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THE OHIO COMPANY.
his retainers and a string of pack-horses, would make his way over mountains and through forests to the banks of the Ohio, establish his head-quarters in some Indian town, and disperse his followers to traffic among the hamlets, huntingcamps and wigwams, exchanging blankets, gaudy colored cloth, trinketry, powder, shot, and rum, for valuable furs and peltry. In this way a lucrative trade with these western tribes was springing up and becoming monopolized by the Pennsylvanians.
To secure a participation in this trade, and to gain a foothold in this desirable region, became now the wish of some of the most intelligent and enterprising men of Virginia and Maryland, among whom were Lawrence and Augustine Washington. With these views they projected a scheme, in connection with John Hanbury, a wealthy London merchant, to obtain a grant of land from the British government, for the pur pose of forming settlements or colonies beyond the Alleghanies. Government readily countenanced a scheme by which French encroachments might be forestalled, and prompt and quiet possession secured of the great Ohio Valley. An association was accordingly chartered in 1749, by the name of "the Ohio Company," and five hundred thousand acres of land was granted to it west of the Alleghanies, between the Monongahela and Kanawha rivers, though part of the land might be taken up north of the Ohio, should it be deemed expedient. The Company were to pay no quitrent for ten years; but they were to select two
fifths of their lands immediately; to settle one hundred families upon them within seven years; to build a fort at their own expense, and maintain a sufficient garrison in it for defense against the Indians.
Mr. Thomas Lee, president of the council of Virginia, took the lead in the concerns of the company at the outset, and by many has been considered its founder. On his death, which soon took place, Lawrence Washington had the chief management. His enlightened mind and liberal spirit shone forth in his earliest arrangements. He wished to form the settlements with Germans from Pennsylvania. Being dissenters, however, they would be obliged, on becoming residents within the jurisdiction of Virginia, to pay parish rates, and maintain a clergyman of the church of England, though they might not understand his langge nor relish his doctrines. Lawrence sought have them exempted from this double tax on pure and conscience.
"It has ever been my opinion," said he, “and I hope it ever will be, that restraints on conare mel in regard to those on whom dare imposed, and injurious to the country them. England, Holland, and Prussia quote as examples, and much more Pennsylvania, which herished under that delight
me the admiration of the short time it has been Virginia) was greatly harles the First's time, by the zealous church
men; and that spirit, which was brought in, has ever since continued; so that, except a few Quakers, we have no dissenters. But what has been the consequence? We have increased by slow degrees, whilst our neighboring colonies, whose natural advantages are greatly inferior to ours, have become populous."
Such were the enlightened views of this brother of our Washington, to whom the latter owed much of his moral and mental training. The Company proceeded to make preparations for their colonizing scheme. Goods were imported from England suited to the Indian trade, or for presents to the chiefs. Rewards were promised to veteran warriors and hunters among the natives acquainted with the woods and mountains, for the best route to the Ohio. Before the Company had received its charter, however, the French were in the field. Early in 1749, the Marquis de la Galisonniere, Governor of Canada, dispatched Celeron de Bienville, an intelligent officer, at the head of three hundred men, to the banks of the Ohio, to make peace, as he said, between the tribes that had become embroiled with each other during the late war, and to renew the French possession of the country. Celeron de Bienville distributed presents among the Indians, made speeches reminding them of former friendship, and warned them not to trade with the English.
He furthermore nailed leaden plates to trees, and buried others in the earth, at the conAuence of the Ohio and its tributaries, bearing
inscriptions purporting that all the lands on both sides of the rivers to their sources appertained, as in foregone times, to the crown of France.1 The Indians gazed at these mysterious plates with wondering eyes, but surmised their purport. "They mean to steal our country from us," murmured they and they determined to seek pro
tection from the English.
Celeron finding some traders from Pennsylvania trafficking among the Indians, he summoned them to depart, and wrote by them to James Hamilton, Governor of Pennsylvania, telling him the object of his errand to those parts, and his surprise at meeting with English traders in a country to which England had no pretensions; intimating that in future any intruders of the kind would be rigorously dealt with.
His letter, and a report of his proceedings on the Ohio, roused the solicitude of the governor and council of Pennsylvania, for the protection of their Indian trade. Shortly afterwards, one Hugh Crawford, who had been trading with the Miami tribes on the Wabash, brought a message from them, speaking of the promises and threats with which the French were endeavoring to shake their faith, but assuring the governor that friendship for the English "would last the sun and moon ran round the world.” was accompanied by three strings
GEORGE CROGHAN.— CHRISTOPHER GIST. 57
Governor Hamilton knew the value of Indian friendship, and suggested to the Assembly that it would be better to clinch it with presents, and that as soon as possible. An envoy accordingly was sent off early in October, who was supposed to have great influence among the western tribes. This was one George Croghan, a veteran trader, shrewd and sagacious, who had been frequently to the Ohio country with pack-horses and followers, and made himself popular among the Indians by dispensing presents with a lavish hand. He was accompanied by Andrew Montour, a Canadian of half Indian descent, who was to act as interpreter. They were provided with a small present for the emergency; but were to convoke a meeting of all the tribes at Logstown, on the Ohio,
the ensuing spring, to receive an ample which would be provided by the Assem
as some time later in the same autumn e Ohio Company brought their plans into tion, and dispatched an agent to explore the
upon the Ohio and its branches as low as Great Falls, take note of their fitness for tivation, of the passes of the mountains, the arses and bearings of the rivers, and the rength and disposition of the native tribes. The man chosen for the purpose was Christopher Gist, a hardy pioneer, experienced in woodcraft and Indian life, who had his home on the banks of the Yadkin, near the boundary line of Virginia and North Carolina. He was allowed a woodsman or two for the service of the expedi