[Footnote 8: O.H. Marshall, in Magazine of American History, March, 1878.]
[Footnote 9: For papers relating to it, see Trans. Amer. Antiq. Soc., II.]
[Footnote 10: For a facsimile of the inscription on this plate, see Olden Time, I. 288. Celoron calls the Kenawha, Chinodahichetha. The inscriptions as given in his Journal correspond with those on the plates discovered.]
The weather was by turns rainy and hot; and the men, tired and famished, were fast falling ill. On the twenty-second they approached Scioto, called by the French St. Yotoc, or Sinioto, a large Shawanoe town at the mouth of the river which bears the same name. Greatly doubting what welcome awaited them, they filled their powderhorns and prepared for the worst. Joncaire was sent forward to propitiate the inhabitants; but they shot bullets through the flag that he carried, and surrounded him, yelling and brandishing their knives. Some were for killing him at once; others for burning him alive. The interposition of a friendly Iroquois saved him; and at length they let him go. Celoron was very uneasy at the reception of his messenger. "I knew," he writes, "the weakness of my party, two thirds of which were young men who had never left home before, and would all have run at the sight of ten Indians. Still, there was nothing for me but to keep on; for I was short of provisions, my canoes were badly damaged, and I had no pitch or bark to mend them. So I embarked again, ready for whatever might happen. I had good officers, and about fifty men who could be trusted."
As they neared the town, the Indians swarmed to the shore, and began the usual salute of musketry. "They fired," says Celoron, "full a thousand shots; for the English give them powder for nothing." He prudently pitched his camp on the farther side of the river, posted guards, and kept close watch. Each party distrusted and feared the other. At length, after much ado, many debates, and some threatening movements on the part of the alarmed and excited Indians, a council took place at the tent of the French commander; the chiefs apologized for the rough treatment of Joncaire, and Celoron replied with a rebuke, which would doubtless have been less mild, had he felt himself stronger. He gave them also a message from the Governor, modified, apparently, to suit the circumstances; for while warning them of the wiles of the English, it gave no hint that the King of France claimed mastery of their lands. Their answer was vague and unsatisfactory. It was plain that they were bound to the enemy by interest, if not by sympathy. A party of English traders were living in the place; and Celoron summoned them to withdraw, on pain of what might ensue. "My instructions," he says, "enjoined me to do this, and even to pillage the English; but I was not strong enough; and as these traders were established in the village and well supported by the Indians, the attempt would have failed, and put the French to shame." The assembled chiefs having been regaled with a cup of brandy each,—the only part of the proceeding which seemed to please them,—Celoron reimbarked, and continued his voyage.
On the thirtieth they reached the Great Miami, called by the French, Riviere a la Roche; and here Celoron buried the last of his leaden plates. They now bade farewell to the Ohio, or, in the words of the chaplain, to "La Belle Riviere,—that river so little known to the French, and unfortunately too well known to the English." He speaks of the multitude of Indian villages on its shores, and still more on its northern branches. "Each, great or small, has one or more English traders, and each of these has hired men to carry his furs. Behold, then, the English well advanced upon our lands, and, what is worse, under the protection of a crowd of savages whom they have drawn over to them, and whose number increases daily."
The course of the party lay up the Miami; and they toiled thirteen days against the shallow current before they reached a village of the Miami Indians, lately built at the mouth of the rivulet now called Loramie Creek. Over it ruled a chief to whom the French had given the singular name of La Demoiselle, but whom the English, whose fast friend he was, called Old Britain. The English traders who lived here had prudently withdrawn, leaving only two hired men in the place. The object of Celoron was to induce the Demoiselle and his band to leave this new abode and return to their old villages near the French fort on the Maumee, where they would be safe from English seduction. To this end, he called them to a council, gave them ample gifts, and made them an harangue in the name of the Governor. The Demoiselle took the gifts, thanked his French father for his good advice, and promised to follow it at a more convenient time. In vain Celoron insisted that he and his tribesmen should remove at once. Neither blandishments nor threats would prevail, and the French commander felt that his negotiation had failed.
[Footnote 11: Celoron, Journal. Compare A Message from the Twightwees (Miamis) in Colonial Records of Pa., V. 437, where they say that they refused the gifts.]
He was not deceived. Far from leaving his village, the Demoiselle, who was Great Chief of the Miami Confederacy, gathered his followers to the spot, till, less than two years after the visit of Celoron, its population had increased eightfold. Pique Town, or Pickawillany, as the English called it, became one of the greatest Indian towns of the West, the centre of English trade and influence, and a capital object of French jealousy.
Celoron burned his shattered canoes, and led his party across the long and difficult portage to the French post on the Maumee, where he found Raymond, the commander, and all his men, shivering with fever and ague. They supplied him with wooden canoes for his voyage down the river; and, early in October, he reached Lake Erie, where he was detained for a time by a drunken debauch of his Indians, who are called by the chaplain "a species of men made to exercise the patience of those who have the misfortune to travel with them." In a month more he was at Fort Frontenac; and as he descended thence to Montreal, he stopped at the Oswegatchie, in obedience to the Governor, who had directed him to report the progress made by the Sulpitian, Abbe Piquet, at his new mission. Piquet's new fort had been burned by Indians, prompted, as he thought, by the English of Oswego; but the priest, buoyant and undaunted, was still resolute for the glory of God and the confusion of the heretics.
At length Celoron reached Montreal; and, closing his Journal, wrote thus: "Father Bonnecamp, who is a Jesuit and a great mathematician, reckons that we have travelled twelve hundred leagues; I and my officers think we have travelled more. All I can say is, that the nations of these countries are very ill-disposed towards the French, and devoted entirely to the English." If his expedition had done no more, it had at least revealed clearly the deplorable condition of French interests in the West.
[Footnote 12: Journal de la Campagne que moy Celoron, Chevalier de l'Ordre Royal et Militaire de St. Louis, Capitaine Commandant un detachement envoye dans la Belle Riviere par les ordres de M. le Marquis de La Galissoniere, etc.
Relation d'un voyage dans la Belle Riviere sous les ordres de M. de Celoron, par le Pere Bonnecamp, en 1749.]
While Celoron was warning English traders from the Ohio, a plan was on foot in Virginia for a new invasion of the French domain. An association was formed to settle the Ohio country; and a grant of five hundred thousand acres was procured from the King, on condition that a hundred families should be established upon it within seven years, a fort built, and a garrison maintained. The Ohio Company numbered among its members some of the chief men of Virginia, including two brothers of Washington; and it had also a London partner, one Hanbury, a person of influence, who acted as its agent in England. In the year after the expedition of Celoron, its governing committee sent the trader Christopher Gist to explore the country and select land. It must be "good level land," wrote the Committee; "we had rather go quite down to the Mississippi than take mean, broken land." In November Gist reached Logstown, the Chiningue of Celeron, where he found what he calls a "parcel of reprobate Indian traders." Those whom he so stigmatizes were Pennsylvanians, chiefly Scotch-Irish, between whom and the traders from Virginia there was great jealousy. Gist was told that he "should never go home safe." He declared himself the bearer of a message from the King. This imposed respect, and he was allowed to proceed. At the Wyandot village of Muskingum he found the trader George Croghan, sent to the Indians by the Governor of Pennsylvania, to renew the chain of friendship. "Croghan," he says, "is a mere idol among his countrymen, the Irish traders;" yet they met amicably, and the Pennsylvanian had with him a companion, Andrew Montour, the interpreter, who proved of great service to Gist. As Montour was a conspicuous person in his time, and a type of his class, he merits a passing notice. He was the reputed grandson of a French governor and an Indian squaw. His half-breed mother, Catharine Montour, was a native of Canada, whence she was carried off by the Iroquois, and adopted by them. She lived in a village at the head of Seneca Lake, and still held the belief, inculcated by the guides of her youth, that Christ was a Frenchman crucified by the English. Her son Andrew is thus described by the Moravian Zinzendorf, who knew him: "His face is like that of a European, but marked with a broad Indian ring of bear's-grease and paint drawn completely round it. He wears a coat of fine cloth of cinnamon color, a black necktie with silver spangles, a red satin waistcoat, trousers over which hangs his shirt, shoes and stockings, a hat, and brass ornaments, something like the handle of a basket, suspended from his ears." He was an excellent interpreter, and held in high account by his Indian kinsmen.
[Footnote 13: Instructions to Gist, in appendix to Pownall, Topographical Description of North America.]
[Footnote 14: Mr. Croghan's Transactions with the Indians, in N.Y. Col. Docs., VII. 267; Croghan to Hamilton, 16 Dec. 1750.]
[Footnote 15: This is stated by Count Zinzendorf, who visited her among the Senecas. In a plan of the "Route of the Western Army," made in 1779, and of which a tracing is before me, the village where she lived is still called "French Catharine's Town."]
[Footnote 16: Journal of Zinzendorf, quoted in Schweinitz, Life of David Zeisberger, 112, note.]
After leaving Muskingum, Gist, Croghan, and Montour went together to a village on White Woman's Creek,—so called from one Mary Harris, who lived here. She was born in New England, was made prisoner when a child forty years before, and had since dwelt among her captors, finding such comfort as she might in an Indian husband and a family of young half-breeds. "She still remembers," says Gist, "that they used to be very religious in New England, and wonders how white men can be so wicked as she has seen them in these woods." He and his companions now journeyed southwestward to the Shawanoe town at the mouth of the Scioto, where they found a reception very different from that which had awaited Celoron. Thence they rode northwestward along the forest path that led to Pickawillany, the Indian town on the upper waters of the Great Miami. Gist was delighted with the country; and reported to his employers that "it is fine, rich, level land, well timbered with large walnut, ash, sugar trees and cherry trees; well watered with a great number of little streams and rivulets; full of beautiful natural meadows, with wild rye, blue-grass, and clover, and abounding with turkeys, deer, elks, and most sorts of game, particularly buffaloes, thirty or forty of which are frequently seen in one meadow." A little farther west, on the plains of the Wabash and the Illinois, he would have found them by thousands.
