that I may go on with assurance and be enabled to fulfill exactly my engagements and upon all to render nobody victim of his confidence in me. My delicacy forbids me to pass over things which in the sequel would bring one difficulties. I ought to leave nothing to chance.

I do not mean to enjoy any benefit from that business before I have fulfilled my engagements. Therefore, I offer to leave in your hands the produce of all my partial sales. The deed being given in your name, the partial deeds will also emanate from you. You shall have a claim upon the mortgages and the payments made at what rate soever I may sell. You shall not of course run the least risk and untill I have paid you 54,000 dollars, the 100,000 acres will be more yours than mine. Agreeing to my proposals, I am not to enjoy before you have the 54,000 dollars in your hands. Then you will give me an absolute deed for the unsold part of the 100,000 acres which will prove paid by the benefit made upon the partial sales.

These lands being the object of my speculation and composing my benefit, I am more interested than you in making my reserves upon what I will think to be the best, and you understand perfectly well that Number 14 where are immense natural meadows, where flows Union River, will make a large part of them. This besides the sums to be left in your hands will be for you a mortgage over paying what is due to you.

When I request to have my payments defferred, it is not to have more time to pay, but more to chuse my purchasers. I am interested to pay you the 54,000 dollars the first year if I can. First because I gain the interests. Secondly because it is only when I am out of debt that I can become a proprietor and have a deed in my name. Consider my position respecting the difference between the French laws and yours which annul the power given unto me by Mr. de Leval, and you will see that it is my advantage to forward the intire execution of my business. I have not, I believe, till now betrayed incapacity or ignorance in business nor indifference for the interest of my child. It is to be thought that a woman of my age fallen from earthly paradise in this country, who devoted herself to business, to fatigue and all the inconveniencies attendants of it, attendants rendered infinitely hard, humbling and discouraging by certain people, it is to be thought, I say, that that woman has a fund of perseverance supported by great motives of delicacy and sensibility. Sure, I do not deserve to be dealt with as I am. It seems some people find their happiness in shackling my undertaking with all the obstacles in their power. What! if I have more energy than most of my countrymen, if I have a soul elevated enough to chuse rather to undergo the hardest fatigue than submit as they do to depend upon charity for my support, is it a reason to increase my pains? Would it not be more generous, more noble to help me to triumph over difficulties inseparable from such an undertaking. But I don’t know why I wander from my subject. Pray, sir, be so good as to discuss with Mr. Bingham the interests of the establishment in the Province of Main. Persuade your associate to put forwards with me more pliability in business, to consider that I am a woman, a stranger. Let us determine while I am here all kinds of discussion. In fine, let things be disposed in such way that I may step forwards, for it is dreadfull for me not to be able to move a step without being stopped short by some want of forms. It is so that time flies away. It has [so that] good opportunities are lost and a deal of money wasted to no purpose. It is so that I have spent 14,000 dollars. In the name of our common interest, let us come to a quick determination. Business calls me to Boston. Many families are waiting for me in New York and in Connecticut. I am wanted at home. Finally, it is indispensable that I have an answer for Yes or for No. If it is Yes, Mr. Walker will come immediately, and all may be done over again directly. If it is no I must also know it to take proper arrangements in consequence. But I request a quick decision, and I appeal to your equity.

Leval’s Proposals Relative to Walker’s Purchase [undated] [BP]

1st. The power of attorney dated May 20th, 1793, authorizes Madame de Leval to sell by parcels the lands whose property is confirmed to her provided the pay be paid. No doubt, the end of that power was to facilitate to Madame de Leval the means to attract settlers by warranting to all those who would pay exactly the secure property of the parcels they would acquire and inhabit. Nevertheless, by a vice of formality in the power of attorney, it appears that if in virtue of it, Madame de Leval sells, for example sake, 300 acres to A, and A pays the amount, Mr. Bingham will have a right to seize upon the 300 acres in case the whole of the 100,000 acres would not be paid to the expiration of the 6th year last term of Madame de Leval’s payments. In this state of things, it is necessary for Mr. Bingham to give a new power of attorney expressed in such terms as to obviate to the above mentioned difficulty, granted that it will be stipulated that the amount of these partial sales will be deposited in the hands of a person who will employ this produce to the advantage of Mr. Bingham, that is to say, in account of the bonds, granted that Mr. Bingham insert a restriction upon the partial sales to prevent all the good land from being sold alone, and to the effect that nothing be sold below the price of emption, but any how it is indispensable that Madame de Leval be enabled to sell by parcels and to assure irrevocable titles to those who will pay.

