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TREATY WITH THE ENGLISH-FRENCH AGGRESSIONS.
THE meeting of the Ohio tribes, Delawares, Shawnees, and Mingoes, to form a treaty of alliance with Virginia, took place at Logstown, at the appointed time. The chiefs of the Six Nations declined to attend. "It is not our custom," said they proudly, "to meet to treat of affairs in the woods and weeds. If the Governor of Virginia wants to speak 'with us, and deliver us a present from our father (the King), we will meet him at Albany, where we expect the Governor of New York will be present."
At Logstown, Colonel Fry and two other commissioners from Virginia, concluded a treaty with the tribes above named; by which the latter engaged not to molest any English settlers south of the Ohio. Tanacharisson, the half-king, now advised that his brothers of Virginia should build a strong house at the fork of the Monongahela, to resist the designs of the French. Mr. Gist was accordingly instructed to lay out a town and build a fort at Chartier's Creek, on the east side of the Ohio, a little below the site of the present city of Pittsburg. He commenced a settlement, also, in a valley just beyond Laurel Hill, not far from the Youghiogeny, and prevailed on eleven families to join him. The Ohio Company, about the same time, established a trading post, well stocked with English goods, at Wills' Creek (now the town of Cumberland).
The Ohio tribes were greatly incensed at the aggressions of the French, who were erecting posts within their territories, and sent deputations to remonstrate, but without effect. The half-king, as chief of the western tribes, repaired to the French post on Lake Erie, where he made his complaint in person.
Fathers," said he, "you are the disturbers of this land by building towns, and taking the country from us by fraud and force. We kindled a fire a long time ago at Montreal, where we desired you to stay and not to come and intrude upon our land. I now advise you to return to that place, for this land is ours.
"If you had come in a peaceable manner, like our brothers the English, we should have traded with you as we do with them; but * Letter of Col. Johnson to Gov. Clinton.-Doc. Hist.
N. Y., II, 624.
that you should come and build houses on our land, and take it by force, is what we cannot submit to. Both you and the English are white. We live in a country between you both; the land belongs to neither of you. The Great Being allotted it to us as a residence. So, fathers, I desire you, as I have desired our brothers the English, to withdraw, for I will keep you both at arm's length. Whichever most regards this request, that side will we stand by and consider friends. Our brothers the English have heard this, and I now come to tell it to you, for I am not afraid to order you off this land."
66 Child," replied the French commandant, "you talk foolishly. You say this land belongs to you; there is not the black of my nail yours. It is my land, and I will have it, let who will stand up against me. I am not afraid of flies and mosquitoes, for as such I consider the Indians. I tell you that down the river I will go, and build upon it. If it were blocked up I have forces sufficient to burst it open and trample down all who oppose me. My force is as the sand upon the sea-shore. Therefore here is your wampum; I fling it at you."
Tanacharisson returned, wounded at heart, both by the language and the haughty manner of the French commandant. He saw the ruin impending over his race, but looked with hope and trust to the English as the power least disposed to wrong the red man.
French influence was successful in other quarters. Some of the Indians who had been friendly to the English showed signs of alienation. Others menaced hostilities. There were reports that the French were ascending the Mississippi from Louisiana. France, it was said, intended to connect Louisiana and Canada by a chain of military posts, and hem the English within the Allegany Mountains.
The Ohio Company complained loudly to the Lieutenant-Governor of Virginia, the Hon. Robert Dinwiddie, of the hostile conduct of the French and their Indian allies. They found in Dinwiddie a ready listener; he was a stockholder in the company.
A commissioner, Captain William Trent, was sent to expostulate with the French commander on the Ohio for his aggressions on the territory of his Britannic majesty; he bore presents also of guns, powder, shot, and clothing for the friendly Indians.
Trent was not a man of the true spirit for
MISSION TO THE FRENCH COMMANDER-THE FORK OF THE OHIO.
[1753. a mission to the frontier. He stopped a | their capability of being reinforced from Canshort time at Logstown, though the French ada; the forts they had erected; where were one hundred and fifty miles further up situated, how garrisoned; the object of their the river, and directed his course to Piqua, the advancing into those parts, and how they great town of the Twightwees, where Gist were likely to be supported. and Croghan had been so well received by the Miamis, and the French flag struck in the council house. All now was reversed. The place had been attacked by the French and Indians; the Miamis defeated with great loss; the English traders taken prisoners; the Piankesha chief, who had so proudly turned his back upon the Ottawa ambassadors, had been sacrificed by the hostile savages, and the French flag hoisted in triumph on the ruins of the town. The whole aspect of affairs was so threatening on the frontier, that Trent lost heart, and returned home without accomplishing his errand.