They crossed the Miami on a raft, their horses swimming after them; and were met on landing by a crowd of warriors, who, after smoking with them, escorted them to the neighboring town, where they were greeted by a fusillade of welcome. "We entered with English colors before us, and were kindly received by their king, who invited us into his own house and set our colors upon the top of it; then all the white men and traders that were there came and welcomed us." This "king" was Old Britain, or La Demoiselle. Great were the changes here since Celeron, a year and a half before, had vainly enticed him to change his abode, and dwell in the shadow of the fleur-de-lis. The town had grown to four hundred families, or about two thousand souls; and the English traders had built for themselves and their hosts a fort of pickets, strengthened with logs.
There was a series of councils in the long house, or town-hall. Croghan made the Indians a present from the Governor of Pennsylvania; and he and Gist delivered speeches of friendship and good advice, which the auditors received with the usual monosyllabic plaudits, ejected from the depths of their throats. A treaty of peace was solemnly made between the English and the confederate tribes, and all was serenity and joy; till four Ottawas, probably from Detroit, arrived with a French flag, a gift of brandy and tobacco, and a message from the French commandant inviting the Miamis to visit him. Whereupon the great war-chief rose, and, with "a fierce tone and very warlike air," said to the envoys: "Brothers the Ottawas, we let you know, by these four strings of wampum, that we will not hear anything the French say, nor do anything they bid us." Then addressing the French as if actually present: "Fathers, we have made a road to the sun-rising, and have been taken by the hand by our brothers the English, the Six Nations, the Delawares, Shawanoes, and Wyandots. We assure you, in that road we will go; and as you threaten us with war in the spring, we tell you that we are ready to receive you." Then, turning again to the four envoys: "Brothers the Ottawas, you hear what I say. Tell that to your fathers the French, for we speak it from our hearts." The chiefs then took down the French flag which the Ottawas had planted in the town, and dismissed the envoys with their answer of defiance.
[Footnote 17: Compare Message of Miamis and Hurons to the Governor of Pennsylvania in N.Y. Col. Docs., VI. 594; and Report of Croghan in Colonial Records of Pa., V. 522, 523.]
On the next day the town-crier came with a message from the Demoiselle, inviting his English guests to a "feather dance," which Gist thus describes: "It was performed by three dancing-masters, who were painted all over of various colors, with long sticks in their hands, upon the ends of which were fastened long feathers of swans and other birds, neatly woven in the shape of a fowl's wing; in this disguise they performed many antic tricks, waving their sticks and feathers about with great skill, to imitate the flying and fluttering of birds, keeping exact time with their music." This music was the measured thumping of an Indian drum. From time to time, a warrior would leap up, and the drum and the dancers would cease as he struck a post with his tomahawk, and in a loud voice recounted his exploits. Then the music and the dance began anew, till another warrior caught the martial fire, and bounded into the circle to brandish his tomahawk and vaunt his prowess.
On the first of March Gist took leave of Pickawillany, and returned towards the Ohio. He would have gone to the Falls, where Louisville now stands, but for a band of French Indians reported to be there, who would probably have killed him. After visiting a deposit of mammoth bones on the south shore, long the wonder of the traders, he turned eastward, crossed with toil and difficulty the mountains about the sources of the Kenawha, and after an absence of seven months reached his frontier home on the Yadkin, whence he proceeded to Roanoke with the report of his journey.
[Footnote 18: Journal of Christopher Gist, in appendix to Pownall, Topographical Description. Mr. Croghan's Transactions with the Indians in N.Y. Col. Docs., VII. 267.]
All looked well for the English in the West; but under this fair outside lurked hidden danger. The Miamis were hearty in the English cause, and so perhaps were the Shawanoes; but the Delawares had not forgotten the wrongs that drove them from their old abodes east of the Alleghanies, while the Mingoes, or emigrant Iroquois, like their brethren of New York, felt the influence of Joncaire and other French agents, who spared no efforts to seduce them. Still more baneful to British interests were the apathy and dissensions of the British colonies themselves. The Ohio Company had built a trading-house at Will's Creek, a branch of the Potomac, to which the Indians resorted in great numbers; whereupon the jealous traders of Pennsylvania told them that the Virginians meant to steal away their lands. This confirmed what they had been taught by the French emissaries, whose intrigues it powerfully aided. The governors of New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia saw the importance of Indian alliances, and felt their own responsibility in regard to them; but they could do nothing without their assemblies. Those of New York and Pennsylvania were largely composed of tradesmen and farmers, absorbed in local interests, and possessed by two motives,—the saving of the people's money, and opposition to the governor, who stood for the royal prerogative. It was Hamilton, of Pennsylvania, who had sent Croghan to the Miamis to "renew the chain of friendship;" and when the envoy returned, the Assembly rejected his report. "I was condemned," he says, "for bringing expense on the Government, and the Indians were neglected."
[Footnote 19: Joncaire made anti-English speeches to the Ohio Indians under the eyes of the English themselves, who did not molest him. Journal of George Croghan, 1751, in Olden Time, I. 136.]
[Footnote 20: Mr. Croghan's Transactions with the Indians, N.Y. Col. Docs., VII. 267.]
In the same year Hamilton again sent him over the mountains, with a present for the Mingoes and Delawares. Croghan succeeded in persuading them that it would be for their good if the English should build a fortified trading-house at the fork of the Ohio, where Pittsburg now stands; and they made a formal request to the Governor that it should be built accordingly. But, in the words of Croghan, the Assembly "rejected the proposal, and condemned me for making such a report." Yet this post on the Ohio was vital to English interests. Even the Penns, proprietaries of the province, never lavish of their money, offered four hundred pounds towards the cost of it, besides a hundred a year towards its maintenance; but the Assembly would not listen. The Indians were so well convinced that a strong English trading-station in their country would add to their safety and comfort, that when Pennsylvania refused it, they repeated the proposal to Virginia; but here, too, it found for the present little favor.
[Footnote 21: Colonial Records of Pa., V. 515, 529, 547. At a council at Logstown (1751), the Indians said to Croghan: "The French want to cheat us out of our country; but we will stop them, and, Brothers the English, you must help us. We expect that you will build a strong house on the River Ohio, that in case of war we may have a place to secure our wives and children, likewise our brothers that come to trade with us." Report of Treaty at Logstown, Ibid., V. 538.]
The question of disputed boundaries had much to do with this most impolitic inaction. A large part of the valley of the Ohio, including the site of the proposed establishment, was claimed by both Pennsylvania and Virginia; and each feared that whatever money it might spend there would turn to the profit of the other. This was not the only evil that sprang from uncertain ownership. "Till the line is run between the two provinces," says Dinwiddie, governor of Virginia, "I cannot appoint magistrates to keep the traders in good order." Hence they did what they pleased, and often gave umbrage to the Indians. Clinton, of New York, appealed to his Assembly for means to assist Pennsylvania in "securing the fidelity of the Indians on the Ohio," and the Assembly refused. "We will take care of our Indians, and they may take care of theirs:" such was the spirit of their answer. He wrote to the various provinces, inviting them to send commissioners to meet the tribes at Albany, "in order to defeat the designs and intrigues of the French." All turned a deaf ear except Massachusetts, Connecticut, and South Carolina, who sent the commissioners, but supplied them very meagrely with the indispensable presents. Clinton says further: "The Assembly of this province have not given one farthing for Indian affairs, nor for a year past have they provided for the subsistence of the garrison at Oswego, which is the key for the commerce between the colonies and the inland nations of Indians."
[Footnote 22: Dinwiddie to the Lords of Trade, 6 Oct. 1752.]
[Footnote 23: Journals of New York Assembly, II. 283, 284. Colonial Records of Pa., V. 466.]
[Footnote 24: Clinton to Hamilton, 18 Dec. 1750. Clinton to Lords of Trade, 13 June, 1751; Ibid., 17 July, 1751.]
[Footnote 25: Clinton to Bedford, 30 July, 1750.]
In the heterogeneous structure of the British colonies, their clashing interests, their internal disputes, and the misplaced economy of penny-wise and short-sighted assembly-men, lay the hope of France. The rulers of Canada knew the vast numerical preponderance of their rivals; but with their centralized organization they felt themselves more than a match for any one English colony alone. They hoped to wage war under the guise of peace, and to deal with the enemy in detail; and they at length perceived that the fork of the Ohio, so strangely neglected by the English, formed, together with Niagara, the key of the Great West. Could France hold firmly these two controlling passes, she might almost boast herself mistress of the continent.
NOTE: The Journal of Celoron (Archives de la Marine) is very long and circumstantial, including the proces verbaux, and reports of councils with Indians. The Journal of the chaplain, Bonnecamp (Depot de la Marine), is shorter, but is the work of an intelligent and observing man. The author, a Jesuit, was skilled in mathematics, made daily observations, and constructed a map of the route, still preserved at the Depot de la Marine. Concurrently with these French narratives, one may consult the English letters and documents bearing on the same subjects, in the Colonial Records of Pennsylvania, the Archives of Pennsylvania, and the Colonial Documents of New York.
Three of Celeron's leaden plates have been found,—the two mentioned in the text, and another which was never buried, and which the Indians, who regarded these mysterious tablets as "bad medicine," procured by a trick from Joncaire, or, according to Governor Clinton, stole from him. A Cayuga chief brought it to Colonel Johnson, on the Mohawk, who interpreted the "Devilish writing" in such a manner as best to inspire horror of French designs.
Conflict for the West
The Iroquois, or Five Nations, sometimes called Six Nations after the Tuscaroras joined them, had been a power of high importance in American international politics. In a certain sense they may be said to have held the balance between their French and English neighbors; but their relative influence had of late declined. So many of them had emigrated and joined the tribes of the Ohio, that the centre of Indian population had passed to that region. Nevertheless, the Five Nations were still strong enough in their ancient abodes to make their alliance an object of the utmost consequence to both the European rivals. At the western end of their "Long House," or belt of confederated villages, Joncaire intrigued to gain them for France; while in the east he was counteracted by the young colonel of militia, William Johnson, who lived on the Mohawk, and was already well skilled in managing Indians. Johnson sometimes lost his temper; and once wrote to Governor Clinton to complain of the "confounded wicked things the French had infused into the Indians' heads; among the rest that the English were determined, the first opportunity, to destroy them all. I assure your Excellency I had hard work to beat these and several other cursed villanous things, told them by the French, out of their heads."
[Footnote 26: Johnson to Clinton, 28 April, 1749.]