If Mr. Bingham prove contrary to that just requisition, he will oblige Madame de Leval to make the best of her acquisition in some other way. In that case Mr. Bingham will have no right to complain if Madame de Leval uses all the advantages given to her by the nature of the contracts entered into. Unable to sell by portions, Madame de Leval will wait to the last moment to sell the 100,000 acres. Her lawyers tell her that she will find means to delay the forced sale or the restitution of the property of the 100,000 acres untill 1800, so that Madame de Leval will reserve to herself all the increase of value of the 100,000 acres between the present moment and the year 1800. During that laps of time, the tract will remain uncultivated, but the settlement of the lands back of it will augment its price.

Mr. Bingham’s refusal to alter the power of attorney will have yet that effect to oblige Madame de Leval to accept of the offer made to her to give up her part of Trenton for a price that will leave her a reasonable profit after reimbursing what Mr. Walker has advanced her upon that mortgage. These lands of Trenton command the entry of Mr. Bingham’s tract, and it is more than probable that the new proprietors will not be so well disposed to facilitate the settlement of his purchase.

It behoves Mr. Bingham to weigh what is convenient for him. Madame de Leval wishes him to explain himself on the subject of that new power of attorney. Let him decide positively by yes or no if he means to give her a power that may render possible the execution of her plan of settlement.

2dly. It was only a matter of form when Mr. Walker lent his name. Although he be bound to the payment of the obligations, Mr. Bingham knows very well that the real meaning of the contracting parties has never been to expose Mr. Walker to personal troubles, in case when the bonds will fall due, Madame de Leval should not pay them punctually. Mr. Bingham cannot have forgotten what have been the motives to employ Mr. Walker’s name. It never was but in order to preserve to him the retaking the 100,000 acres in case the payment should fail. On Madame de Leval’s part it never was more than a formality deemed necessary for the security of both parties, sellers and buyers. Mr. Bingham cannot but remember that that sale from him to Madame de Leval is but a consequence of a friendly arrangement between her and Mr. Knox, his associate, in exchange of a well cimented contract which she has renounced on such and such conditions.

Mr. Knox does admit of that principle and will no doubt, to avoid all difficulties, agree to put himself in that sale in lieu and place of Mr. Walker. Then all acts and titles made in the name of Mr. Walker would be annuled and Mr. Knox would give other ones exactly alike, to the effect to assure to Madame de Leval the property of the 100,000 acres, in the same manner it is now assured to her by the acts executed by Mr. Walker, that is to say upon payment of the amount of the bonds. This mode is plainer. Madame de Leval reposes as much trust in Mr. Knox as she may do in Mr. Walker, and there is for Mr. Bingham a greater assurance to reinter in the property of the premises in case of decease and consequently of non-reussite297 of Madame de Leval.

3dly. Madame de Leval requests, as a facility whose circumstances may justify the conveniency, that the term of the first payment of the 9,000 dollars bond be postponed for one year; that is to say that the first may fall due in May 1796 and the last in 1801, and that the amount of the advances to be reimbursed be added to that last one.

This requisition is made to the equity and condescendance of Mr. Bingham. He knows that the present year has been consumed in conversations, writings and journeys; that the survey and division of Trenton which should have been done and delivered immediately is not yet compleated. He knows that for the part of the 100,000 acres, his title from the State not being yet recorded in Penobscot, Madame de Leval has not yet been able to enforce her rights against those of the inhabitants who mow her meadows and waste her forests.

He knows also that the decrees of the National Convention make it impossible for the moment to go out of France and that epistolary correspondence is extremely slow and uncertain. It is, however, upon emigrants from that country that Madame de Leval depends for the undersale of her 100,000 acres if Mr. Bingham puts her in such situation that she may follow her plan of settlement.

Madame de Leval requests Mr. Bingham to declare definitively and as soon as possible if he agrees to the three propositions above enounced. The Ist is essential. The two others depend more particularly upon Mr. Bingham’s justice and good will, combined with what he thinks himself interested to do to encourage Madame de Leval in her resolution to spare trouble nor pain to settle her lands in the Province of Main.