Washington set off from Williamsburg on the 30th of October (1753), the very day on which he received his credentials. At Fredericksburg he engaged his old "master of fence," Jacob Van Braam, to accompany him as interpreter; though it would appear from subsequent circumstances, that the veteran swordsman was but indifferently versed in French or English.
Having provided himself at Alexandria with necessaries for the journey, he proceeded to Winchester, then on the frontier, where he procured horses, tents, and other travelling equipments, and then pushed on by a road newly opened to Wills' Creek (town of Cumberland), where he arrived on the 14th of November.
Here he met with Mr. Gist, the intrepid pioneer, who had explored the Ohio in the employ of the company, and whom he engaged
Governor Dinwiddie now looked round for a person more fitted to fulfil a mission which required physical strength and moral energy; a courage to cope with savages, and a sagacity to negotiate with white men. Washington was pointed out as possessed of those requisites. It is true he was not yet twenty-to accompany and pilot him in the present two years of age, but public confidenco in his judgment and abilities had been manifested a second time, by renewing his appointment of adjutant-general, and assigning him the northern division. He was acquainted too with the matters in litigation, having been in the bosom councils of his deceased brother. His woodland experience fitted him for an expedition through the wilderness; and his great discretion and self-command for a negotiation with wily commanders and fickle savages. He was accordingly chosen for the expedition.
By his letter of instructions he was directed to repair to Logstown and hold a communication with Tanacharisson, Monacatoocha, alias Scarooyadi, the next in command, and the other sachems of the mixed tribes friendly to the English; inform them of the purport of his errand, and request an escort to the headquarters of the French commander. To that commander he was to deliver his credentials, and the letter of Governor Dinwiddie, and demand an answer in the name of his Britannic majesty; but not to wait for it beyond a week. On receiving it, he was to request a sufficient escort to protect him on his return.
He was, moreover, to acquaint himself with the numbers and force of the French stationed on the Ohio and in its vicinity;
expedition. He secured the services also of one John Davidson as Indian interpreter, and of four frontiersmen, two of whom were Indian traders. With this little band, and his swordsman and interpreter, Jacob Van Braam, he set forth on the 15th of November through a wild country, rendered almost impassable by recent storms of rain and snow.
At the mouth of Turtle Creek, on the Monongahela, he found John Frazier the Indian trader, some of whose people, as heretofore stated, had been sent off prisoners to Canada. Frazier himself had recently been ejected by the French from the Indian village of Venango, where he had a gunsmith's establishment. According to his account the French general who had commanded on this frontier was dead, and the greater part of the forces were retired into winter quarters.
As the rivers were all swollen so that the horses had to swim them, Washington sent all the baggage down the Monongahela in a canoe under care of two of the men, who had orders to meet him at the confluence of that river with the Allegany, where their united waters form the Ohio.
"As I got down before the canoe," writes he in his journal, "I spent some time in viewing the rivers, and the land at the Fork, which
THE HALF-KING-INDIAN DIPLOMACY.
conversation, of his interview with the late French commander. He stated, moreover, that the French had built two forts, differing in size, but on the same model, a plan of
largest was on Lake Erie, the other on French Creek, fifteen miles apart, with a waggon road between them. The nearest and levellest way to them was now impassable, lying through large and miry savannas; they would have, therefore, to go by Venango, and it would | take five or six sleeps (or days) of good travelling to reach the nearest fort.
I think extremely well situated for a fort, as it has the absolute command of both rivers. The land at the point is twenty or twentyfive feet above the common surface of the water, and a considerable bottom of flat, well-which he gave, of his own drawing. The timbered land all around it, very convenient for building. The rivers are each a quarter of a mile or more across, and run here very nearly at right angles; Allegany bearing north-east, and Monongahela south-east. The former of these two is a very rapid and swiftrunning water, the other deep and still, without any perceptible fall." The Ohio company had intended to build a fort about two miles from this place on the south-east side of the river; but Washington gave the fork the decided preference. French engineers of experience proved the accuracy of his military eye, by subsequently choosing it for the site of Fort Duquesne, noted in frontier history.
In this neighborhood lived Shingiss, the king or chief sachem of the Delawares. Washington visited him at his village, to invite him to the council at Logstown. He was one of the greatest warriors of his tribe, and subsequently took up the hatchet at various times against the English, though now he seemed favorably disposed, and readily accepted the invitation.
They arrived at Logstown after sunset on the 24th of November. The half-king was absent at his hunting lodge on Beaver Creek, about fifteen miles distant; but Washington had runners sent out to invite him and all the other chiefs to a grand talk on the following day.