In former times the French had hoped to win over the Five Nations in a body, by wholesale conversion to the Faith; but the attempt had failed. They had, however, made within their own limits an asylum for such converts as they could gain, whom they collected together at Caughnawaga, near Montreal, to the number of about three hundred warriors. These could not be trusted to fight their kinsmen, but willingly made forays against the English borders. Caughnawaga, like various other Canadian missions, was divided between the Church, the army, and the fur-trade. It had a chapel, fortifications, and storehouses; two Jesuits, an officer, and three chief traders. Of these last, two were maiden ladies, the Demoiselles Desauniers; and one of the Jesuits, their friend Father Tournois, was their partner in business. They carried on by means of the Mission Indians, and in collusion with influential persons in the colony, a trade with the Dutch at Albany, illegal, but very profitable.
[Footnote 27: The estimate of a French official report, 1736, and of Sir William Johnson, 1763.]
[Footnote 28: La Jonquiere au Ministre, 27 Fev. 1750. Ibid., 29 Oct. 1751. Ordres du Roy et Depeches des Ministres, 1751. Notice biographique de la Jonquiere. La Jonquifere, governor of Canada, at last broke up their contraband trade, and ordered Tournois to Quebec.]
Besides this Iroquois mission, which was chiefly composed of Mohawks and Oneidas, another was now begun farther westward, to win over the Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas. This was the establishment of Father Piquet, which Celoron had visited in its infancy when on his way to the Ohio, and again on his return. Piquet was a man in the prime of life, of an alert, vivacious countenance, by no means unprepossessing; an enthusiastic schemer, with great executive talents; ardent, energetic, vain, self-confident, and boastful. The enterprise seems to have been of his own devising; but it found warm approval from the Government. La Presentation, as he called the new mission, stood on the bank of the River Oswegatchie where it enters the St. Lawrence. Here the rapids ceased, and navigation was free to Lake Ontario. The place commanded the main river, and could bar the way to hostile war-parties or contraband traders. Rich meadows, forests, and abundance of fish and game, made it attractive to Indians, and the Oswegatchie gave access to the Iroquois towns. Piquet had chosen his site with great skill. His activity was admirable. His first stockade was burned by Indian incendiaries; but it rose quickly from its ashes, and within a year or two the mission of La Presentation had a fort of palisades flanked with blockhouses, a chapel, a storehouse, a barn, a stable, ovens, a saw-mill, broad fields of corn and beans, and three villages of Iroquois, containing, in all, forty-nine bark lodges, each holding three or four families, more or less converted to the Faith; and, as time went on, this number increased. The Governor had sent a squad of soldiers to man the fort, and five small cannon to mount upon it. The place was as safe for the new proselytes as it was convenient and agreeable. The Pennsylvanian interpreter, Conrad Weiser, was told at Onondaga, the Iroquois capital, that Piquet had made a hundred converts from that place alone; and that, "having clothed them all in very fine clothes, laced with silver and gold, he took them down and presented them to the French Governor at Montreal, who received them very kindly, and made them large presents."
[Footnote 29: I once saw a contemporary portrait of him at the mission of Two Mountains, where he had been stationed.]
[Footnote 30: Rouille a la Jonquiere, 1749. The Intendant Bigot gave him money and provisions. N.Y. Col. Docs., X. 204.]
[Footnote 31: Journal of Conrad Weiser, 1750.]
Such were some of the temporal attractions of La Presentation. The nature of the spiritual instruction bestowed by Piquet and his fellow-priests may be partly inferred from the words of a proselyte warrior, who declared with enthusiasm that he had learned from the Sulpitian missionary that the King of France was the eldest son of the wife of Jesus Christ. This he of course took in a literal sense, the mystic idea of the Church as the spouse of Christ being beyond his savage comprehension. The effect was to stimulate his devotion to the Great Onontio beyond the sea, and to the lesser Onontio who represented him as Governor of Canada.
[Footnote 32: Lalande, Notice de L'Abbe Piquet, in Lettres Edifiantes. See also Tasse in Revue Canadienne, 1870, p. 9.]
Piquet was elated by his success; and early in 1752 he wrote to the Governor and Intendant: "It is a great miracle that, in spite of envy, contradiction, and opposition from nearly all the Indian villages, I have formed in less than three years one of the most flourishing missions in Canada. I find myself in a position to extend the empire of my good masters, Jesus Christ and the King, even to the extremities of this new world; and, with some little help from you, to do more than France and England have been able to do with millions of money and all their troops."
[Footnote 33: Piquet a la Jonquiere et Bigot, 8 Fev. 1752. See Appendix A. In spite of Piquet's self-laudation, and in spite also of the detraction of the author of the Memoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760, there can be no doubt of his practical capacity and his fertility of resource. Duquesne, when governor of the colony, highly praises "ses talents et son activite pour le service de Sa Majeste."]
The letter from which this is taken was written to urge upon the Government a scheme in which the zealous priest could see nothing impracticable. He proposed to raise a war-party of thirty-eight hundred Indians, eighteen hundred of whom were to be drawn from the Canadian missions, the Five Nations, and the tribes of the Ohio, while the remaining two thousand were to be furnished by the Flatheads, or Choctaws, who were at the same time to be supplied with missionaries. The united force was first to drive the English from the Ohio, and next attack the Dog Tribe, or Cherokees, who lived near the borders of Virginia, with the people of which they were on friendly terms. "If," says Piquet, "the English of Virginia give any help to this last-named tribe,—which will not fail to happen,—they [the war-party] will do their utmost against them, through a grudge they bear them by reason of some old quarrels." In other words, the missionary hopes to set a host of savages to butchering English settlers in time of peace! His wild project never took effect, though the Governor, he says, at first approved it.
[Footnote 34: Appendix A.]
In the preceding year the "Apostle of the Iroquois," as he was called, made a journey to muster recruits for his mission, and kept a copious diary on the way. By accompanying him, one gets a clear view of an important part of the region in dispute between the rival nations. Six Canadians paddled him up the St. Lawrence, and five Indian converts followed in another canoe. Emerging from among the Thousand Islands, they stopped at Fort Frontenac, where Kingston now stands. Once the place was a great resort of Indians; now none were here, for the English post of Oswego, on the other side of the lake, had greater attractions. Piquet and his company found the pork and bacon very bad, and he complains that "there was not brandy enough in the fort to wash a wound." They crossed to a neighboring island, where they were soon visited by the chaplain of the fort, the storekeeper, his wife, and three young ladies, glad of an excursion to relieve the monotony of the garrison. "My hunters," says Piquet, "had supplied me with means of giving them a pretty good entertainment. We drank, with all our hearts, the health of the authorities, temporal and ecclesiastical, to the sound of our musketry, which was very well fired, and delighted the islanders." These islanders were a band of Indians who lived here. Piquet gave them a feast, then discoursed of religion, and at last persuaded them to remove to the new mission.
During eight days he and his party coasted the northern shore of Lake Ontario, with various incidents, such as an encounter between his dog Cerberus and a wolf, to the disadvantage of the latter, and the meeting with "a very fine negro of twenty-two years, a fugitive from Virginia." On the twenty-sixth of June they reached the new fort of Toronto, which offered a striking contrast to their last stopping-place. "The wine here is of the best; there is nothing wanting in this fort; everything is abundant, fine, and good." There was reason for this. The Northern Indians were flocking with their beaver-skins to the English of Oswego; and in April, 1749, an officer named Portneuf had been sent with soldiers and workmen to build a stockaded trading-house at Toronto, in order to intercept them,—not by force, which would have been ruinous to French interests, but by a tempting supply of goods and brandy. Thus the fort was kept well stocked, and with excellent effect. Piquet found here a band of Mississagas, who would otherwise, no doubt, have carried their furs to the English. He was strongly impelled to persuade them to migrate to La Presentation; but the Governor had told him to confine his efforts to other tribes; and lest, he says, the ardor of his zeal should betray him to disobedience, he reimbarked, and encamped six leagues from temptation.
[Footnote 35: On Toronto, La Jonquiere et Bigot au Ministre, 1749. La Jonquiere au Ministre, 30 Aout, 1750. N.Y. Col. Docs. X. 201, 246.]
Two days more brought him to Niagara, where he was warmly received by the commandant, the chaplain, and the storekeeper,—the triumvirate who ruled these forest outposts, and stood respectively for then: three vital principles, war, religion, and trade. Here Piquet said mass; and after resting a day, set out for the trading-house at the portage of the cataract, recently built, like Toronto, to stop the Indians on their way to Oswego. Here he found Joncaire, and here also was encamped a large band of Senecas; though, being all drunk, men, women, and children, they were in no condition to receive the Faith, or appreciate the temporal advantages that attended it. On the next morning, finding them partially sober, he invited them to remove to La Presentation; "but as they had still something left in their bottles, I could get no answer till the following day." "I pass in silence," pursues the missionary, "an infinity of talks on this occasion. Monsieur de Joncaire forgot nothing that could help me, and behaved like a great servant of God and the King. My recruits increased every moment. I went to say my breviary while my Indians and the Senecas, without loss of time, assembled to hold a council with Monsieur de Joncaire." The result of the council was an entreaty to the missionary not to stop at Oswego, lest evil should befall him at the hands of the English. He promised to do as they wished, and presently set out on his return to Fort Niagara, attended by Joncaire and a troop of his new followers. The journey was a triumphal progress. "Whenever was passed a camp or a wigwam, the Indians saluted me by firing their guns, which happened so often that I thought all the trees along the way were charged with gunpowder; and when we reached the fort, Monsieur de Becancour received us with great ceremony and the firing of cannon, by which my savages were infinitely flattered."
[Footnote 36: La Jonquiere au Ministre, 23 Fev. 1750. Ibid., 6 Oct. 1751. Compare Colonial Records of Pa., V. 508.]