Undated Proposals of Leval Relative to Trenton Township [BP]

Difficulty about Trenton

It has been sold by Mr. Jackson, agreeing to the orders of Mr. Knox, half of Trenton and part of Number 8 differently called half of the French Grant upon the Main. This transfer was made to Mr. la Roche before Mr. Bingham had treated with Mr. Knox and Duer. As it was not precisely known what quantity of acres would contain that tract, it was evaluated for a supposition at 16,000 acres, and Mr. la Roche in exchange of an absolute deed gave four bonds amounting to a sum of 4,000 dollars, value of the 16,000 acres at the rate of 25 cents an acre. Major Jackson298 was totally mistaken when he advanced that the title of that tract was not executed. It is really so and deposited in trust in the hands of Mr. Jarvis, as well as the bonds for 4,000 dollars, and they are to remain there untill the survey is made when it will be possible to mention in the deed the quantity of acres. Then if it contains more than 16,000 acres, Mr. la Roche will give bonds more considerable, and in the same manner if it contains less, the bonds will be abated, but this changes in no way the validity of the title. It is absolute and Mr. la Roche by giving 4,000 dollars is to have 16,000 acres, and if within the time prescribed, Mr. Jackson does not present the survey, things will remain in the state of the first supposition that is to say, Mr. Jackson has sold 16,000 acres at the rate of 25 cents, for which he has received four bonds amounting together to a sum of 4,000 dollars. When Mr. la Roche went to the eastward and sent for Mr. Peter, Mr. Jackson’s surveyor,299 this gentleman judged the survey as it was designed, very difficult and expensive on account of the multiplied angles it presented. He thought consequently plainer to take the old line traced already in every direction and to see what would be their content. The operation made, [he] found in the part (A) 16,000 and two or three hundred acres and nearly 16,000 in the part (B). This short way of proceeding gave Mr. la Roche the 16,000 acres for which he had delivered bonds, and the line of demarcation was so well marked that there was not the least discussion to fear, no necessity to execute a new deed, no new bonds to give, no new survey to be made, whose expence would amount to much more than the difference may be worth, and besides Mr. la Roche, having said he agreed to pay the excess at what rate it should be thought reasonable, Mr. Peter saw no occasion to hesitate, gave in his report of division agreeably, and wrote to Mr. Jackson his motives for adopting this mode of operation.300 About that time Madame de Leval had concluded her arrangement with Mr. Knox. One of the articles of this arrangement was that Mr. Knox renounced to his mortgage upon Trenton in favor of the Madame de Leval who passed it to Mr. Walker for security of the funds by him advanced. This circumstance evinces yet more forcibly the necessity to adopt the survey such as it has been made, since Mr. Walker must have lands up to the value of the mortgage. There are two or three hundred acres over it, but Madame Leval agrees to pay them at the price as the 100,000 acres if it is required. The question bears only upon the bonds given by Mr. la Roche. It is Mr. Knox’s to declare if Mr. la Roche, having given bonds for 16,000 acres at the rate of 25 cents an acre, is not entitled to the 16,000 acres, and if Mr. Knox, having given up the mortgage for 4,000 dollars to Mr. Walker, this 4,000 dollars are not due to Mr. Walker. For the excess amounting to two or three hundred acres, no doubt they are due to Mr. Knox. Does he mean to keep, sell or exchange them? The sea shore being taken up by the inhabitants, it is almost immaterial where these three hundred acres will be taken. Does Mr. Knox wish to have them on the ground reserved for the city, on condition to clear the streets and cause twenty log houses to be built on the lots; does he desire to have them on some part of No. 9 which will give him a communication of No. 10 upon Taunton’s Bay; finally, would he like rather to keep them in Trenton? It is immaterial for Madame de Leval, but let the difficulty be regulated so that she may dispose of her part of Trenton as it is convenient for her advantage.