In the morning four French deserters came into the village. They had deserted from a company of one hundred men, sent up from New Orleans with eight canoes laden with provisions. Washington drew from them an account of the French force at New Orleans, and of the forts along the Mississippi, and at the mouth of the Wabash, by which they kept up a communication with the lakes; all which he carefully noted down. The deserters were on their way to Philadelphia, conducted by a Pennsylvania trader.
About three o'clock the half-king arrived. Washington had a private conversation with him in his tent, through Davidson, the interpreter. He found him intelligent, patriotic, and proudly tenacious of his territorial rights. We have already cited from Washington's papers, the account given by this chief in this
On the following morning at nine o'clock, the chiefs assembled at the council house; where Washington, according to his instructions, informed them that he was sent by their brother, the Governor of Virginia, to deliver to the French commandant a letter of great importance, both to their brothers the English and to themselves; and that he was to ask their advice and assistance, and some of their young men to accompany and provide for him on the way, and be his safeguard against the "French Indians" who had taken up the hatchet. He concluded by presenting the indispensable document in Indian diplomacy a string of wampum.
The chiefs, according to etiquette, sat for some moments silent after he had concluded, as if ruminating on what had been said, or to give him time for further remark.
The half-king then rose and spoke in behalf of the tribes, assuring him that they considered the English and themselves brothers, and one people; and that they intended to return the French the "speech-belts," or wampums, which the latter had sent them. This, in Indian diplomacy, is a renunciation of all friendly relations. An escort would be furnished to Washington composed of Mingoes, Shánnoahs, and Delawares, in token of the love and loyalty of those several tribes; but three days would be required to prepare for the journey.
Washington remonstrated against such delay; but was informed, that an affair of such moment, where three speech-belts were to be given up, was not to be entered into without due consideration. Besides, the young men who were to form the escort were absent hunting, and the half-king could not suffer the party to go without sufficient protection. His own French speech-belt, also, was at his hunting lodge, whither he must go in quest of it.
INDIAN ESCORTS-FRONTIER REVELRY.
Moreover, the Shannoah chiefs were yet absent and must be waited for. In short, Washington had his first lesson in Indian diplomacy, which for punctilio, ceremonial, and secret manoeuvring, is equal at least to that of civilized life. He soon found that to urge a more speedy departure would be offensive to Indian dignity and decorum, so he was fain to await the gathering together of the different chiefs with their speech-belts.
In fact there was some reason for all this caution. Tidings had reached the sachems that Captain Joncaire had called a meeting at Venango, of the Mingoes, Delawares, and other tribes, and made them a speech, informing them that the French, for the present, had gone into winter quarters, but intended to descend the river in great force, and fight the English in the spring. He had advised them, therefore, to stand aloof, for should they interfere, the French and English would join, cut them all off, and divide their land between them.
With these rumors preying on their minds, the half-king and three other chiefs waited on Washington in his tent in the evening, and after representing that they had complied with all the requisitions of the Governor of Virginia, endeavored to draw from the youthful ambassador the true purport of his mission to the French commandant. Washington had anticipated an inquiry of the kind, knowing how natural it was that these poor people | should regard, with anxiety and distrust, every movement of two formidable powers thus pressing upon them from opposite sides; he managed, however, to answer them in such a manner as to allay their solicitude without transcending the bounds of diplomatic secrecy.
After a day or two more of delay and further consultations in the council house, the chiefs determined that but three of their number should accompany the mission, as a greater number might awaken the suspicions of the French. Accordingly, on the 30th of November, Washington set out for the French post, having his usual party augmented by an Indian hunter, and being accompanied by the halfking, an old Shannoah sachem named Jeskakake, and another chief, sometimes called Belt of Wampum, from being the keeper of the speech-bolts, but generally bearing the sounding appellation of White Thunder.
ALTHOUGH the distance to Venango, by the route taken, was not above seventy miles, yet such was the inclemency of the weather and the difficulty of travelling, that Washington and his party did not arrive there until the 4th of December. The French colors were flying at a house whence John Frazier, the English trader, had been driven. Washington repaired thither, and inquired of three French officers whom he saw there where the commandant resided. One of them promptly replied that he "had the command of the Ohio." It was, in fact, the redoubtable Captain Joncaire, the veteran intriguer of the frontier. On being apprised, however, of the nature of Washington's errand, he informed him that there was a general officer at the next fort, where he advised him to apply for an answer to the letter of which he was the bearer.
In the mean time, he invited Washington and his party to a supper at head-quarters. It proved a jovial one, for Joncaire appears to have been somewhat of a boon companion, and there is always ready though rough hospitality in the wilderness. It is true, Washington, for so young a man, may not have had the most convivial air, but there may have been a moist look of promise in the old soldier Van Braam.