His neophytes were gathered into the chapel for the first time in their lives, and there rewarded with a few presents. He now prepared to turn homeward, his flock at the mission being left in his absence without a shepherd; and on the sixth of July he embarked, followed by a swarm of canoes. On the twelfth they stopped at the Genesee, and went to visit the Falls, where the city of Rochester now stands. On the way, the Indians found a populous resort of rattlesnakes, and attacked the gregarious reptiles with great animation, to the alarm of the missionary, who trembled for his bare-legged retainers. His fears proved needless. Forty-two dead snakes, as he avers, requited the efforts of the sportsmen, and not one of them was bitten. When he returned to camp in the afternoon he found there a canoe loaded with kegs of brandy. "The English," he says, "had sent it to meet us, well knowing that this was the best way to cause disorder among my new recruits and make them desert me. The Indian in charge of the canoe, who had the look of a great rascal, offered some to me first, and then to my Canadians and Indians. I gave out that it was very probably poisoned, and immediately embarked again."
He encamped on the fourteenth at Sodus Bay, and strongly advises the planting of a French fort there. "Nevertheless," he adds, "it would be still better to destroy Oswego, and on no account let the English build it again." On the sixteenth he came in sight of this dreaded post. Several times on the way he had met fleets of canoes going thither or returning, in spite of the rival attractions of Toronto and Niagara. No English establishment on the continent was of such ill omen to the French. It not only robbed them of the fur-trade, by which they lived, but threatened them with military and political, no less than commercial, ruin. They were in constant dread lest ships of war should be built here, strong enough to command Lake Ontario, thus separating Canada from Louisiana, and cutting New France asunder. To meet this danger, they soon after built at Fort Frontenac a large three-masted vessel, mounted with heavy cannon; thus, as usual, forestalling their rivals by promptness of action. The ground on which Oswego stood was claimed by the Province of New York, which alone had control of it; but through the purblind apathy of the Assembly, and their incessant quarrels with the Governor, it was commonly left to take care of itself. For some time they would vote no money to pay the feeble little garrison; and Clinton, who saw the necessity of maintaining it, was forced to do so on his own personal credit. "Why can't your Governor and your great men [the Assembly] agree?" asked a Mohawk chief of the interpreter, Conrad Weiser.
[Footnote 37: Lieutenant Lindesay to Johnson, July, 1751.]
[Footnote 38: Clinton to Lords of Trade, 30 July, 1750.]
[Footnote 39: Journal of Conrad Weiser, 1750.]
Piquet kept his promise not to land at the English fort; but he approached in his canoe, and closely observed it. The shores, now covered by the city of Oswego, were then a desolation of bare hills and fields, studded with the stumps of felled trees, and hedged about with a grim border of forests. Near the strand, by the mouth of the Onondaga, were the houses of some of the traders; and on the higher ground behind them stood a huge blockhouse with a projecting upper story. This building was surrounded by a rough wall of stone, with flankers at the angles, forming what was called the fort. Piquet reconnoitred it from his canoe with the eye of a soldier. "It is commanded," he says, "on almost every side; two batteries, of three twelve-pounders each, would be more than enough to reduce it to ashes." And he enlarges on the evils that arise from it. "It not only spoils our trade, but puts the English into communication with a vast number of our Indians, far and near. It is true that they like our brandy better than English rum; but they prefer English goods to ours, and can buy for two beaver-skins at Oswego a better silver bracelet than we sell at Niagara for ten."
[Footnote 40: Compare Doc. Hist. N.Y., I. 463.]
The burden of these reflections was lightened when he approached Fort Frontenac. "Never was reception more solemn. The Nipissings and Algonkins, who were going on a war-party with Monsieur Beletre, formed a line of their own accord, and saluted us with three volleys of musketry, and cries of joy without end. All our little bark vessels replied in the same way. Monsieur de Vercheres and Monsieur de Valtry ordered the cannon of the fort to be fired; and my Indians, transported with joy at the honor done them, shot off their guns incessantly, with cries and acclamations that delighted everybody." A goodly band of recruits joined him, and he pursued his voyage to La Presentation, while the canoes of his proselytes followed in a swarm to their new home; "that establishment"—thus in a burst of enthusiasm he closes his Journal—"that establishment which I began two years ago, in the midst of opposition; that establishment which may be regarded as a key of the colony; that establishment which officers, interpreters, and traders thought a chamaera,—that establishment, I say, forms already a mission of Iroquois savages whom I assembled at first to the number of only six, increased last year to eighty-seven, and this year to three hundred and ninety-six, without counting more than a hundred and fifty whom Monsieur Chabert de Joncaire is to bring me this autumn. And I certify that thus far I have received from His Majesty—for all favor, grace, and assistance—no more than a half pound of bacon and two pounds of bread for daily rations; and that he has not yet given a pin to the chapel, which I have maintained out of my own pocket, for the greater glory of my masters, God and the King."
[Footnote 41: Journal qui peut servir de Memoire et de Relation du Voyage que j'ay fait sur le Lac Ontario pour attirer au nouvel Etablissement de La Presentation les Sauvages Iroquois des Cinq Nations, 1751. The last passage given above is condensed in the rendering, as the original is extremely involved and ungrammatical.]
In his late journey he had made the entire circuit of Lake Ontario. Beyond lay four other inland oceans, to which Fort Niagara was the key. As that all-essential post controlled the passage from Ontario to Erie, so did Fort Detroit control that from Erie to Huron, and Fort Michillimackinac that from Huron to Michigan; while Fort Ste. Marie, at the outlet of Lake Superior, had lately received a garrison, and changed from a mission and trading-station to a post of war. This immense extent of inland navigation was safe in the hands of France so long as she held Niagara. Niagara lost, not only the lakes, but also the Valley of the Ohio was lost with it. Next in importance was Detroit. This was not a military post alone, but also a settlement; and, except the hamlets about Fort Chartres, the only settlement that France owned in all the West. There were, it is true, but a few families; yet the hope of growth seemed good; for to such as liked a wilderness home, no spot in America had more attraction. Father Bonnecamp stopped here for a day on his way back from the expedition of Celoron. "The situation," he says, "is charming. A fine river flows at the foot of the fortifications; vast meadows, asking only to be tilled, extend beyond the sight. Nothing can be more agreeable than the climate. Winter lasts hardly two months. European grains and fruits grow here far better than in many parts of France. It is the Touraine and Beauce of Canada." The white flag of the Bourbons floated over the compact little palisaded town, with its population of soldiers and fur-traders; and from the blockhouses which served as bastions, one saw on either hand the small solid dwellings of the habitants, ranged at intervals along the margin of the water; while at a little distance three Indian villages—Ottawa, Pottawattamie, and Wyandot—curled their wigwam smoke into the pure summer air.
[Footnote 42: La Jonquiere au Ministre, 24 Aout, 1750.]
[Footnote 43: Relation du Voiage de la Belle Riviere, 1749.]
[Footnote 44: A plan of Detroit is before me, made about this time by the engineer Lery.]
When Celoron de Bienville returned from the Ohio, he went, with a royal commission, sent him a year before, to command at Detroit. His late chaplain, the very intelligent Father Bonnecamp, speaks of him as fearless, energetic, and full of resource; but the Governor calls him haughty and insubordinate. Great efforts were made, at the same time, to build up Detroit as a centre of French power in the West. The methods employed were of the debilitating, paternal character long familiar to Canada. All emigrants with families were to be carried thither at the King's expense; and every settler was to receive in free gift a gun, a hoe, an axe, a ploughshare, a scythe, a sickle, two augers, large and small, a sow, six hens, a cock, six pounds of powder, and twelve pounds of lead; while to these favors were added many others. The result was that twelve families were persuaded to go, or about a twentieth part of the number wanted. Detroit was expected to furnish supplies to the other posts for five hundred miles around, control the neighboring Indians, thwart English machinations, and drive off English interlopers.
[Footnote 45: Le Ministre a la Jonquiere et Bigot, 14 Mai, 1749. Le Ministre a Celoron, 23 Mai, 1749.]
[Footnote 46: Ordonnance du 2 Jan. 1750. La Jonquiere et Bigot au Ministre, 1750. Forty-six persons of all ages and both sexes had been induced by La Galissoniere to go the year before. Lettres communes de la Jonquiere et Bigot, 1749. The total fixed population of Detroit and its neighborhood in 1750 is stated at four hundred and eighty-three souls. In the following two years, a considerable number of young men came of their own accord, and Celoron wrote to Montreal to ask for girls to marry them.]
La Galissoniere no longer governed Canada. He had been honorably recalled, and the Marquis de la Jonquiere sent in his stead. La Jonquiere, like his predecessor, was a naval officer of high repute; he was tall and imposing in person, and of undoubted capacity and courage; but old and, according to his enemies, very avaricious. The Colonial Minister gave him special instructions regarding that thorn in the side of Canada, Oswego. To attack it openly would be indiscreet, as the two nations were at peace; but there was a way of dealing with it less hazardous, if not more lawful. This was to attack it vicariously by means of the Iroquois. "If Abbe Piquet succeeds in his mission," wrote the Minister to the new Governor, "we can easily persuade these savages to destroy Oswego. This is of the utmost importance; but act with great caution." In the next year the Minister wrote again: "The only means that can be used for such an operation in time of peace are those of the Iroquois. If by making these savages regard such an establishment [Oswego] as opposed to their liberty, and, so to speak, a usurpation by which the English mean to get possession of their lands, they could be induced to undertake its destruction, an operation of the sort is not to be neglected; but M. le Marquis de la Jonquiere should feel with what circumspection such an affair should be conducted, and he should labor to accomplish it in a manner not to commit himself." To this La Jonquiere replies that it will need time; but that he will gradually bring the Iroquois to attack and destroy the English post. He received stringent orders to use every means to prevent the English from encroaching, but to act towards them at the same time "with the greatest politeness." This last injunction was scarcely fulfilled in a correspondence which he had with Clinton, governor of New York, who had written to complain of the new post at the Niagara portage as an invasion of English territory, and also of the arrest of four English traders in the country of the Miamis. Niagara, like Oswego, was in the country of the Five Nations, whom the treaty of Utrecht declared "subject to the dominion of Great Britain." This declaration, preposterous in itself, was binding on France, whose plenipotentiaries had signed the treaty. The treaty also provided that the subjects of the two Crowns "shall enjoy full liberty of going and coming on account of trade," and Clinton therefore demanded that La Jonquiere should disavow the arrest of the four traders and punish its authors. The French Governor replied with great asperity, spurned the claim that the Five Nations were British subjects, and justified the arrest. He presently went further. Rewards were offered by his officers for the scalps of Croghan and of another trader named Lowry. When this reached the ears of William Johnson, on the Mohawk, he wrote to Clinton in evident anxiety for his own scalp: "If the French go on so, there is no man can be safe in his own house; for I can at any time get an Indian to kill any man for a small matter. Their going on in that manner is worse than open war."