Formerly, the content of Trenton was only six miles square, but when Mr. Gregoire obtained his concession, it was said he should have so many leagues square. He proved that the French league was equivalent to four square miles. Then to compleat that extent, part was taken upon New Bowdoin land or No. 7 of Mr. Jarvis, part upon No. 8, and part upon Sullivan. The whole is looked upon as making one body of land together with Trenton, designed under the appellation of French Grant and if Trenton was yet to be incorporated all these parts should be comprehended in it, under the same name. This consideration prompted Mr. Peter, Mr. Jackson’s surveyor, to follow the mode of survey he has taken, which would have been prescribed to him by buyers and sellers if they had been informed of it. The annexed chart may give to the gentlemen an idea of the state of things. B upon Mr. Jarvis’ No. 7 belongs to General Knox, as well as B upon the part of Trenton called Oak Point. A upon No. 8 and A upon the other part of Trenton is Madame de Leval’s. Fifty letters to Mr. Jackson and as many from him will say no more, for such is the true situation of the places, and all is resumed by telling that A belongs to Mr. la Roche excepted what is above the 16,000 acres. Some thing must be determined upon that exceeding. Will it be kept, sold or exchanged? These two or three hundred acres are subject to all the regulations to be adopted. It may be that the expences over balance the value of the thing. Disputes about words may be protracted very long, but the time desired by Mr. Jackson is elapsed and the title must be registered such as it is. Mr. la Roche is perfectly in order in that respect.

In May, 1794, Madame de Leval finally hit upon a solution to her problems—namely, matrimony, the groom in this case being Peter Francis van Berckel, a Dutchman then resident in the United States.301 With a husband to support her, she might yet emerge triumphant. Yet it was not to be. When the time came for the first payment to Bingham in 1795, Van Berckel proved as short of cash as his wife. In June of that year he tried to get the Walker contract modified and the date for the first payment advanced to 1796302 This Bingham refused to do. The next year Van Berckel, now possessed of funds, attempted to pay the first two installments together. He even offered Bingham $18,800 in foreign gold coins, English guineas, and half Johanns.303 By now, as we shall see, Bingham was anything but anxious to be paid, for he had just sold a half interest in the Penobscot tract to Alexander Baring. Learning that Bingham and Baring were to be in Maine in the summer of 1796, Walker filed a bill in chancery in the Circuit Court of the District of Maine, claiming breach of contract on Bingham’s part. Yet when the case came up in court, no representative of either Walker or the French put in an appearance, and the matter died there.304 When passing through Boston that summer, Bingham engaged Harrison Gray Otis to make an offer to Walker to cancel his bonds in return for Walker’s acquiescence in returning the deeds in escrow to Bingham,305 but it was not until 1808, after Bingham’s death, that the exchange of the bonds for the release of the deeds was finally achieved by Charles Willing Hare, one of the Bingham trustees. With this transaction, the last legal tie between Bingham and the French was broken.306

Sometime in the latter part of 1796, the Van Berckels left America, presumably to reside in Europe. And with their departure, their connection with William Bingham’s Maine lands came to an end. Before she left, Madame van Berckel and De la Roche divided their interest in Trenton and that part of No. 8 for which they actually had deeds.307 This property, it will be remembered, was mortgaged to Benjamin Walker, as security for monies advanced to the French. Apparently De la Roche was eventually able to pay his debt to Walker; in any event, he acquired title to his half of the tract and held it at least until 1820.308 It was this land which he transferred to the La Moyne for whom the present Lamoine, Maine, is named.309 Madame van Berckel had had more than enough of speculation in American lands. The title to her half reverted to Walker when she left the country without discharging her obligation to him.

Thus plans for a French settlement in Maine ended in failure. Nor is the cause of that failure hard to find. Until Bingham came on the scene, neither the French nor the American parties had any money. The French might have succeeded had they been able to discover an “angel” willing to foot their bills for a number of years. By the same token, Duer and Knox might have been able to get away with their rash venture, as other Americans had done under similar circumstances, had they been able to discover some wealthy Europeans who could put cash on the barrel head. With both groups impecunious, there was bound to be trouble. There was, in addition, the difficulty of trying to acquaint the French with American legal and business procedures. All things considered, Madame de Leval must be admired for the extent to which she became conversant with these matters, but the hurdle of language remained, and a basic lack of understanding on both sides. While not a principal cause for the failure of the French colony, Duer’s irresponsible behavior toward the immigrants bred a great deal of bitterness and gave them good reason to doubt the integrity and honor of American business men. Bingham’s entrance on the stage changed matters not a whit, since he was in no position to father the French settlement, and since Madame de Leval’s pecuniary problems remained hopeless until it was too late. Once he had joined forces with the Barings, Bingham was only too eager to brush the French off. In the final analysis, as the experience of many an American land company was to prove, the basic concept of forcing the settlement of wild lands and expecting at the same time to derive a profit from the settlement was unsound. In short, the failure of Fontaine Leval was an unfortunate case of poor judgment on the part of all concerned in the enterprise.