Joncaire and his brother officers pushed the bottle briskly. "The wine," says Washington, as they dosed themselves pretty plentifully with it, soon banished the restraint which at first appeared in their conversation, and gave a license to their tongues to reveal their sentiments more freely. They told me that it was their absolute design to take possession of the Ohio, and by G-they would do it; for that although they were sensible the English could raise two men for their one, yet they knew their motions were too slow and dilatory to prevent any undertaking. They pretend to have an undoubted right to the river from a discovery made by one La Salle sixty years ago, and the rise of this expedition is to prevent our settling on the river or the waters of it, as they heard of some families moving ont in order thereto."
Washington retained his sobriety and his composure throughout all the rodomontade and bacchanalian outbreak of the mercurial Frenchmen; leaving the task of pledging them to his master of fence, Van Braam, who was
LA FORCE, THE WILY COMMISSARY-FORT AT FRENCH CREEK.
ET. 21.] not a man to flinch from potations. He took careful note, however, of all their revelations, and collected a variety of information concerning the French forces; how and where they were distributed; the situations and distances of their forts, and their means and mode of obtaining supplies. If the veteran diplomatist of the wilderness had intended this revel for a snare, he was completely foiled by his youthful competitor.
On the following day there was no travelling on account of excessive rain. Joncaire, in the mean time, having discovered that the half-king was with the mission, expressed his surprise that he had not accompanied it to his quarters on the preceding day. Washington, in truth, had feared to trust the sachem within the reach of the politic Frenchman. Nothing would do now but Joncaire must have the sachems at
head-quarters. Here his diplomacy was triumphant. He received them with open arms. He was enraptured to see them. His Indian brothers! How could they be so near without coming to visit him? He made them presents; but, above all, plied them so potently with liquor, that the poor half-king, Jeskakake, and White Thunder forgot all about their wrongs, their speeches, their speech-belts, and all the business they had come upon; paid no heed to the repeated cautions of their English friends, and were soon in a complete state of frantic extravagance or drunken oblivion.
The next day the half-king made his appearance at Washington's tent, perfectly sober and very much crestfallen. He declared, however, that he still intended to make his speech to the French, and offered to rehearse it on the spot; but Washington advised him not to waste his ammunition on inferior game like Joncaire and his comrades, but to reserve it for the commandant. The sachem was not to be persuaded. Here, he said, was the place of the council fire, where they were accustomed to transact their business with the French; and as to Joncaire, he had all the management of French affairs with the Indians.
Washington was fain to attend the council fire and listen to the speech. It was much the same in purport as that which he had made to the French general, and he ended by offering to return the French speech-belt; but this Joncaire refused to receive, telling him to carry it to the commander at the fort.
'All that day and the next was the party kept at Venango by the stratagems of Joncaire and
his emissaries to detain and seduce the sachems. It was not until 12 o'clock on the 7th of December, that Washington was able to extricate them out of their clutches and commence his journey.
A French commissary by the name of La Force, and three soldiers, set off in company with him. La Force went as if on ordinary business, but he proved one of the most active, daring, and mischief-making of those anomalous agents employed by the French among the Indian tribes. It is probable that he was at the bottom of many of the perplexities experienced by Washington at Venango, and now travelled with him for the prosecution of his wiles. He will be found, hereafter, acting a more prominent part, and ultimately reaping the fruit of his evil doings.
After four days of weary travel through snow and rain, and mire and swamp, the party reached the fort. It was situated on a kind of island on the west fork of French Creek, about fifteen miles south of Lake Erie, and consisted of four houses, forming a hollow square, defended by bastions made of pallisades twelve feet high, picketed, and pierced for cannon and small arms. Within the bastions were a guardhouse, chapel, and other buildings, and outside were stables, a smith's forge, and log-houses covered with bark, for the soldiers.
On the death of the late general, the fort had remained in charge of one Captain Reparti until within a week past, when the Chevalier Legardeur de St. Pierre had arrived, and taken command.
The reception of Washington at the fort was very different from the unceremonious one experienced at the outpost of Joncaire and his convivial messmates. When he presented himself at the gate, accompanied by his interpreter, Van Braam, he was met by the officer second in command and conducted in due military form to his superior; an ancient and silver-haired chevalier of the military order of St. Louis, courteous but ceremonious; mingling the polish of the French gentleman of the old school with the precision of the soldier.
Having announced his errand through his interpreter, Van Braam, Washington offered his credentials and the letter of Governor Dinwiddie, and was disposed to proceed at once to business with the prompt frankness of a young man unhackneyed in diplomacy. The chevalier, however, politely requested him to retain the documents in his possession until his pre