[Footnote 47: Le Ministre a la Galissoniere, 14 Mai, 1749.]
[Footnote 48: Memoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760. The charges made here and elsewhere are denied, somewhat faintly, by a descendant of La Jonquiere in his elaborate Notice biographique of his ancestor.]
[Footnote 49: Le Ministre a La Jonquiere, Mai, 1749. The instructions given to La Jonquiere before leaving France also urge the necessity of destroying Oswego.]
[Footnote 50: Ordres du Roy et Depeches des Ministres; a MM. de la Jonquiere et Bigot, 15 Avril, 1750. See Appendix A. for original.]
[Footnote 51: Ordres du Roy et Depeches des Ministres, 1750.]
[Footnote 52: Chalmers, Collection of Treaties, I. 382.]
[Footnote 53: La Jonquiere a Clinton, 10 Aout, 1751.]
[Footnote 54: Deposition of Morris Turner and Ralph Kilgore, in Colonial Records of Pa., V. 482. The deponents had been prisoners at Detroit.]
The French on their side made counter-accusations. The captive traders were examined on oath before La Jonquiere, and one of them, John Patton, is reported to have said that Croghan had instigated Indians to kill Frenchmen. French officials declared that other English traders were guilty of the same practices; and there is very little doubt that the charge was true.
[Footnote 55: Precis des Faits, avec leurs Pieces justificatives, 100.]
The dispute with the English was not the only source of trouble to the Governor. His superiors at Versailles would not adopt his views, and looked on him with distrust. He advised the building of forts near Lake Erie, and his advice was rejected. "Niagara and Detroit," he was told, "will secure forever our communications with Louisiana." "His Majesty," again wrote the Colonial Minister, "thought that expenses would diminish after the peace; but, on the contrary, they have increased. There must be great abuses. You and the Intendant must look to it." Great abuses there were; and of the money sent to Canada for the service of the King the larger part found its way into the pockets of peculators. The colony was eaten to the heart with official corruption; and the centre of it was Francois Bigot, the intendant. The Minister directed La Jonquiere's attention to certain malpractices which had been reported to him; and the old man, deeply touched, replied: "I have reached the age of sixty-six years, and there is not a drop of blood in my veins that does not thrill for the service of my King. I will not conceal from you that the slightest suspicion on your part against me would cut the thread of my days."
[Footnote 56: Ordres du Roy et Depeches des Ministres, 1750.]
[Footnote 57: Ibid., 6 Juin, 1751.]
[Footnote 58: La Jonquiere au Ministre, 19 Oct. 1751.]
Perplexities increased; affairs in the West grew worse and worse. La Jonquiere ordered Celoron to attack the English at Pickawillany; and Celoron could not or would not obey. "I cannot express," writes the Governor, "how much this business troubles me; it robs me of sleep; it makes me ill." Another letter of rebuke presently came from Versailles. "Last year you wrote that you would soon drive the English from the Ohio; but private letters say that you have done nothing. This is deplorable. If not expelled, they will seem to acquire a right against us. Send force enough at once to drive them off, and cure them of all wish to return." La Jonquiere answered with bitter complaints against Celoron, and then begged to be recalled. His health, already shattered, was ruined by fatigue and vexation; and he took to his bed. Before spring he was near his end. It is said that, though very rich, his habits of thrift so possessed his last hours that, seeing wax-candles burning in his chamber, he ordered others of tallow to be brought instead, as being good enough to die by. Thus frugally lighted on its way, his spirit fled; and the Baron de Longueuil took his place till a new governor should arrive.
[Footnote 59: Ordres du Roy et Depeches des Ministres, 1751.]
[Footnote 60: He died on the sixth of March, 1752 (Bigot au Ministre, 6 Mai); not on the seventeeth of May, as stated in the Memoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]
Sinister tidings came thick from the West. Raymond, commandant at the French fort on the Maumee, close to the centre of intrigue, wrote: "My people are leaving me for Detroit. Nobody wants to stay here and have his throat cut. All the tribes who go to the English at Pickawillany come back loaded with gifts. I am too weak to meet the danger. Instead of twenty men, I need five hundred.... We have made peace with the English, yet they try continually to make war on us by means of the Indians; they intend to be masters of all this upper country. The tribes here are leaguing together to kill all the French, that they may have nobody on their lands but their English brothers. This I am told by Coldfoot, a great Miami chief, whom I think an honest man, if there is any such thing among Indians.... If the English stay in this country we are lost. We must attack, and drive them out." And he tells of war-belts sent from tribe to tribe, and rumors of plots and conspiracies far and near.
Without doubt, the English traders spared no pains to gain over the Indians by fair means or foul; sold them goods at low rates, made ample gifts, and gave gunpowder for the asking. Saint-Ange, who commanded at Vincennes, wrote that a storm would soon burst on the heads of the French. Joncaire reported that all the Ohio Indians sided with the English. Longueuil informed the Minister that the Miamis had scalped two soldiers; that the Piankishaws had killed seven Frenchmen; and that a squaw who had lived with one of the slain declared that the tribes of the Wabash and Illinois were leaguing with the Osages for a combined insurrection. Every letter brought news of murder. Small-pox had broken out at Detroit. "It is to be wished," says Longueuil, "that it would spread among our rebels; it would be fully as good as an army.... We are menaced with a general outbreak, and even Toronto is in danger.... Before long the English on the Miami will gain over all the surrounding tribes, get possession of Fort Chartres, and cut our communications with Louisiana."
[Footnote 61: Depeches de Longueuil; Lettres de Raymond; Benoit de Saint-Clere a la Jonquiere, Oct. 1751.]
The moving spirit of disaffection was the chief called Old Britain, or the Demoiselle, and its focus was his town of Pickawillany, on the Miami. At this place it is said that English traders sometimes mustered to the number of fifty or more. "It is they," wrote Longueuil, "who are the instigators of revolt and the source of all our woes." Whereupon the Colonial Minister reiterated his instructions to drive them off and plunder them, which he thought would "effectually disgust them," and bring all trouble to an end.
[Footnote 62: Longueuil au Ministre, 21 Avril, 1752.]
[Footnote 63: Le Ministre a la Jonquiere, 1752. Le Ministre a Duquesne, 9 Juillet, 1752.]
La Jonquiere's remedy had been more heroic, for he had ordered Celeron to attack the English and their red allies alike; and he charged that officer with arrogance and disobedience because he had not done so. It is not certain that obedience was easy; for though, besides the garrison of regulars, a strong body of militia was sent up to Detroit to aid the stroke, the Indians of that post, whose co-operation was thought necessary, proved half-hearted, intractable, and even touched with disaffection. Thus the enterprise languished till, in June, aid came from another quarter. Charles Langlade, a young French trader married to a squaw at Green Bay, and strong in influence with the tribes of that region, came down the lakes from Michillimackinac with a fleet of canoes manned by two hundred and fifty Ottawa and Ojibwa warriors; stopped a while at Detroit; then embarked again, paddled up the Maumee to Raymond's fort at the portage, and led his greased and painted rabble through the forest to attack the Demoiselle and his English friends. They approached Pickawillany at about nine o'clock on the morning of the twenty-first. The scared squaws fled from the cornfields into the town, where the wigwams of the Indians clustered about the fortified warehouse of the traders. Of these there were at the time only eight in the place. Most of the Indians also were gone on their summer hunt, though the Demoiselle remained with a band of his tribesmen. Great was the screeching of war-whoops and clatter of guns. Three of the traders were caught outside the fort. The remaining five closed the gate, and stood on their defence. The fight was soon over. Fourteen Miamis were shot down, the Demoiselle among the rest. The five white men held out till the afternoon, when three of them surrendered, and two, Thomas Burney and Andrew McBryer, made their escape. One of the English prisoners being wounded, the victors stabbed him to death. Seventy years of missionaries had not weaned them from cannibalism, and they boiled and eat the Demoiselle.
[Footnote 64: La Jonquiere a Celeron, 1 Oct. 1751.]
[Footnote 65: On the attack of Pickawillany, Longueuil au Ministre, 18 Aout, 1752; Duquesne au Ministre, 25 Oct. 1752; Colonial Records of Pa., V. 599; Journal of William Trent, 1752. Trent was on the spot a few days after the affair.]
The captive traders, plundered to the skin, were carried by Langlade to Duquesne, the new governor, who highly praised the bold leader of the enterprise, and recommended him to the Minister for such reward as befitted one of his station. "As he is not in the King's service, and has married a squaw, I will ask for him only a pension of two hundred francs, which will flatter him infinitely."
The Marquis Duquesne, sprung from the race of the great naval commander of that name, had arrived towards midsummer; and he began his rule by a general review of troops and militia. His lofty bearing offended the Canadians; but he compelled their respect, and, according to a writer of the time, showed from the first that he was born to command. He presently took in hand an enterprise which his predecessor would probably have accomplished, had the Home Government encouraged him. Duquesne, profiting by the infatuated neglect of the British provincial assemblies, prepared to occupy the upper waters of the Ohio, and secure the passes with forts and garrisons. Thus the Virginian and Pennsylvanian traders would be debarred all access to the West, and the tribes of that region, bereft henceforth of English guns, knives, hatchets, and blankets, English gifts and English cajoleries, would be thrown back to complete dependence on the French. The moral influence, too, of such a movement would be incalculable; for the Indian respects nothing so much as a display of vigor and daring, backed by force. In short, the intended enterprise was a master-stroke, and laid the axe to the very root of disaffection. It is true that, under the treaty, commissioners had been long in session at Paris to settle the question of American boundaries; but there was no likelihood that they would come to agreement; and if France would make good her Western claims, it behooved her, while there was yet time, to prevent her rival from fastening a firm grasp on the countries in dispute.
Yet the Colonial Minister regarded the plan with distrust. "Be on your guard," he wrote to Duquesne, "against new undertakings; private interests are generally at the bottom of them. It is through these that new posts are established. Keep only such as are indispensable, and suppress the others. The expenses of the colony are enormous; and they have doubled since the peace." Again, a little later: "Build on the Ohio such forts as are absolutely necessary, but no more. Remember that His Majesty suspects your advisers of interested views."
