WHEN the adventurous pioneers began to push across the mountains into what is now western Pennsylvania the future status of the region they were occupying was far from being settled. In addition to the possible extension of the jurisdiction of Pennsylvania over the region, there were the prospects that it might be determined to be a part of Virginia, that it might be included in a new colony to be established west of the mountains, or that it might be divided up among two or more jurisdictions. Part of the region was unquestionably within the charter limits of Pennsylvania and could not legally be taken away from the Penns without their consent. There was the possibility, however, that they might dispose of their province to the Crown for a consideration; and, had they done so, Pennsylvania would have become a royal colony, from which territory could have been taken at the will of the king. There were the further possibilities during the period of the Revolution that the state might surrender some of its western territory to the federal government, as other states were doing, or that the settlers west of the mountains might set up a state of their own.
The idea of new colonies in the West was in the air even before the outbreak of the French and Indian War. Apparently the organizers of the Ohio Company did not contemplate the establishment of a colony, though that might have been the result had their project been developed. The plan of union adopted by the Albany Congress in 1754 contemplated the setting-up of additional colonies beyond the mountains, and soon thereafter Benjamin Franklin drew up a plan for two new colonies, one to be located south of Lake Erie and the other in the upper Ohio Valley. In 1755 Samuel Hazard, a merchant of Philadelphia, proposed a colony to embrace most of the Ohio Valley west of Pennsylvania and the central portion of the Mississippi Valley,