[Footnote 66: Ordres du Roy et Depeches des Ministres, 1753.]
No doubt there was justice in the suspicion. Every military movement, and above all the establishment of every new post, was an opportunity to the official thieves with whom the colony swarmed. Some band of favored knaves grew rich; while a much greater number, excluded from sharing the illicit profits, clamored against the undertaking, and wrote charges of corruption to Versailles. Thus the Minister was kept tolerably well informed; but was scarcely the less helpless, for with the Atlantic between, the disorders of Canada defied his control. Duquesne was exasperated by the opposition that met him on all hands, and wrote to the Minister: "There are so many rascals in this country that one is forever the butt of their attacks."
[Footnote 67: Duquesne au Ministre, 29 Sept. 1754.]
It seems that unlawful gain was not the only secret spring of the movement. An officer of repute says that the Intendant, Bigot, enterprising in his pleasures as in his greed, was engaged in an intrigue with the wife of Chevalier Pean; and wishing at once to console the husband and to get rid of him, sought for him a high command at a distance from the colony. Therefore while Marin, an able officer, was made first in rank, Pean was made second. The same writer hints that Duquesne himself was influenced by similar motives in his appointment of leaders.
[Footnote 68: Pouchot, Memoire sur la derniere Guerre de l'Amerique septentrionale (ed. 1781), I. 8.]
He mustered the colony troops, and ordered out the Canadians. With the former he was but half satisfied; with the latter he was delighted; and he praises highly their obedience and alacrity. "I had not the least trouble in getting them to march. They came on the minute, bringing their own guns, though many people tried to excite them to revolt; for the whole colony opposes my operations." The expedition set out early in the spring of 1753. The whole force was not much above a thousand men, increased by subsequent detachments to fifteen hundred; but to the Indians it seemed a mighty host; and one of their orators declared that the lakes and rivers were covered with boats and soldiers from Montreal to Presquisle. Some Mohawk hunters by the St. Lawrence saw them as they passed, and hastened home to tell the news to Johnson, whom they wakened at midnight, "whooping and hollowing in a frightful manner." Lieutenant Holland at Oswego saw a fleet of canoes upon the lake, and was told by a roving Frenchman that they belonged to an army of six thousand men going to the Ohio, "to cause all the English to quit those parts."
[Footnote 69: Duquesne au Ministre, 27 Oct. 1753.]
[Footnote 70: Johnson to Clinton, 20 April, 1753, in N.Y. Col. Docs., VI. 778.]
[Footnote 71: Holland to Clinton, 15 May, 1753, in N.Y. Col. Docs., VI. 780.]
The main body of the expedition landed at Presquisle, on the southeastern shore of Lake Erie, where the town of Erie now stands; and here for a while we leave them.
Conflict for Acadia
While in the West all the signs of the sky foreboded storm, another tempest was gathering the East, less in extent, but not less in peril. The conflict in Acadia has a melancholy interest, since it ended in a castastrophe which prose and verse have joined to commemorate, but of which the causes have not been understood.
Acadia—that it to say, the peninsula of Nova Scotia, with the addition, as the English claimed, of the present New Brunswick and some adjacent country—was conquered by General Nicholson in 1710, and formally transferred by France to the British Crown, three years later, by the treaty of Utrecht. By that treaty it was "expressly provided" that such of the French inhabitants as "are willing to remain there and to be subject to the Kingdom of Great Britain, are to enjoy the free exercise of their religion according to the usage of the Church of Rome, as far as the laws of Great Britain do allow the same"; but that any who choose may remove, with their effects, if they do so within a year. Very few availed themselves of this right; and after the end of the year those who remained were required to take an oath of allegiance to King George. There is no doubt that in a little time they would have complied, had they been let alone; but the French authorities of Canada and Cape Breton did their utmost to prevent them, and employed agents to keep them hostile to England. Of these the most efficient were the French priests, who, in spite of the treaty, persuaded their flocks that they were still subjects of King Louis. Hence rose endless perplexity to the English commanders at Annapolis, who more than suspected that the Indian attacks with which they were harassed were due mainly to French instigation. It was not till seventeen years after the treaty that the Acadians could be brought to take the oath without qualifications which made it almost useless. The English authorities seem to have shown throughout an unusual patience and forbearance. At length, about 1730, nearly all the inhabitants signed by crosses, since few of them could write, an oath recognizing George II as sovereign of Acadia, and promising fidelity and obedience to him. This restored comparative quiet till the war of 1745, when some of the Acadians remained neutral, while some took arms against the English, and many others aided the enemy with information and supplies.
[Footnote 72: See the numerous papers in Selections from the Public Documents of the Province of Nova Scotia (Halifax, 1869), pp. 1-165; a Government publication of great value.]
[Footnote 73: The oath was literatim as follows: "Je Promets et Jure Sincerement en Foi de Chretien que Je serai entierement Fidele, et Obeierai Vraiment Sa Majeste Le Roy George Second, qui (sic) Je reconnoi pour Le Souvrain Seigneur de l'Accadie ou Nouvelle Ecosse. Ainsi Dieu me Soit en Aide."]
English power in Acadia, hitherto limited to a feeble garrison at Annapolis and a feebler one at Canseau, received at this time a great accession. The fortress of Louisbourg, taken by the English during the war, had been restored by the treaty; and the French at once prepared to make it a military and naval station more formidable than ever. Upon this the British Ministry resolved to establish another station as a counterpoise; and the harbor of Chebucto, on the south coast of Acadia, was chosen as the site of it. Thither in June, 1749, came a fleet of transports loaded with emigrants, tempted by offers of land and a home in the New World. Some were mechanics, tradesmen, farmers, and laborers; others were sailors, soldiers, and subaltern officers thrown out of employment by the peace. Including women and children, they counted in all about twenty-five hundred. Alone of all the British colonies on the continent, this new settlement was the offspring, not of private enterprise, but of royal authority. Yet is was free like the rest, with the same popular representation and local self-government. Edward Cornwallis, uncle of Lord Cornwallis of the Revolutionary War, was made governor and commander-in-chief. Wolfe calls him "a man of approved courage and fidelity"; and even the caustic Horace Walpole speaks of him as "a brave, sensible young man, of great temper and good nature."
Before summer was over, the streets were laid out, and the building-lot of each settler was assigned to him; before winter closed, the whole were under shelter, the village was fenced with palisades and defended by redoubts of timber, and the battalions lately in garrison at Louisbourg manned the wooden ramparts. Succeeding years brought more emigrants, and in 1752 the population was above four thousand. Thus was born into the world the city of Halifax. Along with the crumbling old fort and miserably disciplined garrison at Annapolis, besides six or seven small detached posts to watch the Indians and Acadians, it comprised the whole British force on the peninsula; for Canseau had been destroyed by the French.
The French had never reconciled themselves to the loss of Acadia, and were resolved, by diplomacy or force, to win it back again; but the building of Halifax showed that this was to be no easy task, and filled them at the same time with alarm for the safety of Louisbourg. On one point, at least, they saw their policy clear. The Acadians, though those of them who were not above thirty-five had been born under the British flag, must be kept French at heart, and taught that they were still French subjects. In 1748 they numbered eighty-eight hundred and fifty communicants, or from twelve to thirteen thousand souls; but an emigration, of which the causes will soon appear, had reduced them in 1752 to but little more than nine thousand. These were divided into six principal parishes, one of the largest being that of Annapolis. Other centres of population were Grand Pre, on the basin of Mines; Beaubassin, at the head of Chignecto Bay; Pisiquid, now Windsor; and Cobequid, now Truro. Their priests, who were missionaries controlled by the diocese of Quebec, acted also as their magistrates, ruling them for this world and the next. Bring subject to a French superior, and being, moreover, wholly French at heart, they formed in this British province a wheel within a wheel, the inner movement always opposing the outer.
[Footnote 74: Description de l'Acadie, avec le Nom des Paroisses et le Nombre des Habitants, 1748. Memoire a presenter a la Cour sur la necessite de fixer les Limites de l'Acadie, par l'Abbe de l'Isle-Dieu, 1753 (1754?). Compare the estimates in Censuses of Canada (Ottawa, 1876.)]
Although, by the twelfth article of the treaty of Utrecht, France had solemnly declared the Acadians to be British subjects, the Government of Louis XV intrigued continually to turn them from subjects into enemies. Before me is a mass of English documents on Acadian affairs from the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle to the catastrophe of 1755, and above a thousand pages of French official papers from the archives of Paris, memorials, reports, and secret correspondence, relating to the same matters. With the help of these and some collateral lights, it is not difficult to make a correct diagnosis of the political disease that ravaged this miserable country. Of a multitude of proofs, only a few can be given here; but these will suffice.
It was not that the Acadians had been ill-used by the English; the reverse was the case. They had been left in free exercise of their worship, as stipulated by treaty. It is true that, from time to time, there were loud complaints from French officials that religion was in danger, because certain priests had been rebuked, arrested, brought before the Council at Halifax, suspended from their functions, or required, on pain of banishment, to swear that they would do nothing against the interests of King George. Yet such action on the part of the provincial authorities seems, without a single exception, to have been the consequence of misconduct on the part of the priest, in opposing the Government and stirring his flock to disaffection. La Jonquiere, the determined adversary of the English, reported to the bishop that they did not oppose the ecclesiastics in the exercise of their functions, and an order of Louis XV admits that the Acadians have enjoyed liberty of religion. In a long document addressed in 1750 to the Colonial Minister at Versailles, Roma, an officer at Louisbourg, testifies thus to the mildness of British rule, though he ascribes it to interested motives. "The fear that the Acadians have of the Indians is the controlling motive which makes them side with the French. The English, having in view the conquest of Canada, wished to give the French of that colony, in their conduct towards the Acadians, a striking example of the mildness of their government. Without raising the fortune of any of the inhabitants, they have supplied them for more than thirty-five years with the necessaries of life, often on credit and with an excess of confidence, without troubling their debtors, without pressing them, without wishing to force them to pay. They have left them an appearance of liberty so excessive that they have not intervened in their disputes or even punished their crimes. They have allowed them to refuse with insolence certain moderate rents payable in grain and lawfully due. They have passed over in silence the contemptuous refusal of the Acadians to take titles from them for the new lands which they chose to occupy.
[Footnote 75: La Jonquiere a Eveque de Quebec, 14 Juin, 1750. Memoire du Roy pour servir d'Instruction au Comte de Raymond, commandant pour Sa Majeste a l'Isle Royale [Cape Breton], 24 Avril, 1751.]
[Footnote 76: See Appendix B.]
"We know very well," pursues Roma, "the fruits of this conduct in the last war; and the English know it also. Judge then what will be the wrath and vengeance of this cruel nation." The fruits to which Roma alludes were the hostilities, open or secret, committed by the Acadians against the English. He now ventures the prediction that the enraged conquerors will take their revenge by drafting all the young Acadians on board their ships of war, and there destroying them by slow starvation. He proved, however, a false prophet. The English Governor merely required the inhabitants to renew their oath of allegiance, without qualification or evasion.
It was twenty years since the Acadians had taken such an oath; and meanwhile a new generation had grown up. The old oath pledged them to fidelity and obedience; but they averred that Phillips, then governor of the province, had given them, at the same time, assurance that they should not be required to bear arms against either French or Indians. In fact, such service had not been demanded of them, and they would have lived in virtual neutrality, had not many of them broken their oaths and joined the French war-parties. For this reason Cornwallis thought it necessary that, in renewing the pledge, they should bind themselves to an allegiance as complete as that required of other British subjects. This spread general consternation. Deputies from the Acadian settlements appeared at Halifax, bringing a paper signed with the marks of a thousand persons. The following passage contains the pith of it. "The inhabitants in general, sir, over the whole extent of this country are resolved not to take the oath which your Excellency requires of us; but if your Excellency will grant us our old oath, with an exemption for ourselves and our heirs from taking up arms, we will accept it." The answer of Cornwallis was by no means so stern as it has been represented. After the formal reception he talked in private with the deputies; and "they went home in good humor, promising great things."
[Footnote 77: Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 173.]
[Footnote 78: See Ibid., 174, where the answer is printed.]
[Footnote 79: Cornwallis to the Board of Trade, 11 Sept. 1749.]
The refusal of the Acadians to take the required oath was not wholly spontaneous, but was mainly due to influence from without. The French officials of Cape Breton and Isle St. Jean, now Prince Edward Island, exerted themselves to the utmost, chiefly through the agency of the priests, to excite the people to refuse any oath that should commit them fully to British allegiance. At the same time means were used to induce them to migrate to the neighboring islands under French rule, and efforts were also made to set on the Indians to attack the English. But the plans of the French will best appear in a despatch sent by La Jonquiere to the Colonial Minister in the autumn of 1749.
"Monsieur Cornwallis issued an order on the tenth of the said month [August], to the effect that if the inhabitants will remain faithful subjects of the King of Great Britain, he will allow them priests and public exercise of their religion, with the understanding that no priest shall officiate without his permission or before taking an oath of fidelity to the King of Great Britain. Secondly, that the inhabitants shall not be exempted from defending their houses, their lands, and the Government. Thirdly, that they shall take an oath of fidelity to the King of Great Britain, on the twenty-sixth of this month, before officers sent them for that purpose."
La Jonquiere proceeds to say that on hearing these conditions the Acadians were filled with perplexity and alarm, and that he, the governor, had directed Boishebert, his chief officer on the Acadian frontier, to encourage them to leave their homes and seek asylum on French soil. He thus recounts the steps he has taken to harass the English of Halifax by means of their Indian neighbors. As peace had been declared, the operation was delicate; and when three of these Indians came to him from their missionary, Le Loutre, with letters on the subject, La Jonquiere was discreetly reticent. "I did not care to give them any advice upon the matter, and confined myself to a promise that I would on no account abandon them; and I have provided for supplying them with everything, whether arms, ammunition, food, or other necessaries. It is to be desired that these savages should succeed in thwarting the designs of the English, and even their settlement at Halifax. They are bent on doing so; and if they can carry out their plans, it is certain that they will give the English great trouble, and so harass them that they will be a great obstacle in their path. These savages are to act alone; neither soldier nor French inhabitant is to join them; everything will be done of their own motion, and without showing that I had any knowledge of the matter. This is very essential; therefore I have written to the Sieur de Boishebert to observe great prudence in his measures, and to act very secretly, in order that the English may not perceive that we are providing for the needs of the said savages."
"It will be the missionaries who will manage all the negotiation, and direct the movements of the savages, who are in excellent hands, as the Reverend Father Germain and Monsieur l'Abbe Le Loutre are very capable of making the most of them, and using them to the greatest advantage for our interests. They will manage their intrigue in such a way as not to appear in it."
La Jonquiere then recounts the good results which he expects from these measures: first, the English will be prevented from making any new settlements; secondly, we shall gradually get the Acadians out of their hands; and lastly, they will be so discouraged by constant Indian attacks that they will renounce their pretensions to the parts of the country belonging to the King of France. "I feel, Monseigneur,"—thus the Governor concludes his despatch,—"all the delicacy of this negotiation; be assured that I will conduct it with such precaution that the English will not be able to say that my orders had any part in it."
[Footnote 80: La Jonquiere au Ministre, 9 Oct. 1749. See Appendix B.]
He kept his word, and so did the missionaries. The Indians gave great trouble on the outskirts of Halifax, and murdered many harmless settlers; yet the English authorities did not at first suspect that they were hounded on by their priests, under the direction of the Governor of Canada, and with the privity of the Minister at Versailles. More than this; for, looking across the sea, we find royalty itself lending its august countenance to the machination. Among the letters read before the King in his cabinet in May, 1750, was one from Desherbiers, then commanding at Louisbourg, saying that he was advising the Acadians not to take the oath of allegiance to the King of England; another from Le Loutre, declaring that he and Father Germain were consulting together how to disgust the English with their enterprise of Halifax; and a third from the Intendant, Bigot, announcing that Le Loutre was using the Indians to harass the new settlement, and that he himself was sending them powder, lead, and merchandise, "to confirm them in their good designs."
[Footnote 81: Resume des Lettres lues au Travail du Roy, Mai, 1750.]
To this the Minister replies in a letter to Desherbiers: "His Majesty is well satisfied with all you have done to thwart the English in their new establishment. If the dispositions of the savages are such as they seem, there is reason to hope that in the course of the winter they will succeed in so harassing the settlers that some of them will become disheartened." Desherbiers is then told that His Majesty desires him to aid English deserters in escaping from Halifax. Supplies for the Indians are also promised; and he is informed that twelve medals are sent him by the frigate "La Mutine," to be given to the chiefs who shall most distinguish themselves. In another letter Desherbiers is enjoined to treat the English authorities with great politeness.
[Footnote 82: In 1750 nine captured deserters from Phillips's regiment declared on their trial that the French had aided them and supplied them all with money. Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 193.]
[Footnote 83: Le Ministre a Desherbiers, 23 Mai, 1750; Ibid., 31 Mai, 1750.]
When Count Raymond took command at Louisbourg, he was instructed, under the royal hand, to give particular attention to the affairs of Acadia, especially in two points,—the management of the Indians, and the encouraging of Acadian emigration to countries under French rule. "His Majesty," says the document, "has already remarked that the savages have been most favorably disposed. It is of the utmost importance that no means be neglected to keep them so. The missionaries among them are in a better position than anybody to contribute to this end, and His Majesty has reason to be satisfied with the pains they take therein. The Sieur de Raymond will excite these missionaries not to slacken their efforts; but he will warn them at the same time so to contain their zeal as not to compromise themselves with the English, and give just occasion of complaint." That is, the King orders his representative to encourage the missionaries in instigating their flocks to butcher English settlers, but to see that they take care not to be found out. The injunction was hardly needed. "Monsieur Desherbiers," says a letter of earlier date, "has engaged Abbe Le Loutre to distribute the usual presents among the savages, and Monsieur Bigot has placed in his hands an additional gift of cloth, blankets, powder, and ball, to be given them in case they harass the English at Halifax. This missionary is to induce them to do so." In spite of these efforts, the Indians began to relent in their hostilities; and when Longueuil became provisional governor of Canada, he complained to the Minister that it was very difficult to prevent them from making peace with the English, though Father Germain was doing his best to keep them on the war-path. La Jonquiere, too, had done his best, even to the point of departing from his original policy of allowing no soldier or Acadian to take part with them. He had sent a body of troops under La Corne, an able partisan officer, to watch the English frontier; and in the same vessel was sent a supply of "merchandise, guns, and munitions for the savages and the Acadians who may take up arms with them; and the whole is sent under pretext of trading in furs with the savages." On another occasion La Jonquiere wrote: "In order that the savages may do their part courageously, a few Acadians, dressed and painted in their way, could join them to strike the English. I cannot help consenting to what these savages do, because we have our hands tied [by the peace], and so can do nothing ourselves. Besides, I do not think that any inconvenience will come of letting the Acadians mingle among them, because if they [the Acadians] are captured, we shall say that they acted of their own accord." In other words, he will encourage them to break the peace; and then, by means of a falsehood, have them punished as felons. Many disguised Acadians did in fact join the Indian war-parties; and their doing so was no secret to the English. "What we call here an Indian war," wrote Hopson, successor of Cornwallis, "is no other than a pretence for the French to commit hostilities on His Majesty's subjects."
[Footnote 84: Memoire du Roy pour servir d'Instruction au Comte de Raymond, 24 Avril, 1751.]
[Footnote 85: Lettre commune de Desherbiers et Bigot au Ministre, 15 Aout, 1749.]
[Footnote 86: Longueuil au Ministre, 26 Avril, 1752.]
[Footnote 87: Bigot au Ministre, 1749.]
[Footnote 88: Depeches de la Jonquiere, 1 Mai, 1751. See Appendix B.]
At length the Indians made peace, or pretended to do so. The chief of Le Loutre's mission, who called himself Major Jean-Baptiste Cope, came to Halifax with a deputation of his tribe, and they all affixed their totems to a solemn treaty. In the next summer they returned with ninety or a hundred warriors, were well entertained, presented with gifts, and sent homeward in a schooner. On the way they seized the vessel and murdered the crew. This is told by Prevost, intendant at Louisbourg, who does not say that French instigation had any part in the treachery. It is nevertheless certain that the Indians were paid for this or some contemporary murder; for Prevost, writing just four weeks later, says: "Last month the savages took eighteen English scalps, and Monsieur Le Loutre was obliged to pay them eighteen hundred livres, Acadian money, which I have reimbursed him."
[Footnote 89: Prevost au Ministre, 12 Mars, 1753; Ibid., 17 July, 1753. Prevost was ordonnateur, or intendant, at Louisbourg. The treaty will be found in full in Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 683.]
[Footnote 90: Prevost au Ministre, 16 Aout, 1753.]
From the first, the services of this zealous missionary had been beyond price. Prevost testifies that, though Cornwallis does his best to induce the Acadians to swear fidelity to King George, Le Loutre keeps them in allegiance to King Louis, and threatens to set his Indians upon them unless they declare against the English. "I have already," adds Prevost, "paid him 11,183 livres for his daily expenses; and I never cease advising him to be as economical as possible, and always to take care not to compromise himself with the English Government." In consequence of "good service to religion and the state," Le Loutre received a pension of eight hundred livres, as did also Maillard, his brother missionary on Cape Breton. "The fear is," writes the Colonial Minister to the Governor of Louisbourg, "that their zeal may carry them too far. Excite them to keep the Indians in our interests, but do not let them compromise us. Act always so as to make the English appear as aggressors."
[Footnote 91: Ibid., 22 Juillet, 1750.]
[Footnote 92: Le Ministre au Comte de Raymond, 21 Juillet, 1752. It is curious to compare these secret instructions, given by the Minister to the colonial officials, with a letter which the same Minister, Rouille, wrote ostensibly to La Jonquiere, but which was really meant for the eye of the British Minister at Versailles, Lord Albemarle, to whom it was shown in proof of French good faith. It was afterwards printed, long with other papers, in a small volume called Precis des Faits, avec Pieces justificatives which was sent by the French Government to all the courts of Europe to show that the English alone were answerable for the war. The letter, it is needless to say, breathes the highest sentiments of international honor.]
All the Acadian clergy, in one degree or another, seem to have used their influence to prevent the inhabitants from taking the oath, and to persuade them that they were still French subjects. Some were noisy, turbulent, and defiant; others were too tranquil to please the officers of the Crown. A missionary at Annapolis is mentioned as old, and therefore inefficient; while the cure at Grand Pre, also an elderly man, was too much inclined to confine himself to his spiritual functions. It is everywhere apparent that those who chose these priests, and sent them as missionaries into a British province, expected them to act as enemies of the British Crown. The maxim is often repeated that duty to religion is inseparable from the duty to the King of France. The Bishop of Quebec desired the Abbe de l'Isle-Dieu to represent to the court the need of more missionaries to keep the Acadians Catholic and French; but, he adds, there is danger that they (the missionaries) will be required to take an oath to do nothing contrary to the interests of the King of Great Britain. It is a wonder that such a pledge was not always demanded. It was exacted in a few cases, notably in that of Girard, priest at Cobequid, who, on charges of instigating his flock to disaffection, had been sent prisoner to Halifax, but released on taking an oath in the above terms. Thereupon he wrote to Longueuil at Quebec that his parishioners wanted to submit to the English, and that he, having sworn to be true to the British King, could not prevent them. "Though I don't pretend to be a casuist," writes Longueuil, "I could not help answering him that he is not obliged to keep such an oath, and that he ought to labor in all zeal to preserve and increase the number of the faithful." Girard, to his credit, preferred to leave the colony, and retired to Isle St. Jean.
[Footnote 93: L'Isle-Dieu, Memoire sur l'Etat actuel des Missions, 1753 (1754?).]
[Footnote 94: Longueuil au Ministre, 27 Avril, 1752.]
Cornwallis soon discovered to what extent the clergy stirred their flocks to revolt; and he wrote angrily to the Bishop of Quebec: "Was it you who sent Le Loutre as a missionary to the Micmacs? and is it for their good that he excites these wretches to practise their cruelties against those who have shown them every kindness? The conduct of the priests of Acadia has been such that by command of his Majesty I have published an Order declaring that if any one of them presumes to exercise his functions without my express permission he shall be dealt with according to the laws of England."
[Footnote 95: Cornwallis to the Bishop of Quebec, 1 Dec. 1749.]
The English, bound by treaty to allow the Acadians the exercise of their religion, at length conceived the idea of replacing the French priests by others to be named by the Pope at the request of the British Government. This, becoming known to the French, greatly alarmed them, and the Intendant at Louisbourg wrote to the Minister that the matter required serious attention. It threatened, in fact, to rob them of their chief agents of intrigue; but their alarm proved needless, as the plan was not carried into execution.
[Footnote 96: Daudin, pretre, a Prevost, 23 Oct. 1753. Prevost au Ministre, 24 Nov. 1753.]
The French officials would have been better pleased had the conduct of Cornwallis been such as to aid their efforts to alienate the Acadians; and one writer, while confessing the "favorable treatment" of the English towards the inhabitants, denounces it as a snare. If so, it was a snare intended simply to reconcile them to English rule. Nor was it without effect. "We must give up altogether the idea of an insurrection in Acadia," writes an officer of Cape Breton. "The Acadians cannot be trusted; they are controlled by fear of the Indians, which leads them to breathe French sentiments, even when their inclinations are English. They will yield to their interests; and the English will make it impossible that they should either hurt them or serve us, unless we take measures different from those we have hitherto pursued."
[Footnote 97: Memoire a presenter a la Cour, 1753.]
[Footnote 98: Roma au Ministre, 11 Mars, 1750.]
During all this time, constant efforts were made to stimulate Acadian emigration to French territory, and thus to strengthen the French frontier. In this work the chief agent was Le Loutre. "This priest," says a French writer of the time, "urged the people of Les Mines, Port Royal [Annapolis], and other places, to come and join the French, and promised to all, in the name of the Governor, to settle and support them for three years, and even indemnify them for any losses they might incur; threatening if they did not do as he advised, to abandon them, deprive them of their priests, have their wives and children carried off, and their property laid waste by the Indians." Some passed over the isthmus to the shores of the gulf, and others made their way to the Strait of Canseau. Vessels were provided to convey them, in the one case to Isle St. Jean, now Prince Edward Island, and in the other to Isle Royale, called by the English, Cape Breton. Some were eager to go; some went with reluctance; some would scarcely be persuaded to go at all. "They leave their homes with great regret," reports the Governor of Isle St. Jean, speaking of the people of Cobequid, "and they began to move their luggage only when the savages compelled them." These savages were the flock of Abbe Le Loutre, who was on the spot to direct the emigration. Two thousand Acadians are reported to have left the peninsula before the end of 1751, and many more followed within the next two years. Nothing could exceed the misery of a great part of these emigrants, who had left perforce most of their effects behind. They became disheartened and apathetic. The Intendant at Louisbourg says that they will not take the trouble to clear the land, and that some of them live, like Indians, under huts of spruce-branches. The Governor of Isle St. Jean declares that they are dying of hunger. Girard, the priest who had withdrawn to this island rather than break his oath to the English, writes: "Many of them cannot protect themselves day or night from the severity of the cold. Most of the children are entirely naked; and when I go into a house they are all crouched in the ashes, close to the fire. They run off and hide themselves, without shoes, stockings, or shirts. They are not all reduced to this extremity but nearly all are in want." Mortality among them was great, and would have been greater but for rations supplied by the French Government.
[Footnote 99: Memoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]
[Footnote 100: Bonaventure a Desherbiers, 26 Juin, 1751.]
[Footnote 101: Prevost au Ministre, 25 Nov. 1750.]
[Footnote 102: Bonaventure, ut supra.]
[Footnote 103: Girard a (Bonaventure?), 27 Oct. 1753.]
During these proceedings, the English Governor, Cornwallis, seems to have justified the character of good temper given him by Horace Walpole. His attitude towards the Acadians remained on the whole patient and conciliatory. "My friends," he replied to a deputation of them asking a general permission to leave the province, "I am not ignorant of the fact that every means has been used to alienate the hearts of the French subjects of His Britannic Majesty. Great advantages have been promised you elsewhere, and you have been made to imagine that your religion was in danger. Threats even have been resorted to in order to induce you to remove to French territory. The savages are made use of to molest you; they are to cut the throats of all who remain in their native country, attached to their own interests and faithful to the Government. You know that certain officers and missionaries, who came from Canada last autumn, have been the cause of all our trouble during the winter. Their conduct has been horrible, without honor, probity, or conscience. Their aim is to embroil you with the Government. I will not believe that they are authorized to do so by the Court of France, that being contrary to good faith and the friendship established between the two Crowns."
What foundation there was for this amiable confidence in the Court of Versailles has been seen already. "When you declared your desire to submit yourselves to another Government," pursues Cornwallis, "our determination was to hinder nobody from following what he imagined to be his interest. We know that a forced service is worth nothing, and that a subject compelled to be so against his will is not far from being an enemy. We confess, however, that your determination to go gives us pain. We are aware of your industry and temperance, and that you are not addicted to any vice or debauchery. This province is your country. You and your fathers have cultivated it; naturally you ought yourselves to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Such was the design of the King, our master. You know that we have followed his orders. You know that we have done everything to secure to you not only the occupation of your lands, but the ownership of them forever. We have given you also every possible assurance of the free and public exercise of the Roman Catholic religion. But I declare to you frankly that, according to our laws, nobody can possess lands or houses in the province who shall refuse to take the oath of allegiance to his King when required to do so. You know very well that there are ill-disposed and mischievous persons among you who corrupt the others. Your inexperience, your ignorance of the affairs of government, and your habit of following the counsels of those who have not your real interests at heart, make it an easy matter to seduce you. In your petitions you ask for a general leave to quit the province. The only manner in which you can do so is to follow the regulations already established, and provide yourselves with our passport. And we declare that nothing shall prevent us from giving such passports to all who ask for them, the moment peace and tranquillity are re-established." He declares as his reason for not giving them at once, that on crossing the frontier "you will have to pass the French detachments and savages assembled there, and that they compel all the inhabitants who go there to take up arms" against the English. How well this reason was founded will soon appear.